This past weekend at the WWE Hall of Fame, a very chaotic scene broke out that was unfortunate, disrespectful and a downright act befitting of a coward. While Bret Hart was making his induction speech as part of the Hart Foundation, a fan somehow got through security and tackled Bret and Natalya. The fan was then met with about WWE superstars, and before he was hauled off by security he was met with force from Travis Browne, Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Dash Wilder. I applaud everyone who jumped on the stage to protect one of their own, and in my opinion they should not held liable for their actions. I have grown up as a pro wrestling fan and have been around the independent scene for my entire adult life. From a fan perspective, I love meeting wrestlers and collecting merchandise. I have shirts, belts, and DVDs. That’s how I support my favorite wrestlers. As a fan, I also purchase a ticket to shows to watch my favorite wrestlers. These are all acceptable things to do as a pro wrestling fan.
One of the biggest problems I see happening sports these days is a certain mentality. Fans have the mentality that just because they buy a ticket to a game, they can say whatever they want without any sort of repercussions or consequences. Paying money to be entertained does not give a fan the right to spew out hateful, racial or threatening things to an athlete. It also does not give them the right to say things about their family or dive into their personal lives. I understand people have dreams of meeting their favorite wrestlers and sometimes those dreams are a letdown when that wrestler is less than friendly to you. I personally have had those experiences with Sasha Banks and The Uso’s. I was super polite to them, asked them for a picture and they acted stuck up when they turned down my request. Have I called them out on it using my platform? Absolutely, but never did I threaten them, harass them, stalk them or attack them. I took my anger and negative energy towards them and decided to put my money and energy towards wrestlers who did give me the time of day. In every city WWE travels in, you always have a little group of fans who have serious issues with boundaries and ruin it for everyone else who tries to be respectful and patient.
There has always been this mentality that the fans are the ones who provide a paycheck to the wrestlers so the wrestler should give the fan whatever they want. A small part of that statement is true because WWE superstars do receive money based on their merchandise sales. This does not mean that WWE superstars or any other pro wrestler has to devote every minute to the fans. My best advice to fans wanting to meet wrestlers and wanting to be a part of the show is go to an independent wrestling show. In my sixteen year experience of being around the Michigan Independent Scene, I can tell you first hand that most of the wrestlers love when you come to their merchandise table and have a conversation with them. I also know they appreciate anytime you buy a piece of merchandise. You can interact positively with superstars without getting carried away, obsessive or compulsive. The more you show respect to pro wrestlers the more likely they will show you the same respect in return.
In today’s society, we are seeing more cases of mental illness being the cause of violent, impulsive and unpredictable behavior. If you know anyone who is dealing with mental illness keep an eye on them and especially track their social media pages if they have them. Bret Hart’s attacker had made some very bizarre tweets leading up to this unfortunate incident. I feel if someone had been keeping a closer watch on him that this incident might have never happened and we wouldn’t be here sitting having a conversation about it. Pro Wrestling fans please understand that these athletes and performers don’t owe you anything other than the performance you paid to see. The pictures, autographs and the handshakes are purely out of their generosity and appreciation to you. Enjoy those moments, cherish those memories, but also be respectful of their personal time as well. We as pro wrestling fans should strive to give pro wrestlers a positive experience when they came to our towns so they want to come back and interact with fans even more.