Since this past Sunday the wrestling Internet community (IWC) has been buzzing about beach balls. I never thought I’d be writing about beach balls, but here I am.
For those who do not know, I’ll briefly bring you up to speed:
At SummerSlam, during the RAW Tag Team Championship match, Cesaro would jump the guardrail and tear apart a beach ball that was making the rounds through the arena. The next night on RAW, there were several beach balls at the show. It was the classic copycat situation. However, beach balls are not a new thing at rasslin’ shows.
If you LIKED PWP Nation on Facebook you would’ve seen the GIF of Steve Austin punting a beach ball that made its way to the ring during a tag match.
Here’s an example: 4th of July fireworks.
Have you noticed that people complain A LOT on Facebook about fireworks? They’ve always hated them, that’s not new, but now they have a venue to let everyone know they hate them. Back in the day, the only way for them to complain was get on the phone and either call friends/family or call the local authorities.
Social media allows everyone to be able to share their opinions to a wide audience in seconds. There is a section of wrestling fans who do not like beach balls and think it is disrespectful to the athletes. Then there’s a section of wrestling fans who like the beach balls. We’re a nation divided.
So where’s the line with audience participation?
Beach balls are considered a distraction and a problem. Crowd chanting, depending on the chant, is also frowned upon because “the fans are just trying to get themselves over”. So what’s acceptable? Just rooting for baby faces and booing heels? Chanting is okay as along as it is in line with what the company wants? If you go back and watch RAW in 1997, every single week Vince McMahon told us that the WWF is where freedom speech is king.
“Fans have the right to bring whatever signs they want or chant whatever they want.”
The WWE does glamorize the Night After Mania RAW crowd. Let’s not forget that. They put that crowd over every year and go out of their way to remind the TV crowd that “this isn’t a normal crowd”. For the most part they’re correct, it isn’t. Which is why I enjoy them and not bash them on Twitter for trying to get themselves over. I love when the crowd is engaged, chanting, getting involved.
My favorite crowd reaction/interaction isn’t cheering, booing, bringing your own weapon, jumping the guardrail or even chanting, no way. It’s the throwing of trash at heels. This was a mainstay in WCW.
Do you want to talk about heel heat?
Throwing your full soda or beer at Hollywood Hogan and the nWo is heel heat. Even if you didn’t watch WCW you still have seen the moment Hulk Hogan joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall at Bash at the Beach in 1996 and fans littered the ring with garbage. Gene Okerlund mentioned that “this is what your future will be if you hang around with the likes of this guy Hall and this guy Nash.” Did that spawn the copycat mentality? Maybe.
I never watched WCW Nitro before this. So I do not know if trash throwing was already a thing. I do know that it became a weekly thing mainly because WCW loved having the heels get over on the baby faces all the time. I also know that WCW in a way encouraged it. Simply because they never said don’t do it! As someone who was watching on TV, it added to the product. It added to the presentation. The fans hated these guys so much they’d throw their full soda at them!
The trash throwing only happened as the show went off the air so there was no harm in it. It didn’t delay the show and they never threw trash during actual matches. I miss the trash throwing. I guess in a way, I miss guys having real heat. Maybe no one throws trash because nowadays no one is a real heel and the crowd is more worried about chanting “you deserve it.”