Wrestlings Biggest Star...The Audience
by, 04-17-2012 at 07:26 AM (2552 Views)
For this blog I thought I’d look at the biggest member or any wrestling companies roster…the audience. And a hot live audience is to me the key to strong ratings and over performers.
There is the argument that a crowd varies from city to city and from country to country (Although International shows are always going to look strong as the crowd see the shows live so rarely) and I’ve lost count of the times the atmosphere in the Impact Zone has been blamed on the tourist crowd, but we have to remember that wrestling is entertainment and is in the similar vein of Pantomime – we cheer for the good guys, boo the bad guys and sing along when asked to and it’s this audience participation aspect that I feel both WWE and TNA should milk. If an audience feels part of the show they will naturally be more vocally involved in a show, wrestlers will get better responses and the show comes over hotter on TV which can help to boost ratings. Lets look at a few examples:
The What/Yes Debate
Is Yes the new What? Of course it is, the audience have latched onto something that they feel they can own and participate with. And the WWE should completely embrace it. If the crowd want to Yes though an entire promo, let them. Cena showed the other week that you can acknowledge a Yes! chant without breaking character and promo structure and the crowd responded positively. R Truth at his funniest and most heelish was getting ‘Whatted’ all the time and he embraced it by telling the crowd to not what him, this only helped to get him more over.
It comes down to basic psychology – the more the audience feel part of the show, the more they will contribute. They want to be involved, they’d all gladly step in the ring if you let them but ignore their desire to participate and they will soon turn off and lose interest.
Take the confrontation between Del Rio and Sheamus the other week. The crowd were ‘Yessing’ and then turned the chant to ‘Si Si Si’ no one told them to do this, it wasn’t instructed by the WWE or rammed down their throats in promos for weeks, this is something that happened organically. But through fear of going off script neither man dared acknowledge it despite the fact that this could lead to a strong face turn for Del Rio – a star that they seem to be finding difficult to slot into the mix at the mo. When will the WWE realise that he is a stronger face commodity to them than a heel one. Not all the time but I wish the WWE was brave enough to go with the crowd sometimes. It used to be that way…both Stone Cold and Rock have said that the crowd turned them when they wanted to and they went with it and look what happened. If you want your up and coming stars to be over then you’ve got to allow the audience to feel part of their growth, development and transition from face to heel etc…
The Social Media Opportunity
The past 12 months have seen the industry rapidly embrace Social Media as a way of connecting with the fans to a point that if Raw doesn’t trend worldwide each week it is considered a disaster. There’s even social media ratings to indicate the most discussed shows, topics individuals etc…
Like the audience in the arena need to feel interacted with to feel engaged, so do the audience at home. I think the WWE could take the social interaction further….have the commentators and on rare occasions the superstars make reference to fan tweets live on the show. How keen to switch over will a fan be if there’s a chance that they may get a ‘Shout out’ live on Raw after the commercial break. Have them involved with coming up with stipulations (Cyber Sunday Style) a bit more often. I know it didn’t work every single time – probably because of overkill but look how The Rock engaged the audience in the arena and at home by brining them together. Create the hook ‘Boots to Asses’ for example….get the crowd involved so they feel part of its creation…..they’re chanting like crazy and it then trends worldwide. Sounds simple doesn’t it.
Anyway I’ll wrap this up now but really I guess my point is that the crowd are the barometer of the business and an engaged crowd is an entertained and energised crowd, and to get the most of them you’ve got to involve them and play along with them. It’s like when you go to a music gig and that feeling you get when the band/performer throws the mic out to the audience to sing along to your favourite song. It instantly makes that gig unforgettable and the same feeling can be generated in the wrestling business. How forgettable would a Raw be that had you personally mentioned for a tweet you sent moments ago. How forgettable would a PPV be where you felt the interaction and involvement of the stars corresponding to your chants?
That’s all for now, usual comments, opinions, abuse welcome and feel free to follow me on twitter @dmayerl