Frankly, the safety of the performers shouldn’t ever be a concern. It should be an afterthought.
These people are talented and putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment. Why anyone would jump the rails to get on television for a second, or actually attack a performer is beyond me, but the fact is that recently, WWE has had a lot of occurrences that is making me question how WWE handles its security.
There was the Dean Ambrose incident when a fan tried to stab him during a live WWE event. Before that, Roman Reigns was attacked by a fan with a Money in the Bank replica briefcase. The shooting in front of the WWE Performance Center was yet another issue when an obsessed fan went too far. Though it wasn’t as aggressive as any before it, the fan interjecting himself into Seth Rollins’ entrance on Raw was the fourth time in a short span of time that there was an unnecessary incident involving fans directly interfering with WWE performers.
Part of what makes wrestling and other sports so compelling is how close you are to the entertainment. There is a reason why the closer you get to the game, fight, or match, the price of the ticket increases. It’s not just about the view from your seat. With that price, there comes a certain level of trust between the fans and the performers. You’re not to interfere and stop the performers from putting the show for the rest of us in the arena, or watching at home.
Previously, those who jumped the rail were at the mercy of the wrestler being attacked. No kayfabe, you’d get severely beaten for your trouble. Now, it’s security’s job to eliminate the problem. They do a pretty good job, but security for wrestling shows is very limited and if there was ever an attack by multiple people, it could be a serious issue. With so many attempts recently, there may be concern that another attack could occur.
The first concern is obviously the protection of the wrestlers. In most arenas, it’s roughly 15,000 people in the stands. A few security guards can’t watch that many people. Wrestling fans could do anything they wanted. Most people aren’t going to shows to get involved, but there will always be someone every once in awhile that wants to get into trouble. It’s not enough to have security numbers to be dramatically increased, or for WWE to block their ring.
Yet, if some people are going to get involved with the show sometimes, shouldn’t there be a way to stop them? For instance, the NHL has the protective glass to protect fans from the action. Could WWE do something similar with the barricades to keep those few people out? That’s a possibility, but that also takes away from the experience. A lot of fans would complain, but what if that fan had actually gotten to Ambrose? One incident can change everything.
It’s one of those “better safe than sorry” situations.
Wrestlers and performers already have to worry about entertaining us, what move comes next, if they’re landing safe and other things; do the actions of a few make it so they have to worry about being attacked as well?
But the security issue goes both ways. Roman Reigns walks through the crowd every show. Remember a few years ago, when CM Punk attacked that fan because he felt something hit him in the back of the head? Even recently, when that kid got hurt by Brock Lesnar tossing the car door around. The wrestlers interacting with the crowd is just as dangerous.
One of the things that makes pro wrestling such a spectacular thing is the connection between the fans and the performers. It’s the job of the latter to generate heat, or likability, but you never see baseball players running into the crowd to celebrate a championship victory. You very rarely see fans throwing streamers onto the court.
Suddenly, WWE won’t allow ringside seats any longer. That’s less revenue. That’s less experience for trustworthy fans too.
Granted, this type of stuff happens a lot more in other promotions and used to happen a lot more than it does now. As a performer, you wouldn’t want to worry about fans hopping over the rails. As a fan, I don’t want fans who want to be on television for a second interrupt the show I’m trying to watch. It’s distracting and hurts the product.
Eventually, the powers that be may feel that doing something before something serious happens is the best way to protect their wrestlers. They’re not wrong, but that’s really unfair to the rest of us.
If the day comes when action must be taken, then I’ll of course understand. Between protection of talent, sponsors and other corporate jargon, it’s bound to happen someday. It’s just a shame that the many will have a great deal of the experience taken away because of the few. Wrestling is supposed to be a raw sport. That’s the day it starts dying.