The WWE has provided many of us with countless memories over our lives and has prospered as a company for over 60 years. One of the reasons that this company has been able to over take the competition with such a wide gap, besides the aggressive entrepreneurship of Vince McMahon, is the overwhelming sense of community that the WWE creates. This goes beyond the fairly recent term of the ‘WWE Universe,’ this is about the way the audience is drawn in and made to feel apart of the product, in fact traditionally speaking with wrestling, the more the fans feel invested in the product the more money they’re willing to throw at the company. Obviously the WWE has figured this out for some time and makes sure the fans know they are appreciated.
It seems like almost every time a good guy gives a promo they have to mention the fact that the reason they step in the ring and perform is for the fans. The good guys talk of how much they give to the fans in appreciation for what the fans give to them, placing the audience on a pedestal. The bad guys harass the audience, obviously to gain heat, but this is still a method of drawing the audience in and making them a part of the show. Having no proof I would say that within the past several years the wrestlers have been told to try and include the audience as much as possible. That being said I can recall Stone Cold Steve Austin’s retirement speech at Survivor Series 2003 and it was directed at thanking and addressing the audience.
Taking a more recent example, look at the night after WrestleMania this year, the emphasis placed on the audience, they were the biggest star of that night. Not only that, but WWE promoted it that way, the fallout from that night placed the spotlight on the crowd from New Jersey. Or look at just last week’s broadcast of Raw. While some may point to it as an awful episode of Raw, I instead insist on looking at the segment with John Cena and the Make-A-Wish kids. Not only was John Cena doing something extremely beautiful, he was letting us all feel the joy that those kids and their families received and deserved. Beyond that, every time Cena mentioned Raw he used the word “us” implying that we were as important as he was, and when the audience feels that warmth they are drawn to the product.
WWE is aware of the profits to be had by creating this sense of community, and all the new social media kick is doing a fine job of that. People are going on the social media to get news and end up getting into talks with other fans, making them feel more comfortable and further invest in WWE. If you want to look at how important fans are to a wrestling company, all you have to do is put in a little research on ECW. This promotion was created by the love and passion of the fans, whom felt they were doing something TOGETHER. In the closing moments of the first ECW PPV Barely Legal the fans are chanting “Our Way.” The fans were so dedicated, and invested so deeply from the community created in the ECW arena that Paul Heyman has gone on record saying that the best thing created by ECW was the fans.
Lately WWE has been promoting anti-bullying and using WWE as an escape from the real world. Mick Foley tweeted saying that he hoped that Raw would distract him from the latest tragedies of the Boston bombings. And that’s what WWE is, it’s entertainment, it’s a distraction and there is a tremendous amount of support to be found within the WWE universe. Regardless of what may be going on in your personal lives, there will always be a match or a segment that can lift your spirits, if you let it. If you are fortunate enough to appreciate professional wrestling you become a part of a community, something to be lost in if you need an escape. Even farther beyond that, if you are a wrestling fan and you see someone wearing a wrestling show, that is someone you know you can relate to, that you can understand, because you are a part of their extended community. And I could not be more proud to be a part of this glorious community, for the record.