WWE Hall of Fame ceremony deserves class, respect from fans

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

You’re at your school graduation.

Four years in the making (unless you’re on the five-year plan or accelerated three and a half) and finally your name is called.

You hear the Macho Man’s entrance music and walk that aisle (stage) wearing a cap and gown suited for your school’s colors. Your family and friends are there to witness it, proudly clapping and cheering you ... and then all of sudden from somewhere in the massive crowd you hear, ‘Booooo.’ ‘You suck.’ ‘Look at them ears.’

When has that response occurred at a commencement ceremony? It hasn’t. At least for your sake, I hope not.

An event to award or honor someone is not the time nor place to boo or heckle.

A decorum, a protocol the mantra.

Class and respect.

So why do some fans attend the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and boo and heckle, basically making fools of themselves and ruining a special night?

It is embarrassing, and I truly feel bad for the Hall of Fame inductees, those inducting them and the pro wrestling community.

Thankfully, the WWE Universe includes many fans who do act accordingly and understand the WWE HOF event is a proud ceremony and not a scripted angle, but still there are those rotten apples spoiling the bunch.

Where as those disrespectful fans show no class, the Hall of Famers, the presenters and their peers take the high road which is what they do. It’s another example of the classy nature of these celebs and wrestlers (superstars, divas, legends).

The WWE Boo-niverse should learn a lesson from them.

•  A Time and A Place

The WWE HOF ceremony is not Raw nor SmackDown. You buy a ticket for the Monday night or Friday night (taped Tuesday night) show, and you want to cheer, boo, praise, mock. Have at it. That’s the time and place to do it.

If you like or dislike a storyline or angle or superstar or diva, you can make it known via social media -- Facebook, Tout, Twitter. You can hide behind a pseudonym or nickname, which is something else that irks me, but until we incorporate needed checks and balances, such is the super highway.

But why harass at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony?

Maybe you disapprove of a WWE Hall of Fame selection or the person tabbed to induct him or her. Well during the ceremony is not the forum to vent. It is also not your opportunity to standout.

The WWE HOF ceremony is a real-life celebration to award wrestlers who gave their blood, sweat and tears to you fans; acknowledge those who sacrificed family life for you fans; and honor sports entertainers who actually appreciate you fans -- and this is how some of you thank them. It is also an occasion to recognize celebrities who have helped WWE grow -- hence the distinction World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, emphasis on Wrestling and Entertainment.

As for those who you feel do not belong, especially the celebrity inductees and mainstream presenters, they are people who support WWE which means they support you the WWE Universe, helping bridge a gap between pro wrestling and Hollywood which has opened different doors to our favorite talent, allowing them other work-related endeavors.

•  Gaining respect from mainstream

For years, the mainstream -- whether hi-brow news outlets, sports media, Hollywood -- ridiculed pro wrestling and its fans. Recently, do you recall political pundit Glenn Beck disparaging WWE and you (its fanbase) over a scripted storyline.

Issues are involved, which may be over some of your heads. Explanation.

For years pro wrestlers lived with a lack of respect from athletes, actors, media and the general public. The profession demeaned by those who really just didn’t understand it or its personalities nor wanted to. Pro wrestlers were stereotyped in a negative connotation.

The perception has changed. Closet fans no more. Athletes and actors regularly attend wrestling/sports entertainment shows. A few get involved, and the media is softening its stance, somewhat accepting the sports entertainment formula.

Back in the day, when those from the pro wrestling industry appeared on another TV show or movie, they portrayed their wrestling character. That has also changed. The turnaround can be linked to multi-faceted, mainstream connecting talent like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, Professor Toru Tanaka, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Macho Man Randy Savage, Goldberg, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, John Bradshaw Layfield, Jesse Ventura and The Rock.

Because of those wrestlers along with celebrity involvement and Hollywood and sports media’s endorsements, talent like Big Show, Jonathan Coach Coachman, Edge, Todd Grisham, Great Khali, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels and The Miz parlayed it into spots on other movie or TV programming, and they don’t have to be their wrestling persona.

You can attribute some of the acceptance and understanding to the outsiders (not Hall and Nash) who’ve embraced the company and its fan base. Celebs like Drew Carey, Maria Menounos, William the Refrigerator Perry, Pete Rose, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Uecker, Mike Tyson and Donald Trump.

Still, with their support and from others like them, you don’t see WWE or pro wrestlers acknowledged for their sports entertainment work on Hollywood’s Emmy awards or comparable award programming. That’s another step in the evolution.

•  Boo-niverse regress

Tying this into the WWE HOF ceremony, the behavior of some fans during is a step backward for the profession. I’ve attended or watched the ceremony on television to appreciate and listen to the inductees. Do I agree with all the selections or choices for presenters? No, but I have respect for them.

Sure, I surmised several pro wrestlers who could have inducted Bob Backlund for the 2013 version of the WWE HOF, and in my opinion would have been better than TV personality Maria Menounos, but I would not heckle her during the ceremony. Menounos is not only a WWE fan and supporter, but she even participated in a match at WrestleMania 28 in Miami and wrestled injured (legit). She also attracted mainstream attention to WWE.

And for that, you thank her by showering her with boos during the ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then...

How about Donald Trump. Long before others did, The Don lauded Mr. McMahon’s vision when it was WWF, and instead of thanking him or just watching quietly, you heckle him.

What about those fans who interrupt a wrestler’s Hall of Fame speech by blurting something or constantly yelling when a presenter is doing his or her best to discuss the career of an honoree.

There is no crying in baseball, and there is no booing at Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame ceremony. Football fans and former players express themselves when the names are released for the NFL Hall of Fame. Who did not make it and should have is a usual debate, but agree or disagree, they don’t heckle during the ceremony. Basketball, hockey. Go through the list. Only at WWE’s Hall of Fame ceremony do the inductors and inductees confront derisiveness. Why?

•  Knowing your role

There is a time and place for everything, and the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony is a time and a place for fans to ‘know your role and shut your mouth.’

Let those who’ve earned it do the talking. Like them or not, they did it for you. Now can you do something for them. Class and respect.

They deserve it. They all do.

• A portion of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony for the Class of 2013 will be broadcast 10 p.m. EST Tuesday on the USA Network.

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