I’ve been posting about wrestling in the Internet for probably 15+ years. And I’ve never heard a self proclaimed hardcore fan admit that truth.... that they’re not cool and that companies should not be catering to them.Stop catering to hardcore fans. I am in this group, so I do not say this with viciousness: We are not cool. We might be in other facets of our lives (or may not be), but wrestling fandom is not cool. It will not “catch.”
Plus, we’re all going to follow anyway. Try and get people who would follow wrestling, but aren’t “workrate perverts” (I heard that term once, and while I hate “workrate,” I love that phrase). People who might go for the work. The energy of a brawl. Two guys talking shit then walking the shit. Hardcores will watch, but others might too. Appealing to hardcores is going to cap you.
Hardcore fans also make it hard to push guys. I’m sorry, but they do. John Cena is not an untalented man. Roman Reigns is not an untalented man. People do not like the pushes. They know it’s rigged, so they make anyone getting that sort of corporate backing a heel. I was right there with them on Cena, because I had ideas like “deserving” and “journey” in my head. That’s partially WWE’s fault, and wrestling’s fault.
When you are left with only hardcores, you push anyone and fans are going to go “Such and such NEVER loses!”. They lose once: “Such and such is buried!” You have freakin’ people who don’t think AJ Styles is a good worker, for crying out loud.
When you appeal to wider audiences, the product can speak for itself and influence, as opposed to being influenced and responding to fans who think they know. If you filled arenas with people who wanted to fuck Roman Reigns, people who didn’t want to fuck with Roman Reigns, and kids who wanted to be a Roman Reigns, you might get a popular Roman Reigns.
I’m only using WWE as an example because it’s obvious there. AEW fans currently feel like they are part of the AEW product, but it’s going to be a similar problem. They need to build babyface and heel stars to build around, and that is going to mean going beyond what the hardcore fans think they know.
It’s possible to both work the casual fans and the hardcores. That is when you could really get a product working. The trick is to not make the angles too inside. They’re trying that with Joey Janela and Kip Sabian, but...well, the talent level there is fucked.
The company that works out how to work the internet fan first is going to benefit a lot.
Hats off to you. A very genuine and truthful thing to say.