Casual fans are an interesting group in the world of pro wrestling. Some promotions cater towards them often, while others don’t do it as much and get criticized for it.
On Twitter, an annoying debate took place regarding CM Punk using Miseria Cantare (Punk’s ROH theme) for his entrance during his entrance at the AEW PPV Revolution. What’s the problem with Punk using his old theme? Well… Some people think it was a reference to something not many saw back in the day, and casual fans would not understand such “obscure” reference. While all this arguing is happening, Excalibur (AEW’s play-by-play commentator) did give an explanation to the reference Punk was going for and explaining what it meant for newer fans.
This whole debate about Punk and Miseria Cantare, can be tracked back to the subject of promotions and casual fans. Wrestling is one of the new mediums out there that when you make small reference to small things few people saw, it’s looked down upon. But when Marvel does it with their movies, it’s considered great and a nod to fans that pay attention to comics.
Let’s take WWE as an example. WWE focuses most of their efforts towards casual fans. They will barely reference the career of their wrestlers outside of WWE. Vince McMahon and WWE do it for several reasons. First, WWE doesn’t want to promote other promotions and two, WWE believes the only stories that matters are their own. That’s a fine approach, it has made WWE a lot of money… But on the downside, it has made hardcore fans to turn away from their production.
AEW on the other hand, does acknowledge the past of not only their wrestlers, but of pro wrestling as a whole. AEW acknowledging the past makes fans who pay attention feel happy a big promotion is referencing stuff from other places. It also makes AEW’s storytelling deeper than we can see in WWE. Another point to this, is that is makes people want to check out more wrestling. It’s very likely that some fans that are not familiar with Punk’s ROH run decided to give it a try after listing to Miseria Cantare.
There’s an alternative now…
Going back to the original point about Punk and Miseria Cantare. The problem some people have is that AEW does things completely different from WWE; from their presentation, to things like we saw with Punk in Revolution. AEW had the uphill battle of trying to have their own identity. Pro wrestling in the U.S. just had one big game in town for so long, it has made some people believe that WWE’s way of doing things is the only right way. And that’s not true.
As mentioned before, Marvel has a lot of Easter eggs in their movies and fans appreciate it, both new and old. New fans use it as an opportunity to read more comics, while old fans get excited for what’s to come. Wrestling should work like this, but it doesn’t and why is this the case? I hate burying WWE, but they are the reason. You see, WWE has always hated indie wrestling and has been seen insulting it by calling it backyard wrestling.
One thing is for sure, wrestling is a weird place.