Acceptable Targets: Professional Wrestling in general seems to be this to anyone who is not a fan.
Within the pro wrestling circle we have TNA, the red-headed stepchild of the red-headed stepchild of entertainment. Though it's not the product or the performers that are acceptable to hate — it's the managementnote Dixie Carter in particular. The very, very incompetent management. When people say that TNA's management is more likely to kill TNA than its competition and/or its hatedom is, they're not lying.
For perspective on how terrible TNA's management is, they hired every single person on the cover of The Death of WCW and allowed them free reign over the company. By the time said reign was over, TNA was on the verge of bankruptcy.
WCW is also this to a lesser extent. Despite its 84-week winning streak in the Monday Night Wars they lost their momentum due to catastrophic mismanagement similar to TNA above and eventually went out of business, being purchased by their Arch RivalWWE for a fraction of what it was once worth. While WCW still has fans nearly two decades after its closure, most wrestlers, critics and Smart Mark fans have nothing but negative things to say about the promotion whenever it's mentioned.
Vince Russo. He's the reason why WCW (and later, TNA) is the fandom's primary target for Snark Bait. Very few people in this business are as hated as Vince Russo is and most of his opinions are immediately dismissed as fans see most of it as trolling attempts to bait smark fans — mainly because they don't want to believe that Russo is that delusional.
Award Snub: It's very hard to judge who the best in pro wrestling is. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter tries to avoid narrow ranges by putting multiple categories to vote, depending on style of wrestling (best technical wrestler, best brawler), attendance/gate (best box office draw), booking (feud of the year), crowd response, etc but comes under fire for relying on votes of wrestlers, who naturally tend to vote against many fan favorites, especially regarding its hall of fame. Pro Wrestling Illustrated judges based on objective wins or losses, meaning you can go through a year of clumsy squashes against men half your size in one company and wind up higher than a guy brilliantly taking apart men twice his size in another because he happened to lose more. Scope is also a problem, as pro wrestling matches happen on every continent but Antarctica, often simultaneously. No one can be expected to cover it all, though some groups make valiant, if contentious, efforts.
Jack Pfefer is seen as an innovate promoter who paved the way for developments such as Tag Team and midget wrestling. He is equally viewed as a spiteful asshole whose revealing of business secrets and deliberately phony theatrics made it harder for more subdued grappling and mat technique to get over and or ensured legitimate pro wrestling would never return. He was largely responsible for the success of Buddy Rogers, was a great friend of Stu Hart and helped many women wrestlers like Mildred Burke and Fabulous Moolah. He purposefully sabotaged the whole of New York's promoters multiple times and ran Chicago into the ground. Many a debate has been raised over whether he was ultimately good or bad for the industry.
Mil Mascaras is beloved by fans and most promoters, but there are wrestlers in USA and Canada who think he has an over inflated ego due to him bashing their styles of wrestling, having a tendency to No-Sell and consistently refusing to do the job.
The question over whether Axel, "El Nieto del Santo", should have even been allowed to ever become a luchador is a point of contention. Legends of the ring such as Huracán Ramírez and Martha Villalobos have been vocally supportive of him in the face of threatening lawsuits but many promotions refused to hire him on principal and many other promoters didn't have guts to keep booking him when lawsuits came their way, which often came from Axel's own uncle, "Hijo del Santo". It's really easy to criticize Hijo del Santo for not supporting and actively sabotaging a family member, but at the same time there are countless stories of luchadors losing the right to their name or mooching off the name recognition of another without permission, so it's also easy to see how the situation arose.
The women seem to be very prone to this. Unless your name is Lita, Mickie James or Trish Stratus (and even Trish is becoming a Base Breaker to an extent. See Seinfeld Is Unfunny below), pretty much all WWE Divas or TNA Knockouts are either base breakers or complete scrappies, at least among smarks. Even many women in the indies have divided opinions.
Among bookers, Gabe Sapolsky is either one of the greats or one of the fools who got lucky. Even critics are split, some like those at PWPonderings expressing nostalgia for him when things exceeded their expectations while others like Quebrada.net were writing/typing in depth analytical breakdowns to prove he didn't know what to do with the talent he had even during the three years he won The Wrestling Observer's "Best Booker" award. For the most part, the "Great" crowd was louder when he was booking ROH and FIP and the "Lucky" detractors were noisier when he was booking Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE.
Among commentators, Don West and Matt Striker are among the most critically praised and panned. To summarize, they put a lot of effort into their work but tend to say stupid things, with the love and hate depending on how much any given listener appreciates or is annoyed.
Critical Dissonance: There is often a big difference between what the casual fans in the arenas are cheering for and who the hardcore fans and critics like. Casual fan-favorites are often regarded as all flash and no substance that panders to the Lowest Common Denominator by the hardcore fans, and IWC darlings are often regarded as boring by casual fans.
Pro Wrestling fans vs. Boxing fans, then vs. Mixed Martial Arts fans, in regions where MMA isn't considered a sub genre of pro wrestling (in Japan, for example, it is). Or pretty much fans of any entertainment, athletic or not.
Within the industry, Casual fans vs. Hardcore fans (especially those who self-identify as smarks) since the two groups look at the product in different ways. Casual fans watch the show the way it was meant to be seen (with Kayfabe in tact) whereas smarks care more about analyzing the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business and are more interested in technicality than Five Moves of Doom.
El Santo vs The Blue Demon, even though the former was more popular there remains a vocal minority that insists the latter was the better wrestler. Doesn't help that their rivalry never came to a conclusive end.
A particularly nasty one surrounds Bruiser Brody, especially regarding any suggestion that his death was anything but murder. Who should be held responsible and how they should be dealt with is in turn a broken base on a side of a broken base, ranging from simply giving Invader #1 a retrial to condemning everyone who can be associated with Invader #1 in any way following the incident to hell.
Also, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart has finally settled their differences, but that doesn't stop their respective fans from engaging in flame wars regarding who was better.
In the new Millennium, WWE vs. TNA vs. Ring of Honor, though despite the addition of wrestlers made famous by either WWE or WCW, TNA's ratings remain stagnant.
From within the WWE itself are Raw vs. Smackdown (the flagship sports entertainment show vs. the wrestling show, made worse when the Draft often relocates a lot Smackdown talent to Raw), brand extension fans vs. unified company fans, Cena fans vs Cena haters, Superstars (especially Divas) with indy wrestling backgrounds vs. WWE/NXT homegrowns, Jim Ross vs. Michael Cole, and combinations of the WWE's different eras (Rock and Wrestling vs.The Wrestling/Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era vs. Ruthless Aggression Era vs. WWE Universe Era)
People who agree with WWE regarding making Chris Benoit an Un-person and those who want him in the Hall of Fame and his matches on DVD.note There was a Benoit DVD, 2004's Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story. WWE took it out of print following the tragedy.
If Twitter is anything to go by, Nikki Bella fans and AJ Lee fans absolutely despise each other.
A good example was when Randy Orton approached John Cena backstage at Backlash 2007 just before their Fatal Four-Way match with Shawn Michaels and Edge. He suggested that he and Cena team up to take out the competition, but unfortunately he used the words "get together" - and, to top it off, tried to appeal to Cena's vanity by noting how "young" and "good-looking" they both were. Cena, being the Deadpan Snarker he was, replied that, while he was okay with Orton's lifestyle, "that's not how I roll." He then walked off, leaving Orton yelling, "Very funny, Cena! But you know how this is going to end - with you on your back and me on top of you!" Enter the always-outspoken Ron Simmons, complete with his "DAMN!" T-shirt. Hilarity Ensues.
A lot of wrestlers working in America remain hugely popular in their country of origin or descent, despite being low-card acts in the US. Some examples:
Stan Hansen of AJPW, who is vaguely notable to American pro wrestling history but remains one of the most popular and recognizable stars in Japan years after his retirement;
Terry Gordy and Steve Williams, who were enormously renowned in their territorial days but resigned to relatively bit roles on WWE and WCW, were also very popular in AJPW, teaming as the Miracle Violence Connection.
Hulk Hogan and his all-American gimmick is popular in Canada, and absolutely beloved in Toronto. After returning to WWE as the leader of the Wrestling/newWorldorder, his face turn was induced by the Toronto fans who adamantly refused to boo him.
Brillante Jr/La Sombra, best known for his stints in CMLL, who is loved by Germans despite never wrestling in Germany, or Europe for that matter.
Mark Jindrak, a mid-carder from WCW and WWE, revived his career in Mexico as Marco Corleone.
Genki Horiguchi, a lower-card Dragon Gate wrestler whose Bald of Awesome gimmick has made him one of DG's most popular wrestlers in the US, although this is largely due to the efforts of US promoters trying to get his baldness over so that "HAGE" wouldn't be Lost in Translation.
Similarly with Akira Tozawa. A generally middle of the road guy in Dragon Gate (who wasn't even the highest ranked member of the stable that bore his name), in the summer of 2010 he began an extended tour in the United States wrestling mainly for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. His ability to put on great matches and seemingly crazy/eccentric personality quickly won over American crowds making him a far bigger deal on the American indies than he had been in his home promotion.
Mention professional wrestling to your average Filipino casual fan/non-fan and the first name they'll usually tell you is Batista. That's largely because Dave Bautista's father is Filipino and/or because he's made a successful transition to film, but despite his age, his arguable lack of skill for many smarks, backstage rumors, and the whole "Bootista" run of 2014, he's still arguably the most popular wrestler, period, among his father's countrymen. That's despite the presence of younger Filipino-Americans like Zema Ion/DJ Z and Manik/T.J. Perkins, and the rise of Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) in 2015.
This may soon change, following Perkins' victory at WWE's inaugural Cruiserweight Classic tournament in 2016.
Girl Show Ghetto: The most successful promotions to breakout of the niche market would be WWWA, Zenjo, GLOW and GAEA. Even then, GLOW was a camp tax write off most involved in the founding of expected to fail. In coed promotions, women occasionally become comparable draws to the most successful men but when the talent pool of most regions is predominately men it's to be expected more men will draw. Most forms of amateur wrestling that pro wrestling recruits from, such as Greco Roman or Freestyle, are predominately male activities so it runs pretty deep even before gender related double standards are considered.
Audience reactions can be hard to predict. Karl Gotch is one of the all time greats of pro wrestling, but he wasn't well received in the USA until years after his career had ended. Hulk Hogan had been at least decently received pretty much everywhere he went, regardless of how or how hard he worked...until he debuted for WCW, where aside from the dream match with Ric Flair, fans just didn't care. Perro Aguayo Jr was highly celebrated by fans who grew up watching his father, until he went to CMLL and had to change his entire gimmick to be accepted by fans who now saw him as a pale imitation of his father. Samoa Joe impressed crowds the world over for his Japanese heavyweight influenced style, except for Japan, were it took him over a decade to get over. Bryan Danielson had been hailed as great everywhere in the world he went, until we went to Triple A in Mexico. Místico was the second biggest star in North America, until he failed in WWE, with Dos Caras Jr being a slightly less dramatic contemporary case to his.
Several of wrestling's most popular stars didn't initially live up to the hype. The Blade Runners proved it takes more than a good physique and a trendy gimmick to get over. Rocky Maivia, the third generation superstar whom everyone was sick of after two weeks. Kurt Angle, the Olympic Gold Medalist, once he finally had a one on one WWF match fans found it boring. Brock Lesnar, NCAA champion, the next big thing...took a while before fans warmed up to the idea. NJPW and NWA were sure Naoya Ogawa, the badass judoka, would impress, only to learn fans wanted Shinya Hashimoto and Dan Severn back. Fans had been clamoring for WWE to give John Cena a title for an entire year. He got one and fans were happy, till Brock Lesnar left and John Cena was suddenly the top star in all of WWE, who found fans didn't like Cena quite that much. ROH has a new star no one saw coming in Tyler Black, but after a year of being told how great he was fans were sick of him by the time he won the world title belt. Roman Reigns is part of a popular trio that has just rebelled against a very unpopular stable, surely fans will get behind him when he breaks out on his own...maybe not?
Triplemanía XXIII. From the moment it was conceived Triple A had been trying to break into the USA market and this, following the buzz of Lucha Underground, was their biggest push yet, and it failed to impress, particularly because of glitches in the English feed.
Internet pay per view lead to a lot of this. It was not ideally reliable even to those who know what they were doing and a lot of people involved in pro wrestling proved they didn't. The biggest case bar none was Preston City Wrestling's. They had spent four years building up a respectable reputation. Then it put on Europe's first Internet Pay Per View, and it was a disaster. Those who were not sold on PCW now had justification to be very vocal about it and even it's rabid fans feared for the UK circuit's reputation, if not Europe's as a whole.
Internet Backdraft: Mentioning anything about pro wrestling online will almost guarantee a Flame War. If it's not the haters attacking the fans for liking the craft, it'll be fans attacking other fans for not liking the wrestlers or promotions that they like.
It's Popular, Now It Sucks: What's most common in WWE is that fans will really get behind a wrestler when they're making their way up the food chain in the company. However, once said wrestler wins the big one and finally becomes world champion, they'll enter Base-Breaking Character status because at that point, a lot of fans will turn on them and criticize them for seemingly every little thing. Most recently, this has happened to wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: No wrestler that's had a decent amount of airtime and attention in WWE in the last ten years has gone without being paired with somebody else in either a straight or slash fic. (Yes. Even Vince McMahon. He's got Linda, remember?)
Love It or Hate It: Either you like professional wrestling or you don't. There isn't much of a middle ground.
Memetic Badass: Vacant. After a period where both the WWE and TNA titles were vacated during the later half of 2013 for extended periods, the IWC decided that "Vacant" must be some sort of invisible mystery wrestler, and a quick search of title histories shows him to be among the most decorated professional wrestlers of all time.
Older Than They Think: Given that the practice of working matches dates back to at least 1880 (and that's just works, wrestling itself is at least as old as Sumeria) and that virtually all matches were worked by 1920, there was very little that was truly "new" in professional wrestling by 1970. If someone does come up with something truly believed to be "new" it will be called a "Northern Light" and even to this day a good many Northern Lights (especially when it comes to moves and match stipulations) are done by accident. Basically, if you actually thought and planned it, it's a good chance someone in wrestling has done so before.
Smurfette Breakout: Pro wrestling is a field where it happens very often. The women's wrestling niche may be hard to break out of, but a woman may end up with a more satisfying career than many a man regardless.