|Scope/Focus:||There have been "fans" of wrestling since its carny days in the early 1900s, but the more modern fandom first developed around the 80's, and continued on from then.|
|See also:||World Wrestling Entertainment, All Elite Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, CHIKARA|
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Professional Wrestling is a relatively large, albeit disorganised, fandom, that straddles the line between RPF, media fandom, and shares numerous aspects of its make up with bandom (i.e. attending live shows, enjoying interviews, and attending meet 'n greets more often than fans of other genres might). It also has a devoted vidding element, located primarily on YouTube, and a large fic-writing section, located formerly on LJ and Fanfiction.net, and now primarily Archive of Our Own and Tumblr.  A smaller fan-art segment of the fandom can be found on DeviantArt. Many fannish sites were located on Geocities, and have been either lost or archived by fans/OOCities/documented as a part of the Geocities Rescue Project. One such site that has been archived by fans and documented is Shadows of the Moon.
Companies in wrestling are known as 'feds' or 'promotions', and only certain feds are popular in fannish circles, though there are many, many more. World Wrestling Entertainment, as the most popular federation in the world, is the main focus of fannish attention. WWE's own developmental brand, NXT, has also cultivated its own separate fanbase. Most recently, All Elite Wrestling, which began in 2019, has developed a notable following in the time since. Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, and Lucha Underground also feature in many works. Well-known indie feds like Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla have their own smattering of fanworks. The notorious and well publicized (and fictionalised) sale of WCW and ECW to WWE in 2001 has lead to much cross-continuity between feds, and the usual back-and-forth of talent (especially with the rise of WWE's practice of 'raiding' the indies for talent, rather than utilising its own developmental feds) has encouraged this. Similarly, All Elite Wrestling's habit of hiring talent who left WWE as well as collaborating with Japanese feds such as New Japan has encouraged a degree of crossovers in the fandom. However, canon is at the constant mercy of Retcons, swerves, and fanon.
Although professional wrestling has always had some level of fan activity, the fandom experienced a surge in popularity around the year 2013. This could have to do with the rising popularity of the 3-man faction The Shield, as since their debut in 2012 most fanworks have revolved around at least one member of the Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, or Seth Rollins).
In 2017 the "Wrestling Returns To The Armory" convention was held in Tampa, Florida.
The fandom is characterised by terminology unused in other areas -- Wikipedia gives a good list.
Predominance of Slash over Het
The fandom is hugely dominated by slash fanworks, and het and Femslash are obscure, more than likely due to the poor treatment of women by the big feds. The one big het pairing was Chris Jericho/Stephanie McMahon, a pairing dominated by misogynist taunts on his part. However, in recent years, Femslash has become more popular as female wrestlers receive better treatment and become more popular among fans, with both Charlotte/Becky Lynch, due to the rivalry between the two characters, and Sasha Banks/Bayley, due to their status as a tag team, appearing among the most popular ships in the WWE fandom.
Influence of Fans
Professional Wrestling is unique in that the fans are present while the show is being filmed, and thus are in a way a character with a voice in the shows.
WWE occasionally will change plot lines and plans for certain wrestlers according to how fans react to them at shows. Dwayne Johnson came into WWE in 1996 as a traditional Face named Rocky Maivia. He flopped, drawing chants of "Rocky sucks! Rocky sucks!", drawing more heat than even some of the biggest heels at the time. This led to him turning heel, deepening his voice and reinventing himself as The Rock. Along with improving in the ring, he ultimately had to do two big heel turns (joining The Nation of Domination in 1997 and The Corporation in 1998) for the fans to finally accept him.
In 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the professional wrestling was hit hard, as fans could no long safely be in attendance. Many feds, such as New Japan Pro Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, AEW, and WWE, had to cancel shows, and when they came back, their shows were filmed remotely and without audience. This meant that the audience's role as a character was diminished in this time, with pre-recorded crowd noise played instead of live audio. However, this did little to deter the fandom and in 2021, these feds began their regular touring with crowds and live audiences returning and taking the role they had held before.
Fanboys & Fangirls -- The Division in the Fandom
Like Star Trek, games, such as Final Fantasy, and other fandoms, Professional Wrestling fandom is sometimes split by gender lines. For example, fanfiction (especially the slash portions), is primarily done by people who generally identify as female, while news reports and scoops seem to be reported by and commented on by a more male-identifying audience. However, as this Fanlore editor will attest, some writers of both will cross the field quite regularly -- the existence of such blogs as Ringside Confessions attests to that.
- John Cena/Randy Orton
- Shawn Michaels/Triple H
- Marty Jannety/Shawn Michaels
- Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins
- Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns
- Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose[note 1]
- Charlotte/Becky Lynch
- Kenny Omega/Kota Ibushi
- Finn Balor/Sami Zayn
- Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn
- Bayley/Sasha Banks
- Triple H is NXT's dad. Triple H is always evil unless one of his NXT kids is involved.
- Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins had an intense relationship, even more intense breakup, and will always carry a torch for each other.
- Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns love each other. (platonically or romantically)
- The Demon living in Finn Balor is a separate entity to him. (This is semi-canon)
- Any member of the Shield and occasionally Finn Balor are treated as Fandom Bicycles.
- Everyone wants Samoa Joe to put them in the Coquina Clutch.
Old Fandom Tropes:
- Jack Swagger is hung like a horse.
- Randy Orton and John Cena are married in all but law.
- The Undertaker is an uber!top.
- Triple H is generally evil, even when he's face, unless he's OTP'd with Shawn Michaels or OT5'd with The Kliq. This fannish opinion comes from Hunter's backstage reputation and presumed politicking.
- The Miz had a bad breakup with John Morrison, leading to many rebounds with others (see Little Black Dress), until he settled down with Alex Riley, who both are now going through relationship troubles.
- CM Punk likes sex a lot, contrary to his legitimate 'straight edge' lifestyle, which dictates no promiscuous sex.
- Shane McMahon is insecure. Fanworks did depict him somewhat as a rich snot, but his depature from the family company has changed this opinion somewhat.
- Edge/Christian are OTP, and everyone just ignores the retconned fact that they were introduced as brothers.
Wrestling fans, like all other fans, like tropes:
- Vince McMahon is a homophobe -- (might be true, might not be).
- Mary Sues -- no, really, there are lots
- Big Guy, Little Guy
- Established Relationship
- Everyone Is Gay
- Everyone Is Related (this happens in canon)
- Forced Bed-Sharing
- Alternate Universe (Either rewriting actual canonical wrestling history or creating a hypothetical promotion. Commonly known as "Fantasy booking.")
- Delmi Exo of Team Sea Stars, who have appeared in CHIKARA, has been billed from "Planet Exo."
- Kaiju Big Battel has Call-Me-Kevin from "Piscon 7."
- "The Galaxy's Greatest Alien" Kris Stadtlander, who is billed from "The Andromeda Galaxy".
- Japanese wrestler Ryuma Go (1956-2009)had a gimmick of an alien fighter.
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