So grab a pen and paper and prepare to take notes, because we're about to show you how to spot these conversational troublemakers quickly and easily. And with any luck, this will help you salvage that awkward conversation with your secretary next year when she asks why you're dressed as the Ultimate Warrior at the office Halloween party.
Identifying Quote: "You really watch that stuff?"
By far the most common of all of the people on this list, the condescending friend, upon learning of your wrestling fanboy tendencies, will react with confusion and mockery, like he just found out that your middle name really is "Dickholster". Generally these people have never really given wrestling a thought one way or another, aside from a vague suspicion that it is stupid based on no evidence. They'll be among the first to suggest that wrestling is fake and cartoony, but won't really have their heart in it, and these people can usually be diffused with a simple, "Yeah, it's a tv show that I like. They do some cool stuff on there." or a "Pssh, it's not half as stupid as *thing your friend likes*". If your friend is a guy who is into My Little Pony, for example, this is the easiest segue way you will ever have to make.
Note: It does seem like women have to deal with this particular group perhaps more than any other, probably due to social stigmas causing them to be mocked for liking things that are traditionally for boys. Should you ladies find yourself in a situation like this, a recommend a heavy dose of crotch punching followed by tacos.
Identifying Quote: "That Shit's All Fake, Man."
Mixed martial arts and professional wrestling in America actually have quite of bit of shared heritage, dating back to the start of the 20th century, and indeed, much of what has made Ultimate Fighting Championships the runaway juggernaut it is today is a focus on the promotion and presentation style that wrestling made famous. The two pursuits are tied together, and in a perfect world, we could few them as two sides of the same coin, each offering different entertainment options and being a fan of both would be as natural as can be. But this isn't a perfect world, and because of that, this guy exists.
You will know MMA guy by sight before you ever speak to him. He'll be wearing a loud t-shirt, walking like his dick is the size of a grain silo, and will smell like Axe Body Spray and anger. Most MMA fans wouldn't give this guy the time of day, but if somehow the topic of professional wrestling comes up he is going to think he has to be the spokesman for all of them and you are going to hear the words "fake" and "gay" coming at your face faster than Anderson Silva's fists and mockery. This is a tough conversation to get out of, because there really is no possible way to bring this individual around to your way of thinking. Your only hope is to smile, nod, and try to avoid a demonstration of what "a real submission is" being done to you before you can slip out of the room.
This is perhaps my favorite of all the people on this list. This individual used to watch wrestling during one of the boom eras when it was really cool. This is usually either the Hogan days or the Austin days, but I've heard older people remark fondly on the territory days as well. They stopped watching, either because they outgrew it or it just stopped being the cool thing to do, but they've always maintained a vague fondness from their childhood. These people would love to hear about the crazy nonsense their favorites from back in the day are up to, and you can actually turn this into a fun conversation very easily.
The important thing to remember here, though, is that this person is not a wrestling fan, or a potential convert (which comes later). They're just a person catching up on nostalgia, and like all nostalgia, the topic has an expiration date. So before you go charging in about your favorite Wahoo McDaniel matches, just remember to keep things light, and only spend 5-10 minutes tops on the subject and you'll be just fine.
On the surface, there may not appear to be that big of a difference between number 3 and number 4. And right up until a traumatic event in their childhood, they're basically the same. But for the nice, happy people that number 3 represents, they have fond memories of wrestling as being a cool thing they liked as a kid. Whereas the poor wretched here at number 4 have only the scarred over husk of life's first great betrayal where their heart should be.
See, while this may seem unthinkable now, there was a time not too long ago, (think pre-Hulkamania,) when wrestling was not only taken more seriously by people, but was genuinely believed to be real by just about everyone. Wrestlers and promoters took extravagant pains to make people believe that what they were watching really was a real fight, and fans ate it up in droves. By around the late 70s/early 80s, the knowledge that wrestling was actually scripted and predetermined began to slowly come to light around the country. And while wrestling as a whole didn't suffer, it created a huge number of kids who felt severely, SEVERELY betrayed that they had been lied to all that time. Much like some kids can't handle it when they're told Santa isn't real, these kids had a strong belief stripped away from them, (usually by dickhead brother, or kids at school,). But unlike Santa, people seem to still be holding onto this resentment decades and decades later.
Should you find yourself in a wrestling conversation with one of these people in a room with no windows to throw yourself out of, your only hope is to commiserate as best as you can and just let the person stew on their shattered childhood and fallen dreams.
Seriously, these people are huge bummers.
Every once in awhile, you'll come across someone for whom wrestling is a gigantic world of mystery and intrigue. They don't seem to know anything about it, but everything you tell them seems to make them more and more interested. Now, these are rare people, and are almost never seen in the wild during eras when wrestling isn't a big fad. But if you come across one of them, you have the great and mighty responsibility of spoon feeding the entirety of wrestling to them in ways they can understand it. Don't jump right into the psychology of King's Road, and DEFINITELY do not bring up anything related to Chris Benoit, IWA:MS or any of the less savory aspects of wrestling along those lines. You're basically selling a show, where guys in their underwear play out soap operas, like it's a used car, so the less they known about the faulty engine and the worn brake lines the better.
The interesting thing about the closet fan is that, on the surface, they might appear to be any of these other people on this list. They may act grumpy about wrestling and say it's solely for Gaylociraptors, or they might act superficially interested but foreign to the actual details of wrestling. If you've been a wrestling fan for any length of time, you've probably been this person at some point in your life, simply because there's a staggering social stigma against admitting that you're a professional wrestling fan. I would guess that more than half of the people you run into talking about wrestling on the internet fall into this category, and that includes a founding member of the Cewsh Reviews team. They don't want to deal with the hassle of being judged for liking something that has a really weird place in our society somewhere between Nascar and Spongebob, so they'll be carefully noncommittal unless they're absolutely certain that you share the same interest that they do.
So how do you spot one of these mysterious chameleons? Look for anyone who seems a little TOO interested in a wrestling conversation going on around them, or who gives examples that are overly specific when pressed for details. If they can name a wrestler from the past ten years not named John Cena, they are almost certainly in this category. So be nice to them, and they'll open up eventually, and you might be damn surprised how deep that fandom goes once you've jumped into the well.
Of all of the people you could possibly run across that has an opinion about wrestling, this is the worst case scenario. This is a person who has absolutely no love for wrestling in any way at all, and has instead gotten caught up in one of the industry's rumored or factual issues. It may be a parent who refuses to let their kid watch wrestling because of something they saw on the news once, or a judgmental know-it-all who can apparently spot a steroid user based on pictures alone; but whatever the details of their particular crusade, the gist is that wrestling is awful and evil and you should feel bad for liking it.
Now you could try to handle the situation with a logical, well thought out series of statements that debunk some commonly held myths about wrestling while acknowledging some troubling trends in the industry, and then you will no doubt notice that they didn't hear a word of it over their own smugness. There's really no reasoning with the kind of person who would viciously attack something another person loves based only on a half remembered news piece and a collection of urban legends, and trying will only make you sad. Handle the situation in a way that would make Stan Hansen proud.
Their opinions are bizarre, their arguments are haphazard, and they smell oddly like cheese. You are guaranteed to be seated next to this individual at every wrestling event you attend. Forever.
Well that'll do it for us this time. We hope we helped at least one of you get through an awkward family occasion or first date with this helpful advice. It's entirely possible that there are enough of these to support a whole 'nother list, but for now just study up and be careful out there. And remember, if the person you're talking to can correctly identify Kenta Kobashi by his picture, you are legally obligated to sleep with them. Don't blame me, I didn't make the rules.