Question: how can UK wrestling stop unwanted “audience participation”?

This might be a bit of a ramble, because I don’t actually have any answers – but I am sick and tired of going to shows where audience members take it upon themselves to try and fight wrestlers, or think they fancy a go in the ring.

Last night at House of Pain: Evolution, a couple of men (with children! What a great example to set) kept trying to get themselves involved with wrestlers, starting with Bam Bam Barton (forcing the match referee to leave the ring and separate them) as well as Kris Travis (who managed to shrug them off).

So what can be done to stop some people ruining the enjoyment of others?

The problem here is that at UK shows, which are usually fairly small in terms of venue and attendance, there are no barriers preventing people from approaching the ring; and there’s no security to keep an eye on the crowd and kick people out if their behaviour gets too bad.

Ring barriers plus security would be an easy solution (although if people are happy to try to take on the likes of Barton they might also be happy to try to take on security) – but would that then ruin the dynamic between the wrestlers and the (rest of the) crowd, and the special atmosphere that British wrestling enjoys?

Perhaps it’s a price worth paying. It would certainly be safer all round, and would stop this kind of interference from ruining the fun of the rest of the audience. It would certainly have prevented the situation where, a couple of weeks ago, at Total Action Wrestling, a small child (unsupervised) managed to get himself into the ring twice while matches were going on.

And perhaps it’s also worth noting that at HOP:E and TAW the men in charge of the promotions (Harvey Dale and Samson respectively) were not out on the floor because they were part of the show. Having a team out at the front with the power to keep watch on how things are running and make a judgement call if need be would be a benefit all round – I’m not talking about trainees in their ring crew polo shirts, I’m talking about a proper front-of-house team led by someone who can take on the role of stage manager or event director. Leaving it to your ring announcer to remind the crowd to behave appropriately, ten minutes after the incident, simply doesn’t cut it.

I’d also point out here that the only time I’ve seen this kind of situation defused quickly was at Hammerlock last autumn, where a rowdy family group tried to rush the ring after Majik’s cheating victory over Jimmy Havoc. Co-promoter Tony McMillan (who of course has a wrestling background) stepped in immediately to stop them interfering and was able to make the announcement of a re-match, meaning they calmed down straight away and went back to their seats.

Every situation is different, of course, but it’s rare that you see people interfering in theatre productions; and if someone invades the pitch at a sporting event, they will invariably be arrested. Unfortunately, it seems that there needs to be something done in wrestling to ensure that shows run smoothly and that audiences don’t descend into utter chaos.

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