Engaging with the multifaceted realm of professional wrestling, WWE Hall of Famer Booker T recently articulated his views on the palpable tribalism permeating the wrestling fanbase, a phenomenon that is by no means novel, yet undoubtedly amplified in the era of social media.
In his appearance on "The Hall of Fame," Booker reminisced about his nascent days amidst the WCW-WWF rivalry, recounting how the fervent, unyielding loyalty of WWF fans was as present then as it is in today's WWE dichotomy.
"Earning respect was paramount," he shared, remembering the steep trajectory he faced integrating into the WWF universe despite the lack of today’s omnipresent digital dialogue.
Online Wrestling Wars
Drawing a parallel with contemporary scenarios, he noted that while Cody Rhodes and Adam Copeland were welcomed with deafening cheers in arenas, the anonymity of the online space still witnesses vitriolic backlash towards wrestlers pivoting between companies.
Yet, Booker emphasized that such vehemence is predominantly isolated among fans, with wrestlers, such as Kenny Omega, openly broadcasting their mutual support irrespective of their affiliations, as evidenced recently following Jade Cargill’s shift to WWE.
Despite tangible camaraderie among wrestlers across promotional boundaries, fan emotions online often teeter towards the hostile, reflecting a magnified version of past tribalistic tendencies. Booker noted that such fervor has perpetually lingered in the wrestling community but conceded, “The accessibility and organization afforded by social media have emboldened fans to vocalize and mobilize their allegiance more robustly with merely a click”.
In this in-depth dive, Booker T not only validates the consistency of competitive spirit and tribalism throughout wrestling history but also underscores the intensified, expansive reach of fan commentary in the digital age.
Wrestlers continue to transcend promotional barriers in a display of solidarity, even while navigating through the potent, sometimes tumultuous, seas of fan loyalty and rivalry, which now echo louder, and further, through online channels.