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What WWE.com perceives of British fans


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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom – I didn’t understand why there were so many bobbies surrounding the pub on Exchange Square, here in this buoyant and blustery city, watching 100 or so soccer fans imbibe before the World Cup qualifying match between England and Wales.

Then, a group of Welsh fans walked by, and it all made sense.


“Sheep shaggers, sheep shaggers, sheep shaggers!” the Brits chanted, as the Welshmen stopped and raised their arms, defying the “lager louts” to surge forward.


Two police on horseback positioned themselves between the factions, and the Welshmen moved on, but not before 15-year-old Christopher Williams made some hand gestures and shouted, “Word life!”


“I wish John Cena were here,” the kid told me. “I’d want to hear him rap about Wales.”


What fans of both teams knew, of course, was that John Cena would be here, at the Manchester Evening News Arena, on Tuesday for a broadcast of SmackDown!, the day after Raw is transmitted from the same location.


It’s the first time that both of WWE’s flagship television programs will be shown from a location outside of North America, a “dead cheeky”—or admirably bold—move at the tail end of a successful European tour. One of the bobbies confided to me that he was looking forward to it.


“The WWE fans are no trouble at all,” he stated. He then motioned at a cluster of soccer hooligans singing in unison about the British Royal Air Force dropping bombs on somebody. “This is work.”


It’s a statement that even soccer fans have grown to accept. “Wrestling is a better atmosphere,” admitted Peter Smedley, a 16-year-old Undertaker enthusiast who expressed his support for his country’s World Cup bid by parading around downtown Manchester with a traditional St. George’s flag slung over his shoulders. “All the fighting’s in the ring.”


WWE technicians have been planning for the upcoming broadcasts for six months, even taking courses to learn about the brands and switchers indigenous to Europe. It took weeks to convert the American tape recording format – essential for graphics, tape playback and transmission – to the British version.


By 9 AM on Saturday morning, WWE’s trucks had already rolled into the Manchester Evening News Arena, as technicians wound cables around the building, and raised lighting rigs.


“The biggest challenge for me was just getting our product to clear Customs,” said chief pyro technician Ron Bleggi.


“The flameballs that are approved in the United States aren’t necessarily approved here. And the arenas in Europe tend to be older, so you have to worry about ventilation. In rock’n’roll, they like the look of the smoke in the building. But when we’re going to the trouble to broadcast a show from England, we want the fans at home to see everything.”

Around the city, Manchunians – the term Manchester natives use for themselves – have been following the progress of the WWE’s tour this week – an ambitious undertaking that has seen Raw hit Finland and Germany, while SmackDown! spent two consecutive nights each in Italy and Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Other sites have included Sheffield, London and Cardiff, Wales for Raw, and Nottingham for SmackDown!


And, while England was embroiled in its collision with Wales this weekend, even those who reject the culture of soccer – or “football,” as they call it here – were anticipating the pyrotechnic explosion that would signal the beginning of Raw.


“Football’s awful,” argued Lee Dillon, a wide-faced 22-year-old with a pierced tongue and Gothic demeanor. “There’s no contact. What’s the point of that?”


On the Urbis, a green area in front of an arts center near Manchester Cathedral, Ross Harper, a 16-year-old with two-tone hair, tried explaining the distinctions between his friends and the blokes crammed into Old Trafford, the giant stadium where the qualifying match was being held.


“They call us moshers and punks and metal heads,” he offered. “We don’t listen to dunce music like the footballers – they like all that electronic crap. But I suppose they like wrestling, too.”


Nearby, Tom Grogan, 18, insisted that I know that he was very different than a scally, the kind of guy “you see hanging about in petrol stations, wearing Nike and Adidas, and having parties outside of bus stations, saying, ‘Yeah, this is massive, isn’t it?’


“Kind of like John Cena. Only John Cena makes it look good.”


The characterization rankled Grogan’s mate, Anthony Morsland, 16, who described Cena as more of a “G,” or a gangsta. “I wouldn’t call John Cena a scally to his face,” he cautioned.


Grogan had to agree: “John Cena is the future, the sickest guy ever. If I saw John Cena, I’d call him dead sound.”


Well isn't that the most patronising, completely unresearched generalisation you've ever seen?


May I assure anyone from the US that 90% of us aren't football hooligans, we don't talk about how John Cena is a gangster, and we invented football so we have the right to call it that. Unlike the game you play with your hands. :P

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Personally though that's how I view the English :P


Cena does dress like a ned though! (or scally whatever)


You can understand maybe why they got that impression about the football since I certainly wouldn't walk around England when an England international is on, I'd honestly expect to be attacked if I dunno, I was wearing anything to do with Scotland or football within the vicinity of any England fans. Maybe thats just my ignorance, but it's the impression that is given.


Chances are also if any European went to America they'd probably right something equally as patronising, just without meaning it! :P


Only thing I personally hated about that article (which was awful yes) was that it gives the impression that wrestling fans in England and the rest of the UK are gothics... and that because you like wrestling you can't like football. Now I mean for God's sake THAT is a stupid generalisation.


I'd best go stick that chain through my face now and stick on some Linkin Park :roll

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