WWE shouldn’t ban fans from Hall of Fame, even if it’d be understandable

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 18: Retired professional wrestler Bret Hart attends Toronto ComiCon 2017 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre on March 18, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 18: Retired professional wrestler Bret Hart attends Toronto ComiCon 2017 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre on March 18, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic) /

In light of the controversy that happened at the WWE Hall of Fame, Vince McMahon is allegedly considering banning all fans from the Hall of Fame. While he has every right to do so, he may want to focus on punishing the actual bad apples of the crowd, not fans.

Let’s take a second to talk about what a “fan” is.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of a fan – short for fanatic – is that of “an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator.” A real fan admires their idol from afar and if ever in close proximity of then, that fan delivers them the respect that such a person deserves.

Now, let’s talk about what the attacker did at the Hall of Fame ceremony last Saturday.

He bum rushed a 61-year old Bret Hart; a cancer survivor with a history of stroke complications. Did I mention that this happened while the man was eulogizing his late brother in law? Because that’s when it happened.

This attacker is not a fan, and we should stop lumping him in with other fans. Don’t say “a fan” attacked Bret Hart because if he was a fan of Bret, WWE, or wrestling in general, he would have never jumped in that ring on Saturday.

Now, Vince McMahon is compelled by a dilemma. To avoid a situation like this from ever happening again, word on the street is that he’s considering banning all fans in favor of making the HOF exclusive to those within the business.

Truth be told, that’s not a terrible idea.

I’d be lying if I said that the thought didn’t cross my mind these last couple years. I always thought it would be more appropriate for inductees to be inducted in front of their peers rather than fans who may not appreciate the moment as much. The thought especially has come to mind in light of fans being known to boo – or chant disrespectfully towards – certain inductees over the years.

However, in more recent years, I’ve changed up my tune on the matter. At first, I saw the idea of letting fans into the HOF as a cash grab for Mania weekend. More recently, I started to understand that there truly are fans out there who find it to be a rewarding experience to see their favorite wrestler achieve perhaps the biggest honor of their career. For some, it may be a moment more special than WrestleMania.

Vince should not ban fans from future Hall of Fame events. All it does is punish real fans just because someone decided to do something horrible on one of Mania weekend’s biggest nights.

I understand that continuing to keep the Hall of Fame open to everyone is risky in light of what happened, but banning all fans from the HOF only does one thing: the attacker wins. He went in that ring to cause a scene and he did just that. He got attention, put a spotlight on himself, and in the process, potentially ruined the Hall of Fame for every other fan who ever wanted to attend.

If anything, Vince should ban people who attack the Superstars from the Hall of Fame (and every WWE event , for that matter) instead of depriving fans who truly want to come in and pay respect to the WWE Superstars they legitimately admire.

It’s not fair to the real fans who actually support the talent. So when it comes to banning fans from the show in the future, damned if Vince does, damned if he doesn’t, but don’t let a guy who isn’t even a real fan set the standard for how other fans are treated.

So at the very least, WWE should at least seek out other alternatives before deciding to ban the fans. Consider bulking up security, perhaps. Maybe create a bigger barrier between the fans and the WWE Superstars for future events.

But don’t give in to criminal shenanigans by punishing real fans. It’s understandable if that was WWE’s decision, but banning fans should be a “worst case scenario” that comes AFTER checking out alternatives and right now, there are plenty of alternatives out there. That’s no different than if Vince decided to fine every participant in the women’s WrestleMania main event over the ref’s mistake. That wouldn’t be right and neither would this.

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What happened to Bret Hart was horrible and uncalled for. Steps need to be taken to ensure it never happens to anyone else again, but banning fans should be used as a last ditch panic option, not Option #1.