Now more than ever, chants are an integral part of the professional wrestling experience.
Your ticket price doesn’t just entitle you to a bunch of highly trained athletes beating the hell out of one another, it earns you the privilege, nay, the RIGHT to scream your fool head off, becoming part of the match, showing your support and even, on occasion, changing the course of a promotion’s booking.
Chants can be a great way for professional wrestling fans to express themselves, show support for their favorites or even influence the direction of a wrestling product. Or, they can go the other direction, stealing focus from the ring, showing disrespect to the people suffering for our entertainment generally bolstering old stereotypes of wrestling fans as boorish goons.
On this Road to WrestleMania, we’ve collected our top five favorite chants – the stuff that warms our mark-hearts to hear when shouted out by hordes of wrestling fans in black t-shirts — and the five absolute worst chants we can possibly think of. And if you’re one of the guys shouting these out at shows…lay off it, would ya?
If you believed the internet, you’d think that absolutely no one appreciates this chant, which, at this point, is more than a decade past its sell-by date. But despite that fact, crowds worldwide still break out with “WHAT!?” chants whenever a heel pauses for breath.
Like a lot of awesome things that came out of late 90s wrestling, “WHAT!?” originated with Stone Cold Steve Austin as a perfect encapsulation of his signature redneck insouciance. These days, however, it mostly just serves as a way for ADD crowds to entertain themselves, and like most of the worst chants, is more about trying to become the show rather than support it. Plus, it’s about as original as yelling “CHARGE!” at a sporting event. Let’s try and raise the bar some, huh?
You fucked up!
A wrestler botches a move, misses a punch, or maybe just falls awkwardly, potentially putting himself and his opponent at risk, and your first instinct is to tell them that they screwed up? Nonono, they didn’t fuck up. Your parents did. By raising you to be an inconsiderate, self-centered troll.
I’m not suggesting that you cheer everyone despite how terrible they might be in the ring, but at the very least, how about a modicum of respect for people who suffer for your enjoyment? Beyond the fact that it’s rude and shows a complete disregard for a wrestler’s safety, what makes “You fucked up!” so truly abhorrent is that it’s less about participating and more just about showing people that you noticed something first. It’s the professional wrestling version of yelling “WRONG!” while watching Jeopardy.
It’s not 1963, we all know that professional wrestling is fixed, and as such, wrestlers will often have numerous gimmicks and even names throughout their career. So who exactly do you think you’re impressing by chanting them out at people?
A wrestler with a brand spanking new gimmick has it hard enough already – trying to adapt his style, wear different gear, maybe even talk in an accent or perform different moves in the ring – so there’s absolutely no reason to make it even harder on the guy. We get it, you read the dirt sheets and you know what everyone’s gimmick on the most recent house show is, but we’ve all got Wikipedia on our phones too, bro.
No. Wrong. It’s not boring. If it’s boring, leave, go to the bathroom, buy a t-shirt from a wrestler you like more, throw yourself down a flight of stairs, but do not, I repeat, do not, chant, “Boring!”
Sure, there are some wrestlers who actually are boring, but most of the time, this chant is used as code for “We don’t like this guy!” from people who think they have some kind of inside line on a promotion’s booking because they read a rumor on a website that looks like it was designed pre-Montreal Screwjob. So, instead of doing something acceptable like, say, booing a wrestler they don’t like, they boo an entire match, oftentimes with little to no regard to whether it’s actually boring or not.
Other people’s names
This one is probably the newest chant on our list, but it’s also the most absolutely infuriating, which is why it takes the top slot.
While it’s probably happened before, the act of chanting the names of other, unrelated, random wrestlers during a match first started to really pick up steam at the Raw after WrestleMania 29. A crowd that was more interested in getting themselves over than the in-ring product, they chanted for absolutely anything that came to mind throughout the show, but most notably during an actually-pretty-good Sheamus/Orton match. That included the names of the announce team, legends like Randy Savage and even, ugh, a dude selling concessions in the arena.
We’ve all heard the argument: You paid your money for your ticket, you want to express yourself, it’s a way of showing your frustration, blahblahblah. But what it really is, is a bunch of guys more interested in a stadium-wide circle-jerk than the event they actually paid to attend.
Let’s go Cena! Cena sucks!
For years, WWE touted John Cena as one of their most controversial superstars, but it all seemed like marketing hype until a few years ago, with the inception of the dueling “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” chants.
This is a great chant because there’s something for absolutely everyone – whether you’re part of the Cena-loving majority or the “smart marks” who love to pick him apart. Plus, the dueling nature of the chant allows both sides to feed off one another for what’s become less an expression of Cena’s controversial nature, and more an example of just how strongly he connects with audiences worldwide.
Please direct your “ZOMG! This guy’s no real wrestling fan! Cena can’t wrestle! 5 Moves of Doom!” outrage to someone who gives a turkey.
You’re gonna get your fuckin head kicked in!
It’s crass, violent and honestly, entirely too long, but that’s pretty much exactly what makes us love “You’re gonna get your fuckin head kicked in!” so very, very much.
Like some other popular chants (see: “Ole!”), “You’re gonna get your fuckin’ head kicked in!” has its origins in the soccer–I’m sorry…FOOTBALL stadiums of England. Less a sign of support and more a threat of assault, the chant made its way to the US shores, most notably in association with a young Bryan Danielson, now better known as Daniel Bryan. Yeah, you might get some dirty looks from parents there with their kids, but deep down, they like it. Oh, they like it alright.
You still got it!
While there’s a fair argument to be made that it’s somewhat of a backhanded compliment, we still get our rasslin heartstrings pulled by a crowd coming together to let a veteran know that they’re as good between the ropes as ever.
It’s no secret that nostalgia is a big deal in wrestling, and fortunately, with its worked nature, it’s a lot easier to bring a veteran wrestler back for a victory lap than say, a MMA fighter. But still, it’s always good to show support for legit legends…and set them up for one of our favorite comebacks: “I never lost it!”
As if there was ever any doubt as to the strength of ECW’s legacy, it should be quickly alleviated on account of the still vibrant presence of its name as a symbol for all things brutal, hardcore, violent and awesome.
While we’re also big fans of “Holy shit!” for when tables start to burst into pieces, we’ve gotta give the edge to “EC-dub!” as a better chant, as it shows appreciation not only for the wrestlers sacrificing their bodies for your entertainment, but for a promotion that pioneered much of what Americans know as extreme wrestling. Plus, without it, half of the videos on WorldStarHipHop probably wouldn’t exist.
YES! YES! YES!
The first draft of this article just had “YES!” repeated 700 times until the Guyism editors threatened not to accept my invoice. But did you really expect anything else to take the top slot in our list of best chants?
“YES!”, along with its negative counterpart, “NO!”, can’t be described as anything less than a phenomenon. Though it has its roots in a heel Daniel Bryan’s attempts to get heat from the audience, in recent years it has become a symbol of fan support and a rallying cry against what the audience perceives as good or bad booking (whether they’re right or not).
Sure, the “Yes Movement” is part of a WWE storyline, but it won’t keep us from pointing out hands at the ceiling every time we hear “Ride of the Valkyries.”