Anyone who watches wrestling will tell you that getting booed out of the building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be an indication that you’re doing the job right - if you’ve generated such a visceral response from a crowd, then you’ve made a connection. The question is: what do you do now that everyone hates you?
If things go wrong and you’re unable to capitalise on the moment, then the energy eventually fizzles out. The audience grows weary of you, and in due course stops reacting altogether. That’s when you find yourself sliding down the card, on the way to obscurity.
But if you’re one of these talented superstars, you’ll seize on what it is that the crowd hates about you, and squeeze it for all it’s worth. There are all manner of ways to make a crowd hate you, big or small, complex or cheap. It’s a funny old business, is wrestling - you’ve got to do what you can to make you stand out, even if that means turning yourself into a conniving coward, or riling up a roomful of rabid fans.
JBL won’t go down in history as one of the more beloved champions in the company’s history, but on one night in the mid 2000s, he was the only man for the job. ECW One Night Stand 2005 may be better remembered as nostalgia trips, but the underrated MVP was JBL, drawing about as much heat as a man on a balcony with a cowboy hat possibly could.
Bradshaw has a reputation as, to put it politely, an opinionated man, and here he was happy to assume the role of the most despised man in the room, simply by taking the microphone and spouting off what you’d imagine were pretty much his genuine views on ECW. JBL took potshots at the size of the crowd, the channel the promotion broadcast on, the ability of the wrestlers, and the social lives of the fans. He was simply on fire that night, and his enthusiasm for insulting the crowd was matched only by their zeal for giving him abuse in return.
The night ended in unpleasantness for JBL when he launched an unprovoked shoot assault on The Blue Meanie, which goes to show that you shouldn’t laugh at bullies, even if what they’re doing is pretty funny. Or, in this instance, very funny indeed.