The pursuit of autographs has always characterized celebrity culture.
The celebrities targeted for their “John Hancocks” have usually been athletes, film/TV stars, music mavens and even those on the fringe of pop culture—like pro-wrestlers.
Many wrestlers, particularly the ones who made their names in the WWE, have been objects of fans’ affections and—in unfortunate instances—greed.
For instance, some followers go to great lengths to garner an autograph out of appreciation for a grappler they grew up watching, admire and/or identify with on an emotional level.
More or less, such fans will cherish the signatures they acquire—and accompanying photographs—of their favorite WWE superstars.
On the other hand, some fans are compelled to seek out autographs not so much for their sentimental value, but financial potential.
These eBay enthusiasts will have their wrestler-specific programs, T-shirts, DVDs and posters ready—in hand, no less—to shove right into the wrestlers’ faces.
In most scenarios, autographs are sought out at socially acceptable venues like autograph signings and “fanfest” conventions.
The WWE, specifically, has always been forward-thinking in bridging the gap between the audience and the talent, facilitating interaction between the two groups at “Axxess” events.
However, those driven by the selling-potential of autographs overstep the unwritten rules of social decency by often times vigilantly staking out an opportunity to accost a wrestler in public.
In public places, especially, most civilians try not to stare, make a fuss about or even acknowledge a renowned person in their midst.
The reason being is to ensure that the natural order of things continues without a hitch so as to prevent the possibility of awkwardness or embarrassment for either party.
Examples of this include scenarios in which a celebrity—in this case, a wrestler—is spotted in a restaurant, cafe, restroom, movie theater, at a concert, on a sidewalk or at the airport.
Usually, most fans who come across one will suppress their giddiness and do their best to not disturb them—because, after all, there is a difference between knowing their “images” and being familiar with them on a personal basis.
We don’t approach people we don’t personally know, so why should it be any different just because we’ve seen them on TV?
That being said, most wrestlers tend to accept and be tolerable of instances when they’re politely asked to scribble their autographs for a fan who was coincidentally in the area.
Where appearances become sketchy, though, is when wrestlers are purposely attempting to mix in with the crowd—and not stand out by any means—yet are rudely interrupted by a fan who just happened to have a piece of merchandise bearing his or her likeness.
CM Punk, for example, has lamented being hounded by the autograph paparazzi who don’t bother to notice he is intentionally crouched in a corner of an airport, with his head down and ears plugged with headphones.
Making the experience all the more unpleasant is that it could transpire at the wee hours of the morning when someone like the “Straight Edge” superstar just wants to be left alone and get some shut-eye.
Perhaps an even more uncomfortable situation than this is being agitated by an autograph fiend in a restroom.
Mick Foley, in his inaugural book Have a Nice Day, recounted an anecdote in which a fan waited outside of his stall with a pen and something to write on.
All in all, scoring the signatures of wrestling heroes is OK as long as it occurs at a “sanctioned” venue or in a socially welcome context.
However, if the act blatantly impedes upon the personal space of a performer—who, judging by his or her body language would rather go unnoticed—then it is an irksome intrusion of privacy.
Exacerbating this are socially-deviant autograph dwellers who have absolutely no intention of retaining the memorabilia, instead opting to “flip” them for a profit on eBay.