The live audience of a professional wrestling show is, simultaneously, 1) the people watching the show, 2) playing the part of people watching a real fight, and 3) playing the part of people watching a staged fight that is thought to be real. A smear is drawn across the entire spectrum between reality and fiction out of necessity, in a strange phenomenon called kayfabe.
To interact within kayfabe, wrestlers and their audience have developed a complex language, consisting of sign and countersigns, with both sides dynamically reacting to the other. This is a subject that far to complicated for me to describe here, and even then, I don’t really understand it much, but something I have noticed is that the crowds cheer louder for local wrestlers.
I suppose that some of this is that the kinds of people that are willing to go out on a weekday night for wrestling includes the kinds of people that go to independent wrestling shows, so there’s some level of “I was a fan of this guy before he made it big,” but that isn’t all of it. It’s part of the language, just like turning to the crowd after a really good dropkick.
Furthermore, a wrestler can be billed from two different places, the place they were born and the place they currently live. The ring announcers will mention both, if the wrestler is performing in the one they aren’t usually billed from. The audience doesn’t really make a distinction between either.
One thing about this is that the cheering also applies to the heels. In AEW, the promotion I watch, this is most noticeable with MJF in Long Island, when he’s otherwise such a dedicated heel. But then again, when he’s in Long Island, he kind of acts like a face, like Long Island is the one place in the world he actually likes and doesn’t act like a complete asshole towards, when that’s otherwise his entire gimmick. But that gets back into the language thing, doesn’t it?
The upshot of all of this for the promotion, is that sometimes a heel needs to win the last match of the night, the climax of the show. The good guys can’t win all of the time, after all, but on the other hand, if the bad guys win, the fan feel disappointed. This convention of heels being a little bit of a face in their hometown, means that there’s a particular place that’s a good place for them to win.
This started back in the NWA days. Nobody wanted to embarrass themselves in front of the people they could meet in the street, and this has evolved into a set of conventions around the from part of the wrestler’s billing. It’s just something fascinating that I noticed about the strange art form known as professional wrestling.