A group of 10 longtime WWE fans got a rude awakening at Monday night’s live taping of “Raw” in Des Moines, Iowa. After showing up to their ringside seats dressed as various former WWE superstars, officials demanded they remove their costumes or forfeit their front-row spots, according to Kris Laufer, who came with the group dressed as The Ultimate Warrior.

“The gentleman who spoke to us about removing our costumes identified himself as a manager who had been ‘doing this for 15 years,’ ” Laufer said in an e-mail to The Washington Post.

The group was told the outfits were “too distracting,” without any further explanation, Laufer said.

“It sounds cliche and corny, but I’m not mad. I’m disappointed. We all are,” Laufer said. “You have to swallow your pride to do so, but we really enjoy going to WWE shows in our ridiculous outfits.”

Laufer, who describes himself and his group of friends as college-educated professionals ranging in age from 28 to 40, insists the group wasn’t acting rowdy or trying to bring undue attention their way. They were simply trying to have a good time.

Laufer’s friend Matt Sheridan, who came to the event dressed as Macho Man, agrees. In a letter he penned to WWE and later posted to the social media Web site Reddit, where it was upvoted more than 1,500 times, he said, “I assure you none of the members of our party were being in any way unruly or belligerent. You can watch the taping and see for yourself. We were merely watching the show.”

After being asked to change, the group was given free T-shirts promoting current WWE superstars, including John Cena and the Usos, characters beloved by small children.

“A 2XL Uso shirt might not have been my first choice,” Laufer told The Washington Post in a phone call, adding that he won’t complain too much because the T-shirts were free.

What wasn’t free, though, as both Laufer and Sheridan reminded, were the tickets. They say the group paid more than $1,000 total for their seats and shelled out additional cash to purchase official WWE-sanctioned gear that some used as part of their costumes they were forced to remove.

WWE offered an apology on Tuesday to Sheridan and two other members of the group who independently wrote to the WWE. The wording of each apology was the same, according to Laufer, offering the group of 10 a total of nine free tickets to an upcoming show.

Laufer is happy WWE replied, but insists that he and his group were not seeking remuneration, but an explanation, which they still haven’t received.

“We are some of WWE’s biggest advocates and we felt like we were unceremoniously kicked to the curb with no legitimate reason given,” he said, adding that he still plans to watch WrestleMania when it airs later this month.

Sheridan also said he will remain a WWE fan despite his disappointment in what happened Monday night.

“I guess at the end of the day, all I am looking for is an explanation as to why you would boot fans who spend the time, energy and money on advocating your product. Seems like just the kind of people you would want in your corner,” Sheridan wrote in his letter, adding, “For the record, I am still in your corner, however disappointed I may be.”

The Washington Post reached out to WWE for further explanation. The company declined to comment. A WWE spokesman only confirmed the promotion “apologized to the fans for the inconvenience.” He offered them complimentary tickets to an upcoming show.