This is typically where I spend some time reviewing the latest episode of iMPACT!, but since I did that already on Monday night, I thought I would take this space to opine on something that has really been bothering me over the last few days.
There are so many hate-filled wrestling fans on the interwebs these days that it makes going to most wrestling websites not worth one’s time. Let me give you a two or three line background on me and who I am. I’ve been on the internet wrestling scene since I opened up the first variation of TBLWrestling.com in 1996. Since then, I’ve owned three other wrestling-based websites – one that I sold a few years ago, one that is still operating at XHeadlines.com, and the newest one that you’re reading. I’ve seen all different types of crazy opinions and comments on these sites in the last thirteen years, but what I’ve seen being written about TNA and its latest edition of iMPACT! spurs me to action.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Every one of you out there on the internet wrestling scene is mark. That’s right – you’re a mark. And you know what? So am I.
For those of you that don’t know, a mark is a somewhat derogatory term in wrestling circles that is used to describe those fans that believe what they see on television is real. In other words, a mark is the type of person who believes it when a wrestling promoter says, “Tomorrow night’s show is going to be the biggest show in the history of the wrestling industry!” A mark is someone who believes that when Sting goes home, he keeps his face paint on and sits in the rafters of his house. Marks are easily sold, easily led down the path that the wrestling writers want them to go down – they’re what some circles would call easy targets or marks.
We’re all wrestling marks.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that wrestling is scripted. I understand that these people have real lives outside of the ring. I understand that Sting is known as Mr. Borden in his neighborhood and not simply as Sting. As the WWE suggested in their publicity campaign a number of years ago – I “get it.”
There used to be many of us writing on the internet who “got it.” We were the generation that became wrestling fans when it was unacceptable for wrestlers to comment on how their characters and storylines were fake. We are the same generation that were wrestling fans when the cover was blown off of the secrecy behind professional wrestling. We were brought backstage and shown the true life of professional wrestlers. There was a time when most of the people who were writing on the internet “got it” and understood that while we many not have liked what we saw on certain weeks, there was something bigger and better in the works. We thought of ourselves as smarter than the average mark…thus the term “smart” came about in online wrestling circles.
You wanted to be called a smart as opposed to a mark. It has a status symbol. It meant that you not only “got it,” but that you knew so much more than the average wrestling fan that you knew what the companies were planning, why they were planning it, and who had requested (or demanded) that certain things were done on the various shows. You were truly an “insider” in the wrestling business.
At some point, the terms smart and mark were smashed together to create the term smark. These were people who understood what was going on in the wrestling companies, but only to a certain extent. An example of a smark might be someone who really believes that Triple H is constantly pushed to the main event or top of the show because he’s a big draw. True smarts have gone over the various ratings reports and WWE’s quarterly financial statements and have seen that Triple H’s forced dominance has hurt WWE’s business. True marks think that Triple H is on the top of the card because he’s the coolest guy in the business. Smarks lie somewhere in between those two extremes, but I digress…
After what I’ve seen written in some pathetic commentaries and downright silly news reports about Monday’s TNA iMPACT! and TNA’s new direction, I’m confident in saying that the majority of the internet wrestling community is no longer comprised of smarts. In fact, the majority of the online wrestling community is no longer comprised of even smarks! The ubiquitous nature of the internet (i.e. everyone can purchase a “.com” and throw up a website in a matter of minutes) has created an online wrestling culture where the marks are posing as smarts!
Frankly, I don’t care about the marks posing as smarts. In the thirteen years I’ve been playing in this game, I’ve seen that over and over again. It’s actually a somewhat standard aspect of the online wrestling community. The growing problem that I see is that the marks are now beginning to believe their own bullshit. That’s very scary for the online wrestling community – very scary indeed.
For me, this problem has been made all the more apparent by the negative commentaries generated by Monday’s iMPACT! There were a lot of marks out there talking about how iMPACT! was nothing more than a rehash of a standard WCW Nitro show and that the Hogan/Bischoff connection would give us more nWo-style storylines starring many of the wrestling stars of yesteryear (think Nasty Boys, Sean Morley, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, etc).
I read these reviews and commentaries and literally began laughing out loud. At one point, I actually said out loud to myself, “You’re all a bunch of marks.”
Anyone who watched iMPACT! on Monday night and took away from the show that Hogan and Bischoff only wanted to bring in yesterday’s stars to take over the show is a mark in the truest sense of the word. Why? Because that’s exactly what they want you to think. They want you to think that the Nasty Boys are going to be the Tag Team Champions. They want you to think that the nWo is going to be dominating iMPACT! from now on. They want you to think that Sean Morley is going to be taking his clothes off and acting like a porn star for the foreseeable future. After reading what I’ve read online for the last few days I have to say that the bulk of the online wrestling community bought it – hook, line, and sinker.
Did no one hear what Hogan said in his speech? How this is a brand new day and things are going to change? Did no one hear what Bischoff said in his speech? How everyone needs to earn a place on the roster? What happens when the Nasty Boys and absolutely destroyed by Morgan and Hernandez? What happens when Sean Morley is beaten to a pulp by Samoa Joe? Don’t you guys “get it?” Don’t you see what TNA is setting up by bringing in these established names?
The internet wrestling community certainly didn’t “get it.” They’re a bunch of marks.
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that at all. That’s what made us all wrestling fans in the first place. But when I see marks posing as smarts and using that fake positioning to denigrate the TNA product, I get mad. When I see reports coming out of wrestling websites that suggest how TNA is “like WCW” because they’re considering a pregame and post-game show for iMPACT!, I shake my head in angered amusement. Did WWE not have a “Byte This” program? Did ECW not have some pregame and post-game shows, too? How is TNA’s consideration of a pregame and post-game show for iMPACT! a WCW-like move? Wouldn’t it be a WWE-like move? Better yet, wouldn’t it be a good move no matter what the internet wrestling community wants to label it as? Good grief my mark friends! Let’s not forget that we are wrestling fans and that we want to see more content!
Marks are typically blinded by the fact that nothing in wrestling original. Nothing. Hell, even the nWo was a gimmick brought to America after it was done successfully in Japan. Much of what we see on both TNA and WWE television is rehashing of old storylines from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, the time before professional wrestling went Hollywood.
And that’s okay.
But when I read commentaries by hate-filled marks posing as smarts who suggest that TNA is going downhill because of older stars coming in and the possibility of new online content coming along, I wonder about the intelligence of the writers in the online wrestling community these days.
Remember, we’re all wrestling fans. If you’re a wrestling fan or if you read wrestling websites because you want to say, “See! I told you so!” then you shouldn’t be reading wrestling websites. You should read these websites because you’re a wrestling fan. You shouldn’t believe everything that you read because you know what? Chances are that 90% of the time you’re reading content that was written by a mark – just like you.