The word “mark” is thrown around so casually that it’s lost its meaning. I define it as a wrestling fan who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the business. The behind the scenes machinations that go on day after day. Other times, it equates to a pro wrestler who believes his or her own BS.
When it comes to the former, I sometimes wish I could go back to that.
Yes, I want to be a mark.
It goes without saying that there is an ugly side to this business. Bill Behrens has done this industry a great service by outing the shady (pun intended) promoters out there hell-bent on denying payoffs and airfare to hardworking wrestlers. His cause is honorable and helps wrestlers get the money they deserve. Plus, it helps distinguish this site.
Recent headlines have revealed the trials and tribulations of Jake Roberts and Scott Hall “battling their demons.” I am growing to hate that term. It just passes off their responsibility to be upstanding, clean and sober citizens to the unseen force inside of them. The almighty demon.
Most troubling was a picture I saw on the Observer site. Roberts and Hall posing together. For reasons I don’t understand, it gave me a pit in my stomach as I thought that someday that picture will be used for another type of story. A tragic story.
When I was a kid, I watched the Verne Gagne’s AWA. I didn’t know about anyone’s drug use or alcohol problems. I wasn’t aware of payoffs being shorted or denied. Backstage politics were completely foreign to me. I just enjoyed the show.
I was a mark.
As Jesse Ventura and Adrian Adonis fought to win the tag team titles from Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell, I watched with interest. Nick Bockwinkel temporarily turning face to fight Sheik Adnan fascinated me. The Crusher coming out of hiding to exact revenge for a friend being taken out of action was pure excitement.
Wow, was I a mark or what?
Years before writing and cartooning for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, I faithfully bought and read all the magazines. There were other worlds outside of the AWA. Other wrestlers. Other champions. Other feuds. When cable finally came to my parent’s home, I watched these men come to life. That’s how Bob Backlund talked, I thought. I had no idea Dusty Rhodes was like that.
I was Marky Mark, with or without the Funky Bunch.
Think about it. Would you enjoy wrestling more or less if you did not know what happened behind the scenes? Would it be any different if you didn’t see cell phone video of Roberts and Hall making jackasses out of themselves? How would it impact your devotion for the business if you didn’t know Triple H was married to Vince’s daughter?
That first day you discovered pro wrestling, you didn’t think about what went on behind the curtain. You just enjoyed the entertainment. The storylines. The villains and heroes.
Yes, I know too much. We all know too much. So much so that it affects how we view the business. We still love it, but it comes with an awareness that for every mark-out moment that we still have, there is a Jake Roberts and Scott Hall moment that shows a side we would rather not see. Yet, I believe that underneath it all, we’re still that wide-eyed fan.
We’re still marks.