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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Ups And Downs Of Being A Mark
January 26, 2006 by Euan Williamson


Most of my writing on wrestling tends to be of an emotive nature. However, I've decided to buck the trend here and write on some personal experiences and various thoughts that I've had that are connected to these experiences.

I'm sure you all remember what it was like to be a mark of a wrestling fan, be it whether you were a child, like myself, or had only a slight interest in wrestling and took in everything you saw on television without thinking any further about the industry (I'm going under the assumption that everyone logged on to this website has an unhealthy obsession with wrestling like me and doesn't think that the Boogeyman hides under your bed every night with a clock). Being Scottish, the word 'mark' is a word that I only came across when my interest in wrestling expanded onto the internet and I was able to converse with fans across the world that had a similar level of interest in wrestling as myself. Through my own deduction, I have taken the word 'mark' to mean, in wrestling terms, either someone that watches wrestling and accepts all the stories and wrestling as real i.e. a child, or someone that watches wrestling but has no interest in the industry behind it, and therefore, their knowledge goes as far as what is presented to them on television. Indeed, it should be noted, that I've currently got my Oxford Dictionary out and it makes no mention of this type of meaning under the word 'mark'.

As I previously said, I'm sure you all remember being a mark. I remember being shocked and upset when I saw Brutus Beefcake have his face cut to shreds by 'The Outlaw' Ron Bass' spur in a clip explaining Brutus' absence from his Summerslam '88 Intercontinental Title shot. Similarly, I remember being in tears when Savage was bitten by Jake Robert's snake and being ecstatic when an injured Savage took the title from that horrible man - Ric Flair - at Wrestlemania VIII. My most vivid memories, however, are reserved for my favourite wrestler of all time - Bret 'Hitman' Hart. I was the only person in my school that wanted Bret to beat Piper at Wrestlemania VIII (remember I'm Scottish!) and went through a range of emotions when he was, firstly, cut open in the match and then went on to win it. Furthermore, I was the only person in my school that wanted Bret to beat Davey Boy at Summerslam '92 and was absolutely devastated when he was defeated. In addition, I couldn't be calmed down for days after he took the title back at Wrestlemania X.

Recently, I have been wondering what it's like to be a mark in today's wrestling world. I've tried to imagine how I would view all the different wrestlers if I wasn't influenced by rumours that I read or didn't have the knowledge to be able to appreciate the good selling of a move, the pacing of a match and the psychology involved. Considering Bret was my favourite as a kid, I wondered if his great storytelling abilities in the ring and his superb psychology during matches were what, subconsciously, made me like his matches; an appreciation without realising why you appreciate, if you will. On the other hand, I remember loving his glasses and his ring attire so that's probably more the reason! In addition, I wondered what it was like having absolutely no idea who was going to win because I wouldn't know what was planned for the future, or who was rumoured to be getting a push and wondered what it was like to believe that my wrestler couldn't overcome the ridiculous odds stacked against him, only for him to prevail. At one point recently, I considered trying to return to this form of viewing by not logging on to the forum I use anymore, not looking on wrestling websites anymore, and not writing anymore articles. It just seemed that I was missing out on the raw emotions that professional wrestling can invoke in the casual fan such as booing the hell out of the heels you hate, cheering your heroes, laughing, crying, believing your hero has triumphed over the strongest adversity, etc. I realised it would be impossible to go back to being a child and believe everything, but I'm sure you know what I mean. I wonder if anyone else has ever felt this way" I didn't realise at this point that there were reasons for feeling the way I felt. In the space of two days I was reminded on two occasions of what it was like to be a mark.

The first came on the 7th January when I attended 1PW's wrestling event in Doncaster, England. The card was an extremely enticing blend of American Indy and TNA stars such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Steve Corino; along with some British wrestlers such as Doug Williams and some former WWE stars such as Al Snow. The main selling point, however, was that Bret Hart would be appearing at both cards over the weekend. As the day drew closer I began to get very excited as I'd never met Bret and was convinced that I'd get the chance to meet him. I was also desperate for him to sign my Hart DVD. I had tickets to the fan's convention on the Saturday, where I was sure he'd be doing a sit down signing, and my ringside tickets got me in an hour early to have the chance to meet the wrestlers that would 'be milling around' as the 1PW website put it. All in all, I thought my chances of meeting my hero were very good and I even spent days thinking about what I'd say to him if I got a few seconds to talk to him i.e. something intelligent that would make me stand out and show him how much of a fan was such as...

'Which Tiger Mask did you prefer working with" Tiger Mask 1 in 1982 or Misawa in 1990"'

The fan convention yielded no results. There was no sit down signing and he came out to the ring and spoke to us for maybe two minutes maximum. On his way back down the aisle he stopped to sign autographs so I ran around to the aisle only to find that a huge crowd had developed and there was no chance of me gaining his signature. I cursed myself for not being quick thinking enough to get round to the aisle to get to him, however, I still had the hour before the wrestling card and the event itself so I wasn't too despondent. Well, the hour came round and I had the pleasure of meeting Samoa Joe and having my photo taken with him (he even told me that my girlfriend was awesome and that I was a lucky guy which was nice!). Furthermore, I got to speak to Abyss, Jarrett, Blue Meanie, Daniels (he was a character) and many others but, alas, Bret did not appear. At least I had formulated a plan. I decided that as soon as Bret made his appearance, I would run from my seat (it was in the third row on the complete opposite side of the arena and the seats were packed really tight together) round to the aisle and get him on the way back. I just hoped I could get there in time before everyone else did.

As the event progressed, and I enjoyed the matches such as Corino v Haas and the impressive Harry Smith v Doug Williams, I became more agitated and restless for Bret to appear and then..............His music hit!!! With a great deal of aplomb (considering I had drunk a vast quantity of alchohol!) I jumped over my row and raced down to the aisle. Bret was in the ring and, much to my surprise, not one person had made their way to the aisle, so, there I was, by myself with my DVD and black marker pen, waiting for him. He finished his speech and made his way towards me. My heart was pounding like never before and my hands were sweating.10 yards away, 5 yards away, and then it all happened in a flash. He was right in front of me so I put my DVD ( with the pen ) in front of his hands, looked him in the face and kindly asked for him to sign it. In what seemed like the longest moment of my life, Bret palmed the DVD away with his hands, ignored me and walked down the aisle and behind the curtains. I was destroyed. At last I had met my hero face to face and he had rejected me. There had been no one else at the aisle, just myself and Bret, and he had clearly palmed me off in front of 1000 fans and the camera that was filming the event for a 1PW DVD. If you fancy seeing a man's dreams be shattered then buy the DVD, I'm the 6 ft. guy with blond messy hair looking like an idiot when he rejects me!

This was the first time I had felt raw emotion for many years when it came to wrestling. Sure, I enjoyed and felt a tug of the heart for Benoit's win at Wrestlemania XX; however, it did not compare to being a child and watching your heroes win and it did not compare to the way I felt after this Bret incident. I enjoyed the rest of the event, but with a sense of detachment as I dealt with the disappointment that had just occurred. I wondered if this was the way that children feel when their favourite wrestler turns heel and becomes a bad guy or when their favourite is jumped backstage and left a bloody mess" At last, I felt like a mark again, even if it hurt badly. It must be noted though that as despondent as I was, I was never angry with him and immediately started defending his actions to my girlfriend.

The second incident came a day later on Sunday. For whatever reason, I was unable to watch 'New Years Revolution'. To be honest, I wasn't really that bothered as the card didn't look great and the Elimination Chamber match; as it appeared to me, it looked like a foregone conclusion as I didn't see any of the participants taking the title off of Cena. Instead, I just kept track of it on the forum that I use called 'All Wrestling Talk'. Much to my surprise, as I read people's posts, I was finding the EC match exciting. Perhaps, it was better to read people's comments that were tinged with their own humour or character traits and imagine the match in your head, than it was to be watching it yourself. All the excitement disappeared when Cena rolled up Carlito for the victory. As my friends conveyed their annoyance over his win, one post suddenly appeared with words along the lines of 'Edge! He's cashing in his MITB!!!' There it was again, my heart was pounding and my palms were sweating. I must state that I'm not a total Cena hater; it's just that I'm a huge Edge fan, and if you read my last column on this website, then you'd know that. For the next minute I watched the posts and I shouted and swore and then..... I read '1-2-3 Edge is the new World Champ!!' I literally marked out in the extreme, cheering and jumping around my living room and generally behaving like a hyperactive child. I hadn't behaved like that in many a year and I hadn't felt that way over a wrestling match in a long time.

After I had settled down (several days later), I began to think over those two days. On two separate instances I had behaved like a mark and had felt either end of the spectrum. Sadness and disappointment over Bret and sheer joy over Edge's title win. Then I realised that I didn't actually want to give up my obsession with wrestling and simply watch it on television without being involved in the Wrestling Internet Community. I realised that I would rather know everything that's going on, appreciate all the small things and be involved in forums, websites etc. I now understood that it was possible to be into this side of wrestling and still have moments where I marked out and behaved like a child. Those two raw emotions I experienced, albeit one was bad, restored my faith in the wrestling industry and made me realise that we can all look at wrestling in as professional a way as possible and become emotionally detached to some degree. However, we all started off as marks and we will always have our favourite wrestlers, that, under the correct circumstances, we will unashamedly mark out to.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to be a columnist and I want to know everything there is to know about wrestling at the same time as getting to feel the emotions that went with being a fan as a child. I've learned that this is possible. For anyone that has identified with this article I suggest two things. Over the Bret issue, I learned that we should all go to as much live wrestling as humanly possible. I had a great time that weekend, even if Bret did disappoint me, and I remembered that nothing beats watching wrestling in person. I don't think that its coincidence that I felt the way I did (consider giving up the internet side of wrestling) before I went to this event, then had changed my mind days later, as it was my first event attended since the mid 90s. Get involved, meet the people that you watch on television or DVD and scream and shout during the matches. It'll feel great I guarantee you.

Secondly, over the Edge issue, I've learned that we have to be patient and place our trust in the wrestling company that we watch. I realised that before 'New Year's Revolution', I had also been feeling the way I had because the WWE had become so predictable and boring. Cena's, and to a lesser extent, Batista's reigns had fallen flat and you just felt that you could predict what was going to happen for the next few months ahead. Why they decided to put the belt on Edge on that night is unknown; what I do know is that the WWE has become exciting and unpredictable again and I'm loving it. Edge's new gimmick is great and his work as champion thus far, has been outstanding. It's also been proven to be a very shrewd move in getting Cena back on track with the fans for Wrestlemania.

In conclusion, all I did to get my excitement back was go to a wrestling event and be disappointed by my hero, and also, remain patient with the WWE and reap the pleasures when one of my favourites was rewarded. For everyone that has identified with what I'm saying, I hope that you too re-discover your 'mark' qualities and step onto the rollercoaster of emotions that go with it.

Peace

by Euan Williamson ..


Jon F. wrote:
This has to be one of the best columns I've read! I too miss the emotions you get when you are a mark. But I still can't live with just what's presented to me, I need to know everything I can about the industry (exept spoilers).
Sam Ashman wrote:
hey euan iv'e just read your artical on the ups and downs of being a mark.the one thing that got my attention was then you discribed hoe bret hart refused to sign your dvd at the 1pw event.I was as also at the event in january and saw bret refuse to sign your dvd both mend my brother looked at each other and both said what a a-hole!.your not the only one to be disspionted by a wrestler whos got a big ego .October 1st 1pw ran a event no turning back and my self and my brother got a chance to get in to the event one hour early.We whent round and got atuographs and pictures of all the wrestlers , most of the tna wrestlers like aj styles and austin aries charged 5 for picutres but that ok i expect that of wrestlers who dont make that much money. But the sandman was there being a big ecw fan back in the day and realy wanted to meet him , i plucked up the courage to say hi to him be and greeted him by saying"hey sandman can i ge t your..." he cut me off and growled "yeah what ever kid 10 of a autograph and 20 for a picture ". Iwalked a way and spotted ROH wrestling star low ki , now i knew low ki has a rep of keeping kayfabe so i was very polite in asking a picture with him. I put my coat und my brothers feet so i can pose with low ki .my brother by accident steped on my coat and low ki shouted at him "HEY MAN WHY DONT YOU WATCH WERE YOUR STEPPING " . I told low ki to calm down and informed him that it was an accident, either way iam not bothered by my brother stepin on my coat,but low ki super serious persona or not had no right to shout at my brother like that that ticked me off .thankfuly raven was there and was easly the most nicest wrestler there and chatted to me about the t shirt i was wearing (it had a guy pointing and saying "you twat") and asked if i can get him one that made my day and proved that most wrestlers are good peopleand there is only a select few that have ther heads miles up thire ownbutts .so dont worry euan your not the only fan who had to suffer from a wrestlers huge ego.
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