Missing the Mark: Why It’s Still Ok to Get Excited About Pro Wrestling

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The internet wrestling community has deemed the term Mark as a bad word. A mark, for those who do not know, is defined loosely depending on who is using the it.  However, Wikipedia contains a definition that I feel best describes it:

A wrestling fan that…loses sight of the staged nature of the business while supporting their favorite wrestlers.

These days wrestling fans tend to use the term in a derogatory way to describe fellow fans who they don’t agree with or just wish to put down. I have even heard the term used negatively by wrestlers themselves in interviews. I have never understood the negative connotations the term has picked up. In fact, I am here to admit that I am a mark or at least I used to be, and I wish I could find my way back to that again.

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Image: WWE

Going back to the point where my love of wrestling was at its highest takes me back to just before the Attitude Era. I had been a fan through the 80’s and even early 90’s, but around 1994 I began to really get into professional wrestling. It was a trying time for the business and during this low point I somehow began to grow into the huge fan I would eventually become. I loved the cartoony atmosphere that was still sticking around as a leftover from the 80’s. It was too far over the top and way out of touch by the mid 90’s, but it was perfect to draw me in. My imagination was ready for characters like Doink the Clown, Surfer Sting, and the cornier earlier version of the Undertaker.

It was during this period, beginning around 1994 and carried on through 2001, that I truly loved wrestling. There was WCW, ECW, and WWF (now WWE) and I loved each of them. I was more than just a fan, I was a mark. I wouldn’t miss a show and there were plenty of shows to go around. Saturdays alone featured hours of wrestling and it would begin with WCW Pro and WCW Worldwide followed by watching Sunny on WWF Livewire. Saturday evenings I would be back in front of the TV to watch WCW Saturday Night, WCW’s premier show before Nitro began on Monday nights. Later in the 90’s, I would watch WWF Shotgun Saturday Night which originally had a really different vibe as it was filmed in nightclubs. Sunday evenings were filled with more wrestling as WCW Main Event and WWF Sunday Night Heat filled the small screen at various times in the 90’s and then you had the monthly pay-per-views that each company was running. There were plenty of moments for a fan like me to mark out.

Mick WWE
Image: WWE

I can remember marking out to Hulk Hogan’s arrival in WCW with Jimmy Hart. I can remember marking out to Chris Jericho winning the WWF Title for that brief moment on a Monday Night Raw in 2000. I can remember marking out a year earlier when Mankind won that same title and so famously put butts in the seat in spite of what Tony Schiavone was told to say on Nitro that night. I remember marking out when the Undertaker returned at Judgment Day in 2000 after a lengthy absence. I marked out at these and plenty of other moments in those 6 years as a wrestling mark and during those years I enjoyed it more than anytime since. There is no shame in enjoying wrestling to the point where you forget everything is pre-planned. Those moments are what it should be all about.

These days I wouldn’t consider myself even half the fan I once was. I enjoy wrestling, but I no longer live for the shows and pay-per-views. I can still find moments to mark out. Brock Lesnar beating John Cena at Summerslam in 2014 and Seth Rollins winning the title at Wrestlemania 31 to name just a few recent personal mark out moments.

I’m here to say I’m not ashamed to claim I was once a huge mark and I wish I could be that same mark again. If you are a fan of anything don’t ever be ashamed of it. Mark out for whatever you love.

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