EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch for Donnie Abreu's column every Thursday.
Thursday, July 16, 1998
Well then ... I'M A MARK!
In 1998 society seems to have learned to "tolerate" professional wrestling. While it's still not deemed mainstream, the type of fans have skewed into demographics that promoters never even dreamed of. It would appear that we have finally come to a time where it's "OK" to be a fan. The only problem is now the fans are defending themselves, from each other.
Last year I learned that we have two basic types of wrestling fans in this world ... the mark and the smart. The mark is supposed to be a somewhat gullible viewer who simply takes everything that he/she sees at face value and enjoys it for what it is. A mark doesn't know of the inner workings and for the most part, really doesn't care. A mark is an EXTREMELY loyal follower of an individual or group of individuals. A smart is the total opposite. This is the type of fan who knows it all. They know every wrestler's real name, what their contract status is, what they had for breakfast ... everything. Smarts hate Marks. I know this is starting to sound like West Side Story.
Just in case you're unsure, I've developed a short quiz that will tell you if others view you as a MARK or a SMART. Alright?
Well, if you answered true to any of these, chances are, people think you're a Mark. If you said FALSE as quickly as possible, while muttering, "What a stupid question", then you're probably just another ignorant Smart.
Smarts seem to have a chip on their shoulder. They constantly want to prove that they are the single most knowledgeable wrestling fan in the solar system. The biggest problem of course comes from Marks who are trying to become Smarts. Some young kid who hasn't even hit junior high, has been watching wrestling since the days that Sting had short hair! Whoa! He started his own website and suddenly he knows everything. Now in order to make himself feel better he has to run around calling everyone else, a mark. This is all very confusing I know.
I suppose by definition, I am a Smart fan. I've always believed that I had an in depth, working knowledge of the game and the participants. I've been a wrestling journalist for well over five years now and have gotten to know a lot more than I ever knew there was.
My major beef stems from the simple fact that ANYTIME I write an article where I slam Goldberg, or praise DX, I am called a "WWF Mark". I don't understand this. My detractors seem to think that because I write positive stories about the WWF I am obviously anti- WCW, am not an impartial reporter and therefore am not qualified for this position. I'm a Mark because I tell it like it is? I am a commentator, so that's what I do ... I comment on the state of affairs in wrestling as I see them. Sure, I may have some biased towards the World Wrestling Federation, but that's only because I grew up on them. I also grew up watching the AWA and NWA, but they're not really around any more are they? So what's the big deal? Name a single writer on the planet that doesn't have some form of bias. If they tell you they are completely impartial on every subject, they're lying to you. We are creatures of passion and we tend to show our feelings in our work. If what you want to read every week is a page that simply lists all the matches from various companies with winners sans opinion, then look somewhere else.
The first article I ever wrote for SLAM! Wrestling openly questioned the brilliance of Vince McMahon. Yet they call me a WWF Mark. I have publicly praised WCW stars such as Buff Bagwell, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Kanyon, The Giant, Booker T, Hugh Morrus, Billy Kidman, Chavo Guerrero, Konnan and Rey Mysterio Jr. Yet they call me a WWF Mark. If I don't write articles saying "Goldberg is the greatest", it's simply because ... I don't believe it , not because I'm trying to kiss up to the WWF.
Many of you have read my past articles where I have been very critical of Bret "The Hitman" Hart. I've stated that in my opinion Bret should just stop talking about what happened LAST November and focus on the remaining two and a half years of his career. I didn't say all this because Mr. McMahon is God and he could do no wrong. On the contrary. I openly bashed Vinnie for the Survivor Series incident and for his comments following, but you have to move on! I mean really ... WHY is Bret still whining? Sure he's a midcarder right now and he's not going to get a chance at the big gold for quite some time, but he got a HUGE contract and he got the hell away from Titan. Isn't that what he wanted? AND, just for the record, I've always been critical of Hart, even when he was with the WWF. Calling yourself the Best there EVER was, when you're clearly not leaves you open to some questioning. Doesn't it? I mean If I wrote an article an called myself the greatest wrestling writer there ever was, is or will be wouldn't you laugh? That title clearly belongs to fellow SLAM! Wrestling columnist, Greg Oliver, and he'd likely challenge me to a Steel Cage Death Match if I made such an outlandish claim!! By the way Greg, I have an open contract! [Editor's note: I'm sure some indy, some where, wants to book this match!]
People tend to get very violent and very crass when asking why I mainly interview WWF stars. They figure it's because I'm just a big ol' mark. In actuality it's much simpler than that. The WWF have been the easiest to get in touch with. They have been very accommodating in arranging interview times for me ... WCW is only starting to cement their place in Canada, so it's a little more difficult. I don't purposely avoid interviewing WCW talent.
Putting my personal situation aside for a moment, I believe that the ones screaming "MARK!" the most, are the biggest ones themselves. Sure, the Internet has helped turn everyone into fairly knowledgeable viewers, but as Jim Cornette once told me ... "those Internet fans think the know the whole story, but actually they're reading the wrong book". Much of what you read on a newsboard or in a newsletter is speculation and third, fourth or fifth hand information. I trust very little unless it comes from the source itself. Not to mention that there are still tons of "secrets" that have not been outed and probably never will be. The wrestling world has more tricks up their proverbial sleeves than David Copperfield. Years ago I thought I knew all there was to know, I was wrong ... In my opinion, the Smartest fans are the ones who realize that they know so very little, and there is still an awful lot to learn. .
Marks enjoy wrestling in it's purest form. They enjoy it from the outside looking in. In a sense, I wish I could go back to that. Sometimes I wonder if the Internet has ruined wrestling entirely. Who cares if Johnny Wildbutt is in negotiations with the UWC? If it's gonna happen, I'll see it on TV. I was at SkyDome for WrestleMania 6 and I popped when the Ultimate Warrior won the World Title. Hell, I even had my face painted! And you know what? I had more fun that night, than I have had any of the times I've sat backstage waiting to speak to a grumpy wrestler. I had more fun that night than I've had anytime I sat in a press box already knowing what the results of that evenings matches would be. I had more fun that night than the time I met Vince McMahon ... no wait that's not true!
So, no ... I'm not a mark ... WWF or otherwise; If you are, or you are being hit with that label by friends, enemies or competitors, just brush it off! Those are the people who think The Godfather and Papa Shango are two different guys. I think that in light of what I do for a living it's quite impossible to be a true mark; but in all honesty ... I wish I was.
Each week at the end of my article I will include a random selection of letters I received from the readers of SLAM! Wrestling.
After reading your column and your response to some of the neg mail you got for it, I must say that you are really showing your age and lack of knowledge when you say NAO is the best team ever. One team you malign, and thus offend me, is the Rockers. You obviously don't remember their early days as the Midnight Rockers in the AWA. Their brawls with Playboy (Doughboy) Buddy Rose and Pretty Boy Doug Sommers w/ Sherri Martel (yes, the same Sherri that later managed Shawn as HBK) were legendary. The pops they got were tremendous. In fact, I'd say that since a young Paul Heyman was growing up in the AWA as well, it was that feud that led to the ECW formula.
You also probably don't remember a team called the Road Warriors. Oh sure, you may know them as LOD or LOD 2000, but you have no clue as to what they were 10-15 years ago. They went from fed to fed (getting pop after pop), winning belt after belt as if they were tag team gods. Several feds (AWA, WCCW, NWA) had open door policies AND had decent TV deals. Too bad we don't have that today.
I would even say that a team such as the Mega Powers (Hogan/Savage) is stronger than the NAO because rumblings from that angle are still seen in wrestling today. Call me back in 10 years and we'll see where Fat Ass and Road Stain are.
Joe Mendiola email@example.com
This is a perfect example of someone who considers himself to be a VERY Smart fan. Alright, Joe ... First of all ... I NEVER said the Outlaws were the BEST team in history ... I said they were the most popular .. huge difference! Yes, I DO remember the Midnight Rockers and The Warriors. So what? Their pops were to small arenas with limited TV audiences.
Who's more popular, a high school band that performs at a small bar in front of 150 screaming teenagers ... or Pearl Jam? The Mega Powers don't qualify because they weren't a TRUE tag team, and you know it! Thanks for the letter.
This is the 3rd time I've e-mailed SLAM! Wrestling. This is my second e-mail to you. I wonder if you will ignore this letter also. If you decide to print this letter I promise to even give you more respect in my books. I realize you're young with lots of years of studying wrestling video tapes and researching old articles. However I see it's easy for you to do what you do now that most of wrestling history is now on the net. Almost anybody can become an authority on the topic. It also must be very easy to pick your favorite wrestlers and glorify them in a column every week. It's also easy to make fun of young uninspiring fans just because there is a wrong spelling of a word or two in their e-mails. These young people are very strong in their beliefs just as you were at a young age. Did anyone ever make fun of you because you were a Shawn Michaels fan? I think that it is great you have your opinions and you can express them on the net and you let others have their opinions too. However I don't think it is necessary to "dis" people because they don't agree with you. However I do personally agree that maybe Goldberg is still too green to be a champion.
Thank you- a wrestling fan. firstname.lastname@example.org
People seem to think that if for whatever reason they don't get a reply from me then I'm obviously ignoring their email. This couldn't be further from the truth. canoe.ca is obviously one of the busiest web sites in the world. And as a result I receive an incredible amount of email about Big Daddy's Beefs every day! To respond to every letter would be a full time job. I respond to some, post others, and file the rest in a special folder.
No one EVER made fun of me liking Shawn Michaels ... how could they? Michaels is the single greatest all around performer in WWF history.
I don't "dis" fans who make spelling mistakes or don't have all the facts about them ... I "dis" fans who are loud mouthed and belligerent for absolutely no reason.
What's so great about Edge Adam Copeland? I don't care if he's Canadian, Puerto Rican, or Hawaiian. Copeland and Morley are Canadian. What's the big deal? Ultimo Dragon is Japanese. Rey Mysterio Jr. is Mexican. I know you're a big WWF fan so, if you don't like WCW don't talk about it.
Can someone explain to me what this guy's point is? I do talk about Edge quite a bit, but that is mainly because he is going to one day wear the WWF World Title around his waist. I'm just telling you all before you jump on the bandwagon and then start yelling, "I was a fan of Edge ever since he started!!" ....
I don't care if he or Val Venis (Sean Morely) ARE Canadian ... It's not their nationality that will turn them into stars, it's their talent.
I just read your story on how Goldberg should not be champ & I agree 100%. That match with Hogan was as funny as the DX/NATION skit on RAW. The best part was Goldie trying his best to do about 20 arm drag take downs, all looking like crap! Wrestling fans are really stupid for loving this guy so much.
By the way,I glad you seem to be a WWF mark & I hate it when people bug you about that.
So here's another guy who thinks I'm a WWF Mark, but he doesn't seem to mind. Well thank you sir! I said it last week, Goldberg could be something, someday ... right now he's just a big dumb body builder.
Finally there's somebody in this world who agrees with me on the fact that Goldberg is nothing but a big talentless fraud. Big Daddy, for all the 12 years I've been watching wrestling, no man has ever dared to spread the truth of this sport like you do. All of the other so called "reporters" began to kiss WCW's butt ever since they won the rating war. Deep down in my heart, I know that the WWF is still NUMERO UNO!!! I say FORGET THE RATINGS, AND FOCUS ON WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT. WCW can win all of their ratings if they want to, 'cause WWF will eventually catch up to them one step at a time. Oh, and if Goldberg ever gets into the ring with Stone Cold, Austin's gonna take a chair and beat him into a bloody pulp... and you know why? 'Cause I said so. And if anybody wants to threaten Big Daddy, you'll have to get through me first!
Well, apparently we have an applicant for the position of Big Daddy's bodyguard. Thanks, but I think I'll be ok. As far as the ratings go, that was WCW's biggest claim to fame over the last 2 years but lately the WWF has been back on top. This week's show beat Nitro once again.
Send your comments to me, Big Daddy Donnie. email@example.com. I can't promise that I'll respond, but I'll definitely read them all!