Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Mark in the Ring and the Business Elders

It was the night of Wrestlemania 29, and the first WWE PPV I've seen all the way through since I gave up on them in 2011. I have my reasons for why I watched, but suffice to say I am happiest still with Independent Wrestling ~ my home.

Now usually, when there's a major event from the corporate conglomerate, my Facebook and Twitter feed blow up, as even rival promotion TNA drops everything to pay homage and respect to the Stamford based entity.

... This was NOT one of those nights.

Oh sure, there were some supporters from wrestlers of all ages, and plenty of "WTF was THAT" comments from those waking up, but those comments weren't the "Top" stories on my Facebook news feed.

Hmm, I wonder how I'm going to tell this story in the future to any of my potential offspring? Considering the fate of MySpace, I may have to explain what a Timeline is. Eh, I'll just say "it was trending" so moving on.

On my news feed were about a dozen or so comments from people who've been in wrestling for more than a decade. Half of them, more than two decades. The comments all looked about the same too.

"If you're a wrestler, and you're actually marking out for this show, YOU'RE A MARK, I'm gonna so delete you right now, and tell everyone in the world what a big old FANBOY you really are. You are NEVER gonna make it in wrestling EVER again!! Oh and PS? I'm NOT gonna vote for you on Gut Check."

I feel like I should have added "So there, nyah!!" to the tirade, but you get the idea.

Now I'm not going to name names, because each of the guys who said this:
a.) Knows who I am and how short I am
b.) Knows kinda where in the world I actually am
c.) Are still spry enough at their advanced age to whoop my ass and make it look like an accident.

In short, I am not stupid.

But suffice to say that they've been in wrestling long enough to know better than to Facebook troll the young ones, and yet troll they did. They flipped out completely, and have been keeping it up for the last two days now.

So I point blank asked a few of them a simple question. And I meant this with the honesty of my heart, as I had zero intention of coming across as someone snarky.

"Mick Foley said he really likes Punk's match, and he admitted to watching as a fan tonight. Are you gonna say he's a mark too?"

The Answer?

"Well no, because he's a WWE Hall of Famer now. He's earned it."

"Okay, so where exactly is the cutoff age for a wrestler, where it starts being okay to watch as a fan again? No really, nobody put that into a book, and I can't find it on Google, how should a wrestler know the boundary?"

I meant that honestly, but I never got a reply back.

But this entire episode reminds me of a friend of mine, somebody I look up to as a twin brother. I haven't been able to speak to him in ages, due to his schedule. It wasn't so long ago that my adopted twin was being told the exact same thing.

"My Twinnie" was one of the first 12 people I ever added to my MySpace friends list. He remembered seeing me in the crowd at Ring of Honor, and knew I was drawing a cartoon about his upcoming feud with his then tag team partner and currently close, respected friend.

Now like me, my Twinnie questioned the WWE ~ a whole lot. Publicly. In interviews. On the internet. And he was never afraid to directly email certain people and say "HEY! That storyline SUCKS!!" And when he saw me being pestered on MySpace and Twitter, because I dared to speak out against things I didn't like, he defended me. Didn't have to, he chose to.

He also praised them where it was deserved. If he saw a match that was good, he'd say so. "That was a badass match" or "that was pretty cool" was never out of his vocabulary. He treated the show the way a fan would.

And lord did he hear all about it from the elders.

"What's WRONG with you?? GAWD your attitude SUCKS, You keep it up, you are NEVER getting into the WWE. Your career is pretty much dead right now. Just hang up your boots, buy a ticket and sit down, you MARK. You will NEVER make it in wrestling!! If I was the promoter, I would NEVER book you. I'mma tell everyone what a prick you really are, and see to it you're never booked outside of ROH's VFW halls again, you whiny little MARK!!"

He would get people talking behind his back all the time. Have people spreading all sorts of stories about him, trying to kill his career, simply because he watched wrestling as a fan, and expected better. people spread lies about him, and tried to slander him.

And some of these people had the nerve to turn around and defend this bad behavior, chiding on MySpace and Facebook that "this is how you pay your dues" and the standard "HEY I'm just telling it like it is" comment.

But my twin was brave and very bold. He refused to stop. If he saw something he liked, he said so. If he saw something he didn't like, he said so. He used his online presence to try and wake people up.

But the elders never stopped. "He's never gonna make it if he keeps acting like a fanboy" they all chided.

Fast forward from 2009 to 2013.

My Twinnie, would you like to know what happened to him? The "little mark" that everyone said would never make it, because he loves wrestling as a fan and stood up to the WWE?

Well, here he is now:
He's on the middle-left of the image. Oh right I forgot to mention this. My Twinnie? Yeah, he's SETH ROLLINS right now.

Oh an lemme clue you in. This picture? It's of Seth's very first ever Wrestlemania win. That's right! The "little mark" who was told to hang up his boots and go home, simply because he talked about WWE the way a fan would? He won a match against three ex-World Heavyweight Champions within the WWE: Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton. this picture is of my adopted twin, having his hand raised in victory at freaking Wrestlemania.

As for the elders that chidied him on MySpace and Facebook? The ones who "knew everything" about the business, and were insistent he'd "never" make it in wrestling because he's a fan? Wanna know where they were?

On Facebook. AT HOME. Far far away from even the tiniest VFW hall.

And while my "fanboy" Twinnie is having his face plastered onto posters and trading cards, the elders who put him down at every turn, are currently threatening and mocking all of the other young wrestlers, who are just as determined as Seth is to see a change in the sport they grew up with.

I was never told that this would happen.

I've always been told to respect the elders, and that something like this was nearly impossible.

And yet, Seth is not by himself. 

There's one more boy I met at Ring of Honor many years ago, who was told that because of his "attitude problem" he too should "hang up his boots, and sit with the other marks" as I heard behind me. Hang on, I have a picture of him:
Yeah, there he is. That's the boy.... on the Undertaker's arm.... at Wrestlemania.

Just like Seth, Punk was told that because he still enjoyed wrestling, and was quick to publicly criticize the WWE, that his career was DEAD. I find that really funny. I see him wrestling the DEADman here, but his career seems to be alive and well.

It seems to me that these elders, with all their years of experience in "the business" have forgotten all about the one thing that separates the wrestlers from the legends.

Passion.

Passion, is actually the evolved form of fandom.

The wrestlers I am closest to now all say the same thing. 

"The day I stop loving this like a fan is the day I retire.

They know that if they cough up that fandom, and start treating wrestling the same as they do a boring 9-to-5 cubicle job, their work will suffer, their matches will feel routine, and they will become bitter, angry, depressed, and ultimately without hope.

And it's not the "young punks" I have heard this fandom-passion connection from either. There's one more guy I met, who was also told he "needed to retire" because he was being "a mark for this business". Here's a recent photo of him:
Oh I forgot to mention. That's WWE Hall of Famer............. Mick Foley.
You know what? For being "marks" for wrestling, I just don't think my Twinnie, Punkles and Mick did too badly. Nope, actually... I think they did pretty damn well.
Who knew that back in 2009-10 when I drew these, that I was drawing a future Wrestlemania star:


 

That's my Twinnie.
Eeeeeesh, glad I've lost weight since then.

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