For almost very Monday in the past decade or so, I have been watching the same show. Sometimes it was on the USA Network and sometimes on Spike, sometimes it started at 9 PM and sometimes at 8, but it’s always been the same show with the same name and hailing from the same company. That show is WWE (sometimes WWF) Monday Night Raw. When I talk about what WWE is, I must first explain that it is indeed a show filled with wrestling matches that all have predetermined endings. The wrestling isn’t fake, as there are several injuries that can occur. The second thing to say is that WWE is insanely popular all over the world and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. We, as wrestling fans, like to think that it is a fringe fandom, but it has come in and out of the mainstream in the past thirty years.
When one becomes a wrestling fan, usually he or she is very young and picks up watching wrestling from his or her parents. That is not always true, but it is something that happens most of the time. They cheer on the good guys and they boo the bad guys. They are becoming a “Mark”, or someone who really gets into specific characters. When a wrestling fan comes of age that he or she can go on the Internet more often, they will find the one undeniable and painful truth that exists in pro wrestling, the aforementioned notion that it is a staged event. That moment, along with finding out that Santa Claus wasn’t real (or is he?), are two of the most painful childhood moments of my life.
After this watershed moment, some wrestling fans leave the fandom, moving on to other interests. However, most of us stay. We have now each morphed into a “Smark”. A Smark is a person who knows the truth of wrestling and starts to cheer for the wrestlers who “work” well. That means the wrestlers who can put on a good, energetic match are those who we are fans of regardless of whether they are a “babyface” (good guy), or a “heel” (bad guy).
These Smarks then become more and more involved in talking about wrestling, mostly online. This is where we get into trouble. This is where the Smarks discuss who is good and who is bad at wrestling. They can completely rally with a specific wrestler, or they can all turn on another. This is where we get to the saga of John Cena.
John Cena once had a white rapper gimmick that made everyone entertained. He then became the face of the WWE around 10 years ago. These Smarks then completely turned on him when he became a goody-two-shoes character who would win every single match he was in. People started to rally around the people he would face, every time in vein.
The wrestling world is a strange one, that can be said without hesitation. However, the wrestling community, especially online, is even stranger. But I guess a world like the one that Pro Wrestling inhabits deserves an equally strange community of followers who will watch this show forever.