And Another Thing: Those Damn Marks
Posted by Hyatte on 01.01.2000
They ruin everything, but are they WCW’s only hope?
This is new stuff... brand new to you.
It’s the first column I did for Widro and Murtz’s Realwrestlingshow site.
I’m saying it came out in the Summer of 2000, but it could very well be late Spring. It is just before or just during the start of the legendary “Bischoff/Russo Era” of WCW and it was a musing on which audience they should be going after, and who they should blame for whatever failure that may come their way. Wasn’t a bad piece, but it’s certainly not my own personal “Sgt. Peppers”.
(originally presented in the Summer, 2000: Real Wrestling Show)
I have never shaken hands with a “Hardcore” wrestling fan.
I have, though, shook hands with plenty of “Casual” wrestling fans.
This is how the lines are defined. “Casual” fans don’t visit Wrestling sites, either because they don’t want to or they don’t have any means of access. “Hardcore” fans do, and they visit practically everything. They know what is going to happen before the casual folks, they know what’s happening behind the scenes, who’s out, who’s in, who’s happy, and who’s refusing to put over David Flair. The Casual fans became known as “Marks” and Hardcore fans became known as “Smarts”.
More importantly, Hardcore wrestling fans, for the most part, hate WCW.
While all three companies understand that they need to have a net presence in order to remain current in this Age, WCW has recently upped the stakes and actively catered to us. Their feeling is, if we feel that Nitro is geared to us our hatred would vanish and things can go back to the way they used to be for the first couple of years of Nitro’s existence. We would, through word of mouth and constant praising, lift Nitro out of second place status and it can reclaim its ratings’ throne.
It didn’t quite work. In fact, you could argue that all those “work the Smarts” backfired more times than not. As a result, both Bischoff and Russo have gone online and claimed to be frustrated with the lack of “Smart” support, and will now focus primarily on getting the Marks. This is where they roll out the old saw: “Internet Smarts only make up roughly 5% of the audience.” 95% of the viewers have never been online and can’t be influenced by Internet critics who are constantly clogging up Message Boards and Columns about how we suck. The Marks will see which is the best show. The Marks will lead the way back to ratings’ glory.
Somehow, I think that plan will prove just as difficult, maybe more so.
Back in April, in the last couple of weeks before the New Bischoff/Russo era began, I ran into a “Casual” fan at my Job. We had taken up the practice of discussing the shows every Tuesday and Friday. Just a little post match BS that everyone does. A week before Bischoff and Russo were going to take over, I told him about it, and how it might be worth checking out to see what they can do. Of course, I ended up explaining the entire story behind their return. Quite honestly, with the exception of the sudden disappearance of the off-camera “Powers That Be” character, he said that he didn’t even notice a change in the show’s content during the occasional hour of time he watched Nitro before RAW came on. He said he would check it out.
He watched RAW instead. As soon as the clock hit 8:58, he flipped and never looked back. When I asked why, he said that he just doesn’t care about WCW’s talent. He did for a while, back when Hogan joined the NWO and everyone was talking about it, but then he got sick of the show. He hasn’t been back since. “They just don’t interest me.”
I asked him, “What about Goldberg? Don’t you like him?”
He shrugged indifferently.
We spent the rest of the time talking about the Rock and how good Triple H has become.
Russo and Bischoff have stated time and time again that they know their job will be to make their Wrestlers interesting. They know that they have to create a foundation by which to build upon. He says that in a year, WCW will be almost a completely different company. They are asking for a year, and then we’ll get the real fireworks. They claim to have given up trying to suck up the “Smarts” for the most part; and the uninfluenced Marks will see what they talking about. The Casual fan is uninformed, thus they are stupid. They are easily workable. Pliable in the sense that they can be molded, conditioned, and controlled into going from Loyal RAW Watchers to being Loyal Nitro Watchers. Marks were blown away by Chris Jericho’s now legendary RAW Introduction, so they will no doubt be blasted out of their seats by Berlyn’s equally epic entrance. Marks hang on the Rock’s every word and blow out their vocal cords whenever he steps out from behind the curtain, there is no reason why they shouldn’t do the same when Goldberg comes out, and if they need a little push in this direction by having the Announcers go into screaming fits over him as well as a ready made “GOLDBERG” chant to chant along too, then so be it. They say that they need a year, so why do they keep outing on shows designed for instant gratification? Instead of thrilling, well thought out, masterfully plotted storylines that build little by little over the course of months, they are cooking up Fast food angles that you are supposed to eat in you car on your way home? Unless I am missing the big picture, I don’t see anything from WCW that resembles the brilliant “Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon” yearlong storyline.
Now, in this very small Online Community, I am a Star. I voice strong opinions and try hard to be fair in the sense of criticizing both companies when needed and praising them when warranted. I have a strong, loyal following. I do not believe I have ever influenced anyone into changing his or her minds on something. I don’t believe anyone has. Oh sure, I’ve gotten a lot of letters from folks saying, “Hey, you were right on when you said...” Wrestling fans, both Casual and Hardcore, think alike, all an Opinion Writer does is provide examples as to why something is good, or why it stinks, but nobody is going to love RAW or Nitro because I say they should. Smarts who watch Nitro will watch it no matter how many columnists and posters scream about how bad Nitro is. Bischoff and Russo do not think this is the case, so they are going after the Marks now.
Guess what? Marks aren’t that easily influenced either. I should know... I’ve talked to them about it.
I wonder what they will say if they can’t get the Casual fans to stay on Nitro after 9:00 p.m.? Will they blame all the signs on Nitro saying “I’d Rather Watch RAW”? Will they blame all the influential mainstream press the WWF is getting? Will they do complete about face and claim that the Hardcore fans make up 95% of the audience?
Or will they realize that maybe the true blame lies elsewhere?
Maybe they will start blaming themselves?
This column was intended to end here but then something occurred one day when I was at a car dealership, milking my Warranty for all it’s worth.
I was walking around the Lot, checking out the new Audis, when I walked close enough to an Employee Lunch Area. As I walked by, I heard someone yell quite loudly:
“I AM… THE CHOSEN ONE!”
Maybe catering to the Casual fans will work after all?
This is Hyatte too.