The Kevin Nash Argument: Deficiencies deconstructed from a marketing perspective
by, 08-08-2012 at 10:59 PM (2609 Views)
To my fellow members of the Internet Wrestling Community,
I have been a fan of professional wrestling my entire life and a reader of this website for the last 3 years; yet, I have never posted before. Nevertheless, I am unable to bite my tongue now due to Kevin Nash's recent controversial remarks.
I will recognize certain things that I have always respected about Kevin Nash: his ability to manage his financial assets is very commendable. His ability to consistently and effectively manage his career from its glory days to the present is something that deserves recognition. In any career, whether it is in wrestling or chemical engineering, the ability to strategically plan over a career life cycle is something that is surprisingly scare among even the most prodigiously talented in their chosen fields.
Nevertheless, Kevin Nash has disrespected not only a great deal of his colleagues with his recent comments, but also wrestling's most passionate fanbase.
I am going to deconstruct Kevin Nash's remarks from a new perspective: not one from the perspective of a passionate wrestling fan (or "smark" as such fans are derisively notated), but from an academic, strategic marketing perspective.
Firstly, I find the viewpoints of of those in the professional wrestling industry (former, current, and other powerful figures) to be anomalous compared to other industries concerning their treatment and lack of respect to their most dedicated fans ("smarks"). The prevailing opinion among the professional wrestling elite toward the "smark" is one of disdain veering on disgust. The "smark" is seen as a negligible commodity. His opinion is worthy of nothing but disregard in the best scenario, derision in the worst.
This differs from almost every other industry in American (and world) business. Take the financial advising industry as an example. Like the wrestling industry, 80% of the customers are passive consumers, they don't know a whole lot about finance and they are willing to accept usually whatever financial advice is fed to them. However, the other 20% is passionate about their financial options - they are educated, spend their time researching, (on the internet nonetheless) and they come into meetings with ideas of their own about financial investment strategies. Does the financial industry say "these marks don't know what they're talking about - fuck 'em if they don't want to buy into our advice." Of course not, because this 20% is just as profitable as the other 80% if you know how to service them; show them respect, show them that you don't have to be a full-time financial worker to have some understanding of how financial markets operate and they will likely continue to invest with you. The fact that this 20% invests 10 times more per capita than those in the other 80% shows that it makes economic sense to service this sector.
Many in the wrestling industry don't take the same view toward their most dedicated consumers that practically every other major industry has successfully adopted. Take Kevin Nash's recent comments:
"I'm never going to be an Internet darling. I could hit an 890 hurricanrana tomorrow and they'll say, 'Oh, his left knee hit before his right knee,'" he says. "You're not supposed to be 7 feet tall, handsome, smart. You're a giant, you should look like a giant and fee-fi-fo-fum around. You shouldn't know anything about art. You shouldn't be well-rounded. Look at the core of the hard-core wrestling fans. What do we have in common? When they go to New York City, do they go to the modern art museum and can't believe that Picasso's early work is not cubism? Do they know that? Do they care? Have they ever spent a day at an art museum ever in their life? Do they go to Amsterdam to see Van Goghs, then go to a coffeehouse and then go see Van Goghs again? They don't. Sorry, man."
Nash's comments are all too indicative of a lack of understanding or even a desire to gain understanding of the "internet wrestling community", which is without argument one of professional wrestling's most dedicated segments. Nash realized long ago that he is never going to appeal to hardcore wrestling fans, and that actually was a pretty smart move on his part. However, he blinds himself by choosing to believe that his dislike from internet wrestling fans is due to some personal bias. He deliberately refuses to acknowledge that his hatred from internet wrestling fans is not because of some personal bias, but instead due to certain deficiencies in his performance that internet wrestling fans value more so than other fans. Among the things that internet wrestling fans value are the following: technical ability, work rate, and the ability to put on a good match with any opponent. These may not be things that the superficial fan values most, but the more passionate fans see these as most important.
Instead of Nash simply acknowledging that his strengths (he has many) just are not geared to these areas (they certainly are not) and moving on, he shifts blame to the internet fans for having a personal bias to explain why he is not accepted. Furthermore he characterizes the internet wrestling community as culturally infantile simpletons. This part of his argument truly shows his ignorance and narcissism. I have been a wrestling fan my entire life, and I have an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, and work in a strenuous, knowledge-intensive industry in which the average untrained idiot would be lost. To blanket passionate wrestling fans into the "lives with their mother" bucket, even if it was true (it's not) is a cop out, ad hominem argument. Furthermore, let's extrapolate this to how "cultured" Nash believes he is from his "knowledge" of art. How would he feel if he was able to talk to one of his favorite artists and they responded with "You think you know art? You're just a mark who has never painted"
On a side note, Nash thinking he knows something about Picasso's early work's relationship to cubism is completely ridiculous if he thinks that qualifies him as someone knows anything about art on even a superficial level. The sad thing is even the average internet wrestling fan knows more about the art of a good match than Nash thinks he knows about what makes an influential painting - yet, he would refuse to see the parallels of this analogy)
In sum, Nash's (and even other elite in the world of professional wrestling) complete disrespect of the most passionate segment in wrestling puts them in a unique position compared to other legitimate industry. In marketing parlance, the internet wrestling community has what we call "key influencer" status. In every other industry from Consumer Package Goods to Insurance, decision makers understand that it is important to understand and engage this segment in dialogue rather than disregarding their opinion as devoid of any merit. Wrestling is behind the curve in this regard partly due to personal biases and also due to an "old school" mentality that is disgusted with the idea of entertaining the notion that "smarks" have some sort of legitimate opinion worthy of tactical consideration.
I thank you for opinion and wish you all a great week.