Reasoning for the dismissive view of the "smark"
by, 08-13-2012 at 07:27 PM (2051 Views)
My fellow wrestling fans,
After three years of passively observing this and other websites, I recently made my first post in response to Kevin Nash's inflammatory, asinine comments towards smaller, mat-based, technical wrestlers - specifically Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. I was particularly called to action by Nash's derisive view toward "smarks" as irrelevant, cultural infants. I do not begrudge Nash's view toward "smarks" and the internet wrestling community for any personal reason; nevertheless, his position toward professional wrestling's most passionate, dedicated fan base is without question common among other powerful people in the professional wrestling industry and is perhaps the prevailing opinion among the elite in WWE and the professional wrestling industry on whole. This viewpoint therefore, deserves proper analysis and criticism. It is my argument that the maintenance of such a derisive, dismissive view toward an industry's most enthusiastic consumer segment is anomalous to the professional wrestling industry. In no other major industry, whether it be entertainment-based or financial services, is the most passionate consumer of a product or service viewed with such derision.
As a general rule, the successful business person does not achieve his or her success by lacking expertise; understanding your consumers' needs and wants is a major priority taught to business students at universities the world over and in pragmatic terms, this ethos is certainly integral to American (and world) business culture. So it's a reasonable conclusion that the brass in the professional wrestling industry, specifically WWE, know what they're doing from a business perspective. This, therefore, begs the following questions: Is the dismissive view of the "smark" and "internet wrestling fan" valid? Is it the best orientation to achieving business goals? Is the professional wrestling industry even missing out on an opportunity by maintaining this view? I propose the following as explanations:
The "smark" and internet wrestling community simply is not substantial enough to merit allocation of resources:
This is likely a viewpoint shared by higher ups in WWE. If this is indeed true, it is valid. I posited in my previous post that 80% of wrestling fans were passive consumers and 20% were "smarks". This was simply conjecture on my part and not based on any concrete evidence or market research data. Perhaps the real ratio leans a little less toward "smarks" (maybe it is 90% passive consumers and 10% "smarks"). Nevertheless, I maintain that it is likely that the composition of "smarks" is a substantial number of consumers. Sadly, WWE is not a company that places a high amount of priority toward market research - which illustrates that they really just don't care.
The "smark" really knows nothing about wrestling
Whether this argument is true really is irrelevant. Whether your consumer actually knows something about an area of expertise, it is in the firm's best interest to make a concession to servicing a client whether he knows everything or nothing about what he consumes - especially if his level of knowledge affects his consumption choices. For example, I don't believe that I know a whole lot about being a doctor, but when I go into a doctor and have some research about a medical condition that I have, I am not going to return to a doctor that is dismissive toward my level of knowledge. If you went to a doctor with some background knowledge on a medical condition that you have, he would never say, "Stupid mark - you'll never know as much about medicine as I do - I went to school for 10 years." Although it is very likely true that I will never know as much as even the worst doctor, I will go to another doctor that respects my opinion if I am shown this amount of disdain. Sadly, we are presented with very few alternate options as professional wrestling consumers, and this may be a reason for why higher ups in the professional wrestling industry are able to maintain a derisive view toward "smarks". Being a doctor is way more difficult than being a wrestler - I am sorry, it's true. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for what it takes to be a professional wrestler - it is a true art form. But let's be real, the complexities of being a truly great doctor, lawyer, or engineer surpass those of being a great professional wrestler - yet, none of these professions would ever dismiss a knowledgeable patient, client, or customer.
The professional wrestling industry maintains vestiges of an "old school" mentality rooted in the old days of when it was not known by everyone that wrestling is a staged event.
I personally believe this strongly plays a role. Wrestling, like many other indus
tries, maintains a high importance on respecting those that came before you and know more. In the old days when keeping the business a secret was the most important thing, having a negative view toward smarks was necessary because servicing them would expose the business. Since young wrestlers are suppose to respect their elders without question, it makes old habits die hard. Wrestling therefore, probably has elements of older viewpoints that may never completely die out
In closing. . .
Ironically, professional wrestling's derisive view toward the smark scarily mirrors the prevailing view held by others in the business community toward the professional wrestling industry. Any other publicly traded company with the size and influence of WWE would be analyzed and studied at business schools throughout the world, yet the academic literature on WWE and professional wrestling is virtually non-existent. There are a variety of plausible explanations for this, but it suffices to say that WWE is not viewed by the business community with the respect that such a successful company is likely merited. It is probable that a great deal of personal biases, pretentiousness, and lack of desire to understand the professional wrestling industry is preventing the business community from learning from WWE's successes and failures. Is it likely that the professional wrestling industry's equal level of pretentiousness is hindering it from capitalizing on a similar opportunity?
I thank you for your comments and criticisms.