Mark (professional wrestling)

From Academic Kids

A mark is a professional wrestling fan who believes that everything associated with professional wrestling is real, instead of operating under kayfabe (that is, it is a work). Marks are often (but not always) children or young teenagers who are devoted fans of professional wrestling.

Frequent examples:

  • The wrestlers are actually striking each other (and causing injury as a result), even though the punishment they appear to be inflicting would badly incapacitate or kill anyone else.
  • The wrestlers' gimmicks are their real-life personalities, and that they engage in behavior associated with the gimmick outside the wrestling ring (even if said behavior is not socially acceptable). Sometimes, a mark will believe that a wrestler who has changed gimmicks is a totally different person.
  • Rival wrestling organizations do not exist (especially if they are not acknowledged by announcers), and that the past history of a veteran wrestler who is new to a promotion does not exist. This was especially common during the 1980s in the WWF.

A mark can also refer to a devoted fan, either of a particular wrestler, wrestling company or the sport itself.


The term mark derives from professional wrestling's early days as a carnival sideshow, where those who were unaware or not privy to the workings of the business were seen as gullible "marks" who would believe anything they were told.

Another source may be that the operator of a carnival booth would identify potential customers whom they thought were gullible, and then persuade them to patronize their booth (which often included a game rigged so it could not be won, or one that sold shoddy, overpriced merchandise); someone who fell for the operator's tricks would be seen as a mark.

Smarks and marking out

Not all professional wrestling fans are marks, but rather smarks who know that wrestling is staged but enjoy it anyway. Smarks often take great offense at being called a "mark," since it implies that they are stupid and/or gullible. Both marks and smarks also become offended when another person attempts to "educate" them on the sport's staged nature, since it would greatly diminish or ruin his/her enjoyment.

Someone who enjoys wrestling "for what it is" rather than analyzing its staged nature often marks out (which such moments called marking out).

Critics of the WWE often allege that the organization plays to the marks' liking, while poking fun at the smarks. However, this is not always true, particularly with storylines associated with The Clique.

See also: professional wrestling slang


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