The Only True Sport Left

As a little guy growing up with black and white television in Pittsburgh, I always thought the greatest thing on TV was professional wrestling. Today, as an old guy, I believe the greatest thing on TV is still professional wrestling.

I know all the news that I get — like Archie Bunker — comes from the National Enquirer, and the only real sport left is professional wrestling.

As a highlight of my life, as a young boy, disc jockey and a professional wrestling fan, I reached out to then local professional wrestling promoter the late Gene Reed, to see if I could get any professional wrestlers to appear on my show  when they were in town.

I was the mid-day guy at the now defunct KAAT radio and hosted a mid-day show from the Yum-Yum Tree, a big barn like affair with restaurants inside, and lo and behold I got to interview the man I later found out owned the whole wrestling company, the late, great Verne Gagne. At that point, I could have died happy. You see, I was then officially called a “mark.” Wait, but what is a mark you ask? A mark is a person who believes professional wrestling matches are real. Some historians believe that the term dates back to a carnival term, when carnies would put chalk marks on a guy’s back so he was marked. And others would call a mark, a sucker. Other people believe it’s called hitting the mark which is a scam aimed at a sucker. And when it works, they hit the mark.

It’s the term that pro wrestlers and promoters use for people who buy tickets. Remember, these people are not considered fans or followers, they are simply marks. The wrestlers are only concerned with being paid, smirk at the marks, and when I finally got to do my first job as a ring announcer at Denver’s old Auditorium Arena, a couple of the guys and Verne “smartened me up.” Now I was on the inside and no longer a mark.

What strikes me now is how many people are marking for Barak Obama, George W. Bush, John Hickenlooper, Michael Hancock, The Denver Post, local news stations, and any politician that they think cares about them or their families.

Pro wrestling has two principal terms, one is called a “work” and the other is called a “shoot.” A shoot is real and everything else is a work. I am beginning to believe that Donald Trump became our president in a shoot and everything else is a work. Hancock’s and Hickenlooper’s Road Home is a work, George Bush’s war in Iraq was the biggest work of all time. Barak Obama’s life story is a total work. Are you starting to see the idea?

Sometimes the “boys” (what wrestlers call each other) use the term “smarks,” which is even more derogatory because they can point at you and call you that and you have no idea they are marking you. Another great pro wrestling term is called “selling.” Selling is to act as though you have been on the receiving end of a real fighting maneuver. The Denver Post leads the league. They have been selling for all of the above for so long they have no idea where real ends and work begins. Another term is called a “squash,” a huge mismatch where some heel (bad guy) takes some little face (good guy) and beats him up on TV. Everybody is selling, everybody is marking and no one is shooting. Now you understand the Train to the Plane. Another great term from the business, is called “switch the heat” or “pass the blame.”

And last, but not least, you have “workers” and a term called “work rate.” Those are both positive terms. It’s the pace of a match and the skill level of the wrestler. Ask yourself for real, how many real workers are in Front Range media and politics? I leave you with one more term that I was told about, it was the greatest definition for a wrestling match I had ever heard. It’s called a “Broadway.” It’s one hour long, everybody works very hard and it ends up a draw and they are rare and far between. We haven’t seen a full Broadway in this city for a long ass time. Andre the Giant was not 7’4”. But what the hell. Michael Hancock never bought a hooker. Ring the bell.

— Peter

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