Kayfabe Is Dead

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Watching Austin conduct his podcast with Triple H, he said something that distracted me for about 10 minutes following the comment. It was something that I hadn’t contemplated because it’s been so long since I watched pro wrestling from that side. It explains a lot of the problems between the fans and the company itself and while there is no way for it to go back to the way it was, there needs to be some way for WWE to succeed from it. This is the difference between watching the show as a kid and watching now as an adult. What’s the problem? Kayfabe is dead…

Austin had mentioned that Kayfabe is dead when he was referring to the way the fans reacted to Roman Reigns winning the Rumble. He said that back when he was working, the fans accepted the match outcomes much more because very few people knew behind the scenes that “So-and-So is getting pushed” or “They’re keeping So-and-So held back because he’s not the one they want fans to like.” It was much simpler back when he was around. These days, if a Superstar is a heel, he can’t keep Kayfabe on social media or when meeting fans because that would be “bad for business.” I can remember a time that when a wrestler played a heel on TV, he was a heel to the fans too! He didn’t break Kayfabe and that was the way it worked. Nowadays? Not so much.

Who’s the one guy that comes to mind when you think of someone who never broke Kayfabe? The Undertaker. Until relatively recently, how many people knew about his personal life? How many people knew he had kids? I know I didn’t. He doesn’t have a Twitter account, and for the first 18 or so years of his career, you never saw him outside of a WWE show. Taker is so old school that he even came to Paul Bearer’s Hall of Fame induction in character! When he did the ice bucket challenge, you couldn’t see him because he did it in the shadows. This is the art of sharing your life but still protecting the business.

Stephanie

Stephanie McMahon has come out in her interviews and says that she “plays a bag guy on TV but is not like her character in real life.” This is a death sentence for anything you try and do on TV. This is the exact opposite of the example of The Undertaker. Compare her to her dad. Vince played a bad guy on TV and also used a real life situation (Montreal Screwjob) to his advantage and it helped establish his character as theall-time top heel of the company. Imagine if that same situation had happened now… It’d be a PR nightmare that they would just want to go away and wouldn’t benefit from it at all. Funny story…

Richard has said a few times now that fans weren’t mad at the fact that Roman Reigns won the Rumble, but they were upset by how it was written and executed. Roman Reigns the character got booed out of the building, but those boos weren’t deserved if you’re talking about the “story” of the Rumble. Since the company wants him to be the next “Top Babyface” they didn’t let him play into the crowd and the atmosphere. They want the storylines to support the business decisions instead of the business decisions supporting the storylines and fans see right through it. The fans in the arena are part of every Superstar’s “character” and THEY decide who’s a heel and who’s a babyface. I would have loved to see him get booed and then immediately get angered by the fact that the crowd didn’t want him to win. If the fans don’t like him, turn him heel and let the fans hate him and ENJOY hating him. It worked out well for The Rock. It seems the bigger issue stems from the fact that WWE has forgotten how to tell a story that’s so compelling that we forget about all of the other behind the scenes nonsense for a little while.

I’m not proposing I know the solution but I feel like the strategy needs to change. Vince is afraid to take chances anymore because he doesn’t want to rock the boat and possibly cost himself any more money. All the while, he’s costing himself money in the process. When it comes to social media, if you’re a heel on TV, go along with it on Twitter. When Triple H is mocking the fans and the “smarks” because he’s heard all of their comments saying that he doesn’t know how to run the business, go along with it!!! Keeping congruent with what you do on TV and off TV would go a long way and you wouldn’t have to work that hard to accomplish it. I understand why they don’t… Money. They want kids to continue to buy merchandise and come to the shows. The cost? Predictable stories and unhappy fans. I understand that the business is different now but little touches like this can help restore some of the popularity from the past.

At the end of the day, something’s gotta give. Otherwise we may witness the WWE product tank just like watching WCW tank in the past. Different reasons but same result. Hey Hunter! Are you ready to take over yet? Cause this is getting old…

What do you guys think? Is Kayfabe dead? Can it be restored? If you were running the company, what would you do? Sound off in the comments below!!!

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