What is Kayfabe?
Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief in the arena. It can also be compared to the fourth wall in acting.
Like other fictional forms of entertainment, it is used to create non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, gimmicks, and angles.
The pro wrestling industry is more of an entertainment business, so it occupies a significant role on the wrestling stage.
Wrestlers breaking kayfabe in a show would be comparable to actors breaking characters in a film. The idea is to convey that, yes, pro wrestling is a real sport and yes, this is how people act in reality.
Although kayfabe has evolved from its heyday, it used to be much more, pro wrestling’s actual Masquerade.
To conceal the fact that wrestling was rigged, wrestlers, promoters, and everyone else in the industry resorted to any means necessary.
But the secret was revealed when Vince McMahon’s WWE rose to prominence in the early 80s. But the question is, is kayfabe dead since pro wrestling has evolved?
Is Kayfabe Dead?
Some critical opinions are that kayfabe died when McMahon admitted ‘wrestling was a performance’ under the threat of state sanctioning.
For modern pro wrestling lovers, pro wrestling is just like a comic book.
They often reject the hero of a wrestling storyline because they are well aware of the fact that it’s art devoid of reality.
That is why the fans are rejecting the stars like Roman Reigns. For the fans, Reigns and many others are actors first and athletes second.
Kayfabe’s death: when did it occur?
Kayfabe died at a different time according to different people.
It is believed that it died in the 1990s when McMahon, on Monday Night Raw, acknowledged that wrestling was an entertainment performance to avoid athletic commissions insisted by states.
Additionally, Vince McMahon broke kayfabe when he hosted a tribute broadcast to Chris Benoit after the wrestler and his family were found dead.
This was aired two weeks after McMahon’s “character” was rumored to have either been killed off for real or at least been out of commission for some time.
Here, WWE fans realized that the company was more of an entertainment company than an actual competition that involved wrestlers.
Kayfabe’s Death: How Did It Happen?
Kayfabe died when two prominent wrestlers, Iron Sheik and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, were both arrested due to marijuana possession.
Fans were blown away and thought of how rivals on-screen could take drugs together.
This incident incited backlash and Vincent McMahon was forced to fire them because much of the WWF claims were exposed.
Other kayfabe-breaking instances occurred during live broadcasts, where announcers outright mentioned “Storylines” and “Wrestling angels”.
The most infamous is the accident that killed Owen Hart while he was broadcasting a pay-per-view.
What Is ‘Breaking Kayfabe’?
The act of breaking kayfabe by a wrestler or group of wrestlers happens frequently.
It is similar to a dramatic actor breaking a character.
A wrestler breaking kayfabe means naming the wrestler by their real name during the show or saying something that isn’t supposed to be said during the show.
Example of Kayfabe-Breaking
An example would be Brian Pillman during the mid-1990s, an innovator in his field.
On February 11, 1996, while having a match with Kevin Sullivan, he said “I respect you Booker man”.
The moment was not but fans saw it live. After that, he quit WCW and joined NCW.