140 Characters of Kayfabe

by Martin Dixon

Disclaimer: the following is my own opinion only and may not reflect the views of anyone involved in 4crwrestling.com.

Man, Ryback, eh? Taking to twitter, shooting on fans, bloggers, news sites, the Internet wrestling, community in general, making inappropriate comments and generally making an ass of himself, no wonder his handlers at WWE keep telling him to delete them all. Except they don’t really do they? All the “offending” material may have been deleted, but yet it still can be found, viewed & digested at WWE.com. If WWE was concerned that one of it’s stars had begun taking shots at sections of its fanbase, surely all evidence of these outbursts would’ve been swept under the metaphorical carpet wouldn’t it? Of course it would, except this time it’s something different, something new and yet familiar at the same time.

Everybody knows kayfabe is dead & gone, the inner workings of a once notoriously secretive world laid bare for all to see. I think that may not necessarily be the case. Not only did kayfabe never truly die, it’s back in a bigger way than we may realise.

Nearly every fan has had that point where although you are “smart” to the way wrestling works, something occurs that catches you off guard and makes you ask yourself “I know this stuff is worked out beforehand, but was what I’ve just seen part of the show or not?” Wrestling has actively sought to artificially generate these kinds of feelings over & over again ever since Vince McMahon let the cat out of the bag by asking for the WWF to be reclassified as “Sports-Entertainment” in the early 90s to avoid regulations by state athletic commissions in the US. Be it fake retirements or bogus injury angles in the mid 90s, the “worked shoots” of the late 90s and stars trading “real” barbs at each other in interviews & autobiographies in the last decade and now with the rise of social media, kayfabe has a new platform to confound & play with fans’ expectations. This is about to get a little “conspiracy theorist” from here on in, but please hear me out.

Obviously Ryback’s outbursts were and are fantasy, designed to goad news sites into reporting stories of “WWE star blasts fans on twitter” and thus driving people towards WWE.com & all the advertising contained therein. This is what kayfabe has become, albeit a poor example. However a little storm in a teacup brewed up late in 2013 as members of 3MB posted tweets concerning the whereabouts of Drew McIntyre, who had appeared to have disappeared before Raw. While no one thought for a second that Drew had actually gone AWOL, speculation soon arose that Drew had been removed from 3MB in line for a repackaging and possible new push, and this was somehow a teaser for a breakup storyline. Come showtime though, there was Drew, still playing the comedy delusional rock star, no hint of dissension, no malcontent, no new gimmick & no 3MB split. In short, we got swerved. Not in a huge way, not in a way designed to generate revenue, but a little dig at those who pour over every little detail in the hope of uncovering something newsworthy. It was cute, there are those that despise the 3MB gimmick and continually clamour for better roles for Heath Slater & company, and the news that at the very least Drew was once again in the good books and was due to be assigned a new character was very welcome in some corners. That this has yet to come to pass to the ire of some must raise a chuckle somewhere in Titan Towers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Vince has a secret cadre of social media personnel tasked with trolling the IWC, but the talent themselves may be having fun amongst themselves, they are in the business of playing with an audiences perceptions after all.

I don’t believe there’s some great conspiracy at work here, but in WWE’s case the Internet has been both friend & perceived enemy of the company. Over the years WWE has taken great delight in lashing out on occasion and I feel the recent Ryback story is one such occasion, albeit one that highlights how kayfabe is not and probably will never be truly dead & buried.

This is a real “stream of consciousness” piece, more so that I’ve ever done, and I thank you for hearing me out if you’ve read this far. Please let me know what you think, do I have a point, am I completely off base & perhaps reading too much into this? Please tweet me your love, hate & respectful disagreements at www.twitter.com/BunnySuicida and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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