New Kayfabe: The Many Levels of CM Punk & Daniel Bryan

by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

So WWE is in damage limitation mode after the Internet had a near meltdown after the Royal Rumble? CM Punk is upset with his standing & has walked out of the company? WWE is a mess right now going into its biggest Mania season ever, and all this with a network to sell too.

Y’know I’m not so sure we can take these at face value. In fact I believe these may be strong indications that my theory on there being a “new kayfabe”, that being a concerned effort by WWE (and wrestling in general) to use social media & the many, many wrestling news sites to it’s advantage to garner attention, ratings and revenue. In the case of the Royal Rumble, and Daniel Bryan specifically, the notion that WWE is continually screwing over it’s most popular star both in storyline & out of it is fast becoming a huge driving factor in creating a swell of support for a performer again both in storyline and out of it. This could be a storyline tailored to work on two levels, and generate some revenue on the side. I’ll explain:

On screen, purely within the realms of “old kayfabe” Bryan is struggling to overcome the machinations of a corporate regime that is dead set against him becoming WWE World Heavyweight champion. Off screen in the realms of “new kayfabe” fans and pundits will decry the backstage machinations of the WWE corporate machine that is seemingly determined to undermine the popular but atypical Bryan at every turn. Casual fans will support Bryan’s on screen battles with the Authority, hardcore fans will support Bryan’s apparent battles with the “WWE system” backstage. They will watch & cheer & buy merchandise & thus  two separate sections of the WWE fanbase will come together to follow Bryan’s chase for the WWE title that could culminate at Wrestlemania.

Is the WWE actually getting it right with Daniel Bryan by finding another way to suspend our disbelief?

CM Punk apparently walking out of WWE seems too disingenuous to me, if he has gone, the manner of his Rumble elimination and being choke slammed through a table by Kane was too convenient a way of writing Punk off TV for my eyes.

This too works on both a casual & hardcore fanbase level. On screen, Punk has been beaten down and assaulted by the Authority, before being injured by Kane at the Rumble. Off screen Punk is unhappy with the WWE setup and wants out. Or is he? His famous outburst at the top of the Raw set in 2011 and “walkout” were prototypical “worked shoots” that I think we’re seeing the fruits of playing out here. With a tool like twitter acting like free advertising, a kernel of news that one of it’s most popular stars has abandoned the company, all eyes will be on WWE going forward and  at it’s most crucial time of the year too.

What’s your take on CM Punk’s situation?

Ryback’s twitter outbursts were funny and all, and did give me a good jumping off point for my theories about New Kayfabe, but the events & fallout surrounding the Rumble really have made me think that major WWE storylines are now tailored to work on two levels.

I realise I’m just an amateur, with no sources within WWE that I can cite but I’m watching the TV product and reading what I’m reading, I can’t shake the feeling that the business of wrestling storytelling has altered perhaps more than we realise. TV changed wrestling in the early 20th century. I feel the Internet has finally changed wrestling again, and on a more fundamental level. Before WWE may have viewed the internet with suspicion, but now I think it’s realised just what a powerful tool the Internet can be. I think it may also be proving itself to be a master manipulator of public opinion. At least I hope so, if CM Punk does return to TV in a heated feud with the authority I guess we’ll have our answer and my theory may prove to be correct. Doubly so if Mick Foley appears too, his outbursts seemed too out of character for me to believe them.

Please feel free to comment on what I’ve written here, either below or you can find me on twitter at where I’d love your comments, questions & feedback.


4 thoughts on “New Kayfabe: The Many Levels of CM Punk & Daniel Bryan

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