Posts Tagged ‘Kayfabe’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Death of Kayfabe

November 18, 2017

WILPW


Al Snow gives his opinion.

In an earlier post, I described the magic of Kayfabe. For those who forgot and do not want to click back: Kayfabe is the old carny term which basically means the story or false reality that sports entertainment companies weave around their product. Of course, the term was created when everybody was using the term “wrestling” instead of “sports entertainment”. This is the agreed upon device which creates babyfaces and heels (good guys and bad guys) so that there is enough friction to continue fighting. It is also the thing that turns an American named Nelson Simpson into “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff. It is a necessary part of the business and it has been a big part of how most businesses do things.


They fought over a shampoo commercial.

I was driving around with my brother recently and I was saying something about the business of pro-wrestling. He turned to me and asked me why the performers compete against each other. He understood, as most people do, that there are a championship belt and a contender for that title. He was wondering why people lower on the card would fight each other. The short answer is that they are paid to do so both in real life and in kayfabe. However, that is not exactly what he meant because that simple motivation is something everybody can understand. There are a lot of reasons for these people to fight for. The main reason people compete so hard is that they feud. A feud can start as simply as one performer states that they are the best and another performer tries to prove them wrong. It can be as complicated as one man stalks another man’s girlfriend. It can be something obscure like two men fighting over who gets to be in a shampoo commercial or who has the right to use the letter T in their name. Whatever it is, as long as it is a compelling story or it is told in an entertaining way, the crowd will buy it.


Jim Cornette gives some excellent analysis on Cactus Jack.

The reason why I started writing this post is actually good ol’ Jim Cornette, a man who I respect a lot. You see, Cornette has been involved in the business for a long time. Most notably, he has been the booker (writer) or booking committee for several prominent companies including TNA, WCW, WWF, ROH, and various NWA territories. He has also been an onscreen manager mostly of tag teams in the NWA, WCW, and WWF. He founded Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the nineties and he was the main driving force behind the rise of Ohio Valley Wrestling as the first official talent development territory for the WWE. He has had huge success in the business. So, going forward, please remember that I have enormous respect for both Jim Cornette and the old school side of wrestling that he represents. I have only seen a little of pre-nineties wrestling because I was not exposed to it when I was younger and I only have so much time in the day now. Still, I respect the old-timers for what they contributed, most of which survives in some form in the present day.


He really, really hates Joey Ryan… who isn’t a dick from all other accounts.

Jim Cornette and the old school contingent have claimed that kayfabe is a device that is dying a horrible death. The most recent example of the supposed ‘death of kayfabe’ is the rise in popularity of Joey Ryan. This is really where I sat up and take notice as I am a pretty big fan of Joey Ryan both in and out of the ring. Joey Ryan was simply a great independent wrestler who got brief stays on television in both Wrestling Society X and TNA. His gimmick was as a sleazy wrestler who was sponsored by the YouPorn website and chose The Pina Colada Song (a song about cheating on your spouse) as his entrance music. The old school’s problem is that Joey Ryan is a comedy wrestler. In Cornette’s words, “Funny Don’t Earn Money” because people want to see something they believe is a real fight. He really lost his mind when Ryan adopted a move called the YouPorn Plex (also known as the Dick Flip). In this move (as shown below), Ryan literally uses only his penis to flip his opponent. Cornette screamed that this pushed the limits of suspension of disbelief and that it effectively killed kayfabe (yet again).


Now that’s sleazy.

Obviously, I disagree. Back in the day, promoters and performers somehow convinced audiences that professional wrestling was real. Babyfaces and heels never talked or hung out in public so that fans would believe that they really hated each other. Dusty Rhodes ‘broke’ his leg in a match against Ric Flair and then wore an actual cast in public. He even wore that cast around his house where only his two young sons could see him. The point is that they went to enormous lengths to keep up the illusion that it was all real as part of a grand tradition. Unfortunately, as technology improved and the Internet was born, us fans all started to talk to each other. We started to figure things out and we peeked behind the curtain and now the cat is out of the bag. We know it’s all a show. There is no way we can go back to where we were and I am not sure many people actually want to go back. I definitely do not want to go back there. I love the way things are now.


Joe Hendry proves that funny can equal money.

This is the new kayfabe. Back in the day, we got a bunch of tough guy characters to boo or look up to. Now, kayfabe is so much more varied. One of the things I love about pro-wrestling is the three-ring circus element of it. If you do not like the clowns (like Joey Ryan, Colt Cabana, Enzo Amore, Joe Hendry) in ring one, you can look over at ring two and see the strongman (Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Brian Cage). If you do not like that you can look over at ring three and see the acrobats (Ricochet, Ospreay, Neville). However, the business has really grown and we all now have access to hundreds of rings. If you do not like something, there is a good chance that if you turn your head, you will see something you love.


If I can believe the storylines in Lucha Underground, I can believe anything.

Besides, the new kayfabe is not all that different from the kayfabe we have gotten for decades. As long as the internal rules are mostly consistent, I think kayfabe remains intact. Every wrestler responds to Joey Ryan’s genitals in exactly the same way which makes their legendary powers a canon fact. We were told back in the day that Undertaker was dead and we believed it because we wanted to believe it and the announcers and other wrestlers never contradicted it. I choose to believe what they tell me to believe because it is way more fun to play make-believe than pick at it because it does not make sense. We all know that the Upside Down is not real but we choose to believe it when we see that dryer lint floating around. My rule is that if something is fun and nobody is getting hurt, then I support it. Joey Ryan and guys and gals like him is a lot of fun to watch and I am all about having fun. Of course, Cornette is very welcome to earn advertising dollars nitpicking the hell out of it.

Advertisements

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Kayfabe

November 13, 2015

WILPW

So two days ago one of my favorite sports entertainers, The Undertaker, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and tombstoned a guy wearing a turkey costume. In a bubble, the skit was actually pretty funny. You can watch the video above for context but context doesn’t really do much for that sort of humor. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state that I have disliked Jimmy Fallon in the past because I felt he ruined Saturday Night Live while he was on it. I have since released my grudge but I still don’t really care for him but I respect that he is popular.

I can see why they chose Undertaker for something like this, seeing as we are coming up on Survivor Series. For those unaware, The Undertaker character made his debut during Surivivor Series 25 years ago in 1990. The guy must be close to retirement at this point as he only shows up for big payperview matches and those matches are farther and farther between. The Undertaker also has historically had some of the best pyro and has a history of showing up and beating up everybody just because.

Now, the above video is why I am a little upset at WWE for loaning out the character. Back in the day there was a more strict adherence to something called kayfabe. Kayfabe is a term in backstage lingo that evolved from the secret language of carny workers. The concept of kayfabe is that promoters, writers and performers create a world that the characters live in that has its own rules that are usually strictly followed. Kayfabe is used to enforce a code of acting both in and out of the ring that helps with the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. A heel performer might even refuse your autograph request and insult or threaten you to keep up the illusion.

Let’s stick with The Undertaker as our example. The Undertaker started as a creepy individual who was brought in by Ted Dibiase. He felt no pain and locked people in coffins and was billed as a near unstoppable monster. With a height of 6′ 10″ and a dead-eyed expression on his face, it was easy to understand how crowds would be intimidated by him. Then the character was killed in an event that took pretty much every heel in the promotion and even then it was a close thing. He was instantly ressurected and since then he has been a supernatural entity. He’s basically a horror movie monster but strangely he’s spent much of his career as a babyface. I think it draws on the desire a lot of us have to root for the horror movie villain. He grants that desire by only hunting heel characters.

Let’s get back to my point, though, about the Wyatt Family taking on the Brothers of Destruction and the larger point of kayfabe. As I type this, there is currently a storyline running where Bray Wyatt is calling out the Undertaker and his brother Kane. I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before but Bray Wyatt is a backwoods cult leader with a vaguely defined Cthulu-like mythos. He and his family recently took out The Undertaker and abducted him to who knows where. Wyatt claimed to have consumed his soul and later demonstrated that he had control over Undertaker’s spooky supernatural powers. On Monday, November 9 the Undertaker (and Kane) returned to face down the Wyatts.

So what am I getting at? If the Eater of Worlds can’t keep the Undertaker down, how can Jimmy Fallon summon him on a whim for a comedy sketch? It’s actually not that big a deal these days but it raises a lot of questions when a character appears outside of their domain. How did Jimmy get the Undertaker to come? Why does Taker hate the guy in the suit? But, like I said it’s not a huge issue. The slight pin prick of annoyance did make me think about how much I love kayfabe though. It’s ridiculous, it’s strange but everyone plays along with the story and we get to immerse ourselves into a strange world that I enjoy.


Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

wolfenoot.wordpress.com/

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

kalpanaawrites

poetry, fiction, essays

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Bizarre thoughts from author Jenny Lawson - Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

Daily (w)rite

For lovers of reading, writing, travel, humanity

The Empire of Carane

Where fiction comes to life

DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

%d bloggers like this: