WWE | Pro Wrestling

Breaking Kayfabe Sometimes is the Best Way to Go

There is a fine line between the “reality” of professional wrestling and the “reality” of the characters these performers portray in the ring on a nightly basis. This past week on Raw, we saw that while we may cheer and boo the men and women in the ring, every now and then, the fact they are just as human we are.

My friend and world renowned wrestling columnist Mike Mooneyham posted a story on his Facebook page about how Triple H did one of the few things we never thought he would do as the COO of the WWE – he broke character during the final segment of Raw to console a child he evidently made cry during the telecast.

According to USAToday.com, “Triple H suggested that if Cena were to lose his match on Monday night, he’d be out of Royal Rumble on Sunday. After some consternation and eyebrow furrowing, Triple H decided that Cena’s fate would be determined by a fan vote on the WWE app.

“It appears that this was all too much for one young Cena fan, who burst into tears. That’s when big, bad Triple H decided to pull back the curtain and broke kayfabe.”

It is a touching story of sorts, showing that Paul Levesque showed his humane side as a husband and father to children of his own. There are many occasions where fans, mainly young ones, are left in tears by what they see on screen and in person at ringside. It speaks to the raw emotion the company hopes to achieve from its fan base with the hope of producing ratings.

Triple H apparently upset the young child in such a way that he forgot the role that made him the superstar he is today, which may be the most refreshing thing we have seen so far this year in the business.

It was then reported on social media that the boy and his father were led by security to the backstage area in order to meet a number of his heroes.

For years, Vince McMahon sold us on the idea the WWE was sports entertainment, that the matches were predetermined and yes, the worst kept secret of them all, wrestling is not real and everything was scripted, including winners and losers and who would and would not be champion.

Caring for the wellbeing of a child goes against everything wrestlers like Harley Race and Lou Thesz worked hard to build – but it was so warranted.

In the past, Kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the realm of the general public.

Kayfabe was long held as a closely guarded secret within the professional wrestling industry. This ended in 1989 when Vince McMahon testified in a New Jersey court that wrestling was staged. With the advent of the Internet, it has evolved into an open secret in the industry that is generally only adhered to while performing.

Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, angles, and gimmicks, in a manner similar to other forms of fictional entertainment. In relative terms, a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on camera.

Also, since wrestling is performed in front of a live audience, whose interaction with the show is crucial to the show’s success, one might compare kayfabe to the fourth wall, since there is hardly any conventional fourth wall to begin with.

While the story is touching and shows the WWE for more than just the act it presents, this should not change the story lines the company is working toward. Triple H will still play the villain and the Authority will still fight to end the careers of John Cena, Daniel Bryan and anyone else who gets in its way. It’s good to know, however, that while wrestling still remains the circus it is, the characters these performers portray can step back every once in a while and realize they do not need to live as these characters every day of every week 24 hours at a time.

Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Scott Hall and to some degree Hulk Hogan all live with that kind of “baggage”. Learning when to let go of the fantasy and live in the reality has been a hard chore for them. Watching one of the biggest names in the WWE step aside for a few moment makes watching them act as brazen as they do a little more acceptable, and hopefully more enjoyable for the fans – especially the younger ones.

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