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 On the subject of Kayfabe

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Bischy
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PostSubject: On the subject of Kayfabe   Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:42 am

- Originally Posted By White Wolf on the official SHIMMER forum, found it interesting enough to post here. -

Kayfabe is a two edge sword; it has its ups and downs.

I really don't think I'd be a wrestling fan if the industry continued to do everything in its power to keep kayfabe, and there was no internet based subculture and alternative information sources.

The constant proclamation that "this is real folks" would just insult my intelligence and I wouldn't watch something that fake. But then again all reality shows are a work and people still think it's legit. Come to think of it, our news media is as fake as our entertainment media, and our American electoral process is the biggest work of all, and 95% of the American public still buy it hook line and sinker, so who knows, I suppose most people could in this day and age continue to be duped into thinking that wrestling has the legitimacy of boxing. We'd suspect often that fights were thrown and there were pay offs, but we'd continue to think all and all it was mostly real.

But I still insist that at least I would see through it and know that it was fake, and wouldn't like having my intelligence insulted.

But by knowing that it's fake, and doesn't try to tell me the emperor has wonderful clothes, I can at least appreciate the performance. So I go from having my intelligence insulted to being entranced by the amazing athleticism I see.

But then as I got on the internet and actually began looking at wrestling and hearing the words "work, shoot, kayfabe, mark, smark, heel, face" I began discovering a lot of things I didn't know, such as: people do bleed; it's not fake blood. A wrestling mat is not as soft as a trampoline. Those chairs aren't made out of light weight plastic. The barbed wire, thumb tacks, and broken glass is real. And most interestingly I learned that not every match is a perfectly rehearsed and choreographed performance like a pop-band's stage dancers.

I learned that even though it is "fake" a lot of what I thought was fake is actually real. I think the most important one being that the entire match isn't choreographed step by step start to finish. I think once I learned that one fact, wrestling became much more interesting to me. In a way, so long as the majority of the moves are being improvised and done on the spot, the wrestling is kind of real.

Had it not been for Mick Foley's first book breaking kayfabe and the internet breaking kayfabe, I would have continued to think that all the blood was blood capsules, and every match each and every move had been planned and well rehearsed, and that every word and every move from the opening of the show to the closing of the show was as rehearsed and organized as a school play.

I also thought that nearly every wrestler was a millionaire (after all, most famous actors are, and why not wrestlers) and that aside from rehearsing in a gym for a couple of days, their million dollar a year paychecks were earned by doing about 10 minutes of acrobatics on a trampoline once a week.

I was surprised to find out that most wrestlers wrestled nearly every day, had to drive their own cars from town to town and stay in cheap motels, and pay for their own medical expenses. And of course was shocked at just how much wrestlers actually do get hurt. Hey, I thought it was all fake, like stunt men in a Clint Eastwood movie.

Now that the misunderstanding about this "fake wrestling" has been removed and I see more of how it actually works, I have become more appreciative of things. That doesn't stop me from calling a bad storyline "bad", or a boring match "boring", but it does give me a whole new appreciation of the sport, or art, as it may be.

I started getting online and investigating wrestling because I wanted to know why this or that person was absent. Were they hurt, were they fired, did they quit, were they on vacation?

Of course it's interesting to find out that the Hardy Boys were actually brothers, Christian and Edge were not. And it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Devon and Bubu Dudley weren't half brothers. Sure it's interesting to know that The Brooklyn Brawler and Allison Danger are related, but it has no bearing on the view of wrestling or its ability to entertain.

I also rather enjoy the fact that heels are rude to you when they are performing, but once the show's over and you meet them at the merch tables, or wherever, they're really nice people. It's nice in this day and age that they can break kayfabe when the show is over.

Now for the good side of kayfabe (and the down side to breaking it):
I think it is important in some cases that a company/promotion keeps kayfabe when they are trying to create shock and drama, or doing a bait-and-switch. If you know in advance who every person is, the surprise guest, or the fact that this person is going to lose the match because they are really retiring, then excitement of all this is killed and it's boring. It's not good to know the results ahead of time. Who wants to know that this or that team wins the Super Bowl before they watch the game?

I also think it's great that the fans themselves enter into kayfabe. We call it going into "mark mode" but it could also be called going into kayfabe. An example is: how many of you booed the heel when they came out, even though you loved that person? You booed them because you, as a fan, are supposed to boo them. If I go to a Shimmer show I am booing The Experience, even though I love their work and would love to meet them. Of course I am bringing in a sign that says something like "its past your bed time Portia" despite the fact I love Portia. And if Tiana Ringer ever came back I'd be in the audience chanting something like "you're so smurfy". You gotta do your job as a fan and jeer and cheer the heels and faces. The wrestlers put on their performance, and a lot of the fans feel compelled to put on a performance; it sorta makes the fan feel more a part of the show to play the role of the markish fan.

When it comes to the dirt sheets, it's great when they report the inner workings of something. Mainly in regards to who is working where and why they are no longer in this or that company. It's also great that we get real interviews with them; as opposed to work interviews in the company. Storylines are great, but sometimes we want to know the actors (or performers as it may be) behind the characters they play.

Then there is something like Shark Girl, well, lots of rumors, but the first one was Daffney, so it probably is. But I personally don't want to know. I think it could be very entertaining if… let's just say for this argument it is Daffney, that Prazak has Daffney wrestle once as Shark Girl, then later in the same volume as herself, and then on the next Volume Daffney as herself and someone else as Shark Girl. That would ultimately make people so confused you'd have people saying "well, at least I thought it was Daffney, or at least I am really sure that it was Daffney at least once". So that could be something fun to work with.

I think it's great that certain wrestlers have a lot of communication with their fans, and their communication isn't hiding behind kayfabe. But it's got to be hard for them at times when a fan asks an inappropriate question. I've watched fans ask
"How much do you get paid?"
"Who is your least favorite person to work with?"
"Which championship title that you're holding means more to you?"
"Who is really playing character X?"
"Do you know where this wrestler is?"
"Is this story we just heard a work by the company, or is it real?"
"Which company would you rather work for?"
"I heard you had, or do you still have, heat with so-and-so?"
"Is it true that this person and that person have backstage heat with each other?"
"What was your worst match"
"What is Portia's real age?"

OK, so that last one I made up, but it's only a matter of time before it got asked LOL

I think fans need to use common sense when asking questions to wrestlers. They need to realize that certain questions can have consequences for answering, and thusly shouldn't be asked.

But I think the problem with the dirt sheets are when they start giving you opinions. Facts are one thing, but when they act like the mainstream news media and spend more time manipulating your opinion of an event than actually giving you nonbiased facts about the event; that's when the problem starts.

Back on the Melina Perez fan forum a few years ago, I got sick of being attacked for coming to the forum with a Mickie James graphic banner in my sig, everyone making fun of me for being a Mickie fan. Most importantly, it would force me to have to defend my fanship of Mickie and the retaliation I got was always comments like "Well Dave Meltzer says Melina is more talented and has greater potential. So how can you defend that. That's Dave Meltzer we're talking about. I think he'd know what he's talking about". It was then I realized how destructive dirt sheets were, and it was all centered on this strange psychological phenomenon which is based on the herd instinct and authoritarnism: When a person is in a position of authority they can issue a baseless personal opinion and it is interpreted as the holey truth.

I became aware that it wasn't just Dave Meltzer; it was all the Dave Meltzer's of the world. It was the internet wrestling radio hosts with the most "professional" appeal (those who got commercial sponsorship). It was the Brian Fritz's and Dan Lavranski's of the world.

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PostSubject: Re: On the subject of Kayfabe   Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:42 am

I recall during the Benoit Tragedy how these wrestling media whores acted no differently than the mainstream media whores and turned the whole thing into a springboard to gripe about steroids and Vince McMahon's wellness program and need for state regulation of wrestling in order to safeguard wrestlers from themselves. These "wrestling fans" who just happened to have a wrestling show or a wrestling newspaper or premium-membership news-site began to push the concept of state regulation of wrestling and attack the very industry they claimed to love, and they did it for the ratings and the abuse of power.

I remember a caller on The LAW (Live Audio Wrestling) who began the call with his proclamation that we can't blame Benoit's actions on wrestling. Dan Lavranski (the host) began using his heir of authority to intimidate this caller and continuously bombard him with statements and took the direction to "It's because of the concussions he got" and "all these early deaths; wrestling is killing them", "all these unprotected headshots", "pushing them too hard" and "not giving them time off". He got the caller confused and the caller eventually began agreeing with him and said something in agreement about it's why he doesn't like ROH because of how violent they are and how bad it hurts these wrestlers. And then Lavranski said "Well that's not necessarily what I mean" And then this caller immediately retracted his statement about ROH, became so embarrassed and submissive that he was agreeing with everything "the boss" was telling him. He was then thanked for the call and they went to the next caller and basically did the same thing.

The whole wrestling dirt sheet industry from the printed paper to the subscription sites and blogs all the way to the audio shows, are in fact dangerous because they turn their personal and baseless opinions into the holey gospel and tell you it's fact. And even if "you" don't believe their opinions to be the holey truth, a million other wrestling fans on the internet do in fact believe, and now you find yourself in disagreement with both the Dave Meltzer's and the million plus heard of sheep they control.

So in that regard the dirt sheets are bad. They should stick to unbiased facts and softball interviews. But those who are commercial "advertisement sponsored and paid" know it's all about the ratings and if the truth doesn't sell, fiction surely will. They know friendly questions bore people, and all the ratings come from shock and dirt.

"If this person has ever been alleged to have heat with someone, it's time to move in and exploit that as much as possible. Let's get some controversy, let's get dirt on people. If we can't find controversy we'll invent it."

And that's the dirt sheets. But you know what, the WWE isn't much better. The dirt sheets tell me that Great Khali is such a disgrace to wrestling and I am the dumbest man on earth if I like Khali or enjoy at least the other person's performance against him. I have to hate Khali and boo every match he's in. The WWE told people they had to hate Lita, and no one was allowed to like or have sympathy for her. The WWE took away people's signs that supported Lita during her retirement match (which was one of the most disgusting things I ever seen). People had to hate Lita. I guess it just wouldn't have worked when hundreds of people held up signs saying "you will be missed" and "thank you for the memories" and so on when street thugs (whose name I forget) began auctioning off things from Lita's locker room including the vibrator. Again it was disgusting. But the point is, you only hate Khali because the dirt sheets tell you to and you hate Lita because the company tells you to. We live in a wrestling world where fans can't make up their own minds. You have to boo the heel and cheer the faces. You are simply not allowed to love the bad guys or the company will force them to go through a magical transformation into a cookie cutter face. The dirt sheets tell you to hate anyone that's big. They tell you to like the little Rey Mysterio's of the world and that Matt Morgan, Lance Hoyt and all the "big guys" are evil and loaded with steroids.

Hey, maybe that's why we go into mark mode and boo our favorite heels, because we've become subconsciously aware of the trend that if we cheer them the company will force them to have an overnight transformation into a cookie cutter face that we can't stand.

My statement is this: Kayfabe has its place, but I'm glad that we all know wrestling is a work, and we're able to chat with our favorites on the independent scene and they aren't forced to insult our intelligence by staying in character and insisting that it's real.

The breaking kayfabe by the dirt sheets is a good thing because a lot people want to know what is going on from a non-storyline perspective.

The dirt sheet industry is bad in the sense that they are not sources of information; they are opinion manufactures no different than the mainstream media whores… in other words: they break wrestling kayfabe, and replace it with a kayfabe of their own.

How much we need to see behind the curtains of the business is really on a case by case basis. Some people just want to know whether someone is really injured or still employed by the company. Others want to know why that person is no longer employed and whose fault everything was.

Who's behind the mask is where I draw the line personally. I don't need to know who is behind the mask.


Quote :
rik wrote:

And another thing, I would LOVE for kayfabe to return. People don't believe me when they ask about TNA or WWF and I flat out tell them "I don't watch it". I may get a DVD here or there but for the most part I watch old stuff pre-1990 or so. I go to AAW & Shimmer and would like to eventually get to a IWA Mid South show but that's it. People today have no attention span for the old stuff so they think you're nuts if you mark out in the crowd for a wrestler breaking out a 5 minute chinlock or something. For kayfabe to return you'd have to not only go back in time and assassinate Vince but also make sure the internet never gets invented and convince Meltzer to go into bowling or something as a career.
If you actually accomplished all of that you'd then have a problem that no one watching mainstream wrestling today would/should even for a second BELIEVE any of that crap is real. All that flippy dippy hoo hah crap. Why do people like that? Rey Misterio should be a towelboy, John Cena should be driving a mail truck and Hunter would be back as a mid carder in the still active WCW since he never got on the gas and never married into a family that now doesn't exist. Plus The Sandman would be a CEO in a high ranking company since he went into rehab 12 years ago and New Jack would be where he belongs. In jail. None of this crap even RESEMBLES wrestling anymore. Ah well...

Yeah.... i'm bitter. It's a weird paradox. I despise and hate wrestling with a passion, yet have over 2000 dvd's and tapes and watch it religiously.

I'M A MARK!!!!!!!!

You know, I'm bitter too. And I agree with your anti flippy-dippy sentiment. I have always hated that because it looks like a trapeze act; not wrestling. And of course everyone today has to have a "magical" finishing move. It's gotten so bad that you can tell they're not getting the three count when they go for a pin because they haven't hit their finisher. No one gets up from the magical (and most of the time gay) finisher, and no match is allowed to end unless someone hit their finisher. It's all a quest to see who can hit the magical finisher first. Oh how I long for the late 1980's.

That's one of the things I said when I first came to this forum (which was right after buying my first Shimmer DVD). I said that I liked the wrestling not just because these girls were wrestling as good as the boys and being respected as legitimate athletes (which is all good) but mostly because it just took me back to the old days of what wrestling looked like. I was just amazed to see all these holds being applied and logically reversed; to see this struggle for technical wrestling dominance being done not only physically but psychologically as well. I mean these were logical holds with logical reversals. That's so much more beautiful than one ultra high impact flipping move after another in rapid never ending succession. While finishers, high impact moves, aerials and flipping, are pretty cool, they lose their appeal when they're over used.

Furthermore, Shimmer isn't full of one mixed up convoluted gimmick match after another that leaves you wondering what the heck the rules to any match are. You don't have all these gimmicks plus bait-and-switch to the point where every decision is contradicting the previous decision.

Oh I just love TNA's ideas: fight as hard as you can to be the winner, but realize by being the winner you've got a 50/50 shot of a title or being fired. You have a 50/50 shot at a title shot or getting your head shaved, so don't hesitate to fight your hardest to earn a 50% chance of the negative consequence which is worse than the benefit.

Too much over the top moves, gimmick matches and contradicting storylines that go nowhere. And let's not forget that in this day and age everyone has to turn heel and then face and then back to heel and back to face all in the same year.

Let's also not forget all the title victories that are based on pure random chance due to climbing a latter against 20 other men, surviving a 20 man battle royal, or drawing the right number out of a hat. Nothing says "reputable title holder" like winning a match by being at the right place at the right time in a 20 man cluster F match strictly by accident, and then losing it the same way next PPV.

Oh yeah, and sense I am foaming at the mouth and going off on a tangent, one more thing: Remember the good ol' days when a tag team partner could only come in once they got the tag? Whatever happened to that rule? Now anyone can jump in at any time and stay in for as long as they like and don't even have to tag to be the legal man. Just jump right in and break up the pin for the 20th time… heck you might as well stay in and let your partner take a break, no need to actually tag. All the ref is going to do is stand there and yell at you like a child begging and pleading that you buy him some toy; just ignore him, he'll give up eventually, or maybe if he's really persistent you'll get tired of the whining and complaining and actually get out of the ring or break the hold or whatever it is that annoying ref is griping about.

Good lord whatever happened to the good ol' days when you actually had to be pretty clever to cheat, and there was at least the pretence of there actually being rules to a match.

Again, Shimmer is great wrestling regardless of the gender of the wrestlers. People cheat, but they have to be sneaky about it. Heels take liberty with the ref, but only to a certain point. And one on one matches almost always stay one-on-one. When I watched my first three Shimmer volumes I was just amazed; matches were won clean most of the time, there was hardly any outside interference, tag teams had to be pretty slick to get away with double teaming, and the matches weren't filled with a group of heels running in and then being chased off by a group of faces; one-on-one matches actually were really one-on-one matches. It was shocking because I haven't seen that since I was a kid watching wrestling in the 1980's

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