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WRESTLING COLUMNS

I Understand, I Miss The Kayfabe Era Too
December 12, 2005 by John Austin


It seems that "Sports-Entertainment" has lost its luster.

Nowadays, with the constant criticizing, the multitude of "know-it-alls", advertised backstage politics, drug scandals, and the untimely deaths of some of the greatest legends ever to grace this business, that some of the polish that is normally on the words "World Wrestling Entertainment", "National Wrestling Alliance"(Total Non-Stop Action), "Ring of Honor", and others has faded. What happened to the days where fans argued over whether Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair were "The Man", instead of who they read is going to win over the internet" What happened to fans appreciating a classic match like Steamboat vs. Savage at WrestleMania III instead of trying to find ways to criticize why the New Generation doesn't measure up" It is no secret that too much criticism ruins everything. Think about the number of movies that we all have refused to watch because Ebert & and Roper gave them 2 stars (max). Many of us, (myself sometimes included) as so bluntly quoted by Chris Jericho, need to "Shut The Hell Up", sit back, and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that is Sports-Entertainment. For that, I miss the times where things of this nature didn't matter (or at least we didn't advertise that it did).

Can any of you remember a time where "Painted-Faced Wild Men" Like the Ultimate Warrior, Sting, and The Road Warriors decimated competition and wowed audiences with their enigmatic personalities" Nowadays, with things changing, you can't expect to see Super-hero types charging to the ring full speed (look at Gregory Helms if you need more proof) mainly because the business has changed. I miss colorful characters like Max Moon (there's a mind trip for you all), Repo Man, Kamala, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, "Jake The Snake" Roberts, Honky Tonk Man, Akeem (even though his gimmick SUCKED), Saba Simba (SEE LAST STATEMENT), and Adrian Adonis among others. There are certain wrestlers you can compare to others of the past, but we can't compare them all, guys. Relax, take a deep breath, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, remember that even if your favorite guy is losing major matches at this time (I remember when Bret Hart lost almost every single match before he became IC Champion), and if some guy who has a gimmick that you cant stand is on top, that this is not new in Sports-Entertainment, and that the only thing that has REALLY changed is the millenium, and that you have to expect the characters to relate to the present times. Cena's gimmick sucks, Trips has "Nepotism" on his side, blah blah. The only thing that has changed, is that we as fans read too much into things now. There is nothing wrong with comparing those wrestlers who obviously have taken pages out of our favorite legends' books to whomever they compare to, or even reminiscing to the 80's where the Million Dollar Man stuffed $100's into his unconscious opponent's mouth, Mr. Perfect promos where he hit holes-in-one and made half-court shots, or when Jake The Snake let Damien slither all over a jobber who just got pinned after the DDT, because believe me, I have wrestling flashbacks all the time, but there is a lot of the "now" that has nothing to do with the "then". Don't expect Kurt Angle to be managed by some guy who is supposedly his Olympic wrestling coach, and DEFINITELY DO NOT expect not to see a guy you might despise for various reasons win anyway because it happened all the time (at least from where i stood then) in the "Kayfabe Era". And furthermore, don't whine so much when it happens. We all accepted these things better when we were kids. Crazy, huh"

If you haven't guessed it already, the main reason why I miss the "Kayfabe Era" is because so many fans have taken the luster out of the business because after finding out the obvious, they still treat wrestling like it is real and not Sports-Entertainment. Will we ever stop comparing wrestlers like John Cena, Dave Batista, and Bobby Lashley to these Legends and Icons until they have had the opportunity to cement their place in the hearts and minds of us fans" As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over till its over", and these guys who have at least 10-15 years left in this business don't deserve to be put in the same light as these legends, but they definitely deserve the chance from us fans to try to reach that pinnacle. As I said before, look what Ric Flair did with the gimmick Buddy Rogers invented. A guy like JBL honestly has reached higher status than Ted Dibiase, whom he had a similar gimmick to, save a few present-day-upgrades, just from the fact that he was champion and Dibiase wasn't. You can say, "Well, McMahon wanted Hogan to run as champion... blah blah. Maybe you all criticize because you are nostalgic too. But as is the sign of the times, Sports-Entertainment has evolved. Maybe the next generation will look at this era as their version of our "Kayfabe Era". Maybe the fans of the future will criticize the future Triple H clone as we criticize him now for emulating Ric Flair and say, "Oh, he's ok, but... he will never be as good as "The Game". Maybe some guy will write in 20 years about how he misses this era of Sports-Entertainment we are all experiencing right now. You never know.

by John Austin ..


silversurfer9090 wrote:
I enjoyed the kayfabe era, but that doesn't explain all the criticism that some of the WWE top talent recieves these days. If Cena, Batista, and a few others, knew more than three holds and could put together a cohesive match, thus telling a story, they wouldn't get so much heat. As far as the Ted DiBiase/JBL comment is concerned, you're insane. Simply being a champion doesn't make you a legend. David Arquette was a world champion too, and BOTH were wrong. I miss the kayfabe era because there was some decent writing and good matches. I don't miss it for face-painted muscleheads throwing clotheslines for ten minutes or grown men dressed up like rejects from the village people. But, I suppose there's no accounting for taste.
Rob wrote:
I miss the Kayfabe Era as well for the reason that it made wrestling come alive. The characters set wrestling apart from everything else, it was another world, a world where you could foget all the hassles and headaches of the day and watch The Ultimate Warrior take on Hulk Hogan. The spectacle created by these characters entranced me. Nothing made me happier than when the good guy beat the bad guy. I also enjoyed the names of the Era: The Ultimate Warrior, Jake the Snake, Andre the Giant, Kamala, etc., these larger than life characters had these names that only added to their persona. Now everyone wants to be "real" and not wear these elaborate costumes, paint thier face, and go by a real name (maybe not their real name, but something that sounds normal, as opposed to The Missing Link). True, wrestling has changed over the years, but maybe we'll see a revival of kayfabe.
Peter J. Noonan wrote:
The era you are referring to is in fact not the "kayfabe era". If anything, the sports entertainment WWF of the 80s was the beginning of the end for kayfabe. Sure, the internet wasn't around back then. But the increasing cartoonishness of the wrestlers and ridiculous storylines in the 80s started to clue some people in that maybe what they were watching wasn't 100 percent "real". But even aside from that, most of the wrestling from the WWF in that era wasn't very good to begin with, cartoon characters or not.
John Austin wrote:
silversurfer9090: Thanks ever so much for proving my point how fans like yourself are the main people criticizing nowaday wrestling. Instead of ACTUALLY READING my whole article, you skim through sentences in an attempt to find something you don't agree with so you can whine and complain. Sound familiar" It should if you really read the article. By the way, which person is really insane" the person who believes that JBL at this point in his career is at a higher status than Ted Dibiase was in that point of his career and somewhere down the line when JBL is elected into the Hall Of Fame (I don't like it either, but I already explained such matters in my article) he will be a bigger Legend then Dibiase, or the guy who thinks that putting together a cohesive match tells a story on its own" I don't miss the kayfabe era for the colorful outfits, but for the characters of the wrestlers who wore them. They epitomized the sense of "Super-Hero versus Super-Villian", something I KNOW you can relate to considering your screen-name, DUMMY.
jamie pert wrote:
I do agree with the most of what your saying, and I also believe that the backstage action is known far to much by the fans, but hey there is no reason what-so-ever that the wwe has to right such poor gimmicks and such repetition I mean come on let me just list a few of them,

-gillian hall has a stupidly fake absess growing on the side fo her face
-the whole trial of eric bischoff saga
-john cena is invincable
-batista is invincable unless big show & kane interupt one of his matches, but then batista will get them back later that week
-boogeyman in my opinion has potential but he has been used badly
-and i understand shawn michaels is good with the crowd but repetition is constant it goes chop chop punch punch atmoic drop elbow drop of the top rope he will go to do his sweet chin music but miss then the opponent will be on top for a while then magically as the opponent either jumps of the turnbucle runs towards him or turns around quickly sweet chin music will lay his opponent out
- oh yeh please dont get me started on ric flair/the midgets/ eugene/ the lack of hardcore action/ and many many more.

if im watchin wwe now i only enjoy watchin the mexicools (they arent dointhe same moves over and over) or just Juvintud Guerrera in light heavyweight, bobby lashley, undertaker and kane arent to bad, chris benoit, and believe it or nto boogeyman when he aint doin the stupid im the boogeyman and im coming to get ya. TNA IS THE FUTURE IF WWE CARRYS ON AS IT IS
silversurfer9090@bellsouth.net wrote:
Soryy John, but I read the entire article and your response only confirms for me your lack of insight on the very subject you wrote about. Stating that JBL will someday be a bigger legend than the man whose gimmick he stole (and did less with it than I thought was even possible) is again insane. If you want to convince yourself that the performers that can't even get over with the audience, but get shoved into the main spot are somehow better than the ACTUAL Superstars of the past, that's your deal. Just learn to defend your ridiculous arguments instead of simply resorting to name-calling. You've got a picture of Jake Roberts in your article, and anyone with a brain knows Roberts will be known years after JBL is gone, and he's another guy who's never even held a single title in the company he did his most well-known work. The Attitude era was a better mixture of Sports and Entertainment. Today theres too much emphasis on Entertainment, and the in-ring performance (not all) have suffered. If you want proof that WWE has some of their worst performers of all time right now (I blame the OVW farm system, just get the best indy guys instead of trying to be so self-sufficient) look at any other promotions matches. Yes, the production sucks, but the work is far beyond WWE.
Andy H. wrote:
I believe what I can agree most with here is the larger than life personalities that existed in the "Kayfabe Era." Characters like the Road Warriors, Demolition and Ultimate Warrior looked unstoppable in their face paint and genuinely had a mystique about them. They looked unlike anything I'd seen before, and this is the problem for me now with today's generation of wrestlers. There isn't anything to really distinguish wrestlers like in the 80s + 90s.

I don't care about seeing Randy Orton, Batista or Cena because there's nothing that makes me want to care what happens to them. It's not just a bland moveset, because you could never say Warrior was gifted in that department, there isn't anything that compells me to watch them more than a couple of times. If I've seen one Batista match I feel like I've seen them all, there's no character. I enjoyed watching the likes of Mr Perfect and Roddy Piper because you never knew what you were in for. Jake Roberts was certainly unprecictable, which can't be said of many of WWE's current roster. Each feud they have now seems to have that "been there, done that" feeling to it.

I know I'm guilty of following the current trend of wrestling's downward spiral at times, and I must remember there is still a great lot of enjoyment to be had from today's crop. I just hope, like John Austin mentioned, I'm not in the position to be critical of the next wave of wrestlers, harking back to 2005 as the good old days.
John Austin wrote:
Hee hee, i must have touched a nerve. By claiming that i don't know what i talk about, you are calling me a dummy. The difference between myself and you is that I don't have to sugarcoat anything (lol). Silver, its obvious you have your opinion and i have mine, but to call anything about my article ridiculous is insane considering that the staff on this site believed that it (and my other article) was good enough to be on here. JBL IS over with fans as a heel. He is good at making people hate him more than Dibiase. You talk about lack of insight, but yet you are talking about Jake Roberts in your argument, whom I NEVER mentioned in my response to you, but suddenly i am comparing him to Bradshaw too just so you have a reason to complain. I am so tired of pointing out how Ric Flair "stole" Buddy Rogers' Gimmick and made it better. Who is to say that JBL is or isn't the better heel" I personally was a HUGE Dibiase fan even though he was a bad guy. I can't say the same for JBL. That alone is why i think he is better at being a heel. Doesnt mean I'm right and doesent mean im wrong. Like i said at the end of my article, You never know. You feel like just because you don't agree with what i say, that i HAVE to be wrong. The whole point of the article i wrote was that the wrestling that we see on tv is terrible compared to the past but who knows" People from the future will probably say that about the wrestling then. Whatever the case, the McMahons and the Jarretts that run this business know what they are doing obviously because people are still tuning in (You and myself included) if for no reason but to complain.
Martin Reid wrote:
You seem to be saying that cheering for a wrestler whether they are a heel or face is what makes them draw" You loved Ted Dibiase (as I do) because his character was worth following. Hence his long run with the WWF. The fact that you don't care about JBL surely points to his lack of ability to draw no matter how great the push he receives from his mate Vince. His matches and his character are one dimensional. The fans don't want to see him lose, they couldn't care less what happens to his character. Have you ever seen the match between Ted Dibiase and Randy Savage from Saturday Night Main Event" I suggest you get a tape of it if you want to see just how good Ted Dibiase was at keeping the fans interested in his matches.

As for the Kayfabe era- are you serious" Kamala" Akeem" Samba Simba- Tony Atlas done up in a leopard skin" Those wrestlers were either too fat or so pumped up on the juice they would blow up after 2 minutes. The era you described was the worst I have encountered in my experience. Cartoon characters with ridiculous story lines and boring slow matches. Thankfully we still had the National Wrestling Alliance and Ric Flair.

What is missing from wrestling today is not the thought that it might all be real. Only the simple ever fell for that one. It is the anticipation that anything can happen. The sort of thing that makes you say "what the f..k was that all about". Any one who watched Wrestlewar 89 and saw Terry Funk attack Ric Flair after the match knows what I am talking about. While wrestling, of any ilk remains predictable, it is not fulfilling the wishes of the fans.
wrote:

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