KAYFABE DAYS: "...And We Killed Her!"
June 20, 2005 by Sean O.
My previous column ("The Untimely Death of Kay Fabian") touted the notion that the wonderful and mysterious kayfabe era has been put to final rest by the inundation of shoot interviews and sheet publications. While that is fact, I realized that tired proclamation, posed as a murder, lacked the presentation of motive. Any good detective would want to find one.
I don't hear many theories as to motive. I hear many old timers, fans and wrestlers alike, repeat the cause of death. I find it interesting that the wrestling world is divided into two hard-line camps; those that think exposing the business killed it (the purists) and those that think anything that happens in the ring is fine and the business has followed a natural evolution (the progressives, shaking their disapproving heads at the bitter old coots opposed). Watch the shoots and you will see every performer past and present fall on one side or the other.
Well, that's fine. We all agree that the kayfabe era is gone. But whodunnit" It wasn't the butler.
It was us. And if we have to build an FBI psychological profile of the killer, we will see that we smothered the victim to death with love.
A continued pursuit of knowledge of a particular interest is an inherent trait in thinking people. That is why we subscribe to our favorite magazine or visit our favorite website every day. Consider that pro wrestling, in years past, was a closed society. A secret society that protected itself with a lid so airtight that those in the game would speak another language if an outsider was present.
Then us adoring fans got a peek inside. We wanted more. And more. And we still want more. For those who consider wrestling a passion (an obsession, even) we naturally want to know more about the machinations of the business. So we pursue that knowledge. We drank up the mystique until there was no life left in it. We are worse off for it. Consider me guilty.
Today John Stossel could walk into Madison Square Garden with his camera crew and be served a cup of tea by a WWE production assistant and be escorted to an interview area. Then he would be invited to ringside to watch today's "superstars" run through all of the spots for their impending matches. Then he could do some more interviews with the bookers and talk about the hot angles they'll be shooting that night. It would be a far cry from his jaunt into the heel locker room on December 28, 1984, that's for sure.
Actually, why would Stossel or any reporter even cover wrestling today" There's nothing interesting to cover. What's the angle of the story" There's an old adage in the entertainment business that directs one to pull back as interest increases. It makes sense-the more they want to know, the less you show them. Keeps 'em hungry. Keeps 'em coming. The most interesting celebrities are either hard to pin down or dead. After their 10th appearance on Letterman we kinda feel like we know them.
Consider magic for a moment. When we see a great illusion, the first thing we think is "how did he do that"!" We don't even revel in the wonderment of being completely fooled! All we care about was how it was done. All of us rational, thinking adults are reduced to 8 year olds begging the magician to tell us how it was done. All we want from David Blane is answers. How many times have you rewound the tape after one of Blane's card tricks" Why"
The minute we find out how a trick is done, we have killed it. Absolutely murdered it. And are we more satisfied when we find out" No! We feel gypped and stupid. And on top of that, we ruined the illusion. Everyone loses. But if we never find out, we would speak in excited tones with wide eyes when recounting the illusion to absent friends.
Well, that's wrestling folks. It was wrestling, I should say. Today it has resulted in an absence of passion and the difference between a crowd shot of fans climbing over one another to strangle Piper as he leaves the ring, and fans climbing over one another to get their "WHAT"" sign on camera. We have asked to see how every illusion is performed and hear the detailed accounts from every magician in the business, via books and shoots. We have been doing it for so many years recently, many people forget what it felt like to watch the illusion and not know. "Maybe Bob Orton Jr. would pound me with that cast if I approached him for an autograph." Well, he's a nice guy and he wouldn't. I hate that I know that. And I stand no holier than any of thou. I buy the shoots. I read the books. I check the net on occasion.
And if David Blane said "side two of this DVD shows you how every illusion in this program was done," I'd flip the damn disc. I just know I would.
by Sean O. ..
You are right, fans is too involve with wrestling that it is now an obsession.
Everything has become Hardcore,Edgy,TV 14,Attitude,Extreme in the last 10 years. The family aspect in wrestling died with kayfabe. You can't take a child under 12 to a wrestling show no more. It's not suitable for them to watch. You notice that as much crap the kayfabe era gets, no era has had more successful and popular feds during those days. We had WWF,Mid Atlantic,World Class, Georgia Championship, Mid South,Stampede Wrestling,AWA,etc.
Fans worry about backstage antics too much. Why should you care about backstage politics" You not in the wrestling business, just leave it alone.
I thought about leaving the IWC community so I can become a mark again but since TNA is showing Impact on their websites until October, I have to postponed my plans.
Rune Kastrup Madsen wrote:
Damn good job. I have not much to say, except that I also stand guilty as charged.
Ed Shogry wrote:
I agree that the prying eyes and demystification into a predictive science by smarks (like me, might I add) destroyed the allure the Ideal wrestling days. The same criticism applies to the wrestling of today. Take, for example, Goldberg. When I was younger and naive (as i am only 15 now) I was a huge WCW Goldberg fan. I recently got back into wrestling but from the direction of a smark. My friend Tim and I were hypotheszing about heel turns and Baby faces when he gave me the low down on Goldberg's career in the WWE, which I missed because I hadn't regained my interest. He told me of how Goldbergs left the WWE because his oversized ego and how, as far as an entertainer goes, he was actually sub-par and wasn't dedicated. As a mark child, he was my hero but as a smark teen, he was just kind of a jerk. As soon as I learned of his career outside of the ring, he was just a body builder indulging in his storylines.
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