Breaking Kayfabe…

So as you will know if you read my last blog post – that can be found here – I’ve finally conducted my final interview of the documentary with James Kenna.

Whilst interviewing James it struck me, just how much the sport of pro wrestling has changed over the last 50 or so years. Back in the 70s/80s where Wrestling was arguably at it’s height in popularity, it was real for everyone watching at home and in the arena, no one had any idea that the shows were scripted with the outcomes pre-determined. Due to this, wrestlers could never break what is referred to as ‘kayfabe’ in the business. In case you don’t know what kayfabe means:

“In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ 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 of any kind”

Nowadays wrestlers are encouraged to not break kayfabe but with wrestlers being international celebrities such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, people are more aware than ever that wrestling is pre-determined. However back in the 70s, breaking kayfabe was a death sentence for any professional wrestling career. A few years back I went to a meet and greet with some friends of mine to listen to legendary WWE announcer Jim Ross talk through his storied career. He started in the business back in the 70s and told us that if your character was a ‘heel’ (a bad guy) and you got into a bar fight and lost then you would be fired! At the same time if your character was a ‘face’ (a good guy) then you would be expected to sleep with any woman that came after you, even if you were married or you would be fired too!

Everything had to be kept real, the heel’s were the tougher, meaner ones where as the face’s had more heart. So it wouldn’t make sense for a heel to lose a bar fight would it? Every aspect of a wrestler’s life was devoted to keeping up appearances within the sport.

Basically the point of this blog post is that if I wanted to make this documentary back in the 70s then I wouldn’t be able to, guys like James wouldn’t be able to open up as much as they have done.

I just thought it was interesting really.



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