Death of Kayfabe
Back when wrestling held firm to its belief in kayfabe, the industry’s alternate reality, there was a separation between the fans and the superstars. Kayfabe demanded fans not only suspend their belief, but also they completely accepted the stars as real and authentic 24/7. The Undertaker was really a mortician with supernatural ability, Sgt. Slaughter really was a military veteran and the Macho Man really likes dressing like that. While this was a fun way to be entertained and not much different than attending a play, wrestling fans always wanted more. The difference between plays and wrestling is the audience, the way they surround the stage and absorb the act fundamentally changing the relationship. Fans wanted to really know these stars.
Killing kayfabe has helped wrestling skyrocket to the mainstream. Wrestling’s biggest stars are now some of Hollywood and pop culture’s biggest stars. Social media has given rise to an intimate relationship between wrestlers and their fans. Even better, today’s wrestlers have invented ways to weave in and out of kayfabe, leaving fans to wonder how much is art imitating life or vice versa. From WWE to NJPW and every other promotion, superstars are engaging the audience in innovate ways, giving rise to “smart” fans while making the wrestling world totally accessible to the paying customer. No other sport markets its stars the way wrestling promotions do, with so many opportunities to meet, greet and interact.