Ronda Rousey recently made some controversial statements about pro wrestling and its fandom. Did the former UFC champ go too far, or was she doing what's best for business?
The concept of kayfabe has been around for almost as long as professional wrestling. In the days of George Hackenschmidt, wrestling was not a scripted entertainment but an actual athletic contest. There was no need for kayfabe then, as the matches were 'real.'
They were real, but they were also really boring! A wrestling match might go on for an hour or more, with both competitors spending a great deal of time just laying on the mat trying to get a slight advantage in position. This wasn't such a problem before the advent of television.
However, once television became one of the main mediums and fans got their fix of pro wrestling, the long matches became a problem. It was hard to break away for a commercial, for example, and if the match went on too long people would simply change the channel.
Over time, wrestling became a scripted entertainment form, with the winners and losers predetermined. Many of the old grapplers changed their styles to be more exciting, and spectacular but by and large ineffective moves like dropkicks and abdominal stretches became the norm.
But pro wrestling still tried to maintain the illusion that it was 'real,' and the wrestlers were legitimate competitors trying to beat each other. Thus the concept of kayfabe was born. Kayfabe means 'acknowledged fakery.' In the past, pro wrestlers were expected to do everything in their power not to break kayfabe--including, in the case of Meng, biting a man's nose off!
But times have changed, and wrestlers sometimes break kayfabe without consequence. But is this a good thing for sports entertainment? Or does breaking kayfabe damage the business?
Here are three reasons WWE allowing Ronda to break kayfabe are bad for business, and three reasons that it is not.
Bad for the Wrestling Business #1: Breaking kayfabe can damage storylines that are already in place.
Perhaps one of the main reasons that pro wrestlers didn't used to break kayfabe was to maintain the continuity of storylines that were ongoing.
In the past, if a wrestler went to a restaurant where the man he was feuding with on screen was already present, he would leave. After all, if they hate each other so much wouldn't he just attack his foe like he does on television?
A recent example of breaking kayfabe ruining a good storyline was with Lana and Rusev. Lana had 'left' Rusev in the angle on television, but then turned around and posted about her engagement to the Bulgarian Brute. While this didn't bring heat on the couple--Vince McMahon decided to turn their real life story into an angle--it did disrupt the storyline plans involving Lana and Dolph Ziggler.
Ronda acknowledging that wrestling is scripted similarly spoils her angle with Becky Lynch and Charlotte.