Opinion: Breaking the fourth wall is now part of Kayfabe
In the last decade of wrestling, if you had a nickel for every time an active wrestler broke kayfabe, in storyline or out of it, you would not be very shy of a dollar. CM Punk's pipebomb promo stands out as possibly the blueprint for subsequent instances of breaking the fourth wall. This WrestleMania season, a healthy dose of breaking kayfabe has been served by three major storylines that will culminate at the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
Kofi Kingston's 11 years in the WWE without a world title has been a central point in his quest for the WWE Championship. That is the most basic level of testing the limits of kayfabe, where a performer is told that they are good, but not great, which McMahon did last week, as an explanation for Kofi being unable to break through to the main event level throughout his career.
Two weeks ago on RAW, Triple H came out to the ring and explained why he was looking forward to Ric Flair's birthday celebration, the same night when Batista attacked Flair backstage to start a program with Triple H. 'The King of Kings' went on to call Flair as Richard Fliehr and gave a personal account of their friendship over the years. A key moment in that promo was when Triple H addressed Batista as 'Dave' and claimed, "When you look in my eyes, you ain't looking at the character, you're looking at the man."
That falls in line with John Cena calling The Rock 'Dwayne', and referencing his Hollywood career, just like Triple H did in this instance. In 2011, CM Punk referred to Triple H as 'Paul Levesque', and attempted to expose Triple H's influence behind the scenes to extend his storyline of bringing change to the WWE.
The frequency of breaking kayfabe has killed its novelty, but it has proved to be effective since it adds to the feeling of legitimacy in a narrative. However, in perhaps the most blatant disregard for kayfabe in recent memory, Ronda Rousey cut an NSFW worked shoot promo earlier this month, reminding everyone of her UFC career and how no one in WWE's women's division could match her fighting skill. Ronda called Becky Lynch by her real name, and brought up their Twitter feud. Towards the end, Ronda states, "I'm going to disrespect the sport that they all love so much. [... ] Wrestling, it's scripted, it's not real."
This begs the question of whether it is worth it to position Ronda as being bigger than the company, in that, she can do whatever she wants and WWE will have to accept her actions. It is common knowledge that wrestling is choreographed, but using it in a way that disrespects the sport itself is rather unprecedented. Ronda Rousey has taken this to another level by selling 'Break Kayfabe' T-shirts, which all but confirms that WWE is on board with the manner in which wrestling is being presented to its audience.
In conclusion, kayfabe is definitely dead, and WWE is open to use that fact to further any storyline that might benefit from breaking the fourth wall. Effectively, it is now part of kayfabe.