The End of an Era and the Believability of Kayfabe in the WWE
The Hell in a Cell match at this year's WrestleMania signified the "End of an Era" in the WWE when The Undertaker outlasted HHH. Billed as the last two stars from an unprecedented era known for its outlandish characters and over-the-top storylines, the match certainly lived up to the hype. The Undertaker is arguably the greatest character in WWE history, while HHH is near the top of that list.
Originally, The Undertaker thrived on paranormal super-powers to intimidate and scare the hell out of his opponents. Over the years, his persona has lightened to a brawling, methodical big man with a more honest portrayal of his personality. In general, The Undertaker has become a more believable character.
Like The Deadman, HHH's persona has changed over time, from a Connecticut blue blood, then a patriarch of D-Generation X, to The Game. At one time, the Cerebral Assassin was known for rebelling against the establishment, marrying the boss' daughter and wielding his precious sledgehammer. Now he dawns a suit and tie while being groomed as the next leader of the WWE.
The "End of an Era" has come and gone, but it begs the question: Has the believability of kayfabe in the WWE gone with it?
In the past it was easier for fans to believe certain aspects of the wrestling business. Nobody knew what kayfabe meant, or the terms heel, face and jobber. The inner workings of wrestling used to be held under wraps from the public. The old debate of "is this real or is this fake" was rampant.
Is kayfabe more believable now, or 10 years ago?
Characters' true identities could remain hidden because their was no social media sites stalking them. There was no encyclopedia type websites with intimate biographies of superstars' real-life counterparts. Simply put, fans didn't have the Internet in the palm of their hands.
As the years have passed, wrestling fans have gotten away from believing in the kayfabe universe of the business, ultimately resulting in a sense of realism being demanded. This means no more ludicrous characters, stories or action. Unfortunately, they are not believable in this day and age.
Fans know The Undertaker isn't really a dead man walking the earth, but that his real name is Mark Calaway.
Taking a look at the current state of the WWE reveals how the game has changed. The general consensus is that the top stars of the company today include John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Chris Jericho and the returning Brock Lesnar. Every single star on that list has a gimmick that is an extension of their personality.
CM Punk's epic shoot promo last summer, WWE's infatuation with social media sites, The Rock vs. John Cena and the current feud between Punk and Chris Jericho are perfect examples of the changing times. They all have managed to incorporate personal beliefs and feelings into the kayfabe of their stories.
WWE programming has gone from believing in the impossible to believing in reality.
Obviously, some form of kayfabe still exists; wrestling is and will always be scripted. However, there is no doubt that kayfabe continues to take a more realistic form that will continue to shape the future of wrestling.
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