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The Term Comes from Professional Wrestling

The Term Comes from Professional Wrestling

The word kayfabe is new to me. I learned about it from reading Nathan Rabin’s 7 Days in Ohio: Trump, the Gathering of the Juggalos and the Summer Everything Went Insane. According to TVTropes:

“Kayfabe” is a carny term thought to have originated from the Pig Latin for “be fake,” possibly originally by pronouncing it backward (“kay-feeb”). Professional Wrestling adopted the term as a reference to the standard Fourth Wall features of separating the audience from the action. It is meant to convey the idea that, yes, pro wrestling is a genuine sport, and yes, this is how people act in real life. It is essentially Willing Suspension of Disbelief specifically for pro wrestling.

Back in the old days, though, kayfabe was much more; it was pro wrestling’s real life Masquerade. Wrestlers, promoters, and everybody else involved with the business alike resorted to any means necessary to guard the secret that wrestling was rigged, from wrestlers roughing up any reporters who dared ask, “It’s all fake, right?” to (alleged) death threats towards anybody who threatened to expose the secret, through contacts with the Mafia and other organized crime. Heels [villains] and faces [heroes] weren’t allowed to travel, eat, or be seen with their “enemies” in public, and changed in separate locker rooms. Wrestlers lived their gimmicks 24/7 and those playing Wild Samoans or Foreign Wrestling Heels could not speak English in public if their characters didn’t. There are even rumors that some wrestlers would lie under oath in court to maintain the illusion, and some old-time heels tell stories about carrying guns for their own protection from those fans who took it just a bit too seriously. To get an idea of just how important kayfabe was, it’s interesting to watch shoot interviews with old-time wrestlers filmed in the modern era, even decades later when everyone knows that wrestling is fake, they often start speaking as if various angles and feuds were real and tend to dance around actually saying that wrestling is staged if pressed….

Now the only concept of kayfabe fakery is highly transferable to politics. In the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump is obviously the heel. But the parallel breaks down somewhat with Hillary Clinton, whom Trump is trying to portray as the real heel. Using the language of kayfabe, this is one election in which there are no faces.

2 thoughts on “Kayfabe

  1. wrestling wwf etc is coreographed, the stories characters and moves are set before but the real whacks are real, even if pulled back some

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