I am going to my first Ring Of Honor event later this month. For just $30, I will be in a comfortable theater-style seat just a few rows from the ring, with a great view of the action. My favorite tag team in wrestling, the Young Bucks, are signed to appear. I am very excited. So excited am I, in fact, that I bought some ROH merch to wear to the event and I couldn’t pass up a surprisingly affordable signed picture of the Young Bucks. Merch is only part of enjoying the event, so I signed up for FITE TV, so I could get caught up on the storylines in ROH.
And what do you know? Literally the first video I watched, Monday’s episode #307 of ROH’s weekly show, featured one of the best promos I have seen in years. – Available for free on FITE TV – Christopher Daniels and his buddy Frankie Kazarian were setting up the title rematch against Cody Rhodes. What made it awesome was the fact they broke the fourth wall completely. They took shots at the fans’ reactions and chants changing as Daniels made his heel turn, they took shots at Cody being a free agent, they alluded to Star Dust and mocked Cody over it, and by doing all of this, they drew the audience, me included, into the story and made the feud feel real. That’s when I realised… Kayfabe isn’t dying like I previously thought; it is merely evolving.
The average fan in 2017 can access hundreds of promotions with little effort. Through social media, we have greater access to our heroes than ever before. We see wrestlers’ interactions with each other, and we hear about things backstage that we aren’t supposed to, but despite this access, we still want heels to be heels and faces to be faces. When Kevin Owens tells a kid he doesn’t want him wearing his shirt or guys go back and forth on Twitter, we lap it up. We still like illusion and twitter accounts matching up with heel/face status, so for us, it isn’t kayfabe that is dying, but rather the fourth wall. Every fan in the arena knew who Star Dust was, as did the viewers at home, so why not use that to make a better promo? Daniels and Kazarian did, and it worked brilliantly. The question is, when will we see a promo like that in WWE?
For such a simple thing, WWE almost never breaks the fourth wall. And when they do it, often, they don’t let it happen in a realistic fashion. For instance, during the rap battle between the Usos and the New Day, both sides took real shots at each other over the Paige sextape scandal and over the stagnation of the Usos careers pre-Total Divas. Imagine if, instead of a corny rap battle, it was a faceoff that turned into a tense standoff as the two sides started trading jabs like that, and the guys acted like the heel Usos had gone off-script. It would’ve seemed real and been so much more believable, and in an industry built on illusion, believability and the semblance of reality are worth their weight in silver.