The Undertaker on Kayfabe In Today’s Pro Wrestling, How He Always Tried to Suspend Reality In Matches, More
WWE Hall of Famer The Undertaker says there is still room for kayfabe in pro wrestling.
Several top online dictionaries have pages on kayfabe, including official entries in their slang dictionaries, but Grantland describes kayfabe as, “The code of secrecy that undergirds the pro wrestling industry by which the secret of its unreality is protected. Keeping kayfabe is the act of staying in character before, during, and after shows so as to maintain the illusion. As an adjective, it separates real from fake, as in, ‘He’s not my real brother, he’s just my kayfabe brother.’ The term comes from carnie slang (possibly a variation on Pig Latin) for ‘be fake’ or ‘keep secret.’”
The Undertaker recently spoke with Chris Van Vliet for his “INSIGHT” podcast and was asked about the death of kayfabe. He initially admitted that kayfabe died around the time he started speaking as the man behind the gimmick, Mark Callaway, but then said there are still some guys who are living their gimmicks today.
“I think, yeah, I think kayfabe died for sure when I came out and started talking as Mark Callaway. I shouldn’t say that, no, you know what, because there are a few guys that are out there that are, they’re living their gimmick, and doing a really, really good job at that,” Taker said. “And I think, obviously, we go out of our way now to let everybody know what sports entertainment is. But I think, and we did that even while I was working, right. But the way I approach things and even with my character and my over-the-top gimmick as, you know, as The Undertaker, especially the last probably 10-15 years of my career. I really, the way I set my matches up and I tried to, I always tried to suspend that sense of reality. I didn’t want people thinking, like, I wanted people, when I threw a punch, I wanted people to go ooh, that’s different. Or the things that I did to make sense, even like before I do Old School, which is a stretch for somebody to grab someone’s arm and to be able to walk [the top rope]. But so, I would take the time to work that arm over and it hit that shoulder with the shoulder tackles and the shoulder tackles and this and that.”
Taker continued and said there’s still room for kayfabe in today’s pro wrestling.
“I tried to have things make sense, and I always tried to get people invested and to forget everything else that we’ve told them about what sports entertainment and wrestling is, and try and let them immerse themselves into what’s going on,” Taker continued. “And that’s the way I approach things, and I think there’s some of that that is still applicable if you make the effort to do so. I think in large there’s just this… okay, everybody, everybody’s in on it, and, you know, this is the way it is. But I think, I think there is room for kayfabe still. I just, I know everything’s evolving, and people have different perspectives on it, but that’s mine. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a dinosaur.”
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