One of the biggest challenges for someone writing about pro wrestling is remembering that not everyone knows the language. The hardcore fans, the ones who scour the Internet for every bit of knowledge and rumour they can find, probably know every word and definition by heart. But the casual fans, the ones who watch the show and don’t care about the deeper workings of wrestling, might know one or two terms, but they certainly aren’t fluent. And someone who might not like pro wrestling but has friends who do would likely be completely lost listening to their conversations. But with the official addition of “kayfabe” into the dictionary, an opportunity exists to educate people on the many unique definitions that make up the language of pro wrestling. With that in mind, here are some of the more common words that might help you understand wrestling fans when they talk about their hobby. Pay attention, there will be a test later.
So, what is kayfabe? You could probably go look it up, now that it’s been added to Webster’s, but that would take extra work, so we’ll just tell you. The idea of kayfabe has to do with the illusion of pro wrestling as a real sport. Of course, we know it isn’t, but we also know that the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy are really actors, and that didn’t stop the entire world from mourning when they killed off Dr. McDreamy. In a way, that’s a really good example of kayfabe, the basis of which is the suspension of disbelief which allows you to pretend that what you’re watching is real. It’s an implied contract between the actors and the audience that acknowledges that what you’re watching is a carefully constructed and choreographed performance, but everyone involved is willing to pretend that it’s not for the sake of entertainment and forging an emotional connection with the material. Shows like Tough Enough and Total Divas are famous for being instances of “breaking kayfabe”, or “lifting the curtain”, because they show what happens behind the scenes and incorporate the real lives of the performers as opposed to their on-screen characters. Of course, those shows are also mostly scripted,just like the majority of reality TV, but it’s probably as close to seeing “real life” on television as you’re going to get at this point. Breaking kayfabe can also include things as simple as the real names of wrestlers, which is actually considered extremely rude.