Sunday, March 1, 2009

kayfabe exits

Does it bother anyone when a wrestler leaves a company without any kind of kayfabe explanation behind it?

We all have our favorite wrestlers. We cheer for them. We buy their merchandise. Some of us even write fan fiction about them. The point is, we care about the characters. In fact, an argument could even be made that we care more about wrestling characters than any other characters on any other television shows. After all, no other TV show convinces us to pay money to see the continuing saga of these characters on pay-per-view. We emotionally invest in a character and tune in loyally week in and week out to see them perform.

Then, one week, they're gone.

Wrestling, especially the companies at the national television level, say their product is entertainment. It's a soap opera for men. It's a sitcom. It's a drama. It's everything exciting rolled into one. Well on any other television show when a character leaves, a reason for their future absence is usually given during an episode (Judy Winslow and Chuck Cunningham being the most notable exceptions to the rule). Poochie returned to his home planet. Cody Lambert got a job in Alaska. Rosalind Shays fell down an elevator shaft and died. Etc.

I know in wrestling it can be hard to write someone out of a show. It's wrestling after all. You never know if someone may come back to work for your company one day. In fact, odds are that they probably will. Wrestling history shows us that past problems can be resolved if there's a good chance to make money together. With that in mind, a wrestling promoter wouldn't want to do something as final as, say, a "death" angle to explain a character's exit (on top of a death angle being horribly offensive to begin with of course). However, it's not impossible to do. Wrestling has often utilized the "loser leaves town" match to get rid of a character. Simply stating that a wrestler was fired has also been used in recent years thanks to the growing role of the heel authority figure.

Usually though, a wrestler is simply never mentioned again on the air when he or she leaves, and the viewers never even get a storyline reason for the character's sudden departure. The announcers tell the viewers at home that a talent is gone and quickly move to the next segment, if we're lucky.

Don't the fans who care about these characters deserve something better than their favorite performer simply vanishing into thin air?

Come to think of it, that WOULD be a way to explain the Undertaker's retirement.

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