Keep Acting, Even After Being Fired!
Keeping up the kayfabe illusion with fans takes multiple layers of fiction and reality, Inception-style. So you get the practice known as a "worked shoot." This is when it appears that the wrestler has broken out of the script and everyone acts like he's broken the sacred code of kayfabe, when in reality even that was scripted. So you wind up with some truly ridiculous, convoluted stories like this one:
At the height of its popularity, there were several competing wrestling organizations. A wrestler named Brian Pillman wanted to get away from his employers at WCW. But at the time, they were in a huge ratings war with WWE and ECW -- those were the three powerhouses of wrestling. The point being, the WCW wasn't about to let him go.
That's Pillman, and I will provide no context for that picture.
In 1996, it was decided that they were going to stage a fake firing of his character. That is, they were going to pretend fire the character played by a performer who really wanted to be fired.
The story goes that Pillman suggested that the firing would be more believable to the public if they released an actual termination document. General Manager Eric Bischoff agreed and set it up, faxing him the paperwork, signed by all the right people. Pillman signed it, and ... that was that. He was out of his contract, for real. The document was legal and U.S. law actually has very few exceptions for documents executed as part of a pro wrestling storyline.
The next day, he was working for the competing ECW, and later the WWE. He had broken kayfabe, but did it by extending the storyline into real life. And his (former) employer couldn't call him on it, because that would be breaking kayfabe.
The face of one cruel, ruthless, badass ... businessman?
Too add another layer of possible bullshit, Bischoff told interviewers (and said in his own biography) that the whole thing was planned. He says the idea was that he would leave for ECW, develop his character further, and then later return to WCW, but that he just never returned to finish out the agreed upon plan. Is that true? We'll never know. That's how they know they did it right.
Someone Dies in the Ring? Stay in Fucking Character!
In an early 1950s tag team bout, a wrestler named Ella Waldek performed in a match in which another young woman died. There are conflicting stories about what took place before she collapsed, but the majority of reports showed that she wasn't injured from the match.
But that didn't stop police from arresting the other three wrestlers involved in the performance. In fact, they were almost charged with attempted manslaughter, but were eventually released.
That's Ella in black "climbing a mountain of ass."
When news got out about the young woman's death, attendance started to pick up because people wanted to come and see the wrestler who killed someone in the ring. For years after the incident, Ella Waldek had to endure the wrath of wrestling fans, yelling, "Murderer!"
This is what we do with murderers around these parts!
And Ella just had to take it because ... well, kayfabe. She couldn't stop and address the fans, explaining that before the girl's death, Ella had a conversation with her backstage and that the girl complained of a terrible headache. She told the girl she should let the promoter know, but she refused. No, she couldn't say any of that, because then she'd be telling the audience that the feud they had in the ring wasn't real. She'd be admitting that outside the ring, the good guy and bad guy wrestlers all hang out like normal people, and are actually pretty good friends. No, if she wanted a career in that industry, she just had to keep her mouth shut and, in the court of public opinion, be declared guilty of murder. And that's exactly what she did.
Because that's wrestling, bitches.
For more wrestling craziness, check out The 8 Most Insane Moments in Professional Wrestling. And get more from Cheese in The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent.