‘A Mark’s Eye View‘ is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
This past week, WWE made the interesting decision to run an angle involving a dirtsheet-like article. The write-up detailed Sasha Banks’s post-WrestleMania absence, and went into detail about what the writers were planning to do. It was WCW 2000 nonsense that screamed Paul Heyman. Casual fans would never read an article like that, and hardcore fans find it silly.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with breaking kayfabe — it has been done for decades. It becomes a problem when it’s done in such an obnoxious manner that it is insulting to the fanbase. We already know the product is scripted. There’s no point in saying what the writers have in mind for a character. It’s bush league, and does nothing for the wrestlers or the product.
But every once in a while, the sport will get it right. Here are the times pro wrestling successfully broke kayfabe.
Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes
Arguably more interesting than their ring wars were the battles the “Nature Boy” and the “American Dream” had behind the scenes. They were big stars with bigger egos and took every opportunity they could to undermine each other. One of the most subtle ways they would do so is through the NBA. Did you ever wonder why Flair would randomly wear a Lakers jacket? Now you know.
Everyone knows about the Monteral Screwjob, Bret screwed Bret, and all that good stuff that has been rehashed for literally decades. But there was actually a time even earlier when Vinny Mac broke kayfabe, most famously as the director of the first Slammy Awards, as seen in the credits above. It meant nothing in 1987, but is pretty funny now. Bonus points to anyone who can find the match when McMahon is on commentary and asks about a wrestler named Kay Fabe.
It may not be the most well known angle ever. I don’t even remember if it actually had a blowoff. In 1988, Sullivan started tormenting Jimmy Garvin’s valet Precious. During the feud, it was revealed that Garvin and Precious were actually married. It was weird, but even stranger was when Sullivan insisted on calling Precious by her real name. Now, hearing someone call Triple H “Paul” is just silly, but things were more innocent in the 80s.
Wendi Richter vs. The Spider Lady
Bret Hart wasn’t the first wrestler Vince screwed out of a title. In 1985, Wendy Richter was on top of the world — she was a big part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection and rivaled many of her male counterparts in terms of popularity. There are differing accounts as to why Vince screwed her, but the match in which she lost her title is one of the strangest things a fan will ever see. And the fans had no idea what had happened.
Next week: The best Midnight Express moments!