Levin: Social Media Killed Professional Wrestling

A recent tweet from a WWE Superstar is the final nail in kayfabe's coffin.

My friend Tom Clark could not have said it any better. A recent picture posted by Christ Jericho on his Twitter account of himself and his “rival” Seth Rollins along with Sami Zayn continues to destroy the foundations of professional wrestling as we once knew it.

Clark, a writer for many websites, is just as disappointed as many of us are that the rules of Kayfabe don’t exist in Vince McMahon’s world of sports entertainment. “Each day that passes brings more than one reminder that what fans are watching on TV is just not real. From Lana posting news of her engagement to Rusev when they’re supposedly not together, to Chris Jericho posting pics of himself with hated rival Seth Rollins, WWE Superstars continue to prove that kayfabe is indeed rotting in the ground,” Clark writes on Camel Clutch Blog.

I am an old school wrestling fan, etched in the belief that Dusty Rhodes and the Midnight Rider were two separate wrestlers. I believe in the spinning toe hold that won Dory Funk Jr. the NWA World Title from Gene Kiniski and that Ric Flair is the greatest performer to ever put on a pair of trunks. For me, wrestling is an art form, a grand stage of ballet in some realm that allows true fans to escape reality and focus on a soap opera of men and women dancing in a ring.

Somehow, McMahon has ruined that for my generation. And when I see segments like on Monday night where the memory of Rhodes is shamed by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, I know this is not the program I used to watch on Saturday mornings with my father.

Oh, to hear the voice of Gordon Solie right now.

While WWE’s product has been better as of late, it has also gotten worse because of social media. Nothing is sacred anymore. Nothing is “real” and nothing is left to the imagination. I could watch AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler tear each other apart for hours because there is some semblance of chemistry in the ring, but I really miss the Iron Man matches of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, and the symmetry of Jack Brisco and Harley Race.

No one in the business today can touch that. You can certainly believe that.

For everything Jericho has been over the years – a connection from the older guard of this business to the new era of stars looking to break out, you would think he could have kept some of the older beliefs of this business sacred. We all know wrestlers have lives outside the business. It’s the reason Stephanie McMahon and Ronda Rousey pose together on the red carpet a few weeks after confronting each other at WrestleMania 31. It’s the reason Ric Flair and Roddy Piper were close friends for years and it’s the reason Wahoo McDaniel came to Flair’s aid in 1975 after his near fatal plane crash.

But for a brief moment, us fans from yesteryear want to believe there is still no reason for babyfaces and heels to dine together and party in a hotel room. The fantasy world I used to live in has left and gone away. Verne Gagne, Ray Stevens and others must be turning in their graves right about now.

“Superstar” Billy Graham has spoken out many times over about what he watches on television now – a chapter turned, a foreign concept to what he used to be a part of. He was appalled by the segment involving the memory of Rhodes with Bayley, Goldust, Gallows and Anderson. While his comments may fall on deaf ears of a new generation, I cannot help but feel sad for those who paved the way for Roman Reigns, Triple H and Jericho.

A generation lost, indeed.

While social media continues to remain a wrestler’s best friend, it is essentially killing a niche of comfort we all used to love. It cannot be helped. It’s the symptom of a faster world, a need for recognition and the spoils of opportunity. In the meantime, I sure wouldn’t mind watching the Flairs and Races of the world once more.

At least it would prove for a moment in time, wrestling was real to men and fans of my generation.

David Levin
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David Levin
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