Yes he did.
To extrapolate on that a bit more; kayfabe is a tricky thing. Announce yourself as a wrestling fan in polite company and you’re generally hit with the “But isn’t wrestling fake?” gambit which is it’s own conversation. But part of that conversation is the aforementioned kayfabe, the illusion of truth, what we choose to believe when we suspend our disbelief in front of the squared circle. Kayfabe is a simple concept, it’s one that everyone uses when a child asks you if Father Christmas is real.
Of course he is, we all nod.
For a child it is this illusion that makes things all the more magical. Under this you can file The Easter Bunny, magical creatures, all sorts of things that we adults wink knowingly at each other about.
Wrestling slots into this nicely. Sure, the more vocal fans tend to be the smarks, those who know the secret, who bitch about the booking on the internet whilst tuning in every week. But that ignores a large part of the audience which is the kids who believe in what happens in that ring.
To return to my original statement; me and my son where watching the main event of the recent Survivor Series. Frankly, we’d skipped through the rest of the card* in order to get to that big match at the top of the card.
Team Cena versus Team Authority.
Now, me being one of those smart wrestling fans who bitches about stuff on the internet whilst tuning in every week meant I already knew the result. My son, of course, didn’t because he isn’t smartened up to the business yet. To him it’s real.
An aside: we were watching another PPV a while ago, or maybe an episode of WWE Countdown, I forget. The point is we were watching the match when I heard my son say the following:
“You know, some people at school say wrestling is fake. It’s not fake. It’s real.”
We get to the inevitable Big Show turn and Cena is eliminated. It’s just Dolph Ziggler left, alone against the three remaining members of Team Authority.
Now ignore the daft bits for a moment. Ignore why Luke Harper is there and not part of the Wyatt Family still. Ignore why Big Show has made yet another heel turn. Just focus on Ziggler, barely able to stand, struggling to his feet in order to fight for whats right. Which is his job but thats not the point.
He’s alone against three men who want to rip him to shreds.
My son covers his face with his hands. “Turn it off,” he says. “I don’t want to watch anymore.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“Ziggler can’t win, not against three people,” his muffled voice says. I see a tear roll down his cheek.
“Are you crying?” I ask.
He drops his hands and I see his red eyes. “He can’t win,” he says.
Right there: total belief. Total, unwavering belief that what he’s watching is 100% real. Ziggler can’t win. He’s already been taken apart by Team Authority. I swear that at one point Rusev hit him so hard you could see Ziggler’s soul leave his body.
Tears. He can’t do it.
From there it’s a story of gasps and cheers as Ziggler proves that he can do it, despite needing the help of the darkest of angels. By the time the bell rang the tears had gone replaced by a huge smile.
But for a second there my son was as low as I’d ever seen him, all caused by a heel turn that the majority of the internet have turned their noses up at. Because when you’re young you can have that belief in things, it’s important and as a parent it’s something I strive to create for him as often as I can.
Because everyone should believe in Father Christmas, at least for a little while.
*We skipped around enough to catch the end of the tag team match to see the amazing crowd response to Mizdow. Seriously, that guy is amazing and fingers crossed he’ll be able to build on the goodwill he’s building up. Just typing that I realise that it’ll never ever happen.