11:30-11:50: “When Kayfabe Goes Wrong: Big Daddy and various truths in British wrestling”

Conor Heffernan is Assistant Professor of Physical Culture and Sport Studies at the University of Texas – Austin. @PhysCstudy

Kayfabe — that is the the portrayal of planned wrestling events as real — has helped to shield wrestling from accusations of being fake or staged. The decision to present wrestling as real did, on many occasions, present problems for the wrestlers themselves. This presentation is one such example. In 1987, British wrestler “Big Daddy” pinned “King Kong Kirk” in a tag-team match. Immediately afterwards King Kong was rushed to hospital where, sadly, he was pronounced dead. Owing to the guise of kayfabe, Big Daddy was forced to walk a tightrope between upholding his character and retaining his wrestling persona. The presentation thus examines the tensions and dangers of kayfabe.