Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Aisha Durham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Keith Berry, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chris McRae, Ph.D.


breach, convergence, fandom, social drama


This thesis will examine the negotiation of kayfabe within the context of professional wrestling using a 2014 WWE storyline that arose from fan backlash as a primary text. The perceived marginalization of wrestler Daniel Bryan by the fans led to a disconnect between the narratives that were performed in-ring and the counter-narratives produced by the fans, which in turn led to an overtly co-authored narrative between in-ring performers and fans. In addition to studying the television narratives that characterize the “Yes Movement,” in WWE, I will analyze archived social media responses within fan communities on Twitter and Reddit to make sense of how professional wrestling fans constitute their collective identity and act upon their agency to alter live performances and narratives. This thesis will contribute to literature on professional wrestling specifically as well as performance studies and media studies about fandom in Communication. By analyzing the negotiation of kayfabe between professional wrestling audiences and performers, I will demonstrate how the Yes Movement backlash and eventual storyline illustrates the malleability of shared realities within subcultures.

Included in

Communication Commons