Kayfabe was a treasured term for decades in professional wrestling but has fallen by the wayside in the past two decades. The term is described in pro wrestling as “the fact or convention of presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic.” Unfortunately, the modern age of the internet and the rise of social media made it nearly impossible for wrestlers to keep storylines intact outside of the ring.
Lacey Evans is a woman who has mastered the art of kayfabe when she is off-screen. The “Sassy Southern Belle”, is living her gimmick. When most of the talent travel, they choose casual, comfortable apparel – oftentimes their gym clothes. Evans, on the other hand, is dressed head to toe as the “lady” she portrays in WWE.
It was not that long ago that Ronda Rousey received a lot of backlash from fellow members of the business and fans when she stomped all over kayfabe. During her weekly “Ronda on Road” videos, she did everything in her power to belittle the business. She used the word ‘fake’ more times than we could count and lost respect in doing so. By keeping in-character to fans, Evans reiterates the respect she has for the business that has become her livelihood.
The character Evans is portraying is different from anyone we have seen before in WWE. She is a hoity-toity proper lady, who has no problem expressing how classless the other members of the women’s division are compared to herself. Dressed to the nines with gloves and hat to match, she always had a tissue on hand to tab the sweat she may endue while beating up one of the “nasties.”
The 29-year old only had a brief stint on the independents before she signed with WWE in 2016. She impressed the WWE brass while in developmental so much that once she was called up to the main roster, she was given a feud with “The Man” and double champion Becky Lynch.
The audience wasn’t sure what to think of Lacey when she first debuted on television. The creative direction was for her to show up at the most inopportune times, sashay down the ramp towards the ring, and quickly turn around. For weeks and weeks this is all we saw of Evans, with little idea of what direction they were going with her. These weekly glimpses of Evans garnered a crowd reaction and planted the seeds of what was yet to come.
In an interview with the New York Post, Evans spoke about the way she debuted on television.
“It’s was fun just to keep interrupting,” Evans said. “For my character it is something she would do. If I can’t get a match on the card, honey, you’re gonna see me. Like I’m going to be seen. … I don’t care if it’s 30 seconds of your time. I don’t care if it’s 10.”
Many wrestlers merge real-life characteristics of themselves into the character they are portraying, making it even more believable to the audience. Lacey Evans is THE polar opposite to Macey Estrella-Kadlec.
Estrella-Kadlec is a veteran of the Marine Corps. The Marines are widely considered the toughest branch, with the hardest boot camp to complete. She joined at 19-years-old and spent five years in the Marines. While she was in the Marines, she started her own construction company to help support her siblings financially.
During an interview with the Post and Courier’s Mike Mooneyham in 2017, she spoke of the military saying, “It was also my saving grace. I ran off as soon as I could when I realized that I needed to.”
She was a member of the military police and the only woman on the Special Reaction Team. They were responsible for security at bases if they’re under terrorist threats or hostage situations.
Estrella-Kadlec didn’t grow up in a beautiful southern estate that we would expect Lacey to have grown up in. She had a very hard childhood living in a broken home. Her mother left when she was just 10 years old. Her father was physically abusive and struggled with addiction, leading to lasting trauma. She and her siblings spent many a nights sleeping in tents and trailer parks – not a Georgian mansion overlooking acres of land.
When WWE signed her, they initially drew on her veteran status with a military, pin-up character. Creatively, it would have made sense to make her a babyface, she is an American hero after all. Whoever decided to turn her into a villainous heel made the correct choice. Evans is the lady the audience loves to hate and does an outstanding job with the portrayal.
The contradiction between the character and the women make it even more impressive to how far Evans has come in such a short period of time. Perhaps, her keeping kayfabe outside of the ring is sort of cathartic for Estrella-Kadlec. She can just have fun now and not have to be plagued by the troubles of her past.
Lacey Evans may have lost to Becky Lynch at Money in the Bank, but she has won in many other ways. She is dedicated and respectful of this business and will continue her momentum with a future title reign.