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WWE

I know, Becky, I can't believe she said it either.

WWE delivered a lot of great action in February. There was the Halftime Heat six-man tag that saw NXT's top stars do their best Dragon Gate impression. There was the historic women's Elimination Chamber match that crowned the company's first women's tag team champions in 30 years. There was Matt Riddle and Drew Gulak stretching and slapping each other silly.

But the best WWE action of the month crept in right at the very end: Becky Lynch savaging Raw Women's Champion and presumptive WrestleMania opponent Ronda Rousey on Twitter.

It'd actually be more accurate to say that Rousey savaged herself just as much as Lynch did. Because in the face of social media game so strong Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be impressed, Rousey, realizing she was too outmatched to even have a hope of owning "The Man," committed the pro wrestling equivalent of Michael Scott pretending he has a gun at improv class.

As Lynch would respond, Rousey went full Russo. Referring to former WWE and WCW writer Vince Russo's penchant for storylines and promos that openly cop to wrestling's scripted nature, Lynch deftly side-stepped the thrust of Rousey's tweet. That thrust, of course, is that the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion is a real fighter who would totally win if WWE were real, too.

We should have seen it coming. More and more on Twitter, Rousey has been winking and nudging fans that she's legitimate and her fellow WWE wrestlers are not. But Thursday's tweet to Lynch dispensed with the little subtlety left in Rousey's braggadocio. Rousey openly admitted, as Russo made his career doing, that wrestling is scripted, its action illegitimate. She broke kayfabe.

And just as they did every time Russo broke kayfabe, WWE fans reacted to Rousey's tweet with a mix of cringes and rage. See, wrestling fans do know that the action is scripted. We're sneeringly told as much all the time by people who think we don't know, or think the only way we could enjoy watching men or women trading worked punches is if we believed its action was as real as boxing.

So wrestling fans especially don't like being told that it's scripted by the wrestlers. Because they're the ones who make our suspension of disbelief possible. They're supposed to be in on it with us.

That's why Rousey's tweet was her worst moment yet as a pro wrestler. She's terrific in the ring, but her documented inability to handle defeat, on Twitter of all places, has all but ruined her outside of it.

Or maybe it hasn't. Because anything in pro wrestling, no matter how real, can be made part of the work. I doubt Rousey's tweet was scripted for her, let alone approved by WWE brass. But the company could easily leverage the reaction to it into creative possibilities. Maybe not immediately: On-screen, WWE is obviously trying to make Rousey sympathetic by adding the spoiled Charlotte to her WrestleMania match with Lynch. But, further down the road, the tweet could plant the seeds for the heel character change the former UFC champion desperately needs. That is, if she can handle the boos.

But who knows. Kayfabe can be a slippery thing for workers to grasp, let alone fans. Shattering it the way Rousey did doesn't work, sure, but the slightest cracks — some of the early Attitude Era, Matt Hardy's feud with Edge, the beginning of CM Punk's summer of 2011 — can capture imaginations. It remains to be seen whether Rousey can develop the savvy, and the thickness of skin, to do the same.


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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.