Kayfabe is important to wrestling promoters, except when it isn't.
This biz's relationship with carny-like secrets was skewed long before playground arguments about whether it's real or not erupted daily throughout the 90s. Vince McMahon stood before state athletic commissioners on 10 February 1989 and told them that he produced sports entertainment, not "a bonafide athletic contest".
Such an admission didn't stop McMahon's WWF/WWE or any other promotion from occasionally bowing to the traditions of an industry that once believed 'exposure' would kill it. In fact, numerous wrestlers in the modern era have actually been released from their contracts because they "broke kayfabe".
They "broke" rules that were only half-heartedly followed to begin with.
There's a mixture of different eras here, and there were (admittedly) often other reasons that combined with simple shattered illusion to send some workers packing. Much like understanding kayfabe itself, it's difficult to fathom why men and women lost their jobs because someone found out that they weren't really the person they portrayed on TV.
That wouldn't really fly in any other industry, but wrestling's strange fascination with pretence still rages on...
10. The Iron Sheik
Fans today know The Iron Sheik as a constant source of social media amusement, but the man wasn't a walking meme in 1987. Back then, Sheiky baby was a serious, anti-American heel who was in the middle of a heated blood feud with patriotic good guy Jim Duggan.
Police pulled Sheik and Jimbo over in May '87 and found that both were under the influence. Cops also found more drugs when they searched the car. That would've been troublesome enough for the WWF, but it isn't what Vince McMahon was most worried about.
He was more concerned that the pair's red-hot TV angle would be ruined when fans found out they were real-life friends.
McMahon fired Sheik and dismissed 'Hacksaw' - according to Bruce Prichard, Duggan was barely gone before the WWF brought him back. Sheik wasn't so lucky. He'd never reach the same heights in the company again (at least as an in-ring worker), and was only brought back for peripheral roles years later.