Let me introduce myself my name is Mark Van Pushnburry @pushnburry on twitter. As I write this, my first article for ProSportsExtra…FREE PLUG ALERT…(a great source for professional wrestling information, a site that brings you the “oh you didn’t know wrestling show” ) which you likely already knew if you are reading this. I thought to myself, what is an engaging topic that most wrestling fans have an opinion on? Don’t worry I will save the articles depicting my strong options that will likely offend and divide our core audience for when I am a bit more established, like article 3. Yeah article 3, look out for that one. I will give you plenty of opportunity to tell me that I am wrong in my third article. For now, I will focus on how to heel the WWE.
Now before you start attacking me for spelling heal wrong , like that time my phone autocorrected they’re to their and you’d think I punched a kitten. Not just a kitten, but you’re kitten. Damn it, I did it again.. Your kitten. Yes I punched your kitten. Stay on track Mark! Let’s define heel. A heel is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as : A wrestler who you dislike and/or a wrestler that you want to watch as they get the shit kicked out of them because they do bad shit and/or are annoying. Yes, that is in the dictionary. Go look it up.
Heels nowadays are respected for their abilities and cheered just like the white meat babyfaced, in many cases they are cheered more. The crowd sings their song, they chant their catch phrases. There is no hate. There is no desire to truly see this person get beat up. This is killing a large part of the business. Its killing the part of the business that gets us truly emotionally involved.
Now get out the neosporan and bandaids because here comes the double edged sword. In a PC, publicly traded company , how do you get a wrestler to true heel status? How does this company get us to genuinely want to see someone get the shit kicked out of them? In a company plagued by 50/50 booking and a graveyard of mid to upper mid card talent, how does WWE create real heels? Conversely, how do they create true babyfaces? YOU CAN’T! One makes the other. Without and antagonist you have no heroes.
Sure we see “go away” “X-Pac ” heat, but where is the true heat. Edge recently came back after a true and real life injury. When we saw Orton drop Edge on his head and neck, and then witnessed as he smashed his head in with a chair…in that moment Orton became a true heel. Sure we know it is scripted, most of us know that Edge is in good hands, but as Edge said ” What if”? What if he landed wrong? What if the chair hit a bit too hard. These actions made us feel uncomfortable. I know I wasn’t the only person who thought some version of “Why are you attacking his neck? He just got back from a neck injury”? We felt concerned, even if just for a moment. In that moment we wanted Edge to not only get his receipt, but we wanted for Orton to get his ass kicked. We want to see Edge and Orton in the ring. Not because they are good in the ring. Not because it could be a 5 star match. All we want to see if Edge getting his revenge.
So how do they create this type of uncomfortable feeling over and over again without taking advantage of real life injuries? How do they do this without “blood and gut”? How do they do it while staying PG and maintaining their PC gimmick. Yes I believe this PC focused narrative is a gimmick. That is probably better left for another day, perhaps the before mentioned article number 3.
I believe there is more than one way to skin this cat. By the way, who came up with that saying? What kind of evil heel shit did this derive from? Anyways, I believe there are a few ways to heal the WWE. First, Understand it is ok to offend people. A company that gave birth to a hand, had sex with a dead woman, and never misses an opportunity to exploit someone who recently died, is now so intimidated by the thought of offending someone they are no longer wiling to say or do anything even a little bit controversial (at least not consistently). We understand what Kayfabe is. We understand that heel being “mean” is a part of the experiance. We understand that what is said during the show is not a part of the thoughts and views of the WWE headquarters and its corporate office.
Second, create stars, true stars! Allow people to be a steroided version of themselves or their character. ( The use of steroids is not a part of the thought and views of ProsportsExtra it headquarter or its corporate office). This idea that the WWE is the true superstar is not working. Having everyone in the company viewed to be on the same level is never going to work. You need stars. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold, John Cena were all “THE” stars of their era. However during those times there were other wrestlers that were also stars that people wanted to see. These people were so built up that people would come just to see their favorite superstar. Macho Man, Warrior, Undertaker, HBK, HHH, Edge, Lesner, I could go on and on. Who are these main draws now? If you look at the ratings it’s the same people drawing as it was years ago. Nostalgia is an amazing things. I understand that! The reason nostalgia is in such high demand is because these wrestlers were built up so much that they were must see! If WWE isn’t careful they won’t create the next generation of nostalgia. Sure people like Rollins, Reigns, and maybe soon to be Drew and Wyatt are at the top of the card, but are the must see? Will these people have the nostalgia pop similar to the stars of the attitude era? I would say absolutely not! They better start building these people soon or this nostalgia crutch that the WWE likes to use will no longer be available.
Last, and this is the name of the article, build true babyfaces and true heels. This takes the first two points in to account so I won’t revisit those. Without heroes and bad guys it is very difficult to separate yourself from the pack. In a time where wrestling is focused on in-ring performance, just about everyone on the roster can do some type of crazy flip. So invoking that deep passion for a “superstar” is more important than ever. Make me have sympathy! Make me really hate you. Make me believe that you are a terrible human being. Everyone talks about wresting changing due to the smarks and the internet, its common to hear that these things have ruined the business. I disagree. These are tools to get your babyfaces over. These are tools to get your heels hated. WWE just has to use them correctly.
Remember when Becky and Rhonda were arguing over twitter? That is an example fo WWE creating a poor storyline online that was clearly a work. It was corny! Now lets remember when Lacey Evans was a heel. Remember when she posted a video of being pulled over by an officer of the law? Remember how rude she was to that law enforcement officer? Even the people that new it was a work believed she went too far. It was perfect! If used in the right way, the internet can be an amazing tool. Lets stick with Lacey Evans, and talk about the WWE being smart in utilizing the people that they have. With the US being the largest market for the WWE, why would you take a marine, a female marine at that, and make her heel. Even worse than that, you tell the audience that she is a marine. WHY? ( I’m not slapping my head and I’m not bald so its not gimmick infringement). A strong female marine is an obvious babyface. Knowing who you have on our roster and how to utilize them is key.
Its also important for the wrester to be comfortable having people truly hate them. That use to be a badge of honor in the business. Now it seems wrestlers are scared that people won’t like them. They want people to know they are a “bad guy”, but also want to be respected for their in-ring ability. While there is a place for those people, without true heels the business continues to diminish. I will finish with this, JBL said on WWE Backstage, ” A heel needs to unredeemable, because if there is not a bad guy than there are no good guys.” This is after telling stories about how he was escorted by the police out of building because of the hate that people felt for him. People wanted me dead, truly dead” he said. This is the kind of heat that is needed in WWE again.
I know I have been all over the place in the my first article, but I wanted to cover a lot of bases. I am very interested in what you think. Send me a message with your thoughts. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree, why? What are your thoughts on heels and faces in the WWE? Even if you want to just tweet me to tell me I’m an asshole and I don’t know what I am talking about, feel free. Also take some time and read our other articles. We have some amazing writers with amazing thoughts on wrestling. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends. If you hated it, please share it with your enemies. Until next time, I am Mark Van Pushnburry ( @pushnburry )