Thinking about Heels and Villains

I have been think about the WWE's situation with Heels and Villains.  Right now, I do not find most of the WWE heels to be effective.  There are people I do not want to see wrestle, but there is no one I want to see lose.  I am not being a hipster wrestling fan, I do not ironically root for the bad guy.  I do root for the bad guys some times in the WWE.  I root for the Big Show some of the times because I sympathize with him.  I want to see him win, because I think he is honest in the way other characters are not. 

For a few months I have been thinking about Heels in the WWE.  I really hate the term Heel, I would rather call them villains.  It is too inside/Smark/Kayfabe for my taste.  Lets call them Villains as think about that as villain.  Is there anything wrong with that? 

I watch wrestling and I have a hard time seeing CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler as villains.  No matter what they do, fans still want to see more of them. They do not want to see them get their come up ins or to see them lose.  Fans want to see more of them.  We know if they lose we will not see more of them.  When the do something villainous, fans do not want to see them punished.  We see them as being the kind of devilish we admire.  

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the introduction of the Anti-Hero in wrestling has impacted how we see ring psychology.  The more I think about this, the more I realize that my feeling about good and evil in wrestling is not limited to this change.

In Eric Bischoff's book he said: The only way to be a good "bad" guy is to be a liar, cheat, or coward. I think this might have been true in the past, but I do not think it is true anymore.  I think cheating no longer makes someone a heel. The WWE has gone to the plot device of authority figure villain too many times.  The WWE has destroyed the idea that rules are something that need to be followed.  Does anyone get booed for not following the rules?

I think this is not only wrestling culture that has changed when it comes to following the rules.  I think all of sports culture has changed this way.  No one in San Francisco booed Barry Bonds, even when people thought he was taking PEDs.  He was doing it for the Giants fans, so the rules where not that important. 

I am not sure that cheap shots are enough to make you a villain.  The heroes in the WWE cheap shot the bad guys all the time.  In the context of the WWE this is just the villains getting what they deserve.  I can't remember the last time villains did something outside a match to inflict long term damage on a hero.  I cannot remember when the villains did a beat down that caused a hero to lose a title. 

There are things that heels can can do in other promotions that they can't do in the WWE.  If you are in a smaller promotion you can insult the fans and insult the promotion.  Those two things do not work well in the WWE.  When I saw CM Punk insult the fans in San Jose, they agreed with him.  They agreed that those other fans were bad for rooting for the Rock.  CM Punk was not booed when he held the WWE Championship up for the crowd.

You cannot insult the WWE, because there is no place else to go.  You can say an indie promotion is rinky-dink.  You can say you are too big of a star.  You can say people are not paying enough to see you.  None of those things would work with the WWE.  There is no place bigger, so you can't be too big for the WWE.

When I saw Smackdown and Raw in San Jose live Vickie Guerrero got the biggest negative reaction both times.  I think there are a bunch of reasons.  When I watched the 8-12 year old kids sitting around me booing, I tried to figure out why they acted this way.  I think it is because for most of the time she has been in the WWE, she has been about keeping the audience from seeing what they want to see.  She kept people from seeing the matches they want to see.

I wonder if this is the only effective way to be a villain in the WWE right now.  If you want people to boo you keep the people from seeing what they want.  This means wrestlers need to not wrestler if you want people to hate you.  This is a real problem because if you don't have wrestling you don't have a show.

I would love to see villain champions dodge the #1 contender for their belt.  I would love the story on the b-show be about how the person who deserves the title shot can't get one.  I thought that would have made Dolph Ziggler a bad guy.  He could have said he was a good guy for giving Zack Ryder a title shot, but he would be dodging the real contenders.  It is really hard to sell monthly PPVs if you are not going to give people the best matches. 

The WWE has a lot of unique challenges when it comes to telling stories.  In the old days the WWF could bring in new villains from new territories.  Now the WWE has a stable roster and they need to use villains after they are beaten.  They make eight hours of television, 50 weeks a year.  It is the same show year after year.  That is a lot of stories to tell and still keep things fresh. 

I am not sure what the WWE can do to improve this.  I feel that this is a weakness to a way the currently tell stories.  I am not sure if the WWE even see this as a problem. 


Popular Posts