A beast, a lunatic and a so-called face of WWE all get in a wrestling ring at Fastlane. It’s not a joke, but the main event match to determine who moves on to WrestleMania to face current champion, Triple H with the company’s strap on the line. If this was a different era, say 30 years ago, a match of this kind would never happen. The “Beast” would have stopped the lunatic into the mat and scored a pin in a squash match, only to face the upstart in another match to determine a No. 1 contender. The “Beast” would get serious heat from the fans, being called every name in the book, hearing boos from the rafters as he and his manager stood over his fallen prey.
Those days of professional wrestling are gone forever. If fans and the IWC ever hoped for WWE to revert back to its days of true babyfaces and heels, they will forever be saddened. With each growing day, the chants for evil to prevail over good and the need to recapture some glory of years past with the re-emergence of older, less than stellar veterans have made the soap opera we all grew up on watery and to dramatic. Jerry Springer meets a bad version of Phil Donohue with the topic on everyone’s mind that is never answered – what happened to heels in this business?
Heels, not the ones on television today. Not the ones who appeal to the masses, which are worshipped on t-shirts and cheered as they spit in John Cena’s face. I’m talking about bad asses, the men of substance, the ones who caused us nightmares in our youth. The ones we didn’t want to watch on our small televisions, but did because the train wreck was far more entertaining than watching some do-gooder walk around in pink trunks looking for applause from the crowds.
Bray Wyatt is the only heel of any substance in WWE right now. The “Beast” I spoke of earlier, Brock Lesnar, is a ‘tweener who fans want to see beat the hell out of the likes of Wyatt, but hope he will turn around and send the likes of the lunatic, Dean Ambrose, on a journey to “Suplex City” at Fastlane and hope that the “face” otherwise known as Roman Reigns, stumbles getting into the ring and cannot ascend to Vince McMahon’s woeful mountain of the new brand of his promotion.
Are you still with me? I know it’s a rant and it’s long, but hear me out – there might be a test later. As a youngster in Florida, I woke up every Saturday to watch Kevin Sullivan spew venom about the underworld, how darkness was a path to glory and how Dusty Rhodes wasn’t a hero, rather the enemy. McMahon would think of bringing A Sullivan-like figure into his ring – face-painted and snake holding and satanic as all get out. Wyatt tells cryptic tales and spins yarns of woe with his “family” by his side. It’s the closest thing to pure evil this brand has to offer.
Sadly, no one is fearful of his message and no one wants to run to the exits. They want to sit and watch and enjoy every moment of it. Everyone eats up the Undertaker’s shtick, his life in the underworld, his “Rest in Peace” message and gladly sees him breath hell, fire and brimstone. The same with Kane. Both have depth to their personas, but in their advanced careers, there is nothing new to build on. Rusev looked like he would be a dominant heel – cut from the same cloth like Ivan and Nikita Koloff. He was dominant and ran through ever opponent on the roster, until he met John Cena. His legend was deflated faster than a balloon.
It’s 2016 and there isn’t a single bad guy to speak of. Blame it on bad booking, blame it on bad planning, even blame it on the sensibility of fans. You could argue once the Attitude Era was erected, the idea of hatred for the guys on the wrong side of the fence. And now that WWE lives in a PGA era (thanks in part to the political motivations of Linda McMahon and the death of Kayfabe, there is no way villains will be portrayed properly again.
Regardless of the fact the League of Nations presents the company’s best hope for heel heat besides Triple H, the faction of Sheamus, Rusev, Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett have no backstory, no defining moment that sets them apart. It’s more like a cheap knockoff of a later version of a teetering Four Horsemen. The lack of star power on the roster led to changes in the Royal Rumble. Triple H’s appearance and his build is necessary until something is figured out behind the curtain.
And if you want to take things a step further, it’s a shame that two of the best characters on television right now – who happen to be heels – are Mr. McMahon and Paul Heyman. Too bad they won’t be seen in a WWE ring anytime soon. WWE has an illness it must find a cure for. Where is the Great Kabuki or the Wild Samoans when you need them? Where is the Iron Sheik and an NWA version of Roddy Piper? Heck, I would even settle for Reigns to turn heel, just to mix things up a bit.
There has to be a means to an end. There has to be a change to keep fans interested in front of their televisions and tuned into their computer screens. You cannot throw a mass of mud on a wall, hope it sticks and defines who will be the next “great” heel. It does not work that way. For everything this new generation of stars are, the last thing will be is solid heels. That theory has gone out the window. Sadly, we have to watch archived programming to see how it was done in years past. Back in a time when wrestling had a true division. You were either a fan favorite, or you were the one fans wanted to hate.
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