The well-known Blair A Douglas and I were recently talking about heels in WWE. I asked him if he thought heels are becoming an after-thought in the wrestling business and he thought they were.
I must agree. There aren’t a lot of heels that are over. Sure, some heels come out to boos and fans tell them they suck on occasion, but fans do it all for fun. It’s unlikely a fan afterwards thinks or says to themselves, “Man, I really hate so-so. Given the chance, I would try to break his skull.”
These days, most heels attempt to be arrogant and indulgent and try to have this flamboyant cockiness to them and act like they’re the best thing since sliced bread, or even Sliced Bread #2. They also sneakily beat down babyfaces, tell the fans they suck and make fun of them as well.In real life, this would make somebody hated. However, almost everyone knows that wrestling is scripted.
There are also are many fans who grew up or heard of the Attitude Era and Stone Cold. The Attitude Era had wrestlers who did everything a heel did except they were cheered. Because of that reason, fans feel it’s now hard to boo wrestlers who acted like the wrestlers they use to cheer.
Normally, a heel would dominate for a while and then a babyface would finally get his revenge. Not only did this help a heel get over and stay on top for long and powerful runs, it also helped the babyface get over because the fans would rally behind him as the chaser until he finally won.
These days, the WWE books their heels as vastly inferior to their babyfaces. They don’t allow their heels to dominate for long periods of time because they’re too afraid it will hurt the babyface’s credibility. Little do they know, a great heel makes a great babyface if the feud is booked properly.
A few years ago, it was also a lot easier for heels to get over since there were fewer boundaries. There is nothing wrong about having a PG product. Most wrestling companies were very successful who based their companies on the PG rating. However, their PG rating was different from WWE’s. The WWE’s is way more sanitized, which makes it hard for wrestlers to “cross the line” (no TNA pun intended.)
A lot of things still work to this day that were used in the 1980s but methods on how to get heat isn’t one of them. The world today is a much darker place than it was 30 years ago. Wrestling has always been about being edgy and going further than any other show would ever imagine, but now it’s stuck in the past.
If I were to put on Tosh.0 right now, it would surpass anything that tried to be racist. If I were to put on Louie, the vulgarity would be way surpassed “Kung Pow Bitch”. If I were to put on CSI (although I never would), there would be way more violence and rape scenes than WWE’s product.
The point is: wrestling used to be ahead of its time, but it’s now stuck in the past. Heels are supposed to be people who are heartless, spineless, and – most importantly – hated, but they cannot be hated for doing something that the past ones did 20 years ago. They instead have to do something that makes a person hated in this age.
If the WWE cannot surpass itself or believe people don’t hate fictional characters anymore or book their heels stronger, it maybe the time to demolish the good vs. evil philosophy, and possibly start allowing the fans to choose who they like/dislike or come up with something better because heels that are hated is becoming nonexistent.