Welcome to the Heel Report, a weekly breakdown of the best heels in professional wrestling right now. Each week the heels will be ranked out of ten and then those numbers will go on to form the rolling chart that continues each week. This is a place to evaluate and praise the ‘baddies’ of wrestling in their efforts to make us boo them mercilessly so let’s show them some love and get on with the report!
Casual Fan’s Raw Review:
*Disclaimer: My girlfriend is perfect test subject for Raw as she is ‘the typical casual viewer’, as in she has only a passing interest in wrestling, some slight knowledge about WWE and current storylines, but mostly just wants to be entertained and has the memory of a fish so anything can be retconned and she’d be fine with it. These are all the things Vince McMahon wants in a viewer, but is he even delivering that? The general answer seems to be no.*
* The Shane-Undertaker segment at start was actually pretty effective in selling the match. It made her like the character of Shane more and she was impressed by the Elbow Drop and said she would like to see more.
* Upon asking her if she remembered why Y2J and Styles were fighting and who the heel was, she had no real idea, I think partially because she doesn’t watch Smackdown (as many don’t) and so has missed some of the significant interactions between them. This is a great argument for why they should bring back the brand split.
* I asked her who she was looking forward to seeing on Raw; she said Dean Ambrose (also that she didn’t really care about Kevin Owens, knowing how much I like him), Kalisto (Who she always refers to as ‘that flippy guy’), possibly Sin Cara (Flippy guy’s friend). She also said that she wished Asuka was on the show (she occasionally is in the room when I am watching NXT and likes her, as well as William Regal’s hair, he is known as ‘sexy hair guy’).
* In terms of actual interest in divas she said liked Naomi and Natalya, as well as hating Paige, (most likely due to her attitude on Tough Enough and Total Divas, which she has watched, which indicates the appeal of crossing wrestling with reality tv for the casual viewer) and had little interest in Charlotte, Banks and Lynch, as she doesn’t find story between them compelling and doesn’t really appreciate the history or any significance in the three facing off at Wrestlemania.
* She is already really sick of the New Day, stating that all they say is Booty and that it is boring because they are acting all wacky but have no substance behind it to make it really funny after a small amount of time…I am starting to agree with her on that one.
* She spent the whole Reigns attack talking about how sexy he and HHH are (how will male wrestlers ever get the respect they deserve with all this objectification??!)
* For the Kalisto match she was visibly excited and was invested in both the match and his moves, she also hissed and booed at Ryback when he came out, mostly due to him getting in Kalisto’s face. I’m pretty sure at this point that we can count Kalisto as her favourite wrestler since nine times out of ten she talks about how cool he is as opposed to how sexy he is, this is the scale I am working with.
* She lost interest after this segment but while she was paying attention she called Lesnar ‘Brock Lesbian’ and referred to Heyman as ‘his stupid manager who shouts all the time’, before telling him to shut up whenever he spoke. Somehow Heyman’s primo selling ability has not worked on her and she now actively dislikes him simply for his presence, not because of anything heelish.
Weekly Top Ten:
10: Bobby Lashley
The Destroyer wasn’t anywhere near as dominant as last week but still managed to do a good job and look like a strong contender for the title in the future. There is no time like the present since the TNA roster has never looked bearer in terms of established talent.
9: Jay Lethal
The first entrant from ROH is also its longest reigning champion. He retained his title on the latest episode and still doesn’t look like he can be stopped. To be honest with Lucha Underground and NXT poaching all the top indie talent these days I can’t see anyone worthy enough coming in any time soon, maybe Dalton Castle could be built up to it?
I feel bad for Becky Lynch, taking a loss when Sasha Banks was kept strong, all signs point to the Boss walking out of Wrestlemania with the title, which is great, but I’ve started to lean more towards Becky in recent months. On the Charlotte side of things, she took a beating on Smackdown but not so much on Raw and she gave a decent promo before getting taken out to balance things out. I was especially a fan of her saying she would end the Divas Revolution, although she still can’t Woooo! To save her life.
7: Chris Jericho
Well he lost to Ryder on Raw, which I don’t think anyone ever expected, but his reaction afterwards was enough to salvage his heel reputation. As much as putting over Ryder was a surprise I don’t think anyone would be shocked if he did the same for AJ at Mania, this is like Fandango take 2, and with a guy who is much more tried and tested. Overall I can’t imagine they won’t have anything but a classic at the event, although it might be a bit of a stretch to think it will be a show-stopper, more likely they will have their best match at the following PPV, that is unless Jericho disappears again after Sunday.
6: Johnny Mundo
The WWE was a bit light on heel action this week, which is weird considering it’s the flipping week before Wrestlemania! Luckily Lucha Underground and TNA more than picked up for their slack. Mundo came into Aztec Warfare and put on a great heel performance, at one point putting Cage through the office window, mimicking his own actions with El Patron last season. After he was eliminated he even came back and delivered a cinder block to the head of Cage to ensure his elimination and add fuel to the fire of their feud.
5: Mike Bennett & Maria
Bennett and Maria came to TNA at possibly the best, or the worst time depending on whether or not they actually do have to shut down at some point soon. If not then these two could easily be in place to have the whole brand built around them, at least on the heel side of things. This is especially true in the case of Maria, she is like a more self-aware Eva Marie; totally hot and totally dislikeable, but she is able to milk it, whereas Eva only thinks that she knows what she’s doing.
When I first heard they were coming to TNA I was mostly excited to see Bennett in action as I had only seen a bit of him in ROH, but now I am much more interested in Maria, particularly now that she has for some reason taken it upon herself to manipulate the Dollhouse for currently unknown motives. Why would you give up your title shot and try to break up a heel stable as a heel yourself? It makes little sense now, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t become clear in the future, after all as any good cult leader knows; you have to break people down before you build them up, could that be what she means when she talks about saving the Knockouts division?
4: Joey Ryan
I can’t convey just how much I love this idea of handcuffing oneself to railings outside the ring so that you can’t be dragged in and eliminated in a multi-man match. While it works great for Aztec Warfare’s pin and submission elimination, it could also work for a Royal Rumble, or any over-the-top-rope battle royal. Now sure, it didn’t save him from the surprise monster who won it all, but in theory this was a master heel move and it let him survive until nearly the end of the match with little effort on his part.
Personally I think TNA missed a trick with Joey Ryan since while he is cheesy as all hell he is also completely committed to his gimmick and therefore can be utilised really well when you need any kind of sleaze to do some sleazy stuff. This commitment also makes fans like him and makes him a great face when needed, as well as being versatile enough to work as both a joke character and as a legit, if at first unexpected, threat. In TNA this could have been vital, it is kind of the role Eric Young played, however in Lucha Underground I fear he is a bit wasted since there already are so many great characters, but it is still great to see him work.
3: Matt Hardy
The Iconic One is trying to soldier on as best he can without his TNA world title and he did manage to eliminate EC3 in the number one contender gauntlet match this week before succumbing to his brother Jeff. First of all I will say that the fact that it took so much to eliminate EC3 was pretty cool because it seemed organic and it’s not like he overcame those crazy odds and he never looked overpowered, he was just lucky and hardy enough to survive for as long as he did. In a way it was an exhibition of how Roman Reigns should have been booked in the Royal Rumble match, with every heel beating him down almost constantly because he was the ‘biggest threat’ and then finally getting taken out right near the end after looking like a hero for surviving that long already. The booking of the Royal Rumble the past three years defies all logic.
The second point I took away from this match was just how many title opportunities Jeff Hardy is going to get. I get that the guy sells merchandise but seriously; if you come out as the champion in the main event of a PPV high off your skull so that you can’t even perform in the match, embarrassing not only yourself but the whole company, then you should never be able to be champion again, and yet Hardy has already done it! I get the idea of redemption, but what about those talented wrestlers who have never disrespected the company in that way and yet haven’t even got a shot at the gold despite all their talent? I just hate the idea that it is better to bugger up and put people’s lives at risk and come back from it than it is to never do it in the first place.
I have to say that I really liked the ambush of Roman Reigns and the beat down that ensued, it seemed like it was more a statement of control by the Game rather than an attempt to legitimately take his opponent out. You have to remember that this whole thing started because Roman stepped over a certain line and physically assaulted his boss, so HHH should want to face Roman for the title, he should want to embarrass him and put him in his place. This is perhaps something that could have been driven home more and the fact that they have both traded beat downs back and forth kind of makes it all mean a lot less, unless of course at some point both men had addressed how: ‘it wasn’t enough and they needed to see the other guy laying beaten in the ring, for the title’, then it would have been fine.
What was less appreciated was the two promos by the Authority that both ended with Roman Reigns coming out, it was so unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the program on the week before the biggest event of the year. The only plus we could take away from this is perhaps it was HHH and Stephanie getting in their last hurrah as the Authority on Raw before it is all taken away from them this Sunday, that would almost make it worth it. In general though the WWE did a piss-poor job of selling the majority of matches going into Wrestlemania and it shocks me that they haven’t done better, at this point it seems like they are relying on brand alone.
There are monster heel debuts and then there are monster heel debuts, this was ridiculous. So Mil Muertes comes in last at number twenty in Aztec Warfare and expects to dominate when Pentagon Jr. comes out and takes him out, causing him to be eliminated straight away, so you think the monster heel of the match is taken out right? Wrong! Dario Cueto comes out and introduces his brother Matanza, who was teased all last season, and while he is not perhaps as tall as people were expecting, he set a standard for dominance straight away.
For anyone who doesn’t watch Lucha Underground I want to say that there really aren’t all that many ‘jobbers’ in the traditional sense, so what I’m about to say means more than it would in WWE say; the guy comes in and eliminates nine of the twenty competitors to win the championship in his first match! This includes the former champion Fenix, the current AAA Mega champion Texano, former champion for the whole of season one Prince Puma, and the newly debuted Rey Mysterio, it’s ridiculous! This would be like Braun Stroman coming into the Royal Rumble and tossing out HHH, Undertaker, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and John Cena to win the belt, it sounds absurd, and yet in my opinion the whole thing worked.
This is because of the fashion in which the guy won, not only was he dominant in terms of strength, but also athletically. Now sure he wasn’t pulling off some of the feats of the other competitors in the ring, but that would be next to impossible, but for his general size and imposing demeanour the moves he was putting together were pretty impressive. Plus he apparently has like five different finishers and took out guys in several different ways, mostly plucking them out of mid-air and delivering some type of devastating slam. This to me is what a monster heel should be; he shouldn’t just have the size, he should have the ability as well, and this is what separates LU from WWE.
Rolling Chart – Week Eleven
1st Place: Kevin Owens (75) (-)
2nd Place: The New Day (49) (-)
3rd Place: Matt Hardy (50) (+1)
4th Place: Charlotte (48) (-1)
5th Place: The Wyatt Family (42) (-2)
6th Place: HHH (36) (+2)
7th Place: The Dudley Boyz (34) (-1)
8th Place: Chris Jericho (33) (-1)
9th Place: Team BAD (23) (-)
10th Place: The Social Outcasts (21) (-)
The Wright View:
On the Rise
EC3 – This guy has sick promo skills at this point, as well as his general performance in the gauntlet match this week. It is great that he got the shot he did in TNA because he has really had the opportunity to hone his craft heading towards and now at the top of the card. There is no way that he wouldn’t be a top choice prospect for the WWE in a couple of years, or of course he could just stay in TNA and run the place. Then again TNA is like a less respected NXT, it is all well and good to do well there, but no one in the general population, even a good portion of wrestling fans, is going to even know who you are if you don’t make it to the main roster of WWE some day.
Eva Marie – This is less about her and more about the WWE. I was shocked and enraged when I saw her run out to make the face save on Raw, it was the most idiotic thing I think I have ever seen on WWE programming and that is saying something. The sheer levels of ‘head in the sand-ness’ that must take place backstage to think that this was going to work must be astounding. Now sure you can argue that the WWE and NXT audiences differ in taste and opinion, but not that much! A turd is still a turd, even if you make it up all nice and pretty! My main beef comes from the idea that Eva Marie will be getting her Wrestlemania moment before Bailey or Asuka, hell even Carmella, let alone all the male wrestlers who have yet to get a chance to appear on the grand stage, and all because she is attractive! They are all attractive, but most of them can also wrestle! Now sure, hopefully Bailey will debut soon and by next year will get her shot, but you don’t know; the pitfalls of booking and injuries are so prevalent in the WWE right now that nothing is guaranteed, oh it makes me mad!
That’s all for this week, some great things were going on in the week before Wrestlemania, but none of them were coming from the WWE. This really is a sad state of affairs and a big shift in attitude is needed, and not just a kayfabe one, real change. Maybe Vince will have a heart-attack when Reigns wins the gold and is met with a resounding chorus of boos to end what should have been the biggest Wrestlemania in history, what a way to go out eh? One thing that seems clear, especially when looking at things from the casual fan’s side of things is that coherent storylines to explain rivalries is overall more important than in-ring action, WWE seems to struggle with either and Lucha Underground seems to have mastered both…go watch Lucha Underground. I would say more about Wrestlemania but really the WWE haven’t given me much to talk about so for now I’ll just say that my excitement level is low and my pessimism is high, can the WWE salvage things? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Agree with the rankings? Disagree? Who was your favourite heel of the week? Whatever the case, leave comment down below and come back next week for another dose of heel-ly goodness and for now this is James Wright signing off.
Tags: Bobby Lashley, charlotte, HHH, Matanza, Matt Hardy