Cheap Heat 8.10.01: Retraction

So, it only took Ivory two months to be unconditioned and go from evil librarian garb to a leather catsuit? I often wonder if the WWF writing team realizes that, every time they do something, they water down the coolness and “oh wow” value later down the line. IE: Wasting their first unified title reign on X-Pac and the light heavyweight title and the “shocking” turn by Ivory.

And Austin. I liked the comic character as much as the next guy, but wouldn’t it have been a little more in Austin’s character to be a bad-ass heel and not the paranoid, comic heel? The heel re-turn at Invasion would have been the perfect time to reveal that the whole comic thing was a big set up to get on Vince’s good side. He’s still on WCW, he’s still hated, and his character still fits the guy they built for four years.

Oh yeah… and “Attack of the Clones.” Could Lucas have come up with a lamer name for Episode 2? Phantom Menace… Empire Strikes Back… Return of the Jedi….. Attack of the Clones. Forboding, cool, cool, and huh?, respectively. What’s wrong with “The Clone Wars?” I’m going to stop here because, as Widro can tell you, I could write forever about Star Wars.

Anyway, I’m going to take something back.

The very first column I ever wrote for 411, was an article called “Overpushed, It’s True, It’s True.” It’s not on 411 anymore, but you can refresh your memory, or read it for the first time, here. The site is in rough shape, as it was a project I started, but haven’t gotten around to finishing yet.

The article is, basically, a commentary on why I think Kurt Angle was handed too much success too quickly. I said a lot about how he was going to burn out, and how they’d have nothing left to do with him. As the WWF has proved in the last month, though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t know what made me realize the error of my ways all of the sudden. Maybe it’s just because I’m a mark at heart. Since Angle’s a good guy now, my opinion of him has changed. That could be it, but I think it’s something else.

Angle has managed to prove he’s better than all of the “next big things” who fizzle out and die after a year in the business **coff**Goldberg. He’s managed to show that he’s more than a Van Hammer, who gets continually pushed even though he gets no reaction at all. Angle now gets pops to rival the Rock and Austin, and all using the “old school” face techniques. Against all odds, he’s managed to gain acceptance from the new wrestling fans, being a classic face. You could say that it’s all in his marketing, but I don’t buy it.

Not too long ago, Vince McMahon tried to make another classic face. He was Rocky Maivia. Rocky tried to be the sickly sweet face, and the fans turned on him. He was presented in much the same way Angle is being presented now, and it didn’t work. Angle, on the other hand, manages to be nice, give people milk, and end promos with The Pledge of Allegiance… and people still cheer him. Maybe it’s because Angle was shoved down people’s throats in a less-direct manner than Rocky was. His success came fast, but it wasn’t victory-after-victory-after-victory. They did job him out occasionally and it made him that much more acceptable.

Angle is approaching his second full year in the business. He’s seen the entire spectrum of his character. He’s gone from being the booed American hero, to being The Greatest American HeroTM to which he’s always professed. He’s gone from an afterthought holding the World Title, to a legitimate contender. People now WANT to see him beat Austin. They WANTED to see him beat Booker T. He’s the second biggest face in the federation now, behind the Rock. But the Rock isn’t feuding for the WWF title right, is he?

The Invasion helped, with every WWF except X-Pac becoming an automatic face. Being Austin’s sidekick for a while helped. He got people laughing, and they started to think he was OK. Then, Austin’s big turn at Invasion. He joins WCW. They set Angle up as the first WWF guy to feud with new, REALLY heel Austin. Angle got the call, and I don’t see him looking back anytime soon. People could argue it’s a role that could have made anyone a superstar, but we’ve seen that the angle doesn’t make the star. The person makes the star. Angle was given the chance, and he didn’t let anyone down.

The WWF finally gave Kurt Angle a character that had more depth than “the guy who insults the town’s sports teams.” The Angle character couldn’t really be a heel without it, though. He didn’t cheat, lie, or even swear. The WWF had to trick the fans by having them boo him for cheap heat and for fighting faces. Then, once he was established as hated… THEN can you turn him face. It’s easier to make them hate a heel than love a babyface. Once they hate the heel, though, they’ll love the babyface. Now, Angle’s character is right where it should be. An honest, lovable babyface who the American people can get behind. I think this is why I can accept Angle more now. His character and his reaction jibe correctly, and for a writing mark, like myself, that makes the character more comfortable.

Angle definitely proved himself as the next big star in the business. It just took me a bit longer to realize it than everyone else. He’s an American Hero we can all get behind.

Just keep him out of Canada.

End Transmission