Historically Speaking: The Best Ways to be Bad

“History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that.” – Robert Penn Warren

The Opening Chapter
This week I am back with part two of my series looking at the archetypes that make up the majority of pro wrestling’s main characters. Last week I touched on ten different categories of faces, or good guys, and examined their basic traits and some of the main proprietors of these archetypes over the years. Well as we all know every good story not only has a hero, but a villain to act as the foil in the story. So this week I will look at ten different heel archetypes much like I did previously with their face counterparts. Now that we know the score let’s get started.

The Big Fat Guy
This category is pretty self-explanatory. The big fat guy is the grossly overweight villain, usually billed as a super heavyweight, who gets by on his size, power and intimidation factor. Often times he is accompanied by a much smaller manager to add credence to his size and his mean demeanor. The big fat guy can draw heat pretty easily, as long as he paired with a much smaller, yet likeable, opponent. He often matches up best with the superhero face or the underdog. The big fat heel really became a household gimmick during Hulk Hogan’s first run as WWF Champion, as he would usually alternate his programs between The Foreigner and The Big Fat Guy. Hell, he main evented WrestleManias 2 and 3 against big fat heels in King Kong Bundy and Andre the Giant respectively. He kept that cycle up throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s with men like the Twin Towers, Earthquake and Vader. Although this character type was really popular in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, it has now gotten resurgence in the new millennium with men like Mark Henry, Umaga, The Big Show and even Great Khali. In fact, a big fat guy that is also a foreigner may be the most dangerous of all villains as not only are they big and scary, but also not American, which automatically makes them even more dangerous. I’m looking at guys like Yokozuna, Kamala and Abdullah the Butcher, and even newer guys like the aforementioned Umaga and Khali.

The Foreigner
As alluded to above, the foreigner is another of the more dangerous villain types. The foreigner can be from any land other than America, ranging from Canada or the United Kingdom all the way to places like the Sudan, the Orient or “deepest, darkest Africa.” The foreigner is probably the most versatile of all heel archetypes as a foreigner can take the form of many different personalities, ranging from the big fat guy to the mindless goon to the technical master or chickensh*t. The foreigner represents anything that is considered “un-American” at the time, and can range from embarrassingly stereotypical to just a minor character trait. Men like Kamala, The Bolsheviks, Iron Sheik and even more recent fare like The Sultan and Muhammad Hassan represent the stereotypical while virtually any form of the Canadian or British foreigner often rely on other characteristics as well. This is one of the prototypes that have been around from the very beginning of televised wrestling with goose-stepping Germans and evil, sneaky, salt-throwing Japanese sneak-attack artists becoming staples of wrestling villains. A majority of the men who play these evil outsiders are often born and bred Americans themselves, but it’s such an easy way to draw heat and make some money.

The Arrogant Prick
The arrogant prick is another old time wrestling gimmick, stemming back to the days of Buddy Rogers, Gorgeous George and Classy Freddie Blassie. In the modern era the arrogant prick is probably best associated with Ric Flair. With his fine clothes, expensive jewelry, bevy of beautiful women and the original entourage, he was that prick that you wanted to be but couldn’t be. He flaunted it all and we all hated him for it. Usually the arrogant prick is a fairly good-looking, in shape man himself, often the counterpart to the good guy’s “pretty boy” character. Whereas the pretty boy will use his humble demeanor to endear himself to fans, the arrogant prick will tell you how great they are. He’s also usually very charismatic and good on the mic, plus more often than not he is also a fairly talent wrestler if his character allowed it. Other solid examples of this character include “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Rick “The Model” Martel and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. Probably the most prominent prick character in today’s wrestling scene is Randy Orton, but Mr. Kennedy, MVP, Edge and Christian all do pretty well for themselves as well.

The Chickensh*t
The chickensh*t is closely related to the arrogant prick in many ways, but what really sets them apart is that while the prick will beat a hero clean in the ring to prove his point, a chickensh*t will often cheat, lie or altogether run away from a situation rather than deal with the consequences or face the situation head on. The Honkytonk Man took this character, ran with it and made his own during his 15 month reign as Intercontinental Champion in the late ‘80s. The more managers, valets or stable members around him the better, as this means he has more people who can fight his battles for him. JBL, despite having the size and strength not usually associated with chickensh*ts, also really made this character a success during his ten month WWF Championship reign. Christian Cage is doing a present-time version of this character right now as he constantly is putting his “Coalition” in front of him as Abyss and others constantly chase him. When the payoff comes where a chickensh*t finally gets caught by the chasing hero it can be truly be a license to print money.

The Mindless Goon
This is the category for all the big, silent, muscle-headed guys. They usually have some sort of manager or mouth piece for them so as to keep up their simple-minded image. Normally these guys are big, strong and “scary looking.” They are a pretty one-dimensional character, but can be effective. Usually they are paired against high flyers, pretty boys and underdogs en route to a potential run against a super hero or another top face. The early versions of both Undertaker and Kane were examples of mindless goons, but The Missing Link is the guy that comes to mind that really brought the character to the forefront. This character also works for tag team combinations as well, namely The Powers of Pain or virtually any masked pairing. The original incarnation of Abyss that was brought in by Kid Kash and eventually paired with James Mitchell is probably the most recent example of a successful mindless goon. The recently repacked “Big Daddy V” Viscera is now showing signs of this character type, especially now that he has Matt Striker to act as his mouth piece.

The Evil Technical Master
I also like to call this category the “good wrestlers who cheat.” These are also guys who are closely related to the arrogant prick as men like Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase and Curt Hennig were solid technical wrestlers as well but often took shortcuts to gain victories as opposed to following the rules. I think back to the ‘80s NWA to portray a lot of these characters as men like Harley Race, Greg Valentine, Bob Orton, Jr. and The Briscoe Brothers were all technically proficient and could take out lesser opponents with ease, but often combine some treachery in with their skills when matched up against tougher opponents. The original incarnation of the 4 Horsemen were all from this prototype as Tully Blanchard and The Andersons could mix it up just as well as Flair could. In more recent years I think of tag teams who fit this mold as teams like AMW, The Bashams and the World’s Greatest Tag Team were all pairs who could just plain outwrestle you, but often broke the roles just to make the job easier on themselves.

The Occult
The occult covers a large range of heels in wrestling, but to put it simply, the occult archetype can be used to describe virtually anything Kevin Sullivan touched. From his days in Florida against Dusty Rhodes to the Dungeon of Doom in the late ‘90s, Sullivan rules this category. This is for the all the magical, scary, macabre, fantastical, horror and just downright over-the-top characters in wrestling. Undertaker and Kane are also pick front-runners in this category, with their human sacrifices, magic lightning bolts and disappearing acts. The early Brood with their fire ring entrance is a more modern-day incarnation of this character. I would dare say even Raven dipped his toes into this category with all of his stables that featured non-sensical character names and gimmicks. But this category was far more effective in early, more kayfabed times where the audience bought into the gimmicks much easier.

The Unstoppable Monster
The unstoppable monster is much like the mindless goon in stature and size, but the unstoppable one often shows a sense of real personality and character. This maybe a more evolved version of the mindless gone in this post-kayfabe era. I’m thinking of guys like the early heel Batista, a Paul Heyman managed Brock Lesnar or a heel Bill Goldberg. These guys can often talk and think for themselves, which in theory makes them more dangerous than the mindless goon.

The Cool Heel
Back in the day, it wasn’t good for a heel to be “cool” or to get the fans approval. If the fans cheered them then they weren’t doing their job right. That really all changed with the advent of the new World order and DeGeneration X. These two groups made it okay to like the bad guy and cheer for them, even though they were still positioned as heels on the card. These guys pander to the crowd with catchphrases, slogans and hand signs while still breaking the rules and opposing the heroes. I would dare say that it got to a point during the nWo/Attitude era that virtually every major star was either a cool heel or was turned into either an anti-authority or charismatic face. Men like Val Venis, The Headbangers, DDP, The Rock and Goldberg all teetered that line between cool heels and hybrid babyfaces. Today’s wrestling landscape has changed and this archetype isn’t near is relevant and in John Cena’s case is almost the opposite, as the supposed “cool face” is turned heel because of the crowd.

The Comedy Undercard
The comedy undercard faces need somebody to work with in order for their schtick to work, and thus the need for comedy heels as well. ECW was really good at creating comedy heels to balance the hardcore sex and violence that made up much of their shows. Groups like the bWo, the Full Blooded Italians and thea original Dudley Boyz got their start in south Philly before moving to bigger things. The WWF often used comedy in their tag team undercard, especially when teams faced the Bushwackers, as the Beverly Brothers, The Rouguea Brothers and Well Dunn often played comedy foil for the New Zealand team. In later years they continued that trend, especially in their hardcore division with guys like Crash Holly, the Mean Street Posse, Kaientai and Too Much/Too Cool making up a lighter side of the action. ECW and the WWF/E have used this character much more effectively than either WCW or TNA, who seem to take themselves a little too seriously sometimes.

The Perspective
Every good hero needs a good villain to make the rivalry interesting, and sometimes the heel is even more interesting than the supposed face. A good heel is a guy that you love to hate. In fact sometimes a good villain is so entertaining that he can be turned good without trying. There’s a fine line between true heel heat like Triple H or Mr. McMahon can draw, the go-away heat that X-Pac and Jeff Jarrett could draw and the “yeah, I know we’re supposed to boo you, but we really like you anways” heat that the nWo, Edge & Christian and even Mr. Kennedy draws. But any reaction geared towards a villain is bound to keep them their job, it’s only when no sound is coming from the crowd that one should be worried. Right Snitsky?

For this week the vault is closed

Linked to the Pulse
SK is back with another round of NWA World Championship Wrestling.

Big Andy Mac breaks down ROH’s Race to the Top Tournament.

Brashear talks about Boogey and Booker.

This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.

1961 – Hardboiled Haggerty & Gene Kiniski defeated Wilbur Snyder & Leo Nomellini for the AWA Tag Team title
1997 – The Gangstas defeated Buh Buh Ray & D-Von Dudley for the ECW Tag Team title
1999 – Rick Blade defeated Justice Pain for the Combat Zone World Light-Heavyweight Title
1999 – The King Pinz defeated Mr. Motion & Heartbreaker and Jon Dahmer & Midknight in a Three Way Match for the Combat Zone Wrestling Tag Team Titles
2000 – Scotty Sabre & BJ Payne defeated Slash & Damien for the Ohio Valley Southern Heavyweight Tag Title
2003 – Shark Boy defeated Rory Fox for the Heartland Wrestling Association Cruiserweight Title
2003 – J.T. Stahr & T.J. Dalton defeated Cody Hawk & Chet Jablonski for the Heartland Wrestling Association Tag Team Titles

1956 – Yoshiaki Yatsu was born.
1958 – Robert Gibson was born.
1973 – Skullcrusher was born.
1974 – Kyle Storm was born.
1996 – The Missouri Mauler died of a heart attack at 45.

The Assignment
It’s important to know your history to know where you have come from and where you are going. Nova implemented history assignments for the students of the developmental territories months ago so they would know pro wrestling’s history and they would learn just how many moves Nova did create. I feel this is a smashing idea and every week I will assign a book or DVD for you to check out and learn from. They are not only educational but very entertaining.

This week I want to talk briefly about Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s first book “Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All.” This was a fairly short, quick, easy read. It was very light and was written in a way so that Heenan’s trademark humor shown through. He talks of his tales growing up, his early days in the business and all the way through the WWF, WCW and coming back to WrestleMania X-7. Bobby shows himself in this book to be a smart business man and loving family man, as he talks in great length about his grandmother, mother, wife and daughter. There’s also a great bit at the end of the book where he reunites with his long lost siblings. The book ends just as Bobby realizes he has throat cancer, so I’m anxious to pick up his second book and see where it goes from here. It’s definitely a recommendation to pick up this book and the follow-up.

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