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.*
* This is going to be surprisingly short since trying to make her watch over ten hours of wrestling in NXT Takeover, Wrestlemania and Raw was way too much and so she was dipping in and out, mostly for things she was already interested in.
*It was actually pretty hard to get her interested in a lot of Takeover, probably due to the fact that there is very little exposure for NXT stars outside of the product and if you don’t watch each week you might completely miss some of the competitors. That being said she was really into Asuka vs Bayley match. She was glad Asuka won and was fine with the choke-out finish. She rated it four out of five stars, which is above the average for most reviews of the match I have seen.
* For Wrestlemania she was mainly interested in the Kalisto-Ryback match, she was glad Kalisto won but since the win seemed to come out of nowhere she wasn’t really able to get fully into the match.
* Most of the rest of the event was marred by my own complaining about the booking so the only real thing of note was that she didn’t even remember that HHH vs. Reigns was the main event, only really remembered that Shane was facing the Undertaker. She seemed to enjoy the match despite my ranting afterwards that it was all meaningless and that it was the one case where run-ins would have been welcome.
* There was general discussion of the relative sexism vs. progressiveness of the WWE and the ability for women to finally call themselves women in the company. Also Shane McMahon’s comments about being a man and doing things like a man caused a lot of beef, it is one step forward, two steps back with this type of thing.
* She was a fan of both Apollo Crews and Tyler Breeze, this was basically the only match she watched from Raw, I think Apollo Crews really could be the next big thing if they don’t bugger up his push through terrible booking like they did with Roman Reigns. I remember a time when we all thought that Roman would be great and now look.
* The final point is that she was into seeing Natalya vs. Charlotte for the title because she likes Natalya, for me it is something I wouldn’t want to see compared to a bunch of other pairings, maybe she doesn’t know or care about the rest of the female roster enough. Divas Revolution?
Weekly Top Ten:
10: The Wyatt Family
I mean it was sort of a good week for the Wyatts, relatively speaking. They technically shared a Wrestlemania moment with the Rock, even if all it amounted to was a record-breaking six-second loss for Eric Rowan (I know Bray is hurt but is this really the best they could come up with?). I don’t really understand why they are going against the League of Nations, maybe they are using the sheer unpopularity of that group to turn other heel groups face, I think that’s what has happened with the New Day, although at this point it is really hard to tell anymore.
The new Lucha Underground champ already had his first defence against Pentagon Jr. this week and was able to destroy the man with Zero Fear. While Lucha Underground still delivers on a weekly basis it might be going a bit overboard on the title defences and it makes me worried that it will eventually burn out. However, it is possible that with so many viable contenders and with no actual PPVs to build for that they are able to burn through challengers and champions in this way and still be successful. Part of me thinks that the two seasons so far represent decades in the wrestling business, so season one was the 80s, with a long-reigning face champion who saw off an array of monster heels, and season two is the 90s, with lots of title changes and bad guys overall getting the better of the faces. If this is true then what is in store for us in season three?
8: Matt Hardy
The Matt Hardy brand remained strong this week, getting a win over Beer Money and having Matt stay at least somewhere near the title picture. It seems to be a time of great unrest in the three main wrestling companies of TNA, LU and WWE, where nothing seems for certain and heels and faces can’t guarantee on fan reactions to back them up. In all this TNA seems like the most stable in terms of audience predictability, but the least stable in terms of longevity of the actual company. As such, everything seems up in the air in terms of who the champion is and if Hardy keeps at it he might find the gold in his hands again sooner than we think.
7: The Dudley Boyz
Whatever happened to jobbers eh? Right now it seems to be the protocol to bring in old stars to put over the new on a grand stage, but then to keep those old stars looking strong enough to put the young guys over they have them beat the young guys in a rematch, often invalidating the overall efforts. Why can’t instead we have the Usos beat the Dudley’s at Wrestlemania and then bring in a couple of jobbers for them to take their frustrations out on the next night on Raw. What did the Usos gain from that rivalry? Especially now that the Dudleys seem to be moving onto Enzo and Cass, who will probably have the same problem of two wins and a loss. It’s idiotic.
6: HHH & Stephanie McMahon
The Authority finally fell at the hands of the Roman Empire, but at least they did so in style. Stephanie McMahon looked great in the Wrestlemania main event and HHH did his part. I, like many, was hoping for something to make this match more than it was, which was the pointless coronation of a king who had already been crowned, it’s just that no one wanted it. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and like I predicted in the staff Wrestlemania roundtable it all came down to a clean win by Reigns after a mediocre match. What I was surprised by was that they actually allowed the match to go on last. They either did this because they are so stubborn or stupid that they didn’t know or care about the reception Reigns was bound to get. Or else they were smart enough to book the rest of Mania so that by the time it happened we were all so exhausted with the crappy booking that the win was met by apathy rather than outrage. Hats off to the real heels of the WWE, the people that book shows so that we purposefully don’t enjoy them!
5: The Miz & Maryse
As one heel power couple left the spotlight at Wrestlemania, another emerged on Raw: The Miz and Maryse. I think we all were expecting Ryder’s reign to last all of five minutes so it wasn’t a massive shock to see him lose the belt on Raw. What’s more the Miz himself fell victim to the same IC title booking where he won the belt at Wreslemania 29 and then lost it the next night on Raw, so it’s hard to have too much beef with this move beyond the general WWE malaise.
More important is the fact that we got to see Maryse on WWE TV again for the first time in years. I have always been a big fan of Maryse and I am really hoping that this wasn’t a one shot deal. The inclusion of his wife on TV couldn’t have come at a better time for Miz since his Hollywood character has become completely stale and ignorable so hopefully now he can gain some momentum since Miz overall can be a great heel, and certainly works as an opponent for more popular guys coming up.
4: Kevin Owens
Despite the boon of Maryse coming back I am calling it now that taking the title off of Kevin Owens was not the best idea, especially since it seemed to be only for a momentary pop (which actually would have probably been a lot bigger if Owens had retained). Fortunately Owens was put straight into title contention and even though he didn’t win the fatal-fourway on Raw he hopefully will get a real shot in the near future and it certainly furthered his rivalry with Sami Zayn.
Owens and Zayn probably should have had their own match at Wrestlemania, but hopefully now they can engage in a long and intense rivalry that will hopefully place both men near the top of the card, much like the Ambrose-Rollins rivalry did for both men before Rollins became the champion. If there is one good thing that can be said for the WWE (despite what we saw at Wrestlemania) is that there was a lot of new faces on Raw and the main event of the show was actually pretty awesome when you think about the competitors and where they were a couple of years ago. Somehow despite the handicap of Vince McMahon being in charge, progress is still happening, slowly but surely.
3: Chris Jericho
It only dawned on me while watching the video package leading into the Jericho-Styles match at Mania that Styles was definitely going to lose, I had previously stated in the Roundtable like everyone else that AJ would win, because we think based on the logic of ‘who needs the win most’. Whereas when you watch the package you realise that AJ has overall had the best of Jericho and that cannot stand according to WWE booking logic, which is always based on two steps forward, one step back. In the long term this might actually lead to progress, but you will never get there as quickly as you could. We all know that Jericho could lose every match he wrestled for the next ten years and still work as a guy to bring in to get the new guy over, but the WWE seems to live in a world where the bigger you are (i.e. the more you don’t need wins), the more you should win (because f*ck you, that’s why).
I will give it to Jericho, he wasn’t buying into the crowd at Raw at all and remained completely heel, going with the whole idea that he ‘buried AJ Styles’ at Wrestlemania. Obviously this isn’t the case, but it is true that Styles winning would have meant a lot and Jericho winning means nothing, so why do it? I feel like while as fans we are pretty reactionary, the disrespect the company and wrestlers have for our opinions is getting to be a bit much, after all the goal is to entertain the fans at the end of the day and if we are saying that we are not entertained, then maybe you should consider changing up your shit, rather than just laughing us off and calling us smarks or whatever.
2: Baron Corbin
Sometimes on the chart a ranking makes me sad, this is the case here where there is just no denying the impact that Corbin was able to make by winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on Sunday. It was a hell of a way to make a main roster debut, although the only question is why the heck was this great push move reserved for the one man in NXT that no one really wants to see get a massive push?
I’ve been mulling it over and I think the reason Corbin is being given this massive boon, besides the general ‘Vince has a boner for big guys’ thing, is because he is the only NXT talent being called up who needs it. Enzo and Cass can get over on their own and Apollo Crews is amazing in the ring and will do just fine, whereas Corbin generally sucks, but his size means that the WWE want him to succeed so here we are. I’m not saying that it is fair, but at least it is logical, which is something that the WWE is generally lacking these days so I will take anything I can get. Either way Corbin has gotten off to a great start on the main roster and now at least he can’t be used to hold down those with actual talent on the NXT roster.
As with Baron Corbin I am torn here, although less because of the lack of talent of Charlotte herself and more to do with the sheer level of talent of others who could have been given the honour of becoming the first WWE women’s champion. There is little denying the heel level of the former divas champion given the boos she received at the Hall of Fame and really any function outside of the general product, still not seeing Sasha Banks or Becky Lynch get the win at Wrestlemania stank a little.
On Raw the daughter of the dirtiest player in the game tried to salvage things by playing up how much her family ties helped her and things got just a little too real for me since there is good argument for that actually being the case. I think the fact that Bailey didn’t make an appearance hurt the segment and I personally have no interest in seeing Natalya go after the title again as to me that ship has sailed.
Whatever the WWE is building towards and regardless of how things could have gone down it is hard to take away from the actual historical significance of this point in time. While it is only a name change and the women of the WWE will probably still not be given the same time, focus and respect as in NXT, at least they can call themselves women again now dammit. All we need now is for Nikki Bella to come back and lead a charge for the return of the divas title so that the faces of the division can soundly shut her down and prove that WOMENS wrestling is here to stay in the WWE.
Rolling Chart – Week Twelve
1st Place: Kevin Owens (82) (-)
2nd Place: Charlotte (58) (+2)
3rd Place: Matt Hardy (53) (-)
4th Place: The New Day (49) (-2)
5th Place: The Wyatt Family (43) (-)
6th Place: Chris Jericho (41) (+2)
7th Place: HHH (39) (-1)
8th Place: The Dudley Boyz (38) (-1)
9th Place: Team BAD (23) (-)
10th Place: The Social Outcasts (21) (-)
The Wright View:
On the Rise
The Woman’s title – While some of it feels forced, it is a moment in history and it will hopefully mean something in the end, change is change you know. The main thing is that the belt actually looks great and short of simply letting the women compete for the actual world title it is a great prize to strive for, even if the person holding it arguably isn’t the right woman right now.
Wrestlemania: Vince McMahon’s ‘F-You, I’m Not Dead Yet’ to the fans – There was just so much meh at this event, the wins meant nothing and the losses hurt some more than they should have. The whole thing was constructed so that we as fans had the wind knocked out of us and simply didn’t care when Roman Reigns ‘finally won the big one’. It’s like the past three Royal Rumbles, for some reason the WWE decides to go with a finish that they know the fans aren’t going to like, for some reason the person winning is supposed to be a face and so should garner cheers. They know there is at least a chance of boos, so instead of booking an insanely good show with a bad ending, they book a crappy show that is just there with an ending that makes us want to give up on watching the product. It is the worst of both worlds; either give us an awesome show with an ending we want to see, or if you are too lazy or stupid to book an amazing show then make sure the ending is worth it. Instead we got a show that relied on ‘moments’ and former stars rather than solid storytelling and decision making or interesting surprises. The whole thing felt amateurish, which is still really surprising since it is made out to be this grand spectacle. The whole thing was crap and Raw did not make up for it enough to ignore what we were given, imagine actually paying for this rubbish!
That’s all for this week, I am getting sick of predicting exciting changes for the company and then getting nothing. It seems like the WWE are always catering to the lowest common denominator and then still getting it wrong. What is so wrong with picking a fan base to appeal to and then sticking with it? NXT does it, and does it well. Hell, look at The Walking Dead, which loads of people claim they don’t watch because it is boring, and yet it is one of the most popular shows on TV right now because it sticks to a tone and feel and people who like it watch and those that don’t can go suck it. Strangely enough the WWE was also its most popular when they told people the same, for now this is James Wright signing off.
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: Baron Corbin, charlotte, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, The Miz