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!
Weekly Top Ten:
10: Baron Corbin
Is moving to the pre-show a step in the wrong direction? Possibly. You could argue that it is better than Apollo Crews, who wasn’t even on the PPV. Then again, where does Corbin go from here? Sure, he beat Ziggler, but it wasn’t definitive due to the low blow, even though that is the main reason he made it onto this chart, so is he just going to keep feuding with the man that he debuted against? At some point you’d have to imagine that he will get to do something of actual substance, then again; Adam Rose.
9: Mike Bennett & Maria
I get that Maria has power over the Knockouts division, which she used this week to get Velvet Sky fired for what was kayfabe completely no reason, but why exactly does the Miracle have that much power over match-making? I get that he is holding a match against him over EC3’s head, but how can he arrange things so simply? Why are these two seemingly running Impact at this point? Where is the consistency? Questions like these are why I can’t really respect TNA, especially over something like Lucha Underground, which has its own world rules and works them well, or NXT, where the booking is just solid all round. Still that pool scene eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
8: Chavo Guererro
The sneaky, sneaky Guererro somehow managed to become the new Gift of the Gods champion (for those not in the know with Lucha Underground, this is their equivalent of Money in the Bank). The fact that he stole the medallion to qualify for the match opens up all types of questions over how someone has to earn their way in and potentially cheapens the whole process. However, the company had an answer for this as the man (machine) who he stole it from, Cage, interjected himself into the match and to much surprise helped Chavo win, but only so that he could challenge him for the belt next week one-on-one. This challenging for the title is something that has been already established and so sends the message that even if hook or by crook you win the belt, it is no guarantee that you will actually be able to hold onto it to then challenge for the actual Lucha Underground title.
7: Chris Jericho
Well now I have no idea what is going on. They had the perfect excuse to have Jericho depart for a good amount of time with the thumbtacks and being a rockstar and all that and instead they let him qualify for Money in the Bank over Apollo Crews. It felt like something went wrong in that match but I can’t believe that it would lead to them changing the outcome that much on the fly. Now that Jericho is staying around for at least another month, I have no idea when he is buggering off again. Not that it is a bad thing for him to stay around, but there is something slightly annoying about how he relishes in fooling fans, I guess that is part of what makes him a true heel.
6: Anderson & Gallows
The Club is already disbanded after around a couple of weeks and I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing. With Styles staying as a face I’m not sure how long these two could have kept interfering in his matches without something like this happening, and Styles feuding with the two men right now would arguably hurt his momentum. What I’m hoping for instead is for Balor to debut at Money in the Bank, costing Styles the case and then we have Anderson and Gallows say that since AJ didn’t want their friendship, they went to a guy who actually appreciated their help and that their first order of business is to take him out. That way we get AJ vs. Balor and some great matches, hopefully including a fancy singles match at Summerslam to act as Finn’s coming out party to the main roster.
5: Rusev & Lana
Rusev’s win against Kalisto at Extreme Rules was nasty and helped reposition the Bulgarian Brute as a true threat in the WWE after close to a year of being an after-thought after being sacrificed on the altar of John Cena.
But whatever, he’s back now and he has the US title in his possession after nearly bending Kalisto in half. The only problem is that John Cena returns next week and there is every chance that he will be sacrificed again, and this time I doubt he would be able to recover. We’ll just have to wait and see if this is actually the case.
4: Seth Rollins
This is why Roman Reigns as ‘The Guy’ is problematic, because if he was actually over as a face champion then Rollins probably would have placed higher, or even been top of the chart this week. As it was even when delivering a Pedigree to the victorious champ at the end of Extreme Rules he was forced to appear on Raw and give a heel-tastic promo to clarify that he was indeed returning as a heel.
The whole ‘shades of grey’ thing works when you have everyone acting in their own interests and not caring about being a good or bad person, but it is not the same to simply say that someone is neither just because they are being booed out of the building. You’d better believe that if the crowd started cheering for Roman that they would drop that whole ‘I’m not a good guy’ crap since they book him as a face constantly, it’s just that no one wants that from him right now. Now, I’m not a Reigns hater by any means, but I am a massive hater of how the WWE has booked him since it reminds me so much of what was wrong with how they booked Cena all those years ago. They want us to rally behind him as this sort of underdog champion, when clearly he is being completely favoured and therefore not at all an underdog. This type of booking might have worked when a good portion of the audience was unaware that wins and losses were pre-determined, but now, when you say “Oh my god, how did he win that, isn’t he impressive?!” we reply with: “Well, you booked it that way, so no, it’s not really all that impressive, go away.” It’s patronising and the fact that the WWE still can’t see that shows them for the numbskulls they are. NXT has it right, people are faces there based mainly on ability, so we want them to win. Sometimes, NXT wrestlers are good, but they also take shortcuts to win, so they are bad, and they are paired up against someone who is showcased as so good that they don’t need shortcuts to win, so we kind of want both guys to win, but are happy with either outcome. Then sometimes an NXT wrestler is actually pretty shit, or shitty in how they win, and they are the true heels, we don’t want to see them win or succeed and they are very few and far between. All three types work together to get the best crowd reaction, and more importantly all have their place and are utilised correctly. (I’m going on a bit of a rant here but bugger it, it’s my column and I’m wasting no one’s space but my own) You just have to look at the treatment of Eva Marie to see what I mean, in NXT they gave her a chance to show how good she had gotten, evidently she hadn’t gotten any better and so they played that up, giving her faux opportunities and pairing her with some muscle that could believably help her win matches, and even get her into a title match. They positioned her as a performer who the company had a clear bias towards against the much more deserving and therefore underdog champion Bayley, everything seemed poised for her to take the title, but she didn’t because that would have only angered fans and made them jaded in the long run. Instead in the short-term they generated a tremendous amount of heat and Eva Marie was involved in what will probably be the best angle in her career, while long-term sending the message that they know Bayley is better and that they reward talent in NXT, generating more trust between the promotion and the fans: smart booking. Eva Marie on the main roster was inserted into a multi-diva match at Wrestlemania a short time before the PPV and came running down as a face, for no reason despite almost always being depicted as a heel even on Total Divas, got booed out of the building and was still able to get a completely undeserved spot at Wrestlemania, even if it was on the pre-show. The fact that those booking the main roster thought that Eva would get a face reaction just because they had her run down at that one point shows just how little respect they have for their audience, and even their own past booking, it was all just ‘she’s hot, cheer for her’ and it was pathetic. This is why the main roster can’t truly book new stars, because they aren’t sincere and they are stuck in the mentality that fans think wrestling is real so if someone is shown as being ‘good’ that we will like them, and not understand that they are just being booked that way. Unfortunately, this strategy does work in the short-term for children who do think it’s real, and very casual fans who don’t care, but this initial acceptance is overridden by long-term fans and robs their plans of any true validity. I would argue that Cena, while clearly the biggest star of the WWE for the past decade, could have been so much bigger had he actually been able to capture the entire fanbase, and the worst thing about it is that he had. Somehow despite having a crappy rapper gimmick, most fans had grown to love him as a cocky heel, and he could have worked as a face had the WWE not have then made him a massive ‘underdog’ despite clearly strapping a rocket to his back…Anyway, Rollins is back, yay!
3: Charlotte (w/Dana Brooke)
Wow. While getting rid of Flair is a step in the right direction for Charlotte, I don’t think I ever expected her to do it in such a personal, and more importantly heat-getting, way. This was perhaps the best example of a second/third generation superstar breaking away from their family legacy while getting themselves over at the same time. Charlotte was already getting a massive amount of boos wherever she went and now I can’t imagine how hated she will be, especially when they pair her with a bigger fan favourite. The only thing that bothered me was her reaction to the crowd, which seemed to disrupt her promo rather than add to it, a subtle difference between her and the more experienced heels on the roster.
The addition of Dana Brooke to her side, while meaning that I had to change my graphic, also holds a lot of promise moving forward. While Charlotte being with her dad worked for a time to add some prestige to her character, it is time for her to step out of his shadow and go forward on her own…just with a little help. Having Brooke by her side to add some extra muscle should help to keep people from starting to cheer her for at least some time, something that is always a problem when a character is strong enough. Also, this means that Charlotte can now pick up wins through outside interference and not have to worry about being accused of being robbed of her agency just because that help happened to be coming from a man.
2: The Miz & Maryse
While the Miz was able to somehow hold onto his IC title at Extreme Rules it almost seems like a consolation prize considering that he is also the only man from the match not to qualify for the Money in the Bank match next month (been there, done that I suppose). Whatever you want to say about the Miz I think you would be hard pressed to argue that he didn’t look like he belonged with those other men in that Fatal-4-Way match, one that I would argue worked as one of the best match of that type of all time. Each man brought something a little different and it all worked well together, what’s more the build to the match was also pretty great and I think served to shine a spotlight on the strengths of all four men.
While Miz needed to retain his title to validate his new position with Maryse at Payback, there was no real need for him to walk out this time as champion, especially since Maryse was a non-factor in the match. However at the same time there is a fear that any of the other three men gaining the title would actually be a step backwards as they could easily be inserted into the world title picture, as one of them may very well be by this time next month. While I’ve never been a massive Miz hater and was actually quite a fan of his work during his WWE title run, I don’t think he needs another run with the title since his character hasn’t really changed significantly since that point, despite the added Hollywood gimmick, and I don’t think he could add much to the title. The only real shame in all this is that if Sandow hadn’t been fired he could have been a good figure to pair against the Miz going forward for the title, elevating the much deserving man who again embodies the new rule that you can’t get yourself over in the WWE, not to any relatively real success anyway.
1: Kevin Owens
Some might dispute this placement as bias, however while Owens didn’t walk out with the IC title at Extreme Rules he was also not the one eating the pin. Add that the fact that he beat Cesaro on Smackdown and then managed to beat AJ Styles clean in the main event of Raw to qualify for the Money in the Bank match and you have a serious argument for first place based on achievement alone.
But of course we all know that achievement isn’t the main judgement for the chart, it is also about the sheer ‘heelness’ of a character, although I will admit that Miz came within three points of beating out Owens due to his own actions this week, as well as his success in retaining his IC title. As well as the now standard cries of being the Headlock Master, I’m noticing Owens starting to applaud his opponent when they do something wrong or fail at something that was supposed to be impressive. This is great because not only does it add insult to injury, but it also allows for a spot where the sarcastic Owens gets his immediate comeuppance, which will always get a pop from the crowd. What’s more it is a counter to the spot-monkey mentality that many face characters have in the ring, while simultaneously making Owens a massive hypocrite because he himself is a clear spot-monkey, who also happens to fail to execute these spots successfully on many occasions; see his moonsaults.
I am surprised just how well the WWE are handling this intersecting feud between Owens, Zayn, Cesaro, the Miz, and arguably Jericho and Ambrose too. All six men can be thrown into the IC title picture whenever and then taken out to compete against each other and it has worked. This is what a title needs; an actually competitive division to work off of where the same guys get multiple shots, not necessarily in succession, and if they aren’t in line then they are always striving to be (if not competing for the world title of course). There seems to be special attention being paid to the feud between Owens and Zayn to make sure that their singles matches are few and far between, could this last until Wrestlemania? Potentially, but also a big blow-off match at Summerslam would be pretty sweet as well. Just like the booking of the Shield it leaves me asking who the heck in the creative team is in charge of this since it is miles better than most anything else on the roster right now.
Rolling Chart – Week Nineteen
1st Place: Kevin Owens (147) (-)
2nd Place: Chris Jericho (97) (-)
3rd Place: Charlotte (81) (-)
4th Place: Matt Hardy (61) (-)
5th Place: The Miz & Maryse (61) (-)
6th Place: The New Day (49) (-)
7th Place: The Wyatt Family (43) (-)
8th Place: The Dudley Boyz (42) (-)
9th Place: HHH (39) (-)
10th Place: Maria & Mike Bennett (39) (-)
No change on the Rolling Chart this week, although a couple of couples are set to break through and make some changes, perhaps as soon as next week. The New Day and the Wyatts are on their way out and with Jericho staying around there is at least some chance that he might topple Owens from the top spot, although it will take a tremendous amount of luck to do so. There is also now the possibility of a Seth Rollins invasion as long as he can qualify somewhere near the top three every week, which knowing Rollins is completely possible.
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, chavo guerrero, Maryse, Mike Bennett, rusev