Today’s landscape of WWE’s RAW and Smackdown are a bit perplexing. The plethora of talent on both shows is top tier, but the writing and creative aspect are lacking, as usual. WWE is often hit or miss in that department. Characters often fall flat with a lack of creative direction and bad booking. A recent case was Dolph Ziggler who had been booked into a corner as a face. The first idea? Turn him heel.
Of course, that didn’t really work. Creative still had nothing for him. Now he’s making the most out of a new gimmick. There’s a slew of wrestlers getting ready to join him, too. Some need the new direction. Like Zack Ryder who’s been mentoring Mojo Rawley in the Hype Brothers. This turn in progress is what’s known as a “Tweener”. Pump the breaks! Tweener?!
To quote Jim Cornette (I can’t believe I am), “It’s a transition. You can’t have a long-term tweener.” What he means is that it’s a journey from face to heel or vice versa. Jim Ross has stated “Some people believe Steve Austin was a tweener. That’s borderline insanity.” This is often the case of confusion with the antihero being considered a tweener. A tweener is not an alignment, it’s a process. Right now Zack Ryder is a tweener, a babyface that’s starting his path to heeldom.
The unfortunate aspect is that much of wrestling today is being booked on this concept of tweener as an alignment. It has been the cardinal sin of a few promoters who have wanted to get away from the wrestling dynamics of faces and heels and go in the direction of more “legitimate” sports like MMA where there are no good guys and bad guys. (They’re just guys, eh, Roman?) The biggest problem with this wave of thought is that wrestling is a production. It’s entertainment. It’s theatre. That’s why there are elaborate entrances, larger than life characters, storylines, and gimmicks. Taking away faces and heels for a roster full of tweeners neuters professional wrestling. The fans need to care about particular wrestlers or despise particular wrestlers. WWE seems to have forgotten that.
A great past example is Rocky Maiavia, booed and threatened with “Die Rocky, Die” chants. The only answer was to turn heel. This is very much where his cousin Roman Reigns sits now. Many have speculated that Vince McMahon refuses to turn Reigns heel because of merchandise. And Triple H has been on record suggesting Reigns already is heel. I’m a fan of Triple H manning the ship, but how preposterous to suggest this. The most recent build of Reigns versus Cena has been met with chants of “You both suck”. While both wrestlers are cheered and booed passionately, they remain in a celebrated limbo and unless working with an extremely talented heel, always risk running into having the heel cheered against them. For example with Reigns, when a heel Rollins returned.
So what is the answer? It looks like Cena will be leaving soon to film movies. I’m not sure a heel turn against an already limbo-ridden Cena will work. Half the audience would be glad Cena is destroyed. If a heel turn is followed up with Reigns destroying a top babyface it’ll work, Balor maybe, or Jeff Hardy. A Cena turn would be easier upon his return as a “Hollywood star”.
Another RAW star that’s received some mixed pops the last few weeks has been the Miz. He’s one of the top heels in WWE, but when he starts to “shoot” on real aspects the fans begin to cheer. His promo against Reigns and Cena felt like he could pull off a double turn. And his work against Enzo on RAW could have easily seen another double turn. Not to mention the announcement of baby Mizanin. The next several months we could easily see the Miz go from celebrity villain to family man and inviting the audience along the way would only garner more empathy and resonance with the fans.
Another “family” just waiting for a turn are the Angle-Jordans. Jason Jordan is beyond being uncared for. They missed an amazing opportunity when he didn’t join the Miztourage. Jordan really needs to have a major feud anchor him. Even more so if it’s with his “father” Kurt Angle. What better way to get Jordan over as a heel than to feud with Kurt. Having Jordan do dastardly things to piss off his father and Angle reluctant to suspend him would be great television.
Over on Smackdown, besides the obvious turns planned, I’ve got to admit I’ve been pulling for an Owens face turn. It’s all there. Owens has been cheated by Shane. Maybe he’s deserved some of it, but much of the build has been antagonistic. The teased reconciliation between Zayn and Owens is, I feel, something the fans want to see. And Owens and Vince in the ring, with Vince braggadocious about his money and tying Owens up in court until he’s broke, is not a face endearing quality. Owens is being backed into a corner. And at the end of the day, he is a family man, and many fathers would do horrendous things if meant protecting or feeding their family. Owens didn’t sell the attack on Vince like he’s the baddest man on the planet either. This McMahon/Owens feud could easily be turned into Vince coming lock, stock, and barrel for Owens after he defeats and takes out Shane. This feud could also reunite Owens and Zayn on the same side.
In the long run, turns need to happen. They drive the business. The bigger face a wrestler is, the more hated heel they’ll be. The bigger heel they are, the more loved they’ll be turning face. The fans just need to care one way or the other.
Tags: face, heel, Kevin Owens, Reigns vs Cena, tweener, VInce McMahon