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Face-Heel Imbalance

Hello Scott
I was wondering when the worst face/heel imbalance was. I remember in '95 you
had Diesel, Bret Hart, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and British
Bulldog as faces, and the heel side was Owen Hart, Bob Backlund and Yokozuna.
In fact, Owen and Backlund had both been faces who had fairly recently been
turned heel. The only way they had to get strong heels was to turn Diesel and
Bulldog heel, as well as midcarder Mabel.
Which brings me to today. Guys like Swagger, Miz, Del Rio are basically the
top level of heels. Yet they get beaten by the faces over and over. The only
heels with any chance of winning a big match are Big Show and CM Punk. And
again, Punk was a face until they turned him heel as the heel side was so
pathetic. For someone trying to get away from "rasslin"'s past, Vince sure
loves the idea that heels are essentially losers who can only beat jobbers,
and need to be "rulebreakers" to have any chance against the top faces. Your
thoughts?
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I guess it depends on what the need is at the time.  A lot of times they're wanting to build up a big babyface, so they line up a string of heels for him to plow through, or vice-versa.  The problem now is that they're unwilling to let anyone get over enough to be taken seriously as a threat, so you get "Bertie" jobbing to the same brogue kick three PPVs in a row or Ziggler losing and losing and losing and losing and losing and losing and then one day he'll win the World title and they'll be like "How come he's not over anymore?  We gave him the World title!"  Mark Henry was the last guy they really let get over on his own merits, and that worked out awesome until he was too hurt to kill people anymore.  I guess it's just the WWE mentality where they don't like having a dominant heel champion for the babyfaces to chase.  They like Hulk Hogan and John Cena and Bret Hart as virtuous champions fending off the big bad heels.  It's just that now the heels aren't particularly big or bad any longer.  

Comments

  1. This is the main reason I miss WCW so much. WCW and WWE existed as a sort of yin and yang with WWE being the company with the big babyface (Hogan, Hart, Cena) and WCW with the big heels (Flair, The 4 Horsemen, nWo).

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  2. Damn I miss Mark Henry. His heel run was tremendous.

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  3. His RAW trilogy with Punk earlier this year and his matches as champ with Daniel Bryan on Smackdown (the steel cage match especially) were great.

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  4. I actually enjoyed his matches with Orton as well although that may just be a case of me being happy that Orton jobbed and they followed through with Henry's push. 

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  5. This is why they need to go back to shades of gray. Outdated face/heel stuff doesn't matter anymore. Instead people pay attention to the characters, the conflict, and the wrestling.

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  6. I'm not sure that would work in pro wrestling.  You can have a guy act like a heel and may he'll be a face (Austin), but you still need clear lines.  The problem is that the heels are super-weak and rarely win, so it's not so much their motivation, it's the result.

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  7. It's the reason I constantly am baffled that 1997 managed to happen. Seriously, what an amazing year in general for the WWE. 

    To add another comparison, if the Breast Cancer stuff happened back then, Shawn Michaels would have been the guy that they made wear pink, and forced a heel like Bret Hart to not wear his TRADEMARK COLORS. 

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  8. you're kidding right?

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  9. My theory is the lack of "cool heels". Back in the 90's / early 2000's it was good if a heel got cheered and sold some t-shirts. Today the second someone gets cheered they are instantly turned face. The flip side is faces like Sheamus and Cena don't get turned heel despite being booed. The nWo used to get bigger face reactions than WCW, the crowd would be truly split and not based on age and gender like with Cena.

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  10. But I don't think you need to arbitrarily separate them. Have guys act consistently in character and let the fans cheer for who they want. Some guys may have character traits that lend them to more "bad guy" type behaviors, but they don't need to exclusively be a "heel." Heyman more or less did this with Smackdown in 02 and had a great run. At the very least, stop having guys like Punk arbitrarily act a certain way specifically to draw boos.

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  11. No, but I recognize it would be a GIGANTIC change in thinking and need to be done really well to work. Movies and television have pulled it off and I think wrestling could too.

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  12. TVs/Movies and Pro Wrestling are apples and oranges as much as Vince wants us to think they're the same thing. 

    Wrestling was succesful and made money for close to 100 years.  Re-inventing the wheel of "good guys" and "bad guys" is not going to solve what's wrong today.

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  13. One that comes to my mind in 96-97 WCW, where virtually the entire upper card was turned face to be against the nWo, or at least were treated as faces by the commentators. What made it really silly was the fact that the majority of fans were solidly behind the nWo.

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  14. For fifty years comic books were about good guys beating up bad guys.  Then Watchman happened.

    Everything changes, and the rules for good entertainment cross genre.  Wrestling is not a different animal just because it's shot in a ring.

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  15. The current way of doing things is pretty far removed from the traditional WWF model. They didn't build up challengers for Hulk Hogan by jobbing them out to Tito Santana.

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  16. This is the main reason why WWE is unwatchable to me.  I detest the Main Event Face character (Cena, face Punk, Sheamus) and yet the Main Event Face always wins and never faces a "heel" (face for me and probably most people over the age of 12) that is remotely a threat.  So, basically WWE is a promotion where the wrestlers that are heels for most of the audience always win and the wrestlers that most of the audience likes are glorified jobbers.  The one heel to be booked well by WWE in recent years was Mark Henry and Mark Henry was probably the wrestler I was least interested in seeing pushed out of the entire roster.  Instead of pushing Mark Henry, who has never had a good match in his career, WWE should have given that push to the extremely talented Alberto Del Rio (having him beat Punk at SummerSlam was the right move, but he needed to dominate and hold the title until at least Wrestlemania and WWE chose to book Henry strongly instead of pushing the all-around exceptional Del Rio as strongly as he should have been pushed).  That's the main reason why I liked TNA better even when Russo was booking.  I'm a fan of almost everybody on the TNA roster, so I'm happy regardless of who wins.

    The reason why WWF went from where they were in 1995 to where they were in 1997 was because of WCW's rise, which forced Vince to book a show that entertained somebody other than himself and little kids.  Unfortunately, now that WWE has reverted to 1995, TNA is unable to gain the kind of momentum they need to force WWE to change.  The recent changes to the TNA product are popular online (and TNA has had great wrestling on free TV every week for the past year), but have led to a net loss of around 200-300 thousand viewers per week compared to where they were last year.  The things that have been able to move ratings (the AJ/Dixie/Claire/Daniels/Kaz storyline and Aces and Eights) aren't popular with the online audience while the rest of the show seems to be driving away casual viewers.  I think we should probably just give up on WWE ever changing for the better and just enjoy TNA, the indies, international wrestling or wrestling from the old days instead of watching WWE's current product and hoping against all evidence that they will get better.  Vince doesn't want to change and he can probably make a small profit every year and stay the largest wrestling company in the world regardless.

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  17.  I wanted to read this but so much of the first paragraph was wrong that it ended tldr.

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  18. I'd say tehy were moreso behind Hall & Nash, not so much Hogan, he had a lot of heat on him. 

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  19.  I would suggest your hatred for Henry blinded you to his matches.  From July to December, while having to face Big Show and Orton more than half the time, started to have some good matches.  It was the first time in a long time (maybe Vader) that a monster was carrying the match, dictating it, and still could pull 3-4 stars.

    It's almost the most inexplicable thing to happen but it did happen.  One of these days, someone is going to have to do some research and see if there was a rise in his match quality (a portent, if you will) earlier in the year to indicate that this metamorphosis was going to occur.

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  20.  Seconded.  There's definitely room for shades of gray, or at least, flawed heroes.  I know this is going to sound weird but it looked like TV shows started to change when Monk became kinda sorta popular.  Suddenly, our heroes could be seriously flawed.  Then came a show like House, and suddenly our heroes' flaws could also be intentionally detrimental to others.  Then shows of that nature tripled in number where the hero was a quirky jerk. TV thrives on gray matters.

    And as Phred said, so does comic books, which apply to wrestling just as much as TV does because they are sold on heroes and villains (faces and heels).

    I don't think the shades of gray really means a call to Attitude as much as I think it's a call to logic.  "Oh, what's that, random GM?  You want me to team up with Orton a few months after he tried to electrocute me?  I don't think so.  I still kind of hate him no matter what the fans think.  Screw him.  He can fight in a handicap match tonight." -John Cena never said. 

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  21. They also do a horrible job maintaining the face-heel balance among its champions. At one point this year all the champions were faces. At least now you have a face World Heavyweight Champion in Sheamus (although he acts more like a heel than the other heels) and possibly face tag team champions in Team Friendship (I'm still not sure what side they are supposed to be on) with the rest being heels but there should always be a balance among faces and heels among the champions so there is always something for each side to strive for.

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  22.  Judging by the number of "Likes," you're not the only one.  I'm still not sure how everything seemed to click after 15 years, but it did.  And it was good.  And it was beautiful.

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  23. True, but I thought most of the heat on Hogan was more bad heat than true heel heat. They were booing him because they were sick of the same 10 minute rambling interview every week and not defending the title. Heat is heat though, you take what you can get.

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  24. This is the WWE we're talking about, right?  You may want something like Watchmen, with all the nuance and everything else that comes with it in your wrestling, and I do too.  However, these people can't event keep continuity sometimes from month to month.

    The bigger point I'm trying to make is their shows would be much more entertaining by keeping clear lines, because by trying the more nuance stuff, you end up with Punk yelling "respect!" and that's it. 

    If you can't do it right, don't even try.

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  25.  See even if for basic storytelling you still have heels & faces, one of the things the early Attitude Era and ECW did was have it not be so set in stone: someone would feud with one guy and be the face and be in the right in that argument, and then feud with someone else and be in the wrong. It ends up creating the effect of shades of gray while still having traditional faces and heels for each individual storyline. It's stupid anyway, it's not like in real life people are all either good or bad; it's all just perspective, and in certain issues someone who's generally right can be wrong. Otherwise it's just like they're playing on different teams and you have things like guys teaming up with former hated rivals because they both happen to be faces.

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  26.  Exactly.  Following through with consistency and logic will build up all faces and heels. And if you follow logic, there's naturally going to be some gray areas and tweeners.

    Black/white thinking weakens both the faces and the heels. In the process of building up a face like Cena, he didn't stay consistent in his integrity and treatment of others.  How often did he team with Orton, Sheamus, and Punk even though their ideals didn't change (but the fan reaction did) since they feuded? On the heel side, if they're acting inconsistently (as you correctly pointed out about Punk's arbitrary acts), fans will just stop caring.  The majority of the villains are cared for less than heels, and then, throw in some inconsistency, you get a loss of respect, too.

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  27.  Vel Venis was a good example of this. Kai En Tai try to cut his dick off? He's the good guy. He bangs emotionally fragile Dustin Rhodes wife? He's a bad guy.

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  28. The one time that Cena had been getting anything close to a 100-percent face reaction in years was when he was feuding with Nexus.  Why was that?  Because Nexus were presented as a legit threat, because Barrett is awesome at dickish interviews and because both the young mark fans and the older "appreciated a good heel" fans were united in wanting to see Nexus get theirs. 

    It's wrestling 101 --- if you build a heel into a threat, it makes the hero look even better when he overcomes him in the end.  For a company that loves to 'tell stories,' WWE sure overlooks this bedrock basic rule of storytelling.

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  29. I remember Tazz getting heat for doing his schtick when he came to WWF and that he had to learn to beg off because Vince believed heels should be cowards.  It explains the handling of guys like Vader and Sid over the years.

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  30. huh... instead of going off on the deep end ill say i disagree and leave it at that cuz i dont have the motivation to debate why i disagree.

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  31. Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were amazing, but they didn't change comics as much as you think they did. Pick up almost any comic today and you'll have good guys beating up bad guys.

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  32. Good point, though I wonder if it might have been the other way around and maybe people liked Henry so much because he was the first effectively booked heel in WWE in a long time.  I hated the Mark Henry VS Big Show feud so much that I'm sure it had a real negative impact on my view of everything else on WWE's PPVs last year.  Either I'll have a different opinion of his work last year if I ever rewatch those shows or those that liked Henry's run will.

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  33. Simple solution.  Have only a few pure heels and pure faces.  Everybody else should be a tweener.  If a guy uses a chair in a match, let them justify it however their character wants to.  If they get booed or cheered, great.  Let each wrestler develop their fanbase and let them duke it out.

    Just like Ozymandias and Rorschach, I'm a Walter Kovacks guy, but just because he got zapped it doesn't mean I hate the series, my guy fought and lost.

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  34.  Good point, too.  It could be a chicken-and-egg debate with how he was booked and how he wrestled or how he was booked and how we reacted to him.

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  35. Right!

    Instead of having all the faces like other faces and hate all the heels.  Have them be...y'know...people.

    Let Punk hate Orton, even if they're both faces, and why not have Punk like Kofi, even if Punk's a heel.  They're still friends.  I mean, I'm friends with assholes.  Why should wrestling be different.

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  36. Do you only read DC and Marvel?

    Cause there's plenty of comics that have some pretty vile "heroes".  Check out the Boys or the Authority (or rather...don't).

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  37. Uh, Face!Punk made Bryan, the motherfucker TAPPED to Bryan's finisher.

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  38. When the hell is Mark Henry coming back, anyway?

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  39. IIRC, I think it was just out of the blue really. His matches were still god awful, he was pretty much getting buried by Corre or what have you. He turned and just kick it up a notch in his Promos and Matches and BAM! World Heavyweight Champion.

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  40. Would you say this guy doesn't get it? 

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