Examining Midcard Heels, by Geddy Cahoon
Hello denizens of the cybernet, your eyes do not deceive you, this is Geddy Cahoon here with a brand new article. It’s been a while. Too long, one might say. I don’t think I’ve written anything of substance since… It would have to be WrestleMania. But you don’t care about that, and neither do I, particularly. With the 2 year anniversary of me doing this crap rapidly approaching, I figured I’d try to write some new material over the next few weeks.
Today I wanna talk about something that’s been interesting me as of late – What exactly makes a heel in professional wrestling? Or more specifically, WWE. Obviously, we know what defines the prototypical heel. Guys like Brock Lesnar, Damien Sandow and Ryback – Meatheaded (And occassionally pompous) a-holes that look down upon the general audience or even outright detest them, and seem to derive genuine pleasure from inflicting pain on their opponents. But what about lower tier badguys? The heel characters who don’t get as much exposure on TV, or who are still considered part of WWE’s midcard?
A lot of these characters suffer from what I’m going to call “Informed evil.” Many of the characters that WWE defines as “heels” do little to back that classification up. They’re bad guys simply through definition, not through their actions.
For instance, let’s look at a fairly prominent heel character – Fandango. I love Fandango, as most internet dwellers do. He’s obviously presented as a heel character on TV. He typically only faces off against… Faces, and he’s displayed as pompous and arrogant, although it is usually played for laughs. That’s the thing though – Fandango’s heel tendencies pretty much end there. He’s arrogant. Most FACES in the WWE are arrogant.
I can’t think of a single instance of Fandango doing anything overtly “bad,” aside from hitting Chris Jericho with that piece of flooring back during their post-WrestleMania feud, but faces in the WWE have never been shy about aggressive attacks. Fandango is perhaps a bit of a murky example though, as a large majority of the fanbase seems to enjoy him, and one could argue that the WWE has intentionally made him into a comedic character that isn’t really evil or good.
But what about a guy like Wade Barrett? Here’s a guy that has, since his return from injury about a year ago, been stuck in a heel role. Why? I mean he’s a natural bad guy, sure. He’s got the look and the backstory of a mean bruiser just waiting to kick your ass. But the WWE does nothing to sell that perception of him! He beats people up sure, but that’s wrestling! He hardly does anything dastardly, and when he wins a match once every 6 years I don’t think his current character has ever had to resort to cheating.
And he really would work as a mean-spirited ass kicker if WWE would just get behind that character. But in the state of low card hell he’s currently being squandered in, there’s little chance of that happening. Wade could really benefit from a face turn at this juncture. If WWE is going to do nothing to really sell him as a heel, he could very easily make the switch to being a face and still be the same exact character. It’s not like WWE is shy about having face characters that enjoy fighting and beating guys up. His status as a heel is so informed and so rarely acted on at this point that I’d welcome it.
Now we get to the 5 characters that really inspired the writing of this article – The Prime Time Players and 3MB. Here are 5 guys that are presented as heels, that the audience boos… And I have no earthly idea why. It’s not that I dislike them- Quite the opposite, I absolutely adore PTP and 3MB. But they’re booked as such utter jokes that it’s like they’re not even bad guys! They’re not a threat to anybody, and they rarely win matches, if ever. They’re harmless bullies. And don’t tell me that bullies can’t be good guys.
It’s particularly glaring with 3MB. I mean PTP are certainly bigger jerks and Titus O’Neil proves (When he’s given brief moments to shine) that he could thrive as a more threatening heel, but they’re still such a joke of a team that I don’t really consider them heels in the conventional sense. 3MB is even worse in the respect that they’re basically just really goofy, boastful faces. They’re genuinely funny, and it’s well documented that Drew McIntyre in particular is one of the friendliest wrestlers in the biz. I mean they’ve been targeted by Brock Lesnar, the Shield and the Wyatts for god’s sake! I don’t see how they’re even heels anymore. It’s more like the audience is booing with them, not at them.
So WWE has a weird situation with a decent number of their midcard heels in that they’re less “heels” and more “vaguely irritating jerks.” Now I still enjoy greatly all of the characters named here today, but ultimately this lack of commitment to the fact that these are supposedly the bad guys does nothing but damage their credibility in the long run. Think about it – When a guy or team of guys is presented as bad, the audience is expected to boo them. But then they’re presented as bad guys without really doing anything to back that up? Well then you get no reaction. How ya doin’ there Wade?
Well, that’s it for today folks! Be sure to hit me up on Twitter @stupidbeard414, friend me on Facebook (Geddy Cahoon QWN) or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk articles, wrestling or whatever.
Until next time, thanks for reading!