This is a topic I have wanted to touch upon for quite some time. The division between faces and heels and what that means in 2014 is a question not easily answered any more by even the veterans of the business.
Internet wrestling fans today have warped the traditional definitions of face and heel by booing what a babyface is and cheering the villains. This is never more evident than with the polar…izing effect of WWE’s top superstar John Cena.
The “smart” fans that think they understand the fundamentals of our business better than those that work it consider John a lousy worker, despite the fact that nearly everyone who works within the business considers him to be one of the best workers in the business ever. Thus he is booed mercilessly. Yet I tend to wonder if the proposed heel turn of John Cena were to ever occur would that demographic of fans alternatively begin to cheer John Cena.
Since the mid-90’s and the dawn of the New World Order, fans have been taught that it was cool to cheer villains. From the cool heels like Scott Hall & Kevin Nash in WCW to Steve Austin’s record-breaking run in WWF to the entire existence of ECW fans became conditioned from that point forward to cheering the heels. Add that to a generation of cynicism and defiance, the fans began to boo anyone associated with being a hero.
This got me thinking that perhaps a money-making opportunity could be made off of this. The details are still thin, but in an era where heels and faces no longer exist who would make the best heel, and the answer I came up with was the fans themselves. Since the fans are a part of the show anyway, let them play the character of the villain they play on their own anyway. This could be done in the same vein as my brother’s “heel” turn in 1997.
At the end of the day, Bret never sold out to his true fans. He only turned on those that had already turned on him. And in that context, perhaps the suspension of disbelief could be attained much easier.
Having said that, I don’t think the current corporate structure of WWE is in a position to follow this dynamic path. With sights set on margins and the bottom line, John Cena is still far and above the number one draw and merchandise seller in the company.
Knowing that as any “smart” fan should, then it is clear that WWE are not going to fool with the golden goose unless they have revenue streams to fill the void he would leave behind. Thus as a “smart” fan, if you would like to see certain people getting pushes or title reigns your best bet is to boo mercilessly who WWE wishes to promote as a villain and/or open your wallets to spending more and more money on those you wish to see ascend.
Looking at the current landscape, I see that someone like Cesaro or Bray Wyatt are stuck in purgatory. The problem I see with Cesaro & Wyatt is that they are pushed as a villain, but they work and are reacted to like babyfaces. Despite how super-talented Cesaro or Wyatt are, they have 4 people (Cena, Bryan, Reigns, Ambrose) in front of them on the babyface side, whereas they only have Orton & Lesnar ahead of them on the heels side.
Truth be told if fans began booing Wyatt or Cesaro relentlessly, they would actually ascend to the top of the ladder much faster and more organically. I don’t expect the defiance to yield but I thought it was food for thought that those that partake in this mindset may want to think about.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.