Opinion: Do Heels and Faces exist anymore?
Is the old system of heels and faces dead? It’s a very interesting question to take on especially in the current landscape of WWE. The WWE fans have voiced their opinions since the beginning of time but today with the internet and social media the system of heel and face has become a tough thing to navigate for both the WWE and its fans.
Taking a look into this we as an audience have to realize we may have changed the game and now is it time for WWE to act upon what the audience is telling them.
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In the beginning, it was easy to see the difference between the bad guys and the good guys. Heel wrestlers, before social media, lived and breathed their gimmick because you would only have access to them during the wrestling event which made them a special attraction.
The gimmicks they were given showcased the darker side of things and in addition, the things they would do inside the ring would make it especially easy for the fans to absolutely hate that individual. Lying, cheating and stealing was always a way for the bad guys to find a way but over time this has really changed in the current landscape.
Heels have found a way to become cool, cheating and getting ahead has become a thing in order to maintain what might be rightfully theirs. The storylines that the heels get are always made to be cool. This was almost impossible to sell back in the day. Why do we cheer for someone that is getting ahead by any means necessary? Let’s look at a few of the heels currently in WWE that have made this become a possibility.
We start with someone like Miz. Miz, when he started in WWE, was a punk let’s be honest the way the WWE got us to hate him was by rubbing the fact that he got into WWE because he was on a reality show where he was a jerk. He never really got a solid face run except for his little run with Ric Flair.
Miz has primarily been a heel during his WWE career. His mic work has always been solid his current Hollywood gimmick rubs people the wrong but that is the job of it, but now we cheer him. Why? He’s become someone that makes us want to watch. When he’s on the mic you stand up and listen to him speak the truth. His rivalry with Daniel Bryan is a perfect example of this.
Talking Smack before they kicked it off the airwaves of the WWE network was about being honest and saying what you felt. Miz calling out Bryan and saying he would be wrestling in bingo halls might not have been so farfetched even then. Miz and his brutal honesty opened his door to be cheered so what about others?
Kevin Owens is another example of this. The indie fans know him as Kevin Steen who was a showman in his indies, but WWE tried and I use that word loosely to make him a ruthless and tough SOB. Owens joined NXT and was immediately cheered due to his prior work on the Indies, but his attack on Sami Zayn was a way to change that. Owens was booked really well on NXT as a heel until being called up.
His feud with John Cena was his best feud he was ever in and since then the only major success was his run with Chris Jericho which is a shame. Even then Owens has been booked as a heel finding a way to get over his opponent by any means necessary. This is supposed to make him the bad guy and for us to root against him and you would be wrong.
Owens is cheered and loved by the WWE universe because of who he was it’s hard for fans to not like Owens as a performer because he is so immensely talented. These two examples are enough to reflecton the way things have changed for the heels for the faces on the other hand we can use one glowing example.
Roman Reigns is the prime example of this dilemma. Fan reaction for Reigns, since he won the Royal Rumble in 2015 has been mixed. The fans that follow WWE religiously look things up know that Roman Reigns is booked to be the guy, the next John Cena, Rock etc… This garners his reactions of being booed rather than cheered.
Roman Reigns has the look, the ability and reaction from fans to be the guy, but the booing and constant disdain for the push he gets make it difficult to put him over the top as a top baby face in the industry. We see him on social media doing good things in the community but he also has no problem firing back at fans especially the ones that don’t appreciate the work that he has done for them.
So Roman’s heel tendencies on Social media turns the fans against him but, on television were supposed to cheer and respect Roman. Even then Roman still grosses a lot in merchandise sales and is still loved by a number of the WWE universe.
Good guys have always found a way to get themselves over as good guys even in the current landscape. Reigns being a lightning rod for mixed reactions is one of the main reasons I believe the heel face dynamic in wrestling has come to an end. The sheer amount of coverage and access to wrestlers has made it extremely for a good guy portray a good guy on TV and a bad guy to portray a bad guy on TV, and then on social media good guy be a bad guy and a bad guy be a good guy.
This confusion has made it impossible for this heel face dynamic to exist, so what do we do? Well, you cheer for who you want to cheer for and boo who you want to boo. Find a way to get someone you love into the spot you can only dream of them being. There have been a number of ways the WWE fans have voiced their opinions and have achieved success, so be part of that success for that wrestler. Don’t focus to much into who is the good guy and who the bad guy is make the person you want to be successful make them that because that’s what’s important to the fans.
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