5 classic heels Sheamus should study to be more effective in his new role
“You look Stupid!” was the chant that the fans on the fallout episode of Raw after Wrestlemania 31 serenaded the returning Sheamus with, upon sighting his newly acquired mohawk that signified that he had “turned”. It’s not exactly rocket science that the WWE did have him turn “heel”, what with a slight dearth of top-level heels in the company off late. Seth Rollins is admirably carrying the mantle, but physical intimidation is a unique characteristic that Sheamus brings to the table.
A good heel persona exhibits a multitude of facets, with psychology, believability, charisma and delivery all holding relevance in how well-received the persona is with the WWE Universe. Indeed, WWE history has been peppered with a good range of wrestlers who have excelled as heels with each one of them proving unique in their own respective right. With Sheamus about to embark in his new role, the following is a quick purview of 5 classic heels who have each handled the role differently but astutely in order to possibly aid the Celtic Warrior in his quest to be as effective a heel as he can be.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts had initially held a marked distaste for snakes before his persona in the WWE dictated that he overcome his aversion for the creatures. It is an ode to his professionalism and an indication of the presence of a shrewd wrestling brain that he later came to be characterized by them, and Roberts remains, arguably, the greatest Superstar to never hold a major title belt in the WWE till date.
In the discussion of who was the greatest ever on the microphone, similar perhaps to the consideration of superstars who could potentially hold title belts in the WWE, Jake “The Snake” Roberts found exclusion uniform, although a tad undeserving perhaps. His propensity on the microphone was ahead of his times and he displayed rare mastery over in-ring psychology. Roberts was truly one of a kind in that his grasp and calculated usage of psychology often times inspired the best out of his opponent.
In the 80s, for a good period of time, he served the WWE as a stepping stone for other wrestlers en route to Hulk Hogan, who was the top star then. After a feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, the WWE knew that a wrestler would have evolved into truly main event material. Of course this notion was never officially set in stone, but akin to all his other achievements in the WWE, it just didn’t need to be.
Superstar Billy Graham
Watching Superstar Billy Graham reel off rhyme and rhetoric on the television inspired a young Jew boy into following his dreams and the benefit that we reap in the industry today because of that, is Paul Heyman. Perhaps if Sheamus wanted to take notes, he should look no further.
Billy Graham was a revolutionary who changed the way in which the concept of “good vs evil” or “babyface vs heel” was perceived by the audience then. Wrestling programming in the 70’s was heavily tipped towards the good defeating evil ideology, as promoters needed a psychological hook with which to foment audience interest surrounding the then upcoming industry of wrestling. As a result, heel champions were viewed as transitory options, only to be Champion when exchanging the title from one babyface to another, both of whom would not generally fight one another for fear of splitting the audience support.
Billy Graham though, held the WWWF Title for a whopping 296 days during the above mentioned period, and effectively established “the underdog” persona as a babyface in wrestling thanks to the fact that he was a physical specimen of a heel who just could not be portrayed to be “weaker” than a dominant babyface within the confines of realism. Having won the title from Bruno Sammartino, he later dropped it to Bob Backlund but not before orchestrating numerous title defences against other top stars in wrestling then. Through all of this, the trend-bucking precedents that were set in Billy Graham’s career just further serve to confirm his status of one of the greatest heels of all time.