Posts Tagged ‘ECW’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Heels Pt. 1

July 3, 2017

Heels or “bad guys” are one essential half of any professional wrestling storyline. You cannot have the light without the dark. In the real world, perfectly morally acceptable athletes face each other all the time but in the fictional world, we want to see good go up against evil. The stakes are higher and things get a little more personal if you hate one of the characters in the fight. So, let us start to explore some of the types of heel in professional wrestling.

The Annoying Heel

This is the bad guy who will most likely get legitimate, blinding hate from the fans. He or she does everything they can to piss off the fans and their opponents. They ramp up their personality or a personality trait to make the fans salivate for them to be destroyed. Think of the annoying guy at the bar or at work who just will not shut up and everything out of their mouth is utter horribleness. That is what this heel usually is.

The first heel like this that caught on for me was actually a referee. In ECW in the nineties, rules were only used when they were convenient. Weapons were used liberally and referees whistled and looked the other way. It was a novel new direction for quasi-mainstream wrestling and bloodthirsty fans reveled in the violence and spectacle. Referee Bill Alfonso rejected that and had the audacity to do his job and enforce the rules, even citing them on the mic to rile the fans up. The combination of his stickler attitude with his grating voice drove people crazy.

Another great example is Vickie Guerrero. She was the wife of the dearly departed Eddie Guerrero who was a great heel in his own right. When Eddie died, she was given an opportunity to work for the company and she ran with it. Her voice was always a little high-pitched but she turned it up to eleven by yelling everything she said. She became an authority figure and used her power to stomp on babyfaces left and right while sunning herself in the spotlight. With an ear-splitting “EXCUSE ME!” and a truckload of smug smiles, she easily earned the hate of fans who wanted her evil plans wrecked at every opportunity.

Hands down, probably the best example I can think of off the top of my head is Michael Cole. Cole has been with the WWE for a long time now. He worked his way up the ranks until he became an announcer and a firmly entrenched voice of the product. Some liked him and some did not. I thought he was alright as a middle of the road, competent announcer more or less. Then he suddenly became the biggest heel in the WWE. He would not stop talking. Not only that but he became smug and taunted those who would oppose him. He always escaped bodily harm and every week I just wanted to see somebody obliterate him but laying a hand on an announcer was kind of a firing offense. Eventually, he became a good guy again due to backstage happenings but for a while there he was the biggest bad guy in the business and he did not even wrestle (much).

The Cool Heel

There will alway be that person who everybody likes but you cannot stand. Everybody knows he or she is trouble but you have to admit that they are so cool. Everything they do is just so well done and exactly what would make a good guy the most-loved person in the world. He says all the right things and does all the popular things but he still gets under your skin. You may even admit that you like them a bit.

The nineties gave rise to this but another big example that springs to mind is Edge when he became the Rated R Superstar. He was in great shape, said all the right things, wore cool trench coats and always seemed to be one step ahead of everybody he faced. More than that, he had stolen another man’s girlfriend and flaunted it every chance he got. He french kissed Lita every chance they got. How often do people get absolutely livid at a little PDA? Edge was good at being on top of the game, capitalizing on opportunities and just being a cool guy.

There are a lot more examples that I could pull out that everybody is familiar with but instead I will talk about Sasha Banks. In NXT, Banks was a talented performer who often came out on top. Not only that but she had poise and style and determination. She walked to the ring wearing sunglasses and not giving a crap if people loved her or hated her. There is a tremendous cool factor in that attitude, something a lot of us wish we could actually achieve. She eventually got rid of a lot of her allies as she decided that there was one and only one Legit Boss.

The ultimate example was probably Ric Flair. Starting near the beginning of his career, Ric was great at coming up with a gimmick that drove people crazy. He would drive around in limousines, wear tailored suits, hang out with beautiful women, party all night and then he would brag about it. He would brag about being the best and then he would cheat to win. He also had possibly the greatest silver tongue in the history of the business. He was often a champion and although fans wanted to see him lose, they had to admit that he had what a lot of people want. Money, fame, and talent.

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Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Mick Foley

January 10, 2016

WILPW

 

As I sit here wearing my brand new Viking Hall t-shirt, I’ve been thinking about the world of Extreme. Speaking of Extreme, we just passed an anniversary that’s very special to me at least in the way of the world of sports entertainment. We’ll get to that very special date in a bit. First, I want to start at the beginning. I want to tell you about one of my personal heroes and a legend in sports entertainment and in life. I’m talking about Cactus Jack. I’m talking about Mankind. I’m also talking about Dude Love. But really, I’m talking about Mick Foley. He’s one of the big reasons I kept being a fan through the end of the previous century and why I keep giving the WWE in particular the benefit of the doubt. But I said that I would begin at the beginning but that means the beginning of my experience.

 

 
I first heard of Mick Foley when he was performing under his Mankind persona. More specifically, I mean his heel role as a deranged basement dweller. My best friend Farris, who introduced me to watching WWE, told me about this guy he had seen premiere. He was crazy, he wore a mask, he ripped his own hair out and he couldn’t feel pain. I was intrigued. When I finally saw him out there in the ring I was even more intrigued. Pretty much every other performer out there was muscle-bound or lithe and fast. Here was a guy who was very rough around the edges and strange. Little did I know that I was becoming intrigued with something that Foley himself put a lot of work into. He read psychology and somewhat based his character on Hannibal Lecter. He debuted and almost immediately went after the Undertaker.

 

 
As he continued to fight in the WWF, I was interested but to be honest I wasn’t that interested. I was way into Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and soon enough Steve Austin and although he was interesting, he was a bad guy and I was in a period of my life where that mattered. Then the atittude era hit and wrestling became way more fun. It was no longer an exciting Saturday Morning cartoon. It was still exaggerated but it felt a little more “real” somehow. That feeling really hit home when Mankind sat down for an interview with the legendary Jim Ross.

 

 
That interview weaved together elements of the Mankind character with elements from Mick Foley’s own life. Never before had I seen a character in sports entertainment with so much backstory and heart. I had no idea at the time that a huge amount of that backstory was real and that Mrs. Foley’s baby boy was a guy after my own heart. From that moment on I was a Mankind fan and I was glued to Raw to see what happened next with him. What came next was that he got to evolve. He became his childhood creation of Dude Love. Who among us wouldn’t be thrilled to bring a childhood dream to life? Really? It was so different from what everybody else was doing.

 

 
Then he became Cactus Jack again but I had never heard of Cactus Jack before because I hadn’t watched WCW back then and I had, at that point, never even heard of ECW. Watching Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack made it clear to me that Mick Foley was the real deal and could put on a hell of a match. This was still a tape world and I had no access so I stuck with his WWF career like glue. Mankind returned but he had now merged all three characters and he was even more entertaining to watch. Then the moment that shocked the world happened.

 

 
I watched Mick Foley fall twenty feet and then get up and fall about fifteen and then keep going. On purpose. For a match. I loved Foley and I was a huge fan before but at that point I was a Foley fan for life. I followed his career even closer at that point and I loved every step of it. Finally he became a babyface, an odd term applied to a guy who was missing teeth. He became more of a comic character but he still fought with heart and I loved him more and more. He had one of my favorite feuds of all time with The Rock and it was the first real experience I had where I loved both the babyface and the heel. It is here that we reach the anniversary of Mick Foley winning his first Heavyweight Championship. It happened on my birthday (December 29, 1999) but it wasn’t broadcast until about a week later. I felt like it was the greatest birthday present in the world.

 

 
It was around this time that he published his first autobiography and I grabbed it up. It was here where Mick Foley became a personal hero. His life, in his own words was an inspiration and I still have my first copy which fell apart from re-reading it over and over. It was here that I learned who Mick Foley was and how I connected to him not just as a character on television but as a human being. It was also here that I learned about ECW and his days in WCW. I tried to get footage where I could but it was still hard to do in 1999. I have since watched a lot of it and enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed his run in TNA as he wasn’t just the same old Foley in a different pond, he adapted. It seems he’s more or less retired from the big spotlight now but he’ll never be forgotten.

 

 
I’m still a big Foley fan but I follow him these days more as a writer than a performer. His insight into the writing and performing part of the business is invaluable. He’s so good at adapting and evolving with the times that he knows just the way to use new and current talent. I would watch him perform again in a heartbeat but I have a feeling he knows he’s better applying his mind to the business and elsewhere.


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