Posts Tagged ‘Heels’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Monster Heels

August 21, 2017

As part of my ongoing series on heels, I would like to talk about a classic type of heel called the “Monster Heel”. This is a pretty straight forward idea. This type of heel is usually very large and very strong. Like the monsters in movies or fairy tales, they are big, scary, and violent. They attack with overwhelming force and, again like a horror movie, they are really hard to hurt and if they are hurt, it is not for long. The business has a long history of them.


Kane

The first monster heel that I experienced, was Kane. Kane was billed as the brother of the Undertaker, who was already a prominent supernatural figure in the WWF. In Undertaker’s backstory, Kane was thought to have died in a fire accidentally set by Undertaker as a young boy. That belief was a mistake as Kane had survived the fire and he showed up in the company to exact vengeance on his brother for the perceived attack and the death of their parents. He was unstoppable, regularly defeating whole crowds of wrestlers by himself. He destroyed everything he touched, even his brother (temporarily). On top of that, he was billed as (and is actually close to) being seven feet tall.


Awesome Kong

When I used to watch TNA Wrestling close to 2005, there was a lot to like. There was a lot of potential. One of those bits of potential was a woman who had made a name for herself in Japan and was booked as an absolute beast. She had no mercy for her opponents, partially because her character did not even speak English. She was strong and she was nothing like a lot of the female wrestlers on television at the time. Everybody else seemed to be a fitness model and there were more catfights than technical wrestling matches. Kong would flatten her opponents like she was a force of nature. She was strong and resilient and she frightened people. Best of all, one of her finishing moves was called the Implant Buster, a knock on the looks of her more lithe opponents.


Tomasso Ciampa

He might be the smallest person on this list but there is a good reason why Tomasso Ciampa is often labeled “Psycho Killer”. When he hit his stride in Ring of Honor, he was brutal and sadistic and he would stalk his victims just as well as Jason. While he did throw a lot of his opponents around, it was his devastating knee strikes that made an impression on me. His attacks looked like a wild beast, like an unhinged man. His character was a man who did not care about his opponent. I really believed sometimes that he may have knocked his opponent’s teeth and irreparably damaged the soft tissue. I am interested to see what he can do now in NXT that he has turned heel yet again.


Mil Muertes

Lucha Underground is definitely a very different wrestling program. The world of Lucha Underground is supernatural and nobody bats an eye at all sorts of crazy thing happening. So, the existence of Mil Muertes, the man of 1000 deaths, is not a surprise. Mil is a man who has died several times throughout his story but death is not the end. Each time he only comes back stronger. He is summoned back to life by his association with the deadly Catrina and black magic. In the ring, it takes so much for him to be stopped and his moves are beyond destructive. He finishes off opponents with the Flatliner and has in-storyline murdered several people and then used their skulls to adorn his throne.


Vader

Then, of course, there was Vader. I was not present for some of his best work. By the time that I first saw him, he was in the WWF and he was being used more for comedy than as the monster heel he could be. I have since watched the archival footage and read personal accounts from back in the WCW days and I see what people saw in him. Vader never had the most impressive physique but he was strong and he was relentless. He was the master of the powerbomb long before everybody was doing one. The powerbomb is a legitimately dangerous move if you do not complete it correctly and is still no fun if done perfectly. In a memorable moment, he powerbombed Cactus Jack on the concrete outside of the ring, potentially ending his career. He was mean and he made his attacks look real because a lot of them were.

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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.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Bad Guys

May 18, 2014

WILPW

Pro-wrestling can be stupid and it can be mindless and it can be all of the things that the stereotypes say it is.  It can be these things but I watch it for the same reason that people keep watching long running shows Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show.  Is every episode golden? Probably not but when the show is on its game, it is on its game.   That’s what wrestling is to me.  I watch it for its potential on any given night to thrill me or give me something to complain about.

Yes, pro-wrestling is “fake”.  Just about everybody on the planet knows that by now.  Just about everybody on the planet should be at least vaguely familiar with the concept of suspension of disbelief.   I appreciate Pro-Wrestling for its storylines, impressive athletics and showmanship.

Important Note:  I’m looking for a term to replace Pro-Wrestling for my own use.  My brother was an actual wrestler in middle school and high school.  I respect the guys who wrestle in school, college and the Olympics.  Pro-Wrestling is not an actual athletic contest even though it recquires actual athletic skill and it’s important to understand that.  This is why I do not use the term “amateur wrestling” since it belittles a great sport.
Here’s reason one in what I love about Pro-Wrestling (in no particular order)

Bad Guy’s That You Love to Hate

I love it when a bad guy performs so well that I look forward to seeing them again.  I love to hate them while somewhere in my head, I’m cheering the performer and writers.  To further explain, here are some examples from outside of the world of Pro-Wrestling: Loki from Avengers, Logan from early Veronica Mars and Lindsey from Angel.  Now for some Pro-Wrestling examples.

Tyler Breeze

Mattias Clement must have watched a bit too much Zoolander because he debuted with a gimmick as a professional model who became a competitor for NXT.  He takes endless “selfies” of himself before, after and sometimes during the match.  He’s arrogant, obssesed with his looks and, to make it even worse,  he wins matches.  I mean, click the link above and tell me you don’t want to punch this guy in the face?  That might not be a good idea since hitting him in the face puts him into a raging tantrum that actually helps him win.  I like when his music hits because even if he wins, he is probably going to be hit in the face.

3MB

That’s 3 Man Band as their entrance theme makes clear.  Heath Slater is a wannabe rock musician from down home in Atlanta.  Jinder Mahal is a rich Indian from the Punjab region.  Drew McIntyre is a brutal competitor from Scotland.  Together, they form an annoying but entertaining band that plays no instruments and can’t sing.  They lose just about every match they’re in but they are never boring.  It is definitely fun to watch a group of guys who don’t realize that they are losers.  They have nothing to back up their arrogance but that doesn’t stop them from believing they are the best around.

Aiden English

Aiden English is a character that I ran into during my career in the theater arts.  A theater performer who thinks the world of himself.  It’s not a stretch to say I have met this guy, in fact I can give you a list of names.  Mr. English is, as implausible as it sounds, trying to launch a Broadway career through pro-wrestling.  He thinks he’s the greatest performer and competitor the world has ever seen.  His pale skin and the way he kind of hunches over makes him look like he is unsuited for both Broadway and NXT, where he currently wrestles.  Still, he wins matches by being an underhanded opportunist.  The theater nerd in me loves how he sings parodies of songs from musicals on the way to the ring (including a song from Dr. Horrible at one point).

Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho has gone through many different transformations but when he was a heel (bad guy) back in WCW he was so enjoyable.  While most heels were cocky and cool and bragged about how they would beat the crap out of the good guy, Jericho went another way.  He would still brag and boast and try to top everybody else.  In a memorable segment, he countered Dean Malenko’s moniker of “The Man of 1000 Holds” by saying that he was the “Man of 1004 Holds” and then tried to list them all.  However, when faced with a threat he would often cower and when he was beaten he would whine and cry and make excuses.  He treated each and every promo like a comedy sketch and made the most of his camera time.


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