Gather ‘round, children. I want to tell you a story.
You see, back in my day, which was called “the early 90’s” by us crazy chilluns, things were different. I’m not saying they were better. . . I’m just saying they were different. It was a time before you had all these new-fangled “smart phones”, back when a “tweet” was only a sound that a bird made, you see?
This was a time where you could buy a gallon of gas for less than two dollars and could go to the movies for $4 or $5, and I’m talking about an evening show! These were the days when Family Matters, you walked Step by Step to a Full House, and other random 90’s television show references as well!
This was a time when you knew the difference between a face and a heel.
And here you thought we weren’t going to be talking about wrestling.
When I began watching the then-WWF in 1993, you could draw a definite line between the good guys and the bad guys. It was plain as day. Bret Hart? The ultimate good guy, always battling the odds and fighting for what was right. Jerry Lawler? Totally a villain, what with his insults to the crowd and his demeaning looks. Now, maybe it was because I was a kid and believe what my elders told me (even if my elders were Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage), but I never had a question in my mind as to who the faces and the heels were.
Flash forward to today. Look around the WWE - can you really tell the difference anymore?
Perhaps I just grew older and became able to delineate all the shades of grey; the ones I was unable to see as a youngster. Or perhaps it was The Attitude Era that blurred things so much - when the most popular wrestler in the world is the one flipping off authority and guzzling beers atop a pilfered vehicle, there are definitely some questions raised.
No matter what the cause, it is very difficult in 2014 to distinguish between faces and heels. Thankfully, folks, I’m here to help.
So let’s play a game, shall we? I call it “Heel or Not Heel?” We’ll look around the WWE locker room and see if we can figure out what in the blue hell is going on around here.
Let’s begin with an easy one.
Stephanie McMahon IS a heel.
To be fair, it is exceedingly difficult to be a McMahon and NOT be a heel - they never seem to be able to pull of a face run for long, can they?
Stephanie is a bad character, always trying to cause rifts between talents or work the situation to the best corporate advantage. Most importantly, she seemed to be behind the break-up of the Bellas, so she is personally responsible for the ungodly number of bad segments between the two sisters over the last few months. Complete heel move.
Now her husband, on the other hand? That’s a different story.
Triple H is NOT a heel.
As much as he would like to be, Triple H can’t pull off the ‘hated’ schtick as much as his better half. Try as he might, Trips can’t help himself when it comes to making jokes, poking at the Twitterverse or giving his trademark looks of disdain at some of the other heels and pseudo heels that make our list. We have to admit that he is quite witty, which makes us like him, and let’s face it - the IWC is a puppy; pay us any bit of attention at all and we will love you forever.
Plus, Triple H is responsible for NXT, the best wrestling program WWE has to offer right now. He seems to be the one who brought us KenTami, Balor (I’ve decided I like the name enough that I’ll go with it for now) and the as-yet unnamed Kevin Steen.
To paraphrase NXT’s favorite goombas, “You can’t. . . Hate. . . That”
Randy Orton and Kane ARE heels.
As I was working on this column, I had a thought so funny it has to be have done 1,000 times already, but here goes: How come nobody has ever, either in jest or in sad seriousness, tried to book these two as the epic team of RandyKane? The holidays are coming up, WWE - dress them in red and white and have some fun!
Ok, back to business. Orton and Kane are most definitely heels, and it grows stronger with each week they are continually put into the main events of RAW. Go ahead and take a look at the Twitterverse when their match is announced - in fact, don’t even bother. You’ll be able to hear the boos from where you stand.
We feel badly for Kane, though. This guy just wanted to go home and run his insurance agency, but the absences of Punk and Bryan likely caused him to stay for another 6-9 months and help out. As for Orton. . . Well, nobody REALLY likes Orton, though we all can admit he’s one of the best workers WWE has right now. And, to be fair, if Randy had given the RKO to Rollins some weeks back, people would have been cheering him pretty damn quick.
Randy Orton is a heel. The Viper, though? Total face.
Speaking of Mr. Money In the Bank. . .
Seth Rollins is NOT a heel.
Oh, sure, there are those out there who despise what he did to Ambrose and Reigns and look down their noses at him for taking the easy way out and joining The Authority. But, for the most part, everyone knows how good Rollins can be and will be, especially if he and Ambrose can continue their run for a while longer. Rollins is setting himself up to be this next decade’s Triple H, and right now, we’re OK with that, since this next Triple H walks around airports in nerd glasses and superhero T-shirts.
Now, we won’t bother with Dean Ambrose, since he’s obviously not a heel, even if (I think) he really wants to be. Now, the other third of The Shield?
Roman Reigns IS a heel, though if he acts like one, he won’t be anymore.
Weird paradox, isn’t it? While I will certainly get heat from my female friends who believe Roman can do no wrong. . . (Hi Shannon! Hi Hope!), for everybody else, we got tired of the Reigns Express (much like the Lex Express of ‘93, fueled entirely by the desperation of losing your top star and needing to scramble to fill his spot) about 5 minutes after it left the station in Stamford. Few people felt Roman was ready to become THE guy in WWE, and with each week he was shoved down our throats, our irritation and anger grew.
Then he got hurt, and so long as they keep him off of our TV for a while (did we really learn anything from his promo on RAW last week? Seriously, I’m curious - My DVR had a sudden case of the “Frantic Fast Forward” when that segment started.), absence will make the heart grow fonder? Though, what would be even better is if. . .
Reigns comes back from his injury with a huge chip on his shoulder, angry at Ambrose for stealing his spotlight and at Rollins for “causing” it in the first place.
A darker side of Reigns, plus 2 or 3 months with no Superman punches, instantly endears him to a good portion of the fans who were sick of him in the first place. Thus, the heel is no longer hated. God, I love wrestling.
Plus, Reigns doing that sets up my prediction of a Shield Triple Threat at ‘Mania. . . The first of many, I believe.
Alright, in the effort of saving space and time, I’ll skip the images for my mid-card. . . It’s the Lightning Round!
Cesaro is NOT a heel and likely never will be until he gets the main event push he so richly deserves.
Sheamus IS a heel because people are tired of his stagnancy and “Fella” IS the dumbest excuse for a gimmick I’ve ever seen.
Bray Wyatt is NOT a heel, but as of right now, he’s also NOT an active wrestle either.
Luke Harper is NOT a heel, though he does have to battle the heel that IS extremely high expectations for whatever his character evolves into over the next few months.
Dolph Ziggler is NOT a heel, though he should play one on TV.
The Miz, outside of our final contestant, likely IS the biggest heel mentioned in this column. Seriously, people just can’t stand this guy, and as I’ve mentioned multiple times here at Number Two Contenders, I don’t think it’s fair. Luckily for me…
Damien Mizdow Sandow is sooooo NOT a heel that he’s actually turning (slightly) Miz into NOT a heel as well. If there’s a reason to give Damien a megapush, getting Miz over just might be it.
Rusev IS a heel, but as long as he continues to stand next to Lana each week, nobody is going to mind all that much. Call it the Chris Candido Corollary - it is possible to get over just by having a beautiful woman at your side.
Heath Slater and Titus O’Neill are NOT heels, though if they keep wasting time with mascot wrestling, they might be.
Adam Rose IS a heel, though oddly enough, The Bunny is NOT. As with most things, blame Kathie Lee and Hoda.
Bo Dallas IS a heel as long as he continues to have no general direction for a storyline, though if he gets taken off the leash, I truly believe he will NOT be a heel anymore.
Paige and AJ are NOT heels. The Bella Twins ARE.
Big Show was NOT a heel when he pulled down the Russian Flag, but he WAS a heel when he had to apologize for it.
Mark Henry IS acting like a heel, but he’s NOT.
Which brings us to our final contestant on “Heel or Not Heel”, and really, was there ever any doubt?
Once more, Enzo and Big Cass, I got to borrow from you, because I need to spell this one out.