Pro Wrestling is pretty simple. There’s a babyface, good guy, and a heel, bad guy, (sometimes a tweener but they usually play the face role) and they have a match. Save for one or two big spots, finisher through a table or a steel chair from the top rope or even a body slam on thumbtacks, the match is called in the ring by the performers. “Body slam, I miss the elbow, pick me up, suplex,” that sort of thing. The goal is to tell a story. Usually, that story is carried over several weeks and/or months and includes matches with wacky endings, a ref bump or outside interference, promos, and the blow off match that nine times out of ten has the face going over, getting the win.
One of the biggest problems Pro Wrestling has faced over the last decade or so has been the presence of believable heels. In the 80’s it was easy. Hulk Hogan, the Real American, had matches against an Iranian, The Iron Sheik, a Russian, Nikita Koloff, an Iraqi sympathizer, Sgt. Slaughter, a Japanese Sumo, Yokozuna, two giants, King Kong Bundy and Andre, you get the picture. The lines were clear cut, the black was black and the white was white. And then, the 90’s happened. And while it was one of the clear high points creatively for Pro Wrestling, it took away the good vs bad dynamic. Arguably the most popular things from 90’s Wrestling are Stone Cold Steve Austin, a beer drinking, cursing, ass kicking Texan, DX, a group rife with sexual innuendo, and the NWO, former good guys doing bad guy things but getting cheered like good guys. Wrestlers, it seemed, forgot how to be heels.
Fast forward to Monday Night Raw, 12/29/14, the last live TV of the year. In kayfabe, wrestling reality, The Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, had lost control of the company. The faces were happy because the evil heel bosses couldn’t ruin their day anymore. The “heels” were unhappy because they couldn’t run roughshod over the show like they had been. The main player in this was Seth Rollins. A former tweener turned heel, he lost his ace in the hole. The biggest heel in the company had to be a heel without backup. This led to him getting just slimy. Like, do anything to win, steal toys from orphans, trip old ladies slime. And it was good. And on 12/29/14, it became great. During an interview segment with retired superstars Edge and Christian, Seth Rollins took it up a notch. He grabbed the proverbial brass ring, threw it higher, grabbed it again, and basically positioned himself as the guy. The guy to hate, the guy to boo, the guy to beat. In real life, Edge and Christian retired because of injury. Christian because of concussions and Edge because one more bump could quite literally break his neck and paralyze him. The man is now a father and husband. Watch. It’s long, but it’s brilliant.
That, is how it’s done. Tell me you don’t want to watch where this goes; that you don’t want to watch this guy get the ever loving shit beat out of him. It’s going to be fun to hate this guy for the next little bit.