Master movie maker Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.” What he was saying, in other words, is if you want to make a really good movie, you have to have a really good bad guy. You’ll see movies like “Star Wars,” “Titanic,” “The Ten Commandments,” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in the top money-making movies of all time (adjusted for inflation). What do all those epic films have in common? Simple — a really, really good villain.
Heels are pro wrestling’s villains. So if we want to put on damned good pro wrestling shows, we need damned good heels. Heels are so important to the success of a wrestling promotion, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter of my new book Fixing the Indies to them. A big part of pro wrestling’s problem today is that so many young guys just don’t know how to be heels. That’s why I address the issue so heavily in my book. So let’s take a look at seven ways to be a better heel.
Be a real jerk
Part of the reason why you might have so much trouble being a good heel is because you just don’t know how. You’re a nice guy in real life, so you just don’t know how to be a bad guy. The solution? Identify jerks in your real life and then copy their behavior. Everybody has a jerk in their life — maybe a boss, a teacher, a guy down the street, a kid you went to school with. Ask yourself, “What made that guy such a jerk?” and then make a list of the reasons. Take that list of items and put them into your pro wrestling character. Nigel Mcguinness is a perfect example of this.
Make people hate, not laugh
As a heel, your job is to make people hate, not make people laugh. You’re a villain, not a clown. Unfortunately young heels today don’t get that. They spend their time making fools of themselves by acting comically. Like when a heel takes a few bumps from the babyface, rolls out of the ring, sticks his fingers in his ears, and yells, “Shut up!” at the crowd because he’s “offended” by the fans’ catcalls. Or when you have a heel tagteam and one heel takes a beating from the baby, rolls out of the ring, and then — on the verge of tears — runs to his partner for a nice, comforting, gay hug.
Now I ask you, could you imagine Darth Vader running to get a nice hug from the Emperor after the rebels blew up the Death Star? Can you imagine Hitler running to get a hug from his top general after he learned that the Russians had turned the tide and were advancing towards Germany? Did Brett Favre run for a hug from his receivers after he threw an interception?
Again, don’t be a clown. Don’t be silly. Don’t try to be funny.
Be a jerk!
Like I mentioned just above, instead of taking a beating from the baby, rolling out of the ring, and then literally pretend to cry about it, get mad. I mean really, really mad. Nobody fears a crybaby, but everyone gets a bit uneasy when someone blows up in a wild rage. So instead of rolling out of the ring and pretending to pout, roll out of the ring and throw a tantrum. Beat the mat loudly, grab the bottom rope and shake it violently, go over and kick the ring steps, point at your opponent and yell, “Hey! You better watch it, punk!” Here’s your opportunity to release all the tension, frustration, hurt, and anger from your real life. Did you just find out your girlfriend has been cheating on you? Did you and your brother get into a big argument? Did a friend betray you recently? Did your boss chew you out at work? Take that anger, pour it into your character, and then release it!
Sometimes it’s not what you say that makes people dislike you, it’s how you look. I knew a guy in high school who really, really liked a certain popular girl. This guy wasn’t in the “in” crowd himself, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. So one day at a school dance, he worked up the courage to go ask the girl to dance. He walked up to her sheepishly, smiled, and asked politely, “Would you like to dance?” To this day I’ll never forget her response.
She didn’t say a word. She just cut her eyes at him in disdain, wrinkled her nose as if she had just gotten a whiff of rotten milk, furrowed her brow, and then turned her back to him. This girl was so stuck up, she wouldn’t even grace his invitation with a “No, thank you.” One would have thought she would have been at least flattered by his invitation, but instead she reacted as if she was repulsed by the guy, as if he had come up and sneezed on her.
If you’re a guy, you probably aren’t thinking very highly of that girl right now. Just think how you can get a similarly powerful response from fans by using similar expressions. Next time you’re walking down the aisle to the ring and a fan heckles you, instead of stopping and yelling, “Shut up, trailer trash!” cut your eyes at him and just glower. Show serious disdain for the guy, and then, without saying a word, just continue walking. You have business to take care of and don’t have time for flunkies like this guy in the crowd.
Talk smack after the match
No one likes a sore loser, but even fewer people can tolerate a sore winner. Watch the bad boys of the NFL. Do you see them talk smack to the fans before the big game? Heck no! They’re too focused on the game itself to worry about the fans. But after the game, watch out! A trash talker like Joey Porter will be swaggering up toward the tunnel, catch the eye of an angry fan whose team he just beat, and shout, “Ha ha! Sit your a#$ down, you loser!”
By rubbing it in good like this, bad boy players like Porter, Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Chad Ochocinco stoke the ire of fans across the league. You want to do the same thing as a heel in pro wrestling. Don’t talk big smack before the match, talk big after you’ve won it. Find a fan who was heckling you all through the match, go right up to him, point straight into his face, and say, “Ha ha! How do you feel now? I just kicked your boy’s ass!” Trust me, if the guy’s a good mark, he’ll just about come unglued.
Make eye contact
Eye contact is extremely powerful, both for good and bad intentions. If you’re trying to land a job, making good eye contact with the interviewer can make the difference between getting the job and losing it to the next guy. On the other hand, if you’re in an argument with somebody, maintaining good eye contact projects a very strong, personal, intimidating message to the person you’re arguing with. So whenever you go to talk smack to the fans, make direct eye contact! 99% of indie pro wrestlers fail to do this. When they go to talk some smack, they talk to no one in particular.
They’re looking through them and effectively targeting no one. This gives the clear impression that you’re not being serious, that it’s all just an act. They’re effectively broadcasting like a radio station. A radio station broadcasts its signal indiscriminately and pays no attention to whether or not anyone is tuned in. There can be 100,000 listeners or just one…it doesn’t matter. This is not what you want to do as a heel. If some guy is giving you hell and you want to say something back to him, don’t be shy. Go straight up to him, look him dead in the eye, point at him, and say whatever it is you have to say. Make it sincere. That way, that fan will think, “Whoah, is this guy serious?” and everyone around him will be thinking the same thing, too. But be warned — if you do this right, that fan might be waiting for you in the parking lot after the show!
Remember, not every dirty tactic has to be illegal. This is a topic I discuss extensively in Fixing the Indies — to be a villain you have to be dirty, but that doesn’t mean you have to always resort to doing something illegal, like raking the eyes, punching your opponent in the nuts, blatant chokes, etc. Today’s heels use illegal tactics so often, fans have become to immune to it. There’s no outrage over it. So to bring back the shock value of doing something illegal, don’t do it so often. Instead, go low. For example, suppose you and your babyface opponent are about to lock up, but right before you do, you stomp his foot.
There’s nothing illegal about a foot stomp, but it sure isn’t a brave, toe-to-toe type thing to do. Here’s another example. Suppose you and your opponent are exchanging punches. You work this so that it looks like it’s going to come down to the last man standing — the tougher wrestler, whoever throws the bigger punch is going to win.
So there you have it — seven ways to be a better heel. Practice these methods every chance you get, and watch how many new enemies you make!
Come check out my new book, Fixing the Indies, the step-by-step guide to success in indie pro wrestling.” And then link to http://fixingtheindies.comindependent pro wrestling, Nigel McGuinness