WWE | Pro Wrestling

Give the devil his due, John Laurinaitis is a top heel – Inside The Wheelhouse

John LaurinaitisListen I hate to say this but you have to give credit where credit is due. No matter how unpopular he may be on the “internet” or even more unpopular he may be with former WWE talents, the guy is pretty good at what he does being a top heel in the WWE. It’s been a while since the WWE has had that heel authority figure that the fan base can genuinely dislike but they have found it with John Laurinaitis in the past year.

The WWE changed the way they looked at using authority figures in the late-90s during the “attitude era.” For years the WWE’s authority figure, most notably the “WWE President” position held by Jack Tunney and Gorilla Monsoon were babyfaces to the WWE audience. They were the authority to make sure then was no wrong going on and everything was right. It worked for that time period but things quickly changed in the late-90s when Vince McMahon became Mr. McMahon.

One of the reasons why Mr. McMahon was so good at the heel authority position was because he was the actual owner of the WWE. When Mr. McMahon’s character ran its course the WWE needed to look for another authority figure to fill his shoes, they tired various McMahon children and they worked out pretty well but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t until July 2002 when the WWE signed Eric Bischoff when they found the right person for the job.

Why was Eric Bischoff so perfect for that heel authority figure position on the WWE roster? It was because the fan base had a general dislike and hatred for him because he was the man that tried to destroy the WWE product in the late-90s. He tried to sink the WWE franchise and the fans hated him for it. If you were a WCW fan who was now a WWE fan you disliked Bischoff for everything he did on camera during his WCW run with the nWo and what he did behind the scenes as he is one of the people blamed for WCW’s demise.

Do you catch the parallels between the last two guys? Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, two of the most disliked people in professional wrestling history. They represented the “suit” aspect of professional wrestling and had that business-like “swagger” that wrestling fans hated.

Who better to pick up that torch set from Vince McMahon to Eric Bischoff then John Laurinaitis? Many former WWE talent would bash the former “Johnny Ace” in interviews for their failures in the WWE or even the reason why the talent isn’t up to par to the days Jim Ross ran talent relations. There was no reason to hate him because he did nothing to the wrestling fan (except maybe sign some horrible talents in his early days) but they still disliked him for what he did to the product via his real-life job and that’s why the WWE did the right thing in July 2011 by making him an on-air character.

We as wrestling fans love angles where there is a non-wrestling/business attire character on our television. History clearly shows it thanks to characters like Mr. McMahon and Eric Bischoff, they were some of the top heels for a tremendous era in wrestling, an era that most fans would give anything to have again. The WWE went back on their old adage of such a book premise and the John Laurinaitis character was born.

When he first came on WWE television John Laurinaitis was so bad that he was good. He would flub lines on television and I don’t know if it was purposely or not but it was pure money in my opinion. Here is a good who tells talents if they cut a good promo or not and he is flubbing his lines during a live broadcast, it made fans dislike him even more when he was doing such!

Then he would develop hokey things like the current “people power” that the fan base clearly dislike but he in his character’s “wit” believed it was the right thing for the WWE product, another thing wrestling fans dislike with a passion; when someone in a business suit tells them what they should like in a wrestling product. It was perfect and kudos for the WWE creative team on developing a character like that, tripping over a character like that or giving us a guy who actually believed it. Whatever the case may be it helped make John Laurinaitis, yes I repeat John Laurinaitis, one of the best heels in the WWE today.

Don’t believe me that Johnny Ace has been good for the WWE product? Remember in the fall of 2011 and the rise of CM Punk? Well Punk wasn’t really received well by the entire WWE fan base until he got involved with John Laurinaitis. At that time the average WWE fan saw the “internet’s hero” CM Punk as just another heel who was recently leading Nexus, feuding with John Cena over the WWE Championship and now battling the beloved Triple H.

CM Punk may have not been the mainstream star that was accepted by all fans as quickly as he was if it wasn’t for that John Laurinaitis stuff he did early on in his babyface turn. It helped Austin become widely accepted by an entire fan base when he got involved with Vince McMahon and it helped CM Punk do the same when Johnny Ace got involved. With that being said it helps support my theory that titled this blog in the first place.

The old adage or booking 101 theories in professional wrestling is that the heel helps make the face into a star, that is there job and that’s why most heels are looked upon as great workers in the eyes of the die-hard wrestling fan. Roddy Piper helped make Hulk Hogan, Mr. McMahon helped make Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff helped make John Cena and John Laurinaitis helped make CM Punk. It reminds me a lot of that great Roddy Piper quote to Hulk Hogan when he said: “do you think (the fans) would’ve loved you so much, if they hadn’t hated me?”

That quote is what helps make a good heel and that is what John Laurinaitis seemingly has done in his role as the current heel authority figure on WWE television. You’d really have to wonder where some stars like CM Punk would be right now if it wasn’t for him. There is real-life dislike from wrestling fans, especially the die-hards, towards John Laurinaitis and that’s why you need to give the devil his due. Not only is he a good heel for the WWE but he is a great heel and more importantly, one of the top heels in the WWE right now.

For more on this topic join us for the Thursday May 31st edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net.

If you would like to subscribe to “The Wheelhouse” on iTunes simply subscribe for free at iTunes by typing in “Wheelhouse Radio!”

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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Welcome to the Camel Clutch Blog. The CCB was born in 2007 and features blogs from over 50 different writers. Articles from the Camel Clutch Blog have been featured by some of the world's most respected websites including; CNNSI.com, Foxsports.com, Yahoo News, Business Insider, MSNBC, NBCsports.com, and more.

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