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The Heel Champion Over the Face: Why Heels Should Be on Top Longer

Ric Flair  “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, John Bradshaw Layfield, “Superstar” Billy Graham, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Yokozuna, Triple H, Vader, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, and Chris Jericho.  What do all these former World Champions have in common?  As heels, they had longer title reigns than they had a faces, and longer than the faces around the time they were World Champions.

Why would the wrestling companies have longer reigns with their World title with a heel than a face?  In my opinion, to bring in fans to buy tickets, to watch the program on television, and order the pay-per-views.  I say that because when we have the face defeat the heel for the World title, the fans would be happy, and we can throw more heels at him to build another big heel to challenge him and win the title.

“If you like it, or you don’t like it, learn to love it, ‘cause it’s the best thing going today!  Wooooooo!”

Look at Ric Flair when he was the NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Champion in his prime.  Flair had the title most the most part during his reigns as champ.  He was able to go from territory to territory and face the top babyface and make them look even better than they normally look for the World Heavyweight Championship, win by skinning the cat, and go to the next territory and defend the championship another night.  I’ve heard interviews done about heel champions don’t work, but Ric Flair worked as World Heavyweight Champion Heel, he is considered to be the greatest World Heavyweight Champion in pro wrestling history.

“I am who I say I am, and I am a wrestling…GOD!”

Let’s look more modern World Champs, let’s look to after the draft in the WWE, and let’s look at John “Bradshaw” Layfield.  I’ll put it out there; he isn’t as good in the ring as Ric Flair.  Heck, at JBL’s prime, wrestling ability, he’s nowhere close to Flair on Flair’s bad day.  But JBL is what the WWE needed in 2004.  JBL won the WWE Championship at the Great American Bash in 2004 after defeating Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bullrope Match, where we seen JBL sweet gallons and bleed buckets.  JBL can talk people to the arena and talk them to put their butts in seats. 

JBL didn’t have to wrestle great like Ric Flair, JBL had to brawl, had to use his power moves, his “Last Call” fall-away slam, and his Clothesline From Hell to take his opponents.  JBL was the longest reigning World Champion in Smackdown history, since the show’s been around in the past ten years.  To me, that’s a great World Champion.

“What ‘cha gonna do, when Hulk Hogan and the New World Order of Wrestling, brother, runss wild on you!”

“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, and a twelve-time World Heavyweight Champion, six of them in the World Wrestling Entertainment and six of them in World Championship Wrestling.  The Hulkster’s longest title reign was his first World title reign with then World Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship from 1984 (defeating the Iron Sheik) to 1988 (when he lost to Andre the Giant in controversial fashion). 

But the ‘80’s were a time period of ending where title changes were a rare form.  Enter the 1990’s and Ted Turner’s WCW, with President Eric Bischoff, signed a lot of big names from Vince McMahon, and Hogan was the biggest draw.  In latter ‘90’s, in his heel run as the leader of the n.W.o., from 1997 to 1998, Hogan held the title for 495 out of 500 days, where Lex Luger held it for five.

I know there’s other great heel World Champs, like Graham, Savage, to name a few, that I didn’t mention, but if you look at then they were faces and World Champs, their title runs were a lot shorter than their heel runs.  And when you look at their heel runs, their title runs were longer than the face title runs around theirs. 

As a conclusion, Heel World Heavyweight Champions are smart for the business, for the title history, for the fans, and for the babyfaces.  To quote the greatest World Heavyweight Champion in pro wrestling history…  “To be the man, you have to beat the man!”

 Check out more of Eric’s blogs at http://jericholic2009.blogspot.com.

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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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