Heels are supposed to cheat. That’s it. Heels are supposed to cheat and babyfaces are supposed to fight back despite how many times the heels cheat. It’s the way of things in professional wrestling, it’s the way that life is supposed to be and it’s the way that life should be again.
Until it is, nothing makes sense. None of it does. From the curtain jerk to the main event to everything in between, nothing will work if heels are not inherently bad people trying to take the easy way out and that means they must cheat. But they really don’t now.
How did we get here? How did we get to the point that we’re actually criticizing WWE because the heels no longer break the rules to gain an unfair advantage? More importantly, why did WWE allow it to get this bad?
Cheating should be second nature for heels; it should be the primary game plan, not the back-up one. When a pro wrestling antagonist steps through the ropes, he should already be prepared to pull the tights, to strike a low blow when the referee turns his back, or to use an illegal object. Like a master thief orchestrating a major heist, a heel should always be prepared to do what must be done in order to commit the crime.
But that’s not really happening anymore. Instead we sit back and complain about the fact that the bad guys are just not bad like they used to be. Yes, it’s gotten that ridiculous.
Remember the days of Ric Flair using the ropes for leverage when he had Dusty Rhodes in the Figure Four? Remember when Jim Cornette would pull a bag from his pocket and toss powder into the eyes of Hawk or Animal? How about when Ivan Koloff would use the Russian chain while the referee was distracted?
Remember when all of that was not only normal, it was expected? Predictability is not always a bad thing and the truth is that fans at one time were conditioned to expect heels to pull every trick in the book to either win or try to win a match.
Heels would stoop to any level to get their way and nothing could stop them. They didn’t care about the crowd, they didn’t want applause and they had very few friends. To be a heel was to be a truly despicable person that had no redeeming qualities and would rather slap you than accept your support.
This was the norm for pro wrestling antagonists; this was the way things were. Black was black and white was white, there were few shades of gray and it was easy to know which side everyone was on. Those were the days.
But something happened during this present era, something to convince WWE in particular that good versus evil and right versus wrong is just not all that important anymore. Now instead of heels being the worst of the worst, they’re babyfaces in the making.
WWE showcases Bray Wyatt as an attraction, a guy that is supposed to be dark and sinister. Yet Michael Cole and company keep putting over his fans, also known as fireflies, instead of questioning why? Why would such a deeply disturbed character like Bray even have fans in the first place? Why would WWE insist on mentioning it as if he’s to be liked and supported when he could easily become the top heel on the roster?
Kevin Owens is an old school heel inasmuch as he’s a brawler that has no fear and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. But when he enters the ring, he hits all four sides as if he’s playing up to the crowd, seeking their approval.
Both guys are very good at what they do and both guys deserve top spots because of their ability. But both guys are heel yet fans have more respect for them than they really should; they should be reviled for who they are and they’re just not.
“Seth Rollins needs to start winning matches cleanly.” How many times did we hear that one? A hundred? A thousand? The hilarity that ensued during those debates was beyond belief. Seth Rollins needs to start winning matches cleanly; why, exactly? He’s a heel. Better yet, he was the top heel. He was the best of them all and he drew more heat than anyone on the card.
A cheating Seth Rollins was a despised Seth Rollins. Taking every shortcut imaginable was what he did best. Being the sniveling, conniving, and egotistical jerk was his niche. Fans were not supposed to want to see him win without cheating; they were supposed to not want to see him win at all. He was the villain and fans cared more about his standing than seeing him beaten.
Are we too smart now? Is that it? Do we care more about being smart rather than being entertained? Or does the blame even lie with us? Is the result of our nonchalant attitude towards hating heels have everything to do with how WWE has handled the concept?
Pro wrestlers are sports entertainers in WWE and while it’s much too late to argue the point, the truth is this fact has finally taken its toll. The company has conditioned the fans not to suspend their disbelief of reality but instead to accept it’s all a big work.
Heels are supposed to cheat but they really don’t now. Nothing makes any sense.