Professional wrestling is so frustrating at times, especially World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Each match is predicated on a good guy (Face/Babyface) in one corner and a bad guy (Heel) in the other. I can’t help but feel like that’s an antiquated system, especially if the fans are just going to cheer for the “bad guy”.
But wrestlers will say, “As long as the fans are reacting, that’s all that matters.” There’s merit to that, yes. John Cena built a career off of half the fan base hating him and the other half loving him.
I think the half that hated him was just tired of his good guy gimmick and wanted him to do something different. He couldn’t, of course, because in the modern day of professional wrestling, Cena is too much of a hero to ever turn against the kids he tells to “Never Give Up.”
Wrestling tries to avoid bad PR since the mere mention of “Wrestling” still connotes negative feelings.
Hence why the WWE refers to Pro Wrestling as “Sports Entertainment”. Two lovely words, aren’t they? Let’s all skip around a field of cupcakes and think happy thoughts.
Plus, with Cena, there’s the whole “Most Make-A-Wish Appearances Ever” thing, so turning him heel was never going to happen.
From a fan perspective, it’s frustrating. From a corporate perspective, it’s business.
Nowadays, I look at the WWE roster and the larger than life characters just aren’t there anymore. For the most part, it’s just a person with a superlative and either a smile, or disgruntled look on their face.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the writers micromanage every single syllable that comes out of their mouth, preventing them from talking like their character.
Take Sasha Banks for example. Her gimmick is, “The Legit Boss”. Eddie Guerrero is her inspiration. Wrestling is her dream. Her best friend is Bayley.
Beyond that, I don’t know what her character is. What is a “Legit Boss”? I’m not sure I know.
Currently, her character is a face and has been for a few years. When she was coming up through NXT (the developmental system), she was a heel and a mighty good one. Her character thrived as a heel. It made sense.
Now, she just comes out and smiles, like every other face on the roster and Michael Cole (the announcer) proclaims, “It’s Boss Time!”. But what does that even mean?
It’s just frustrating because we’ve seen the matches and promos she’s capable of, but being a face does not suit her character at all. She’s just there, merely waiting for the creative team to tell her she can turn on Bayley and feud with her again.
Bayley is a Hugger. That’s her gimmick. Beyond hugging children on her way to the ring, I don’t know what else she is. Again, it’s frustrating, because there is so much potential there that isn’t being discovered.
I think one of the reasons why Sasha and Bayley never seem to get any traction is because the women only have one championship to go after on their respective brand. If you’re not the champion and you’re not the challenger, you’re going to be put in tag team matches almost every week.
But the tag team matches are pointless because there are no tag team championships.
How many times do Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya, need to face the Riott Squad? They all deserve so much better.
It’s like, “Darn, we lost this week, but we won last week, so yay we’re equal.”
Side note: Why are the only dastardly things the Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan) have done been push objects off tables backstage, and snap a pair of Natalya’s late father’s sunglasses?
They should be causing mayhem every week, especially since Sarah and Liv aren’t as polished in the ring as Ruby.
Again, maybe it’s the writing. The women never seem to get into complex storylines like the men do. I want to see that change.
Currently, there is an overall blandness when it comes to the roster.
There isn’t one face on the roster that I truly, 100% care about. Okay, except for Elias. But is he ever going to make a title run, or is he just going to play his guitar every week?
Seth Rollins is cool he cuts the exact same promo in the ring every week.
And sure, watching Braun Strowman treat people like rag dolls is intriguing, but his promos are the same thing every week, too.
The New Day seem to be one of the few acts that can do their own thing, but it’s a comedy act. I’m waiting for them to be a bit more serious and allow Big E to go after a singles championship.
A.J. Styles lost the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan a few weeks ago, when Bryan turned heel and hit Styles with a low blow. I loved everything about that because Bryan had gotten so stale.
He miraculously came back from retirement earlier this year, but his comeback story ran dry.
His heel turn has given him much needed life and purpose.
It worries me that the WWE seems to have no idea how to get their babyfaces over with the crowd, but the heels are no problem.
The heels are just more entertaining to watch because they actually do interesting things when they’re not wrestling.
Another thing that bothers me is how every superstar is so set in doing their entrance the exact same way every single time. Maybe that’s how production wants it? I don’t know.
But I’d rather not see Ronda Rousey come out for a championship match and stop to hand off souvenirs to children. You’re about to put your title on the line! You’re supposed to be focussed!
I’d rather not see The New Day come out with a tray of pancakes for every single match. Walk out with a purpose, just once.
Finn Balor’s entrance music matches up to certain lighting cues where he and everyone in the audience throw their hands in the air at the same time. It’s cool. but he does that every single time.
I get it – it’s entertainment. The fans in attendance want to be a part of things like that. But for important matches, can you come out with a little more seriousness? Can you just walk straight to the ring with some bounce in your step, instead of stopping to look around?
There are so many little things that are missing.
Rarely do superstars pace back and forth in the ring while cutting a promo. There is nothing being communicated with their body because they’re merely reciting lines and trying not to forget anything.
The Rock and Stone Cold would march all around the ring to get their point across.
Again, maybe it’s a modern day production thing. And if it is, let your words be extra emphatic.
I watched an Eddie Guerrero promo on YouTube the other night from 2005. It was incredible. Why? It felt real. I forgot I was watching a wrestling show.
It’s that suspension of disbelief that I’m missing nowadays.
Professional wrestling should be about feuds that build through actions and words and get so heated that the only way to settle things is in the ring.
Feuds don’t really boil to the surface anymore. Most of the feuds could be solved with a little mediation and meditation. Cue Jinder Mahal.
Braun Strowman can’t wait to get his hands on Baron Corbin, but I couldn’t care less about it. Corbin is an annoying heel, yes, but I’d rather he get off the screen than get beat up.
All I want is for each superstar to talk, act, wrestle, and be how their character should talk, act, wrestle, and be. No more one size fits all promo that can be recited by every single babyface on the roster.
I’d love it if the superstars could go out there and cut a promo with nothing but bullet points to work off of, like they did many years ago.
That’s how I did all my university presentations. You either know what you’re going to say, or you don’t. Word-for-word memorization makes you sound robotic. No, I am not comparing my school presentations to speaking in front of a television audience, except I kinda am, but I’m not. Kinda.
That would allow them to use their own verbiage and perhaps stumble into something magical.
The best things are unplanned, as they say.
This post has trailed off into so many different directions, I don’t know what it’s about anymore. I’m just frustrated. I keep tuning in to watch wrestling every week, hoping there’s a change in storytelling.
I look at NXT and guys like Velveteen Dream, Tommaso Ciampa, and the Undisputed Era, give me hope that we can eventually get back to superstars who eat, live, and breathe their character and aren’t just a person with a nickname.
Before I go, I need to talk about the greatest thing in wrestling today – Becky Lynch.
She “turned heel” at SummerSlam in August, when she attacked Charlotte Flair after losing the SmackDown women’s championship match.
I put “turned heel” in quotations because that act turned Becky into the biggest babyface in the company and it’s not even close. Even when she tried to get the fans to boo her in promos, it didn’t work.
There isn’t a babyface on the roster that gets the reaction she gets and it’s because they’re lame. Becky Lynch is bold and interesting and has steam coming out of her ears. That’s what we like! Of course the crowd cheered!
When Becky invaded RAW to attack Ronda Rousey and the rest of the women’s roster, she left the melee through the crowd with a broken face and blood everywhere. It was the coolest thing I’ve seen in a really long time.
It was her Stone Cold moment.
Becky Lynch posing in the crowd with a bloody face and a wry smile was a true, bonafide, capital M – Moment.
Her Twitter game since “turning heel” has been top notch and unstoppable. Again, did they think we would boo her? Especially in a time where quick, sharp, and insulting tweets are glorified?
I think WWE needs to go back to the chalkboard and rethink what a babyface is in 2018. Coming out to a catchy song, smiling, and losing because your opponent cheated, isn’t enough anymore.
You can’t be “Woe is me” and hope the crowd takes pity. The crowd wants bold characters who can have a temper from time to time because HELLO, YOU’RE FIGHTING SOMEONE IN A WRESTLING RING. YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE SHOULD BE RISING.
Anyway, back to Becky Lynch. They’ve eased her off of the crowd-hating promos and are just letting fans cheer her while she continues to act like a heel.
In turn, this will be terrible if/when they pit her against a babyface because that person will be booed, when they’re supposed to be cheered and it’s a whole convoluted mess that wouldn’t exist if heels and faces were no longer a thing, and each superstar could just act how their character would act and let the fans decide who they like.
DID THAT ALL MAKE SENSE?