Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Four Types of Heels

"We ALL know that Roderick Strong is an undeserving, cowardly little bitch.

"The traitor Seth Rollins is a sociopath."

The Cowardly Heel. One of my favorites, the cowardly heel enrages the audience because he refuses to engage man to man with his opponent. He slithers out of the ring. He calls time-out for no reason but to delay the match. Often, the hero has to chase him down and force him to fight. He has no sense of shame or honor. When forced to fight, he uses underhanded means to give himself an easy and unfair advantage over his opponent, sometimes relying on the outside interference of his buddies to save him. He "fights like a girl," scratching, pulling hair, spitting, kicking his adversary in the shins and in the balls, screaming and complaining when things aren't going his way, crying and pleading on his knees for mercy to avoid his due comeuppance in the end. 

The Force of Nature. The heel who is a force of nature is larger than life. Often barely articulate, he seems governed only by his raw urge to destroy. He is brutal and unfeeling. He's often hairy chested, bald, and blank of any expression except a constant scowl. He is the personification of a tornado. He doesn't seem to be motivated by ordinary values--money, fame, revenge, glory. It's simply a part of his genetic makeup to demolish whoever steps into the ring against him ... without pity or forethought. All he knows is violence. His constant animosity is stirred by nothing about his opponent; it wells from inside himself. Sometimes, though, the beauty or popularity of an opponent can trigger his irrational rage, like a red flag in front of an already irritable bull. He's usually presented to the fans as an ordeal the babyface must steel his spine to face. He can only be destroyed by a hero of herculean proportions--or, less commonly, by a small "David" crafty enough to outsmart and outmaneuver the beast.

Mister Sophisto. The sophisticated heel enters the ring in a smart three-piece suit or in a long, elegant entrance cape or robe. Earlier in this century he was often characterized by suave "metrosexual" stylings--hundred dollar haircuts, salon tans, jewelry, exaggeratedly perfect posture. His props can be anything from a bottle of champagne to the latest, most expensive smartphone. When interviewed he speaks only in ten-dollar words, with his chest puffed out and his eyes directed over the head of anyone he is speaking with. He is contemptuous of the fans and his opponents. He antagonizes them by letting them know that he is better than they are. He insists on being addressed with not just respect but deference. Often, but not always, he's accompanied to the ring by a lackey--a chichi valet or a looming bodyguard or a worshipful acolyte. Under the veneer of sophistication, though, he is a sadistic brute. He may be styled as effeminate or rich or smart, but in every version he displays an elitist contempt for the working man, i.e. the typical wrestling fan. 

The Turncoat. The turncoat is a babyface gone bad, but he is a specific kind of babyface gone bad. The turncoat does not radically change his persona when he turns heel. Rather, he retains the typical stylings of a face and may even believe that he still is a face. As the name implies, this type of heel becomes a heel by turning against his family or stable or promotion or, more to the point, his former fans. The tantalizing thing about the turncoat is the possibility, even likelihood, of his eventually turning back into a true babyface. His turn towards crookedness may simply be the result of a misunderstanding--the basically decent guy who thinks his tag partner failed to watch his back, when in fact, but unknown to him, the partner had done everything in his power to be there for him. Or perhaps he has fallen under the influence of some malignant and charismatic force--a heel manager or a cult leader. Or maybe, especially if he is young, success and popularity just went to his head. The fans' ambivalence towards him is what makes this type unique--more often than not, they still want to like and look up to him--and his biggest adversary is often somebody--a brother or a former partner--who wants to help him by giving him a reality check (usually in the form of tough love) and turning him back to the paths of righteousness.

* And, yes, as a matter of fact I DO find it extremely gratifying that Chris Dickinson cites ME (without attribution) on his Twitter profile.


  1. Astute and Brilliantly Written. Please Come To The Gym So We Can Discuss.

    1. Better you should drop by the house for vodka and wrestling videos, Jake.



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