In the wacky world of pro wrestling (or “sports entertainment” if you’re an out of touch with reality millionaire) the driving force behind great rivalries is the struggle for good vs evil. To make fans root for the valiant heroes they must be opposed by monstrous villains but in the modern WWE “good” bad guys are hard to find making me ask “What the heel is going on?!” Today I’ll be taking a look at some of the top heels in the company, explaining what I don’t like about them and giving my opinion on what WWE creative should do to fix the problem.
Brock Lesnar: Why not start at the top with the “face of the company” and WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar! What’s that? You had forgotten that WWE even had a World Heavyweight Champion? >Maybe that’s because he’s only appeared on television ONE TIME in the last FOUR MONTHS! Listen, I was the first to praise the idea of having Brock run away with the belt for a while because it would reestablish a long lost sense of importance for the Championship. The title wasn’t defended as regularly in the glory days of wrestling and when it was defended or even changed hands it was a HUGE deal but in the last decade or so the belt has been passed around like a hot potato turning it into nothing more than a cheap prop. But when Lesnar left with the belt nobody mentioned the title again and business went on as usual as if it didn’t exist at all. WWE Creative didn’t have to openly announce that Brock was only contracted to appear a certain amount of times but they should have said SOMETHING about him going missing for such a length. Every show since Lesnar left should have focused on what a coward the champ is and how he needs to bring the belt back so that when he finally does return to the ring the buildup for the match will be massive and not “just another title shot” like it’s being billed as now for the Royal Rumble.
Rusev: Let me just start by saying I love this guy; he’s a great worker, has a unique look and Lana as his mouthpiece really works well. But……the whole “Russia hates the USA” thing is grossly outdated and pretty offensive, especially if you’re a fan who happens to live in Russia. I am aware that this kind of angle was WILDLY successful for a long time (notably with Sgt. Slaughter during the Gulf War) but in this age of global media (and WWE prides itself as a global company) this sort of angle no longer works in the same way. Sgt. Slaughter’s angle during the Iraq war worked so well because Saddam Hussein was a ruthless warmonger but Vladimir Putin isn’t some evil dictator and Russia isn’t at war with us. I may be jumping out on a limb here but I don’t think the average American even hates Russia or the Russian people and I’d like to think that the average Russian doesn’t hate America or the American people but WWE REALLY wants us Americans to think otherwise. I think that Rusev is intimidating enough as he is and Lana is bitchy enough to work without all of this cultural warfare and I really hope they drop the Russia thing sooner than later.
The Ascension: I am not proud to admit that I don’t know anything about NXT other than it’s pretty much universally praised so all of my impressions on the tag team, The Ascension, are based on their few matches on Smackdown and Raw which have been a disaster. I watched the promos for weeks before their debut but I honestly didn’t get the “heel” vibe from them. Catch phrases like “set em up and we’ll knock them down” and “welcome to the wasteland” are morally vague and even guys like the Road Warriors and Demolition said things like that while they worked as faces so I had no idea what side they stood on. Being morally ambiguous doesn’t have to be a bad thing if the character’s intensity is cranked up so I was a bit shocked this week when WWE Creative decided to turn them full heel. You see, WWE became wise to the fact that the team wasn’t being well received by the fans and many people expressed that the team felt like a rip off of the Road Warriors and Demolition. So, what did WWE Creative do about the situation? They had Ascension draw attention to the comparisons and tell the fans that their beloved Road Warriors and Demolition suck compared them. WHAT?! Brock Lesnar is missing for four months and you don’t have any of the wrestlers even mention it but when a new team is getting compared to better teams of yesteryear you make SURE they bring it to every fan’s attention? I don’t get it. To make matters even worse JBL, the HEEL announcer, says, and I quote “these guys are no Road Warriors” and that brings me to my next point…..