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R.I.P. "babyfaces" and "heels"

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LennyComa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LennyComa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/September/2018 at 18:29
I think that baby face and heels have been dying out since around 2001, E and C were getting cheers while supposedly heels. People never stopped cheering stone cold when he was supposed to be heel, Hollywood Rock could get the Boo's during promos but he always got an initial pop when he steped out from gorilla or appeared backstage in segments.

In recent times people have been cheering for who they like as opposed to faces or heels AJ cheered every time he comes out, same for Balor, Naka and maybe Wyatt. Also K.O. List taming Y2J, Sami and recently Miz. However people playing faces Cena and Reigns get booed out the building (except when it is SHIELD time).

Only people who I can think of off the top of my head who can get the the reactions that they expect when heel or face is Ziggler, Rollins and Orton.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John The Baptist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/September/2018 at 19:35
It's a change in culture and external factors as much as booking, the rise of the anti-hero in the '90s blurring the lines and the writing of bad guy/flawed characters prioritised over good guys in the 2000's totally smashing the line to bits (Heath Ledger's Joker,Heisenberg in the latter part of Breaking Bad etc)

As long as stereotypical good guys get presented as they did in the 80s they will continue to get booed.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fletch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/September/2018 at 09:48
Originally posted by Rico Len Rico Len wrote:

So obviously this topic isn't a new one, the discussions started on this site 12 years ago.

But there is a lot more talk about it lately as to how things ended up the way they have today. Where people cheer the heels and boo the faces. In fact a number of journalists, including Tom, have said there are no faces and heels. The thing is though, this statement breeds more confusion than anything.

Even the most filthy casual can tell the difference between faces and heels even if they don't know what the words mean. Just look at a 6-man tag and you can see who is who. I keep hearing "Roman Reigns is the biggest heel in the industry today" but he is getting booked alongside the most popular good guys and WWE has a strong narrative that not so subtly says "cheer this guy!" and "boo this guy!". 

No one will boo Becky Lynch? Then she's a face right? Wait, except she's been booked to face off against people we're supposed to like.

So what does that really mean??? There are no more faces and heels anymore? Vince himself has said it, all while the fans are complaining about him "shoving John Cena down our throats" so that seems pretty contradictory doesn't it?

Now yes, the fans will boo who they like and cheer who they like, but why not use that and cater more to THOSE fans? If the casual fans are so 'casual' wouldn't that just make them sheep that just do what the fans who actually think about things (sort of at least) do and cheer or boo the same people? 

When was the last time WWE actually followed the "vocal minority"? What happened when they did?

And that's another thing, people talk about the hardcore fans being the vocal minority but I don't really buy into that story anymore.

Hardcore fans are whom, exactly? The ones that follow the storylines? Go to the events? Buy the merchandise? And what??? What separates them from the casual fan? Apparently it's fandom itself. Casual fans are the people that don't give a shit and just come to live events for a good time, that being go to the show, get the food and drinks, and people watch, but who cares what actually happens? These are fans??? Really? If this is what actually defines a casual fan then the product doesn't matter so why not make it good enough to appease the hardcore fans?

Ultimately these two topics, which at first seem so different are VERY CLOSELY linked to one another to the point where you can't talk about one without talking about the other. A face and a heel? To whom??? Because the casual fans are allowing their faces and heels to be dictated to them while the hardcore fans are making up their own minds as to who is face and who is heel.

So what is it? Are there faces and heels? If so, then how do they get defined, and by whom?

And another important question, why is it that WWE seems to be the only company that really has this problem? You certainly don't hear about people complaining about the top babyfaces or heels NJPW or RoH, or Impact, do you? … or do you???

WWE has this problem because they refuse to listen to the audience. TNA and other companies if a babyface was getting booed loudly they’d flip him heel in a heartbeat. WWE will do this too with certain talents but when it’s a hand picked guy like Roman it’s a case of the audience don’t know what they want and this guy is money so he’s getting pushed as a face no matter what.

The argument can be made that Roman isn’t a face or heel, but he’s definitely the top guy in the company, in some ways this presents more interesting scenarios as Roman can easily work programmes with fellow babyfaces as well as heels, it’s also reported that Roman is now the top merchandise shifter in the company out selling Cena so the guy is a draw. I also like how Roman has always kept his character fairly dark rather than going the Cena route and being cheesy as hell and making the boos part of his gimmick.

Personally I think WWE should go the ECW route and have no clear cut faces or heels at all, just let talent play to their strengths in their characters and let the crowd cheer and boo who they may.

Edited by Fletch - 03/September/2018 at 09:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Colohue Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/September/2018 at 13:20
The main cause of confusion seems to be a fairly simple one.

There is a massive difference between perceived and intended.

The fans perceive something, the company intend something.

The era of faces and heels is not defined by character or personality. It's defined by WWE saying "this person is a face" and the fans going "this person is a face."

Even at the height of the Steve Austin anti-hero run, when he literally dragged a heavily injured Vince McMahon around an arena with a hunting rifle and had a whole arena begging him to literally shoot McMahon in the face, he was still intended to be a face and also perceived to be a face.

This is no longer the case. John Cena is a perfect example of someone intended to be a face but who is both perceived as a face and a heel.

This is why Bobby Lashley can still turn heel. It's intention, not perception.

A lot of people still perceive Nakamura as a face. These are the people who still sing his theme even though it's been changed. A lot of people also choose to perceive Nakamura as a heel because it's more fun to follow along with the intended story.

At the same time I often perceive The Miz as a face. This isn't actually a new thing. Adders and myself are both quite open that we have a preference for heels. I was a huge Triple H fan growing up.

It can also be a momentary thing. The Rock is one of the most universally popular men in the world, but if Steve Austin gave him a stunner on Smackdown Live tomorrow, Austin would still be perceived as a face in that moment simply because it's consistent with his character.

It also allows WWE a lot of creative leeway on the odd occasion where they do something very smart and encourage fans to believe that their intention is one thing when actually another. Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles was Heel Roman vs Face AJ. However, fans perceived Roman as an intended face, which made them perceive him as a heel.

So the guy they wanted to get booed got booed, and the guy who recently debuted and needed a swell of fan support was cheered because he was going against somebody perceived as a heel. They don't always do this intentionally but they do do this. 

The concept of face and heel is alive in intention but in perception it is not. Becky Lynch is the perfect example of an intended heel but a perceived face. WWE are now in the awkward position of having a storyline that should run all the way to mania, when Charlotte faces Rousey, being thrown out by fans refusing to go along with the intention.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rico Len Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/September/2018 at 21:21
Quote It also allows WWE a lot of creative leeway on the odd occasion where they do something very smart and encourage fans to believe that their intention is one thing when actually another. Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles was Heel Roman vs Face AJ. However, fans perceived Roman as an intended face, which made them perceive him as a heel.

OK, see that's where you make absolutely no sense. Roman was booked face. Again, you watch who he's booked with in tag matches and it's always faces. AJ was a face too. Sorry but that's the fact of the matter. You can't talk about WWE's intentions, and the fandoms perceptions, and that's all good and fine, but there is no such thing as intended reversed psychology in heel/face booking. To reverse the intended psychology in booking a heel or face is to simply flip the intended booking from face to heel, or vice versa. It's a double negative.

Moreover, Roman did essentially nothing that was heelish in his feud with AJ. Sorry but that was face vs face.

Quote The concept of face and heel is alive in intention but in perception it is not.
Again, I don't agree. It's very much alive in both, it's just that when the two sides disagree there is a disconnect with the casual audience because they don't really get what the hell is going on because they don't care enough to learn the whole story.

Becky Lynch IS a heel. Charlotte spelled it out quite simply and perfectly and nothing Becky Lynch says or does can prove her wrong. The fans just reject the storyline because they want Becky as a face, thus the war between what the fans want and what the bookers want. Nobody can even begin to argue the point that Becky Lynch is a babyface. Everything her character did was wrong. She was a jealous cunt who stabbed her best friend in the back, because she can't stop pouting over the fact that her 1 on 1 got changed to a triple threat. NOTHING about that is babyface. Becky is a clearcut heel, but the story is rejected by the fans so they cheer her more loudly because they want the storyline changed to adapt to what they want.

You want a perfect example of a heel being perceived as a babyface? Macho Man Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan. Macho Man spoke the truth every single step of the way, because from his perspective it was easily clear, and more important the audience could easily understand his point of view and see that he wasn't wrong from his perspective. The difference was that Hulk Hogan's story wasn't just "not wrong" it was also more accurate and that put him in the correct spot as the babyface. From Savage's perspective it DID look like Hogan was a hotdogger & grandstander. It DID look like he was putting the moves on Elizabeth, and it DID look like he was driving a wedge between the two. However if you took a step back and looked at the entire picture you could see that Hogan was being misunderstood, and that his intentions were pure. 

That's how you tell a good story.

What's going on with Charlotte & Becky is simplistic and has no nuance where Becky's perspective is sympathetic. Had Charlotte been attacked by Becky at summerslam, and when she was thrown out of the ring and she was looking up at Becky still in the ring, hid a sly, knowing smile from Becky, like this was her plan all along and Becky's blowup just been an unexpected consequence on Charlotte's part, the entire story would have much more intrigue and both could claim to have some nuance of justice on their side and it would warrant fans backing Becky even though Charlotte is still the babyface, you would then know that her intentions weren't 100% pure even though her methods were legal.

But as it is, none of that is in place, and Charlotte is a clearcut babyface and Becky is just a rejected heel that the fans don't want to boo. No one mistakes her as a face they know damn good and well she's a heel, they just don't care.

Macho Man at WrestleMania 5 & Becky Lynch at Summerslam 2018 show perfectly the difference between a perceived babyface (intended as a heel) and a rejected heel. Throw in Tommaso Ciampa at NXT Takeover New Orleans and you've got the perfect example of an intended AND perceived heel.



Edited by Rico Len - 07/September/2018 at 21:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Colohue Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22/September/2018 at 09:10
I can't explain further on Roman; you're perceiving what you're perceiving. You can't say the intention with certainty and neither can I.

The disconnect isn't with the casual audience. The casual audience see Roman Reigns being booked as a face and accept him as a face. That's one of the primary distinguishing features of the casual audience; they accept what they're being told because they're along for the ride and have no will to influence booking. 

I also disagree that everything Becky Lynch did was wrong. Charlotte could easily be perceived as stabbing Lynch in the back by agreeing to be part of the triple threat in the first place. She could have stood aside; easily. There's also the degree where WWE like to spoonfeed the concept that titles mean more than friendships. As such a face in WWE can be someone who hunts a title despite the situation. 

I think you should also take a closer look at Gargano/Ciampa. People are starting to cheer the "wrong" person. You can be such a good heel that you're a face now. And that's in NXT where the hardcore audience take up the casual role because of goodwill towards a perceived non-WWE product. (successful companies don't have goodwill, comes with the territory)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Colohue Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22/September/2018 at 09:15
Oh, and no such thing as intended reverse psychology in booking? Watch the Royal Rumble. Bella, Reigns and Cena were all used as heels purely for that match, and wrestled as heels despite being faces, because fans expected them to win. This was done purely to evoke a big pop for the eventual winner.
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