Where Have All The Bad Men Gone"
January 8, 2006 by Drew McGowan
I was watching RAW the other night and I noticed something. I realize that's a pretty clichéd way to start a column, but it's the truth dear reader. Beyond the standard letterhead opener you should also notice that I said I noticed something on RAW, which is really odd considering the less than stellar programming as of late.
See, Triple H ran in on Big Show and cost him his match against Shawn Michaels. But that was it. That's the heel chicanery that the "top" guy uses. As much as I love the old school I'll readily admit that they weren't always as original as they could have been. The power of it came from the characters of the wrestlers. Not so much from their actions. That led me to further thinking what was missing from these more modern heel performers. Why don't I feel like giving them the same heat as the old school"
This line of thought led to much disinterest in the rest of the program, and I started thinking about my favorite heels from back in the day. Guys like ECW Raven, The Million Dollar Man, Hollywood Hogan and countless others I'm neglecting to mention here. What made these guys so much better in my eyes then the heels these days" And that's when it hit me like a Cactus Jack elbow to the cement.
The old school heels didn't just run in on a match or insult the crowds for cheap pops. They brought out the worst in those around them as well. Take Ted Dibiases Million Dollar Man for example. A brash arrogant millionaire who wouldn't just be content to beat the hell out of you, but he'd also want to make you sell him your soul. Take the angle where he bought the belt from Andre as an example. As a heel, he worked on more levels then just personal gain. He was out to prove his philosophy of "Everybody's got a price." And would often succeed.
Bad guys that were so bad they enveloped everyone else around them and operated on a level beyond what the basic story required. Even Hogan with the NWO angle as his lift off fuel was a solid heel not because of what he did, but what happened. Confused" Perhaps so.
Hogan as a heel was great. Take something as hated at the time as the Outsiders and then have your biggest face join them with a turn. That was a smart move as it not only refreshed Hogan's career and provided a star who could last a few more years, but it also builds up a solid heel faction that you can use. The NWO was handled brilliantly until near the end where the ranks were so high. But during the early run where Hogan was drawing in guys like The Giant (screw Big Show, he'll always be The Giant to Me.), and breaking up popular tag teams, he was easy to hate. He, like Dibiase, showed us just how weak our heroes could be. Eventually near the end of course it became a joke. My friends and I had a running joke about the NWO and management punishing the under-card by making them join but that another column all to itself. Telling you people that the NWO was genius is not news. There was more to both Hogan and Dibiase that worked and shares a link to, yes, Raven.
That was that we can actually relate to them as bad guys. Dibiase had his spiel about being rich and he should be able to get what he wants. If I wasn't a broke grad student I would probably feel the same way. We all like to say money can't buy everything but when you think about it what did Paris Hilton do to earn her fame other then throw a bunch of money around and put her face everywhere" It's sad but true.
Hogan was frustrated about having to be the good guy all the time. "Take your vitamins, say your prayers, blah blah blah blah blah." A couple years of that shtick and I wouldn't like it either. Why the hell should I always be the one to set an example or be the good guy"
Raven, who is one of my personal favorites, appeals to the loser in us all. The guy who you used to think you were in high school. Or at least the guy you used to beat up in high school. All things considered Raven's actions were almost completely justified in his feud with Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer was a jerk to him and managed to get very popular and beloved anyways. That's not fair at all. If someone screws me I sure as hell want to see them get a comeuppance, even just a little bit. Raven was out there fighting against what was a personal injustice to him against the guy you either thought you were in high school, or got beat up by in high school.
These were all villains that I could relate too. Guys that showed me a darker part of myself and also drew it out of their opponents. Today's heel doesn't seem to have that. What was Triple H's logic for beating up Ric Flair" "He's too old for the business." My grandpa is old but I don't think kicking his ass until he stayed inside all day makes sense. There isn't really any line of discernable reason to these actions. What's a writing meeting like in the WWE these days"
"Okay Hunter. You're going to go out there and beat down Ric Flair."
"What's my motivation""
"He's too old."
"Um....so why would I do that""
"Because you're a bad guy."
Makes sense after getting as many chair shots to the head as he has I suppose. We need some more top bad guys. Someone out there to really bring back the old heel spirit without beating up on old men or putting someone half their size into a full nels...opps. Sorry. "Masterlock," Without a really great villain to defeat, you can't have a good hero. No Stone Cold without Vince McMahon.
How's that song go" "Where have all the bad men gone""
Well, close enough.
by Drew McGowan ..
[See What People Are Saying About This Column on the Forums]
Jesse Lee wrote:
Nice column. I noticed this too. They want the heels to get heat, but there's no real way to do it by marketing it towards children. Ok, Trips beat up Flair because he's old, yeah, it shows he's jerk, but there are old men out there in real life getting picked on just because he remembered the day FDR drove through his hometown.
One case, I think WWE is saving all of their ammo for "if" TNA gets real big (to me, "when.") However, if they're the geniuses they claim to be, there's no reason why they can't produce the same quality at all times.
I personally just think WWE is softening up. With this new drug policy, not-too-recent ban on moves that are allowed, and constant attempts to break into something other than wrestling (movies, music, etc) WWE is letting their quality drop so they can bring the next "Golden Age/Attitude Era" when they need it.
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