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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Stereotypes & Innovations
May 23, 2005 by Jack Malone


Why is it that the face characters in WWE just aren't as popular as they used to be" What is it about them that prevents them from being anywhere near as over as The Rock and Stone Cold used to be back in the attitude era" It's obvious - they're all the same. Essentially, what we have is a roster half-filled with good guys, each with identical principals and opinions on issues. This may be a slight exaggeration, but if you look across the board you will notice just how many stereotypes WWE has created.

The problem is that nowadays, WWE is somewhat reluctant to try anything new. When you look at the greats from the past, there was something about them that set them apart. Austin was an all out rebel, beating down on everyone who stood in his way. Then there was The Rock, a cocky trash talker who would humiliate his rivals in a variety of ways. Of course today, there are examples of these types of innovations. The Undertaker maintains his gimmick to this day, making him without doubt the most over face on the roster. Also, there was Eddie Guerrero, who may have now turned heel, but provided something really special while he was face. His lie, cheat and steal gimmick was gold; purely because he wasn't like every other face.

The problem is with the rest of the guys that, well, they're just a little too soft. There's no attitude any more. They all get along backstage, they all enjoy a good laugh, they all do the right thing and all of the American faces support their country. It's just ridiculous. Some of them are so bland that they have literally nothing to set them apart from one another. What's worse is that at times, this can prove totally unbelievable. Despite how a character may have acted as a heel, WWE thinks that the only way to win the fans' support is to change them into a stereotypical face. Here are some victims of this policy:

Brock Lesnar: Possibly the worst affected of all. From his debut to losing for the first time, Lesnar played a great psychotic monster heel. Even the most powerful of moves affected him very little, he would often destroy his opponents and the only time he would crack a smile was a wry sadistic one after one of his trademark beatdowns. So what happened when this evil monster turned face" Well, for the first several months, it worked just as well the other way around. He tore through his opponents in an attempt to get revenge on Paul Heyman and regain the world title he had stolen from him. It was great to see him dominate his opponents and raise hell Goldberg style, just with a lot better matches. However, after winning back the title - he changed. Just three weeks after his victory over Angle at WrestleMania, he entered with a huge smile on his face and joked around with Michael Cole. From here, it was all downhill. He became close friends with the likes of Angle, Mysterio and Gowen. He was made to look less dominant in the ring and began to lose any trace of a gimmick. After a few months, I stopped and thought to myself "Why am I supposed to be cheering this guy again"" because he really no longer had a character. The fans lost equal interest and Lesnar had to be turned heel once again, but after this travesty he was never the same.

Victoria: Another tragic victim. Victoria had brought something fresh to the women's division when she debuted as a psychopathic heel. Her obsession with the title and relationship with Richards were both entertaining and intriguing. It looked as if a feud with Jazz was on the cards, something which many fans were anticipating. Sadly, it never happened. Jazz fell injured and the focus was placed on Molly, phasing Victoria into the background. So, the only way to return her to the forefront was a face turn and a feud with Molly. Sure enough, this is what we saw. Victoria slowly turned face and won the title for the second time. Once again, WWE decided that the fans would never get behind her psycho gimmick, despite its glowing potential. So, they turned her into a booty shaking, all smiles and happy-go-lucky diva; once again without a trace of personality. Evidently, the fans were unsure how to take this. For several months, she received pops but after a while the interest started to fade and she was demoted to a heat regular.

Randy Orton: The legend killer Randy Orton was one of the best new heels seen in a long time. His cockiness and arrogance was portrayed to a level which really made the fans love to hate him, so much so that he eventually became popular. So WWE turned him face as a result. Triple H turned on him and then he was off to run free and gain the fan's support. Unfortunately, he too was stripped of his gimmick. He was no longer cocky, but just all smiles. He became friends with the likes of Benoit and Jericho. He entered, fought his match and left. He said nothing and did nothing to set him apart from a bland human being. The fans really had no reason to care. His face run lasted a mere five months before he was forced to turn heel once again.

John Cena: Ok, now it's unfair to list Cena as a failure, since his gimmick is super over; yet you can't help but feel it could have been so much bigger. As a heel, Cena's raps were incredible. He was owning his opponents verbally the way The Rock used to. His thug gimmick also brought a hint of Austin to the equation, in a guy who cared for nothing and nobody. With these two skills combined, he could have gone on to develop into an absolute super face. Well, he certainly became very popular, but he didn't exactly drawn in extra crowds. The problem was that he became pretty much another stereotype. He got along well with RVD and Guerrero. He supported USA. He began replacing his awesome raps with less comedic jokes about poop. This continues and he is slowly becoming just another pea in the pod. Since he no longer raps, his current gimmick is basically his accent.

Chris Benoit: Benoit hasn't been very badly affected. His whole "4 Real" thing works quite well, but some things have been done to hurt it. For instance, crying over Eugene was totally unnecessary and made a mockery of the current world champion. His friendships with the other top faces slowly transformed him into a team player, rather than an individual.

Batista: It looks as if Batista is going the same way. Ever since winning the title from Triple H, he hasn't been dominating the ring at all. He's been joking around with Bischoff, complimenting JR and smiling all the time. So why should we care" He now has nothing about his persona that makes him special, so just why exactly are we supposed to support him"

Those are just some examples of the guys who are stripped of their personas to make them into stereotypes. In truth, this causes the fans to eventually lose interest and give up on them. Just look at Booker T, can anyone explain to me what his current gimmick is" Because it really isn't striking me at all.

It's as if WWE needs to make it 100% clear who we like and who we don't. There are no more complex characters with whom we are left to make our minds up about, it's all black and white. Look at lumberjack matches. WWE has guys like Stevie Richards and La Resistance supporting Triple H, just because he's the heel, but why would they care" Especially La Resistance, who supposedly hate Americans. It works the same with faces, but to an even worse degree. Think back to the Cena/Dupree match from one year ago. Remember how every single "good guy" lifted Cena in the air after his victory" Where was the sense in that" Especially after how Cena had been feuding with some of these guys around six months ago.

There is a serious lack of effort in gimmicks nowadays and they are all becoming to similar for the fans to care about each and every one. Let's see more innovations, WWE. Give us a real reason to care about who wins once again.

by Jack Malone --- [View Jack Malone's Column Index]..


Huthaifas wrote:
Boy, do I agree with you, even though I dont think any of the guys you listed have the charisma of Rock or SCSA. Its pure laziness. The guy I am surprised that you didnt mention is Kane. The Big Evil Red Machine is crying like a baby.WTF, he should be walking to the ring and killing wrestlers left and right. They go out of their way to make him scary, then they make him a semi face. The moment a wrestler get a little popularity, the E immediately soften them up, its a joke. The only wrestlers that seem dedicated to being heels are HHH,JBL,Edge and the next big heel, Muhammad Hassan. Buyrates are going down, because heels arent being heels. Can we please get Hurricane to start acting like a super hero, and start coming for the save whenever a diva or face needs help.
michael nader wrote:
I totally agree with you. Why is it when a face turns heel he has a reason to be bitter by the way he was treated as a face, but when a heel turns face, his heelish ways are totally forgotten" They don't make it seem like the faces are siding with the fans because it benefits them anymore. They make it seem like the faces are only on the fans side because it's their job. I don't know if what i said made sense but hopefully it did.
Jasongm wrote:
I also agree 100%! I thought I was alone on this, I'm 30 years old & I still watch WWE just to see the next "Stone Cold" or "The Rock"! So far the WWE has'nt brought any character to make up for this; John Cena is not the answer the WWE is looking for (His current storyline looks to much & similiar to that of SCSA back in the day, even predictable!). Theres no longer shades of grey in the company, more like Black & White. I also agree where every face (good guy) wrestler is just a generic copy of another face, and so on... This is why fan support is at its lowest, theres just so little face for fans to support. Chris Benoit had his 15 minutes of fame before going down the road to shame (again see his current storyline), Once a main event attraction, now a mid card level wrestler in which no one cares for anymore. Its as if the WWE is filtering they're talent, good today, gone tommorow. Personally, I can't get into the (once again i'll say it), generic storyline between Jericho & Cena & Bischoff (Its the same thing between SCSA vs Vince Mcmahon vs The Rock or HHH), the WWE has taken a midcard like Jericho (Remember he's been loosing a war of matches for the Intercontinental title against Benjamin), fans have been cheering/booing Jericho for a while now; again no anticipation or crowd reaction from Jericho, a once great wrestler now turned generic wrestler with the same arsenal of moves, bulldog, dropkick to the apron, lionsault, liontamer...oops boston crab move... all of a sudden were suppose to care now because he gets to be heel, gets a boost up for the WWE title against Cena... Huh"! The WWE once us to simply care about this feud"! I'm not impressed. John Cena I'm not impressed either. John Cena is a wrestler teenagers & young women are suppose to care for. Personally, the WWE needs to bring out the next SCSA or the Rock ASAP! Like I said before, I'm 30, I need my WWE fix... but the current trend of generic wrestlers with their 15 minutes of fame will simply make me turn off the remote & the WWE for good. The attitude needs to come back, it just feels like the WWE has SCSA & The Rock on a permanent injury reserve list with all these generic's running it. The WWE is living off life support at the moment, I want the company to make me shell out 40+ dollars every month to watch their PPV's again, but I wont unless they produce great wretlers, angles, memorial moments, none predictable storylines & matches, & overall great champions. I have'nt ordered a WWE PPV in 2 years, I want the company to make me do that! But nothing has intrigued me, maybe its age, or maybe its the WWE going through a format for its younger viewers. I dont know. Matt Hardy could very well be the saving grace the WWE need's. No version 1 this time!!
wrote:

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