WWE Love and Hate: 7 Wrestlers That Legitimately Divide the IWC
In the cartoon world of wrestling, there have always been heroes and villains. Even in the Attitude Era when the concept of heeldom was turned on its head, the premise remained the same. Good always wins, evil always loses, but only after a few hellacious battles.
For some in the wrestling community, there are certain superstars that break this simple concept. A wrestler may be billed as a face, but owing to their marketing or personality, they are disliked. Alternatively a heel may be popular if what they are doing is entertaining.
The master of the heel fan favorite is of course Stone Cold Steve Austin. His brand of chaotic entertainment revolutionised wrestling and helped stabilise the WWE just as it appeared that they would go broke.
There are some wrestlers, however, that defy even this rule. These are superstars who are liked and disliked in equal measure. The example here is of course John Cena. Perhaps like no other, the wrestling world has both accepted and rejected the leader of the Cenation.
This slideshow will highlight seven wrestling superstars who have their admirers and their critics. These are of course but a small example in wrestling history, so please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
Thought I would get this one out of the way first. There is, however, no better example of love/hate than John Cena. This relationship descends storylines and good deeds and plays out every week upon his arrival into a WWE arena.
In my opinion, he has always been the prisoner of his character and direction. In the age of PG and unreliable writing, John Cena can never have the flair of a Steve Austin or the appeal of a Hulk Hogan. He instead comes across as something weaker.
This being said, however, he is a master of what he does. His recent interaction with the Rock probably brought out the best in him and is reflective of what he can do, if he is allowed off the chain.
A WrestleMania showdown with the Undertaker or a much anticipated heel turn would take Cena in a new direction, but even then the chants will remain both for and against.
For some he is an exciting, charismatic and dynamic superstar, for others a spoilt, talentless and boring Stone Cold rip-off. Whatever your opinion, it certainly seems that Randy Orton has his fair share of fans and haters.
Irrespective of what you may think, one thing that is indisputable, is that he has been successful—at least in gold terms. Nine world titles and the winner of the 2009 Royal Rumble, Orton was long destined for success as a junior member of Evolution.
However, backstage politics together with two drug charges have taken their toll on the image of this once poster boy. Relegated off this year's SummerSlam, questions are now being asked as to what direction Orton can now take.
Love him or hate him?
Time can be a great equaliser. Time also allows us to mature. There was a time when Shawn Michaels was heavily criticised by the wrestling community. Arrogant, obnoxious and at times difficult, together with backstage politics made the Heartbreak Kid a somewhat Jeckyl and Hyde figure.
The infamous Montreal match with Bret Hart remains a blight as does his time with Degeneration X and his involvement with the Kliq. However, after rediscovering his smile and ultimately his drive, Shawn returned to the WWE and rebuilt his career and his image.
Those matches with the Undertaker by themselves are enough to cement his legacy but his willingness to put over other wrestlers and the granddaddy of them all, gave Shawn a new image of someone willing to work for the business that made him.
Perhaps unlike others on this list, Shawn has worked hard to rectify his early problems. For some, he will always be that 1990s spoiled brat, but for others, he is a legend.
In a similar fashion to both Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels, Triple H has enjoyed periods of immense popularity and criticism in his time in the WWE. Just where the wrestling community stands overall is uncertain.
The man once deemed the Connecticut Blueblood has revolutionised his character over the years. Now largely retired to the front lines of the office, he is instead fast becoming the face of the new WWE.
Just as with Shawn Michaels, backstage politics have played a large part in explaining why the King of Kings has been criticised throughout his career. Whether he justifies 13 world titles remains questionable given the likes of Roddy Piper and Curt Hennig were unable to win even one.
That was of course a different time, but the fact that on paper he is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time remains a contentious issue for many.
For others he is a major superstar who has led the WWE and continues to do so as an on-air talent. Just as with Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, he remained loyal to the very company that made him and the benefits this produced helped him become a major player in Vince McMahon's northern empire.
Love him or hate him, Triple H helps start a debate.
To be a heel, you must be disliked. To be a great heel, you need to be greatly disliked. To be annoying, however, you have to be hated. That emotion in itself has the ability to turn a wrestling fan off from watching.
There is a fine line between being a great heel and an annoying character. Quite where commentator, Michael Cole fits in is uncertain. For some he is a genius construct that gets wrestling fans infuriated which allows him to effectively sell the world of heeldom.
For others, his character goes beyond what is needed and thus damages the quality of the show. Ruining matches, annoying promos and inconsistent reporting leads to many demanding that their hero, Jim Ross return to the booth.
Michael Cole does have talent; he was always going to struggle replacing Jim Ross, but should a commentator really play such a role in the WWE? For many the answer is no.
The curious case of Mike Mizanin. At this moment, no one is quite certain whether he has made it or not in the WWE. He has held coveted world titles but at present is languishing in the midcard. Whereas others have gone forth and been pushed to the sky, the Miz was struggling to even make WrestleMania.
For some, the Miz is hot property. Strong communication skills, good wrestling technique and a classic heel. His ability could cater for many strong rivalries and there is something akin to the next Chris Jericho in the manner in which he performs.
For others, however, the Miz is a reality star who was unfairly catapulted towards greatness. All mouth and no ability is a common trait in wrestling today and the Miz was able to do a Shawn Michaels whilst former tag team partner, John Morrison did the Jannety.
It's hard to see where the Miz is going. In a wrestling world that is unpredictable, he could be World Champion next year, or be released.
One thing is certain—whatever happens, the fans will not be united in their belief about the man they call the Miz.
The man who revolutionised wrestling. Or the man who created a monster. Whatever you may believe, there is no doubt that Vincent K. McMahon has changed wrestling as we know it. Consuming a domestic market and consolidating it into a national then international product took considerable skill.
However, for some, this transformation created something that wrestling was not. Gone was the localism of wrestling and instead fans were being force fed a Hollywood-esque version where bright lights and interviews took precedence over actual wrestling.
The steroid trials of the 1990s has also gone down as a moment when McMahon and the WWE were severely tarnished. Wrestling remains blighted by this problem with young superstars still continuing to die from the abuse that their bodies have suffered.
Montreal, Attitude, Mr McMahon and PG; we can debate them all as we come to a final verdict on Vince McMahon but the question will provoke a reaction from fans.
For some his ability to create an international product has made him a wrestling god, for others he is regarded as a cruel dictator who is driven by the need to make money.
Either way, Vince McMahon, just as with John Cena, has his many supporters and detractors.
Conclusions: A Final Thought
We all have our favorite marks and our favorite heels. We may love a heel and hate a face. There is no golden rule anymore. The days of red and yellow have been replaced with black and white. There is nothing to stop a wrestling fan from bucking the trend and supporting whomever they want.
What goes into our choice is highly personal. We may love wrestlers for a certain style or technique, or for their communication skills or character. We may appreciate their matches or service to the business. Equally, we may dislike certain wrestlers for all the qualities above.
When Stone Cold Steve Austin turned face in 1997, he changed the concept of wrestling. He did so, however, by creating a new market for wrestling fans to like whatever they wanted. The rise of the Internet Wrestling Community has created an arena to create new ways of thinking.
Some wrestlers, though, will always face a challenge to be accepted. The face-heel relationship does not apply because no matter what they do, they will always be seen as something else by a particular wrestling fan.
The legacy of Shawn Michaels highlights that even one of the most popular superstars in wrestling history still has his detractors today despite everything that he has done.
In the final analysis, wrestling is what it is today because of its fans. We have the power to make and break storylines. We must find our voice more often when we dislike what we see. We have the ability to change things if we break kafaybe and start a loud chant.
The wrestler in his black boots and black trunks can be both a face and a heel. What we think of him will decide if he is popular.