WWE Analysis: Should Superstars Have to Prove Themselves as a Heel and a Face?
When you run down lists of the greatest superstars in the history of the wrestling business, you often hear names like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, Hulk Hogan and Undertaker.
Besides being pro wrestlers, these people all have one big thing in common—they can/could all perform as a heel or a baby face and be taken seriously.
Many superstars in the business will bounce from one side to the other several times before they ever win a world title, but these days it seems as if many of the top stars in the business are keeping their alignment as a heel or face without being tested to see if they can perform well as either one.
Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger are all heels who are former WWE or World champions, and they are also superstars who have only ever been heels.
Should they have to prove themselves as a versatile performer capable of doing both a good and bad character before being elevated to the main-event scene?
There are certainly two sides to this argument.
On one hand, when you have a character keep a certain alignment for a very long time, or their whole run with a company, then you get a character which comes across as more believable.
Take Alberto Del Rio for instance. When Del Rio comes through the curtain, or his driver's side door, you know he is a more realistic heel because that is all he has ever been in WWE.
Having someone who smashed Sheamus' head in his car's hood suddenly become a good guy would be contradictory to common sense.
When Sheamus was at the height of his heel character, we saw him attack Triple H with a lead pipe to the head and now he is a smiling baby face who is becoming scarily close to Cena in terms of packaging.
Does that make sense? Would we accept it if we suddenly saw The Joker as Batman's right-hand man?
No, we would not accept it because we only know The Joker as Batman's nemesis. The same logic can be applied to a WWE superstar in many cases.
When we see someone suddenly make a face or heel turn out of nowhere, it can seem very illogical and therefore take us out of the experience and make us question its validity.
People do not make 180 degree turns very often in real life, so why should we accept it in a staged environment?
Christian's face turn was even called into question on-screen when Cody Rhodes asked why he had suddenly turned into a good guy, so WWE clearly sees this stuff as needing to be addressed from time to time.
To add my own rebuttal to that point, when someone is the same good or bad character for many years and then suddenly turns to the other side, it can have a much larger impact than someone changing sides all the time.
Look at Hogan and the nWo. Hogan turning heel was insanely successful because he had cultivated a baby face image for nearly two decades before shocking the world and joining Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
Hogan's turn caused many fans to shift to watching WCW instead of WWE because they had to see for themselves what a heel Hogan would be like.
On the other hand, shouldn't WWE want to make sure every performer they put at the top is versatile enough to perform as whatever character is demanded of them at any given time?
The answer to that question is yes, WWE should want everyone they depend on to bring in ticket sales to be able to perform as a convincing heel or baby face, because you never know when you will need more of one or the other due to injuries, releases or retirements.
Take Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus as examples. All of these men have proven themselves to be valuable as both heels and baby faces, although Cena has been face for many years now.
When you can be trusted to carry the company as whatever they need you to be, then the chances of you sticking around are far greater than if you fall flat on your face as one or the other.
Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler are three of WWE's more physically gifted heels who have yet to be a face in the company and leaving them as heels for too long might make it harder for them to transition later on.
Despite their characters, they will sometimes get baby face reactions from crowds. WWE Extreme Rules actually saw a lot of the heels getting the bigger positive responses from the crowd in Chicago.
Who do you tend to root for?
To even further the benefits of testing superstars on both sides of the morality line is that it could help struggling superstars find a new fanbase.
Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger and Yoshi Tatsu are all superstars who have been employed for a few years and have yet to turn from their original characters.
Swagger was elevated to World Champion very early in his career and Vince McMahon publicly introduced Drew McIntyre as the chosen one. Tatsu has never really had a major push, but he is undeniably talented in the ring.
These three men are now struggling to stay afloat in a sea of superstars and a character change could do wonders for their characters.
Drew McIntyre and Jack Swagger might make good baby faces, but we don't know because we have yet to see how they perform as good guys.
Yoshi Tatsu has been a very effective heel in Japan and WWE would be remiss to not at least try him out as a heel before he either decides to go back to Japan or WWE releases him for lack of a better option.
Some fans may cheer for the heels and not the faces simply because that is what they prefer, others will only cheer the faces and some will cheer who they like without caring what their alignment is.
When it comes to this debate, it is a tricky one because examples for both sides of the argument can make perfect sense when presented the right way.
Perhaps the solution is that certain superstars work better as one or the other while others work best transitioning between the two.
CM Punk might be a good example of someone who is best used switching from heel to face while Cena is someone who works best as just a face, and Del Rio is someone who works better as a hell.
Maybe the answer should be left up to you, the fans. What do you think—should superstars have to prove themselves as being able to perform as a good or bad guy, or should it be a case-by-case basis?
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