In the world of professional wrestling, there are good-guys who we call babyfaces and the bad-guys that we call heels. The differentiation between the two different character archetypes dictates the ways in which the wrestlers perform and succeed.
With that being said, there are different sets of rules that babyfaces and heels have to go by and this has become an area where many of the fans remain clueless.
For those who play the role of a babyface, it becomes their job to win matches in clean fashion and become the victor through a display of superior skill, power, and effort.
For those who play the role of a heel, it becomes their job to win matches by any means necessary. This means that they often win by unscrupulous methods.
This basic set of rules seems to be clear, yet there are still many fans who judge both kinds of wrestlers as if they are competing under the same criteria.
For example, Triple H is a wrestler who at this point in time is a babyface. He wins matches by brute strength, skill, and everything that gives him the moniker of the Cerebral Assassin. When Triple H manages to win a major contest, his fans credit him with all of the various praises you could think of.
Then we have a wrestler like Edge who is a heel. He has been given the moniker of the Ultimate Opportunist and often wins big matches in weaselly fashion. Think of how he won his first WWE Championship, by cashing in his Money in The Bank contract after John Cena survived the Elimination Chamber and spearing what was left of him.
Those same wrestling fans who would admire a courageous Triple H or John Cena victory would attempt to discredit Edge's due to the context in which it happened. As if winning a championship in that kind of way is somehow less impressive.
This is where people need to wake up and learn about character-roles.
A heel winning in dubious fashion is just as legitimate and credible as a babyface winning in clean fashion.
Because the WWE does not often want to see their heels defeat top babyfacesunless it is through questionable means. They do this to protect the integrity of their babyfaces.
When was the last time you saw a top heel defeat a top babyface simply because they were the better competitor?
The one exception would be if the heel happened to be extremely large (think of Vladimir Kozlov) because fans can somehow buy a bigger heel beating up on a smaller babyface.
At the same time, you will almost never see a guy like Edge defeat a guy like John Cena just because he was the better competitor. Not through cheating, interference, or some perfect opportunity. We will almost never see Edge just beat Cena simply because he's better.
Have you ever heard anyone criticize Randy Orton for hiding behind lawyers or running away? Newsflash: that's his role and it's not because he's a coward of any kind.
Remember in 2004 when Triple H was a heel and Randy Orton was a babyface? You would see Triple H act more cowardly and Orton act more heroic. Do you think they magically changed the ways they carry themselves?
Of course not.
Their roles switched so now it is Randy Orton who is the heel and Triple H who is the babyface and they act accordingly.
Look back to this year's Royal Rumble. Randy Orton's victory was just as legitimate and impressive as when John Cena won it the year prior all by himself.
Orton is a heel and it is his role to play the numbers game to his advantage. If he was a heel without a stable he would have managed to win by some other fashion.
My point being is that it is idiotic to judge our heels by the same standard as we judge our babyfaces.
By that same token, something interesting happens when a heel does manage to beat a babyface in clean fashion.
I'm not talking about a top heel taking out a jobber or mid-carder. I'm not talking about a big muscular heel like a Vladimir Kozlov winning because he's on some undefeated streak and feared because his size.
I'm talking about rare instances like when Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy at the Royal Rumble in 2007.
When a heel manages to defeat a top babyface in clean fashion simply because they are the better competitor, they deserve more credit for winning in clean fashion then when a babyface defeats them in clean fashion.
It is beyond common-place for a babyface to defeat a heel in clean fashion. That is their role so seeing thing play out that way is usually nothing remarkable. If a heel manages to win in clean fashion, it symbolizes a very powerful statement. It illustrates the fact that the heel is so good, he can even win despite the character-rules that almost always prevent victory from coming in that fashion.
Many people would say that judging things that way is unfair.
It's not. True the heel would be getting more credit than the babyface for essentially doing the same thing but it is the babyface who usually reaps the majority of wrestling's benefits anyway.
The babyface who can make more merchandise money for the company gets preferential treatment. They are the ones who get to be cheered for wherever they go. It is the heels like Chris Jericho who get harassed outside the arenas.
If the heels get a little more credit for being so good that they succeed despite the rules that usually play against them, so be it. I say the babyfaces get the much better end of the deal anyway.
So as you can see, there are some very different rules that babyfaces and heels have to go by. Both types of characters are treated completely differently. The issue arises when people attempt to judge heels by the same criteria as the babyfaces.
If you do that then you lose sight of how the wrestling business works in the first place.
Then again, it might be all for the better that so many fans view things in that fashion.
It allows the fans (who are almost always in support of the babyfaces in the first place) to have the gratification of seeing their heroes win and have a plethora of excuses when they lose.
I might now like the way we judge the Superstars before us, but it has become the ignorant standard that so many people have chosen to embrace.