No matter how great a hero is, he needs an equally capable villain.
Sure, The Rock and Steve Austin were the focal point of their era, but their success relied heavily upon what Triple H and Kurt Angle did to challenge them, and, in actuality, make them better performers.
The bad guy has always been tougher to portray correctly.
Being a face, you simply have to gain the crowd's affection. It's not entirely necessary that you are the best, and there aren’t many dimensions to your character.
While The Rock just came out and told jokes, Kurt Angle had to foil his performance while being the butt of his joke, as well out wrestle him to look credible.
Usually the heel is the better athlete; Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Kurt Angle were easily better performers than The Rock, Austin, or Hulk Hogan.
When it comes to being a face, there isn't usually much variety. Sure, you have the comedian, the badass, and the patriot, but much isn't really required.
As a heel you are a coward, an opportunist, an anti-hero, a master mind, a "self righteous believer," a monster, or a wise-cracker.
It's a lot harder to make someone really hate you, than make them cheer you.
The main difference is that most heels have to portray all of these parts at one time or another.
And that is easier said than done.
No longer are there multi-layered villains, but instead more one-dimensional characters. Heels have rapidly grown more and more...dull.
Granted, you have your Randy Orton, who is a constantly evolving heel who has played every role at one point or another.
But for every Orton, you have five The Miz's. An unentertaining, awful wrestler whose career highlight is being buried by John Cena. Or how about Umanga? A boring, untalented guy who hit you with his thumb (luckily he's gone).
Even your decent heels such as Kennedy and MVP were one trick ponies, neither of whom were tremendous wrestlers. They just came out to cut another "cocky, self-absorbed" promo.
Dolph Ziggler, who is actually a decent wrestler, is still just another cocky heel. As good a wrestler and heel as Morrison was, he too was just another cocky one.
What happened to the dominating heels such as Kane, who would just come out, kickass and leave?
Kozlov can’t talk, or wrestle, and his only talent is not getting fired.
It seems the nerd/coward heel played brilliantly by Kurt Angle is also gone.
The guy who was always the butt of the joke, who would run away from the fight, more than stay. But who would later gain the upper hand, due to his calculating schemes.
No one comes to mind.
Orton was a good anti-hero, and as close to a 90s Triple H mastermind, when he was punting McMahons head, and never swayed too far to either side.
But even he has been stripped down, heavily relying on cowering and calling on Legacy.
Edge was easily the opportunist, and he played it well at first, but his niche, like many WWE story lines, was over exploited. His sneaking became a crutch, and his character never evolved. His cheating was no longer new, and different, it became a running joke.
And all these examples go on to prove why CM Punk is so refreshing.
He fits into the self-believer type, and he can actually wrestle.
In his mind, much like Chris Jericho (who has played every heel role), he is the hero. He is the one setting examples for the children, and he really hasn't done anything wrong. That, as well as having to carry Hardy in their matches.
Part II will go into the top 5 reason no one really "hates" heels anymore.