What do the names CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Batista, John Cena, Triple H, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Christian Cage, Abyss, the Undertaker and of course the legend Sting, mean to the everyday wrestling fan? The first thing is that they are all big wrestling stars in their respective companies of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Total Nonstop Action (TNA). The next thing may be that they are all for the most part fan favorites, but what about the guys that fans do not like?
In wrestling terminology we refer to the bad guys as heels and the good guys as babyfaces. Wrestling is facing a challenge currently because of the lack of effective heels currently in the business. There are a few here and there that are quite good at making fans not like them. A few that come to mind are: Edge, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP), Robert Roode, Chris Jericho, and Santino Marella. These are the few in my opinion who are really good at being bad.
One glaring thing that would come out of that list of heels would be that I only mentioned on TNA name, with that being Robert Roode. Roode is great at getting under people's skin and making you dislike him which is exactly what he intends to do when he hits that ring. TNA just does not really have anyone else like that. Behind Roode their next best heel would probably be former TNA Knockout Champion Awesome Kong who reminds me a lot of Andre the Giant in that she is a heel that spreads the fear aspect without doing little or any talking.
Kurt Angle is supposed to be a heel, but lets face it when the guy tries to get us to hate him, most of us simply end up laughing because he is a funny guy. Funny can work for some, but Kurt is a guy I think the fans would just rather see wrestle than see him try to get them angry. If anything Kurt should be a face that lets his mat work do the talking. TNA has no other option on how to use him though, because their roster is crowded with babyface talent.
The best heel currently on the WWE roster is Triple H and he is working as a babyface. Triple H spent a good portion of his career as a heel and the fans just grew to like him because he was/is so effective when playing the role of a villain. The fans would likely not buy another Triple H heel turn which is why I believe he'll finish out his career as a babyface, which is fine because he plays that role well too.
Another quality heel currently working as babyface would be Mr. Kennedy. This guy is one of my favorites simply for his entrance. Mr. Kennedy has that quality like the Rock about him where he can get the fans to chang along with him. He is an excellent talker and is young enough that his best heel days are likely in front of him.
Santino Marella is one of those that I think the fans are beginning to like a little more than they dislike him, and I say why not? The guy is easily one of the most entertaining parts of a quite frankly confusing WWE Monday Night Raw these days.
I cannot say that I think Chris Jericho is getting people to hate him, but he is an effective heel nonetheless. Jericho has a great understanding of how to get people against him and I think that while the fans may not hate him, they do respect what he is doing and are willing to go along with him playing the part of bad guy.
MVP is that classic heel that brags about how great he is and the fans cannot stand it. He also adds that entertaining heel aspect that deep down the fans enjoy but they love to hate him even more.
Edge is arguably the best heel the WWE currently has. It all stems back to the real life controversy of he and Amy Dumas (formerly Lita) having an affair behind the back of Amy's then boyfriend Matt Hardy. Edge gained immense heat for this whole situation and he was able to take that and put it into his character and boy has it worked. 2 WWE Title and 3 World Title reigns in the last 2 and a half years certainly proves this.
So few currently out there are willing to take the route of being the bad guy as they probably fear losing merchandise sales, and just do not like hearing the fans boo them. RAW currently has no great heel that people just love to hate. John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) is probably their top heel, but I believe most fans simply find him boring rather than hating him for being good at what he does. There is one man that can change the RAW landscape upon his return from injury and that is Randy Orton.
Randy is an outstanding heel that has only begun to crack the surface of how good of a bad guy he can be. The fans just genuinely do not like this guy and that is because he does not pander to them. He is great on the microphone and I think sooner rather than later people will pay just to boo him.
Where does all this leave the wrestling business? Too many fan favorites and too much fear of turning one of them bad. If WWE decided to turn John Cena heel right now it would be huge. Not Hulk Hogan joining the NWO huge, but still pretty big simply because Cena is a hit with kids. I definitely think this could work because there are already a lot of people that do not like Cena as he draws a few jeers everywhere he goes.
I do not know how much of a threat WWE considers TNA to be, but it apparently is not enough as they continue to do the same stuff week after week. TNA on the other hand is still needing that big acquisition or a new breakthrough character (like a Goldberg or Stone Cold Steve Austin). Even though the people they have brought in have done decent, they still need something really big to be more of a threat to Vince McMahon.
As Hulk Hogan proved in 1996, a shocking heel turn is what the wrestling business currently needs.