Pro Wrestling as Theatre, Part 3: Villains Like Miz Are the Reason Fans Tune in

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIDecember 26, 2011

Villains, which are better known as heels, are what make the plot in any type of medium keep going when there is a conflict between characters.  Whether it is a movie, literature, video game or TV show, the bad guy keeps those interacting with the medium hooked.

There are certain times when this doesn't hold true, such as if the plot has to do with a mystery or romance, but in the WWE, it always ends with simulated violence, so there always needs to be a protagonist and an antagonist.

And the antagonist is the driving part of the plot.

As mentioned in the second part of this series, heroes have a very static way in which they can be portrayed.  They can't deviate very far from the set of morals laid out for them.  The only exception to this role is the "anti-hero," who is completely one or the other.

However, there can only be a small amount of anti-heroes working at one time, otherwise the effect is lost.

That means it falls to the villain to create the scenarios for the hero to react to.

One of the best examples in literature is Iago from Shakespeare's Othello.

Othello himself is a straightforward tragic hero.  Someone who is noble, but trusting and unfortunately falls prey to the villain and his own mistrust.  There is nothing groundbreaking or new about him.

However, Iago keeps the story going because he not only uses different tricks to connive others to do his will, but also comes up with different motivations for why he is intent on destroying Othello.

It ranges from losing a promotion, to being racist, to even the fact that Othello is having an affair with his wife.  It is never nailed down why Iago plots against Othello and that keeps the play interesting.

Wrestling is the same with characters like the Miz.  

He has gone from being "the chick magnet" and teaming with John Morrison, to turning into the heel who rubs it in people's faces that he became successful, to a now harsher Miz who takes advantage of other wrestlers to claw himself back to the top.

That versatility is something only the villain can do and it is what makes watching the hero go against them entertaining.

It is also something the WWE has recently been failing to do.  The faces consistently get the better of the heels in the pay-per-views and the shows leading up.  

Only recently in the last months have the heels started winning matches and building up steam in feuds with faces.

But people don't pay to see the hero beat the villain halfway through a film, or lose two-thirds of the way through a book, and they don't want that in wrestling.

They want to see a villain who will keep changing their strategy and the hero will rise against them and win.