WWE: The Top 12 Ways a Heel Can Get Heat from a Pro Wrestling Crowd

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2012

WWE: The Top 12 Ways a Heel Can Get Heat from a Pro Wrestling Crowd

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    Getting heat.  It is a prerequisite to being a heel, and the heels know that in order to get over, they have to work the crowd, to raise the ire of the fans who will ultimately decide their importance to the company.

    How much a heel is despised usually defines their position on the totem pole of Superstars, as the bigger the pop, the more hate leveled at them by fans, the more they can do business.

    And, everyone knows that the best heels can do some very serious business. 

    Of course, I am more than a little biased in this area, as I have spent the majority of my time in the business as a heel.  It's cool, it's fun, and to be honest, there's nothing like making a crowd want to rip your head off.

    Not for real, though.  I bruise easy.

    There are many ways to generate heat from a pro wrestling crowd, but I have managed to narrow them down to 12 of my personal favorites.

    Go ahead.  Boo.  I'm a heel; it's what I want.

12: Be Shawn Michaels

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    During the Attitude Era in WWE, few Superstars could get the kind of killer heat that the Heartbreak Kid commanded.

    He was crass, sarcastic, extremely arrogant, and very cocky.  He wore the black hat like no one else, and it seemed no matter what happened in the company, Shawn was usually at or near the center of controversy.

    On a sidenote, this particular slide came from a massive retweeting binge that Shawn went on for the majority of the day on Friday.

    The whole thing started with the situation involving Chris Jericho's disrespect of the Brazilian flag, and Shawn Michaels' defending him on Twitter.  

    HBK's similar actions with the Canadian flag against Bret Hart years ago, were immediately brought up, and suddenly, fans all over the world began tweeting the various crimes that Shawn may, or may not, have been guilty of.

    Shawn got such a kick out of this, that he began retweeting some of the comments, including one from yours truly, proving once again, that he is a Superstar who is all about having fun with the fans.

    So, this slide is in response to all of that.  Call it a way to continue the joke.

    If you haven't had the opportunity, take the time to check it out.  Very funny stuff.

11: Desecrate Their Flag

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    Wait, so, you didn't know about this one?  What, you been living under a rock for the past two days? 

    When Chis Jericho disrespected the Brazilian flag, WWE suspended him for 30 days.  Imagine going to work and being told to go home after doing your job.

    Chris and WWE have since issued apologies, and now we all wait to see if an upset Brazilian government, and any fans who may be offended, accept their pleas for forgiveness.

    In other words, this was some great heat.

    The fact that it's a legal issue in Brazil is beside the point, Jericho was doing his part as a heel, and was working the crowd of fans who are supposed to hate him.

    It's been done for many years in the business, and this will likely not be the last time.

    Suddenly, I find myself remembering the night that Shawn Michaels stuck the Canadian flag up his nose. 

    To insult the flag is to insult its people.  But, a heel could care less.  At the end of the day, it's really nothing personal, the guy is doing what comes naturally.

    And, let's not forget:  it's World Wrestling Entertainment, folks.  

    Emphasis on entertainment.

10: Insult Their Sports Team

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    How can a babyface get over in front of a crowd?  Wear a jersey belonging to the city's biggest pro team.

    How does a heel get over in front of crowd?  Wear a jersey belonging to that pro team's biggest rival.

    It's so smart, and so easy, that it's amazing it's not done more than what it is.  Fans are known for being very passionate about their love of sports, and to hear someone criticize their favorite team, is to hear complete blasphemy being perpetrated right in front of them.

    Again, it's all in good humor, and it's meant only as a way for a heel to generate heat.

    But, try telling that to an arena full of fans who feel the need to defend their hometown sports team against a loud-mouthed heel who should have his butt kicked for throwing around useless insults.

    They're a little ticked off.  Okay, try a lot.

9: Flaunt Your Wealth

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    Ric Flair, decked out in a fur coat, gold Rolex watch on his wrist, diamond rings on his fingers, running his hands through his hair, looking down on the fans as he yells into the microphone.

    That, my friends, is how you get heat.

    There's nothing like the good old fashioned "I have this, and you don't," attitude that some heels have.  It almost always gets instant heat from the crowd, who for the most part, includes working-class families.

    JBL and Ted DiBiase are two more great examples of this one, as they found that constantly waving a wad of cash into the crowd's face, gets some pretty big response.

    And none of it positive.

    But, for a heel who is trying to get over, it's the best response they could ever hope for.

8: Blame Them

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    "You don't appreciate me.  This is all your fault.  It's because of you that I lost my match, and it's because of you that I'm not higher up on the ladder.  I don't need you!"

    Now, how many times have we heard this one?

    The crowd has a lot of stroke in matches, and a worker lives or dies by their desire to either love or hate him.  So, to blame them for some ridiculous bad luck, or bad timing on the heel's part, is a big deal.  

    The crowd typically does not take too well to being blamed for something they had nothing to do with, so they are immediately armed with plenty of reason to hate, and boo the heel in question.

    When a worker turns the blame from himself, and places it on the crowd, he is running from responsibility.  The fans then not so subtly remind him that he is dead wrong.

    The absolute right response, and one that is highly desirable.

7: Annoy Them

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    I'm sorry, guys, but for me, this is Vickie Guerrero.

    Yes, she gets big-time heat from fans, and she has for years now.  But, by this time, her "excuse me" routine has gotten a little tired, and now I believe that she is getting booed because fans are just sick of hearing it.

    So what?  It's working, right?

    When all else fails, when every other possibility of getting over as a heel has been exhausted, plan B is always there, whenever the situation arises.

    Plan B requires doing all you can do to just flat-out get on someone's last nerve.

    If a heel keeps it going, never letting up, then eventually those fans who may have not really cared all that much about him will suddenly just lose their cool, at times even yelling at the TV.

    "God, would you stop it!?"

    Yep, it's Vickie to a T.

6: Back Down from a Fight

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    The heel is in the ring, beating down his opponent after the bell has rung.  He has the win, why would he go this far?

    Suddenly, a babyface rushes down to the ring, chasing the heel out onto the floor.  The face motions the heel back into the ring, and the crowd pops accordingly for the possible confrontation.

    But, the heel, who appears to be thinking it over, stops, smiles, and shakes his head.

    "We're not going to do this now.  We will do this on my time."

    How many times have we seen this exact situation go down in WWE?

    There's nothing like getting a pro wrestling crowd worked up, pushing a potential showdown between two hot talents, only to suddenly go hands off, making them want to see it even more.

    Fans hate a guy who will not be a man and step up to the plate to handle their business.  That guy can expect to be hated, and booed out of the building.

    Which is exactly why it's done.

5: Attack a Babyface

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    You know that heel who backed down from a fight, claiming that he would do it on "his time?"

    Well, his time came when the babyface's back is turned.

    A face is all about the man-to-man confrontation, stepping up, taking the bull by the horns, and having the showdown that fans want to see.

    So, when that face is told no, then sneak attacked when he does not expect it, fans are instantly in an uproar.

    A heel is all about doing what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.  And, he will take every cheap shot, stoop to any level, to gain an advantage over an opponent he perhaps knows he cannot beat.

    Beating down that cowboy who wants to be the hero?  Well, that guy is just asking for it, right?

4: Attack a Woman

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    It takes the worst kind of man to ever raise his hand to a woman.

    In fact, it takes a real heel.

    This is not to condone violence against women, of course.  That is never acceptable, in any situation, obviously.

    But, in the world of professional wrestling, women are fair game.  And, once a woman is in the ring, then she is in the line of fire for any heel who is out for blood.

    It could merely be a shove, a hair pull, or an intimidating stare-down in the corner.  No one ever said that a heel had to use his finisher on a woman, to get heat from the crowd.

    But, hey, if she's up for it.  

    A woman can also be used as a shield, a way for a heel to hide in a physical confrontation, if necessary.

    Perhaps the best example of this is the late great Macho Man Randy Savage, who constantly hid behind Miss Elizabeth, whenever he was chased by a babyface that he would rather stay away from.

    The fact is, pro wrestlers are trained, they know what they're doing, and if they are professional and responsible, then no one will get hurt, women included.

    It has worked in the past, and it works now.

    All in the name of getting over.

3: Insult Them

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    Basic.  Simple.  Tried and true.

    When all else fails, just rip on the paying customer who could have spent their hard-earned money on the movies that night, or perhaps just stayed home.  Sound ridiculous?

    Not to a heel, who looks at fans as an annoyance, as a group of people who are there to witness them, in all their greatness.  

    And by the way, they're all fat and stupid.

    "What I would like to have right now is for all you fat, ugly, inner city sweat-hogs, keep the noise down, while I take my robe off, and show the ladies what a real, sexy man looks like."

    After a few times of giving similar such intros before his matches, Ravishing Rick Rude really only need grab the mic, and had automatic heat before he even opened his mouth.

    Is it cheap?  Yes.  Does it work?  You better believe it.

2: Cheat to Win

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    Just win, baby.

    It's second nature for a heel to cheat.  It's in their DNA.  When a crowd sees their favorite worker, a guy who has earned his spot, either through company loyalty, or talent and ability, lose to someone who is taking the easy way out, it's kind of a big deal.

    Hence the booing and hissing heard throughout the arena.

    Whether a heel uses a foreign object, pulls the tights, or gets an assist from another heel to gain a victory, it's a sure-fire way to get a guaranteed reaction from fans.

    Big-time heat.

    This not to say that a heel needs to be shady in every win, but he will resort to rule-breaking whenever necessary, especially if he cannot get the upper hand based on his own abilities in the ring.

    And there's nothing like cheating to win to remind fans why they hate a guy in the first place.

1: Cut a Promo

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    Abraham Lincoln once said that a pro wrestler cutting a great promo is a thing of beauty, a work of art more impressive than anything hanging in the Louvre.

    Okay, he didn't say that, but it's true.

    A promo establishes a guy's attitude, what his goals are, and where his head is, at any given time. For a heel, a promo is a tool used to make fans want to pitch him off a roof.

    Like, a really tall roof.

    He can say whatever he wants to say, however he wants to say it.  There are no limits to how cruel, how vile, and how despicable a heel can be on the mic, the whole point is to get a rise out of fans, to make them get into the moment.

    To get a reaction from fans is what it's all about.  If a heel can't do that, then he will fail.  

    Simple as that.