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WWE Loves to Book 'Cool' Heels; Where Did All the 'Real' Heels Go in Wrestling?

Justin LaBar@@JustinLaBar Featured ColumnistAugust 30, 2012

Courtesy of WWE.com
Courtesy of WWE.com

It seems all heels want to be the “cool heels.” Or at least that's what WWE wants to promote.

A cool heel being the bad guy who has a cocky swagger. They have a comedy element to them. You watch them, you don't despise them―you want to be them. A cool heel who doesn't act cowardly because that just isn't cool.

There is a place for cool heels. There have been some great cool heels over the years.

Ric Flair, was a cool heel. Shawn Michaels was a cool heel. The entire N.W.O. spent much of their time being cool heels. The Rock was the ultimate cool heel.

Today, there are too many.

Every week, the beginning of Raw, cheers for CM Punk. Just this past week as Jerry Lawler is in the ring, the fans are chanting for CM Punk.

CM Punk's turn has been done as a slow burn which I can appreciate. Many times a slow burn can be better than one quick action. However, I question the decision of CM Punk working against John Cena while performing this turn. He'll never get fully over as a heel because he is working John Cena who always has his detractors.

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In an attempt to try and CM Punk over as a heel―he's working Jerry Lawler. Working a mini feud against Lawler settles any confusion any fan has of is CM Punk the good guy or bad guy? You don't beat up Jerry Lawler in 2012 and not be the bad guy.

What does it mean when it takes a 62-year-old who gets nostalgia cheers to try and get your WWE Champion over as a bad guy?

CM Punk still gets cheered cause he's too cool of a heel.

Where did all the old school, classic heels go?

They all have to disappear because they get suspended or fired for their actions. Can't step on a countries flag to get heat. Can't say anything too controversial. We have political correctness to follow. We have an election to win.

Everybody is a cool heel. Or at least everybody who WWE books are the cool heels.

The two most classic type heels who are steadily booked are Alberto Del Rio and Damien Sandow.

Del Rio seems to never keep much momentum. Either injury at the wrong time, green card issues at the wrong time or a lack of interest in the conflicts and feuds he's been involved in.

Sandow has been around for far less time but so far so good. He appears to be a bright spot for WWE's future of bad guys. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else. He knows the way to live. He preaches, but he'll sneak attack his opponent. Then when he wins, he does ridiculous things such as a cartwheel.

I think Wade Barrett's return to the roster will be extremely valuable because of this cool heel overload.

Every other classic type heel on the current roster either doesn't get over or WWE hasn't booked them in a chance to get over.

William Regal―classic heel that's been settled into a commentary role. He's good commentator, but a better heel wrestler. A gritty fighting Englishman who has great bad guy facials and always got boos from the crowd. Why was Regal never utilized more prominently?

Tensai―no cool heel here. He begun as more of a cartoon heel. The ring attire to the ring. The green mist. The title “Lord” in his name. They have transitioned him more to being a legit tough guy while still keeping his Japanese culture and training. He dropped the Lord in his name. He got rid of the extra ring attire. He has been getting rid of his manager who doesn't draw any heat for him...for three months. His television time isn't consistent and he gets booked to do the same thing repeatedly. Great talent in the ring, different kind of character, but he's being not being full utilized.

David Otunga―not a cool heel but not much talent in the ring.

Even a guy like Tyler Reks. He just quit WWE but he was a guy who was hardly ever used on television who had a terrific look, in-ring talent and was a legitimate bad guy to dislike. He was never given the time.

Big Show has the recipe of a classic heel. The big bad giant who you pay to see if anyone can knock him down. Trouble here is, 10 years of poor booking with Big Show, nobody takes him serious as a bad guy. They can book him strong for a few weeks like they did back in June, but when it comes time for the big match, he never wins.

Everybody else, all cool heels. Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Heath Slater, Cody Rhodes.

Daniel Bryan is the most exciting person to watch every week on WWE television. He is the definition of a cool heel.

Now, I don't suggest changing Bryan. As I said, you can have cool heels and for some guys they work. You just can't have everyone used being cool heels.

The cool heel syndrome is something that has carried through wrestlers and audiences all the way down to your most local independent wrestling promotion.

So many young wrestlers want to walk through the curtain and be a cool heel. Some of it comes down to wanting to be cocky and funny.

Some of it comes down to they are of smaller size, so all they know is to be funny. The average size as a whole in wrestling has gone down across the board. Regulation of steroids cleaning up locker rooms. Bigger guys going to MMA for real fighting.

Too often the case, the younger guys only know comedy.

Ironically, the guys who attempt to be classic heels are the guys you question if they should be wrestling. The ones who wear t-shirts, have never stepped foot in a gym but they're the best their local promoter has to offer.

They will come out, be the despicable heel, but what's marketable about them? An out of shape jerk in a t-shirt screaming at the crowd the can beat up anyone. Get out of the ring and go back to the bar.

The ring is supposed to feature this fantasy world of stories being told. Over the top characters with looks and abilities you want to PAY to see in person.

Again, there's a place for cool heels on your roster who are good at it. They're only valuable if they stand out in the line of other heels who are more cynical. Heels that you want to line up in the parking lot and try to sneak attack.

The Dudley Boys did a great job at this. The “smartest” of wrestling fans gathered at ECW shows but even The Dudley Boys could make you forget its a show and have people ready to riot.

Its the current state of heels that I anxiously await the debut of the Dean Ambrose character. I refer to him as a modern day Brian Pillman. He has a crazy, unstable feel to him. There is nothing cool, nothing funny about Ambrose as a bad guy. Just fear, anger and unpredictability.

Ambrose has that power that I talked about with The Dudley Boys. Even if you know its scripted, even if you work in wrestling―you can watch and get lost in his performance.

Its the same as watching a movie with a great villain. When you can forget, even if for a few seconds, and begin to truly despise the films bad guy.

CM Punk is a great wrestler. He is a student of the game.

CM Punk has had runs in the past, both in WWE and other organizations, as a great heel. This is the first time he's been a heel since his ultra face run from summer of 2011 to 2012. Can he make it work?

This Monday Raw is coming from Chicago. If there is ever a chance for CM Punk to prove that he can be a true heel again, this Monday could be it.

What action would it take to get him hated in Chicago? Is there anything he can say, anybody he could attack? Hey, maybe he punches Colt Cabana. Much of the WWE audience wouldn't know that is or care, but Chicago would.

What about heel by association? Could John Laurinaitis return as an on-screen character and side with CM Punk. Is that enough?

Does WWE even want him to be a true heel? They won't sell as much merchandise.

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