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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Heel Report: 02.27.14: The Fans Don’t Matter
Posted by James Wright on 02.27.2014

This is the Heel Report. A weekly chart spanning from Tuesday's NXT to next Monday's Raw, ranking the heels in professional wrestling based on their actions, wins and losses.

Each Week there are ten places, with points out of ten awarded based on these positions. These points are then added to a rolling chart that will continue each week to show who is wrestling's overall top heel, after 100 weeks naming the reigning wrestler a ‘Heel Centurion'.

This is a place where the heels of wrestling can be praised for all the hard work they do trying to get us all to hate them (or in other words the smarkiest chart of smarkdom ever to smark), so without further ado let's get on with the report…

1st Place: The Wyatt Family

With all else that is going on in the WWE the one thing that is clear is that they are setting up a number of people to be the ‘next big thing' in the WWE, and at the top of that list seems to be the leader of the Hillbilly cult; Bray Wyatt. The match they are setting up between Cena and Wyatt is to me one of the least offensive matches being set for the Wrestlemania XXX card.

For one thing you have a legitimate current star vs. future star set up that John Cena has been pushing quite well over the past few weeks, apart from the fact that without the title it sounds a little strange to proclaim that you are the face of the company, even if it may be true. Still I think this match will actually be pretty decent as Cena has a reputation for bringing it in the ring on the grand stage, and Wyatt has shown that he has some in-ring skills, even if he, like Cena, chooses not to display them in every match he is in.

The character of Wyatt makes sense to put against John Cena as like Wyatt said this week on Raw; Cena stands for every illusion that people rally behind to escape reality; a morally righteous superman who claims that no matter what everything will be alright if you just believe in him, and for some that is great, but for every person who looks to such an idol, there is someone who wants to see that idol taken down and destroyed, subjugating them to harsh reality.

Will we see Cena broken at Wrestlemania? I somewhat doubt it, but with the current WWE landscape it isn't too farfetched to believe that Cena might actually come unstuck at Wrestlemania when facing the Wyatt Family. Will this match save Wrestlemania from being the same, mostly uninteresting event, that it was last year? Probably not, but at least it is a match that most fans actually wouldn't mind seeing.

2nd Place: Randy Orton

Despite still being the first WWE World Champion and probably getting paid a ton of money for his impending Wrestlemania match with Batista, I actually kind of feel sorry for the guy. I don't think there has been a more overshadowed WWE champion in the history of the WWE. Even with C.M. Punk's WWE title reign he got to look like he should actually be the champion, he got a nice and somewhat unexpected heel turn, and he became the longest reigning champion of the last twenty five years, and in years to come that will be all that matters and people won't really remember that for a lot of that time he had to play second fiddle to John Cena and the Rock.

Now maybe the same will be true for Randy Orton, maybe in years to come we will only remember that he was the youngest world champion, and the first WWE world champ, but right now certainly it is clear that he is actually about fourth or fifth on the rungs for most important person in the WWE right now. He is being completely overshadowed by guys like Cena, who have always been there with him, Daniel Bryan, who really should be in his spot, by returning guys like Brock Lesnar, Batista, and now the Undertaker, and even by guys who aren't even there, namely C.M. Punk. Hell there is more interest in the current set of up-and-comers that the WWE has decided to push in Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Antonio Cesaro and Big E.

Orton gets barely any attention anymore and I doubt if many actually care what he does. Just look at the end of the Elimination Chamber, the attention was much more on Kane and Daniel Bryan than the man he was wrestling. And in his promo on Raw, most fans were simply all over Batista, who has become the sacrificial lamb in this Daniel Bryan situation. People just don't care about Orton right now and really he seems to be just holding the title until Batista takes it from him at Mania. We as fans may have some beef about the situation over the past few years with Daniel Bryan and C.M. Punk, and rightly so, but we should also spare a thought for Orton, who currently holds the biggest prize in sports entertainment and yet is clearly an afterthought, at least in terms of the fans and seemingly backstage as well, and for a man in the title match at Wrestlemania that is a strange situation to be in.

3rd Place: Batista

Oh you'd better believe Batista has made the ‘heel' list this week. Before I hesitated on counting him as the Batista-hate seemed to be only a disappointment from the Rumble and Daniel Bryan not being in the match, and to a greater extent the heel heat he is getting is still thanks to that. However it seems now like the way that the guy is handling it has made it personal. I am glad that the WWE were actually acknowledging the reaction that Batista is getting since it would be Cena all over again if they did not, and I would be tempted to feel sorry for the guy like Orton if he would just man up and take it (even though admittedly Orton never really coped well with the fans turning on him when he was a face either). But his attitude, if he is indeed still supposed to be seen as a face, is appalling.

Wins and losses in the WWE are largely irrelevant and fan reaction (along with merchandise sales) should really be what we measure a wrestler's popularity on. Yet in his promo on Raw Batista barely acknowledged the problem at hand and then basically said that ‘it' (meaning the fans and their reaction) didn't matter, and that he would be taking the title at Wrestlemania ‘so deal with it.' Basically a big ‘fuck you' to all the fans who pay money for the events and merchandise, and more importantly signing up for the new WWE Network. Apparently we should just take whatever the company gives us and be happy for it, which would kind of make sense in a real sport as there is no control over outcomes and what you see is what you get. However in wrestling it is the easiest thing to register the fans' reaction and change things accordingly, but instead the WWE has chosen to see the fans' rejection of the current ‘main event' for Wrestlemania and then just shrug it off as a stupid lack of understanding of ‘the business'. But surely the business is to entertain fans and make them happy, thus leading them to parting with lots of money to see highly anticipated matches and buy the merchandise of their favourite wrestlers, pushed further and further to garner more and more sales.

Instead what we have here is a ‘main event' for their biggest show of the year that no one really wants to see. Did you see the faces of the fans at the Elimination Chamber when Orton managed to retain the belt? That was not the usual look of being upset when the dastardly heel beats the resilient face, that was a look of sheer disappointment over being slapped in the face by the company over and over again. I am so sick and tired of being so sick and tired and yet the WWE continues to laugh at all the fans that have made their voices heard and yet still have seen nothing really to support their feelings on the subject. So at this point it looks like for the first time in history we will be getting a ‘main event' title match between two heels at Wrestlemania, which would be interesting if it wasn't so pathetic in the way it has occurred.

The reason I keep saying ‘main event' is because I'm pretty sure the biggest laughs are coming from HHH, who now has a legitimate reason to rally for his impending match with Daniel Bryan, something that makes sense storyline-wise but at this point is simply a consolation prize, as being made the main event instead. HHH is the defacto owner of the company and the reaction Bryan gets should be enough to put him in the main event alongside him, plus does the WWE really want another Goldberg-Lesnar style match, especially as the headline to what should be the biggest Wrestlemania thus far? Hell it even makes sense to me to make his match with Bryan the main event, and you have to know that HHH would love to be in the main event on the card.

The irony here is that if C.M. Punk hadn't quit we would probably still be in this position, with Bryan being screwed over once again and put into a match with Sheamus or something, and people booing the hell out of Batista and Orton, the only difference would be that Punk would be the one to face HHH as that is clearly the way things were going, so there is a potential that this match could have main evented Wrestlemania anyway, and that appears to be all that Punk wanted before finishing his WWE career, maybe he should have stayed around after all. Of course this is all speculation, the main point is that the three main matches for Wrestlemania now seem to be; a match between two heels that no one wants to see, a consolation prize potential main event that no one really wants, and a match between two guys that are barely in the company that probably won't be as good as any of the previous ‘Streak' matches due to the physical style of Lesnar and the aging condition of the Undertaker. I have beef.

4th Place: Cesaro

So the unlikely didn't occur and Cesaro didn't win the title at Elimination Chamber, to be fair it was a ridiculous long shot, then again some people believed that Santino would win the chamber a few years ago so who knows what to believe (to be fair the people in that chamber weren't exactly the most inspiring at the time). Still though Cesaro did well and didn't look like a chump in the chamber so that is good. In fact he looked like he belonged in there with the top dogs so hopefully this next push for Cesaro will be a sustained one, the only question I have is whether he will be pushed as a heel or a face?

If Cesaro goes on as a heel then it is pretty likely that, one; he will quickly rise up the ranks on the chart, and two, more importantly; that he will most likely keep Zeb Coulter as his manager. Personally I don't see the point in this, on NXT Cesaro has proven that he can more than hold his own in promos and interviews. However if Swagger somehow has enough and turns face on us then that would leave Zeb with Cesaro, which I don't see going too well for any of the men involved.

A more appealing scenario, although it means losing Cesaro from this report (at least for the time being) *tear*, is to turn Cesaro face. There is a possibility of this with Swagger interfering in his match this week and Coulter having to calm the two down. However it has also been seen that Coulter seems more enamored with Cesaro since he is the one actually winning matches, so I have no idea why Coulter would side with Swagger in an argument between the two. All they could do is have Cesaro denounce the ideals of the Real Americans and while that could work it seems to fly in the face of everything that Cesaro's character so far has been.

Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean the WWE won't do it, but as I see it there are two ways for Cesaro to denounce the Real Americans; either he can say that America sucks, which fits with his old persona but this would be a step back and no doubt keep him as a heel and possibly turn Zeb and Swagger face, or he can denounce their policy on immigrants by supporting other foreign superstars, but Cesaro has never been much of a team player (in the WWE) and is an elitist prick, so how they would make that believable is beyond me. But hey, as I said before, that doesn't mean the WWE won't do it.

5th Place: Magnus

The TNA champ is back up the chart this week with a successful title defense against Gunner of all people. Seriously TNA is a strange place, with the talent they have they are putting over guys like this, or rather they are giving them shots at the title, I suppose it doesn't really count as putting him over if he loses, or even if they do win, as in the case of Chris Sabin.

I'm not really sure why guys like Robert Roode, Christopher Daniels or Austin Aries are not truly in the line for the title, Roode is the closest but still any title opportunities seem far away. I think part of the problem is that with only one episode a week and so many less PPVs, TNA just doesn't have the week to week development to make it look like they are properly building guys.

Sure this is the opposite of the usual complaint of rushed builds, and since TNA tape weeks in advance they might have actually started building these characters already, but that is not how it comes across and the balance between too slow and too fast is a delicate one. The problem I think is that instead of turning PPVs into monthly specials for free, thus still having extra big shows, they simply made them into special editions of Impact, which means that you only get like three episodes between each one, so not much time to build, and at the same time lose a bunch of time that would usually be used to build up storylines, and TNA really could use all the time it can get.

6th Place: The Shield

Speaking of the balance between too fast and too slow, the build and eventual breakup of the Shield seems to have found that delicate balance between the two. We all know that the breakup is coming, but it seems like most fans are happy to just sit back and watch it happen. Some people seem to find it bemusing why I am so enamored with the way the WWE has booked the Shield, but to me it is just an amazing feat to have actually made these three men so successful while putting down no one else and somehow managing to get everyone to be completely on board with everything that has happened between them and even with what is speculated to happen going forward.

When do you ever see anyone truly complain about the Shield? Sure we have all speculated and worried about how things will go when X, Y or Z occurs, but it has always turned out alright. The worst thing people have been able to say is that they feel sorry for Seth Rollins when the Shield break up, but again this is a presumption, people presuming that he will be lost in the shuffle, and indeed that might happen, but at the same time just look how impressive he was on Sunday, and his promo work is getting better week to week, I'm thinking he will do fine.

7th Place: Christian

So does that count as Christian's ‘one more match'? Because if so then he lost it. He also lost a bunch against Sheamus as well. Still his showing in the chamber wasn't all that bad, and hey he actually managed to eliminate to Celtic Warrior from the match with a huge splash off the top of the cage.

Heel Christian should do alright for himself, although I still standby my view that in moving to TNA he would be able to be king of the mountain now that Sting is gone and Angle is on the way out. I originally thought coming out of the chamber that we would now see Christian vs. Sheamus at Mania since Punk is gone and Bryan has taken his place, which would be good for Captain Charisma, but with his further loss on Raw to the Irish man it is hard to see what would be in it for anybody, unless that becomes Christian's aim in having ‘one more match' (also side note, I think that is one of the worst catchphrases ever).

8th Place: AJ Lee

Well that divas match was unexpected and pointless (a little bit like this column some might say), still I was surprised when AJ retained her title, even though it was against Cameron. Then again if they had made Cameron the Divas champion then that would be a massive step down for a division that is already pretty much at the bottom of the pile. Although having said that it would have actually made for compelling viewing on Total Divas, so there is that.

Either way AJ did a great job in selling that this would be her last night with the belt, kissing it before she went into the ring, as if it would be the last time she would hold it, and with the whole Punk thing going on it was actually believable that they were going to job her out to Cameron just out of spite. Also while it is moving at the same pace as a storyline in TNA, the rift between AJ and Tamina continues to grow and a match between them, with possibly Naomi involved if she recovers in time, at Mania seems on the cards.

9th Place: Zeb Coulter

Sure Zeb's guys might not have walked away from the Elimination Chamber with any gold, but any guy that blames illegal immigrants for the polar vortex is alright by me; that is a special brand of ludicrousness. I really hope that Zeb stays around as he is a great mouthpiece for heels who can't truly speak for themselves.

Of course this returns me to the question of; what the hell was Cesaro doing with him? But then again it's not like It didn't help him in any way, if just in that it bought him enough time to get himself over.

10th Place: Bad News Barrett

This was an interesting occurrence, having Barrett come up after several of the matches at the PPV and deliver some bad news. Personally I liked it, it broke things up but didn't waste too much time.

At one point Barrett even acted like a prophet, telling us all that Daniel Bryan would fail in the Elimination Chamber. Then again once it came true it did kind of seem like having Barrett say all this was a little like the people in the back laughing at all of us, which adds to the various beefs and a big reason of why people are upset, because it is not like Watry says, where this is just another case of heels screwing over faces, there seems to be a legitimate malicious ‘rubbing our noses in it', whether or not Bryan gets shot after shot, they still seem to be giving us the middle finger with how they have him lose.

(Week 033)

1. Randy Orton (183)

2. Bully Ray (120)

3. Dixie Carter (93)

4. HHH (91)

5. Bray Wyatt (89)

6. Alberto Del Rio (86)

7. AJ Lee (85)

8. Dean Ambrose (81)

9. Roman Reigns (71)

10. Robert Roode (67)

Heel Centurions:

That's all for this week, I get the WWE's determination to have Batista hold the gold in time for all the press and interviews surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy, and seeing Bryan become champ at the Chamber and then drop the belt to the Animal at Mania wouldn't have exactly been amazing, but the real question is why are we even in this situation to begin with? Couldn't Bryan have got the belt back after Summerslam and then managed to survive against everything HHH threw at him as the resilient champion? Wouldn't that have made for a great summer and winter of programming? Instead we got PPV after PPV of dusty finishes and disappointed fans. Hell if the thing had gone down exactly as it did last night, with Orton ending up as the champ going against Batista, wouldn't it have been much more acceptable if that is how Bryan got screwed, and it would still lead to him challenging HHH at Mania, realizing that he could never truly hold the belt properly until he dealt with the Authority. I know hindsight is twenty-twenty but really there is no reason why Orton should have held the belt(s) all this time. Whether or not the WWE will ‘pull the trigger' on Bryan after Wrestlemania, to me they should have done it already, over six months ago in fact, so anything now is just time wasted, and if it isn't at Mania, then it probably won't be big enough to justify all that has happened. For now this is James Wright signing off.


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