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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Heel Report: 03.14.14: Swerve Just in Time
Posted by James Wright on 03.14.2014

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: Magnus

The TNA champion managed to retain his title against Samoa Joe in the main event of Lockdown due to some help from a denizen dwelling under the ring in the form of Abyss. While Magnus did end up once again not retaining the title on his own, at least in this case he actually did end up doing most of the fighting. There has been a lot of talk about how the style in which Magnus retains his title is fine because he is supposed to be a paper champion, and so he should be made to look like someone who can't hold the title on his own. To this I would say that there is a distinction between a cowardly heel champion and a paper champion.

A cowardly heel uses all his resources and cunning to keep hold of the title, and is admirable or contemptible in such and generally encourages people to want to see them either carry on this effort or if the latest face challenger can finally take the belt away from them despite their nefarious efforts. Whereas a paper champion is simply someone put in place to hold the belt until someone better comes along. It is a derogatory term for any wrestler and to use it to describe the man who is supposed to be a rising star in the company is a mistake. So if TNA has been doing this on purpose, while also making Magnus look like he is not qualified to hold the belt, then it is counter to their purpose.

Luckily in this latest defense Magnus was actually made to look like the former rather than the latter. In the match with Joe he showed that he had the skill to hang with the main event talent of TNA, and yet Joe still got the face rub in the champion not being able to put him down, and in the surprise appearance of Abyss. In this case Magnus did most of the heavy lifting and looked good for the most part, whereas in other matches he has actually done very little and had numerous people run in to protect him and do all the work for him, thus making him look wholly weak and a pointless paper champion.

If Magnus is going to remain champion then he has to keep on proving that he is actually worthy of the belt. That doesn't mean that he has to retain clean, just that in cheating he has to be more than a hapless spectator, this win was a good step, but he still clearly had no control over what actually occurred. I get that Dixie is supposed to be the main ‘brains' behind the operation, but it wouldn't hurt to make Magnus look like he actually had a bit of stroke and control over his own title retentions as well.

2nd Place: The Shield

The Hounds of Justice managed to pull themselves back from the brink this week, further prolonging their inevitable breakup. I am still against the three-way match between the group that may occur at Wrestlemania, I just think that in starting off two of the three in their journey as singles wrestlers in a losing fashion really isn't the way to go. Instead it might be better if they decided to simply go their separate ways, much like they nearly did on Smackdown.

Still since that didn't happen I would assume that it is not going to and that we will indeed get a match between the three at Wrestlemania, in which no doubt Reigns will be triumphant. What's more now it looks like the rift is not only between Ambrose and Reigns and instead is equal on all sides and so it is unlikely that Ambrose and Rollins will continue on as a tag team, or as an incarnation of the team with a new member or two, which is a shame since the Shield as a concept works as a gimmick that could operate for a long time without really getting old.

Having a few mercenaries operating backstage works to the advantage of everyone and can be used for multiple storylines and explanations for things like injuries, fluke title retentions, or even how an underdog might win against the odds, depending on the story you are trying to tell at the time. They are an unpredictable element, along with being a great tag team unit, that has served the WWE well for over a year now, and it will be a shame to see them go. Then again perhaps it is good to go out on a high rather than risk the group becoming stale, or even worse becoming a mockery of its former self, depending on the booking and what new members might have been added in the original members' stead.

3rd Place: Ethan Carter

The nephew of Dixie Carter seems to benefit more and more from the departing of some of the bigger names in TNA. While it is not completely clear what is going on with Angle right now and the company, his absence might have robbed the young man of his match at Lockdown, but he managed to get the credit for taking out the Olympic Gold Medalist and was part of a big moment at the PPV itself by being present for the surprise return of Bobby Lashley. What's more he got to deliver a decent promo and debuted a new move in his leg-bar when taking out Angle.

It's possible that the return of Lashley and his interactions with Carter might lead to a new feud for the guy, which would hopefully be good for him, although you have to worry that he would simply be placed as fodder for a guy who could just as easily leave as suddenly as he both appeared and reappeared.

In the end though almost any feud is better than being left adrift with nothing to do but perhaps go back to squashing jobbers, or simply being placed in random matches, trading wins with other wrestlers similarly adrift, such as in much of the WWE's mid-card.

4th Place: Robert Roode

Roode might have been the sacrificial lamb at the end of Lockdown to show Bully Ray's new alignment with team MVP, but he was still the captain for Team Dixie and continues to look like a vital part of TNA programming. I am glad that Roode didn't end up with ten percent of the company though, because then he would have become just another one in the long line of ‘power struggle' figures in TNA where nothing actually results in these various struggles and he might have actually lost momentum through talking and elaborate and pointless power plays rather than simply wrestling and winning matches.

It will be interest to see if Bobby now feuds with Bully going forward, I think that could be a great feud in TNA, especially given their past relationships in opposing tag teams, as well as occasional tag partners. What's more this could lead to a possible Beer Money reunion, or at least a few scattered tag matches, most likely where it will be Storm and Roode against Gunner and Bully Ray. Roode works so well with partners such as Storm and Aries, but in feuding with Bully we could easily see just as many great singles matches as tag team affairs. So all in all this was a win for TNA and a nice surprise twist that wasn't too unbelievable given that Bully is the former head of the Aces & 8s, a group dedicated to eradicating Hogan and Dixie Carter from TNA, so why wouldn't he want to screw her over, even if his group didn't actually manage to get the job done.

5th Place: Sam Shaw

I have to say I am pretty surprised that Shaw actually won his cage match with Mr. Anderson at Lockdown, considering he is a relative rookie, but I did like the way that he did it. In that Anderson escaped but in Shaw pulling Christy Hemme back in the cage while the ref was down he had no choice but to come back in and then ended up losing. This was one of the rare cases where a ref bump actually seemed to work well and it was nice to see the cage gimmick backfire in that it left Shaw alone with Hemme and became an obstacle for Anderson in the later part of the match.

Despite this victory, I'm still not convinced that the character has any real life. The jarring thing about Dexter, apart from the whole cold serial killer (but not really because he is all about the feels) thing, is that he engages in such casual violence in normal society. Someone is just walking along and then he grabs them, drugs them, and then cuts them into little pieces. In wrestling the whole world is made up of violence sociopaths, sure they don't chop up their opponents, but attacking guys is all just par for the course.

In the ring a slow, methodical nature can work, but the whole creepy stalker thing just doesn't mean all that much, and at the same time it is too on the nose. I suppose what I am trying to say is that if they scale it back to where he is just a bit psychotic some times and clearly takes pleasure in causing pain to his opponents then this could work, but as it is there is not much for the character to do beyond being a creepy stalker guy, and that can only go so far, and they have already basically reached that point already.

6th Place: Dixie Carter

The President of TNA has now lost a big part of her company, although Dixie Carter not being able to book matches might not be that bad a thing, even if it is just in kayfabe terms. Although the problem here is that it does not mean that we won't still have to hear her come out and talk every week, it just means that now her promos will be even more pointless as they won't often lead to matches, and if they do then the whole thing is completely pointless anyway, which is annoying in itself.

I think TNA needs to move away from the whole Dixie Carter thing, or at least, like with Shaw, scale it back so that she is just in backstage segments or something. The problem here is that Dixie can actually be kind of entertaining in small doses, and I actually really like Rockstar Spud's role and just how over the top it is, as well as her support of Ethan Carter, so I don't think TNA should lose that, but it is also true that Dixie gets too much time herself at the moment. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how TNA handles things from here and if it will improve the product at all.

7th Place: Austin Aries

So Lockdown is over and Austin Aries is still a heel, which comes as a surprise to many including me. I'm not sure what the point of the latest Aries heel turn was, unless it is to pair him off against the new X-Division champion, but then Chris Sabin is already filling the heel role in the division, along with Zema Ion, and possibly the returning Kenny King, so do we really need another heel X-Division wrestler?

Then again maybe Aries will not be staying in the X-Division, he could easily move back into the tag division with Roode, or go after some bigger fish and try to get back into the main event scene in TNA, which is so transitional that all it takes is a couple of matches and anyone can be at the head of the pack, although this doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Whatever the case Aries is always entertaining, I just hope he doesn't turn into another Anderson, who has changed alignments so many times that his character is basically a meaningless caricature at this point.

8th Place: Abyss

The Monster returned at Lockdown and pulled Samoa Joe through the ring to bloody him up before rising from the depths himself and using Janice to take the Samoan Submission Machine down to allow Magnus to retain his title.

I'm not sure if Joe will stay in the title hunt after this or if he will end up going after Abyss. The problem with Joe continuing on the title path is that he has already had his grand match with Magnus in a steel cage under his own rules, so where would they go from here? And if he does feud with Abyss I'm not sure what that does for either character, again we'll just have to wait and see.

9th Place: Batista

The Animal continues his tirade against Daniel Bryan and against the fans themselves. The whole Batista situation is a lot more interesting now that there is a chance of Bryan beating him at Wrestlemania because despite what I want to happen I think I have presumed since his return that the WWE would want Batista to hold the belt during the promotion of his new movie Guardians of the Galaxy, but if they do end up giving Bryan the title run he deserves now that probably won't happen.

Of course Bryan isn't guaranteed to even beat HHH, let alone win the title in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX, then again why set up such a situation if it isn't actually going to happen? Then again you could say that about a bunch of Daniel Bryan title scenarios that we have seen over the past six months or so. Either way I am glad the WWE actually did do something about the whole Daniel Bryan situation, because the title match as it was really didn't work, people would have just booed the two out of the building and it couldn't have gone on as the main event, which in turn would devalue the title‘s/s' new unified status as the ultimate prize in the industry. After being unified you would hope the belts would go on last, at least for this year's Mania, and this way that can happen, and it could actually be amazing.

10th Place: Charlotte

From relative nowhere to number one contender for the NXT women's title, Charlotte picked a great time to get a push since more eyes are on the division than ever before. I am not sure if the daughter of the dirtiest player in the game is actually up to scratch yet, but we will certainly see once she is paired against Paige in a few matches.

Certainly though she has already shown more ring acumen than half the females on the main roster, so that works in her favour, although that seems to be a general trend in NXT, maybe it is who they are being trained by.

(Week 035)

1. Randy Orton (183)

2. Bully Ray (120)

3. Dixie Carter (98)

4. HHH (96)

5. Bray Wyatt (93)

6. Alberto Del Rio (86)

7. AJ Lee (85)

8. Dean Ambrose (85)

9. Roman Reigns (75)

10. Robert Roode (75)

Heel Centurions:

That's all for this week, Lockdown was actually a pretty decent affair and all the swerves and interference actually seemed to work when it took place, which is surprising. I have no idea where a lot of TNA talent will go from here, but that is not to say that we couldn't get some interesting developments going forward. The WWE finally managed to placate the fans, going even further than they necessarily had to considering they were pushing so hard for the trying to sell Bryan vs. HHH as being something we should want and be happy with. But now DB has a shot at a shot at the title, and that is good enough for now, although they have to realise just how good it would be for him to actually end the event with a title win, it would be a great feel-good moment and almost make up for everything since Summerslam, although not necessarily, as he still has to have the decent title run after that to truly make it mean something. It is possible that this was the plan all along, but I highly fucking doubt it, and if it was then this was a damned roundabout way of doing things god damn it! For now this is James Wright signing off.


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