In professional wrestling, a heel is a villain character who is portrayed as behaving in an immoral manner; sometimes they are humourously referred to as 'evil.' In non-wrestling jargon, heels are often "bad guys" in pro wrestling storylines. They are often opposed by a face (crowd favourite). Some tweeners exhibit heel mannerisms....
Common heel behavior includes cheating to win (e.g. using the ropes for leverage while pinning, or attacking with foreign objects such as folding chairs when the referee can't see), attacking other wrestlers backstage, interfering with other matches, and acting in a haughty or superior manner.
Once in a while faces who have recently turned from being heels will still exhibit some heel characteristics for a while. For example, The Naturals in TNA, turning face after the death of manager Chris Candido, still use the ropes for pins sometimes and at times use the megaphone of new manager Jimmy Hart to get victories.
A very good example of a heel is The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, who usually psyches out his opponents with his talks about his wealth. When he wins a match he adds more insult by stuffing dollar bills in their mouths. He is also noted for his evil laugh, which he always does. He is known in wrestling history as one of the most hated heels of all time.
|Theodore Marvin DiBiase|
|Ring name(s)||Ted DiBiase |
"The Million Dollar Man"
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||260 lb (118 kg)|
|Born||January 18, 1954|
|Billed from||Clinton, Mississippi|
|Trained by||Dory Funk, Jr. |
Hollywood Hogan is often regarded as one of the best heels in professional wrestling. Hogan turned heel largely due to the large amounts of heat he was gaining from the WCW fans (Hogan was still regarded as a WWF superstar and thereofore unwelcome in WCW). Along with turning heel, Hogan's entire image changed. He dumped "Hulk" in favour of "Hollywood", swapped his trunks for tights and dropped the famous red and yellow in favour of black and white. Hogan's character traits included insulting fans, using his nWo allies to attack WCW loyalists, spray "nWo" on his opponents, beg for mercy, refused to either wrestle or continue matches when the tables had turned and lay claim to making professional wrestling so popular. At the height of Hogan's heel run, he was able to stir the fans up so much that his mere presence generated masses of venomous hate.
Whilst being heel is often part of a wrestler's gimmick, many successful heels fall into one or more categories:
- Crazy heel: a raging madman, dangerous and unpredictable (example: The Sheik; George "The Animal" Steele; Victoria; Mickie James; Sid Vicious; Mankind; Abdullah the Butcher; Bruiser Brody and Eddie Guerrero (mid-2005)).
- Monster heel: an unstoppable juggernaut who squashes his opponents (example: Gorilla Monsoon; Big Van Vader; Sid Vicious; King Kong Bundy; Kane; The Big Show, Brock Lesnar; Naoya Ogawa; Samoa Joe and Abyss in TNA). Sometimes, monster heels violently "injure" other wrestlers (through rulebreaking tactics), terrorize valets (sometimes injuring them) and commit other extremely heinous acts to set up a feud with a promotion's lead face. One example is the feud between The Giant and Hulk Hogan in 1994 when The Giant broke Hogan's neck. Another is in 1999, when The Undertaker was behind a reign of terror that led to his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
- Egotistical heel: an obnoxious and self-important character who is arrogant or cocky; some wrestlers play on their own fame and achievements to achieve this (example: Ted DiBiase; Randy Orton, Ric Flair, Hollywood Hogan, The Rock; Triple H; Jeff Jarrett; Edge; Christian; Kurt Angle; Gregory Helms; Shawn Michaels; JBL; Chris Jericho).
- Popular heel: A term in which the fans still cheer for a wrestler who competes as a heel. Some examples include: The Road Warriors, Chris Adams, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair and Triple H are examples of this. The Warriors, originally booed by the fans, gained new fans worldwide and eventually became faces around 1986. Adams was booed heavily when facing any of the Von Erichs, but was wildly cheered when wrestling other heels during his September 1984-January 1986 heel run. Triple H is extremely popular despite displaying classic heel tactics, and is cheered upon appearing. Kurt Angle is widely considered as having been a heel for most of his career, utilizing numerous underhanded tactics, but he wrestled a number of the best technical matches in WWE and was often cheered out of respect. Chants of "wooooooo" always echoed during Ric Flair's Entrance even though he was a heel member of Evolution. Faction disputes such as WCW/ECW vs. WWF and RAW vs. Smackdown express this as well.
- Delinquent/Rebel Heel: they are the "Bad Boys". They are the ones who disrespect authority and use illegal techniques in a match such as using unconventional weapons, performing dirty tactics, taunting anyone, and usually showing no manners, class, morals or respect. However, fans sometimes cheer them despite of this so they can also be considered as Tweeners. Examples are Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena (early career), Undertaker (Biker Gimmick), members of D-Generation X, members of nWo, Eddie Guerrero, Mexicools, Full Blooded Italians, APA.
- Foreign heel: in United States wrestling, foreign heels are often portrayed as being anti-American, such as Russian (Nikolai Volkoff), Iranian (Iron Sheik), Canadian (Bret "the Hitman" Hart), Japanese (most notably, Mr. Fuji), or more recently, French (René Duprée). In Mexican wrestling, Americans are often portrayed as heels; the most hated tag team in lucha libre history, Los Gringos Locos, consisted of the Caucasian Art Barr and Eddie Guerrero, a Mexican-American from El Paso, along with another Caucasian in Louie Spicolli. There has been a Team Canada in WCW, WWE and (currently) TNA.
- Traitor heel: in the United States, a variation on the foreign heel who is actually an American, but has turned his back on his country in favor of an (ostensibly superior) one. For example, WWE wrestler Rob Conway portrayed a man who defected from America to France (a nation that vocally opposed the U.S.'s "weapons of mass destruction" rationale for invading Iraq in 2003), or Sgt. Slaughter, who was billed as an Iraqi sympathizer during the first Persian Gulf War, and Brian Pillman and Jim Neidhart, who despite being American, sided with Canadians Bret Hart and Owen Hart and Englishman the British Bulldog in the pro-Canada Hart Foundation. Also, Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari as angry Arab-Americans who resent the U.S. for how they've been treated ever since 9/11. In Japanese wrestling, a "traitor heel" is someone who goes against the established (usually mainstream, babyface) group he was part of within a promotion, such as Riki Choshu, Masa Chono, and Great Muta in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Yoji Anjoh in UWF International, and Genichiro Tenryu in All Japan Pro Wrestling. These can be considered, more properly, delinquent/rebel heels, but because of Japan's societal mores, delinquent wrestlers are more often seen by Japanese fans as "traitors" to the promotion.
Sometimes, a heel can use cheating to his/her advantage to gain appreciation from the audience, thereby being a face with heel tendencies—(i.e., Eddie Guerrero both before and after his 2005 heel period).
Many heels today subscribe to the beliefs espoused by Mick Foley in his autobiography, Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks—that a heel must always believe that whatever they do is justified, and that they are in the right.
Common heel tactics
- Using the ropes or grabbing the opponent's tights during pinfalls.
- Sticking thumbs or throwing powder/salt into opponent's eyes.
- Removing the padding on turnbuckles to expose the steel underneath it, then smashing an opponent's head or face onto it.
- Use of concealed weapons (brass knuckes, rolls of coins, etc.); some heels are less subtle when they decide to use a weapon, often grabbing a chair from ringside in full view of the referee with no regard for the consequences.
- Dragging an opponent's face across the top rope.
- Low blows.
- Using the outside of the ring to rest, or ducking into the ropes to slow the match down.
- When defending titles, intentionally getting himself/herself disqualified or counted out to lose the match without dropping the title that they are defending. (Note, however, that this tactic is not used in TNA, because titles change hands on a loss for any reason.)
- Insulting the fans or mocking the city he/she is performing in during promos. Heels might also mock local sports teams who have suffered disappointing results.
Heel characters are also quicker to get to their feet after hit by their opponent(s). Despite all the information given above, a face can also use some of these heel tactics as well as a form of counterattacking.