Friday, March 31, 2006

Heel (professional wrestling)

[Remembering my youthful admiration for the WWF...]
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

Omaha, Nebraska
Billed from Clinton, Mississippi
Trained by Dory Funk, Jr.
Terry Funk
Debut 1974

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:

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.


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