I’m not an old fuddy-duddy. I don’t mourn the loss of the territory system or the Attitude Era. God knows I don’t miss The New Generation. I’m not an ECW Smark and I never will be a RoHbot. That’s not to say I don’t like it. I love wrestling, I can’t not watch wrestling. It’s in my blood. But I don’t pretend any era was inherently superior.
Where am I going with all of this? Kayfabe. In-Character Universe. The Suspension Of Disbelief. For pro wrestling it’s changed. In order to tell a story of two men wanting to tear each other into little meaty chunks over a strap of leather and gold, someone had to be the bad guy. It had to be clear-cut who was the hero and changing that up was a HUGE event. Hogan dropping the leg on Sting and Macho Man to go Hollywood and form the nWo was perhaps the last time a turn truly took the entire industry and turned it upside-down. Ever since then, something has been a bit off. Something has been a bit different.
The simple truth is the face/heel alignment system is more of a guideline and not a hard rule. We know it’s scripted. We know the performers are… well performers and as such they don’t really hate each other. It takes a bit of the heat off of the idea that people have to betray their ideals and backstab their tag partners to switch up who they feud with. Pro Wrestling’s “kayfabe” is that it’s a competitive sport and everyone wants to be Champion.
So why is it that people won’t fight each other? “Well because they are both faces. Duh.” Well that wouldn’t fly in UFC. You wouldn’t say “Jack and John are both good guys so we can’t book them to fight unless one of them becomes a total jerk.” None of the umpteen boxing promotions would say “Hey yeah both Jose and Rico are jerks so we can’t have them fight for ranking. The fans might get confused who they are supposed to want to get punched more.”
Because the sports are sports and they only care that fans buy tickets. See once Kayfabe died in pro wrestling we as a fanbase decided we can boo or cheer whoever we want. I didn’t care if Bret was a neat moral guy or an Anti-American jerk, I cheered him. Face or Heel I always wanted to see the Heart Break Kid get beaten. And hey I still have the t-shirt to prove the APA always had my loyalty. Rudo or Tecnico, I am going to cheer for Pentagon Jr/Dark.
So wrestling industry, I beseech you. Stop with the turns. Just let guys face off against each other. You want to break up a tag team? Okay let one guy be the one deciding it and get a nasty attitude about it. But don’t proclaim that cuts who they can wrestle in half. Screw It. Let guys face off because we just want to see guys work together to put on a great match. Kane and Big Show have become jokes among the fanbase for the constant face/heel turns and that’s sad. It hurts their legacy which should be celebrated.
The alignments don’t matter when it comes to pairing off folks for feuds. Two heroes can have a rivalry over belts and still be heroes when it’s over. Two heels can fight to see who gets to be top monster without one “seeing the light” at the end. Just Let Them Wrestle and we fans will make our individual choice how we react to any given performer.
THE GIFT OF BOOKING FREEDOM, DRINK IT IN MAAAAAAAAAAAN! (who rocks no matter what you label him)