RAW Deal: The new breed of villain
SEATTLE, United States—There are two prevailing schools of thought when it comes to villains as world champions.
First is the old-school way of thinking, the kind Ric Flair popularized in his heyday in the NWA and WCW. It was understood, then, that good guys are courageous heroes and bad guys are contemptible cowards. It’s the same line of thinking that paints boxers like Floyd Mayweather as antagonists when they choose to fight defensively, cover up and pick their shots. Flair would never look strong. He’d fight dirty and make his challenger look more heroics, and at the end of the day he’d still walk home as champion with frustrating plays.
The other is the new-school way of thinking. Wrestling fans, after gravitating toward the edgy heels back in the Attitude Era, began appraising wrestlers by their talent. It no longer mattered how much anger you were able to generate; if the crowd can see that you were a good wrestler or, at least, good at playing your traditional role, you would get cheered. Because of this, fans would now take umbrage when their evil world champions would look weak coming into a big title match. They’d see it as punishment.
So far, Seth Rollins’s reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion has been an interesting mix of the two philosophies. He’s had great matches that showcase him as a sound wrestler, like last week’s title defense against Neville, but endings that would make traditional fans proud—like this week’s finish against Randy Orton, or the finish against Brock Lesnar, or the one against Dean Ambrose in their ladder match.
Put the added pressure from Triple H for Rollins to be a credible champion that’s best for business, and you muddle up the recipe even further. It’s just interesting to note, as the heel’s traditional role had always been to create anticipation for the babyface’s eventual win. It works for some guys—like Ambrose—and doesn’t work for others.
This is gonna be the new normal, and I’m still not sure how it works out. On one hand, as I’ve mentioned before, humans are three-dimensional. But on the other hand, maybe the WWE isn’t doing this properly. They think that it’s enough to have most of their characters work in the gray area between good and bad and stay that way without providing any motivation.
Like we know, at the very least, that Mayweather is the way he is because of his upbringing, and no matter how we choose to feel about him, we understand why he’s like that. It’s okay for pro wrestling to do the same. All I ask is that if they’re going to leave the cartoon world behind, they do it properly.
Putting the focus on Randy Orton, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens was pretty refreshing. It’s the kind of fresh air we had back when Brock Lesnar first won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship around this time last year; the champion wasn’t around much, so we were able to see other upper midcard talents step up. This is the only good thing about John Cena’s legitimate injury (which people are also terrible for cheering). It’s a good way to keep people active without overexposing the feud (which likely would have happened if Cena wasn’t injured).
I know it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Stephen Amell finally seeing some WWE action is a thing to behold. The guy is athletic enough, and we should also be getting a decent match out of Neville, Stardust, and King Barrett.
This episode is pretty full of filler, but you should definitely catch Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper. That’s a nice little match.
I’m always glad to see Daniel Bryan around. Clear the guy already, he’s fine!
I don’t understand why Triple H was being a dick to Stephen Amell, considering that Stardust laid hands on him first. Yeah, Hunter is being a heel, but if he’s going to be a reasonable businessman, doesn’t he see the sense in what Amell did? It’s being a heel for the sake of, and it doesn’t make much sense.
Nothing new with the Diva Revolution. They’re getting a 3-way trios match at SummerSlam, but for what, we still don’t know.
It’s a little non-issue, but Rollins telegraphed the ending of their match by jumping with his head out. Nobody, especially Rollins, jumps like that on a diving headbutt or splash, except Lucha Underground’s Aero Star.
In case you missed it: Philippine Wrestling Revolution is holding their next event, PWR Live on Saturday, August 15, at the Makati Square Arena, with PWR Champion “Classical” Bryan Leo defending the title against “The Senyorito” Jake de Leon, plus an exciting tournament for the new Philippine Hybrid X championship! Tickets are only P250 – don’t miss out!
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling?
If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person (and voice of PWR) Raf Camus! On their latest episode, they talk to Juan Direction’s Brian Wilson about his wrestling fandom, and his quest to reinvent the Filipino action movie! Listen to it here! – Rappler.com