Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Heel Turn

by Wayne Brower

Becoming a surly teenager was probably no different for me than most others.  You remember the routine - hormones going crazy; too old to be a child; too young to be an adult; looking for hypocrisy in others while ignoring your own; questioning authority.  All of the typical emotions while being a rebellious youth.

It was about this time when I began to view wrestling in a somewhat different light.  As most young fans I started out liking what people knew as the good guy or babyface characters.  But at this age I found myself in the “leave me alone” state of angst that infects many adolescent minds.

Wrestling in those days was a fun athletic play where everything is obvious.  My frustrations were brought out by certain good guys who in my opinion were condescendingly explaining to us what the bad guys, or heels, had just done and we had clearly seen:  “He cheated!”; “It’s not fair!”; “I’m going to the promotion with this!”  What a bunch of whiners.  They reminded me of the kid in class that was always crying “I’m going to tell on you!”

My sarcastic mindset was:  Hey guys, we get the picture.  We know right from wrong.  We have to obey our parents, teachers and the rules.  We don’t want to hear that stuff when we are being entertained.

When not preaching during their interviews, many of the babyfaces enjoyed telling us about their stature among the citizenry.  “I’m a common man” some would say to draw adoration from the viewers.  “I’m the average guy, just like you” others would state while looking directly into the camera.  Nothing wrong with that, I thought – as long as your goal in life was to be common or average.  

Swede Hanson & Rip Hawk (© Scooter Lesley)
In contrast the heels usually came across as cool, confident operators; just like us teenage boys thought we were.  Rip Hawk would turn slightly to the side, lift his head and proudly say that he is to be known as “The Profile.”  Rock Hunter, being complimented by his tag team partner after destroying a couple of good guys in a television match, answered with “You are right, I am great.”  The Great Bolo minced no words when describing in detail what he was going to do to his next opponent, then would top it off by saying in a most serious tone “And there is nothing you can do about it.”

The bad guys always talked about their luxury cars, fine homes, exquisite dining, beautiful women, but more importantly their wrestling championships.  “I’ll do anything…I’ll stop at nothing to keep this title!” they would proclaim into the microphone while pointing at the belt which defined supremacy.  Like any real men would do, the heels defended what was theirs.

The babyfaces were always getting out-smarted by the bad guys.  A heel would challenge a good guy to an impromptu match when he had the obvious advantage of his associates lurking nearby.  The good guy, all alone, would unbelievably accept.  I don’t need to tell you what would happen next.  Anytime the favorites were presented with an award or other tangible gift they always seemed to leave it sitting just outside of the ring as they climbed in for the next bout.  Once the match started other heels came from back stage and took great pleasure in destroying the property, all while the television host would be ranting “I can’t believe this is happening…I’ve never seen anything so despicable!”

Charlie Harville interviews manager Homer O'Dell
with Bronko Lubich and Aldo Bogni
Many of my friends and relatives strongly voiced their displeasure about my cheering for the bad guys.  It got tough at home, even to the point I had to conceal some of my overt appreciation for the antics of Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy to retain my television privileges.  Some of my buddies at school got so upset they wouldn’t speak to me for several days after Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich defeated the popular George and Sandy Scott in an extensively hyped match on WGHP-TV.

In frustration one of my best pals finally came to me and said “How can you like those cheaters?”   I explained with my then passionate thoughts that the heels were the true definition of success.  “Look, they’ve got the titles, the money, and everything that goes with it.  They don’t care what anyone thinks about them, so they are never on a guilt trip.  They ask permission from no one for anything.  They never complain or explain themselves.  The good guys are saps.  They get the same tricks pulled on them each week on different channels.  Their so-called friends never come to help them.  You’ve heard their boring interviews.  Some of them even say they are proud of being mediocre like the people in the audience.  Now, who would you rather be like?”

A few weeks later the same friend and I were talking and he delivered my first wrestling associated compliment.  “I’ve been watching for what you told me.  You were right; the bad guys are the best.”

It was his heel turn, and I was so proud.

Originally Posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
May 2004