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Justifying Heel Actions


Thomas Bugg
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That'd be pretty wild to read that in a magazine back in the day.  Earliest non-WWF magazines I read was PWI and their sister magazine, but that was in 1990.  It's almost a minor miracle they can still get anybody to do a legit interview (rare since they're mostly made up, though I remember Seth did one before coming back)  I'd love to get my hands on these magazines or even see screen grabs of the goodness that they had in them.

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1 minute ago, NikoBaltimore said:

That'd be pretty wild to read that in a magazine back in the day.  Earliest non-WWF magazines I read was PWI and their sister magazine, but that was in 1990.  It's almost a minor miracle they can still get anybody to do a legit interview (rare since they're mostly made up, though I remember Seth did one before coming back)  I'd love to get my hands on these magazines or even see screen grabs of the goodness that they had in them.

I'll take some photos when I remember. 

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21 minutes ago, Victator said:

Reading magazines from 84, hey they are cheap.

Backlund in an interview said they outright refused to grant him a rematch. That he worked dates all around but with Iron Sheik they said he was too hurt. 

But I think you could say there is a difference in working Tiger Chung Lee hurt vs taking on the WWF Champion who injured you in the first place. 

Later they interviewed Hogan, this being before Vince was confident enough to try to cut off access to the magazines. 

They press him about not defending against Backlund or other fan favorites. He said he defended against whomever the WWF told him to and that it was not his job to offer title matches. 

You make a good point that Backlund never offered rematches to former champions. 

But Backlund working all of those dates most likely caused more damage to his injured shoulder, the NYSAC doctor could have lost his license to practice medicine if he allowed Backlund in the ring that night. Also Backlund was not only working journeymen like Tiger Chung Lee or tag specialists like Afa he was mixing it up with IC Champion Don Muraco and top contender The Masked Superstar.

 

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Hulk Hogan is the perfect avatar for the social/political climate of the 1980s. The very essence of the character is rooted in jingoism. From the outset, the tone for Hulkamania was set with the title win against the Iron Sheik. 

Bob Backlund lost to Sheiky Baby because he was unwilling to get down to the base level where Sheik was fighting. He tried doing things the "right" way and it ended with him crying in the locker room. Backlund was an avatar for Jimmy Carter. Here comes Hulk as Ronald Reagan, both guys from Southern California (kayfabe), who were more than willing to label the Soviets, Iranians, etc. evil. And when you're fighting evil, you have to do whatever it takes to win. The ends justify the means. 

Hulk cheated more than the Sheik in that match. He STARTED the match by fucking cheating. And he crushed the overmatched evil foreigner. 

The problem with the ends justifying the means is that the simple boundaries of Good vs. Evil are easily manipulated. You get Iran Contra in the real world, and you get Hulk being an unrepentant cheater in wrestling. But, because he'd been clearly defined as "The Good Guy," and his actions are inherently rooted in good, it was OK that he broke the rules vs. Iron Sheik. And against Andre. And against King Kong Bundy (seriously, go back and watch the Nov. '87 SNME, which also has a fantastic Savage vs. Hitman match. Hulk works as the heel against Bundy by almost every standard metric of Heel vs. Face). 

And, since Hulk was Inherently Good, he could screw Savage and Sid and he'd still be the face. 

Hulk's not unique in that his persona and status as the top character mirror the national climate. Austin represented the working man, screwed over by Wall Street and corporate downsizing throughout the 1980s and 1990s, rebelling. Had Daniel Bryan not gotten injured, I feel he was headed in the direction of becoming a MEGA star, since he represented the social climate and functioned as an avatar for a growing percentage of the wrestling fan demographics. 

Now, speaking of current WWE: Aside from being mind-numbingly stupid as an angle, I cannot figure how how the hell New Day are face while being complete pricks to Titus O'Neil. But that's more a product of bad writing than a more deeply rooted byproduct of the characters. 

 

 

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I'm liking the comparison a ton.  You're on the money about Hogan, Backlund and Austin for sure.  Going from there you can add Cena as the poster guy of the transition from the Attitude era (South Park, Springer and so on) to a more PG era where things are seemingly way more PC.  As for modern champions, Charlotte/Bayley/Sasha, etc. are a product of women athletes being more mainstream due to Rousey and other female sports athletes.

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Well you know Bundy did ambush Hogan a year before and broke his ribs. 

It seems stupid to expect him to be scientific against people that had no intention of fighting fair. 

Backlund was originally injured because Sheik ambushed him on television. 

You could make an argument for Andre, but Andre set the tone by hiring Heenan. 

Hogan is the reason Savage got the WWF title. Without Hogan, Dibiase wins and Hulk gets the title back in short order. Nobody forced Savage to pick a fight with Hulk Hogan as reigning champion. 

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2 hours ago, Victator said:

Well you know Bundy did ambush Hogan a year before and broke his ribs. 

It seems stupid to expect him to be scientific against people that had no intention of fighting fair. 

Backlund was originally injured because Sheik ambushed him on television. 

You could make an argument for Andre, but Andre set the tone by hiring Heenan. 

Hogan is the reason Savage got the WWF title. Without Hogan, Dibiase wins and Hulk gets the title back in short order. Nobody forced Savage to pick a fight with Hulk Hogan as reigning champion. 

You're right on all accounts. It goes with my thought of the Hulk character: The ends justify the means. Sheik ambushed Backlund, setting up the shoulder-injury angle. Backlund's gimmick had too much honor to fight the Sheik that way; Hulk wasn't just willing to fight that way, but did it preemptively. 

Bundy's maybe a bad example, though viewing that match in a vacuum makes Hulk look dirty as hell. But Savage...whew, watching the whole Megapowers angle from late '87 to Mania V was one of the first things I did upon getting the Network. I'm fully on board with Savage as the face in that angle. 

Mach sold him on those promos: Hulk was constantly stealing his spotlight, man! 

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2 hours ago, The Iron Yuppie said:

You're right on all accounts. It goes with my thought of the Hulk character: The ends justify the means. Sheik ambushed Backlund, setting up the shoulder-injury angle. Backlund's gimmick had too much honor to fight the Sheik that way; Hulk wasn't just willing to fight that way, but did it preemptively. 

Bundy's maybe a bad example, though viewing that match in a vacuum makes Hulk look dirty as hell. But Savage...whew, watching the whole Megapowers angle from late '87 to Mania V was one of the first things I did upon getting the Network. I'm fully on board with Savage as the face in that angle. 

Mach sold him on those promos: Hulk was constantly stealing his spotlight, man! 

Is it really Hogan willing to fight Sheik "that way" or is it Hogan not changing the tactics that always have worked for him? Is Hulk supposed to switch to a scientific style of wrestling because he is now getting the cheers of the fans? 

In the Bundy match was Hogan wrestling "dirty" out of vengeance towards Bundy and the Heenan Family or did he use those tactics as a short cut because he feared the big man from Atlantic City?

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15 hours ago, happjack said:

Is it really Hogan willing to fight Sheik "that way" or is it Hogan not changing the tactics that always have worked for him? Is Hulk supposed to switch to a scientific style of wrestling because he is now getting the cheers of the fans? 

In the Bundy match was Hogan wrestling "dirty" out of vengeance towards Bundy and the Heenan Family or did he use those tactics as a short cut because he feared the big man from Atlantic City?

It was just practical, if a guy had broke my ribs in an ambush, I'm not sitting on my hands waiting for him to do it again. As it was Bundy, Andre and Heenan were still cheating like mad and he lost by count out for it. 

The more fascinating part of this and the rematch (which I highly recommend) is Bundy trying to avoid the Hulk Up. He is the only guy who realized Hogan had some sorta supernatural power behind him. So he tries various ways to cut it off but finds he still can't outright pin him. 

With Savage, he was living in Hogan's spotlight. Hogan gave him the title at WM 4. As I said without Hogan hitting Dibiase with the chair, Dibiase wins the title. 

Go further to that October 87 SNME, with Hogan, the Honky and the Hart Foundation might have maimed and retired Savage. 

After Wrestlemania 4, Savage had to bring Hogan back to fight Dibiase and Andre. 

Hogan was there for Savage every time he needed him.

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  • 2 years later...

When Terri Runnels turned heel, it was completely justified. Look at what all happened in a span of two years- some musclebound stud strangles and terrorized her, a drugged-up maniac with a bad leg and a raspy voice holds her captive, her effeminate dressing husband, who she tolerated kissing dudes while they were unconscious and who stalked a boxer-turned-wrestler's wife, basically dumped her on television and joins up with some Goth broad who sounds like Demolition in the voice, a porn star kicks her to the curb after her EPT read pink, and now some fat motherfucker from Texas who once tried to mack on the aforementioned bull woman is trying to put the moves on her. And to top it all off, the promotion she works for is not safe for little Dakota to watch because the fucking pea-brained dipshit booker is obsessed with his B-movies and goddamn Jerry Springer, so she can't even watch mommy perform, although that's probably for the best as her mom has been tortured the past year or two. So yes, Terri was completely justified.

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16 hours ago, Thomas Bugg said:

When Terri Runnels turned heel, it was completely justified. Look at what all happened in a span of two years- some musclebound stud strangles and terrorized her, a drugged-up maniac with a bad leg and a raspy voice holds her captive, her effeminate dressing husband, who she tolerated kissing dudes while they were unconscious and who stalked a boxer-turned-wrestler's wife, basically dumped her on television and joins up with some Goth broad who sounds like Demolition in the voice, a porn star kicks her to the curb after her EPT read pink, and now some fat motherfucker from Texas who once tried to mack on the aforementioned bull woman is trying to put the moves on her. And to top it all off, the promotion she works for is not safe for little Dakota to watch because the fucking pea-brained dipshit booker is obsessed with his B-movies and goddamn Jerry Springer, so she can't even watch mommy perform, although that's probably for the best as her mom has been tortured the past year or two. So yes, Terri was completely justified.

I apparently remember very little about Terri Runnels' career, 'cause very little of that sounds familiar.

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First one that came to my mind was Taz in ECW.  Was a face, broke his neck and was out.  When he came back, he felt he wasn’t properly taken care of when he was gone by ECW.  He was also pissed that the fans cared more about Sabu’s return from betraying the company and Taz, than they were his return from injury, fighting for their enjoyment.  

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Not seen through this: Sting and The Pope's heel turns in 2010 were examples of the rare: they were justified in 20/20 hindsight.

Sting basically tells Dixie Carter "I've been through this before with Hogan and Bischoff. They're going to screw you over. I don't trust them, I know they're plotting something." He's the bad guy for it, and Pope becomes a bad guy for listening to Sting.

Then, Immortal formed. Sting was proven to be absolutely, unequivocally, 100% right all along. 

 

Similarly from TNA, Mr. Anderson joining Aces and Eights. It boiled down to everyone kept saying "we know you're in Aces and Eights, we don't trust you, we know you're a member...", until it eventually got to Anderson saying "You know what? I WASN'T a member. But you were all such jerks to me for so long I decided to join them just to spite you."

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1 hour ago, SorceressKnight said:

Similarly from TNA, Mr. Anderson joining Aces and Eights. It boiled down to everyone kept saying "we know you're in Aces and Eights, we don't trust you, we know you're a member...", until it eventually got to Anderson saying "You know what? I WASN'T a member. But you were all such jerks to me for so long I decided to join them just to spite you."

That was also Test joining the Alliance.

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12 hours ago, SorceressKnight said:

Similarly from TNA, Mr. Anderson joining Aces and Eights. It boiled down to everyone kept saying "we know you're in Aces and Eights, we don't trust you, we know you're a member...", until it eventually got to Anderson saying "You know what? I WASN'T a member. But you were all such jerks to me for so long I decided to join them just to spite you."

Counterpoint: How shit would it have been if Sting did this in WCW when all the faces were falling for the Fake Sting in the nWo?

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7 hours ago, CreativeControl said:

Counterpoint: How shit would it have been if Sting did this in WCW when all the faces were falling for the Fake Sting in the nWo?

That's more a character thing than anything. Sting's character and Mr. Anderson's characters were so different that it'd be out of character for Sting to do, but perfectly in character for Anderson to do.

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1 minute ago, SorceressKnight said:

That's more a character thing than anything. Sting's character and Mr. Anderson's characters were so different that it'd be out of character for Sting to do, but perfectly in character for Anderson to do.

Oh for sure, just imagine how deflating it would have been. It doubtful they would have done the business they did, the pops for Sting saving the day are still some of the biggest I heard. Who leads the charge for WCW?

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7 minutes ago, CreativeControl said:

Oh for sure, just imagine how deflating it would have been. It doubtful they would have done the business they did, the pops for Sting saving the day are still some of the biggest I heard. Who leads the charge for WCW?

Of course, and that's still a point. Character also matters for a justifiable heel turn.

For a similar example to these: Both Sgt. Slaughter's turn on Nikolai Volkoff in 1990 and Rockstar Spud turning on EC3 in 2016. Both turns boil down to the same logic: "...you fans actually took THIS ASSHOLE'S side? Really? Really? You know all the shit this guy's pulled, right? And you're forgiving him as if none of it happened? Fuck you. The damage has been done here- you may forgive him, but I just can't call this man brother after all we've been through. I'm not on HIS side, and if it means turning on all of you, so be it. Truth be told, if you took his side, I want nothing to do with you anyways."

In this case, Slaughter's turn on Volkoff made no sense (Slaughter had been gone for so long it didn't make sense that he suddenly cared Volkoff was a good guy when he wasn't fighting the evil Russian for years), but Spud's turn on EC3 was entirely justified (Spud had been the brunt of most of EC3's bullshit and finally stood up for himself, so it made complete sense that Spud wouldn't say "all is forgiven because we both wear white boots and come from the same dressing room.")

Edited by SorceressKnight
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2 hours ago, CreativeControl said:

Oh for sure, just imagine how deflating it would have been. It doubtful they would have done the business they did, the pops for Sting saving the day are still some of the biggest I heard. Who leads the charge for WCW?

DDP.

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1 hour ago, West Newbury Bad Boy said:

DDP.

1996. 

Meaning...so , the ace in the hole for WCW against the New World Order is the guy who couldn't even beat Evad Sullivan cleanly just a short time before this and had just lost all of his money and his career until a mysterious benefactor showed up to help him who was never seen again. In kayfabe, the NWO should be shaking in their boots at that point. 

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That ace didn't get played until well into 1997. In the meantime, Dallas was rising fast and getting some of the biggest pops around diamond cutting dudes opportunistically. Improbably, they got to a point where he could have been credibly slotted in as the top face in this hypothetical scenario where they whiff and have Sting join the nWo (before they eventually whiff and have Sting join the Wolfpac).

If you want to split hairs about late 1996, as if that's when this whole story played out, I guess we're stuck with Lex as our saviour. And as much as I love a good torture rack, dude's a lame "don't challenge the establishment and tradition" wet-blanket promo and a moron who seemingly can't pick his best friend out of a line-up. 

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  • 2 years later...

 

Honky was completely justified here. I would do the same thing if some coked-up redneck cosplaying as Magnum TA keep calling me an idiot, making fun of my name and sticking a goddamn snake in my face, all while in front of a nationally televised audience, I'd knock his ass out with a guitar too.

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I read a bunch of this thread but not all of it. One more thing about Sting’s justification is that Savage’s history, like Luger’s was a part of the whole thing. Savage and Luger feuded in 1995 then made it a point to patch it up before 1996. Normally they would have just ignored the past there but that was a good touch. The fake Sting really was 1 of the best executed angles in history. 

Michael Hayes is the most underrated complete professional wrestler ever. 

Hogan’s heel turn wasn’t justified but since it came up it was also great. It being so great is a reason people hate him in real life. There was no payoff to it and it ruined WCW.

Eddie turning heel in WCW is when this happened. He kept getting blamed for screw ups that weren’t his fault and kept getting accused of trying to steal the Cruiserweight title when all he was really trying to do was keep Syxx from stealing it. 

I want to say there was a good reason Raven hated Dreamer but I’m not the ECW historian. 

 

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