Hell of a week in wrestling, eh?
Well, given all of the news items involving professional wrestling right now, most notably the MASSIVE amounts of money that WWE is receiving for their TV rights, I want to talk about something more nuanced. I want to talk about something that fans criticize often but seem to not truly understand. Today ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to talk about character alignment.
Roman Reigns recently was interviewed by the Daily Express in the United Kingdom. They asked him about him possibly turning heel, and his response was “It’s a weird question cause, aren’t I already a heel? If I garnered that reaction, what’s the point? If it’s already happening, if I’m already being booed, why try and get booed?” When this article was published and it got to the internet, needless to say the IWC lost their minds. Some people, like me, tried to show people that clearly he understands that he’s already an antagonist in some form. Others, like a heavy majority of fans I interacted with this past week, tried to argue that he’s completely wrong and he’s trying to save face by saying something that couldn’t possibly be true. So that created a question in my mind. Is Roman Reigns a face or a heel? More importantly, if Roman is a face, what does he do that constitutes being a face?
The answer to that question is simple, yet ends up getting very complicated. Roman exhibits both heel and face tactics, often depending on the feud or who he’s pitted against. When he’s heelish, he’s brutal to his opponents, arrogant in promos and around other talent, attacks other wrestlers unprovoked, and known to hold a vendetta and go out of his way to eliminate his opponent. On the other hand, Reigns has shown to be loyal to those he considers his family (The Shield and the Usos), has moments where he’s pandered to the crowd, and stands up for himself often in the face of adversity. So, the logical answer is that Roman is a tweener. Yet, some fans refuse to accept that, stating that not giving him a traditional alignment is a cop out. So, how do we figure out what Roman really is?
First, we have to realize that characters are no longer simply linear. While there are characters that still fall in that realm, wrestling characters are, as characters in general often are, non-linear and deal with more shades of grey. Characters have evolved into fully fleshed out characters, with motivations that serve multiple purposes. Wrestling has followed suit. Some of our greatest characters have been either a tweener or an anti-hero. Long gone is the classic battle of good and evil between the “white meat” babyface versus the evil heel; it still exists in some forms, but wrestling and entertainment largely have moved on from this. So then, how do we figure out where a character stands when it comes to alignment?
In 1974, Dungeons and Dragons was created and introduced to the world. The creators of that game introduced an alignment chart in which most characters in entertainment are judged by. With society being more broad than simply good and evil, the creators found a way to classify characters taking into account their moral and ethical perspectives and motivations. They concluded that there are 9 alignments that a character could be, all mixing the thought process of law VS chaos and good VS evil. The chart is below.
This chart gives deeper thought to character motivations and explains who a character is in a much deeper way than simply good or evil, or in wrestling terms, face or heel. So, I’m going to explain what each alignment is and who I think associates with that alignment the most.
The first alignment on the character axis is the Lawful Good alignment. Characters that align with this believe in truth, law, and doing good. They often have a personal code of conduct that they stick to through everything. The most clear character like this in the WWE is John Cena. He stands by his code of Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect, and always tries to do the right thing.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lawful Evil characters are similar to Lawful Good characters in that they believe in law and order, but their purpose for such is to adhere to their ways and wishes. These characters often use the law and manipulate it to get what they want, usually at the detriment of good characters. Nobody in wrestling represents this better than Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The Authority technically believes in the laws; they make them. They often use their laws, however, to hold who they want down and push who they want to prominence.
Neutral characters are the most important characters in this character axis, because the represent the shades of grey more than any other. Lawful Neutral characters represent that perfectly, as they believe in law and order and what’s right, but follow their moral compass. This differs from Lawful Good in that while both believe in law and order, Lawful Neutral characters don’t necessarily believe in right and wrong. They just believe in their code. This was the hardest for me to match to a WWE star, but the closest I can think of is Aleister Black in NXT. Aleister has talked often about being in the grey space between good and evil, and his character follows its own motivations. He doesn’t try to be a hero, he doesn’t try to be a bad guy. He believes in his own moral compass, but only his moral compass.
Chaotic Good characters differ from both other good characters in that they try to do what’s right, but they believe in their conscience more than the laws maintained. These characters are often free spirits or rebels that do what they want, but always in the name of good. I’d relate this alignment to guys like AJ Styles or Seth Rollins. Both men have shown that they try their best to do right and stand up for what they believe in, but they’ve both shown that they’re willing to do whatever they have to in order to achieve that. Both men have had very brutal feuds with authority figures, and both men have also been the bad guys in the story, but through it all, they try to do the right thing according to their own conscience.
Chaotic Evil characters live by the old Joker adage; they just want to see the world burn. Characters like this do what they want, when they want, how they want without any care who or what it hurts. They don’t really believe in anything but their own impulses. Since his heel turn at WrestleMania, Shinsuke Nakamura has represented this perfectly. He’s attacked and stalked AJ Styles at every chance simply because he wants what AJ has; the WWE Championship. On top of his excessive and unnecessary violence, his speech and mannerisms have changed and become very neurotic and unconventional, even more than usual.
Chaotic Neutral characters are the Han Solo’s of the world. They do what they want, and are often considered crazy. They’re rebellious just for the sake of being rebellious. Good or bad, their concern is their freedom and ability to do what they want. I’m sure you’ve figured out that this is Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is considered a lunatic, somebody who does what they wants and often doesn’t make sense in doing it. Ambrose has stuck up for his brothers but has also turned on his brothers when it’s been advantageous to him. And more than anything, his concern is his ability to be unabashedly himself.
The alignment of Neutral Good is similar to Lawful Good in that characters believe in law and order, but will stand up against it if they feel that it’s wrong or corrupt. They try to always do the right thing, but are willing to go against what somebody else believes is the right thing if necessary. This describes Daniel Bryan perfectly. Bryan had a very storied rivalry with The Authority where he was attacked and mistreated for months, but also became the authority figure later on in his career. He’s been on both sides of the law, but always does what he believes is right.
Neutral Evil characters have been called the “assholes”. They are just plain bad. They take advantage of any situation, go after their own interests, and they even align with other characters if it helps them in their goals and endeavors. Doesn’t this sound like The Miz to you? Miz has had numerous henchmen and partners; he turned on them all. Miz is always scheming to find a way to get what he wants. He’s also cowardly and conniving, taking advantage of every opportunity. You could also equate this to Kevin Owens.
I know you’ve all been waiting to see where I’d put Roman Reigns in this algorithm. Well, we’ve finally gotten to the alignment I feel he fits best – the True Neutral character. I know that differs from the perception that he’s a face, so let me explain. True Neutral characters aren’t selfless enough to be good, but their don’t do enough bad to be considered evil. They don’t follow the rules enough to be lawful, but they aren’t wild or rebellious to be considered chaotic. True Neutral characters simply exist in the middle. They do everything, just not enough. Doesn’t that describe Roman? He’ll attack a man viciously in the backstage area from behind one week, and the next, he’ll stick up for his brother. He’ll pander to the crowd in a promo one week, and the next, he’ll brag about how much better he is than everybody. Roman does what he wants with no bearing on anything else but his one goal. He’s a wild card, and that’s the true nature of the character.
Now, obviously, these are just my interpretations of these character alignments. I can understand if you disagree with any of these, I can even understand if you think using an alignment axis created for a Role Playing Game is even relevant to wrestling. But my point is this – wrestling characters are no longer as simple as good or evil. There is more nuance in characters than ever before. Most of them aren’t beholden to heel or face, they’re more beholden to their character and it’s motivations. And, as I’ve explained here, often times it can serve many different purposes. So the next time you find yourself in the argument of whether Roman Reigns is a heel or not, try to think about it differently. You might be surprised what you think if you do.
The Good, Bad and Ugly: SmackDown Live 12.11.18
Does the TLC Go Home of SmackDown continue to build excitement, or does it go the way of Raw and help us all get to sleep earlier? Bobby let’s us know how things are shaping up.
With Tables, Ladders and Chairs coming up this weekend, we had a semi-sweet Monday Night Raw. The actual in ring action looked decent. SmackDown is always looking bright, and tonight shouldn’t disappoint. What surprises are ahead on the Pre-TLC SmackDown?
Opening Promo w/ Daniel Bryan to Non-Title Match (WWE Champion) Daniel Bryan vs. Mustafa Ali
Daniel Bryan is solidifying his heel persona by continuing his onslaught on the general public and acting as wrestling’s Smokey the Bear. Shaming his once devoted fans, causing everyone to react in some way. Daniel Bryan continues to pile on that his old self is now dead, and all of the fans are idiots. Cheap pops and heat continued on. Until luckily it was interrupted by Ali. Mustafa Ali is a great talent. He didn’t do much of the talking here. He mostly fell victim to Daniel Bryan spewing his agenda. Ali went on to ask Daniel Bryan what’s up with his new attitude, only to be disrespected with a slap to the face. We saw a little action which gave us a taste of what is to come. Daniel Bryan looked sharp. His strikes were well done and was full of energy. This evil, snapped gimmick is working well for him. He wore down Ali,working the knee. Old school, clean wrestling. Ali had minimal offense but stuck to his high spots. Even with the multiple interruptions and heavy commercials, this was a Good match. After some incredible feats, Ali misses an inverted 450. Daniel Bryan went on to tear Ali apart, making him tap to the “Heel Hook.” Daniel Bryan Wins, a hot opening match. After the match, overkill set in, with Daniel Bryan viciously attacking Mustafa Ali up the ramp. This wasn’t needed but acted as a callous to Daniel Bryan’s changeover to a heel.
Randy Orton Promo
Orton wielding a chair went about showing off his previous torture of Rey Mysterio, questioning why anyone would want to have a chair match with a guy like him. Just as he was about finished, Rey Mysterio attacked him out of nowhere, hitting Orton with a chair and a 619, causing Randy Orton to flee. Not a bad promo. Short and effective.
Rusev and Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe and Shisuke Nakamura
Rusev being involved is Good for business. These four are some of the best in the business. Rusev has the abilities to carry the WWE as the Heavyweight Champion. Much like a Bobby Roode, he has had moments of being overlooked, however that can change at any moment like we saw on Raw. Pairing Shinsuke and Rusev is genius and a guaranteed winner. WWE just has to let them work and it will be fantastic. After being interrupted by an untimely dance off from Carmella and R-Truth, Shinsuke Nakamura brutally attacked Jeff Hardy from behind. Samoa Joe continued the assault on Hardy. This wasn’t brilliant considering the talent here, but it was entertaining enough. As the crowd showed everyone, Rusev when finally given the opportunity, delivered and looked Good in there. He is a great talent all around. After a devastating kick to the face, Rusev covers Nakamura for the Victory!
Asuka vs. Charlotte
Going into this, how could it be Bad? It really can’t right? First thing, it is a great Main Event, also,having Becky Lynch come out after the contenders were already in the ring was also great. Charlotte looked completely flawless and confident. This was very physical. Asuka not to be outdone did some outstanding work. Asuka kept after “The Queen” working her arms and beating her down. Charlotte and Asuka went back and forth most of the match. Charlotte finally trapped Asuka into a “Figure 4” but getting reversed. The two went back and forth fighting every second. This match was action packed. Asuka repeatedly kicked Charlotte in the face, until Charlotte hits a spear. After landing on her feet from a blocked moonsault, Charlotte then kicked out of a roll up from a countered “Figure 4”. Asuka hit the “Asuka Lock” that was countered sending Charlotte and Asuka to the floor. Charlotte then when psycho, Getting Disqualified for using her Kendo Stick. Before Charlotte could go too far, Becky Lynch got her back, only to get attacked by Asuka. Asuka went crazy with the Kendo Stick staking her claim of dominance. Asuka Win!
THE BAD: N/A
New Day Rap Battle: Usos vs. The Bar
This style of promo has potential. It can be really Ugly or really Good. Depending how much cheese is involved vs.actual humor. The New Day came out looking dapper and ready for the festivities. They are always ready to party. The Bar had their Run DMC track suits and Flavor Flav clocks for decor. That’s where it ended with a cheese filled “Ice Ice Baby” to remedy their horrendous rap abilities. The Uso’s surprisingly were also not great at this. This was a completely ridiculous,worthless segment. Chalk this up as Ugly.
Miz Promo (Shane McMahon and Miz vs. The Vegas Boys
Begging is just ridiculously over the top, especially in the current SmackDown setting. It’s cheap. The Miz and Shane are both Good typically on the mic. This was a smooth promo,however out of the blue Miz calls out a ref for a tag match. This match was horrible. Shane had more botches than I have ever seen. This was absolutely Ugly all around. Shane ended the debauchery by submission for the victory.
Final Results: Good(ish)
Although the Good outweighed the Ugly on this one, we had some pretty Ugly moments. More than I have seen on SmackDown in sometime. This wasn’t their strongest show among the past few weeks, but it worked. The highlight of the night was the Main Event! TLC is Sunday and I would say thanks to SmackDown, we are ready to roll!
Can a Queen of the Ring Event Work in Today’s WWE?
Rumors are swirling about WWE bringing back a throwback event for the next all-women’s PPV. A Queen of the Ring tournament sounds like a good idea as a focal point for the PPV considering the ever-evolving Women’s Evolution.
Many fans remember the King of the Ring, which was considered one of the big five PPVs for WWE back in the 1990s. King of the Ring had its ups and downs, but it was mostly known for the birth of Austin 3:16. The iconic moment still stands the test of time twenty two years later, however others such as Owen Hart, Triple H, and Edge certainly benefited from the once-prestigious tournament.
After Brock Lesnar’s win in 2002, King of the Ring slowly began to fade out. The last tournament was in 2015,where Bad News Barrett would later become King Barrett to celebrate the win. Before that was the infamous King Sheamus, who won the one prior back in 2010.
The allure and beneficial factor of King of the Ring definitely dissipated by the time it was brought back. King of the Ring used to be a big deal, meaning that the winner was definitely en route to a huge push or a WWE Championship opportunity down the road. The accolade was something that a few men could add to their list of accomplishments.
So let’s fast forward to now with these Queen of the Ring ideas. Could this really work in today’s WWE that is struggling to create lasting moments and new stars?
It depends on the commitment factor for the company; and that lies on the success and reception of the event if it did happen. There is certainly use for it, as the tournament can be used to elevate talent such as Ruby Riott, Peyton Royce, or Sasha Banks. On the flip side, it wouldn’t be no surprise if someone such as Alexa Bliss or Mandy Rose could take the win to garner extra heat for their respective character. That would certainly work, as Bliss is an example of someone who is very much over and the company seems to be completely behind her.
Consistency also matters, in which it is crucial to make the Queen of the Ring idea work. That goes hand in hand with the storytelling aspect that the company has been struggling with for some time now. Gaps in logic with missed opportunities have done more harm than good, and with Evolution’s success, it wouldn’t be fair to the women if Queen of the Ring was one and done thanks to those poor factors.
Queen of the Ring is a great idea that could certainly help the Women’s Division. Having the tournament at the Women’s PPV would create interest for fans that want something to look forward to. There is no doubt that the talent would shine during the Queen of the Ring – even the potential for possible Match of the Year candidates is high at an event such as this.
WWE has all of the tools to make this a success if at all possible this is true. Overall, it would be beneficial for the Women’s Division, and it will help the Evolution become full circle –something that the Division is meant to be.
Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!