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Top 5: Heel Turns

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The Rock WWF Champion Heel

One of the most entertaining aspects of WWE television lately has been Shinsuke Nakamura’s emergence as an evildoer. He had been a generally well-mannered individual during his first couple of years under the WWE umbrella. Something inside him snapped after losing to AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34, and he’s been hitting people in the lower nutsac region ever since. He also has periods of time where he can’t speak English.

Some guys are just better off as bad guys. A turn to the dark side can revitalize a career. Shinsuke seemed to be running out of things to do in WWE. Now, the sky’s the limit. He’s learned what many people before him have…it pays to be bad.

Here are the Top 5 Heel Turns in wrestling history.

5. Andre the Giant

Andre had been used as a good guy pretty much everywhere he went across the world for fifteen years. He drew tons of fans wherever he went & was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world for the lion’s share of his career. Given the nature of his career traveling from territory to territory as a special attraction, titles weren’t something he focused on.

Until 1987. A series of trophy presentations where Hulk Hogan upstaged the Giant enabled Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to convince Andre that Hogan & the WWF promoters took him for granted. Andre joined with Heenan & demanded a title shot.

There weren’t very many matches that could fill the Pontiac Silverdome in 1987. WrestleMania was big, but it wasn’t what it is today. Andre the Giant as a heel challenging Hulk Hogan filled that dome. The Giant was breaking down physically & didn’t have much left, so it was time to establish the next generation. Andre’s run as a heel didn’t result in a ton of classic matches, but he did help stars like Hogan, Jake Roberts & the Ultimate Warrior reach another level.

4. Chris Jericho

Jericho has turned a number of times during his career. The shock factor has never really been there with him like it was for most of the turns on this list. Fortunately, Jericho makes up for that weakness by being wildly entertaining as a bad guy. His WCW heel run put him on the map, but his most successful stint as a bad guy came after he turned against Shawn Michaels in 2008.

The Y2J character had become hackneyed & played out, so it was time for Jericho to turn over a new leaf. He got out his Nick Bockwinkel DVDs, brushed up on his vocabulary & went from being a colorful rockstar to a monotone suit-wearing braggart. The new persona cemented Jericho’s status as one of the most critically-acclaimed wrestlers of his generation.

3. Shawn Michaels

Although HBK was the target of Jericho’s wrath in 2008, he should have identified with the situation. Michaels’ Rockers tag team with Marty Jannetty had run its course towards the end of 1991. After years of great matches, they were nowhere near title contention. If Michaels was going to live up to the potential people thought he had, change needed to be made.

A barbershop window would have to pay the price.

We all know where Michaels’ career went after that. The Heartbreak Kid worked his way up to the IC title level as a bad guy & established himself as one of the best wrestlers in the company. Nowadays he’s considered one of the best of all time. It all started with the run he had after turning against Jannetty.

2. Hollywood Hogan

Hulk Hogan’s move to WCW didn’t exactly go the way people had hoped. While the company gained more notoriety & got on more even footing with the WWF, Hogan’s babyface character was running out of steam. Traditionally, wrestlers turn heel when that happens. This was Hulk Hogan, brother. The idea of him turning heel was as ridiculous as it would be for John Cena to turn heel. Or even for Roman Reigns to turn heel, brother!

They did it.

Hogan went from being on his way out to the biggest name in wrestling once again. He & the NWO took WCW to the top of the business. Hogan’s heel run was great because it played into all the complaints his haters had over the years. People loved to see him lose on the rare occasions it happened.

Honorable Mention: Tommaso Ciampa

I don’t think there’s been a better-executed heel turn during this decade than Ciampa’s attack against his longtime tag team partner Johnny Gargano. Gargano has this certain factor about him that fans just get behind. Not many people can pull off the whitemeat babyface act these days, but he does it. Ciampa’s attack on Gargano stunned the NXT Universe.

The only problem: Ciampa was injured & wouldn’t wrestle for months afterward. Fortunately, Twitter is a thing now & Ciampa is one of the best at it.

I agree with Bill Watts. It’s not just enough to be a heel in the ring & on television. To achieve your true evil potential, you have to be a heel everywhere. Ciampa knows this.

1. The Rock

Rocky Maivia was going to be a superstar. Everybody knew this. That was exactly the problem. Fans in the late 1990s were tired of happy-go-lucky babyfaces that were destined to be superstars the moment they entered the business. Especially if that whole smiling act seemed fake, which it did with Rocky. The turn itself, when he randomly came back from an injury, helped Faarooq win a match & joined the Nation of Domination, wasn’t much. It was what came after that made The Rock a superstar.

Once Rock was allowed to be himself, he became exactly what WWE management thought he would be. Rock changed sides of the fence a handful of times during his career, with each turn gaining him more & more momentum. Becoming Mr. McMahon’s Corporate Champion right when the people were really getting behind him put Rock in the main event picture for good. Capitalizing off of fans’ annoyance with Rock always being going to do movies led to the Hollywood Rock character that was one of the most entertaining of all time.

Rock’s time as a heel didn’t last long. But he managed to accomplish in scant years what takes mortal men decades.


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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review

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You figured the aftermath of the Extreme Rules pay-per-view would be “must-see” television on SmackDown Live. With Jeff Hardy demanding a rematch for the United States Title with Shinsuke Nakamura and a potential confrontation with Randy Orton, the show was very much something I was looking forward to.

Let’s not forget WWE still had to wade through the waters of A.J. Styles’ win over Rusev. Would the company continue to book this feud moving forward? There was Carmella and her stooge James Ellsworth and the Asuka “situation.” Would the Empress of Tomorrow exact her revenge?

And if that wasn’t enough, Daniel Bryan has officially signed his new deal with WWE, which means he could be booked as a contender for Styles’ WWE Title. Where did The Miz fit in all of this, while he was busy playing softball during the MLB All-Star festivities and missed the show on Sunday night?

I waited anxiously for answers. Was I satisfied with the results? No exactly. Here are a few thoughts about SmackDown Live.

A.J. Styles vs. Cien Almas

The two superstars meet for the first time in WWE and does well for himself. The two crossed paths in Japan, renewing an old rivalry. The former NXT star has shown in recent weeks he could be part of the blue brand’s title picture. Almas was able to answer the WWE champion’s arsenal.

If WWE is going to push Almas toward the main event picture, this was the showcase he needed. Almas may have submitted to the calf crusher, but this is a feud I would love to see moving forward.

It also remains to be seen when WWE may book Styles to finally drop the company title.

The Demise of Rusev Day?

More like the beginning of the end of the relationship between Rusev and Aiden English. After watching the exchange between English and Lana, discussing how bad Rusev’s sidekick felt about costing him the WWE Title at Extreme Rules, I hope this does not lead to a confrontation between both performers.

This would be a huge blow to Rusev’s chance to remain in the main event picture. It may also put an end to the “Rusev Day” phenomenon.

Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose

While I am huge fan of Lynch, maybe even a slight crush on the Irish lass, the continual weekly bouts with Lynch and Sonya Deville have to stop. There is no movement in the women’s division. If anything, moving Sasha Banks to Tuesday nights might be the best thing for this division while Charlotte Flair is still out of action.

I will say this, the match between the two women may have been the best we have seen, with Rose showing she can hold her own with a former women’s champion. But still, “Make this stop!”

Now, Lynch sets her sights on Carmella and the SmackDown Women’s Title.

Paige and Carmella

I love Paige. Leave it to the SmackDown Live general manager to stir the pot. Lynch gets her shot at Carmella in a non-title match. If she beats the champion, she gets another match at SummerSlam. It makes you wonder what the heck the company is doing with Asuka.

Samoa Joe vs. Tye Dillinger

Seriously! Dillinger is a classic example of moving to the main roster too soon. Joe should be part of the main event picture. You have to wonder when that might happen as WWE has yet to fully push the wild Samoan.

If Joe is not used effectively, where he deserves a chance to face Styles (see a theme here?) but his health and a crowded title picture may screw him out of a match.

The Miz Eulogizes Team Hell No!

The best part of Tuesday nights is the appearance of the “A-Lister.” Offering a eulogy for the demise of Daniel Bryan and Kane, who suffered a broken ankle in the loss to the Bludgeon Brothers was class Miz.

Oh, and congratulations on winning the MVP of the celebrity softball game on Monday night. Sorry, back to the moment at hand. We even got an N’Sync reference which was classic.

The Miz remains the class of Tuesday nights.

After proclaiming Bryan’s career is dead, you know what happens next. The setup for SummerSlam has begun.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kofi Kingston vs. Eric Young

There was a time when Eric Young was one of the best in the business and one of the more underrated wrestlers. Now, he is the leader of Sanity. I’m not sure if I like this faction, but they are growing on me.

Kofi Kingston could be part of the main event picture, but he is mired in the current situation with The New Day. I’m still waiting for WWE to dissolve this trio and give Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods their own angles. The match between Kingston and Young could be a solid mid card feud, but that won’t happen.

A wheel barrow neck breaker gives Young the win.

Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (for the United States Title)

In the opening segment, Hardy said he was BROKEN because he did not have the United States Title around his waist and invoked his return title match clause. It was a good match, but not great.

Hardy takes the fight to the champion immediately. But this match slows down as expected. Nakamura continues to play the role of villain well, getting heat from the fans in attendance (who were mostly quiet until the Bryan-Miz segment). I’m curious what this match would be like if Hardy was healthy.

He admitted he has been banged up for some time prior to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.

Insert Randy Orton. The Viper beats the hell out Hardy until he defends himself. Ultimately, Orton stakes his claim as the top heel on Tuesday nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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WWE Possibly Doing an All Women PPV? Yes, Please!

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So, rumor’s been going around that WWE’s planning to do a PPV strictly for the Women’s Divisions of RAW and SmackDown and all I can say is: FINALLY! WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR TICKETS?!

Ever since the start of the Women’s Revolution, it’s become more and more obvious that the women need a show of their own because as the Women’s Divisions grow on the Main Roster, there’s less and less room for them on the PPVs and TV and it’s a problem that’s not going to get better with time.

A major promotion doing an all women PPV isn’t new. TNA has done them before for their Women’s Division, however, WWE has never before invested the time in exploring such a thing, or had a big enough Women’s Roster to do it with, now they have both.

Why? Well, the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Divisions have a lot of talent, but are still seriously outnumbered by the men’s roster and so don’t get as much TV time as they should and when they do get TV time, if they aren’t involved in the title situation, they’re usually in a multi-person tag match.

So, what are WWE’s options here?

1. A Regular PPV. They could just take an already existing PPV like Unforgiven or No Mercy and just have an all-female card. Problem is making it feel special instead of WWE just copping out.

2. A Brand New PPV. This is the one I like the best, instead of resurrecting an old PPV: Give the women a PPV of their own that is named for them. The name I’ve been kicking around today is ‘WWE: Revolution’ and having the poster be of the two Women’s Division rosters.

3. A Network Special. This is the one I can honestly see WWE doing in the spirit of the UK Tournament or the Greatest Royal Rumble. One idea that a lot of fans seem to like is ‘Queen of the Ring’, which would, of course be an all women’s version of King of the Ring.

One issue I can see arising from doing an all women PPV is having enough matches to fill a three hour PPV/Special slot plus the Kickoff Show. There’s about twenty women between RAW and Smackdown, now that sounds like a lot, but WWE had a card of about 35 people divided up into twelve matches, including the Kickoff Show, and there was still a lot of talking to make the time stretch and that was with seven title matches. So how would they fill in the gaps for the Women’s Division when each division only has one title belt to compete for?

1. Include NXT. The NXT Women’s Division is looking really good right now and a good case could be made to include the NXT Women in an all women WWE PPV/Special.

2. Include some legends. If WWE were to do something like they did with the Women’s Royal Rumble and bring back some past Women’s Division stars and Legends and set up some dream matches it would not only generate a lot of interest in the show but definitely fill the roster up.

3. Have Title Tournaments. This would really only work if WWE was planning on introducing secondary and tag titles to the Women’s Divisions. The finals for those matches would be great additions to a Women’s PPV.

4. Include the Mae Young Classic. I doubt very seriously that this will happen, but it would be a great addition if this PPV goes off to maybe have the Mae Young Classic final match on the card.

Again, it’s only rumored that WWE’s considering a Women’s Division PPV, but I think it’s an idea whose time has come and is long overdue. Since 2015, the revamped Women’s Division has shown that they are more than capable of carrying a card, never mind a PPV on their own and it’s time they were given the chance to prove it.


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Ring Riffs: The Undertaker Vs. Giant Gonzales (WrestleMania IX)

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Welcome to Ring Riffs! Where we take the absolute worst of professional wrestling and wrap it up in a neat little episodic package for your entertainment…and my own sense of masochism.

I have made my (small) claim to fame as a wrestling writer, both as professional wrestling fanatic and a glutton for punishment, as I – like most of us – are willing to wade through the muck and mucus of embarrassing skits, negative 2 star matches and backstage scandals to embrace those special, singular moments that made us fans in the first place.

I intend to wade through the muck for all of you. Consider this dying for the sins of wrestling. Again. And again. And horrifyingly again.

Ring Riffs is my video love letter to everything absolutely horrid about professional wrestling. We are all aware that, like any form of entertainment, there is the best of wrestling and the worst of it. We nerd-rage over matches and moments that are beneath our expectations of what wrestling should be – but over time, those terrible moments become inside jokes and memes for us to point and laugh at, wondering exactly what life-altering drugs were ingested by those who believed their ideas would get over with the wrestling fanbase.

So here we are, and here I am, ready to exploit the bottom of the barrel when it comes to wrestling matches. There is an entire galaxy of terrible matches for your entertainment…and for my punishment for the evil things I have done in my life.

In Episode #4, I took a look at what made the WrestleMania IX match between The Undertaker and Giant Gonzales was such a fascinating mess of truly epic proportions. Epic may be the understatement of the millennia.

Don’t forget to “like” the episodes and subscribe to the Ring Riffs Channel! It helps The Chairshot, and helps me continue to do what I do.

***WARNING***If you are easily offended by words, or if you are generfally a good parent who doesn’t want their children exposed to potty-mouthed anger, viewer discretion is advised.

Subscribe to the Ring Riffs YouTube Channel to keep new episodes coming!

Join the Ring Riffs Facebook Page.

Follow @RiffsRing on Twitter.

Love Wrestling. Love Life. Love Each Other.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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