Bear with me here.
I promise I’m not crazy. Well, at least when it comes to that headline. But you can decide for yourself, just give this a chance first.
People are constantly saying, “Kayfabe is dead.” It’s quite possible they’re right. Why else would we see Miz, supposed to be a top heel, feuding with the top face in the company going into the second-biggest show of the year, and promoting a reality show at the same same time? Yes, I know that this is the hundredth time I’ve mentioned that, but it’s so awful and ridiculous that it bears repeating. They put a large portion of the women’s division, face and heel alike, on a tv show together that’s NOT a wrestling show, and purportedly show them hanging out and getting along (I dunno, I’d rather gargle a bucket of diarrhea than watch that shit). So yes, people may be right about kayfabe being dead. And because of that, it can be really hard to create a true heel these days.
The fans are as much to blame as the company is. The most famous example of a supposed jobber beating a big star is when The Kid beat Razor Ramon on Raw to earn his 1-2-3 Kid moniker. The fans booed Razor from the start. If that match happened today, the fans would be chanting “Razor’s gonna kill you” before the bell even rings. Kevin Owens has finally become pretty much a pure heel by this point, but he was the “cool heel” for way too long. Samoa Joe still has that problem. I don’t know if they’re told to play their characters that way or what it is, but I think it’s bad for the business.
Fans often claim that the product is stale and out of touch and this sucks and that sucks and everything sucks. Then they shit out anything new. It seems that the only thing that portion of the fan base wants is their indie darlings. The only pure WWE guy that I can think of that broke through without getting a large backlash in at least the last five years is Braun Strowman. We’ve all seen what’s happened with Roman Reigns. Which brings me to my point of this article.
As I mentioned earlier, it can be really hard to create a true heel. Enter Brock Lesnar. Even since his return in 2012, Lesnar has been a “special attraction.” It’s been no secret that he doesn’t like the travel that’s required of a full-time WWE superstar. He has limited dates, and he’s usually booked around the biggest shows of the year. He shows up on Raw with his advocate, jumps around for a few minutes while Heyman talks, and leaves. Boom, $$$$$millions$$$$$. No matter how many times he did that little routine, he would still get cheered for showing up. People wanted to see Brock.
But resentment grew. Since he won the Universal Championship at Wrestlemania 33, Lesnar has had just FIVE title defenses: SummerSlam, No Mercy, Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania 34, and the Greatest Royal Rumble. He’s been off TV for months at a time. Each time he’s actually shown up, there’s been less and less cheers. When Paul Heyman showed up alone a couple weeks ago, he was roundly booed, and nobody even chanted along with his normal spiel, the just booed over it. It sounds like everybody is sick of this Brock Lesnar shit.
Bingo. It’s been a slow burn angle, but by Vince keeping Lesnar away for longer and longer periods of time, and having other superstars comment about it, he has successfully made Lesnar a true heel. And, leading into their SummerSlam match, dare I say a bigger heel than Roman Reigns. They have to get creative these days to build real resentment and anger with the fans. Having Lesnar take his belt and sit on his farm in Canada while making more money than probably every full-time superstar can really piss people off. The best storylines have always had some sort of basis is reality, and Vince has used the reality of Brock’s sweetheart contract to turn him into the biggest heel in the company for the moment, and the moment is perfect.