I've been wanting to write this for awhile and finally got the inspiration when "good guy" Alberto del Rio attacked heel Dolph Ziggler from behind unprovoked on last night's (June 10, 2013) episode of Monday Night Raw. We've all had our issues with the state of the good guy in WWE and I wanted to talk about it and discuss possible reasons why.
One of the biggest issues facing the babyface today is the the fact that all of them are actually anti-heros. Here's the Webster's definition (yup I'm going there): a protagonist or noticeable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities. This is not the typical good guy -- at least it shouldn't be. The true face is someone who does what is right instead of what is wrong. They face all obstacles before them without gripe. They don't run in the face of danger. And they don't get brought down to their enemies level.
The most over good guy in the last 15 years is arguably Stone Cold Steve Austin, and it would make sense that all good guys try to emulate him. But here's the thing: Austin was a classic anti-hero. In fact, he was a dick. He had no good guy characteristics at all. He was an alcoholic who would beat the hell out of men and women equally, despite who deserved it or not, and cursed up a storm as he did so.
But his anti-hero had the best villain to make him great. I'm not taking anything away from Austin, but Vince McMahon is one of the greatest heels ever. His pure evil was a big part of building up the Stone Cold character as such a fan favorite. Plus, this was the Attitude Era. The product was gritty enough where your heroes could be dicks at the same time because the crowd wanted to see raunch. We accepted Mae Young giving birth to a hand for Christ's sake. Flipping the bird and faux drinking some Coors was acceptable.
Fast-forward 15 years. WWE programming is now PG. The fans are children and internet smarks. There is no villain near the caliber of Mr. McMahon and the Internet fans love a good heel anyway so some heels are getting cheered. This is the era where our good guys should be true faces again. They should do what's right in the face of the villain. They shouldn't attack unless provoked and they should never compromise who they are.
Let's look at the three biggest "good guys" in WWE
John Cena - While sometimes he will try to play up the "only do what's right" angle, he's a dick so much it negates it. He makes fun of people in a bullying way (even questioning Justin Gabriel's sexuality a couple times during the Nexus feud) and he comes out on top of every feud too easily so it loses the "overcome impossible obstacles" part of being a good babyface. That was evident when he couldn't get over as a face against The Rock.
Randy Orton - Orton didn't change his heel character when he went face. Instead, like Austin, he RKO's both good guys and bad. Granted, he recently started saying more face-like things like "We all need to work together," but I think he's too much of a dick in real life for us to believe it. He does have some things going for him. He had the benefit of the fans digging him as a heel before he went face. The fact that live crowds love him makes him easier to accept as a good guy. With some tweaking and a good foil, he could probably be WWE's closest thing to a good anti-hero they've got. But right now, he's still a stale good guy and it probably doesn't help that he wants to go heel himself, so he's not even trying.
Sheamus - He is the poster child for a bad face. He's a bully who comes out and harasses the heels before they've done enough to deserve it. He has come out and straight up bullied Damien Sandow for three weeks without provocation. Granted, this is something Austin would do all the time, but again, different time with a much different crowd. Fans like the bad guys now (at least the adult ones do) which makes Sheamus' bullying actions seem even worse. Aside from not backing down from a challenge (which is a staple of all WWE good guys), Sheamus doesn't have any of the qualities of a babyface. It doesn't help that he, like Cena, never loses, so we already know there's no obstacle he can't overcome. Classic dickface.
Let's take a quick look at someone who we had high hopes for as a good face Alberto del Rio. When he beat Big Show, he did everything a face should: He overcame a huge challenge and he did it with grace. When he won the title, he acted like a face should -- ecstatic that he overcame the obstacles in his way and full of joy for capturing the title. Now he's attacking an opponent who just had a concussion completely unprovoked. It doesn't take long to become a Dickface nowadays, does it?
WWE needs some of the heroes from the 80s to come back and give some seminars on what the word "face" means. They also need to remember who their crowd is now -- a crowd that enjoys good performers and the good performers are all heels now. They need to remember that without a great heel, there aren't going to be any great faces because faces need that obstacle to overcome.
So what you say, Cagesiders? Who do you think is the top true face today? Who could be? What could be contributing to the issues?