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In
professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Professional wrestling promotion, promotions, in ...
, a face (babyface) is a heroic, "good guy" or "fan favorite" wrestler,
booked
booked
(scripted) by the
promotion Promotion may refer to: Marketing * Promotion (marketing), one of the four marketing mix elements, comprising any type of marketing communication used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product, service, brand or i ...

promotion
with the aim of being cheered by fans, and acts as a
protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=one who plays the first part, chief actor) is the main character ...
to the heels, who are the villainous
antagonist An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, ...
or "bad guy" characters. Traditionally, they wrestle within the rules and avoid cheating (in contrast to the villains who use illegal moves and call in additional wrestlers to do their work for them) while behaving positively towards the
referee A referee is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the ex ...
and the audience. Such characters are also referred to as blue-eyes in British wrestling and ''técnicos'' in ''
lucha libre Lucha libre (, meaning "freestyle wrestling" or literally translated as "free fight") is the term used in Mexico for professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics w ...
''. The face character is portrayed as a
hero A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage Courage (also called bravery or valour) is the choice and willing ...
relative to the
heel The heel is the prominence at the posterior end of the foot The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living or ...
wrestlers, who are analogous to
villain A villain (also known as a "black hat Black hat, blackhats, or black-hat refers to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Black hat (computer security), a hacker who violates computer security for little reason beyond maliciousness or for person ...
s. Not everything a face wrestler does must be heroic: faces need only to be clapped or cheered by the audience to be effective characters. When the magazine ''
Pro Wrestling Illustrated ''Pro Wrestling Illustrated'' (''PWI'') is an American internationally sold professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and , which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'ma ...
'' went into circulation in the late 1970s, the magazine referred to face wrestlers as "fan favorites" or "scientific wrestlers," while heels were referred to as simply "rulebreakers." The vast majority of wrestling storylines involving faces place a face against a heel, although more elaborate set-ups (such as two faces being manipulated by a nefarious outside party into fighting) often happen as well. In the world of ''lucha libre'' wrestling, most ''técnicos'' are generally known for using moves requiring technical skill, particularly aerial maneuvers and wearing outfits using bright colors with positive associations (such as solid white). This is contrasted with most villainous ''rudos'' that are generally of them known for being brawlers, using physical moves that emphasize brute strength or size while often having outfits akin to
demon A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in Media (communication), media such as comics, video games, movies, an ...

demon
s or other nasty characters.


History

Traditional faces are classic "good guy" characters who rarely break the rules, follow instructions of those in
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...
such as the referee, are polite and well-mannered towards the fans and often overcome the rule-breaking actions of their heel opponents to cleanly win matches. While many modern faces still fit this model, other versions of the face character are now also common. A good example would be
Stone Cold Steve Austin Steve Austin (born Steven James Anderson, December 18, 1964; later Steven James Williams) is an American television host, actor, and retired professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment inv ...

Stone Cold Steve Austin
, who despite playing a heel early on in his career would start to be seen more of an
antihero An antihero (sometimes spelled as anti-hero) or antiheroine is a main character Image:Hamlet William Morris Hunt.jpeg, 200px, William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A prot ...
because of his popularity with the fans. While clearly not championing rule following, nor submission to authority, Austin was still regarded as the face in many of his duels such as his rivalry with
World Wrestling Federation World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., commonly shortened to WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performin ...
(WWF, later WWE) owner
Mr. McMahon Vincent Kennedy McMahon (; born August 24, 1945) is an American professional wrestling promoter and executive, American football executive, and media proprietor. He is currently serving as the chairman and chief executive officer of WWE, the lar ...

Mr. McMahon
. The portrayal of face wrestlers changed in the 1990s with the birth of
Extreme Championship Wrestling HHG Corporation, doing business as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), was a professional wrestling promotion and media company that was based in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The promotion was founded in 1992 by Tod Gordon and i ...
(ECW), the start of
World Championship Wrestling World Championship Wrestling, Inc. (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company or business that regularly performs shows involving professional wrestling. "Promotion" also describes a ro ...
's (WCW)
New World OrderNew World Order may refer to: * New World Order (conspiracy theory), a conspiracy theory referring to the emergence of a totalitarian one-world government * New world order (politics), any period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world polit ...
(nWo) storyline, and
the Attitude Era The Attitude Era was a term used by World Wrestling Entertainment World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., Trade name, d/b/a WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling. WWE ...
of the WWF. During this time, wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and
Sting Sting may refer to: * Stinger A stinger (or sting) is a sharp organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs ...

Sting
used tactics traditionally associated with heels, but remained popular with the fans. Professional wrestling had just come off a huge steroid scandal and was facing poor ratings compared to the 1980s, and as a result, professional wrestling transformed into an edgier, more mature product. In this new era of professional wrestling, the standard face was more profane, violent, and uncontrollable. In contrast to the emerging new breed of faces,
Kurt Angle Kurt Steven Angle (born December 9, 1968) is an American Olympic Olympic or Olympics may refer to Sports Events * Olympic Games, international multi-sport event held since 1896 ** Summer Olympic Games ** Winter Olympic Games * Ancient Olymp ...

Kurt Angle
was introduced to the then-WWF with an American
hero A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage Courage (also called bravery or valour) is the choice and willing ...
gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing Once the strategic plan is in place, retail managers turn to the more managerial as ...
based on his gold medal win at the
1996 Summer Olympics The 1996 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad, commonly known as Atlanta 1996, and also referred to as the Centennial Olympic Games, was an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized s ...
. Angle presented himself as a
role model A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The term ''role model'' is credited to sociologist Robert K. Merton Robert King Merton (born Meyer Robert Schkolnic ...
and stressed the need to work hard to realize one's dreams. Although such a personality appears appropriate for a face wrestler, Angle's character was arrogant and constantly reminded people of his Olympic glory, behaving as if he thought he was better than the fans. Angle's character served as a meta-reference to how wrestling had changed. Although his character was intended to be a heel and behaved accordingly, some commentators speculated that if Angle attempted to get
over Over may refer to: Places *Over, Cambridgeshire, England *Over, Cheshire, England *Over, Gloucestershire, near Gloucester, England **Over Bridge *Over, South Gloucestershire, England *Over, Seevetal, Germany Music Albums *Over (album), ''Over' ...
as a face using a more heroic version of the same character, he would have failed. Unusually, Angle did not use any of these heroic mannerisms when playing a face character, instead acting as somewhat of an antihero with a few elements of the "
lovable loserThe lovable loser is a character (arts), character archetype portrayed as a sympathetic, likable, or well-meaning person for whom bad luck continually prevents their various efforts from succeeding, and from obtaining the things they feel will bring ...
" character archetype. The majority of the time, faces who are low-carders, or lesser known, are used as jobbers. These wrestlers usually lose matches against established wrestlers, often heels that then lose to the top faces.


Fan reactions

Fans sometimes dislike face wrestlers despite the way they are promoted. Some reasons for this include repetitive in-ring antics, a limited moveset, a lengthy title reign, lack of
selling Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale. The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, completes a sale in ...
their opponents' moves, or an uninteresting character. This often results in wrestlers who are supposed to be cheered receiving a negative or no reaction from the fans. When this happens, it can prompt a change in character for the wrestler in question. For example, Batista's run as a face upon his return to the WWE in 2014 was met with overwhelmingly negative reactions from the fans. Because of this unexpected reaction, Batista turned heel within just a few months of his return. The reaction of the fans can also influence a wrestler's booking and position on the card. Faces that get more support than expected sometimes move closer towards the main event scene, while those getting less of a reaction than hoped might move down on the card. While Batista was getting bad reactions in 2014, another face
Daniel Bryan Daniel Bryan may refer to: * Bryan Danielson Daniel Bryan may refer to: * Bryan Danielson (born 1981), American professional wrestler who formerly used the ring name "Daniel Bryan" * Dan Bryan (1900–1985), Irish soldier * Daniel Bryan (Big Broth ...
, was getting incredibly positive support. In late 2013 Bryan was constantly cheated out of the WWE Championship by on-screen authority figures, much to the fans' dismay, and it did not look like he was slotted to take back his place in the main event anytime soon. Loud "Yes!" chants that had become synonymous with Bryan were present at any show he was on, and eventually the main event of
WrestleMania XXX WrestleMania XXX (also written as WrestleMania 30) was the 30th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are pla ...
would be changed from Batista vs
Randy Orton Randal Keith Orton (born April 1, 1980) is an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and actor. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw (WWE brand), Raw brand. Orton is a third-generation professional wres ...

Randy Orton
for the
WWE World Heavyweight Championship The WWE Championship is a world heavyweight championshipWorld heavyweight championship may refer to: * List of heavyweight boxing champions, World heavyweight boxing championship (professional) ** World Colored Heavyweight Championship (early t ...
, to a
triple threat match Many types of wrestling matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing Once the ...
with Daniel Bryan which he would go on to win.


Mannerisms

Some face wrestlers often give high fives or give out merchandise to fans while entering the ring before their match, such as T-shirts, sunglasses, hats and masks.
Bret Hart Bret Sergeant Hart (born July 2, 1957) is a Canadian-American Canadian Americans is a term that can be applied to American citizens Citizenship is the Status (law), status of a person recognized under the law of a country (and/or lo ...
was one of the first superstars to make this popular, as he would drape his signature sunglasses on a child in the audience.
Rey Mysterio Óscar Gutiérrez (born December 11, 1974), better known by his ring name A ring name is a type of stage name used by an athlete such as a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, or Boxing, box ...

Rey Mysterio
, who has been a face in WWE since his debut, would go to any fan (frequently a child) wearing a replica of his mask and touch their head with his head for good luck before wrestling. Other examples include
John Cena John Felix Anthony Cena ( ; born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, actor, and former rapper currently signed to WWE. Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, he is tied with Ric Flair for ...

John Cena
throwing his shirts and caps in the crowd before entering a match and
Big Show Paul Donald Wight II (born February 8, 1972) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typi ...

Big Show
giving his hat to a fan when he was a face. The face mannerism also extends outside the wrestling scene, for instance, as a renowned face,
John Cena John Felix Anthony Cena ( ; born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, actor, and former rapper currently signed to WWE. Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, he is tied with Ric Flair for ...

John Cena
apologized to China immediately after his reckless speech against Chinese audiences. Some faces, such as Bret Hart and
Ricky Steamboat Richard Henry Blood Sr. (born February 28, 1953), better known by his ring name Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, is an American retired professional wrestling, professional wrestler best known for his work with the American Wrestling Association (A ...

Ricky Steamboat
, promoted an image as a "family man" and supported their persona by appearing with their family members before and after matches. Steamboat famously carried his 8-month-old son Richard Jr. into the ring with him at
WrestleMania IV WrestleMania IV was the fourth annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) List of WWE pay-per-view events, event produced by the WWE, World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). It took place on March 27, 1988, at the Boardwal ...
before his match with , then handing him to his wife Bonnie before the match started, and was accompanied to the ring by his family during his rivalry with
Ric Flair Richard Morgan Fliehr (born February 25, 1949), better known as Ric Flair, is an American professional wrestling manager In professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestli ...

Ric Flair
in
Jim Crockett Promotions Jim Crockett Promotions Inc. was a Family business, family-owned professional wrestling promotion headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Founded in 1931, the promotion emerged as a cornerstone of the National Wrestling Allianc ...
to contrast with Flair's party animal "Nature Boy" persona. These actions often relate to wrestlers promoting charity work or other actions outside the ring, blurring the lines between scripted wrestling and their personal lives. In the ring, traditional faces are expected to abide by the rules and win matches by their own skill rather than by cheating, outside interference etc. Because heel wrestlers take little issues with using such tactics, the face enters many matches already at a disadvantage to the heel. By putting the face in a difficult situation, it can help to draw out sympathy and support from the audience. Traditional faces similar to
Hulk Hogan Terry Eugene Bollea (, born August 11, 1953), better known by his ring name A ring name is a type of stage name used by an athlete such as a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, or Boxing, ...

Hulk Hogan
tend to draw on support from the crowd when it's time for them to make their big comeback. In addition to wrestlers, commentators also portray face and heel dynamics. It is the job of the face commentator to criticize the tactics and behavior of the heel wrestler and gather support for the face wrestler. The face commentator gathers support for the face wrestler by mentioning how much of a disadvantage he is at, or by praising the hero's morality and valor.


See also

*
Glossary of professional wrestling terms Professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Professional wrestling ...
*
Heel (professional wrestling) In professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Professional wrest ...


Notes


References

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Face (Professional Wrestling) Professional wrestling slang