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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 heel (also known as a ''rudo'' 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 ...
'') is a wrestler who portrays a
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 ...
, "bad guy" or "rulebreaker" and acts as an
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, ...
to the
faces The face is the front of an animal's head that features three of the head's Sense, sense organs, the eyes, nose, and mouth, and through which animals express many of their Emotion, emotions. The face is crucial for human Personal identity, ident ...
, who are the heroic
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 ...
or "good guy" characters. Not everything a heel wrestler does must be villainous: heels need only to be booed or jeered by the audience to be effective characters, although most truly successful heels embrace other aspects of their devious personalities, such as cheating to win or using foreign objects. "The role of a heel is to get 'heat,' which means spurring the crowd to obstreperous hatred, and generally involves cheating and pretty much any other manner of socially unacceptable behavior that will get the job done." To gain
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...
(with boos and jeers from the audience), heels are often portrayed as behaving in an immoral manner by breaking rules or otherwise taking advantage of their opponents outside the bounds of the standards of the match. Others do not (or rarely) break rules, but instead exhibit unlikeable, appalling and deliberately offensive and demoralizing personality traits such as arrogance, cowardice or contempt for the audience. Many heels do both, cheating as well as behaving nastily. No matter the type of heel, the most important job is that of the antagonist role, as heels exist to provide a foil to the face wrestlers. If a given heel is cheered over the face, a promoter may opt to
turn Turn may refer to: Arts and entertainment Dance and sports * Turn (dance and gymnastics), rotation of the body * Turn (swimming), reversing direction at the end of a pool * Turn (professional wrestling), a transition between face and heel * Turn, ...

turn
that heel to face or the other way around, or to make the wrestler do something even more despicable to encourage heel heat. Some performers display a mixture of both positive and negative character traits. In wrestling terminology, these characters are referred to as tweeners (as a sort of short hand for the "in-between" good and evil actions these wrestlers display). WWE have been cited as a company that it is doing away with the traditional heel/face format due in part to audiences' willingness to cheer for heels and boo babyfaces. In "local" wrestling e.g. American wrestling, it was common for the faces to be "local" (e.g.
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
) and the heels to be portrayed as "foreign" (e.g.
Alberto Del Rio José Alberto Rodríguez Chucuan (born 25 May 1977) is a Mexican-American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, professional wrestling Promoter (entertainment), promoter, and Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist. He is best known f ...

Alberto Del Rio
,
Ivan Koloff Ivan Koloff (born Oreal Donald Perras; August 25, 1942 – February 18, 2017) was a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome ...

Ivan Koloff
,
The Iron Sheik Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri ( fa, حسین خسرو علی وزیری; born March 15, 1942), better known by his ring name The Iron Sheik, is an Iranian retired professional wrestling, professional wrestler, amateur wrestling, amateur wrestler an ...
, Rusev,
Jinder Mahal Yuvraj Singh Dhesi (born July 19, 1986) is a Canadian professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically bet ...
, and Muhammad Hassan). In the world of ''lucha libre'' wrestling, most ''rudos'' are generally known for being brawlers and for using physical moves that emphasize brute strength or size, 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,
devil A devil is the personification Personification occurs when a thing or abstraction is represented as a person, in literature or art, as an anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') ...

devil
s, or other
trickster In mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that som ...

trickster
s. This is contrasted with most heroic ''técnicos'' that are generally known for using moves requiring technical skill, particularly
aerial maneuvers Aerial may refer to: Music *Aerial (album), ''Aerial'' (album), by Kate Bush *Aerials (song), ''Aerials'' (song), from the album ''Toxicity'' by System of a Down Bands *Aerial (Canadian band) *Aerial (Scottish band) *Aerial (Swedish band) P ...
.


History

Common heel behavior includes cheating to win (e.g. using the ropes for leverage while pinning or attacking with a weapon while 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 ...
is looking away), employing dirty tactics such as blatant chokes or raking the eyes, attacking other wrestlers backstage, interfering with other wrestlers' matches, insulting the fans or city they are in (referred to as " cheap heat") and acting in a haughty or superior manner.Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p. 117). More theatrical heels would feature dramatic outfits giving off a nasty or otherwise dangerous look, such as wearing
corpse paint Corpse paint is a style of black and white Cosmetics, makeup used by black metal bands for concerts and band photos. The makeup is used to make the musicians appear inhuman, Cadaver, corpse-like, or demonic, and is perhaps "the most identifiable a ...
over their faces, putting on demonic masks, covering themselves in dark leather and the like.
Gorgeous George George Raymond Wagner (March 23, 1915 – December 26, 1963) was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler known by his ring name Gorgeous George. In the United States, during the First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling in the ...

Gorgeous George
is regarded as the father of the wrestling gimmick, and by extension the heel gimmick. Starting in the 1940s, he invented an extravagant, flamboyant "pretty boy" gimmick who wore wavy blonde hair, colorful robes and ritzy outfits, and was accompanied by beautiful valets to the ring for his matches. The crowd widely jeered his persona, and came out to his matches in hopes of seeing him defeated. George relished this attention, and exploded into the one of the most famous (and hated) heels not only of his era, but of all time. Another example of a dramatic heel is the wrestler
The Undertaker Mark William Calaway (born March 24, 1965), better known by the ring name A ring name is a type of stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name tha ...

The Undertaker
, who, on many separate occasions throughout his career, has switched between portraying a heel or a face. During his period as the leader of
The Ministry of Darkness The Ministry of Darkness was a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with est ...
, he appeared as a priest of the
occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abiliti ...
in a hooded black robe and literally sat in a throne, often in the shape of the symbol used to represent him. Occasionally, faces who have recently turned from being heels still exhibit characteristics from their heel persona. This occurs due to fans being entertained by a wrestler despite (or because of) their heel persona, often due to the performer's charisma or charm in playing the role. Certain wrestlers such as
Eddie Guerrero Eduardo Gory Guerrero Llanes (October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are p ...

Eddie Guerrero
and
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
gained popularity as faces by using tactics that would typically be associated with heels, while others like
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
,
Scott Hall Scott Oliver Hall (born October 20, 1958) is an American retired professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called ...

Scott Hall
and more recently
Becky Lynch Rebecca Quin (born 30 January 1987) is an Irish people, Irish Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and actress. She is currently signed to WWE, under the ring name Becky Lynch. She is assigned to perform on the Raw (WWE brand), Raw W ...
displayed heelish behavior during their careers yet got big face reactions, leading them to be marketed as
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 ...
es. On other occasions, wrestlers who are positioned as faces receive a negative audience reaction despite their portrayal as heroes. An example is
Roman Reigns Leati Joseph "Joe" Anoaʻi (born May 25, 1985) 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, typic ...

Roman Reigns
, who in 2018 was a top face in
WWE 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 ...
, but got booed in his matches while his opponents got cheered regardless of their status as face or heel, due to perceived favoritism from WWE executives and a lack of character development. Such characters often (but not always) become nudged into becoming villains over time or retooled to present a different public image, such as
The Rock
The Rock
's heel turn from a clean-cut face to self-absorbed narcissist in the heel
Nation of Domination The Nation of Domination (NOD) is a 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 comp ...
stable and
Tetsuya Naito is a Japanese Professional wrestling, professional wrestler signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is the leader of the ''Los Ingobernables de Japón'' faction. Naito began training for a professional wrestling career in 2000, initi ...
's fan rejection of his babyface push cause him to drastically form
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Spanish language, Spanish for "The Ungovernables of Japan" and often spelled without the accent as ''Los Ingobernables de Japon'' in English-speaking countries), also shortened to ''L.I.J.'', is a Japanese professional wrestling Glossary of p ...
, becoming main-eventers overtime. The term "heel" does not, in itself, describe a typical set of attributes or audience reaction, but simply a wrestler's presentation and booking as an antagonist. Depending on the
angle In Euclidean geometry Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to Alexandrian Greek mathematics , Greek mathematician Euclid, which he described in his textbook on geometry: the ''Euclid's Elements, Elements''. Euclid's method ...

angle
, heels can act cowardly or overpowering to their opponents. For instance, a "closet champion" in particular is a term for a heel in possession of a title belt who consistently dodges top flight competition and attempts to back down from challenges. Examples include
Seth Rollins Colby Daniel Lopez (born May 28, 1986) 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, typically ...

Seth Rollins
during his first
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 ...
reign,
Charlotte Charlotte ( ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city proper, cities p ...
during her
Divas A diva (; ) is the Latin word for a goddess and can also refer to a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing ...
/ Raw Women's Championship reign,
the Honky Tonk Man Roy Wayne Farris (born January 25, 1953), better known by the 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, boxer w ...

the Honky Tonk Man
during his long Intercontinental Championship reign,
Tommaso Ciampa Tommaso Whitney (born May 8, 1985) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held ...

Tommaso Ciampa
during his
NXT Championship The NXT Championship is a professional wrestling championship created and promoted by the United States, American professional wrestling promotion WWE, defended as the top championship of their NXT (WWE brand), NXT WWE brand extension, brand divis ...
reign and
The IIconics The IInspiration are an Australian professional wrestling tag team consisting of Jessie McKay and Cassie Lee. They are currently signed to Impact Wrestling. They are best known for their time in WWE as The Iconic Duo and later The IIconics, und ...
during their
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship The WWE Women's Tag Team Championship is a 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 tou ...
reign. Brock Lesnar's character in WWE has had largely heel aspects, and he too was well known for failing to frequently defend his title (especially during his first
Universal ChampionshipUniversal Championship may refer to: *APW Universal Heavyweight Championship The APW Universal Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship contested in All Pro Wrestling. It was introduced on October 12, 1 ...
reign), often only performing on pay-per-view events and not on
SmackDown ''WWE SmackDown'', also known as ''Friday Night SmackDown'' or simply ''SmackDown'', is an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. I ...
or especially
Raw Raw is an adjective usually describing: * Raw materials, basic materials from which products are manufactured or made * Raw food, uncooked food Raw or RAW may also refer to: Computing * .RAW, a proprietary mass spectrometry data format * Raw audi ...
. This helps to affirm the intended
kayfabe 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 wrestlin ...
reactions that the face(s) that said heel is feuding with is more deserving of the title. Heels may in fact beg for mercy during a beat down at the hands of faces, even if they have delivered similar beat downs with no mercy.
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 particular has been well known for begging an opponent off, then hitting a low blow on his distracted opponent. Other heels may act overpowering to their opponents as to play up the scrappy
underdog An underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and Skill, skills while providing ...
success story for the face instead.
Brock Lesnar Brock Edward Lesnar (; born July 12, 1977) is an United States, American-Canada, Canadian Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, retired Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, and retired professional American football, football pl ...
has played heel in both capacities, but has become quite famous (either as a heel or a face) as an
almost-unstoppable machine
almost-unstoppable machine
who can take down anything in his path.


See also

*
Face (professional wrestling) In professional wrestling, a face (babyface) is a heroic, "good guy" or "fan favorite" wrestler, Glossary of professional wrestling terms#Book, booked (scripted) by the Glossary of professional wrestling terms#Promotion, promotion with the aim o ...
*
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 ...


Notes


References

* * {{Professional wrestling terms Professional wrestling slang
es:Anexo:Términos de lucha libre profesional#H
es:Anexo:Términos de lucha libre profesional#H
pl:Wrestling#Podział na postacie i style walki