Bischoff Explains Why Fans Should Not Decide If a Talent is a Heel or a Babyface

Dec 19, 2020 - by James Walsh

In a recent edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed why the audience shouldn’t decide the babyface vs. heel dynamic with pro wrestling characters, Steve Austin’s character in his feud with Vince McMahon, and much more. You can read his comments below.

Eric Bischoff on the babyface vs. heel dynamic and why it’s better than having tweener characters: “I think that’s a mistake that a lot of people have made and a lot of people I respect have subscribed to. I challenge you to find any other form of entertainment where you don’t have an antagonist and a protagonist.

On the Stone Cold Steve Austin character and why he was a babyface: “He was forced into that by the evil Mr. McMahon. He became a renegade. At the core of that character, he was a renegade. People love renegades, especially when they’re standing up to the system and fighting the power……he’s a babyface. The point is, there was a story. The reason you were willing to accept Tony Soprano as a babyface, the reason why he was a protagonist is because you understood his motivations, and you could relate to those motivations. The story allowed you to. The story connected you to that character. He had admirable qualities – he loved his family, he had a sense of right and wrong as distorted and twisted as it may be compared to most of society. He believed in it, and that’s a quality that people can relate to and believe in.

“But the story behind Tony Soprano and the looks we got at Tony Soprano’s life and his fears and insecurities helped you relate to that character and accept him as a babyface. The same thing was true with Steve Austin. The same thing was true with the Jax character in Sons of Anarchy. The same thing is true with a lot of Marvel characters today. They have flaws, and flaws are OK. Nobody is perfect. The idea of the 1970s and 1980s babyface – I don’t believe you can have anymore because the audience has changed and shifted. But there still has to be a story that connects you to characters in a way that you either really like them or you really hate them. Their personal flaws are not necessarily automatic disqualifiers, and in some cases, if those flaws are admirable flaws – family, friends, loyalty – and you can understand it because the f***ing story told you to and gave you permission to, it’ll work.”

On why story matters in wrestling: “Without story, you’re gonna move on and find something else to do. I’ll never subscribe to the theory that antagonists and protagonists don’t really matter and shades of gray are all that matters. Shades of grey matter if there’s story that explains it and allow you to relate to it. But without story, shades of gray mean f***ing nothing. Shades of grey are a manifestation of no understanding of how to tell a story.

On why the audience shouldn’t decide which character is a babyface and which character is a heel: “Here’s one I love to hear. Every time I hear someone say, ‘We should put these characters out there and let the audience decide.’ Are you f***ing kidding me? Are you kidding me? Are you gonna get on a plane and have the first officer say, ‘You know what, we know we wanna go to Pittsburgh today and we’re leaving Minneapolis shortly, but we’re gonna let the passengers decide where we wanna go.’ Or fly the plane. Here’s what that really is – I have no idea what to do anymore. I don’t have an idea. We’re just gonna put the talent out there and let the audience decide. Give me a break……characters that are not clearly defined and you take a journey with that character and you learn more about that character because you get to see more about their life and who they really are – all that is fine, and I’m cool with that. You don’t need to come out and eat your vitamins and say your prayers. I get that. I created the nWo, so of course, I get it…..the nWo had a reason. It was a story. You didn’t have to agree with it or disagree with it, but guess what? People got with it just because they got with Tony Soprano.

On whether “cool” heels make it harder on babyfaces: “Absolutely it does. No doubt about it. You’re 100 percent right on the money. And guess what that requires? Tell better stories. Not just throw them out there, ‘We’ll let the audience decide!’”

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