Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Inevitable Christian Heel Turn: DO NOT WANT

This feud was great the way it was
Photo Credit: WWE.com

One of the most refreshing things about watching Smackdown the last few weeks has been the main event scene. The main feud between Christian and Randy Orton has been different from most WWE main event tilts in that both guys remain babyfaces and have remained on the "good" side of the ledger at least through Over the Limit. I like it, and I hoped that it would've signaled somewhat of a paradigm shift in the Blue Brand's booking. However, there have been warning signs, classic WWF/E/pro wrestling logic warning signs that point to Christian not staying a "good guy" for much longer.

Even if the narrative from Michael Cole can be discounted because he was an ├╝berheel up until his apology and subsequent feud ending (we hope) with Jerry Lawler last night, usually, when an announcer plays up that someone is a loser or lost their best chance at something like a World Championship, it signals that the target is about to do something drastic about it. Couple that with Christian not blaming Orton for how he capitalized on getting his Championship opportunity or nor Teddy Long for making the match because it was his job, I'm beginning to sense that Christian's going to start blaming, yep, you guessed it, the fans for his failings, much like R-Truth and CM Punk and nearly every heel in WWE since Chris Jericho v. 2.0 started doing in 2008.

I don't need to tell you that I think it's a terrible idea if that's the road they're taking. It's not because Christian would make a terrible heel. Far from it, he was one of the best things about early Aughts WWE when he split from Edge and first developed the Captain Charisma character as a dickish and sarcastic villain. He's the rare guy who's supremely adroit playing either side of the alignment column. It has more to do with keeping things fresh, something the WWE has struggled mightily with. It's like there's a formula they use for every feud, and if they don't follow it to a tee, they panic and feel like Linus from Peanuts if his security blanket is somehow stripped from him.

A perfect recent example of this inability to break from the paradigm was in their handling of the issue between The Rock and John Cena. Up to and through WrestleMania, it was handled perfectly (if you discount their bungling of Miz's involvement, but that's a whole other blog). The Rock played to the fans that would cheer for him, and so did John Cena. Neither guy went full heel, but they didn't exactly go buddy-buddy with each other either. Then, the night after WrestleMania happened, and they botched the dynamic by trying to have Cena and Rock play up the mutual respect angle. It killed the crowd and ruined the unique vibe they had, and most importantly, it proved that the WWE was afraid to do anything that deviated from their SOP.

To me, if they turn Christian, it'll be the same deal. Both Orton and Christian have loud fanbases who cheer for them, even when they're pitted against each other. Orton's reactions are markedly louder, but let's not pretend that Christian only gets cheers from some nerdy subset that resides in the collective basement of a nebulous mother figure. This "Internet" crowd is larger than it was in 1999 and it's way vocal too. Catering to the fanbase means more than just catering to one specific group anymore. With the right creative direction, you can engage several different subsets of fans with a single feud and still have both competitors be over as babyfaces rather than having one be a stone cold face and the other be standard heel.

I think all the fans spoke out resoundingly before Christian and Orton were even thought about being paired together anyway. We want to cheer Christian. We want him as a feel-good story, not as some carbon copy of Chris Jericho. Furthermore, there's probably a whole ton of us out there that likes a good face/face feud to be sprinkled in with the good vs. evil dynamic we get all the time. Orton will have plenty of opportunities to go all SCRKO on guys like Mark Henry, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and the like. Plenty. It wouldn't hurt them to show a little depth of character once in awhile, especially when that depth of character was greatly appreciated in the last three weeks between Extreme Rules and Over the Limit.

The point is, Christian doesn't need to be a heel to be a compelling character, and the WWE needs to realize that as a top face, he works. Smackdown and the WWE in general is sorely lacking for compelling top stories, and turning Christian would only reinforce that notion, as he'd just become another RKO victim waiting to happen rather than an option for a viable, second-from-top feud that could keep interest and turn into what would certainly be a slam-bang PPV sub-main event.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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