Trash Talking: Changing Faces

Written by Robbie_G_CH
Photos (c) TNA (http://www.facebook.com/ImpactWrestling/photos_albums)

It's happened to many over the years, it happened to Austin Aries earlier in the year and now it's happened to Bully Ray, I'm talking about the unwanted face turn that came about after a rise in fan support, but doesn't really work for the character. 

Do You Know Who I Am?

Bully dons the facepaint to team with Sting
For the best part of this year Bully Ray has been at the top of his game, putting on good matches and being a tough S.O.B that crowds have loved to hate; so much so that one memorable part of last years Maximum Impact Tour was the crowd taunting him with the name 'Pussy Ray'; but this all change with his involvement in the Aces & Eights angle and by the time Bound For Glory had rolled around he was playing to the crowd and people were cheering him along with Sting.
In the aftermath of BFG, Bully has essentially turned face by starting a relationship with Brooke Hogan, playing to the crowd when they demand tables and smartening his appearance with wearing shirts rather than his usual vest and shorts; the only problem is that this the Bully Ray character doesn't really work as a face, he clowns around and plays the fool for the crowd undoing the past two years of work; rather than playing to the crowd he would be better carrying on with his characteristics, because the cheers only came from his pairing with Sting it seems like management have turned him to please the fans on a short term basis much like they did with Austin Aries over the summer.

Multiple Turning Points

During the start of the year Austin Aries was the cocky heel X Division Champion who was winning the crowd over with his work ethic in the ring rather than his character, when management caught on to this they began to push him into the main event taking on heavyweight opponents, he became the David to the Goliath's that were the top guys in the company, the turning point was his victory over Bully Ray at Sacrifice which was when the majority of fans got behind TGMTEL which also powered him to the feel good moment of the summer when he dethroned Bobby Roode as the World Heavyweight Champion. 
Again rather than just allow him to continue with the way he was, his character was tweaked to please the fans with him playing so when he reverted to his former traits in the lead up to his BFG main event against Jeff Hardy fans started to resent him again (except for the actual live crowd for the match itself), within six months he had turned face and then heel again on the back of what fans wanted and to fit with who the creative team wanted him to face at the time. 

Often wrestlers can get the crowd to react in ways they want them to, just look at the recent match between AJ Styles, Bobby Roode and James Storm, all three are former stable mates and when the former Beer Money hit one of their old signature moves the crowd went nuts but thankfully had the sense not to conclude otherwise the may well be back in the tag division. Just because the crowd reacts a certain way for certain decision should not result in a wrestler flipping between heel and face on a whim.
Looking back over the history books they would read totally different if this had occurred in the late 90's, Steve Austin wouldn't have become the massive character he did as he would have removed the edgier parts of his act rather than the beer swilling, swearing readneck we all know and love; or Wrestlemania 18 would have seen The Rock turn heel on Hogan after the Canadian crowd booed him rather than stick it out until eventually turning nearly a year later.

When the crowd reacts positively to something they either gain respect for the wrestler in Aries case or take a moment when character is broken and cling onto it much like Bully's recent turn, when these turns occur it's hard to understand why the characteristics of the wrestlers change from those that made them popular in the first place, if they have done enough to get the crowd on side then let them run with it, let the crowd cheer the bad guys and boo the good guys, hell WWE would never consider turning John Cena.

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