Over the past few years, particularly with fans experiencing the advent of the indie scene becoming more popular than ever, the concept of kayfabe has started to diminish. Old school wrestling fans are used to seeing compelling storylines which allow the heel to pile on the heat, only to be unseated by the heroic babyface in the end.
Names such as Sting, Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff, and even recently, John Morrison, have all mentioned in past interviews and/or Q&A sessions how important it is to have babyface and heel characters, with Morrison stating that today's fans focus more on moves than characters. When I discussed this matter with Sting last year during WrestleMania weekend, he stated that while he sees the change in direction regarding fan interest, he will always support how important it is to have strong heels and babyfaces. In fact, he stated that if it was not for people like Rick Rude and Rick Flair, who were very strong heels, he would not be the strong babyface that he was built up to be throughout his character. Notable career babyfaces such as Ricky Steamboat can say the same.
Today, names such as The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll, and others have blurred the lines of the babyface/heel dynamic, allowing fans to cheer them without doing much of anything that will draw heat from the crowd. This is what Impact Wrestling Vice President and New Japan Pro Wrestling English commentator Don Callis call the "cool heel," which he believes started around the late 90s - early 2000s.
On his recent Killing The Town podcast, Callis explained the stress that goes into the booking process for Impact Wrestling. Since the shows are taped weeks ahead, Impact always runs the risk of either someone getting injured, making it unable to continue with a storyline, or even more severe, someone deciding to leave the company altogether, which has also happened. Callis stated that the total amount of time booking the tapings last about 18 hours a day.
Callis also talked about how much easier it was to book for promotions years ago, because the concept of babyface and heel was stronger. He feels that the concept of the cool heel should not exist.
"The cool heel is something that should probably be extinct," said Callis. "It is never good if you are a young wrestler, and there's a bizzillion of them out there. Please don't be a cool heel. Cool heels are infuriating, because the babyface already has a hard job to do. In one way, being a babyface is easy, because you just have to listen, in other [ways] it's hard because, with the exception of a select few people who are very comfortable doing that babyface thing, it is a hard thing to do. So, don't make the babyface's job harder by being the cool guy in the match, and now he's just the goofy babyface."
For Callis, being a heel should also show in one's promo work, since the aim is to put the babyface over and create enough intrigue for the fans to gain some excitement for the match. Callis feels that there are a lot of cool heels in pro wrestling right now who cut bad promos, because they are not looking or sounding like a heel. Instead, they are cutting promos to "pop themselves" and only put themselves over.
If any portion of these quotes are used, please be sure to credit Killing the Town with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Killing the Town