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Tha Babyface Formula

Listening to this week’s episode of Tha O Show with Steve Corino brought back one of the biggest subjects often discussed in pro wrestling communities and locker rooms. What makes a good babyface?

A babyface that gets the right reactions from the crowd, a babyface people tend to look up to as role models much like Hulk Hogan or Ricky Steamboat back in the day. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about this myself.

Typically the old formula was to be the biggest, happy-go-lucky guy you could possibly be and your good intentions and good morals would bring the crowd to cheer your name. Sadly the days of being the goody two shoes, always smiling babyface doesn’t work fact I don’t think it ever worked because what I believe makes a great babyface is what alot of people don’t see or even consider.

It came to me just today after listening to the latest edition of Tha O Show, I also started thinking about when this week’s edition of NXT had the competitors in a “mic off” talking competition. It was...interesting but it proved me something. It doesn’t matter what you say on the mic, whether it’s witty, funny, poetic, disrespectful, hateful it all doesn’t matter.

My formula for what makes a good babyface will now be revealed step by step... Look at your top babyfaces... Hogan, Austin, Rock, Cena, Guerrero, Benoit, Undertaker, Orton, HBK, Flair...the list can go on for days of successful baby faces. What do these people all have in common?

Not mic skills, size, power, looks, nothing but one thing...passion for the sport, energy, physical charisma.
All these people you can watch and notice that they’re into the match, they’re passionate for pro wrestling. You can’t tell me that either of these guys aren’t full of physical charisma in a match because when it comes to the big PPV matches these guys whether you like them or not show that they want to win, they want to be successful and they want to be in the WWE.

Now the problem lies that not everybody has that passion and workers who like to look cool may not think it’s cool to look overly passionate over something like pro wrestling. But for example when you hear Tiger Ali Singh talk about his passion to help his community, you gotta love the guy because he’s so passionate for it. Most people aren’t that passionate about anything and that’s what makes these great workers such great babyfaces.

Point is when you watch a WWE show, it’s because you like wrestling, nobody tunes in to look forward to promos. Wrestling is what sells the programs even if you don’t see alot of it. So it should be simple to understand that even if your love for pro wrestling is minimal, seeing someone like a Daniel Bryan who in the ring you can tell is so passionate for it, you’re going to support the guy and cheer him on.

This is why such cultural icons like El Santo in Mexico and Mitsuharu Misawa in Japan. These are guys who have more passion for pro wrestling because it was their lives. And when your WWE roster is full of guys who never had to travel and pay their dues in the indies, it’s not possible that their passion for pro wrestling is even a fraction of those who spent years and years travelling and mastering their craft and it shows in their ring work, not in how their moves work but how emotionally invested they are.

My favourite quote in the world was said by one Jake “The Snake” Roberts (Sorry if it’s not exact word for work)... ”The things that effect us emotionally are the things we remember forever.”

Wrestling fans are passionate, probably among the most passionate fans for anything. And when you see Ricky Steamboat climbing up and hitting the flying cross body when all hope was lost or when you see guys like Orton pounding the mat like an animal so focused on hitting his RKO, those are things that show passion. Showing that you’re so emotionally invested in the moment, that look on your face of desperation when the crowd is begging for a comeback.

A great heel can make this possible for a baby face. JBL when he “owned” HBK forcing him to lay down so he could pin him except Shawn having an internal struggle due to his passion for always being the best and not wanting to disgrace pro wrestling by laying down was a great moment of passion.

Eddie Guerrero who most knew at the time was involved in heavy drug and alcohol abuse finally climbing the mountain and defeating Brock Lesnar in a huge upset and having Guerrero celebrate like he never thought it would happen is a passionate moment.

Despite being a heel in the match, Austin refusing to tap out to the Sharpshooter against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania was what essentially turned him because his passion for the sport was so great he refused to tap out and would end up passing out. That’s what turned Austin because fans saw the passion in his facial expressions.

With heels it’s even easier, I find it works best when heels simply do business for the wrong reasons like money, glory and women. You can’t tell me guys like Ted DiBiase (not Jr.), Kevin Nash and even Alberto Del Rio who rides the best cars and brags about his money and fame. That’s what makes the best heels because fans who love pro wrestling wouldn’t want to cheer someone who’s just in it for the money or other reasons besides it being a dream job.

Being a baby face isn’t about being a goody two shoes, or a badass, it’s showing the fans that pro wrestling means the world to you through your matches by displaying physical charisma and energy. Passion for the sport can’t be taught or emulated, the best babyfaces in the world are people who genuinely love this business.

Thank you all for reading and remember, none of this is fact. As someone who loves pro wrestling, I understand that there is no simple equation for anything in pro wrestling. Writing and sharing my thoughts isn’t what I need to do, it’s what I want to do. I want to know what you guys think in hopes that I can learn something aswell.

1 comments: on "Tha Babyface Formula"

Anonymous said...

Awesome article!