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In
professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performers with established character roles. The wrestling matches are base ...
, a face (babyface) is a heroic, "good guy" or "fan favorite" wrestler,
booked
booked
(scripted) by the
promotion Promotion may refer to: Marketing * Promotion (marketing), one of the four marketing mix elements, comprising any type of marketing communication used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product, service, brand or is ...
with the aim of being cheered by fans, and acts as a
protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist () is the main character of a story. The protagonist is at the center of the story, makes the key decisions, and experiences the consequen ...
to the heels, who are the villainous
antagonist An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the protagonist. Etymology The English word antagonist comes from the Greek ἀνταγωνιστής – ''antagonistēs'', "opponent, competitor, villain, enemy, riv ...
or "bad guy" characters. Traditionally, they wrestle within the rules and avoid cheating (in contrast to the villains who use illegal moves and call in additional wrestlers to do their work for them) while behaving positively towards the
referee A referee (right) issues a yellow card to a player during a game of association football. A referee is an official, in a variety of sports and competition, responsible for enforcing the rules of the sport, including sportsmanship decisions such ...
and the audience. Such characters are also referred to as blue-eyes in British wrestling and ''técnicos'' in ''
lucha libre Lucha libre (, meaning "freestyle wrestling" or literally translated as "free fight") is the term used in Mexico for professional wrestling. Since its introduction to Mexico in the early 20th century, it has developed into a unique form of the ...
''. The face character is portrayed as a hero relative to the Heel (professional wrestling), heel wrestlers, who are analogous to villains. Not everything a face wrestler does must be heroic: faces need only to be clapped or cheered by the audience to be effective characters. When the magazine ''Pro Wrestling Illustrated'' went into circulation in the late 1970s, the magazine referred to face wrestlers as "fan favorites" or "scientific wrestlers," while heels were referred to as simply "rulebreakers." The vast majority of wrestling storylines involving faces place a face against a heel, although more elaborate set-ups (such as two faces being manipulated by a nefarious outside party into fighting) often happen as well. In the world of ''lucha libre'' wrestling, most ''técnicos'' are generally known for using moves requiring technical skill, particularly aerial maneuvers and wearing outfits using bright colors with positive associations (such as White (color), solid white). This is contrasted with most villainous ''rudos'' that are generally of them known for being brawlers, using physical moves that emphasize brute strength or size while often having outfits akin to demons or other nasty characters.


History

Traditional faces are classic "good guy" characters who rarely break the rules, follow instructions of those in Professional wrestling authority figures, authority such as the referee, are polite and well-mannered towards the fans and often overcome the rule-breaking actions of their heel opponents to Glossary of professional wrestling terms#Clean finish, cleanly win matches. While many modern faces still fit this model, other versions of the face character are now also common. A good example would be Stone Cold Steve Austin, who despite playing a heel early on in his career would start to be seen more of an antihero because of his popularity with the fans. While clearly not championing rule following, nor submission to authority, Austin was still regarded as the face in many of his duels such as his rivalry with WWE, World Wrestling Federation (WWF, later WWE) owner Vince McMahon, Mr. McMahon. The portrayal of face wrestlers changed in the 1990s with the birth of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), the start of World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) New World Order (professional wrestling), New World Order (nWo) storyline, and the Attitude Era of the WWF. During this time, wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sting (wrestler), Sting used tactics traditionally associated with heels, but remained popular with the fans. Professional wrestling had just come off a huge steroid scandal and was facing poor ratings compared to the 1980s, and as a result, professional wrestling transformed into an edgier, more mature product. In this new era of professional wrestling, the standard face was more profane, violent, and uncontrollable. In contrast to the emerging new breed of faces, Kurt Angle was introduced to the then-WWF with an American hero Gimmick (professional wrestling), gimmick based on his Wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics, gold medal win at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Angle presented himself as a role model and stressed the need to work hard to realize one's dreams. Although such a personality appears appropriate for a face wrestler, Angle's character was arrogant and constantly reminded people of his Olympic glory, behaving as if he thought he was better than the fans. Angle's character served as a meta-reference to how wrestling had changed. Although his character was intended to be a heel and behaved accordingly, some commentators speculated that if Angle attempted to get Glossary of professional wrestling terms#Over, over as a face using a more heroic version of the same character, he would have failed. Unusually, Angle did not use any of these heroic mannerisms when playing a face character, instead acting as somewhat of an antihero with a few elements of the "lovable loser" character archetype. The majority of the time, faces who are low-carders, or lesser known, are used as Job (professional wrestling), jobbers. These wrestlers usually lose matches against established wrestlers, often heels that then lose to the top faces.


Fan reactions

Fans sometimes dislike face wrestlers despite the way they are promoted. Some reasons for this include repetitive in-ring antics, a limited moveset, a lengthy title reign, glossary of professional wrestling terms#no-sell, lack of Glossary of professional wrestling terms#Sell, selling their opponents' moves, or an uninteresting character. This often results in wrestlers who are supposed to be cheered receiving a negative or no reaction from the fans. When this happens, it can prompt a change in character for the wrestler in question. For example, Dave Bautista, Batista's run as a face upon his return to the WWE in 2014 was met with overwhelmingly negative reactions from the fans. Because of this unexpected reaction, Batista turned heel within just a few months of his return. The reaction of the fans can also influence a wrestler's booking and position on the card. Faces that get more support than expected sometimes move closer towards the main event scene, while those getting less of a reaction than hoped might move down on the card. While Batista was getting bad reactions in 2014, another face Daniel Bryan, was getting incredibly positive support. In late 2013 Bryan was constantly cheated out of the WWE Championship by on-screen authority figures, much to the fans' dismay, and it did not look like he was slotted to take back his place in the main event anytime soon. Loud "Yes!" chants that had become synonymous with Bryan were present at any show he was on, and eventually the main event of WrestleMania XXX would be changed from Batista vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, to a triple threat match with Daniel Bryan which he would go on to win.


Mannerisms

Some face wrestlers often give high fives or give out merchandise to fans while entering the ring before their match, such as T-shirts, sunglasses, hats and masks. Bret Hart was one of the first superstars to make this popular, as he would drape his signature sunglasses on a child in the audience. Rey Mysterio, who has been a face in WWE since his debut, would go to any fan (frequently a child) wearing a replica of his mask and touch their head with his head for good luck before wrestling. Other examples include John Cena throwing his shirts and caps in the crowd before entering a match and Big Show giving his hat to a fan when he was a face. Some faces, such as Bret Hart and Ricky Steamboat, promoted an image as a "family man" and supported their persona by appearing with their family members before and after matches. Steamboat famously carried his 8-month-old son Richie Steamboat, Richard Jr. into the ring with him at WrestleMania IV before his match with Greg Valentine, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, then handing him to his wife Bonnie before the match started, and was accompanied to the ring by his family during his rivalry with Ric Flair in Jim Crockett Promotions to contrast with Flair's party animal "Nature Boy" persona. These actions often relate to wrestlers promoting charity work or other actions outside the ring, blurring the lines between scripted wrestling and their personal lives. In the ring, traditional faces are expected to abide by the rules and win matches by their own skill rather than by cheating, outside interference etc. Because heel wrestlers take little issues with using such tactics, the face enters many matches already at a disadvantage to the heel. By putting the face in a difficult situation, it can help to draw out sympathy and support from the audience. Traditional faces similar to Hulk Hogan tend to draw on support from the crowd when it's time for them to make their big comeback. In addition to wrestlers, commentators also portray face and heel dynamics. It is the job of the face commentator to criticize the tactics and behavior of the heel wrestler and gather support for the face wrestler. The face commentator gathers support for the face wrestler by mentioning how much of a disadvantage he is at, or by praising the hero's morality and valor.


See also

*Glossary of professional wrestling terms *Heel (professional wrestling)


Notes


References

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Face (Professional Wrestling) Professional wrestling slang