By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote per day for each of the 2019 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Heel along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. Chris Jericho (26 percent)
2. MJF (17 percent)
3. Shayna Baszler (11 percent)
4. Adam Cole (7 percent)
5. Baron Corbin and Sami Callihan (Tied – 7 percent)
Others (27 percent)
Anish V’s Thoughts: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt’s burn in WWE has been low and slow an I’ve loved it. WWE hasn’t gotten everything right with Wyatt, but at the end of the day they’ve created a captivating monster heel to torment the WWE roster in compelling fashion.
John Moore’s Thoughts: So, I was REALLY REALLY close to giving this award to Glenn Gilbertti, the Disco Inferno, for his feuds against Tessa Blanchard and Scarlett Bordeaux. Disco gets my honorable mention and would have got my Heel of the Year if he probably had one more feud in Impact, but he just disappeared. Disco surprised me by simply being a shameless heel. My favorite part was him playing the SJW crowd like a fiddle by dropping buzzwords, going for cheap heat, and being a shameless misogynist. In the end, his goal was to elevate the babyfaces and I feel like he did that for Tessa in particular. Anyway, enough props for Disco, my actual pick goes to Kenta. Hear me out on this one. At one point, Kenta was very bland as a babyface. I feel like his WWE run really allowed him to grow as a character performer. A lot of heels fall into the trope of becoming “chickenshit” where they are heels simply because they cheat. Kenta is a heel because he’s a bully asshole. The feud that started off this strong heel run in my opinion was his feud with Mustafa Ali in 205 Live where WWE actually allowed those two to build a story around concussions (tells you how much people are paying attention to 205 Live when no one batted an eye to this). Kenta leaves WWE and goes to New Japan as a babyface had me a bit disappointed because I was really liking his strong heel work and simple promos. Kenta brought asshole Kenta back when he turned on Katsuyori Shibata. Fast forward to today, and I think Kenta is one of pro wrestling’s strongest pure heels. The guy also symbolically “teabags” his babyface opponents by sitting on them after he whoops dey ass. What a heel thing to do.
Jeff Lutz’s Thoughts: I’m not quite as high on MJF as I was when I praised him in a column several weeks ago, but there’s no denying that he’s the rare heel who earns genuine heat without a “cool” factor. I sense a slight lack of confidence in his promos, like his overuse of the word “bud,” but he’s much farther along than one should expect a 23-year-old with little national television experience to be.
Nick Perkins’ Thoughts: The reason MJF is so strong as a heel is because everything he says is true. He is young. He is rich. He is famous. He sleeps with insecure women who don’t know better. In short, he is everything most of us wish we could be, and he will never miss a moment to remind us of it. As he loves to say, ‘MJF’ isn’t a character, it’s who he really is. While this may or may not be true, his general character (or lack thereof) translates well in the world of professional wrestling. There are very few redeeming qualities about MJF. If you saw him at your local bar, drinking a white claw and wearing that dumb f—ing scarf, you’d want to kick his ass. He’s an asshole that deserves to get punched in the face every time he opens his mouth. And that’s why he is wrestling’s best heel.
Powell’s Thoughts: I will disagree with some of my peers by making a case against MJF being the top heel. He’s a gifted talker and he deserved to rank highly in our award for best mic work. He has all the tools to be a great heel and will likely finish high on this list for years to come. But I feel like we’re seeing the evolution of MJF, who has yet to be part of a big money match (that could come soon with Cody). So I can’t help but feel that a lot of the love he’s getting is based on enjoyment of his heel traits, his mic work, and his upside, but I just don’t feel like he had enough high profile opportunities to get my vote for the best heel. Conversely, Chris Jericho was a big money heel on two continents. The majority of the voters got it right and I don’t even think it’s close, though I have no problem with MJF being in the top five for his work in AEW and MLW (The Dynasty faction deserved more attention). Of those who didn’t crack the top five, Jay White deserves honorable mention for his outstanding work in New Japan. He was actually second only to Jericho on my list of top heels. Shayna Baszler is a female version of Brock Lesnar. She’s a superb bully heel and I absolutely love her work. Sami Callihan and Adam Cole more than earned their spots in the voters’ top five by being the top male heels of their promotions. A shout-out to one of our write-in votes for Glenn Gilbertti. I wouldn’t give Disco a top five spot, but I really enjoyed his work as the male chauvinist pig in his feuds with various women, and I love how worked up folks on Twitter get by his trolling. Finally, whenever Bully Ray hangs up his boots, he should be hired by the WWE Performance Center to spend the rest of his days teaching classes on the art of getting heat.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features referee Rob Page discussing the difficulty of reffing tag matches in the modern era, making three counts if a wrestler's shoulders are down even if it wasn't the planned finish, the growth of F1rst Wrestling, and more...