LeBron Turns Heel


Saturday July 10th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

One of the most educational if not fun things I’ve ever done was get involved in the pro wrestling business in my early twenties. I will admit, had I been blessed with even a tenth of one iota of physical ability, I’d have been inside that ring in a New York minute baby.

Instead, I got to be involved both as a ring announcer and TV commentator, and looking back that was a great way to do it. I didn’t have to sacrifice my body and I still got to have the fun of being around the circus. Talk about colorful characters, wrestling is chock full.

Most of my experience was with a bunch of guys based in Milwaukee who used to lose on purpose on television matches for the AWA (American Wrestling Association) which was based in Minneapolis. They had their own federation in the Milwaukee area that had several incarnations over the years, but it was basically the same group of guys renamed.

Eventually, I bought the organization which included a 22 foot former WWF ring and a rattle trap truck to haul it to the venues. I don’t think that truck ever started when I had it, but it went along with the deal so I took it. I ended up having to tow the truck to shows so I could be sure it got there. No ring, no matches. No matches, no money. It’s a no brainer.

I ran shows for about a year, and learned more during that time than just about any other in my entire life. I learned about promotion, how to be in charge, sales, politics between a mixed bag of people and a whole lot more. The main thing was the subtleties of wrestling as an art form, which it really is. It’s poor man’s opera, the storytelling is the main thing.

Each match tells it’s own little story, and there’s a good guy (aka ‘baby face’) and a bad guy (the ‘heel’) who lock it up in the ring and let their story lines play out. Sometimes the bad guy will sneak in and win, but mostly the good guy comes out on top in the end. It’s a beautiful thing to watch when it works well, and I’ve seen examples of it over and over.

The person who comes up with the story lines is said to have ‘the pencil’, and has to put all the story lines together so it all flows well as an evening’s entertainment. It’s not at all easy to do, and I respect those who do it well. It’s hard enough trying to do comedy well.

A wrestling term that describes a heel’s wrestler’s negative reaction from the fans when doing what most consider to be wrong is called ‘heat’ or ‘getting heat’. I immediately had a revelation when I heard LeBron James signed to play in Miami. He infuriated his whole home town, and turned heel in the basketball world. He’s now changed how fans see him.

The funny thing is, what team did he choose? The Miami ‘Heat’. Coincidence? It guess it COULD be, but that caught my attention right away and it made me laugh. This whole big fiasco is just an old pro wrestling story line. The good guy turns bad, and then people pay their money to see him get his mouth shut by some other baby face. It’s all calculated to sell tickets, which is what all this hype is about. LeBron went from baby face to heel to help the NBA sell more tickets. Sorry Cleveland, you’re buying in exactly how they want.

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