The art of being a babyface while still keeping your heel traits is a hard one in professional wrestling. While being a pure babyface is less common nowadays, with many characters in shades of grey in the wrestling industry. However, there is one man who has previously mastered this art of contradiction: Eddie Guerrero.
Eddie Guerrero was someone who was not an anti hero like many characters of his time, but his actions were clearly heel in nature. However, with Eddie’s hilarious ability to be self aware about it, it quickly became known as his catchphrase as he lied, cheated and stole our hearts time and again as one of the top babyfaces in WWE during the early 2000s.
Perhaps Eddie’s peak as a babyface came right before his clearest heel work in 2004 and 2005 respectively. In 2004 at No Way Out, Eddie would defeat Brock Lesnar to become champion. Proudly attempting to cheat his way to the title several times in the matchup, the clear attempt came in the finish as he hit a tornado DDT onto the championship, quickly getting rid of the evidence. In perhaps the most iconic call of his announcing career, Taz exclaimed “EDDIE CHEATED!” as Guerrero finally became WWE Champion.
Of course, there are many other examples of Eddie being sneaky and cheating his way to victories. As fans are well aware, Eddie’s trick of hitting a chair on the ground and throwing it to his opponent while a referee has their back turned still gets used to this day… even by competitors outside WWE.
Someone who has called back to this tactic plenty is none other than MJF, who has been consistently one of the best heels in the world of professional wrestling since he broke out as part of All Elite Wrestling. Now, it seems that he will now be working a babyface. Throughout his program with Adam Cole, he has been still cheating. Eye pokes, tights grabbing, you name it and he’s done it despite the slow turn he has been going under.
Then, on Wednesday night, MJF did something that many fans did not expect, with many unsure whether to trust him or not. On Wednesday, MJF said that he is still a scumbag but he wants to be the fans’ scumbag, a title that was previously held by the previously mentioned Eddie Guerrero. MJF would also drop his insults of the fans, calling Adam Cole out to the ring and giving him the main event of All In. Something that MJF has not done before: Done the right thing.
Now the question remains, why do fans continue to cheer for people such as MJF and why was Eddie so popular despite his heel nature?
In a word? Charisma. MJF and Eddie are two wrestlers who ooze charisma when you watch them wrestle or speak on the microphone regardless of if they are leaning face or heel. MJF on Wednesday made a good point that he won’t be changing overnight, that it will take time but he would always remain our scumbag. This is the role that Eddie played into for much of his career, but was able to turn on the complete heel package and have the crowd turn on him when the situation needed it.
The same can be said for MJF, who has fooled fans repeatedly with supposed babyface turns that made his heel work garner even more heat. Now however, it feels different. Max is not saying he will be changing, he simply won’t be berating fans and he will continue to be that scumbag. But with that admission and honesty comes the opportunity at redemption: something Eddie Guerrero seemed to be chasing his entire career until his tragic passing.
With Max, he can finish that story for himself and at just 27 years old, Max has plenty of time left in the industry to flesh out his character and change things up and with being a heel for so long already, it may be the best way for Maxwell Jacob Friedman to become the face of All Elite Wrestling and all he has to do is embrace the lying, cheating and stealing that comes with the territory.
Or I could have just wasted all my time analysing a character shift that is once again just MJF manipulating the audience and his co workers.
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