Friday, January 23, 2009

Why Wrestling Isn't One for All;All for One

I recently finished the first two books of Dumas' D'Artagnan trilogy and began thinking, why doesn't wrestling have its version of The Three Musketeers? After all, throughout much of its rich history, professional wrestling has seen many heel factions. Whether it was the Studd Stable, the Four Horsemen, the Bobby Heenan Family, or more recent incarnations like the Age of the Fall or The Legacy, babyface wrestlers have had to deal with alliances of bad guys. Wouldn't it make sense for the babyfaces to get together?

From my earliest days watching wrestling, I can remember countless situations where the babyface would go down because he couldn't win the numbers game. No matter how good you were, the odds eventually caught up with you. Sooner or later, a heel's partner(s) in crime would clobber you from behind while you were battling his confederate.

Smart promotions like Jim Crockett Promotions acknowledged the situation. Veteran babyface Johnny Weaver (who sometimes provided color commentary for the JCP shows) would always come out after a dastardly 3 on 1 attack and try to rally the babyfaces into forming a group of their own. Week after week, Weaver would try to rally the babyfaces and week after week, the babyfaces would continue to go down to superior numbers.

Looking back, there have been some babyface groups, specifically formed to counteract the numbers advantage of heel factions. JCP had a short-lived group known as Piper's Palace led by Roddy Piper against Sir Oliver Humperdink's heel faction "The House of Humperdink" ( The Apter magazines even got in on the fun by offering fans membership cards they could request to show their support for "Piper's Palace").

The dastardly deeds of the Four Horsemen led to the group The Dudes with Attitude. After countless beatings at the hands of the Horsemen, Sting finally wised up and got a bunch of his friends to help keep Ric Flair's cronies off his back while he challenged Flair for the belt. This actually worked as Sting would go on to win the NWA World Championship from Flair at the 1990 Great American Bash (thanks to the Dudes keeping the Horsemen at bay).

Still, there's a good reason why babyfaces don't normally form factions. There's just something wrong about the idea of babyfaces needing to team up to beat the odds. Looking at the babyface factions, they're usually cheesy whether it's names like The Dudes with Attitude or perhaps the worst one of all-the Union (that short-lived group that was supposed to thwart Vince McMahon's Corporation).

Wrestling at its core is about individual achievement. Certainly, tag team wrestling is a part of the game but even then, wrestling's ultimate prize has always been singles gold. No matter what promotion you've watched, you've undoubtedly heard the maxim that there are no friends when it comes to winning a championship. Fans are reminded every year during The Royal Rumble that it's every man for himself.

No doubt wrestling heroes have a lot in common with the ideal of the cowboy i.e. rugged individualism. A wrestler is on his own and that's the way he likes to handle things. Like the cowboy heroes of old, wrestlers are self-sufficient individuals who can handle things on their own. They don't call the sheriff for help and if they have to handle a gang, they'll find a way to do so.

Certainly there are exceptions. A wrestler may occasionally call in for help but for the most part, he doesn't want it (even if he may need it). This makes for better drama of course as fans can lament a babyface getting beat down, thinking how things would be different if the babyface weren't facing 3 on 1 odds. In the world of wrestling there's a good reason why babyfaces don't live by the code "All for one, one for all".

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