Dot Net Awards: 2013 Best Heel
Dot Net readers voted on a variety of 2013 awards throughout the month of January. The following are the results of our poll for Best Heel. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting. You can check out the past winners in our Awards section.
(1) Bully Ray: 23 percent
(2) Paul Heyman: 22 percent
(3) C.M. Punk: 11 percent
(4) Brock Lesnar: 9 percent
(5) Randy Orton: 8 percent
Others: 27 percent
Jason Powell's Thoughts: I have to erase the bad memories all of the Aces & 8's stupidity from my brain and remind myself just how good Ray was last year. It's a shame he didn't surround himself with a faction that had more legs, but he definitely cut great promos that included the ability to explain away flawed booking and shitty match finishes. Heyman actually gets the nod from me for the top spot, though. He's a big part of the reason the fans actually booed C.M. Punk despite his massive popularity with online fans, the reason we took Curtis Axel seriously when they tried to push him as the New Paul Heyman Guy, and the perfect person to complement the Brock Lesnar act. Speaking of Lesnar, despite up and down booking, he continues to come across like the most dangerous man in pro wrestling. Punk was tremendous at the beginning of the year and I'm sure he would have ranked higher if that same run had taken place late in the year. We all waited for Orton to turn heel only to have Triple H and Stephanie McMahon overshadow him. What a shame.
Chris Shore's Thoughts: This award is tough because you have two great talkers who lead the pack: Bully Ray and Paul Heyman. Both had fans raining heat on them at various points throughout the year, and both had to carry significant loads in various feuds this year. Heyman is certainly worthy of the award based on his work with CM Punk, but his non-wrestler status makes me give the nod to Bully Ray. TNA did an outstanding job of having Ray explain all the things that lead up to his heel turn, and his lead of the Aces and Eights made that group relevant when no one else in the group could do it.
Will Pruett's Thoughts: In a year when wrestling characters became more ambivalent than ever, it was really hard to be bad. The readers picked Bully Ray, who was dumped into the Aces and Eights storyline, which was weak. Their second pick was Paul Heyman, who was amazing for about 90% of the year. The last 10% was the tail end of the C.M. Punk feud, when it began to drag horribly. I feel like Heyman has to be the answer after standing by C.M. Punk's side against The Rock and The Undertaker, engaging Triple H beside Brock Lesnar, and almost making Curtis Axel relevant. Heyman demonstrated how important a manager can be in modern wrestling.
Jake Barnett’s Thoughts: This was a a tough call for me, but I think you have to give Paul Heyman the award for best heel this year. Whether he was working with CM Punk, Ryback, Curtis Axel or Brock Lesnar, he was always engaging and entertaining on the microphone. In the case of his feud with CM Punk that spanned managing several different talents, he was pitch perfect in getting the crowd to react to him and get behind CM Punk. There were a lot of great heels in 2013, but nobody was more consistent than Heyman.
Darren Gutteridge's Thoughts: With one or two exceptions, no one act has been a true heel over the course of 2013 aside from Paul Heyman. Punk, Orton, HHH, and Henry all flipped from one hat to another, and although I know that's a by-product of an industry that's constantly changing, it's strange that nobody was able to really cement themselves as the “bad guy”. But of the exceptions, Heyman was the man who committed himself the most to being truly detestable. Playing a pivotal role in the successes of Punk and Lesnar, as well as Ryback and Axel to a lesser extent, he provided a masterclass in evil, cowardly heel promos on an almost weekly basis.
Zack Zimmerman's Thoughts: The best heels are ones who commit themselves to the fundamentals of drawing the ire of fans. The top two vote-getters this year are prime examples of that. Neither Bully Ray nor Paul Heyman tries to be cool. There isn't a sense of irreverence or "shades of grey" with their characters. Depth? Plenty. Fans are able to grasp onto who and what the characters are, with the firm understanding that they're the "bad guys" through and through. I enjoy what I've heard and parts of what I've seen from Bully Ray, but the Aces and Eights storyline hindered my interest in the character. In my opinion, Paul Heyman was the best heel in wrestling. Again, for the commitment to character he's maintained, but more-so for how his wrestlers benefit by his association. Brock Lesnar and C.M. Punk primarily, but even Curtis Axel and Ryback felt more relevant and interesting when he was a part of that act. Going forward, WWE really needs to let wrestlers establish themselves as heels for reasons other than association with authority figures.
Jeff Lutz's Thoughts: I'm submitting the first of multiple write-in votes here and going with Bray Wyatt. The pick would be further cemented if I could factor in his early 2014 work, but Wyatt did enough in 2013 to earn this selection. Like Bryan, Wyatt was hurt some by a lack of character development, but he masked that with creative promos hatched from an obviously creative mind. Success for the Wyatt character was practically pre-ordained when he blew away the NXT audience with the unique persona the former Husky Harris conceived and augmented, but it's still impressive that Wyatt has continued to nurture his creation so effectively on a grander stage. Wyatt wasn't part of the poll this year, but I expect him to earn most of the reader's votes in this category at the end of 2014.
Ryan Kester's Thoughts: Without a doubt, Paul Heyman was the best heel in 2013. No other man was so consistently able to get under a crowd's skin as Heyman was, and he consistently outdid himself week after week. What I find considerably admirable in Heyman's performances is his ability to allow himself to be despised. All too often major heels attempt to come off as cool antiheroes, but Heyman consistently works to be downright despicable, and in doing so gave the best heel performance of 2013.
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