Face

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"Train, say your prayers, eat your vitamins, be true to yourself and be true to your country!"
CM Punk says each and every single one of you DON'T. COUNT. You have no idea—no idea—how much each and every single one of you count. You count to me, for all that you do: All the love, all the support! It IGNITES me. It MOVES me. It INSPIRES me. That's why, in this moment, I'm reaching out my hand to all of you around the world; to all of you who believe! All of you who have faith! All of you who live your life gettin' knocked down, gettin' right back up, just to say, "JUST BRING IT!"

You're the face, YAY!

A Face, short for Baby face, is a Professional Wrestling good guy. He's the guy the fans get behind, the one they cheer for. A face used to always be an upright do-gooder, but nowadays, anybody the fans cheer for is generally classified as a face, regardless of personality or whether or not they play by the rules. The opposite of a face is a Heel.

The Lucha Libre equivalent is known as a técnico (or more rarely technico) which is more about the method they take to win (técnicos are content to rely on valid wrestling techniques) but is the same in practice more often than not. To further confuse, in British Wrestling (Such as World Of Sport), the term used is "Blue Eyes."

The types of babyface, in order of cleanliness, are:

  1. The Whitemeat. The hero who gets beat up constantly, before heroically and miraculously snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The whitemeat babyface places particular emphasis on morality and virtue. (Cheating heavily is part of being a heel.) We're told that he's an underdog, fighting against the odds to win the titles he's striving for. He has a tendency to always trust wrestlers, no matter how many times they've betrayed him in the past: Sting had a history of joining tag teams or stables full of vicious backstabbers when he really should have known better (leading to the phrase "Sting-level dumb"). He exists mostly to carry out good deeds and make kids happy.

    Ricky Steamboat is one of the Trope Codifiers for these babyfaces, and was notable for never being a heel once in his entire career. Rey Mysterio Jr. is headed down the same path.

  2. The All-American. He is a real American. He fights for the rights of every man. He fights for what's right, he fights for your life. He feels strong about right and wrong. The whole concept of "America vs. The World" is 80's kayfabe distilled to its purest and most ludicrous form. Some of the biggest pops and most involved crowds have been the result of a "We the People!" chant, or chants of "USA! USA! USA!" against Rusev. Draped in a flag, defending the honor of his country (separate to a degree from his heritage); it's almost the only way to guarantee a strong crowd reaction.

    A decorated member of the United States Marine Corps needs your support. AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA! "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan played this gimmick to the point of parody: he would interrupt other countries' anthems.

  3. The Antihero. Heels are allowed to be flawed people, and so are almost inherently more interesting than babyfaces. Solution: Be punk rock and go rebel. This guy is more like a comedic dick who is anti-authoritarian, rather than a true hero. He stands up for himself against the bosses, tells legends like Nash that they are old and irrelevant, and does whatever he wants to whoever he pleases. It's not "out of character" for him to do dickish things, since the entire point is that the heel made it O.K. to do. At the same time, he is a human with real human failings. That's why the Attitude Era babies worked.

    Swig o' beer for the Rattlesnake! CM Punk spoke truth to power and became the poster-child of this type of face in the Summer of '11.

  4. The Underdog. Many bookers still think a "World Champion" has to resemble the classical image of a pro wrestler. They're hung up on the look. The character of a face is different, though. The average guy's build (Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) makes him the natural underdog. He understands that he's utterly outclassed by the likes of Cena, Styles, and Haitch, so he picks his movements very carefully. A cunning performer knows how to create and take advantage of underhanded opportunities in the ring. The underdog beat the system, got over, won the title and got the girl? Every normal guy's dream.

    Bret Hart defined this trope in the '90s. A major reason Daniel Bryan got over is because he was clearly not "the chosen one", despite massive fan support. Sami Zayn is the most recent example.

  5. The Fat Guy. Mass × Acceleration = Force. In some ways, the look and the wrestler are intertwined: It imbues them with a sort of "don't give a fuck" mentality. It also helps him stand out, since the majority of the roster is cut, and that might catch peoples' eyes more. Also, "cut" sometimes doesn't translate well into actual ring performance, since a lot of that is for show. That said, "Dude Love" fat is less heelish than being "Yokozuna" fat. When you're built that large, you have to work your weight into your gimmick and play to the Wrestling Monster trope.

    Dusty Rhodes was never in good shape, but that didn't stop him from reaching the top while being beloved by all. Kevin Owens can do a 180° on the top rope into a moonsault or wrestle a 30-45 min match with Superman himself.


Some fans draw a distinction between "face" and "babyface"; it's argued that "babyface" should refer to the old-school, clean-cut, "eat your vitamins" type good guys, and the shortened version is simply anybody fans cheer for. This including a wide variety of Antiheroes and Designated Heroes. Insiders in the pro wrestling business, however, use the two interchangeably.

Female wrestlers are often booked as half-heel, half-face. This appears to be by design, because they haven't thought very hard about the heel/face dynamics. The reason why women's wrestling in North America is booked in large part as a teen drama is due to the way Moolah trained her girls and how Moolah wrestled. Her moveset consisted of a hair-pulling snapmare, headlocks, clotheslines, and nothing else. (Mildred Burke, the original women's champion, popularized female wrestling in the '30s. Japan, Canada, Mexico, and South America can trace their women's wrestling to her.) Chyna and Jacqueline are two noteworthy Tweeners who competed in areas they didn't 'belong' in.

Wrestlers with any sort of non-white identity (e.g. Wild Samoan) are an interesting topic. A non-evil foreigner is a wrestler whose gimmick revolves around a group identity (usually patriotism). Alternatively, they may appeal to certain subgroup of xenophiles. Their entrance music and attire will heavily-invoke cultural symbols, if not being draped in a flag itself. Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales are two commonly cited examples who were pushed to appeal to Italian and Puerto Rican diaspora in the USA, while Carlos Colon was pushed as a distinctly-Puerto Rican wrestler at a time when when the island scene was dominated by outsiders. Bob Sapp was hired for looking like the kind of loony black man one would find in an anime.

Like many things in pro wrestling, a wrestler's status as a face is anything but permanent; "baby face" is a pun on "about face" after all. The Heel/Face Index has more examples. There's also the Tweener, a guy who falls in-between Face and Heel status, whichever the situation calls for. (George "the animal" Steele was always portrayed as more misunderstood than heel. He never pulled anything on his own that a heel didn't put him up to.) In Lucha Libre, the typical Rudo relies on brawling and underhanded tactics, and doesn't display much finesse or technique when he fights (and he's probably rude, too).

Unrelated to The Face.


Examples:

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    Fictional examples 

  • While Tiger Mask manga is the story of a heel's journey to baby face, every wrestler who has since used the gimmick has been a face by default. The first official wrestler to be recognized as Tiger Mask by New Japan caused ratings to increase by 25% whenever he was featured on a show, further ensuring this would be his role.
  • Subverted in Bleach with Mask De Masculine, who is a text book técnico luchador but he works for the bad guys. If Bleach was a professional wrestling story there is a good chance this would almost certainly be played straight, Mask De Masculine even follows the rules enforced by most promotions. He insists there be an equal number of opponents on each side of a conflict to face off one on one, one at a time, with no foreign objects. Thing is, Bleach is otherwise about the furthest thing from professional wrestling.
  • Not a wrestling example but Hercule from the Dragon Ball series acts like the typical wrestling hero and the main characters despite being better fighters than him are all willing to do the job so that he will look good. He was even instrumental in the defeat of one of the series most powerful villains in a scene which had obvious parallels to the power of the Hulkamaniacs.
  • In one episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena decides the best way to save her friend Joxer (who has offended the Amazon tribe) is to stage a Squash Match, with Xena playing to the crowd before "killing" Joxer with an overly dramatic finishing move.
  • Perhaps the more appropriate term is técnica but one of Dominican Wrestling Entertainment's featured wrestlers is actually known as "La Baby Face". Likewise the masked Australian wrestler of Pro Wrestling Zero 1, El Technico.
  • In Hitman: Absolution, there is an achievement for stealing the All-American's disguise (The Patriot), then beating the Monster (Sanchez) with your bare fists, in the arena. From then on, getting a Silent Assassin rating is practically a shoo-in, since the crowd wants to see violent, gladiatorial combat.
  • Mask de Smith from Killer7 was apparently a face during his wrestling days. A former fan calls him "Babyface" (though you'd think they'd call him "tecnico," given he's a Masked Luchador).
  • An in-universe example is found in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, Case 2: the Amazing Nine-Tails, who managed to revitalise the once near dead village of Nine Tails Vale and is a heroic icon for them. Learning about the man behind the mask is crucial to uncovering the truth of the case.

    Pro wrasslin' examples 
  • Rikidozan: Rikidozan wrestling once drew a TV rating of 88.0. Think about that. RAW at its peak got 9.3 ratings. Andre v. Hogan drew a 14.5 rating. Rikidozan is probably the biggest star to grace the wrestling business ever.
    • It's also why Japanese wrestling has always revolved around a few homegrown stars ("aces") and the invaders (gaijin and/or wrestlers from other Japanese companies) who oppose them. Rikidozan built pro wrestling in Japan. He was the hero, the "ace" of all of Japan, fighting for his country against the foreigners who faced him on Japanese soil.

      It came about in the post-WW2 era when Japan was broken and occupied, and the locals were not too fond of foreigners loitering at every street corner. The country was seriously lacking a shared identity. People flocked to see Rikidozan beat up the Americans. (It's also why WWE repeatedly goes back to the foreign heel gimmick. It's just such a distinct part of pro wrestling culture, and it always gets one or both guys over.)
  • Hulk Hogan was perhaps the ultimate All American Face, keeping it up for eighteen years until he pulled his famous Heel Turn at Bash at the Beach in '96. Even this only makes him a heel in WCW's continuity. When he tried the same routine in WWE the fans cheered him anyway, his character reverted in kind. Part of his appeal was drawing on the fans' energy to increase his strength, a.k.a. "running wild."
  • Besides some disputes with his brother and Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy has always been a hero the fans could look to and project their energy on. Technically, Jeff and his brother were heels (as the "New" Brood) when they debuted in 1999, but Jeff turned face two months later, and it's been a decade since then.
    • This is so extreme that when Jeff Hardy was caught selling illegal substances, charged with 5 felonies and sent to prison, fans were still buying more of Jeff's paraphernalia than both DGenerationX and John Cena. (Which led to his problems in the first place.)
  • Similarly, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat spent his entire career as a clean-cut babyface. One veteran theorized that Ricky could cut off Hulk Hogan's limbs with a chainsaw and still get cheered for it because he was just such a naturally likable guy. This is why he used the "Steamboat" stage name, despite his birth certificate showing him as RICHARD BLOOD. (That's not a joke.) Common sense said that you couldn't have a nice guy named "Blood."
  • Even when he was in The Nexus (a heel stable), Justin Gabriel always got cheered due to his underdog status and awesome wrestling skills. A few weeks after leaving Nexus for The Corre, he turned face.
  • Sting could very well be the ultimate example. There have only been a couple of attempts to turn him heel over his near 30-year career and they have all been half-hearted and poorly-received. Most recently, when TNA put him in the Main Event Mafia, Sting was conspicuous in not participating in the beatdowns administered by his stable mates. They eventually threw him out for his disloyalty. He had another heel run in 2010 (a not-bad impersonation of Health Ledger's Joker), but the audience still would not accept it.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. full on. Except for one match against Mark Henry where he used one of Eddie Guerrero's heel tricks (though even that was more of an homage to his recently departed friend), he's never played any role other than the underdog face. He's probably unique among male Superstars in that respect.
    • Rey turned heel when the Filthy Animals were formed and they feuded with Ric Flair for a bit back in 1999 after he lost his mask and the whole No-Limit Solders thing died. The Animals was partly responsible for luring Flair out to the middle of nowhere, where the New World Order ambushed him. He had to hitch a hay truck back to the arena. (Really.) Rey's maskless period, however, is no longer considered canon in WWE.
  • The Great Khali has always been a hero in the Indian market. It was only in the US that he was booed. The same may be true for other hometown heroes that wind up wrestling for foreign promotions, but Khali is a standout example as he is practically a legend in India! By the time he came to the Americas, though, he was no longer very mobile (his knees turned to powder from all those bumps he took), so the fans didn't see what the big deal was.
  • This also applies to Bret Hart, who will always be face in Canada no matter how he's booked. Even when he was the biggest heel in the company in 1997, all he had to do was drive the border and he was a face again.
    • La Resistance spent their whole gimmick praising France and Quebec while contrasting them to the inferior United States of America. The commentators act surprised for some reason when they got cheers in Quebec despite this, they were even cheered over the other Canadian wrestlers.
  • Maria Kanellis was with WWE from 2004-2010 and remained a face the whole time. There were hints at her turning heel mid-2009 when she was in an angle with heel character Dolph Ziggler, but that storyline was scrapped, and so Maria never turned. She was even voted "Diva of the Year" by the fans, something she was obviously not expecting when you consider that the likes of Mickie James and Melina got bigger pops than her. Maria was finally able to portray a heel when she debuted in Ring of Honour. She alternates as a face and heel for Family Wrestling Entertainment.
  • Antonino Rocca. This man brought elbow drops, cross bodies, huracanranas and the Argentine back breaker to professional wrestling back in the 1940s (the dropkick is disputed)! He was also responsible for bringing wrestling back to Madison Square Garden in the 50s, where it hasn't left since. He was one of Antonio Inoki's influences.
  • Likewise Abe Coleman, aka Jewish Tarzan, aka Hebrew Hercules. He shall be credited with innovating the drop kick if Antonino Rocca isn't, but he's most famous for breaking the wrestling ring apart after slamming the 300-lb. Man Mountain Dean.
  • Of course, Tito Santana, winner of the first Wrestlemania match ever, the first Mexican-American to win the intercontinental championship, remained a face his entire career.
  • Goldberg, the top draw of WCW, was always a face, though he had somewhat of a mixed reaction when he wrestled the Rock. Brock Lesnar took all the heat for his infamous parting match at WrestleMania 20.
    • Goldberg did briefly turn heel in Spring of 2000, but that got quickly nixed as fans didn't react well to Heel Goldberg. ind you, not the usual booing that a heel gets and that sort of stuff, but rather fan apathy at how poorly-booked the Goldberg turn was.
  • Razor Ramon HG was a face in HUSTLE since his debut, and became the top face, leading their forces against Generalissimo Takada's monster army. (Much of what got him over in the wrestling world was not as well-received when he moved onto other TV programming.)
  • Haystacks Calhoun was probably the first "traveling face enforcer", moving from territory to territory backin the days before WWF united them.
    • Boogeyman did something similar on the North American independent circuit. He never wins championships, he just seems to be traveling about tormenting heels and scaring everyone else along the way (presumably wrestling just to support this endeavor).
  • John Cena. Full stop. Aside for Rey Mysterio, he has served the longest time as the Face, and if often considered the mascot for WWE.
    • This is partly for publicity reasons. Cena does a ton of charity work for Make-A-Wish Foundation. So far he is the only person to fulfill 300 "wishes". With so many young kids looking up to him, Cena announced that he and the company have no plans to turn him heel. If Cena ever did turn heel, it would probably be a bigger swerve than Hogan's run in '96.
  • Bobby Calloway of F*** Kayfabe: Wrestling With Labels describes himself as the "eternal good guy" and talks about how he believes there is an art to playing a believable face and how the best faces look like they're having "the time of their lives in the ring". He is indeed working as a face in the two matches shown.
  • Molly Holly has been outspoken about how much she preferred being a face: She lied liked being a positive role model for children, hence why she hated being a heel. In a shoot interview, her family talk about how it is against her nature to be one.
  • The Caras/Sicodelico family in Mexico by and large. Dos Caras Junior is the only one to ever be a heel(at least until the family went to Puerto Rico) and is still more known for his Tecnico run there. And when he returned from his WWE heel he was greeted by scores of Hero Worshippers, as if it never happened, or indeed he had remained good during his entire stay up North.
  • The Rock N Roll Express were THE underdog pretty-boy babyface team of the 80s, and inspired MANY imitations.
  • A lot of North Americans don't get the appeal, but Hiroyoshi Tenzan is a face by default in New Japan Pro Wrestling, due to his undying loyalty to the company.
  • Bayley is one of the biggest Faces in NXT, and possibly one of the biggest female Faces in history. (She'd probably be the female John Cena if WWE had played their cards better.) It's especially notable that while the rest of her fellow horsewomen (Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte) have had periods where they worked as both heels and faces at various points in their WWE careers, Bayley has never been a heel.
  • Sami Zayn is a classic example of the Underdog face in a new millennium. Basically, Sami's character is an extension of his real life personality: good-natured, somewhat dorky, and willing to fight till the bitter end.

  • All attempts to turn the fans against Jim Ross fail miserably. Yes, face/heel extends to commentators. Not even WWF's biggest competitor, WCW, were permitted to take shots at Ross, even though the fans seemed to hate everything else WWF.

  • A face doesn't have to be a decent person, so long as they get fans to cheer them. A common cited example of this is Randy Orton's second face run, where half of his feuds were started by his own need to be Eviler Than Thou. Sometimes the enemy would be shown to be just as evil or worse than Randy, but not always.
    • A similar thing happened with Kaientai during his "face" run.

"Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Tropemania run WILD on YOU?!"

Alternative Title(s): Technico, Tecnico

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Face