"Heat" is a term used in Professional Wrestling to describe any reaction to a wrestler and his gimmick/character. Face and heel heat can make or break a character, while not getting any heat is the Kiss of Death in the industry.
Then there's X-Pac Heat. This is when the audience boos and insults a wrestler not because they hate the character, but because they hate the performer. It can be because they've been pushed too hard, they have political power behind the scenes, or because they're terrible performers. For wrestlers, this often refers to guys who have poor matches (or actively wreck the pushes of others) and become overexposed despite crowds not caring for them one way or the other (either as heroes or as villains). This is not a heel, a villain whom fans want to see punished; an X-Pac is someone fans don't want to see at all. It's a very specific form of breaking kayfabe by the fans and happens to be quite rare.
Note: "Not the right kind of heat" is an alternative meaning to "X-Pac Heat" that can, but does not always, intersect with it. It's more of a "we are sick of this character and don't want to see him anymore" reaction than a "we want this character to get his comeuppance" reaction (which is the impression you want the fans to have). This is more or less the equivalent of a villainous Scrappy, but has its own page.
Normally, it is possible to correct an unfavorable response by altering a wrestler's character or shifting their position in the company. It is significantly harder to overcome X-Pac Heat; unlike The Scrappy, the audience is reacting not to an annoying character, but to a bad or overexposed performer.
In short: if you Love to Hate the character, it's heel; if you just hate the character, it's The Scrappy; if you hate the performer, it's X-Pac Heat.
Note that the live audience in professional wrestling is considered to be In-Universe because it is such a major part of the show. When the reaction is obvious and on-camera, examples involving it can be considered objective, unlike those involving the viewers at home or other media.
The Trope Namer is Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. He was part of the New World Order and DeGeneration X stables in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was actually a popular performer during this time. Several years and a heel turn later, DX was long since over and X-Pac hadn't evolved his character in any significant way. Despite not getting pushed or doing much of anything, he was still booked on just about every show, winning a disproportionate amount of matches against opponents who were often more interesting than he was. Fans soon started regarding X-Pac matches as a safe time to take a bathroom break.
Both the X-Pac persona and Waltman himself (due to his membership in The Kliq) soon became really grating, as he gyrated and gestured around and acted like a petulant little tool, making the crowds who were supposed to find him rotten hate him on a personal level instead of a kayfabe one. The vicious combination of declining performance due to years of injuries, a stale personality (to put it mildly), and a reputation for attaching himself to a hot act, losing to them, but then squashing them cleanly with a rematch to ensure he captured more attention, caused wrestling fans to start chanting "X-Pac sucks".
Unfortunately for those who were sick of X-Pac, "[Wrestler name] sucks" chants are frequently the result of regular heel heat (i.e. "Rocky Sucks"), so X-Pac's push continued, to the point where he received his own stable (X-Factor) comprised of himself and the similarly-hated Justin Credible and Albert. The hatred for X-Pac eventually reached a point where fans would chant "X-Pac sucks" when there was nothing else to chant, even when Waltman wasn't booked on the show. In the end, Waltman ended his tenure with the company with an awful reputation amongst fans and wrestlers. To this day, the phrase "X-Pac Heat" is given to performers who "aren't getting the right kind of heat".
By the end of Jeff Jarrett's last run as NWA champion in TNA in 2006, fans were pleading with him to "Drop the belt! Drop the belt!"
This sort of heat sometimes gets attached to a giant, especially if they have bad fundamentals or psychology. Of particular note, WWE fans have nicknamed Paul Wight (a.k.a.The Big Show) "The Big Slow". WWE wrestler The Great Khali used to get "You can't wrestle!" chants.
In one of the rare examples of escaping X-Pac Heat, The Big Show took some time off, dropped 50 pounds and got in shape, and came back. He is now massively over. Khali didn't get over until they overhauled him into a face, gave him a Bollywood-musical styled theme, and started calling him "The Punjabi Playboy", complete with him having the Khali Kiss-Cam. It worked, even though he still can't wrestle.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ran into this early in his career when he was so pushed and overexposed as the next big thing that fans got sick of him almost from the moment he appeared. Cue a Face Heel Turn, reducing his time on camera, and letting him cut loose with his formidable mic skills, and he's a notable case of being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and exploding as a true star. Even after a brief period of the crowd growing cold on him (leaving wrestling, appearing in some terrible movies, saying that he didn't want to be referred to as The Rock), his recent epic feud with John Cena has the crowd almost entirely on his side, despite supposedly being the heel.
The Face Heel Turn is a rare example of the WWE actually playing to the X-Pac Heat. The week after the Rock's heel turn, he cut a promo addressing the chants, being the kayfabe reason he joined the Nation of Domination, naming the actual chants he was getting.
Prior to the heel turn, Jim Ross even addressed his concerns about them on air, saying that he wasn't able to understand the reasoning why the fans were giving him such heat. An article in the WWE's magazine also addressed the chants and did an interview with him about them (though it was sort of in kayfabe). This could've been a sign that they were going to use them as a reason for the Rock's heel turn.
Fans of TNA wrestling have been so disgusted with how matches are booked, that some fans have started "Fire Russo!" chants, aimed at writer Vince Russo. Russo's not the only one behind the shows, of course, but his track record with WWE and WCW makes him a convenient lightning-rod for fans' wrath. He was fired in February 2012, so it's left to the fans to come up with new chants.
To this day, Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and former WWE and current TNA referee Earl Hebner still receive "YOU SCREWED BRET!" chants whenever they appear in Canada, and it's probably one reason why they don't appear in Montreal very much even when they do go to Canada. In all fairness, they did screw Bret Hart
When Litacheated onMatt Hardy with Edge, both Lita and Edge were showered with legitimate anger from the fans — which only intensified after Vince McMahon fired Hardy for complaining about the situation online. Their respective storylines had to be scrapped, and Lita was forced to turn heel. Edge, a natural heel, was able to turn the X-Pac Heat into regular heel heat relatively quickly, and Hardy getting re-hired calmed things down a lot. Lita did not get the fans' approval back so easily — she was still showered with boos and vicious insults a few years later, and actually quit wrestling entirely over it — but she was well received when she made a one night return in 2007. She was very well received when she returned for the 1000th episode of Raw when she performed her infamous moonsault on Heath Slater. During the latter, she was referenced as a legendary "Diva" (what the WWE calls its female wrestlers), a far cry from another four-letter word she was once referred to as.
One of the strangest cases on record: Miguel Perez, a wrestler known less for his talent than his body hair, would inspire chants of "SHAVE YOUR BACK!" every time he stepped into the ring.
Matt Bloom, better known as Albert, A-Train, Giant Bernard and now Tensai, inspired similar chants due to his Wookiee-like pelt. He has since done as the fans asked, and gotten himself some badass chest tattoos to boot.
Some fine examples of the practice from old-school ECW fans towards the later Syfy Channel Revival can be found here. Note particularly the "YOU BOTH SUCK!" chant, which is where it clearly changes from normal heat to X-Pac Heat.
The term "X-Pac Heat" was originally called "Bossman Heat". The term began to lose usage when X-Pac's level of, well, X-Pac Heat eclipsed Bossman's, and it was pretty much completely retired with Ray Traylor's real life death, out of respect for the man. To explain this a little more, Bossman may have been a boring wrestler, but he was well known for being one of the most popular guys in any locker room, he donated massive amounts of money and personal time to charity, and his death was discovered by his wife in a particularly heartbreaking way.
He was also a damn fine worker during his original WWF run (when he wore a prison guard outfit). Then he jumped to WCW and suffered through a string of lousy gimmicks (The Guardian Angel, The Boss, Big Bubba and finally, just Ray Traylor) while the injuries caught up with him and his body broke down. His second WWF run (working a security guard style gimmick) was just awful as he really shouldn't have been in the ring by that point. His Karma Houdini heel run also killed any interest that fans might have had in seeing him.
A particularly significant example came during the Mabel-Savio Vega tournament final at WWE King of the Ring 1995, which was held in Philadelphia, PA, the heartland of ECW at a time when that promotion was at its hottest. After having sat through a terrible tournament, which saw then-WWE World Tag Team Champion Yokozuna, that year's Royal Rumble winner Shawn Michaels, andThe Undertaker all get eliminated (Savio d. Yoko, Shawn DREW Kama aka The Godfather/Papa Shango/etc., and Mabel d. Taker after Kama interfered), they finally started chanting "ECW! ECW! ECW!" in protest. The lesson? Don't go into Philadelphia with a terrible show.
WWE's infamous "Rosie O'Donnell" vs. "Donald Trump" match, where fans apparently got so sick of what they were seeing, they started wishing the whole WWE would go away, and started chanting for TNA instead.
The WWE takes videos of the match down when it finds them, but for now, here's the full fight. "BORING" chants start at 7:30, "TNA" at 8:05, and "WE WANT WRESTLING" at 9:30. Season with cutaway shots of Vince McMahon looking legitimately shocked at the chants to taste.
Vickie Guerrero. The hate the crowd had (and still has) for her during her run as GM of Smack Down was absolutely brutal. The screaming lowlight of her X-Pac Heat was at a PPV, where she came out to restart a match. Through the booing, you can very clearly hear a fan yell "THE WRONG GUERRERODIED!". Since then she's gotten better, mainly with reducing her screen time and taming down her heel persona; now fans boo her because they love to boo her.
Vickie is a fantastic example of the creative department taking the ball and running with it. Capitalizing on her annoying voice (which at first is why she got X-Pac Heat but became the signature of her on-screen personality; her shrill "EXCUSE ME!!!" being her Catch Phrase), her ability to generate heat in WWE is unmatched. Wrestlers working in the industry for years couldn't hope to get the level of fervor she gets just by showing her face. True, she probably can never, ever get over as a face with her character's direction but she's unquestionably leaving her mark.
Vladimir Kozlov. Too easy. He began to be pushed to the moon months within debuting and was even originally planned to be given the WWE Championship at one time. Any problems?... Oh yeah, he couldn't wrestle. Yes he was a heel all this time, so it could be translated to heel heat, but the smart fans hate him even more. To back this up, they recently turned him into an American loving goofy babyface, and the fans still hated him. It took a team up with the hilarious Santino Marella and a serious expansion of his moveset to become tolerable, though he was eventually fired... And CM Punk cut a promo where the audience cheered his being brought up.
Bubba the Love Sponge. He was brought in around the time Hulk Hogan came to TNA as he hijacked Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme's job as backstage interviewer, leading to loud "FIRE BUBBA" chants from the audience. It doesn't help that not too long ago he said "Fuck Haiti" on his radio show after the tragic earthquake, leading to Awesome Kongkicking his ass backstage for his disrespect to the numerous lives lost or ruined. One not-so-sincere apology later (with Hogan siding with him and making PMS jokes about Kong) and Kong asked for her release from the company. Bubba later ambushed Kong during her appearance on The Cowhead Show which turned out to be an elaborate setup by Bubba and show host Mike Calta to lure Kong on the show in the first place. This eventually led to his firing from TNA, capped by Mick Foley giving Bubba a legitimate forearm to the face. Guess how the fandom responded.
A classic of this trope were the Dynamic Dudes, who were skateboarding wrestlers. When they received a face push by having manager Jim Cornette betray them for an opposing heel tag team (the Midnight Express), the audience cheered Cornette.
Funnily enough, the Dynamic Dudes contained later modern day X-Pac Heat recipient John Laurinaitis
The No Limit Soldiers were hated because they were a rap group in a promotion whose audience were primarily white Southern males who dislike rap. Even though they were supposed to be faces, they acted like heels, couldn't wrestle, had a bloated roster of ten wrestlers, and most were less than pleasant in real life (particularly Swoll, an obese and unlikeable man eventually arrested for dodging child support while making $100K a year from WCW), and, even with Master P, had terrible raps. Their rivals, the West Texas Rednecks, were an inversion of this trope, as they were supposed to be heels but appealed to the fans more, particularly when they recorded a downright hilarious song titled "Rap is Crap", held their own against the No Limit Soldiers with only four wrestlers, and had Curt Hennig, widely considered one of the best ever in the business and a really nice guy to boot, as their leader. It's no surprise the latter stable became a collective Ensemble Dark Horse, and, of the former, only Rey Mysterio Jr ever went on to any kind of success.
What made it even worse was the inclusion into the group of beloved veteran Brad Armstrong, a well-respected solid worker who had been around for some time.
The Trope Namer had a stablemate named Justin Credible who suffered the same fate. In ECW, he was pushed as a solid ex-jobber who was "actually very skilled", though his workrate was artificially inflated by giving him good workers to wrestle with (like Jerry Lynn). Eventually, as one of the last reasonably-big names in the company, he got the ECW World Title, which resulted in massive overexposure. Even his former fans began seeing him as a mediocre worker with a terrible look and bad mic skills (he had a catchphrase and a fake "angry voice" that involved him hissing his words out in a loud whisper all the time), and X-Pac Heat resulted. ECW died not soon after his Title win (coincidence?), and he promptly got similar reactions in the WWF, culminating with X-Factor and his eventual removal from the company. He was so bad that some fans even blame him for the death of ECW, though that wasn't truthfully his fault any more than anyone else.
Hysterically, after ECW folded and was bought out by then-WWF, Justin had a very short tenure. He retired from wrestling, and got a job as the overnight stock manager at a Target superstore in New Jersey. After working there for a while, he got back into wrestling and, though confined to the independents (and going from Target to baking breadsticks at Olive Garden), got a respectable level of popularity.
John Cena is a case of not having any heat to begin with, becoming very popular, getting X-Pac Heat with both barrels, and then shaking it off in an odd way. Fans were pretty apathetic to Cena up until WWE decided to run with a Halloween joke impression he did of Vanilla Ice, turning him into the very over Doctor of Thuganomics. Then came his first world championship win at WrestleMania 21 against JBL, where a lot of people became convinced he just couldn't wrestle. Between feuds with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle, his X-Pac Heat really took off (not helped at all by his abandonment of the Thuganomics gimmick, which if nothing else had been a good source of legitimately funny smack-talk whenever Cena cut a promo, replaced by the WWE using him as a generic 80s-style babyface with no actual gimmick at all). His matches also became rather generic, with most amounting to him getting beat up the entire time before suddenly "overcoming the odds" with his Five Moves of Doom. The X-Pac Heat died down once smarks noticed a 2006 interview from Cena himself saying he'd rather drop down the card and redevelop his character but hasn't been allowed too.
The highlight of his X-Pac Heat was predicted to come during his ECW One Night Stand match against Rob Van Dam. Instead, Cena acknowledged and played to the negativity, acting as an effective heel if only for one month (going so far as to proclaim he'd beat Van Dam even if the ECW mutants rioted) and now the X-Pac Heat is mostly gone. Cena's character is still hated by many but mostly because it is the product of poor booking. Cena himself has a large fanbase that eats up his merchandise at rates surpassed by very few other wrestlers, if any.
A new stable in TNA is called Shore (Rob Eckos and Becky Bayless), two wrestlers who are paper-thin parodies ofJersey Shore cast-members "The Situation" and "Snooki." They debuted before the "Bound for Glory" PPV on 10/7/10, and by their second appearance (said PPV), fans were universally booing them out of the arena.
Though Becky Bayless is still a popular personality outside of the Cookie gimmick.
And Eckos is currently being pushed to (possibly) win the X-Division Championship from Kazarian. It's almost as if TNA is saying to its fans: "To hell with you - we do as we please." That would be an admirable sentiment if it weren't so galactically stupid.
Eventually, Bayless was fired and Eckos was placed with Rob Terry, a pairing that would, to some, redeem them both.
Good god, Michael Cole. His constant Trolling of the crowd has taken him to new levels - his "Anonymous GM" emails, his incessant crapping all over smark-beloved wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and R-Truth, his creepy fanboying of The Miz, and his severe lack of respect for Jim Ross don't just make fans want to boo him, but want to wring his neck. Even a little payback from his screwed-over broadcast partner Jerry Lawler hasn't dimmed Cole's huge amounts of smarm. There's playing a heel commentator, and then there's Michael Cole.
Cole is an interesting case because he was initially popular at his 1997 debut as a backstage interviewer, enough to be moved up to a commentary position. Then he became hated in 1999 when he replaced Jim Ross. Then he got paired with Tazz on Smackdown where the two were not very popular as a team. JBL proved a more popular partner for him but as JBL spent most of his time bad mouthing Cole and was supposed to be the heel it was clear by then Cole was unpopular. What further cemented it was that the fans loved it when various heels like Kane, Heidenreich and Hornswoggle attacked Cole without provocation.
It only got worse when once again, Jim Ross had to sit out due to illness and fans, who had by now had a low opinion of Cole's commentary, perceived him as an inferior replacement. Then WWE decided to roll with it and made Michael a full-on heel commentator. There was a brief, shining moment—in NXT season 3 (the Diva season)—where it worked, but after that it only made the hatred worse. It actually shifts a bit into Fan Dumb, because a large number of "smarks" think that WWE commentators aren't subject to the same scripted lines and personas as the wrestlers and that Cole really believes every single word he says.
A lot of Cole's detractors also just find his heel persona grating. There are heel commentators that are fun and amusing in their insanity (Bobby Heenan, CM Punk), there are heel commentators that look past babyface and heel and pronounce a backstab good thinking even if it was an assholish thing to do (WWE career Tazz), and there are those who are just annoyingly obnoxious (Attitude EraJerry Lawler, Mark Madden). Cole is the latter.
Adding more fire to the flame of Michael Cole hatred involves a series of PPV matches pitting him against Jerry Lawler. Rather than having him lose to Lawler and then have him take some time off from commentary, the WWE has actually booked him to win these matches, thus making him even more cockier and more despised by the WWE fans.
You want to see Cole's real personality? Watch the post-show interview of him and JR the night they were switched as Raw and Smack Downannouncers. Cole was very respectful of JR and seemed to acknowledge that he had big shoes to fill going to Raw.
Overall, Cole's X-Pac Heat is rooted in a situation no announcer ever wants to be in: being Jim Ross' replacement, and the poor bastard had to replace Ross multiple times in his career. J.R. is quite possibly the most loved announcer of all time and any guy who is coming in to fill in for Ross is going to have a rough time, even talented announcers like Joey Styles.
This is actually an interesting example, as the hatred of Cole seems to have at least mostly died down, although not to the point where people like him, more like neutrality, while it's Jerry Lawler himself who seems to be much more widely hated nowadays. The dislike for King was present before his heart attack, died down for a while afterward out of respect for him, and then quickly returned to where it was (if not even further) shortly afterward, when it was apparent that his gimmick really hadn't changed at all. To elaborate, a solid number of people find Jerry's commentary incredibly annoying and boring, often resorting to unfunny (and occasionally outright offensive) jokes, many of which have no semblance of originality at all, and being the #1 shiller of already disliked people and features.
Lawler has outright stated that he doesn't want to be on commentary, so he's basically not even trying to hide that.
The Miz is an interesting case of shaking X-Pac Heat and then getting it all over again. He started off as a reality star of The Real World, where it was made pretty obvious that he was a massive fan of wrestling and WWE. He got onto a season of WWE's Tough Enough where the winner is given a WWE contract. He was popular on Tough Enough but didn't win. Yet the winner disappeared and The Miz was pushed as the new star. Back then The Miz had little mic ability, even less wrestling ability, and made a constant idiot out of himself. Crowds loathed him, the locker room (JBL in particular) hazed the shit out of him, and he was constantly put into embarrassing matches and gimmicks. However, when he teamed up with John Morrison and drastically improved his mic and in-ring skills, he earned some respect. Then he became WWE Champion, and the IWC wanted to strangle him with his newly acquired belt. Despite his improved in-ring skills, The Miz's still isn't believed to be that good. Now there's a split between (a) hatred and (b) being happy to finally have a vulnerable champion after years of unstoppable supermen holding the belt.
What grates some people about his championship run is that literally up until the week before he won it, he was treated as a worthless Joke Character, and even after winning it, he still hadn't lost that status completely. Some find his character and Catch Phrase grating and full of Narm considering that he's supposed to be the top heel in the business, and the fact that he practically had to murder both Randy Orton and John Cena before he could be seen as a legitimate threat, and both of the two were already pretty badly beaten when he got involved. It isn't so much that some hate him, it's that they wish he would be allowed to be a credible heel, or that the belt could have been given to somebody that was.
And when Alex Riley got fired, he was. For about two weeks, where he got the jump on Cena twice and beat the ever loving crap out of him. Then they brought Riley back, and Miz went back to being a smug little shit, much to everyone's annoyance. He's still being alternated between the two settings, and it must be admitted that aforementioned Michael Cole hate probably doesn't help, with Cole slobbering all over Miz's knob at every opportunity.
Some of the aforementioned problems (Cole sucking up to Miz) have been remedied and Miz has since been turned Face... but an ill-advised decision by WWE to revive the Figure Four Leglock and give it to Miz as a finisher did no favors for his (already shaky) reputation in the eyes of wrestling purists. One can only imagine the firestorm that started when people started finding out that the face turn - and finisher - were originally slated for Ensemble DarkhorseDolph Ziggler.
Eric Watts from the early days of WCW. He was pushed because he was the son of Cowboy Bill Watts, who was in charge of WCW at the time. He was a crappy wrestler, didn't have a great physique, and was nearly booed out of the building whenever he appeared. The sad part is that he did eventually develop some talent in the ring and a decent look, but was so notorious for his nepotistic push that he still couldn't get over and promoters were afraid to push him very hard.
The Harris Twins in general, but especially in WCW in 1999 and 2000. They were pushed as monsters and rarely lost, but they were pretty much lacking charisma entirely and their One-Hit Kill finisher the A-Bomb didn't look particularly devastatingnote It was more or less a two man flapjack press. When it was announced that they'd been released, and then a couple days later they performed a run-in at a payperview, the fans groaned.
As Mark Henry was walking to the ring for a match against CM Punk on the April 2, 2012 edition of WWE Raw, a fan behind him held up a sign that said this:
"Sir! I feel compelled to stress that we are not booing because of your effective heel work, we are booing because you are simply awful."
Although most people would consider this guy to be in the minority now... ironically because Mark Henry's heel work has since become very, VERY effective.
The dud on the WrestleMania XX card, a match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg where Lesnar was immediately showered with boos and chants of "You Sold Out", in reference to him retiring from wrestling to play football with the Minnesota Vikings. This continued to an extent in Lesnar's brief return to wrestling in Japan and even his mixed martial arts career after he was picked up by UFC, where he humorously decided to cut a heel style promo after winning their heavyweight belt.
Sgt. Slaughter was a very popular wrestler in his time and even became a character in G.I. Joe. Then when the Gulf War built up, he defected to Saddam Hussein, even given an expy manager that he initially thought was the real deal. Between his vicious assaults on All American FaceHulk Hogan and burning the American flag, fans hated him to the point he received death threats (wrestling was still treated as real back then) and he feared for his life, so in a sense, he was getting the right type of heat but it got a little too real. After losing to Hogan and a Heel Face Turn things settled down, and aside from his stints as general manager and Vince McMahon's stooge that were more positively received has been treated as a face since.
Then there is universal X Pac Heat, which is a little harder to stop as it is mixed in with the right kind of heat. Case in point, Right To Censor. About half the fans loved to hate them, and the other half wanted them to just quit existing.