Follow TV Tropes


Draco In Leather Pants / Professional Wrestling

Go To

  • The Fabulous Freebirds are likely the Trope Codifier, if not the Ur-Example of this in wrestling. Despite being heels in the kayfabed 80s, they got cheered pretty much everywhere they went in the southern territories (except when they went up against a local favorite like the Von Erichs in Dallas). Their gimmick was that of a southern rock band in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and they even used "Freebird" as their entrance music before recording their own song, "Badstreet, USA." Of course, it didn't hurt that they had a charismatic "frontman" in Michael P.S. Hayes (who actually was fond of wearing leather pants) as well as Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, one of the greatest big men in the history of wrestling.
  • Even back in the 80s when Kayfabe was in full swing The Four Horsemen had fans: because they were so, so cool. As Raven put it, "There's a reason why Ric Flair keeps getting turned face - who wouldn't want to party with the Nature Boy?"
    • Then there was TNA's Fortune. Ric Flair, at his most insane yet, managing a bunch of TNA Originals who the audience at least respects and who can all go in the ring with the best of them, looking to take prominence back from outside invaders in the company they helped build? It didn't matter if they were the heels bloodying up EV2 every week or the faces screwing with Immortal's plans (although Flair did turn on them during the latter), the crowd was always gonna side with them.
  • If the Freebirds were the Trope Codifier or Ur-Example for the 80s, the example for the 90s would be "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Following his Heel–Face Turn on Bret Hart, commentators like Vince McMahon and Jim Ross would often express astonishment as to why people went crazy over Austin despite his lack of morals and respect for anyone and anything. In fact, Austin would even admit that he did not care whether the fans cheered for him or not, but he did like the merchandise residuals that resulted from his sudden popularity.
    • Austin himself didn't even want to believe that his loss to Hart was a Heel Face Turn. Immediately after the WrestleMania 13 loss, Brian Pillman teased him by shouting "Stone Cold's a babyface!" across the backstage area, much to his displeasure.
  • Kane deserves a mention. Kane once gave himself a mention. The short version: he's the Devil's Favorite Demon. The long version: he grew up locked in a basement, suffering severe psychological and emotional scarring when his brother set his parents on fire. From there, he shifted around among a series of mental institutions until he was grown, at which point he buried his brother alive. Twice.note  Since then, he's set a couple of people on fire and abducted various co-workers. Oh, and he, uh, once electrocuted a man's testicles. Years ago, he had a girlfriend named Katie, but let's just say that didn't turn out too well. His real father is a guy named Paul Bearer, who he recently trapped in a meat locker. He's been married, divorced, broke up his ex-wife's wedding and Tombstoned the priest. And, for reasons never quite explained, he has an unhealthy obsession with torturing Pete Rose. Yet, either because fans felt sorry for the character due to the various tragedies that shaped his psyche or because they respected the performer so damn much, he's remained one of WWE's most popular wrestlers throughout his career whether face or heel. That is, until he went Corporate.
  • Advertisement:
  • For said brother's part, The Undertaker can usually be reliably cited as a standing model of dark justice: however, he has at times abused his macabre image of power to commit frightening acts of evil, almost bordering on Beware the Superman. Take, for example, the time period in which he became a minister of darkness, claiming he set the fire at the funeral home on purpose, trying to embalm "Stone Cold" Steve Austin alive on a table backstage, assembling a Hollywood Satanic cult which routinely engaged in kidnapping and symbolic Human Sacrifice of men and women alike, including Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie—and somehow ended up merging its way into a plot to take the title off Steve Austin by the very same mad chairman whose company they originally wanted to take over. Or the period in which he forced a guy to literally kiss Vince's ass, assaulted a legend's son unprovoked, put a family in the hospital, and beat the hell out of another legend with a chain just because he felt he wasn't getting enough respect. He was clearly the heel in those time periods, yet the respect he commanded kept him cheered through most of it. At other points in time he's also at least symbolically burned a man to Hell, routinely Tombstoned physically lesser parties such as women and managers for getting in his path, and nearly killed someone at the Great American Bash two consecutive years—but those are more the hero black.
  • Advertisement:
  • The dynamic between Kane and Undertaker is particularly unhealthy. Despite the fact that Kane has stated at one time that his entire reason for being in the WWE was to rid himself of Undertaker, Taker himself has admitted that two of his few joys are fighting alongside and against Kane. Taking that to his logical extreme, as we easily can because of their career's heated pattern, he doesn't care if he's helping Kane retain the World Heavyweight title or if he's trying to end Kane in order to take it from him. Sure, that means if he and Kane are both in a fight he's having fun, but there's no consistent show of regard for each other's well-being anywhere in this. If they're together, they're not just content with winning—they're out to make a couple of unlucky sods' lives physically miserable as some sort of twisted friendly competition with each other. If they're against each other, they're trying to destroy each other for months, and it's almost guaranteed one of them is going away for awhile when it's all over. Yet, despite how unhealthy it is for everyone around, people still never tire of seeing the Brothers of Destruction sharing a wrestling ring. Then again, they're demons.
  • The Rottweilers eventually reached this status in Ring of Honor, especially after their second incarnation came with the addition of the company's first champion. But the oddest case of this was Homicide. The crowds loathed Konnan, but didn't mind Homicide being associated with him or using a theme composed by him. He was given another evil manager in "the devil's son in law" Julius Smokes, which still didn't work. Homicide cussed out the fans specifically for chanting in his support at Generation Next, which only made it continue. "Ring Of Homicide" revolved around him assaulting everyone in the company that had so much as annoyed him with a fork and by that time no one even tried to pretend he wasn't a baby face.
  • Mickie James has never actually been booed in WWE. Her initial character was a face who was Trish Stratus's biggest fan ever and she became increasingly obsessed with Trish even kissing her and saying she was in love with her. When Trish finally told her to back off Mickie went psycho and turned heel. However the crowds still cheered her and when she faced Trish at WrestleMania 22, the fans cheered for Mickie and booed Trish whenever she got offence in. Trish was never turned heel and Mickie remained a heel until after Trish's retirement in which she became a face by default when she feuded with Lita. She has always received brilliant reactions from the WWE fans so much that there was a near-riot at the Extreme Rules 2010 PPV which took place three days after her release.
  • WWE's Maryse might be worth noting. During her time in WWE she never displayed one redeeming quality. Even when she appeared to be nice to Gail Kim she was really laying down insults in French. True she is a Heel, but Maryse didn't generate the animosity as other heels such as Michelle McCool or Layla, either from crowds or internet commentators despite the latter being better in the ring and actually having behaved decently before a Face–Heel Turn. She has regained full heel status since her return to WWE mimicking her real life status as The Miz's wife.
  • ODB has never been a successful heel in TNA. She initially was one in 2007 but her trailer park Ladette character proved popular with fans and she was turned face. She was brought back as a heel in 2011 to feud with the very over Velvet Sky but after that was over she was turned face yet again because of how popular she was.
  • The Age Of The Fall in Ring of Honor had a significant portion of the audience insisting how they were "correct" or "awesome". (They were basically a political group with a theme park understanding of American health care out to highjack as much of Ring Of Honor's time as possible so they could spread their message) Yes, the same Age Of The Fall with the lengthy entry on X-Pac Heat. Wrestling fans are weird.
  • Back in '08-'09, they were trying to turn Randy Orton into a monster by having him viciously attack his opponents' family members, and then punting them in the skull. Except he was cheered when he did it to John Cena's father, and when he did it to the McMahon family while Triple H was handcuffed to the ropes, he got what was probably the loudest pop of the year (especially when he attacked Stephanie). Rumours were that the angle with him and Legacy was meant to have Ted DiBiase Jr. turn face but the fans rooted for Orton anyway which had him being booked as a face despite retaining many of his heel characteristics.
    • As it turns out, beating the crap out of the McMahons gets roughly the same reaction in 2009 as it did in 1999.
    • On an episode of Raw, Edge called Orton out on this; claiming that his (apparently insincere) dedication to the fans following returning from a career-threatening injury didn't net him the same kind of fan support Orton had, although Orton was playing the same selfish jerkass character he always was. Hell, immediately before Edge spoke, Orton got a massive pop for RKOing guest host Wayne Brady.
    • Established to possibly surreal levels when, in the midst of his face turn, he punted Jericho in the face and put him on the shelf. The crowd was actually calling for, "PUNT! PUNT! PUNT!"
  • In 2010 Chris Jericho did a form of this on WWE NXT, which at the time was a show where eight "rookies" were paired with a "pro" mentor as they wrestled in hopes of winning a WWE contract. On the first episode he was rather displeased at his rookie Wade Barrett's verbal sucking up when introducing Jericho, but when it was Barrett wrestling on the fourth episode, Jericho at ringside went well above and beyond to put his rookie over, leading to this amusing exchange with the commentators as Barrett ground down his opponent that got Internet fans cheering:
    Jericho: "Look at him meticulously wearing down the back of—"
    Josh Matthews: I was just telling Cole the same thing, that you just said—"
    Jericho: "You better be, pay attention—"
    Matthews: "I told him—"
    Jericho: "Say something!"
    Matthews: "I know I... just did."
    Jericho: "Do your job!" *slams table and stalks off*
    Michael Cole: "Yeah, say something!"
    Matthews: "He hates you!"
    Cole: "Me?"
    Jericho: *walking from the table* "Talk about Barrett!"
    Michael Cole: "We are!"
    Jericho: *turns around* "MORE!" *has to suppress a grin, while Cole and Matthews openly LOL on-air*
  • Batista who at one point, long after turning his back on the fans, said that when he looks out into the audience he doesn't see people, just money. The next week fans were still showing up with Batista supporting signs because he's a good looking man.
    • Not just because he's a good-looking man. Most smarks and Batista himself were of the opinion that he was no good as a face, and that "Douchetista is the Best-tista". His final performances were almost sublime.
  • CM Punk, after turning back heel in the middle of 2012 following a full year as the company's top babyface, continued to get cheered despite his character mutating from a cocky but genuine wrestling revolutionary to outright respect-demanding jackass. This was understandable at first, considering most of his heel run early on consisted of feuding with a Smug Super Base-Breaking Character and a face commentator prone to Moral Dissonance who both couldn't even admit that, being a long-running WWE Champion considered by many to be a leader for the young talent in the back, his claim to "Best in the World" status had some legs. Even Punk's later dickish habit of constantly interrupting legends was admissible, considering how many times a Hall of Famer would come up and tell him he had to fight John Cena for the infiniteth time to validate his career. However, the self-proclaimed habitual line stepper would achieve new lows not seen since the death of Eddie Guerrero, first when he taunted Jerry Lawler for his real-life heart attack the night of Lawler's official return to commentary, then when he interrupted The Undertaker's tribute to the late Paul Bearer less than a week after the latter's real-life death just to put himself over as the man who'll defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania, even using Bearer's name in the process. Even Vickie Guerrero felt he deserved to be punished. Yet fans still cheered for him.
    • The fact of the matter is, for all of his heel runs in the WWE, Punk will always be cheered for. Why? Because he's just so good at being bad.
  • Brock Lesnar is usually characterized as a remorseless monster bent on destruction, dominance, and bringing the pain, and even in Real Life came into the business with a huge mercenary Jerk Jock attitude towards wrestling which even now is still there and which he admits to with no shame. But because he's such a freakishly talented athletic badass, a lot of people still love him. Granted, a lot of those people love seeing him as a HEEL because of all of the above, but still… between his sporadic appearances since his "return" to WWE, his popularity has dwindled somewhat though. After breaking The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania XXX on April 6, 2014, though, the X-Pac Heat picked up steam to such a degree that even Lesnar was surprised. Then he destroyed John Cena at SummerSlam four months later and won back the crowd.
  • Another case from ROH. Since the infamous low blow where he turned heel on El Generico, Kevin Steen has been one of the biggest cases of Draco in Leather Pants EVER. His hatred against Generico and Jim Cornette drove him to the lengths of pulling a Heel–Face Door-Slam on Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino and getting them to band together with him in an alliance called SCUM—for the purpose of destroying Ring of Honor all over his grudge. He has threatened to Package Piledrive ROH president Cary Silkin into the next world, spat in the face of Jay Lethal's mother, commandeered the ROH World Title for nearly a year and rubbed everybody's face in it—and again, set out to destroy Ring of Honor over his hatred of TWO MEN. Yet despite this, almost every action of his gets cheered even against faces the fans have no desire to root against, and even if he is trashing on an arena crowd and calling them hypocrites over this very thing, "The question was never if Steen will, but how loud the fans'll be callin' 'KILL STEEN KILL!'" This has only continued since he arrived on WWE NXT as Kevin Owens and resumed his reign of terror by betraying Sami Zayn (again).
  • In 2013, Act Yasukawa turned heel on her Trouble 2 Maker stable mates by smacking Yoshiko with a steel chair after they failed to win the Artist Of Stardom titles with Natsuki*Taiyo and joined Kimura Monster Gun. Well, she tried anyway but the fans kept treating her like a baby face and wildly cheered for her. She was still trying, unsuccessfully, to get heat the next year, going so far as to bust open Kris Wolf(who was technically another stablemate). She would eventually spit rum on a fan chanting her name, which lead to more fans chanting her name and lining up to be spat on.
  • It is a testament to just how good Sasha Banks is that it took weeks after her match at NXT Takeover: Respect for her to find her way onto this list. This is a woman who, since being corrupted into turning heel by Summer Rae, has routinely attacked her rivals' injured and vulnerable body parts both inside and outside of matches, kicking away crutches, mocking former friends' catchphrases, attempting to completely rip former allies' arms off, trying to crush competitors' hands via steel steps and/or her boots on multiple occasions, and taunting young superfans of young superfans to tears, all for daring to compete against her for the NXT Women's Championship. The problem is, she's one of the stars if not THE star of arguably the greatest representation of female wrestling in WWE history with the NXT women's division; she's prone to bursting into tears of joy and disbelief whenever she accomplishes or takes part in milestone occasions so it's easy to feel happy and/or sympathetic for her; and her favorite wrestler of all time and closest inspiration is…actually, more on him in a bit.
  • Eddie Guerrero's career motto since his WCW days was all about cheating, openly flaunting all sorts of dishonorable tactics as a form of pride. He was willing to sell out his fellow luchadors by unmasking them for an investigation and even drove his own nephew into madness by trying to rope him into following his ways (though Chavo eventually did so willingly years later in WWE). As his feud with Rey Mysterio Jr. in 2005 showed, if he got particularly driven about something he could be prone to obsessive, sociopathic tendencies and absolutely vile measures. Yet because of his talent, his charm, and the fact that in real life he was a recovered drug addict and a born-again Christian who always had love for the people around him, his character got away with a lot of crap in the eyes of fans, so much so that it literally took the stipulation of putting the custody of Rey Mysterio's son on the line following Eddie's claim that Dominick was actually his for people to universally want Rey to beat Eddie in a match that year. And that's all BEFORE the man's death.
  • Alexa Bliss seems to be growing a fandom even though she's been a heel since at least her last year in NXT, especially since her Raw Women's Championship feud with Bayley. While there are some that still dislike her, mostly die-hard Bayley smark fans who think Alexa's "Mean Girl" character has been overdone, others still seem to be gravitating toward her, possibly because of Bayley's character not evolving much past being a saccharine nice girl and/or because even though Alexa is supposed to be an Alpha Bitch, she also has enough of a Cute Bruiser type that is focused on winning and willing to fight more than other queen-bee-style characters in the past (except against much larger women like Nia Jax, but that's kind of understandable...)
  • Becky Lynch's Face–Heel Turn in 2018 was one of the most spectacular backfires in wrestling history. Consider: Even in today's era of Kayfabe long being dead, most wrestlers who turn heel will get at least SOME boos and/or take some time for the crowd to start cheering them again (even beloved Smark favorite CM Punk got this). Becky turning on Charlotte at Summerslam 2018 IMMEDIATELY drew the absolute loudest pop from the crowd all night. She's since ditched her steampunk attire for, well, leather, which only made her more attractive in a rough-and-tumble way; called out the fans for not supporting her only for them to affirm that they actually did with such conviction that it disrupted the entire rest of the promo; failed to crack a smile in weeks prior to her ensuing title match against Charlotte, with everyone cheering on everything she said and did in her anger; and has even stolen Seth Rollins' nickname of "The Man" ever since beating Charlotte - and almost the entire wrestling crowd just continuously ate it up, seeing her as the closest thing WWE has had to Stone Cold Steve Austin in a long time.
  • Everything about Kazuchika Okada from his introduction was designed to be hateable, from his arrogant attitude and cocky posturing to his ridiculously flashy attire and entrance, to positioning him in a feud with pure Face Hiroshi Tanahashi, to having the head booker of the company as his manager. It was enough to make some wonder if New Japan had intentionally tried to make him seem like a Creator's Pet in order to get the fans to hate him. It ended up backfiring to a spectacular degree, as unlike most Pets, Okada actually had the skill to back every single one of his boasts up. He ended up being the overwhelming fan favorite in his feuds with Tanahashi and then (at the time a poorly-received face) Tetsuya Naito, so much that he essentially turned himself into the company's top face by default (and ended up singlehandedly turning all of CHAOS into faces as well).
  • Kenny Omega is a egomaniacal, sociopathic Smug Snake who sees everyone, even his so-called "brothers" in the Bullet Club as stepping stones on his way to world domination. He's routinely cheated in big matches, attempted to get rid of Club members that question his leadership multiple times, and even got his position in the first place by going behind AJ Styles' back. Yet he's so charismatic and genuinely skilled in the ring that fans all around the world love him, and his leadership took the Club to bigger heights than ever, in both terms of mainstream popularity and merchandise sales. His Draco-ness reached such a peak that when Cody Rhodes attempted to oust him from his position of power, ostensibly for the Bullet Club's sake, that ended up turning him into the biggest heel in all of wrestling despite having some very valid reasons to do so. The same could be said for when the Tongan members of Bullet Club finally decided to strike Omega and all of his Elite partners from the group, despite Omega's tenure having completely shifted the Club's direction and damaged the cohesive unity that Bullet Club once stood for.
  • Tetsuya Naito openly disrespects everything, from titles, to the fans, to the own company he works for, and is a Lazy Bum who openly does not care about wrestling unless when it suits him, but is wildly cheered by the same fans he trashes. This counts as doubly ironic, because as a typical Face who played to the fans he was openly hated on; being completely disrespectful to everyone and everything has probably won him the most respect he's ever gotten in his career. Just to add to that, his character ended up resonating with the audience a lot more than bookers ever dreamed it would, to the point where he's been cheered going up against Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, who themselves have examples on this page, and even pure babyface Hiroshi Tanahashi.
  • Bullet Club is an entire stable that has run on this for the majority of its existence, now approaching six full years as of this writing. A group of self-described "real fucking shooters" who revel in beating up opponents even after matches, run interference and make use of cheap tactics more often seen with Western wrestling heels than anything in Japanese puroresu, bully announcers and interviewers, disrespect other wrestlers, often boast of being the absolute greatest whenever they win a championship, and generally borrow and adapt iconography from the most notorious politicking backstage clique in wrestling history and its two sister stables. The problem is, just like the nWo before them (although not on the same scale), Bullet Club has an iconic T-shirt design and are a united gang whose personalities seem to run on Rule of Cool to the point that one could see such a group thriving in non-wrestling media, and they have a habit of picking up some of the best wrestlers in the world as key leading members. It got to the point that the aforementioned Kenny Omega and his Elite faction actually received detractors for trying to change Bullet Club into a more friendly, image-conscious group, and the fully restocked heelish Bullet Club under Jay White and the Tongans' leadership hosted a block party filled with fans, some of whom shouted obscenities against The Elite and even Okada to show support for Bullet Club during the party's opening speech and even backed them up in a fight scene with members of WhatCulture Wrestling, establishing the Bullet Club Loyal as a full-on Periphery Demographic that coexists in an antagonistic role within the larger fanbase of NJPW.
  • UltraMantis Black's initial heel turn at CHIKARA Pick Up Or Delivery on April 9, 2004.BLK OUT (Joker and Sabian) defeated UltraZero (UltraMantis and Mister Zero) when Mantis went heel on Zero, and told BLK OUT "Be my guest." After the match, UM cut a promo where he renounced ZERO, the fans, and said that he was "sick of the human species." He declared, "UltraMantis is dead. Today, UltraMantis Black is born," and someone in the crowd said, "Thank God." So, after screwing over his own partner, costing his team the win, and saying that he was sick of the human species, it turned out the fans actually preferred him as a heel.
  • Much like the character who inspired his gimmick, Bray Wyatt became universally beloved by fans as soon as he unveiled the Fiend and practically became a WWE icon overnight, which led to him becoming lopsidedly favored by audiences even during matches against unambiguous heroes. This role-defying popularity is so strong, in fact, that Wyatt was almost singlehandedly responsible for the death of Seth Rollins' audience approval following the latter's referee-stoppage victory against him at Hell in a Cell 2019, remaining popular himself after the universally-hated match while Seth was left with X-Pac Heat of the kind not seen since Roman Reigns.
  • Dakota Kai's Face–Heel Turn at NXT TakeOver: WarGames was marked by a vicious attack on her best friend Tegan Nox, including victimizing her injured leg and stealing her knee brace as a trophy, and a Cavalry Betrayal by leaving Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae to face a WarGames match with a numbers disadvantage. Not to mention her later confessing that she'd secrety attacked Mia Yim backstage at said event to get herself a spot on Ripley's team to set up everything she did afterwards and calling Yim a "hood rat". Yet so many wrestling fans act like she did nothing wrong simply because her motivation for all this was that she was gutted to not get picked for said WarGames match, ignoring that her understandable frustration doesn't justify warping into a sadistic no-goodnik.
  • Randy Savage came into WWF as a trash-talking Dirty Coward who mistreated his manager Miss Elizabeth. But as time went on, fans started cheering Savage due to his charisma and workrate in the ring, to the point that he was being cheered by at least half the audience during his match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III despite having crushed Ricky's larynx heading into the match. As a result, Savage started toning down the heel tactics and eventually joined forces with Hulk Hogan to form The Mega Powers, cementing Savage as a babyface. Then he won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania IV' and became second only to Hogan as WWF's most popular wrestler. Savage turned on Hogan in 1989 and still managed to get mixed reactions and this remained true in every subsequent heel run he had since.
  • Inverted with Roman Reigns; at his lowest point, almost anyone who wrestled Roman became this. Roman wasn't a heel (despite all evidence to the contrary), but at the time he was arguably the greatest anti-face in wrestling history. He managed to get Wrestling Monster Braun Strowman cheered like a hero by having the big man beat him so brutally he was coughing up blood. Fortunately for him, this has died down after he was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
    • Ironically, he now plays this straight: Roman went from a widely-detested Face to a critically acclaimed Heel when he returned in 2020, and many have praised his subsequent growing Character Development and intense matches, despite his brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against Jey Uso (and, at Hell in a Cell 2020, Jimmy Uso).

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: