This was the pinnacle of what a great heel should be. I firmly believe JBL was the best and most traditional heel during the Ruthless Aggression era. He was always so much less impressive both physically, aesthetically and booking wise than the face but would always find some technicality to exploit and would rarely win cleanly. He may come off as moronic on commentary but I believe JBL has one of the greatest minds in wrestling and one of the smallest egos when it comes to the business side of things at least.
I agree wholeheartedly and I’ve seen quite fair share of wrestling mind you. Started around the time Austin won King of the Ring and been watching ever since (save for a break) and no one has really been a better heel than JBL. I mean as a testament I fucking loved APA and thought his Blackjack phase was pretty badass but he managed to get under my skin so much as JBL. Never have I ever been happier to see someone lose their title than with JBL. Will definitely give this a read.
Edit: Wow fantastic read and really hits the nail on the head when it comes to being an effective heel. JBL definitely has one of the best grasps of the business and really comes off as a wrestling nerd (in a good way). I wonder if he actually does anything behind the scenes and if not he should be like A.S.A.P, this man knows how to make money (in more ways than one come to think of it).
Revisionist history will cast this as a time in the WWE where JBL was killing it as the top heel but truthfully having sat through it all I can tell you that the over whelming crowd and fan base was bored out of their minds. What JBL describes is not a great way to make the crowd hate the heel character, it’s a great way to make them hate you as a wrestler. People genuinely hated JBL at this period and maybe the arugment can be made that this is the same thing a heel heat, but I don’t buy it. People were bored of him, he was boring, his promo’s were boring, his schtick was boring, his style boring, etc.
I look at a guy like JBL who believed that this was the best way to get over as a heel and then compare him to a guy like Kevin Owens and realize, what JBL was doing was lazy, it wasn’t quality heel work at all. He painted with the same broad brush in every city he wrestled in. Owens gives the people entertaining wrestling but he listens to the crowd, the type of “not giving the people what they want” that he works with is an effective style woven from actually listening to the crowd and playing it up.
You chant for Sami Zayn? I go out of my way to mock his injury in a match.
You want a high spot? I go through the effort to build that spot, tease it, and then take it away from you.
You decide you’re going to be edgy and join my corner as a fan? I make you seem like an idiot and blast you.
JBL’s heel work was again broad strokes. He’d basically tell you “You’re not getting a toy from me.”
Kevin Owens packs the crowd in his car, hypes them up the car ride, brings them into Toys R Us, breaks down why the toy is amazing, offers to buy it for you, takes it outside and breaks it in front of you. It’s actual genius heel work because it not only makes it impossible for anyone to cheer for him but does the next level heel thing of making it so much easier for the face to win the crowd over. All Balor has to do after Owens has teased and taken away is actually deliver and the fans love him.