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I believe I've stumbled across the recipe for making a new top face. Its a few easy steps that promoters take to make a new guy the front runner and the replacement for the current one.

Step 1: begin the new guy's super push.
--this could be any number of things: vignettes building him up, a story line tailor made for him, unusually long winning streaks (or only losing by DQs & Count Outs).

Step 2: current top guy leaves (or is scheduled to leave).
--again any number of reasons: injuries, making movies, family commitments etc

Step 3: turn current top guy heel.
--usually but not always they are turned heel to feud with the new top face you are trying to make.

A little aside, this doesn't necessarily happen in that order but those elements are in all the top face turns and runs of the last 20 or so years.

Examples:
1992-1996: top face Bret "Hitman" Hart:
Vince intended to change his top guy to HBK. So step 1 was enacted. HBK was on a winning streak, they started promoting more & more of his merchandise, and did the "post concussion syndrome" story line to build sympathy.

Then HBK does his miraculous return and wins the rumble match. A head to head match is coming down the pipe. Bret vs HBK at WM 12, Bret drops the match and disappears until November, giving HBK free run at the top without Bret. This time away solidified HBK as the top guy. Shortly after he returned Vince began the slow process of step 3.

1996-1998: top face Shawn Michaels:
After turning Bret heel, the process of turning HBK heel also began and that was because Steve Austin began picking up more & more steam.

In 1997 Steve Austin was showing promise of taking over as top dog. The Austin push enters step 1: because of a legit injury (that WWE played up) sympathy for Austin began building. He dropped titles without really losing them.

Bret was gone and in early 1998 HBK injured his back and was going to be forced into retirement. Austin, fresh off a broken neck, wins the rumble and is scheduled to face the former top face one on one at 'Mania. The match happens, Austin wins, and HBK is gone from the picture totally, leaving Austin as the sole top face of the company...the only other challenger to the crown (Undertaker) is beginning his turn heel as well.

One final example: WCW 1994-1996 top face Hulk Hogan:
Step 1 is skipped and WCW moves directly into step 3. Hogan is turned heel. Leaving a top star vacuum in WCW.

The appeal of this story line was simply: who is going to be the guy to overthrow Hogan? (or who will be the new top face?).

Now step 1 begins: Sting vignettes start appearing, the build now begins for Sting's return to WCW.

Your wondering, step 2 right? The beauty of this is that Sting actually took part in step 2. Instead of removing the top face via write off, they removed him by turning him heel, as I mentioned before they created a vacuum, a situation where the audience didn't have any idea who was taking over as top face until the vignettes started.

They even went so far as to swerve the audience by putting Luger over Hogan for the title on Nitro, giving the people the idea that Luger was the new face but it wasn't meant to be.

Check it out for yourselves. The Rock-Austin scenario from 98-01 was the same.

Even during the brand extension you will find the pattern. Cena begins gaining steam in 2004, the top face is Eddie Guerrero. In 2005 they begin turning Eddie heel as Cena begins his run as top face. Randy Orton is supposed to be the top face of RAW but he is turned heel as Batista begins his ascension to that spot. Then Batista & Cena switched brands (this is a variation of step 2: instead of the top face leaving or going on sabbatical, they removed the new top faces).

Its fairly simple to realize: 2 people can never occupy the same space at the same time, so sabbaticals & heel turns are used to move guys around. This creates a new culture and a fresh feel.

By now of course you are starting to envision ways we could rid ourselves of John Cena. I noticed that the WWE had many opportunities to remove Cena if the wanted but they chose not to. An ideal time would have been in June after losing at MITB or even before that with him being fired during the Nexus story line. Why they didn't take that opportunity to move into step 2 and eventually step 3 is mindboggling.

Each time they had a guy primed for that spot: Randy Orton & CM Punk, but its obvious that Vince just doesn't see "top face" star power in either of them. So its safe to say Cena is here to stay until a new potential top face is discovered in the midcard (or even undercard). When Cena is ready to move on I don't believe any of the usual suspects will take his spot.
 

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Interesting post. A lot of truth in that. I for one, would however rather have the top face not go on a superman rampage, the WWE style, but would rather have him face obstacles and letdowns to make it so much better, when he finally takes his spot on the top.
Or, in the best scenario, in my opinion, there would be no top face, but a number of equal heels and faces that win each other cross and create complete chaos. I'd like to think it was a little bit like this in 2001 and 2002, even though Austin and Rock were leading the wolf pack. Somebody sometime said it perfectly: WWE is so much better when it's not centered around one person, but when there are many guys competing for the top spot, each with their own supporters.
 

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THE ONE.
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I think making the potential "top guy" go through a lot of adversity is important.

1. It lets you know along the way how invested the audience is getting into the character, if his pops are getting larger and how much larger or if they feel he's not getting over enough, its easy to change direction this way

2. It makes the pay off so much bigger when he does finally win the belt or whatever the angle is.

3 and it means he should be by the time he get's the belt be over enough that he actually doesn't need it so you can keep it fresh without him needing to win for the next 12 months.
 

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hmm not sure I agree. Michaels run at the top (for around 9 months) is too short for him to be top face. I think Bret was still the top babyface even though he was out of the WWE and part of a bidding war with WCW, hence the enormous hype regarding his return in late 1996. Giving a top star a long title run does not mean they became the top babyface, otherwise you would have to include Savage and Warrior. Actually I think most of the top faces have ended up in that stage by accident.

1.Hogan - chosen by Vince to be top babyface when WWF went national. No real reason other than he seemed a good bet.

2.Bret Hart - won the title from Flair during the time of the drug scandal. Perhaps Bret was seen as having a squeaky clean image compared to the steroid monsters? In any respect he was hardly hyped and it suprised most people when he won his first title. Also Hogan never turned heel and never put Bret over. It is clear that Vince attemped to make someone else top face but he never fully succeeded, hence Bret winning title at WM 10, beating Diesel in 1995, beating Austin at SS 96 and then becoming the major babyface in the main event scene. The rest of 1997 was pretty complicated as though Bret technically turned heel at WM 13 he still was treated like a babyface in Canada and Europe. A great time for wrestling.

3.Steve Austin - again I think no one really expected him to babyface but when he started to get cheered they went with it. It should be noted that even after his face turn at WM 13 he still acted like his heel persona, even attacking Jim Ross. I think this was to generate heat for him in Canada and Europe. Yes the same show was being shown but Austin was marketed as a volatile ******* that only American fans would enjoy. The Austin of 98 was a bit more tamer and even fan friendly. The Canadian fans were doing the WWE a favour by cheering for Austin after he beat fan favourite Owen at Survivor Series 97. It signalled that he was destined to be the top face of the company.

4.The Rock - The Canadians cheered for him at IYH Breakdown. That was unexpected as the babyface was Ken Shamrock. So the WWE went with it again. Austin did finally turn heel but it did not matter much as the Rock spend more time away from the WWE due to making movies.

5.Cena. By this time Austin, Rock and potential top face Lensar were gone. The WWE were in a bit of a pickle and finally chose Cena to become the next top guy. This one puzzles me to this day.

So my advice for the WWE is just put lots of wrestlers over and see who gets the best reaction and run with it.
 

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Interesting post. A lot of truth in that. I for one, would however rather have the top face not go on a superman rampage, the WWE style, but would rather have him face obstacles and letdowns to make it so much better, when he finally takes his spot on the top.
Or, in the best scenario, in my opinion, there would be no top face, but a number of equal heels and faces that win each other cross and create complete chaos. I'd like to think it was a little bit like this in 2001 and 2002, even though Austin and Rock were leading the wolf pack. Somebody sometime said it perfectly: WWE is so much better when it's not centered around one person, but when there are many guys competing for the top spot, each with their own supporters.
True I think WCW was more like what you mentioned, lots of top guys trying to get a piece of the title. However I prefered the WWE main event scene (though WCW midcard was a million times better). I would rather have an intense feud and storyline between the top face and the heels, as well as other babyfaces. Having storylines centered around Austin to me was far bettter that having DDP lose the title to Sting then Nash etc.
 

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I think making the potential "top guy" go through a lot of adversity is important.

1. It lets you know along the way how invested the audience is getting into the character, if his pops are getting larger and how much larger or if they feel he's not getting over enough, its easy to change direction this way

2. It makes the pay off so much bigger when he does finally win the belt or whatever the angle is.

3 and it means he should be by the time he get's the belt be over enough that he actually doesn't need it so you can keep it fresh without him needing to win for the next 12 months.
True, I think people dislike Cena because he shows no emotion or vunerability. Hogan was the same to a degree but his comebacks in matches at least got the fans going and you sometimes felt he was going to lose. I cheered for Bret whe went finally beat Yokozuma after a whole year, when he beat Diesel after almost a year in a shock victory, when he won his fifth title despite having a biased ref and a nation against him. I cheered for Austin when he defeated Mcmahon and every obstable put against him. I cheered for the Rock when he finally beat Triple H after losing to him at WM 2000. With Cena I see no reason to cheer. He just wins titles and smiles.
 

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Student of the game? I am the f***in' Game!!
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If a heel is getting consistent pops then its time to turn face. As much as I don't like the Miz, having him fight a lesser heel like Primo or Epicho, he would get cheered. That goes for Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Christian, Ziggler to an extent.

The face turn described is what wwe does, but it has become far too artificial and mundane.
 

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@OP your like some kind of super genius.

I mean having top guy turn bad or straight up leave to have 2nd guy turn face!?
Omg how creative. Dumbass.
 

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I like the OP's thoughts.....


If anyone is familier with the Joseph Campbell 'hero cycle" I think they will find that it is the real recipe for telling a great face story.
 

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The Kurt Angle 2001 Face Story vs. Austin was the perfect example of how to put a new top face over (Until he turned heel again, then it made no sense)
 

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Do the underdog angle they did with Jeff Hardy.

1. Find a way to make your guy over as fuck as he was and make him a great Intercontinental or United States Champion.

2. When you decide to move him up in the world, don't give him the title just yet. Make it seem like he's going to win it, but at the last second, he fails to do so. He'll always be mere inches away from winning it all but he's stopped at the last moment every time.

3. That way, when he finally becomes the world champion, everyone would celebrate like crazy and he'll be the hero/top face/whatever you wanted him to be.
 
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