Heat (professional wrestling)
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In professional wrestling, heat refers to both crowd reaction and real-life animosity between those involved in the professional wrestling business. In terms of crowd reaction, heat is usually either cheers for a babyface or boos for a heel. The amount of heat a wrestler generates is often an accurate gauge of his popularity.
Although the term can in some contexts refer to either positive or negative crowd reactions, "heat" can otherwise be used specifically to mean a negative crowd response (booing etc.); its opposite being a "pop" or positive reaction (cheering, clapping, etc.).
"Canned heat" refers to playing a recording of cheering or booing through the arena's sound system or adding it to a taped show. This serves to either amplify a crowd reaction or to mask silence from the crowd. Pre-taped crowd reactions from other events are also spliced in with the programming to make it look like the crowd is more energetic than it actually is, or if promoters want a storyline to go in a particular direction.
For example, in early 1992, the World Wrestling Federation was attempting to push Sid Justice as a heel. Toward the end of the 1992 Royal Rumble's main event, Justice — who had become popular due to his charisma — was loudly cheered when he eliminated Hulk Hogan; commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan picked up on this as a fair act. However, the reaction was edited in future television replays, with Sid being booed heavily and Monsoon describing him as a jerk.
WWE overdubs cheers on pre-taped shows, particularly WWE SmackDown. Professional wrestling magazine Power Slam joked that the company has had to "fire up the Fake Crowd Roar Machine™ to add an artificial atmosphere."
Heels draw "cheap heat" by blatantly insulting the fans, a local sports team, or the town they are performing in. This is called "cheap" because it is an easy way for heels to receive boos. Faces will sometimes do the equivalent, referred to as a cheap pop, by referring to the town or promising to "win one for the fans." Mick Foley is well known for this using this particular form of getting a cheap pop.
Heel wrestlers can also draw cheap heat by referring to a mainstream news event as part of their promo, especially if the event has strongly emotional or political ramifications (e.g. a natural disaster), although they sometimes do not mention it by name. One example of a wrestler using cheap heat was Sgt. Slaughter, who often delivered anti-American promos during the Gulf War (and Operation Desert Shield immediately before it) as part of his Iraqi sympathizer heel gimmick; one of those promos came at Survivor Series 1990, where Slaughter insulted servicemen stationed in Iraq for Thanksgiving. In 2003, The Rock used the Lakers-Kings rivalry to gain a lot of heel heat when he was singing a song about leaving Sacramento. The last words of the song were "I'll be sure to come back when the Lakers beat the Kings in May." In April 2006, during his feud with Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon used religion and the city to get heel heat from the crowd in St. Louis Missouri by saying he went to hell that morning, when his driver "Got lost and ended up in East St. Louis."
Historically, another common practice of heel wrestlers to draw cheap heat involves using racial and ethnic slurs to offend the collective sensibility of wrestling fans. In 1972, as the American Indian Movement was gaining momentum, Baron von Raschke was known to refer to Native American WWA World Heavyweight Champion Billy Red Cloud as a "dirty low down Injun" as a means of drawing cheap heat. In 2004, while in Germany, JBL (John Bradshaw Layfield) used Nazi salutes and was booed heavily by the crowd.
-  "Royal Rumble 1992," The History of the WWE, 1992." Accessed 03-19-2010.
- "What's Going Down...". Power Slam. Issue 222/March 2013. p.5.
- Madigan, TJ (2004-06-12). "Bradshaw offside; Bradshaw incites Germans with Nazi salute". SLAM Sports!. Retrieved 2009-02-27.