Heat (professional wrestling)

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This article is about a professional wrestling term. For the World Wrestling Entertainment program, see WWE Heat.

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.).

As heat typically refers to a negative reaction that a wrestling character gets from a crowd in a performance setting, it has also become slang for a negative reaction that a wrestler gets backstage from colleagues, management or both. Backstage heat can be garnered for both real and perceived slights and transgressions.[1]

Canned heat[edit]

"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.[2]

WWE overdubs cheers on pre-taped shows, particularly 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".[3]

Cheap heat[edit]

Heels draw "cheap heat" by blatantly insulting the fans, a local sports team, or the town in which they are performing. This is called "cheap" because it is an easy way for heels to receive boos. Faces would 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 the 1990 Survivor Series, 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". Rock even claimed that he was friends with Laker star Shaquille O'Neal. In April 2006, during his feud with Shawn Michaels, Mr. 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.[4] In 2004, while in Germany, John Bradshaw Layfield used Nazi salutes and was booed heavily by the crowd.[5]

Nuclear heat/"X-Pac heat"[edit]

While other methods of heat try to draw disdain, "nuclear heat" (also known as "X-Pac heat", due to X-Pac becoming a notorious example of the concept) is when the fans legitimately dislike the character (and sometimes the person playing that character). This kind of heat can often be piled onto wrestlers who are viewed negatively, either for their booking, their character or even actions outside of the show. A current example of X-Pac heat would be Roman Reigns.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ S.Bruce (2011-08-05). "WWE Diva Melina Talks About Being The "Most Controversial Woman in Wrestling," Starts Podcast". Cageside Seats. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  2. ^ [1] "Royal Rumble 1992," The History of the WWE, 1992." Accessed 03-19-2010.
  3. ^ "What's Going Down...". Power Slam. Issue 222/March 2013. p.5.
  4. ^ http://hometown.aol.com/skinner001/myhomepage/index.html
  5. ^ Madigan, TJ (2004-06-12). "Bradshaw offside; Bradshaw incites Germans with Nazi salute". SLAM Sports!. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 

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