In wrestling vernacular a “baby face” or “face” is the good guy, the popular wrestler. He is the wrestler the fans are supposed to cheer for, care for and pay to see beat the bad guy. However, in today’s world of wrestling a “baby face” and a “face” are slightly different. Both are good guys, both popular and both are cheered.
However where the “babyface” is the hero, the “face” is the anti-hero or sometimes the popular “heel.”
A “face” wrestler also has some qualities of the “heel,” in that they don’t mind bending, if not breaking the rules, will accept outside help and will do whatever it takes to win. Where a face may save another wrestler from a beat down, they often have their own reasons for doing so. A baby face will do the same simply because it is the right thing to do.
A baby face has very few “heel” qualities. A baby face is the hero – the wrestler who is all about competition, doing things the right way and being better than the heel, even though there are those rare occasions where the baby face may cheat.
A current “face” anti-hero is Batista.
Batista is an interesting case. For even though he is considered a “face” his actions prove him to be a heel. His career is characterized by betrayals and feuds with others faces and “baby faces.” He betrayed Randy Orton in Evolution on the orders of Triple H and later became a “face” by turning on Triple H. Why? Was it because it was the right thing to do? No, because he wanted the World Title for himself, not to do what was right for the group, but the individual. He has betrayed and turned on tag team partners, most notably the Undertaker, costing them matches. Even though he has feuded with “heels” his most high profiles feuds over the last few years have been against the Undertaker, CM Punk and John Cena.
John Cena on the other hand is a “baby face.” He does things the right way, earns what he has achieved, and shows heart and determination where others would tap out or cheat and always seem to overcome the odds. When he does lose, the fans feel worse than he does, and he feels he let the fans down, not himself. He is almost the sickly goody-two shoes hero, that when pushed will show a darker side. He is all about competition and wants to win fair and square.
Today’s wrestling has mostly left the heel intact but has blurred the line of the baby faces, making the once simply morality play of wrestling into something a little more complex. Wrestling and the fans are better off for it. Now, if they can only figure out what to do with them.