X-Pac Heat

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"Career Lows: Oh come on, it's X-Pac do I even need to say it?"

A guide for WWF Raw on the Xbox.

"X-Pac sucks!"

Fans at many, many WWE events.

"Heat" is a term used in Professional Wrestling to describe any reaction to a wrestler and his gimmick/character. Face and Heel heat can make or break a character, while not getting any heat is the Kiss of Death in the industry.

Then there's X-Pac Heat. This is when the audience boos and insults a wrestler not because they hate the character, but because they hate the performer. It can be because they've been pushed too hard, they have political power behind the scenes, or because they're terrible performers. For wrestlers, this often refers to guys who have poor matches (or actively wreck the pushes of others) and become overexposed despite crowds not caring for them one way or the other (either as heroes or as villains). This is not a heel, a villain whom fans want to see punished; an X-Pac is someone fans don't want to see at all. It's a very specific form of breaking Kayfabe by the fans and happens to be quite rare.

Note: "Not the right kind of heat" is an alternative meaning to "X-Pac Heat" that can, but does not always, intersect with it. It's more of a "we are sick of this character and don't want to see him anymore" reaction than a "we want this character to get his comeuppance" reaction (which is the impression you want the fans to have). This is more or less the equivalent of a villainous Scrappy, but has its own trope.

Normally, it is possible to correct an unfavorable response by altering a wrestler's character or shifting their position in the company. It is significantly harder to overcome X-Pac Heat; unlike The Scrappy, the audience is reacting not to an annoying character, but to a bad or overexposed performer. This can be a bit difficult to find in media without a live audience or kayfabe.

In short: if fans Love to Hate the character, it's Heel; if fans just hate the character, it's The Scrappy; if fans hate the performer, it's X-Pac Heat.

Note that the live audience in professional wrestling is considered to be In-Universe because it is such a major part of the show. When the reaction is obvious and on-camera, examples involving it can be considered objective, unlike those involving the viewers at home or other media.

For other media, you need to ascertain two things: a significant portion of fans dislike a particular performance because of a writer, actor or director, and that this hate comes not from the performance itself, but from extrinsic factors and/or prior bad performances.

Examples of X-Pac Heat include:

The Trope Namer[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Trope Namer is Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. He was part of the New World Order and D Generation X stables in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was actually a popular performer during this time. Several years and a heel turn later, DX was long since over and X-Pac hadn't evolved his character in any significant way. Despite not getting pushed or doing much of anything, he was still booked on just about every show, winning a disproportionate amount of matches against opponents who were often more interesting than he was. Fans soon started regarding X-Pac matches as a safe time to take a bathroom break.
Both the X-Pac persona and Waltman himself (due to his membership in The Kliq) soon became really grating, as he gyrated and gestured around and acted like a petulant little tool, making the crowds who were supposed to find him rotten hate him on a personal level instead of a kayfabe one. The vicious combination of declining performance due to years of injuries, a stale personality (to put it mildly), and a reputation for attaching himself to a hot act, losing to them, but then squashing them cleanly with a rematch to ensure he captured more attention, caused wrestling fans to start chanting "X-Pac sucks".
Unfortunately for those who were sick of X-Pac, "[Wrestler name] sucks" chants are frequently the result of regular heel heat (i.e. "Rocky Sucks"), so X-Pac's push continued, to the point where he received his own stable (X-Factor) comprised of himself and the similarly-hated Justin Credible and Albert. The hatred for X-Pac eventually reached a point where fans would chant "X-Pac sucks" when there was nothing else to chant, even when Waltman wasn't booked on the show. In the end, Waltman ended his tenure with the company with an awful reputation amongst fans and wrestlers. To this day, the phrase "X-Pac Heat" is given to performers who "aren't getting the right kind of heat".


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • By the end of Jeff Jarrett's most recent run as NWA champion in TNA, fans were pleading with him to "Drop the belt! Drop the belt!"
  • This sort of heat sometimes gets attached to a giant, especially if they have bad fundamentals or psychology. Of particular note, WWE fans have nicknamed Paul Wight (a.k.a. The Big Show) "The Big Slow". Former WWE wrestler The Great Khali used to get "You can't wrestle!" chants.
    • In one of the rare examples of escaping X-Pac Heat, The Big Show took some time off, dropped 50 pounds and got in shape, and came back. He is now massively over. Khali however, wasn't over until they overhauled him into a face, gave him a Bollywood-musical styled theme, and started calling him "The Punjabi Playboy", complete with him having the Khali Kiss-Cam. It worked, even though he still couldn't wrestle.
  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson ran into this early in his career when he was so pushed and overexposed as the next big thing. A one-dimensional babyface, fans got sick of him almost from the moment he appeared. Cue a Face Heel Turn, reducing his time on camera, and letting him cut loose with his formidable mic skills, and he's a notable case of being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and exploding as a true star. Even after a brief period of the crowd growing cold on him (leaving wrestling, appearing in some terrible movies, saying that he didn't want to be referred to as The Rock), his recent epic feud with John Cena has the crowd almost entirely on his side, despite supposedly being the heel.
  • Fans of TNA wrestling have been so disgusted with how matches are booked, that some fans have started "Fire Russo!" chants, aimed at writer Vince Russo. Russo's not the only one behind the shows, of course, but his track record with WWE and WCW makes him a convenient lightning-rod for fans' wrath. He was fired in February 2012, so it's left to the fans to come up with new chants.
  • To this day, Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and former WWE and current TNA referee Earl Hebner still receive "YOU SCREWED BRET!" chants whenever they appear in Canada, and it's probably one reason why they don't appear in Montreal very much even when they do go to Canada. In all fairness, they did screw Bret.
  • When Lita cheated on Matt Hardy with Edge, both Lita and Edge were showered with legitimate anger from the fans—which only intensified after Vince McMahon fired Hardy for the situation. Their respective storylines had to be scrapped, and Lita was forced to turn heel. Edge, a natural heel, was able to turn the X-Pac Heat into regular heel heat relatively quickly, and Hardy getting re-hired calmed things down a lot. Lita never did get the fans' approval back - she was still showered with boos and vicious insults a few years later, and actually quit wrestling entirely over it - but she was well received when she made a one night return in 2007.
  • One of the strangest cases on record: Miguel Perez, a wrestler known less for his talent than his body hair, would inspire chants of "SHAVE YOUR BACK!" every time he stepped into the ring.
    • Matt Bloom, better known as Albert, A-Train, and Giant Bernard, inspired similar chants due to his Wookiee-like pelt. He has since done as the fans asked, and gotten himself some badass back tattoos to boot.
  • Some fine examples of the practice from old-school ECW fans towards the later Syfy Channel Revival can be found here. Note particularly the "YOU BOTH SUCK!" chant, which is where it clearly changes from normal heat to X-Pac Heat.
  • The term "X-Pac Heat" was originally called "Bossman Heat". The term began to lose usage when X-Pac's level of, well, X-Pac Heat eclipsed Bossman's, and it was pretty much completely retired with Ray Traylor's real life death, out of respect for the man. To explain this a little more, Bossman may have been a boring wrestler, but he was well known for being one of the most popular guys in any locker room, he donated massive amounts of money and personal time to charity, and his death was discovered by his wife in a particularly heartbreaking way.
    • He was also a damn fine worker during his original WWF run (when he wore a prison guard outfit). Then he jumped to WCW and suffered through a string of lousy gimmicks (The Guardian Angel, The Boss, Big Bubba and finally, just Ray Traylor) while the injuries caught up with him and his body broke down. His second WWF run (working a security guard style gimmick) was just awful as he really shouldn't have been in the ring by that point. His Karma Houdini heel run also killed any interest that fans might have had in seeing him.
  • Another example came during WWE's infamous "Rosie O'Donnell" vs. "Donald Trump" match, where fans apparently got so sick of what they were seeing, they started wishing the whole WWE would go away, and started chanting for TNA instead.
    • The WWE takes videos of the match down when it finds them, but for now, here's the full fight. "BORING" chants start at 7:30, "TNA" at 8:05, and "WE WANT WRESTLING" at 9:30. Season with cutaway shots of Vince McMahon looking legitimately shocked at the chants to taste.
  • Vickie Guerrero. The hate the crowd had (and still has) for her during her run as GM of Smack Down was absolutely brutal. The screaming lowlight of her X-Pac Heat was at a PPV, where she came out to restart a match. Through the booing, you can very clearly hear a fan yell "THE WRONG GUERRERO DIED!". Since then she's gotten better, mainly with reducing her screen time and taming down her heel persona; now fans boo her because they love to boo her.
  • Vladimir Kozlov. Too easy. He began to be pushed to the moon months within debuting and was even originally planned to be given the WWE Championship at one time. Any problems?... Oh yeah, he couldn't wrestle. Yes he was a heel all this time, so it could be translated to heel heat, but the smart fans hate him even more. To back this up, they recently turned him into an American loving goofy babyface, and the fans still hated him. It took a team up with the hilarious Santino Marella and a serious expansion of his moveset to become tolerable, though he was eventually fired... And CM Punk cut a promo where the audience cheered his being brought up.
  • Bubba the Love Sponge. He was brought in around the time Hulk Hogan came to TNA as he hijacked Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme's job as backstage interviewer, leading to loud "FIRE BUBBA" chants from the audience. It doesn't help that not too long ago he said "Fuck Haiti" on his radio show after the tragic earthquake, leading to Awesome Kong kicking his ass backstage for his disrespect to the numerous lives lost or ruined. One not-so-sincere apology later (with Hogan siding with him and making PMS jokes about Kong) and Kong asked for her release from the company. Bubba later ambushed Kong during her appearance on The Cowhead Show which turned out to be an elaborate setup by Bubba and show host Mike Calta to lure Kong on the show in the first place. This eventually led to his firing from TNA, capped by Mick Foley giving Bubba a legitimate forearm to the face. Guess how the fandom responded.
  • A classic of this trope were the Dynamic Dudes, who were skateboarding wrestlers. When they received a face push by having manager Jim Cornette betray them for an opposing heel tag team (the Midnight Express), the audience cheered Cornette.
  • The No Limit Soldiers were hated because they were a rap group in a promotion whose audience were primarily white Southern males who dislike Rap. Even though they were supposed to be faces, they couldn't wrestle, the had a bloated roster of ten wrestlers, and most were less than pleasant in real life (particularly Swozz, an obese and unlikelable man eventually arrested for dodging child support while making 100K from WCW), and, even with Master P, had terrible raps. Their rivals, the West Texas Rednecks, were an inversion of this trope, as they were supposed to be heels but appealed to the fans more with a downright hilarious song titled "Rap is Crap" and, as leader, Curt Hennig, widely considered one of the best ever in the business and a really nice guy to boot. It's no surprise the latter stable became a collective Ensemble Darkhorse, and, of the former, only Rey Mysterio, Jr. ever went on to any kind of success.
    • What made it even worse was the inclusion into the group of beloved veteran Brad Armstrong, a well-respected solid worker who had been around for some time.
  • The Trope Namer had a stablemate named Justin Credible who suffered the same fate. In ECW, he was pushed as a solid ex-jobber who was "actually very skilled", though his workrate was artificially inflated by giving him good workers to wrestle with (like Jerry Lynn). Eventually, as one of the last reasonably-big names in the company, he got the ECW World Title, which resulted in massive overexposure. Even his former fans began seeing him as a mediocre worker with a terrible look and bad mic skills (he had a catchphrase and a fake "angry voice" that involved him hissing his words out in a loud whisper all the time), and X-Pac Heat resulted. ECW died not soon after his Title win (coincidence?), and he promptly got similar reactions in the WWF, culminating with X-Factor and his eventual removal from the company. He was so bad that some fans even blame him for the death of ECW, though that wasn't truthfully his fault any more than anyone else.
    • Hysterically, after ECW folded and was bought out by then-WWF, Justin had a very short tenure. He retired from wrestling, and got a job as the overnight stock manager at a Target superstore in New Jersey. After working there for a while, he got back into wrestling and, though confined to the independents, got a respectable level of popularity.
  • A new stable in TNA is called Shore (Rob Eckos and Becky Bayless), two wrestlers who are paper-thin parodies of Jersey Shore cast-members "The Situation" and "Snooki." They debuted before the "Bound for Glory" PPV on 10/7/10, and by their second appearance (said PPV), fans were universally booing them out of the arena.
    • Though Becky Bayless is still a popular personality outside of the Cookie gimmick.
    • And Eckos is currently being pushed to (possibly) win the X-Division Championship from Kazarian. It's almost as if TNA is saying to its fans: "To hell with you - we do as we please." That would be an admirable sentiment if it weren't so galactically stupid.
  • Good god, Michael Cole. His constant Trolling of the crowd has taken him to new levels - his "Anonymous GM" emails, his incessant crapping all over smark-beloved wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and R-Truth, his creepy fanboying of The Miz, and his severe lack of respect for Jim Ross don't just make fans want to boo him, but want to wring his neck. Even a little payback from his screwed-over broadcast partner Jerry Lawler hasn't dimmed Cole's huge amounts of smarm. There's playing a heel commentator, and then there's Michael Cole.
    • Cole is an interesting case because he was already disliked as a broadcaster for little more than not being JR, swelling the ranks of haters who criticized his Smack Down commentary before he was JR's replacement. Then WWE decided to roll with it and make him a full-on heel commentator. There was a brief, shining moment—in NXT season 3 (the Diva season)--where it worked, but after that it only made the hatred worse. It actually shifts a bit into Fan Dumb, because a large number of "smarks" think that WWE commentators aren't subject to the same scripted lines and personas as the wrestlers and that Cole really believes every single word he says.
      • A lot of Cole's detractors also just find his heel persona grating. There are heel commentators that are fun and amusing in their insanity (Bobby Heenan, CM Punk), there are heel commentators that look past babyface and heel and pronounce a backstab good thinking even if it was an assholish thing to do (WWE career Tazz), and there are those who are just annoyingly obnoxious (Attitude Era Jerry Lawler, Mark Madden). Cole is the latter.
      • Adding more fire to the flame of Michael Cole hatred involves a series of PPV matches pitting him against Jerry Lawler. Rather than having him lose to Lawler and then have him take some time off from commentary, the WWE has actually booked him to win these matches, thus making him even more cockier and more despised by the WWE fans.
    • You want to see Cole's real personality? Watch the post-show interview of him and JR the night they were switched as Raw and Smack Down announcers. Cole was very respectful of JR and seemed to acknowledge that he had big shoes to fill going to Raw.
  • The Miz is an interesting case of shaking X-Pac Heat and then getting it all over again. He started off as a reality star of The Real World, where it was made pretty obvious that he was a massive fan of wrestling and WWE. He got onto a season of WWE's Tough Enough where the winner is given a WWE contract. He was popular on Tough Enough but didn't win. Yet the winner disappeared and The Miz was pushed as the new star. Back then The Miz had little mic ability, even less wrestling ability, and made a constant idiot out of himself. Crowds loathed him, the locker room (JBL in particular) hazed the shit out of him, and he was constantly put into embarrassing matches and gimmicks. However, when he teamed up with John Morrison and drastically improved his mic and in-ring skills, he earned some respect. Then he became WWE Champion, and the IWC wanted to strangle him with his newly acquired belt. Despite his improved in-ring skills, The Miz's still isn't believed to be that good. Now there's a split between (a) hatred and (b) being happy to finally have a vulnerable champion after years of unstoppable supermen holding the belt.
    • What grates some people about his championship run is that literally up until the week before he won it, he was treated as a worthless Joke Character, and even after winning it, he still hadn't lost that status completely. Some find his character and Catch Phrase grating and full of Narm considering that he's supposed to be the top heel in the business, and the fact that he practically had to murder both Randy Orton and John Cena before he could be seen as a legitimate threat, and both of the two were already pretty badly beaten when he got involved. It isn't so much that some hate him, it's that they wish he would be allowed to be a credible heel, or that the belt could have been given to somebody that was.
      • And when Alex Riley got fired, he was. For about two weeks, where he got the jump on Cena twice and beat the ever loving crap out of him. Then they brought Riley back, and Miz went back to being a smug little shit, much to everyone's annoyance. He's still being alternated between the two settings, and it must be admitted that aforementioned Michael Cole hate probably doesn't help, with Cole slobbering all over Miz's knob at every opportunity.
  • Drew McIntyre. Ask a wrestling board for the most boring people in WWE and this man will come up. Was infamously pushed too hard, believed to be a mediocre wrestler and had no personality. It gets worse when you read the new blog of a former WWE Creative member who said Drew was not only supposed to win Money in the Bank, but also be revealed as the one who attacked The Undertaker and put him in a coma. You know a guy's bad when they shelve his storyline in favor of giving perennial upper-mid-carder Kane, who's got a reputation as a company man and someone who will happily push younger talent over himself, getting the world championship.
    • This one might not count, as getting lots of X-Pac Heat was basically McIntyre's gimmick. Vince kept him around for no reason other than that he was supposed to be "The Chosen One," even reinstating him after SmackDown GM Teddy Long (justifiably) fired him.
    • It still counts as even during his storyline with Kelly Kelly where he tried to redeem himself still bored the audience regardless of Tiffany being the initial choice for his love interest. Today he's usually seen on Superstars after jobbing to Zack Ryder in a phenomenal ironic twist as the latter's charisma has taken him from Butt Monkey to rising up the midcard with catchphrases, merch, etc. and Drew's well... the same.
    • Most recently, he was on exceptionally thin ice with Teddy Long for his losing streak, but then Johnny Ace and Teddy switched jobs for the night and Lauranitis gave him an easy match for his job. It remains to be seen if the match, where he beat up Hornswoggle until the ref called for the bell as Hornswoggle was in no shape to continue, gives him legitimate heel heat.
  • Eric Watts from the early days of WCW. He was pushed because he was the son of Cowboy Bill Watts, who was in charge of WCW at the time. He was a crappy wrestler, didn't have a great physique, and was nearly booed out of the building whenever he appeared.