The world of pro wrestling, like that of just about any form of art or entertainment, has its own language. A “face” or “babyface” is a good guy wrestler. A “heel” is a villain. And “heat?” That’s the reaction a heel gets from the crowd that lets him know that, yeah, they hate his guts.
You can’t be a good heel if you can’t generate heat. Fortunately, when New York-based Team CK is in “heel” mode, Sean Carr and his tag team partner, Kage, are a thermodynamic duo.
“This one time I was wrestling in Hazleton for a company called Highly Competitive Wrestling, and there was this one dude in the crowd who wanted to be Mr. Tough Guy. I was getting at him good because he was giving me a great reaction. Those sparks set the fire, and the whole crowd was giving me a great heel reaction,” Carr recalls.
“This guy said, ‘I’m going to wait for you outside after the show,’ and he did. But he didn’t realize the wrestlers were parked in back. So he was out front with his sleeves rolled up and I just drove right by, beeped my horn, and flipped him off. I’ll never forget the sight of him running after me.”
Performing regularly in Pennsylvania at shows put on by such promotions as Grand Slam Wrestling and Pennsylvania Premier Wrestling, Carr and Kage – who wasn’t able to participate in this interview due to his upcoming wedding, proof that he can’t be that bad a guy – don’t always play the heel, but when they do, it’s clear they know what they’re doing.
“I try to be very careful and very meticulous with the things I do and say. You don’t want to overdo it. There are certain things you do when you walk to the ring, certain things you do in the ring, how you wrestle, how you carry yourself, so many different aspects you have to be aware of. That comes with time,” Carr says.
“A lot of new wrestlers think all you have to do is go out there and scream at people and tell them they suck. That’s not being a great heel. That’s just being an idiot. You have to have the whole package.”
A big part of that package extends beyond simply treating fans like dirt. Wrestling is arguably more like a dance than a fight; the guys in the ring aren’t really opponents, but dance partners. For a heel, boos become applause.
“There are too many guys who go out there and just try to get themselves over with the crowd, and they get cheers in the end. But that’s not what a heel does. It’s the heel’s job to get the babyface over,” Carr says.
“When I wrestle as a face, I do (flashy moves like) moonsaults off the top rope and dives and hurricanranas. But if you’re a heel, you want people to hate you. You have to wrestle like a heel. You can’t go out there and hit every big move you know and outshine the babyface. I take pride in being able to make the other guy look good.”
Sometimes, Carr may be a little too good at being bad, as incidents like the aforementioned encounter with Mr. Tough Guy can attest to. But behind his sneers and jeers, Carr is not only having a blast, he’s hoping you are too.
“When you go to a show, understand that guys like me aren’t really the horribly nasty individuals we’re portraying,” Carr says.
“It’s just an act. All of us independent wrestlers are out there killing our bodies just trying to put on the best show we can. It’s all to entertain you.”
Until next time, remember: in a world where fact is stranger than fiction, wrestling is as real as anything else.