Let’s talk about heel turns.
("But wait!" you cry. "Weren't you going to talk about Zema Ion?" I haven't forgotten. We'll get back to him.)
In wrestling, when it comes to heroes becoming villains, there is no set strategy to do it.
Everybody has their favourite. For example, I could point to James Storm's recent storyline and say "For me, pretty much that".
However, as Yahtzee Crowshaw said, I like to think I'm more professional than that. So here are my ingredients for a perfect heel turn.
First, you can't do it all the time.
When Vince Russo was booking TNA, he aimed for "shades of grey" booking but missed the mark. Instead of ambiguous characters, we had good guys and bad guys swapping roles from week to week with no rhyme or reason.
This kills the impact heel turns have on the viewers and gets irritating fast.
Heel turns should be scarce to make them special.
Next, take your time. It's possible to have a character switch without prior warning, but I prefer the gradual shift over a period of weeks.
I love how the suspense builds when a company teases their audience, being lulled into a false sense of security, believing that the switch won't happen. Then wham! surprise heel turn, both expected and unexpected, surprising but satisfying.
Can you tease for too long? Of course. But I still think slow build is the way to go.
And finally, and most importantly, the reason for the alignment shift should be logical and reasonable, but done in a way that's still villainous. Your bad guy shouldn't be in the right (which is something I'll write about another time).
So. How do these apply to Gunner and Storm?
Storm is the first heel turn in TNA since Magnus, and his switch happened before Christmas. This made Storm's heel change came across as something different and special.
What's more, TNA have been teasing us with the idea of Storm becoming a villain since "Feast or Fired", which was over two months ago. And in that time, Storm could have turned on Gunner two or three times, but didn't.
In fact, I remember expressing surprise when Storm apologised to Gunner instead of attacking him.
I began to think that the heel turn wouldn't happen. Then it did. And when it did, It was surprising, it was satisfying, and it was entertaining because the timing was perfect.
And finally, Storm's reason for attacking Gunner is theoretically sympathetic, but his behaviour puts him in the wrong.
Yes, Gunner walked over Storm to get the briefcase when other tag-teams were working together.
But Storm couldn't defeat Gunner for the briefcase. He apologised to Gunner for his behaviour. He even promised to watch Gunner's back. And then he broke that promise so he could turn on Gunner when it hurt the most and cost him the World Heavyweight Championship.
Reasonable motivation: malicious, evil behaviour.
And that, my friends, is what I call a good heel turn.