Now this is something I wanted to touch on eventually, but I feel like with the readings we've done, ie. Meltzer's piece on him along with Drawing Heat, it'd be a good time to bring it up. The man I'm thinking about right now is The Iron Sheik. He was a success in what he did, no doubt about it, with Dory Funk Jr. I believe saying that he drew the most heat out of anyone, ever - maybe matched by Fritz Von Erich, but that's a pretty high opinion nonetheless. And from everything we've read and everything I've heard about him, he seems like a perfect heel, but I just wanted to dig in a little bit as to the reason for his success.
I believe the thing that made him was playing up the ethnical angles and the real-life hostilities that existed at the time. This might come across as extremely obvious, but I think it's worthy to note that this formula doesn't always define success. If it did, it'd be pretty easy to slap on an offensive ethnical storyline/character to a wrestler and just wait for the fans to flock to the arena to boo/cheer them. Thing is, I don't think it's that easy, which makes the success of The Sheik all the more impressive.
The thing I'm wondering though is what made it so different when he used it? I remember Muhammad Hassan from a year or two ago, a Middle Eastern character (although I believe he was from Detroit) who came out and insulted the American crowds at every chance he'd get. Wasn't this the exact same recipe that The Sheik made popular in his prime? Isn't this what the WWE shoots for every time with guys like The Mexicools, The Unamericans, the various Canadian teams, Cryme Tyme, etc? If that's the case though, how come it's rarely successful? I've been around a lot of wrestling fans and the reaction I see (and share) when I see a race centered storyline usually consists of groans and wondering why - why are they putting this on TV, why are we wasting our time watching this, etc etc. Hassan had the misfortune of being booked into one of these storylines and I believe it cost him his job, and I couldn't help but wonder how much say he had in doing the storyline in the first place.
Drawing heat is good - it works and it brings the people back for more. But is there a such thing as bad heat, when the hatred or disgust is so much that you turn off the TV and/or question why you're a fan in the beginning? In my opinion, there definitely is, and it's just curious to see that what made The Sheik could also turn around and kill what could've been a good career for someone else like Hassan.