Hi Scott, Always love your thoughts on these things.
The Honky Tonk Man had one of the greatest and most improbable heel runs of all time. But it didn't start that way. If I remember the details correctly he actually debuted in WWF as a face. But after a couple weeks of getting poor reactions, the bookers actually
had him acknowledge this and ask for a vote of confidence. The vote was overwhelmingly negative (this was probably a rare case where they didn't have to work the results) so Honky basically said "ok you don't like me so now I'm a heel." The rest is history.
My question is how did this happen? I can think of only two scenarios.
a. This was the plan all along. Great, smart, long-term booking.
b. After initially misreading their audience, they quickly recognized this and made a change.
Either case seems so un-WWE like these days. What do you think?
You’ve never heard the story before?
Ok, so Vince saw Honky Tonk Wayne working Stampede and decided to bring him in as the #2 babyface under Hulk Hogan. His reasoning? Oldies stations were becoming big business at that point in the 80s, and Vince thought that kids would love Honky because he looked like Elvis and thus fit perfectly in that market. Because, you know, if there’s one thing kids loved in the 80s, it was AM radio playing 50s music. So of course Honky worked some shows as a babyface and got Roman Reigns’d out of the building by the New York and Boston markets in particular, and Vince was suddenly like “GODDAMN, PAL, we’d better make this guy a heel!” And so it happened that they did a “vote of confidence” on TV that was rigged for Honky to lose (the shows were taped weeks before the “voting” even opened) and suddenly he was a heel and there you go.