I did not care for this television show. But I was bored and wanted to do some writing. Warning – this is long.
Heels – Episode 1 – “Kayfabe”
The following presentation is rated TV-MA for Adult content, adult language, nudity (YEEEEAAAHHHH, you know it) and violence. And it’s on Starz, so you know they ain’t fucking around.
This recap will also use adult language, but there is no nudity. You’re welcome.
We open with some words on the screen! “In the world of professional wrestling, the heroes are known as Faces. The villains are Heels.”
We see a drink fly past the screen in slo-mo. Then an eye opens, and then we see some hands are TYPING! ‘Coast to Coast’ it says and we cut to Stephen ‘Jack Spade‘ Amell flying across the ring. Hey, can I say up front that I appreciate that Stephen Amell seems to really love him some pro wrestling and I thought he did a hell of a job at All In? Good, ’cause that may, in fact, be just about it for compliments here.
Anyway, the crowd doesn’t like him as we see him type ‘choke slam’ and then, you guessed it, he gets chokeslammed by a wrestler named ‘Big Jim‘. And finally the cup stops it’s slo-mo journey and splashes down at the feet of a very nice pair of legs which are attached to a very nice-looking woman. We don’t know it yet, but this is Staci Spade, Jack Spade’s wife! Anyhoo, she brings some drinks to a young moppet in the front row, who we will come to know as Spawn of Spade, their son. (His real name is Thomas if you care, I promise that it doesn’t matter.) They cheer Jack on, but the rest of the crowd is hot for Jack’s opponent, one Big Jim. He goes for a finish, but gets caught and pinned by Jack as the dastardly heel triumphs. Then, in my favorite part of the episode, the Jack’s wife cheers for him but Spawn of Spade boos him! How great is that?
Jack throws the ref out of the ring, gets the STICK~! and talks about Duffy being his hometown and about how much it sucks. I don’t know, dude, you got to go over for a title in your hometown. Half the WWE roster who saw this show probably tried calling for a booking after they saw that. Jack says that no one can beat him, so the lights go all strobey and here comes Ace(hole) Spade, his brother! He hits the ring! Superkick to Jack! Clothesline over the top rope! A hot blonde hits the ring and they make out! Ace wants to know where his big brother is leaving to – because Ace wants the strap! We do a bunch of ham-fisted exposition in a promo that establishes that these two are brothers and they’ll fight next week. So apparently, they do weekly shows here. Got it.
“Hey Jack – Fuck you!” says Ace. Well, that’s certainly not nice. Jack hits the backstage area and congrats Big Jim on their match, then the cameraman and the ref come back to the dressing room and tell Jack that the camera broke when the ref got thrown on him, but Jack no-sells it, because they need new cameras anyway! Well, since they’re running weekly, I can only assume they’ve got a big pot of money, so that should be no problem.
Jack is very perturbed about Ace cursing on the mic, but he’s too busy with his tongue down the blonde girl’s throat to pay attention. He wants to know if Jack heard that pop! They’re going to go nuts when he wins the belt! A giant hammer of foreshadowing comes out of the TV and smashes what is left of my sense of storytelling wonderment to pieces. Jack says that they got kids who come to the shows, and when you’re in HIS ring, you stick to HIS script. Ace points out the crowd is chanting his name and walks away.
Opening credits. Most artfully done thing in the show.
Jack is out for a run and goes past a dilapidated (YES! I’ve wanted to use that word correctly for years. Up next, quadrimonial!) billboard advertising a ladder match between Tom ‘King’ Spade and “Wild Bill” Hancock. You guys, I suspect that this Tom Spade may, in fact, be related to Jack Spade and Ace Spade. Camera pans to a house and we see Spawn of Spade’s room as him mom wakes him up for church. Spawn asks if dad is coming this time, and is told that daddy has a lot going on. ENOUGH TO IGNORE THE LORD?
Meanwhile, back at the Duffy Dome, the roof is leaking and Willie Day, played by the awesome Mary McCormack, looks at it and just says ‘Fuck.’ You better watch out with that language in the Duffy Dome or Jack’s gonna get mad at you, Willie.
Back at the Spade house, Jack comes in and gets some water, walking past some very conspicuously placed fog machines. I wonder if those will play into anything? Jack gets out the ol’ laptop to do some TYPING and we find out that Spade vs Spade has sold out the Duffy Dome! Well, that should mean there are absolutely no financial problems with the DWL, right? He opens a word document with the words ‘Jack vs Ace’ at the top of it, but there’s no words underneath it. Because he doesn’t know what to do. He’s conflicted, damnit! How is he going to spend all the money from this SOLD OUT show?
His wife comes into the room and asks if they’re driving to church together or separate and he says for them to go ahead. She reminds him that he missed last week, and he says that he fell asleep, wasn’t deliberate. She counters by saying that he missed her singing great last week, so he says he’ll go wash up. She wants him to think of it as family time, because Spawn heard their fight last night. He says that wasn’t fightin’, that was just loving with raised voices! Whatever, dude. He says the boy is going to have to learn about raised voices, etc, if he’s going to get hitched one day.
Staci brings up 4 fog machines showing up out of nowhere, which I just don’t buy. Somebody had to have delivered them. Probably Amazon or something. Jack says that wrestling is theater and they need a good fog machine! And the Duffy Dome is a big place and daddy bought 4 shitty, broken-down fog machines! Jack just wanted to invest in their future using all the money he’s making hand over fist from his wrestling company! Staci gets up uppity and logical by pointing out that if he would have told HER about the 4 fog machines, she could have spent maybe 3 minutes doing a search online to find these same 4 fog machines for substantially less dollars than Jack spent! Jack is fucked, man – my wife notices if I spend extra money to get peanut butter on my bagel. If I spent money on 4 fog machines without telling her first, I’d be signing divorce papers. Staci shows him her coupon envelope as Jack tries to squirm out of the conversation because he’s beat like a drum by a woman who is much smarter than he is and I’d say he knows it, but by the end of this episode I’m frankly amazed that Jack knows how to tie his own shoes, so what he knows is very much up for debate.
Staci is on a roll, pointing out that it’s only due to her financial management of the family that they can afford a new baseball bat for Spawn or a movie in a theater once a month. Jack says that movies are shit nowadays, but she tells him that they don’t have to watch it, they can just make out in the back instead to further just BURY Jack in this feud. Jack wants to talk about her going commando when they saw North by Northwest back in the day, but Staci is having none of it and says that maybe she should go to work. Jack doesn’t want her to have to have a job because his mother never had to have a job, but if you think about it his mother had a job – raising Jack, and she sure as shit failed at THAT job.
Staci points out that if he keeps buying 4 fog machines without telling her, they’re not really going to have a choice in the matter, then makes out with him and promises to leave her underwear in the car later on after church and this woman is the most perfect female ever on television. Jack tells her that he hasn’t finished the script (you haven’t even started it! Why are you lying to your wife right before she goes and sings in church and probably prays for your immortal soul? What an asshole.) and wants to know who should win. “Us.” is her answer as she takes her leave and says they’ll wait in the car and in the world of marital relations, Staci just had a 10-8 round right there.
A bunch of leftover stock footage from Friday Night Lights take us to church as Spawn runs up to a woman he addresses as “Grandma!”. Jack walks up as his mom asks about Ace, who told her he was staying the night over at Jack’s. Well, that’s a total lie! Where could Ace be?
He’s peeing on a tree.
Big Jim and his wife watch him piss and ask him why he didn’t use the toilet in the church, but Ace says that the toilet is next to the pulpit and you can hear it flush and hey, he just wanted to respectful. He says this as he tosses away a beer bottle and zips up his pants. The man is all class.
In the church, Staci further proves she’s the greatest by singing beautifully as Ace enters in the back, most of his shirt unbuttoned. Seriously, we. GET. IT. He’s a disrespectful dickhole. They should have given him a handlebar mustache to twirl. He poses for Spawn, who poses back until Jack cuts him off because he hates kids who like his babyfaces.
After church. Big Jim and Ace walk with Grandma Spade, who says that the new pastor can’t no more preach than a cat. Ace points out that he made it at least, because if you aren’t talking about, paying attention to, or otherwise fellating Ace in some form, he withers up and dies. Grandma says that the boys need to be good to each other tonight, I’m assuming that she’s talking about the match. Spawn runs up to Uncle Ace and he does do a good babyface job with the kid, while Big Jim’s wife asks where Jack is. Well, he’s sitting in the jeep, of course – he doesn’t like being seen, much less being friendly the day of the match.
Big Jim’s wife asks if that’s ‘kayfabe’ (THEY SAID THE TITLE OF THE EPISODE) and that leads us to our insider term explanation of the week, as Grandma Spade says that once when Grandpa Spade ‘broke his leg’ during a match, he wheeled around in a wheelchair for a month so the boys would think it was real. Big Jim’s wife asks if people know it’s fake and Grandma tells her not to say that, so Staci chimes in with ‘yes, they know.’ But people believing one is good and the other is bad makes the audience part of the show. Not the worst explanation I’ve heard, to be fair. Big Jim’s wife says that every time he wrestles, she’s scared to death – how does Staci do it? “Kayfabe.” Staci poignants, and Jack rolls up and they head for home.
A jeep holding the hot blonde from earlier rolls up to the Duffy Dome and out pops said blonde, Crystal.
Inside the Dome, they’re setting up the ring and expositing that the Duffy Wrestling League had been having some hard times selling out until Jack brought Ace on board. Well, that sounds to me like Ace is a draw! I’m sure Jack will do the right thing for his business even though he’s the champ. Crystal grabs a seat in the rafters as one of the wrestlers talks about tearing all of his limbs and says that every time, he puts on a 5-star match. I feel like that might be an exaggeration. This is Rooster Robbins, and he thinks that he should be in the main event, not Ace, who doesn’t have a scratch on him. I dunno, man, it sounds like Ace is a better worker since he hasn’t torn shit.
He moonsaults a wrestler named Bobby Pin and Bobby laughs it off, so Rooster lectures him that he better sell instead of laughing at him, because the crowd will believe it hurt. He tells Bobby to go up and drop an elbow so he can show him how to sell it. Bobby does it as the ghost of Randy Savage weeps, and Rooster yelps that it actually hurt! Bobby wants to know what he did wrong and Crystal shouts from the rafters “You let your weight come down on your elbow, you gotta bring down on your leg and let your arm hang loose when it hits him.” Rooster concurs with this and wants to know what kind of deepfake video he showed Jack to get hired here?
Speaking of, here’s Jack. He addresses the ‘men’ and walks away.
Something called Florida Wrestling Dystopia is on the screen now. Well, considering the shitshow that is Florida, putting Dystopia in the title of your deathmatch fed based there seems like you have your finger on the Covid-infested pulse of a populace. A bunch of what looks like TNA footage plays as the announcer says that there are half-price tickets to anyone who promises that they’ll never set foot in the Duffy Dome again! We see that it’s Willie who is watching the advertisement as the announcer proclaims that the DWL is done and Dystopia is the new breed and “Gully is God!” Sure, why not. Go with Gully!
Jack is staring at the wall of champions. Pictures of Wild Bill, his daddy, him. Willie walks up and asks if he’s finished the script yet, and Jack asks if she really thinks that Ace should win? She points out that the houses are full with Ace and show business 101, keep the big star happy. Jack says that the outcome will be in the best interest of the overall narrative and not even Willie is buying this shit.
She tells him that the ref doesn’t want to come back and hurt his ankle when Jack threw him out of the ring, Jack says he’ll talk to him. Willie tells him that Charlie Gully shit on them again and is telling everyone that he’s going to run the DWL out of business. Whoa there, Willie. Jack is the champ and hasn’t even figured out if he’s going to lose on the day of the show, having written absolutely nothing. He’s basically the entire Raw writing team right after Vince comes in and rips up the show. And we know THAT business model works! Jack thinks that Gully is a hack that doesn’t even do wrestling, just staged car crashes. Willie points out that Gully is packing houses all over North Florida, folks like to see car crashes. Jack calls Gully a ‘Yankee dick-shittin’ plastic fishworm peddler’ and says he woke up one morning and thought he was Vince McMahon. Willie points out that the Dome needs to be repaired and if they don’t start paying guys more, they’re going to go where the money is. Plus, they’ve been building to him vs Ace forever – how do they get folks to come back after tonight? Ah, so this is a long-term story that he has no ending for, then. Well, I’m completely sure that he’ll do what’s right for the company considering all the challenges he’s under that Willie just laid out. He certainly won’t utterly ignore all of it.
Jack points out that his match with Big Jim has nearly 10,000 view online. Yeah, but how many are in the 18-49 demo, motherfucker? They’ve got heat like they haven’t had since his dad vs Wild Bill. But they need nicer shit! They need to upgrade their cameras! Willie says that Staci will love that but Jack dismisses that out of hand, saying that what’s good for the DWL is good for Staci, because Jack basically ignores women in his life telling him some fact that he doesn’t actually want to hear. As she’s leaving, Willie asks who Jack’s dad would have win, but Jack says that doesn’t matter, as his dad is dead.
Gas station. Ace and Big Jim are talking and grabbing groceries as Ace complains that he’s only making fifty bucks for the match tonight, even though the place is sold out because of him. He says that when he wins the strap, he’s demanding a hundred bucks a match. Ace talks about ‘stuffing Tricia Bell’ twice last night and says it might be time for a new valet. What a charming fellow he is. Ace grabs a pack of gum on the way out, but the attendant tells him to put the gum back. Please. He steals shit every time he comes in and the only reason she doesn’t call the cops is that his daddy was good to her family. Ace hands the gum over and looks to walk away, but the clerk drops in a line about how ‘Tom would be ashamed’, and Ace decides that this is the moment to go FULL Acehole.
He rounds on her and reminds her of when they were kids and her family came over to the house for supper. Oh, did I mention that the clerk here is a larger woman? He says that he just watched her eat, scoop after scoop of casserole. He thought for sure she’d bust. All she talked about was her little puppy dog and a week later, Ace’s mom told them that the dog got loose and hit by a car. And you know what Daddy Spade said? Probably for the best, the girl would eat it anyway. Goddamn did they laugh.
I hate this family and pretty much everyone in it. Staci gets a pass. Everyone else can rot.
Ace pushes past Big Jim, who is a big pussy and does nothing but meekly follow him out. What a show this is.
Back at the Dome, Jack is still staring at his blank script for the night when he gets a phone call. From the father of the clerk. Me thinks this won’t go well for Ace’s chances tonight.
Locker room. Apocalypse tells new boy Bobby that it isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about getting over. Making the crowd feel something for you. Diego Cottonmouth tells his deeply complicated origin story, which is that Jack Spade gave him a mask. Outside the locker room, Crystal is at the door and Willie comes up. Crystal asks if there’s a locker SHE can use, to which Willie just replies that the locker room is for wrestlers. Willie tells everyone that Jack has the rundown and to get to the ring.
Jack indeed has the rundown. Rooster over Bobby Pin, Pin has some ideas, Willie tells him to can it. Outside, Big Jim and Ace pull up to the Dome and run in. Jack tells us that Apocalypse goes over on Diego, the Goblin Boys go over on Rude Rudy. After intermission, everyone back out for the Battle Royale, Big Jim over Apocalypse. Ace and Jack bring it home, Ace goes down via pinfall. Some pensive faces at that last one. Wilie says that she has final scripts and finishes, autographs an hour before showtime, don’t be late.
Ace follows Jack out and threatens not to wrestle, Jack shrugs it off. Ace can’t figure out why he’s not winning and Jack says that Gully from Florida is breathing down their necks and he needs to subvert expectations to keep the fan base interested and engaged. Ace: “What the FUCK does that mean?” Jack says that if Ace wins, what do they do next? But if they see their hero lose and fight his way back up again, that’s something! THHHat’s an angle! Ace points out that folks are coming tonight to see Ace win, but Jack says that they’re actually coming because they trust him to tell them a better story than what they have to live with every day. My dude, you hadn’t actually written a goddamned WORD of this until today! How can Jack say any of this with a straight face?
Ace points out that it’s grown men in costumes hitting each other! It’s supposed to be fun! Jack says not at the expense of being good. Oh, Marty Cooper called him up today, his daughter went home crying. What the fuck is wrong with Ace? Ace can’t believe that’s the reason he’s losing, but Jack’s got the bullshit raring to go, saying he did it in town, on a match day. People need to believe he’s a good guy! No, Jack, people need to buy tickets to see him fake fight people. That’s it. Ace is a fuckhole, but fuckholes have always been part of wrestling.
Jack drives off and Ace hits the locker room, complaining to Big Jim, who walks away. Crystal comes in and says it’s just a belt. Ace asks how he loses. She says it’s a half-hour match and the finish is Ace superkicks Jack, but plays to the crowd instead of pinning him. Once he finally goes for the pin, Jack cradles him for the pin. Man, now I’m on Ace’s side. What a shitty finish. Makes Ace look like a total moron. Which, you know, he is, but this ain’t a documentary. Ace hates it but Crystal says that she’s been watching matches here since she was little, and sometimes losing matches is the best way to win the crowd over. She was at Ace’s last football game, where he threw the pick in overtime, and there was something about seeing him alone on the field, crying, that made her feel for him. I don’t blame her. The idea of Ace alone and crying is engendering me to feel something, and the feeling is the purest shot of joy this side of heroin.
Crystal says that day was the day she knew that she was someday going to put on a spandex leotard and hit someone with a chair for him. Ace smiles because he’s inherited the Spade gene of hating it when a woman talks sense to him but loving it when she makes him feel like King Shit. He tells her to come here and she says that she isn’t supposed to be in there, but Ace tells her everyone has gone home and hey, it’s all good. So they go at it on a trainer’s table and there’s some gratuitous nudity to pay off the warning at the start of the show. Nice to see the show treats women as well as the actual wrestling business does, it adds to the realism. Diego walks through promising not to look, just asking them to let him know when he can finish his shit.
Jack is on a bridge. Unfortunately, he’s not there to jump. Rather, it’s to test new cameras that he purchased, by the looks of it on the sly from his eagle-eyed wife. What a dickhead. He bought like 4 of the damn things! What, did he need one for each fog machine that he tried to not tell his wife about either?
Jack is driving and sees some kids. He stares out the window and they run away, Jack smiles to himself, because he’s a heel.
Back at the Duffy Dome, Jack walks in and sees that someone has apparently catered food. He asks what’s going on, and Willie says that they have a visitor.
They go the locker room and in a serious bid to save this show, Chris Bauer (Frank Sobotka from The Wire and a ‘Hey, it’s that dude!’ from about a million other shows) is here and chewing scenery left and right as “Wild Bill” Hancock. He’s wearing a snakeskin outfit and greets Jack, calling him the nastiest heel he’s ever seen. Jack, somewhat reluctantly, says he learned from the best, AKA Wild Bill. We find out that the billboard (the DILAPIDATED billboard) that Jack ran past earlier was advertising the match that made Wild Bill, gave him a chance to leave Duffy and become a star. Speaking of him being rich, he tells everyone to go eat some barbecue, then tells Jack he wants to talk to him.
Up in the office, Bill asks after Jack’s mother, then after the business, but Jack doesn’t really give him much. Finally, Bill says that he did his time in Duffy so Jack asks why he’s here. Bill: “Ace”. See, the suits from ‘up North’ have sent Wild Bill down to scout him! They think he can succeed at the highest level. Jack scoffs that Ace is a kid who hasn’t mastered this level yet! Bill doesn’t really care, says that Ace is a natural, the way he can already pop a crowd. Jack says that Ace won’t leave what they’re building. I don’t know about that, Jack. Making him job like an idiot may not engender the loyalty you think it should, skipper. Wild Bill points out that he left and this morning, he came back on a lear jet. Jack doesn’t care about that, but Bill thinks Ace will. He can’t figure out what Jack is trying to resurrect here. Jack is going to ‘evolve’, he says, he’s getting the DWL out there and people are responding to the storylines, the characters, because he’s pretty good at making sure they care! Is that your ego or something ELSE that’s blocking out the sun there, Jackie-boy? Once again, you DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A FINISH FOR THE MAIN EVENT FEUD IN YOUR COMPANY UNTIL THE DAY OF THE MATCH.
Wild Bill points out that they aren’t competition for him, they were holding a show at the Golden Corral buffet as recently as last month! Well, the Duffy Dome is leaking, you know. Maybe there was a slight drizzle or something. Jack launches into some bullshit about how yeah, Wild Bill may have gone ‘up North’ and made a whole bunch of money and won titles on national television and made an entire career doing this, but that doesn’t mean he gets to come back down here and patronize Jack! Why the fuck NOT? He’s actually drawn a dollar while you won’t even put the title on your most over guy. Please lecture us more on your professional wrestling business accumen, Mr. Spade. Please.
Wild Bill points out that his dad built this theater as a tribute to a local pastime, and now one of their own is going to hopefully leave for the big time. He should be proud of Ace! Slow your role there, Wild Bill. Once you actually meet Ace, you’ll understand how pride is, in fact, one of the last emotions that one feels for him. Jack tells him to get the fuck out of his office.
Jack opens the laptop of finishes, but before he can decide to do something that may make sense, he hears Bill talking to Ace in the parking lot, Bill telling him that he’s here to scout Ace. Jack looks out the window and sees Ace hug Bill and Jack is very melancholy.
Trucks and cars are in a caravan to the Duffy Dome for the show.
Ace is trying to convince Jack to change it up now, pitching a finish where he superkicks Jack twice, then instead of pinning him they do the brotherly smile at each other, then Ace hits him with a 3rd superkick and Ace pins him for the strap. Willie doesn’t hate it. Crystal says that if Jack plays it right, the fans may end up on his side a bit. Jack snaps at her and calls her the wrong name and asks why he would want to be in good with the fans. Because, Crystal says, no one will expect it. You know, the reasoning that Jack is using to go over Ace. Jack asks Big Jim what he thinks, and Jim tosses Ace neatly under the bus by saying that it feels like the end of something. Jack agrees and in a way, so does Ace, because he says that if Wild Bill comes through, he’s gone. Welp, that isn’t going to move Jack, who says the finish stays the same. Ace doesn’t know why he tries, says that everyone else is happy for him. Jack says that their opinions don’t matter.
Ace stalks off and Jack says that even if Ace leaves, they’ve still got him and Big Jim. A giant anvil with the word ‘portent’ written on the side crashes into frame and kills Willie.
Parking lot. People have gathered. Boiled peanuts are only five bucks!
Out back, Ace is throwing rocks as Crystal sits and watches. She tells Ace that they should go somewhere tonight to celebrate, to celebrate Ace’s big break and ‘what it means for us!’ Oh poor, sweet Crystal. I don’t think you’re part of the deal here, and the look on Ace’s face confirms that. Before he can figure out how to get out of this one, Wild Bill rolls up and rolls down his window, wanting to talk to Ace privately. He and Ace drive off together.
Jack is TYPING. He deletes the finish he gave Ace earlier. What could that mean?
Wild Bill and Ace are hanging out, Bill popping some Oxy. He tosses the rest to Ace and asks about Crystal, who Ace assures him is not Ace’s girlfriend. Tonight, Bill wants to see a story in the ring, really work the crowd. This is Ace’s shot! Bill lays it down for Ace, saying that Jack is a know-it-all who sticks to rigid scripts and if he was half as smart as he thought he would see that’s not how it works. It’s about being adaptable. He asks Ace if he hates Jack, but Ace demurs, just saying they’re different. Bill points out all the brothers who fought in the bible and basically cuts a promo on Ace, tossing him a 2×4 that Bill used to use when he was wrestling Ace’s father. Ace says that Jack was always trying to protect him, and he thinks he still has to. Bill tells him that Jack just wants Ace under his thumb and Ace needs to send him a message, that Ace is in charge now. Ace thinks he can just skip autographs and Wild Bill tells him that back in Bill’s day, if a guy got out of line, he or Tom would fire off a few real punches to keep them in line. He basically tells Ace to shoot on his brother in the ring.
Back at the parking lot, the wrestlers are greeting the fans. Except for Ace, because he skipped autographs! He did it! OH, SHIIIIT.
Jack climbs up the water tower and joins Big Jim, who apparently skipped autographs too? Whatever. They talk about wrestling and Jack talks about watching Flair and Sting for the world title, with Big Jim saying he hated Flair. Jack says that it was the match where Sting pinned Flair with an inside cradle for the belt, which would have been Bash ’90. He talks about how Sting put over Flair on the mic after the match and Jim surmises that Jack wants him to turn heel. Jack agrees and pitches the finish – he’s about to lose, but Jim runs in, decks the ref, chokeslams Ace, then drapes Jack over the body for pin. Jim turns heel and then he attacks Jack, and boom, double turn. Nobody’s gonna see it coming! Jim has a fly in the ointment, though – he doesn’t want people to boo him. He likes playing a good man, walking around town being better than he actually is.
Jack keeps trying to sell him, but Jim tells him that it doesn’t matter – Jim’s retiring. He’s leaving tonight. His baby is coming and if he stops wrestling, he can pick up more shifts at work, maybe be a manager someday. He loves wrestling, but he’s leaving. He’ll still turn heel tonight if Jack wants, but Jack says no. Jim asks not to say anything to Ace, he doesn’t want to mess with his head tonight. Not much to mess with there, Big Jim, but I take your meaning.
Jack’s office, and Ace shows up. He really wants to win tonight and thinks his finish is good. Jack sneers, saying he thought it was Crystal’s finish. Jesus Christ, these two are just so hateable in almost every scene, it’s remarkable. Ace tries to stay calm, saying that after he makes it big he could come back and help out the DWL. Jack laughs that off and says that if Ace leaves, he’ll never see Duffy again. Probably true. Ace says he just wants his picture on the wall with Jack and dad. Jack asks why he’s leaving, then, and my eyes are really just getting tired from rolling this much. Ace asks Jack to name one person who wouldn’t leave and Jack just says “Me” and there go my eyeballs again. What a load of shit. Ace says as much and they argue back and forth, with Ace asking his brother not be against him and Jack asking him who’s against who if Ace is the one leaving him and blah blah blah. Ace asks why Jack gets to make all the decisions and Jack says that dad left him in charge. He says that Ace doesn’t do any of the work and Ace retorts that Jack never lets anyone else do any of the work anyway!
The fans outside in the parking lot chant for Ace and Ace asks if this is because he made Jack’s kid smile in church this morning, and says they cheer for him. Jack says that they cheer for the character, the character he created, and tells him not to keep his fans waiting any longer. Ace shoves off and leaves, while Jack broods. Ace goes out to the lot and promptly ignores Crystal, basking in the adulation of the fans.
Fans take their seats.
Crystal runs into the locker room while no one is looking to *gasp* use a mirror to check her makeup, but Willie catches her and sees through her flimsy excuse, telling her once again that the locker room is for wrestlers, not valets. Crystal says she can wrestle, but Willie tosses her anyway.
Outside, Ace snorts some Oxy and walks off with Bill.
Jack watches the fan file in as Willie comes in, asking if he’s going to get ready. Jack asks her what she would do if she didn’t do this. Willie: “Tournament Bass Fishing.” Mary McCormack is too good for this show, y’all. She tells Jack he should address the boys.
In the locker room, Wild Bill is already doing that. Probably better than sourpuss Jack ever could. “Go get ’em so we can get FUCKED UP!”
Musical montage time! Rooster comes out and dropkicks Bobby. Diego revels in the fans throwing things in the ring. Bobby hits the elbow perfectly on Rooster this time. “Good job, dude.” Crystal puts on her makeup in the public restroom. Ace gets ready with Jim in the locker room. Rooster hits a Twisting Press on Bobby. Willie calls things out in the back with the wrestlers. Rooster comes off the top in the Battle Royale. Overhead Battle Royale footage as Staci sneaks away from her seat and the music ends.
Jack straps on the belt and checks himself in the reflection of his father’s framed photograph. How much more on the nose did that need to be, director? Anyway, Staci comes up and wishes him luck, saying she heard about Ace’s opportunity and how exciting that must be, because Staci is a decent human being who actually cares about others and is happy for their success. The only acceptable end to this show has to be her divorcing Jack and finding a nice neurosurgeon or something. She calls Jack her ‘master showman’ and asks him how the Go Pro cameras he bought are working. She put an app on their phones that tracks their purchases, remember? She even set it up on Jack’s phone, remember? Lord, will someone stop the damn match? She’s killing him! That’s another 10-8 to Staci.
Anyway, Jack’s jaw drops and he’s got no comeback except that they needed them for the show. She asks if Jack is okay instead of ripping off his testicles that she hath rightfully claimed in battle over the course of this episode, and Jack says he’s fine.
Back to the Battle Royale, and Big Jim wins it. Nice moment.
Back to Staci and Jack, she says that’s his cue. She tells him to be safe, kisses him, and sends him off. She asks what he decided for the finish, and he just Batman voices her with “It don’t matter, it ain’t real.”
Crystal is peeking through the curtain when Ace walks up behind her. She gathers her courage and asks point-blank if he’s taking her with him when he leaves Duffy, but before he can say no and put her out of her misery, Jack walks up behind and stands next to him. Ace: “Fuck the belt, I already won. I go wrestle the match of my life, and it’s like you said: I get to leave and you stay here, forever, ’till you end up killing yourself like dad.” A giant anvil with the word ‘PORTENT’ written on it in all caps crashes into frame but misses both guys.
Jack turns and both guys grab a chokehold on the other, but it gets broken up and Big Jim comes back through the curtain and hugs both brothers at the same time, saying he loves them both. Jack’s music starts and he strides to the ring, and his kid is booing him again! Tremendous.
Ace is out next with Crystal in tow, holding his dad’s 2×4. He poses on the buckles and the crowd goes nuts for him as the locker room gathers at the curtain to watch.
Jack holds up the belt and we cut to him doing, what else, TYPING on the laptop of finishes. Back to the match and Ace turns to pose for the crowd….and Jack sneaks up behind and hits a suplex, then puts on an armbar with a knee in the back. Oh well, nice way to start the match off, give Ace something to escape, right? Nope, instead he cranks on the arm as a shoot. The ref warns Jack that Ace is going to get hurt, and Jack just says “I know, you’re gonna have to call it.” WHAT A TOOL. Ace cries out in pain because he trusted his own brother as a professional, that thing that Jack kept saying he was, to at least have the decency to not ambush Ace’s biggest opportunity ever.
But no, Ace instead is trapped and Jack continues to crank on the armbar until the ref finally calls for the bell. The crowd goes silent, Jack’s kid cries, Ace makes his way to his feet and punches Jack out of the ring as Willie says “Goddamnit, Jack.” Jack stumbles up the aisle as we hear a man in the crowd yell “This show sucks!”. To quote our blogmaster, I love shoot comments that aren’t meant to be shoot comments. The crowd is super-pissed and fill the ring with trash as Ace holds his arm in pain.
At the curtain, the wrestlers walk away. Up in the seats, Wild Bill turns and walks away. Jack and Ace share a look and Jack walks off, and the first episode of Heels comes to a close.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Yeah, this sucked. And how are they gonna have a show next week when their head booker and owner of the company just shot on the biggest star to put himself over? No one would ever trust that guy again.
But seriously, the biggest problem with this show is that there is absolutely no one to root for (outside of Staci, goddess amongst women), because in the quest to shade everyone with gray, they forgot to include anywhere near enough likeable qualities to make us want to continue watching. They’re all assholes who treat other people very badly and I want them all to fail at everything they do. I don’t think that’s what I was supposed to feel watching it.
If you want to watch it, the first 3 episodes are available for free on Amazon Prime. If people liked this, I’ll do episode 2.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter