In a world where professional wrestling is booming, it makes sense that we’d get a show like Heels. Now whether or not that show would pay the proper respect toward wrestling, is a different story. Coming from Michael Waldron (Loki, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Rick and Morty) and Mike O’Malley (Shameless) means that it’s got some good heads behind it. The show stars Stephen Amell, Alexander Ludwig, Allison Luff, Mary McCormack, Kelli Berglund, Allen Maldonado, James Harrison, and Chris Bauer.
it’s the story of a small-town wrestling promotion that has it’s share of issues. Among those are the rivalry between Jack and Ace Space (Amell and Ludwig). Jack wants to carry on the legacy of his father’s company, while Ace wants the whole world right now. An offer from a big-time wrestling promotion is on his horizons and he wants to take it. That dynamic is the center of Heels. For wrestling fans who might be worried about what an outside screenwriter would do with pro wrestling, you don’t need to worry.
Michael Waldron is very clearly a fan of pro wrestling, and the casting of Stephen Amell as Jack Spade cements the promise towards treating pro wrestling right. Amell has already appeared in the squared circle with WWE and AEW. He knows a thing or two, and the producers brought in real-life pro wrestlers to teach the actors the ins and outs of the business. Everything you see in the show is authentic to pro wrestling. They might have had to dumb down the use of in-ring jargon and explain it to laypeople, but it all works.
The First Episode Of Heels Lays Groundwork But Only Gets Going Toward The End
The entire episode builds up the tension toward a big match between Jack and Ace for the DWL Championship. The crowd is nuclear levels of hot for Ace, but Jack is the champion. The whole time, the shadow of Ace getting an offer from a big wrestling promotion hangs over the proceedings. Jack needs to keep the business afloat and do what’s best for everyone else. It leads to a huge climactic moment of the first episode that sets up the rest of the series.
Through it all, we’re given some non-wrestling drama outside of the ring, like familial issues and small-town problems. It’s done pretty well and seamless between the two. As the first episode goes on, you do end up caring more about the family drama than you think you would. Which for a show like this, is a success. I went into Heels only wanting to see the wrestling and having the family/friend issues on the side. Like any good wrestling storyline though, it’s when reality bleeds through a bit and you feel like it’s truly real, is when it gets good.
The performances from the cast are top-notch and believable, particularly the rivalry between Jack and Ace in the ring and outside of it. There’s a chemistry among the group that allows for little cliques and groups to form. You have the wrestlers in: Apocalypse (Harrison), Rooster (Maldonado), and Cottonmouth (Robby Ramos) who all basically live with one another in the DWL Arena. They offer a lot of the more comedic moments, especially in this first episode.
A Fine First Episode That’ll Get You Hooked
Like wrestling, love wrestling, hate wrestling, or indifferent, you’ll be hooked in by this first episode of Heels. It introduces everyone to the world of pro wrestling in a way that’ll allow for oblivious people to understand. All the while, it has some great performances that get that job done. Starz definitely has a hit on their hands with this show, they just have to keep up the quality.
Heels debuts on Starz, August 15th, 2021. Episodes air every Sunday after that.
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