“Cutting Promos” is the aptly chosen title for episode 4 of Heels as this week, Jack and his family have to temporarily move in with his mother and Ace. The situation, however, leads to the brothers developing a new promo video for Duffy Wrestling League in hopes of expanding its fan base. In addition to this, DWL legend Wild Bill returns to Duffy following a PR disaster with his “top league” wrestling promotion. Also, unexpected relationships start to flourish. Heels is a mixed bag this week; it provides an interesting insight into two contrasting worlds of wrestling. Plus some emotional scenes which are enhanced by great performances. However, it doesn’t quite hit the mark in other areas.
“Cutting Promos” opens by exploring Wild Bill’s fall from grace. Audiences are shown Bill being agitated in the corporate world of the wrestling promotion he works for (Heels’ WWE), as he is visibly upset by the company’s focus on creating a championship belt to sell. Wild Bill then receives news word that he’s not currently needed for on-camera work, which sends him over the edge, leading him to a drunken incident on a plane, where he walks around naked with the company’s newly designed toy belt while being filmed. Wrestling fans will be able to appreciate this battle old school wrestlers go through of adjusting to the corporate world of WWE and the likely homage to Ric Flair famously wandering around a plane with just his robe on. Unfortunately, switching gears and devoting so much time to Bill’s story as opposed to Jack and Ace’s newfound tension feels like a disconnect due to Bill’s story being one we’re not emotionally invested in.
The opening, sadly, halts the show’s momentum that has been built over the first three episodes. It also takes some time before Heels finds its this week. We see Jack and his business partner Willie Day try to ask for money from their Christian investors to develop an online platform to watch new and old DWL videos (much like wrestling companies today). Then, after a sudden fire in their house, Jack, Staci, and their son go to Jack’s mother’s house. Very little is made of Jack and Ace’s incident last week, and they brush past it, making Jack’s arrival far less dramatic. Also, the lack of struggle makes their eventual coming together, where Jack allows Ace to come up with a promo idea, feel quite flat.
Ace’s promo idea is one of the more entertaining scenes this week. The idea is essentially a fight scene they film between Ace and newfound babyface Bobby Pin at a local shop. It’s yet another glimpse into a different side of wrestling, a side that has become far more prevalent over the past twenty years, particularly since COVID, which has meant wrestling has been more reliant on cinematic style matches or moments. The scene as a whole is fun, wrestling fan or not, but it’s another tip of the cap to wrestling fans and also a modern side of the business, in an episode that intelligently contrasts it with the old and passé ways of wrestlers like Wild Bill.
Heels does do a good job showcasing and utilising its various relationships, especially the pleasantly surprising coming together of Ace’s valet Crystal and Bobby Pin. Bobby’s innocence and purity in a world lacking it, and Crystal potentially finding a man who will treat her the way Ace should have, is a feel-good factor. Much like last week’s injection of comedy, this helps provide a new side to Heels’ often dramatic tone. Also, Jack and Staci close out the show with a heart-warming phone conversation, where Jack finally gives Staci something she wants, that’s enhanced by excellent performances from Stephen Amell and Alison Luff.
Alongside Jack and Staci’s heart-warming call, the climax of this week’s episode provides a heart-breaking visual with Jack looking on at a broken-down, lost Wild Bill, who was once a superstar and legend in professional wrestling. Although it packs quite an emotional punch, the conclusion doesn’t really leave you with many hooks for next week, which it has effectively done in previous weeks.
Overall, Heels once again proved it shines brightest when storylines revolve more around events happening in the ring, as opposed to the events outside of it. Episode 4 is undeniably Heels’ weakest outing yet. It fails to build on Jack and Ace’s drama while also being an episode that has strong moments but no real consistency or momentum.
Heels episode 4 drops on Sunday, September 5, on StarzPlay.