Shane Helms has spoken about the moment he decided to drop his uber-popular, Hurricane, gimmick and undergo a heel turn under his real name, Gregory Helms.
Teaming with former 3-Minute Warning member, Rosey, in the autumn and winter of 2005, The Hurricane character had become somewhat stale on WWE television having been present for the best part of three years.
A change was needed and so the company decided that a slow burn heel turn was what would put the man behind the mask back on the right track. It began when The Hurricane and Rosey experienced a losing streak and the writing was on the wall when the emerald superhero failed to show for a WWE Tag Team Championship bout, leaving his friend alone.
During that bout, an unmasked Helms appeared on the entrance ramp and watched as his now former partner was demolished. Following the bout, the talent announced that he was jaded with being funny for the audience and carrying Rosey before announcing himself as Gregory Helms.
Speaking to Back Sports Page, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion sat down to discuss the heel turn after so long being comic relief and how he found playing such a different character after finding fame as The Hurricane:
“It wasn’t hard for me because I had been a heel in the indies and I was always–when I was a heel, I wanted to actually be a legit heel, not a tweener. Three Count was kind of a tweener heel to a degree. Like the stuff I did on the indies, I wanted people to hate me. I wanted them to not buy my merch out. If you see a yield on people buying this much, that’s not a heel, that’s a tweener tween. It used to be a bad thing and it really shouldn’t be anymore. It’s just different, so I knew I could do it. It wasn’t a matter of whether I could do it or not; I just had to get the company to understand what exactly it was I was doing.
That was difficult, at times. But as far as my in-ring work as the Hurricane, I kind of had to wrestle it down. You know, if you watched me as Sugar Shane – one of the best light heavyweights in the world – when I came to WWE, I got to keep an eye mask on. I can’t wrestle. I shouldn’t be ashamed anymore because the audience, they weren’t accepting it because I would try these things on live events and would try to go out there and wrestle just like Sugar Shane, and they didn’t like it. They wanted the pose. They wanted the thumb. They wanted me to try a choke slam. I’m dressed like a superhero, so I needed more character and personality, and not just a flip flop fly. It just didn’t work for that character.”
Delving into his most famous creation, Helms spoke on how much fun it was to be a real-life superhero, but how he knew the limitations the character had to have compared to how he could let it all hang out as a heel:
“And the thing about the Hurricane is, too, I was having so much fun doing it. I knew the limitations; they were never going to make the Hurricane the world champion. Maybe now, because of the success of the superhero movies and Hollywood, maybe it would have a better chance today. But back then, there was still a kind of a bigger guys business back then, so there’s a couple of things that were working against me. So, I knew the limitations that the character had but also, I was having so much fun whereas I saw the top guys being miserable all the time. So I’m trying to figure out–you know, I’m having fun and I’m happy. They’re miserable. So, what do I do here? But I felt like I had a good run and I really kind of plateaued at a point where, okay, they’re not going to need to do anything else.”
Gregory Helms may have floundered slightly after discarding the cape, but he soon found his feet as a member of the promotion’s cruiserweight division. At the time, the league had been up and down in terms of popularity with the likes of Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero carrying it on their backs.
At the 2006 Royal Rumble, Helms began his most famous run in the company as a heel when he captured the WWE Cruiserweight Championship which he held for over a year, becoming the longest reigning Cruiserweight Champion in history.
Credit for the interview: Back Sports Page
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.