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Heels: Every Wrestling Easter Egg & Cameo In Episode 1

Heels episode 1 features a number of wrestling Easter eggs, as well as a cameo from a very familiar face. The drama series airs on Starz, set in a close-knit Georgia community and placing small-town professional wrestling at its center. In particular, Heels focuses on the family-owned wrestling promotion of Duffy Wrestling League and the two brothers Jack and Ace Spade (played by Arrow’s Stephen Amell and Vikings star Alexander Ludwig, respectively) who go to war over their late father’s legacy.

The premiere episode, written by show creator Michael Waldron and directed by Peter Segal, similarly sheds light on some of the other characters that make up the show’s ensemble. Jack’s wife, Staci (New Amsterdam’s Allison Luff), is supportive though she worries that her husband is too focused on DWL and too quick to neglect his responsibilities at home. Crystal (Kelli Berglund, Cherry) is Ace’s valet, who is pushing to be seen as a wrestler in her own right. Rooster Robbins (Allen Maldonado, Black-ish) is one of DWL’s most impressive competitors and contends that he’s being undervalued by Jack. Apocalypse (NFL star James Harrison) and Jack’s business partner, Willie Day (Mary McCormack, The West Wing), likewise show hints of being frustrated with DWL.

Related: Heels: Why Stephen Amell’s Arrowverse Follow-Up Is A Wrestling Show

All of these threads are set up in Heels episode 1, “Kayfabe,” along with Jack sabotaging his much-anticipated championship match with Ace because of his own ego. The ramifications of that decision are likely to linger for the rest of the drama’s first season. It’s an eventful premiere that, nonetheless, still manages to include a cameo from a well-known wrestler. There are also quite a few Easter eggs for wrestling fans to look out for. Here’s all of them.

The Ultimate Warrior Run

Heels Easter Egg #1

The first Easter egg occurs in the pre-credits scene of Heels episode 1. After winning his match, Jack tosses the referee away and grabs the microphone to berate the crowd. It’s not long, however, before Ace runs down to the ring to put a stop to his brother’s tirade. The manner in which he runs, with a determined stride and his arms at his sides, is reminiscent of the way The Ultimate Warrior used to make his entrance.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ace intentionally modeled some of his persona after Warrior. The WWE Hall of Famer, who passed away in April 2014, is regarded as a wrestling legend. He’s remembered for his unique look, as well as having won numerous championships during his time in the ring. Most notably, Warrior won the WWF Championship. He also won the prestigious Intercontinental Championship on two occasions.

The ECW Analog

Heels Easter Egg #2

It quickly becomes clear that DWL has to contend with more than just bruised egos and a simmering sibling rivalry. They’re also facing stiff competition from Florida Wrestling Dystopia (FWD). Owned and promoted by Charlie Gully (Glee’s Mike O’Malley), FWD is described by Stephen Amell’s Jack as a “car crash” and he criticizes Gully for the heavy use of blood in matches. These aren’t just sour grapes from Jack against a competitor. FWD’s bombastic advertisements make clear that it favors a more chaotic and violent approach to professional wrestling.

Related: Every WWE Wrestler Who’s Jumped Ship For AEW (So Far)

That chaotic and violent approach harkens back to Extreme Championship Wrestling. Better known as ECW, the promotion was active during the 1990s and the early 2000s. Though it featured a variety of styles, it was regarded for its embrace of hardcore wrestling that often turned into bloodfests. It was even more notable at the time because WWE, then the WWF, tended to shy away from depicting too much violence during its matches. Eventually, however, the WWF altered its style to stave off the competition. This could perhaps serve as a hint of where Heels goes as it continues.

Footage From TNA

Heels Easter Egg #3

Speaking of those bombastic advertisements used by FWD, they feature highlights from Total Nonstop Action (TNA). The promotion has been home to wrestlers such as WWE’s Samoa Joe, Abyss, and Rhino. All three can be briefly seen during the first episode of Heels, with the show using clips from TNA to offer a glimpse of what FWD looks like. As for TNA, which has rebranded in recent years as Impact Wrestling, it is currently enjoying an uptick in popularity thanks to an influx of new wrestlers and its partnership with AEW.

Vince McMahon

vince mcmahon wwe raw

Heels episode 1 does not mention any real wrestler directly. This could be because the episode wants to convey that, for the residents of the small Georgia community, the stars of DWL are already certified celebrities. The people in town have no need for WWE or AEW, in other words, because DWL is as big as it gets. Regardless, the one exception is when Jack mocks Charlie Gully for “thinking he’s Vince McMahon.” Vince McMahon is, of course, WWE’s chairman and CEO. He’s also no stranger to stepping in front of the camera, as his feud with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin helped define an extremely popular period of professional wrestling.

Wild Bill’s Weapon

Heels Easter Egg #4

Midway through Heels episode 1, viewers are introduced to Wild Bill Hancock (Chris Bauer, True Blood). Now retired from the ring, Bill is a talent scout for a major wrestling promotion, which goes unnamed, and he’s visited DWL to recruit Ace. Although his general attire may be reminiscent of Michael Hayes, and his demeanor brings to mind 21-time World Champion Ric Flair, it’s the object that Bill carries which serves as a clear reference to wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. Duggan favored a 2×4 length of wood as a weapon. Hancock goes further, as the plank of wood shows up in most of the character’s scenes.

Related: Why WWE’s Bray Wyatt Cut Means The Fiend Needs To Be In AEW

Doc Gallows’ Cameo

Heels Easter Egg #5

Near the end of Heels episode 1, the wrestler Doc Gallows shows up in a cameo. He’s one of the participants in DWL’s battle royale, and he can be briefly seen fighting Robbins. He even wears a t-shirt for Talk’N Shop, the podcast he co-hosts. Gallows is perhaps best known for performing under the ring name Luke Gallows until he was released by WWE in early 2020. He also performed in WWE, during a previous stint, as Festus. Gallows is currently one-half of Impact Wrestling’s World Tag Team Champions, along with Karl Anderson. He also appears regularly in AEW.

Next: WWE SummerSlam 2021: Every Major Rumor Explained

Heels releases new episodes every Sunday at 9pm ET/6pm PT on Starz.

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