Hello everyone, and welcome to another Top 10 countdown! I really enjoyed doing this last time when I wrote about 10 wrestlers who should be included in the Hall of Fame, so now I’m here to tell you which heel turns were the best in wrestling history. Everybody loves a good heel turn, but what exactly makes it good? It’s all about how memorable the actual turn is, what took place after the turn, and above all the reasoning the turn took place. After about a week of research, I’ve found ten that I think we can all agree on! Again, these are in no particular order. Before the actual list begins, I have some honorable mentions to discuss! Let’s get into my top 10 heel turns in pro wrestling history!!
Honorable Mention #1: Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is on this list for singlehandedly destroying the Shield. It was unexpected, even though Triple H gave them a fair warning about it on the same night. Let’s look at the reason Seth turned: Triple H made him a promise that he would become world champion and have all the power, not unlike Palpatine grooming Anakin Skywalker from a young age. Triple H sure knows a lot about turning on his friends! More on that later. After this turn, we saw the debut of J&J Security, who were both underrated and hilarious, and Seth Rollins dressing like Batman. 2015 Seth Rollins is the best work he’s ever done. I’m not opposed to his current gimmick, but this one was much better.
Honorable Mention #2: JBL
I would have loved to put this on the actual list, but the ones on the list are even more memorable than this for me. We all know Bradshaw’s history; as a former mid-card tag team guy, I think a lot of people had written him off after his good friend Ron Simmons got released. How wrong we were! Bradshaw suddenly came out one night in 2004 wearing a suit and a cowboy hat and never looked back. It doesn’t matter if you’re a heel or a babyface, the best wrestling gimmicks are real personalities turned up to 11. JBL is a textbook example of that. Where did he go after this? Well, he beat everybody in the world during an eight-month reign as WWE champion, he’s just been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he’s on FOX News!
Honorable Mention #3: Bret Hart
This one hurts me because I hate to give Bret Hart credit for anything. Thanks to everyone’s good friend, Gary Schweder II, I’m putting Bret over. I won’t lie to you, this turn crossed my mind when I was making the original list, but I didn’t include it because it didn’t last very long. Lots of things happened as a result, including but not limited to Stonecold turning babyface and becoming the biggest modern star in pro wrestling. But this list isn’t about babyface turns, that’s on another site probably. I will say that this is without question the most personality Bret Hart ever showed anywhere. Enough about Bret Hart, on to the actual list!
Batista is on this list?! Of course, but not for his heel turn on Rey Mysterio. This is for Batista’s turn on John Cena! We all remember Batista breaking Cena’s neck with a Batista Bomb. That part was an accident, but they played into it nicely for Batista’s turn.
He took it personally that Cena was looked at as the hero, and he did what he thought needed to be done to show that he was the one who should be worshipped by all the young children. By coming out wearing some badass black leather pants and a sweet vest and yelling at everyone! He had security, but they were there to protect Cena, not Batista. Where did Batista go after this? He beat Cena, which is a big deal by itself, he’s come back to wrestling a couple of times now, and he’s now a major movie star. If he had stayed babyface, I don’t think he would have ended up being so successful.
9. Shawn Michaels
Anthony Hensley just felt a disturbance in the Force! Don’t worry, I’m here to put HBK over this time. I don’t like Michaels on a personal level, but this is one of the best heel turns because of what it led to later on. Michaels a lower tier guy while he was teaming with Jannetty in the 80s, but after that coward tried to escape through that barbershop window, Shawn shot off into orbit and never came back! He wasn’t your friendly neighborhood babyface anymore, he was now the boy toy. He’s in the Hall of Fame now, he’s won countless championships, he retired Flair, he was in the first Hell in a Cell match (where he beat the Undertaker), and he may or may not be Dolph Ziggler’s dad. We at AEE.com can’t confirm that.
8. Chris Jericho
You can’t bring up Shawn Michaels without bringing up Chris Jericho! This spot is for the 2008 slow-talking suit-wearing Jericho. Don’t get me wrong, I love his current role in AEW, they’d be nowhere without him. But this was Jericho at his best. No frills, no-nonsense. Jericho is on record admitting that this gimmick was inspired by Javier Bardem’s gimmick in No Country for Old Men. I’ve seen that movie, and his work was great. Everything Jericho did at this time was great, but he was also the most successful he’d ever been in his career up to that point. He even snuck in under cover of darkness to win the Elimination Chamber and the world heavyweight title after CM Punk was injured at the hands of Randy Orton, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
7. Triple H
My favorite wrestler as a kid! This is a foregone conclusion, we all knew Triple H would be on here somewhere. He may cry tears of joy after every major NXT show now, but in the late 90s, he was a colossal dick.
He was super popular as the leader of DX after Michaels got hurt, but eventually, he got sick of their shit, and at Wrestlemania 15, he turned on his good friend X-Pac and cost him the European title against the future Best in the World, Shane McMahon! It’s all Shane’s fault! Of course, this led to Triple H marrying Stephanie and his stranglehold on the world title, which I thought was great by the way. Even as recently as a couple of years ago, Triple H was champion again after beating Roman Reigns. He never would have made it to the level he is now if he hadn’t turned on X-Pac.
6. Randy Orton
Now that we’ve discussed Triple H, I’d be a complete idiot if I left off his illegitimate son! Who would have guessed that my favorite as a young kid would have a hand in helping along my favorite wrestler today? Orton’s done some great work, especially in the last few years, but this particular spot on this countdown is for Orton starting his own group and targeting Triple H circa 2009.
Much like Luke trying to take Darth Vader one-on-one, it took Randy several years to work up the courage to do so. Randy knew he had to get rid of his conscience to beat Triple H, because Triple H will do anything to win, even now. Not only did he defeat Triple H at Wrestlemania, but he’s gone on to ever greater heights since then. He’s devious, cunning, calculating, and dangerous. There’s no line he won’t cross. Never trust a viper. He beat the shit out of Shawn Michaels once, it was fantastic.
5. CM Punk
It may be hard to defend Punk now, but his work as the leader of the Straight Edge Society was fantastic. I’m not saying Seth Rollins ripped him off, I’m just saying I see a lot of similarities. The best thing about this was that Punk’s message was a positive one, but his methods were questionable. He was just wily enough to make it work.
This also gave worldwide exposure to one Luke Gallows. The best moments during this run were his rivalry with Jeff Hardy, where Punk (who is straight-edge in real life) antagonized Jeff for his previous drug problems. It was a real-life issue that made for great TV. Let’s not forget his performance at the Royal Rumble that same year, where he preached to everyone while at the same time eliminating a whole mess of people. Of course, Punk became the longest-running champion of the modern era and is now on Backstage sometimes. He’s also a noted Twitter pest, but you don’t wanna hear about that right here.
4. The Rock
I don’t need to spend too much time on this one. We all know about the Rock’s past as Rocky Maivia, the less said about that the better. The fans HATED it, meeting him weekly with chants of Die Rocky Die. This was just on the cusp of the whole Attitude thing, so Rocky knew he had to make a change. He had moderate success as the other guy, but when he became The Rock, he was that dude for several years.
Even though he was a heel at the time, he was so entertaining, the crowd couldn’t help but cheer him. He’s among the best in history in terms of promos and charisma. His match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 18 was electric! That match proves you don’t need to do a suicide dive or jump off the top rope to keep the fans into what happens in the ring. The Rock is NOT in the Hall of Fame, but I’d like to think he will be soon enough.
3. Randy Savage
My favorite wrestler ever, depending on the day. Even though as a fan of Savage there is some bias here, you can’t deny Savage’s heel turn against Hogan in 88-89 was great stuff. Savage was jealous of Hogan for stealing his spotlight and trying to steal his girl. They had tag teamed for months before this as the Mega Powers, but the part everybody remembers is the Mega Powers EXPLODING at Wrestlemania 5! I still maintain Savage should have won that match. Savage may have been a heel, but I was still on his side watching that. Hogan was technically a babyface, but some of the stuff he did during that run was a little questionable. Remember when he carried Elizabeth out of the ring over his shoulder? What was that about? I can’t blame Savage for being pissed off at that one.
2. Hulk Hogan
No, this is not related to Savage in any way, even though I still think he was the heel during that rivalry. Savage was there for this, but he was a means to an end. This is for Hulk Hogan’s heel turn when he joined the NWO with Hall and Nash.
Did Hulk Hogan do it for the money? That was the question. Hogan had been a top babyface for at least a decade by this point, and he shocked the wrestling world with this move. Just watch his promo from Bash at the Beach 1996, after he dropped the leg on Savage. Hogan’s turn was directly responsible for WCW getting the upper hand in the Monday Night War. He was over like God as a babyface, but he got even more over as a heel. But he’s only number 2 here. Which heel turn could have possibly been better than Hogans?
1. Vince McMahon
Who else could be a better heel than the guy who was over like God? Vince once wrestled God at Backlash 2006 just to prove a point! Vince used to be your run of the mill friendly announcer (and his work is super underrated), but in 1997 after the ousting of Bret Hart, Vince was outed as the owner of WWF by one Stonecold Steve Austin!
Afterward, Vince went mad with power on screen and did such a good job as a ruthless power-hungry maniac that people today still can’t tell the difference between Vince McMahon behind the curtain and Mr. McMahon on-screen. Even if you don’t agree with all the things he does, on-screen or not, you have to admit he was the catalyst for Stone Cold and The Rock becoming the stars they are today. If you don’t agree with that sentiment, you’re wrong. I’m convinced he’s still thinking of a way to get Stonecold after all this time. Who can forget the time he staged Stephanie’s kidnapping and forced marriage to the Undertaker just to cost Stonecold the world title? You can’t get a better heel than that!
Well everybody, if you liked this list, there will be more on the way. Keep an eye out for the ten worst babyface turns in history, along with my continuing review of Wrestlemania later this evening. Were there any wrestlers I left off my top 10 heel turns in pro wrestling history list you’re pissed off about? Do you have any ideas for future top 10 lists? Leave yourself in the comment section and I’ll read all of them, I promise. See you later for Wrestlemania 36, Part 2!