This is the last one before the final "Year End Awards" article that will be up on January 1.
A lot of wrestlers had their characters completely revamped this year, with a lot of heel/face turns taking place. Some of them failed (Mason Ryan, Ezekiel Jackson) but for the most part, the turns gave some of these wrestlers who were otherwise going nowhere a much needed boost and most of them even went on to become world champions.
It was hard to really rank these turns but I went ahead and decided to rank them on this criteria: how successful they became after the turn compared to how successful they were before the turn.
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And now, without any further ado, here are the top five face/heel of 2011.
Christian had one of the best years of his career this year, winning the World Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasions, and being involved in one of the best feuds of the year against Randy Orton. His heel turn also freshened up his character and gave SmackDown that top heel that it was so desperately lacking at the time.
The only reason that he is No. 5 on this list and not higher is because he already won the World Championship and was already involved in the feud with Randy Orton before turning heel. The heel turn gave him a nice character change, but I believe that he would have been just as successful had he stayed a face.
Also, his heel turn didn't give him as much of a boost as these next four guys.
It's amazing to see how much progress R-Truth made in just one year. At this time last year, he was stuck with a boring character as a rapper who rapped the same song every week and pretty much did nothing else.
One year later, he is one of the most developed characters that there is, he has feuded with the likes of John Cena, Triple H, and CM Punk. He even faced The Rock in a tag team match at Survivor Series. It just goes to show you how much of a difference good booking can make.
As of right now, he's probably going back to being a face since he's feuding with The Miz. He'll pull it off this time around, as long as he keeps all of the aspects that make his current character great. He had a very successful 2011, but here's to hoping that he's able to have an even more successful 2012.
In Zack Ryder's case, the face turn was almost inevitable. He garnered such a large following online with his show, Z! True Long Island Story that WWE pretty much had no choice but to turn him into a face. Zack Ryder signs started appearing more and more at all-live events. There were frequent "We Want Ryder" chants, and his original T-shirts all sold out.
If it wasn't for his videos and popularity, there's a chance that he wouldn't even be with the company right now. However, his popularity saved his job. In time, he started appearing more on more on RAW. As of this writing, he is the current United States Champion. It's needless to say that Zack Ryder made himself what he is today. For that, I applaud him.
It also should be pointed out that he is only 26 years old. His career is just getting started. It's going to be interesting to see just how far he can go.
As a heel, whether it was as the Straightedge Savior or as the leader of The Nexus, CM Punk was consistently one of the most entertaining wrestlers on the roster. He consistently cut some of the best promos and wrestled some of the best matches.
There was only one problem. With WWE's booking, he was going absolutely nowhere.
Then came June 27, 2011. That was the day that CM Punk expressed all of his frustrations about WWE. His "worked shoot" promo garnered a lot of attention, and he almost instantly became one of the most popular superstars. Upon his return, WWE had no choice but to turn him face.
So far, as a face, CM Punk has had his best year yet. He won the WWE Championship twice and put on the best feuds, matches, and promos of his career thus far. As of right now, he is easily the No. 2 face of the company. He's also become one of the top draws in terms of merchandise. With the amount of success he's had, I wouldn't bet on him turning heel any time soon.
If somebody told me at this time last year that Mark Henry would go on to become the world champion, I would've thought that they were crazy. After all, at that time, he was used as "enhancement talent" in squash matches against guys like Cody Rhodes and John Morrison.
Ever since being drafted to Raw, he was used as a comedic face in some horrible segments like the hot tub time machine with Hornswoggle and the dance-off with The Great Khali. He had a very dull character and it seemed like he was on the brink of retirement.
Then, in May, Mark Henry was drafted to SmackDown where he officially turned heel. WWE quickly put him on a roll. He took out the likes of Big Show, Kane, Vladimir Kozlov and The Great Khali and inducted them into the "Hall of Pain."
All of this eventually led to the first world title reign of his career and easily the best year of his career as well. For the first time in his career, he showed some personality during his promos and even put on some decent matches.
It just goes to show how much of a difference good booking can make.
Sheamus is the only one that gets "Honorable Mention" for this list. He didn't make the list because he hasn't really done anything since turning face. Right now, his character is basically used to come out and fight anybody who issues an open challenge. However, I still felt that it was necessary to mention him because he has come a long way since the start of the year when he was "King Sheamus" and lost fifteen matches in a row (if I remember correctly). I think there's a world title run in store for him in 2012 and this time, he'll have been built up properly.
And that shall conclude the Top 5 Heel/Face Turns of 2011 list. I hope you enjoyed. This was the last list of the series. The full "Year End Awards" column will be on Sunday night or Monday morning. Until then, I'm out!
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