WWE: Top 10 Best Heel Turns of All Time

Michael GuadalupeFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2012

WWE: Top 10 Best Heel Turns of All Time

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    With the WWE champion CM Punk on the verge of turning heel, it's time to take a look at the WWE's 10 best heel turns of all time.

    It takes a lot for a heel turn to be extremely successful.

    For one thing, it can happen in an instant, or it can take several months to build up before a wrestler makes their full-blown turn.

    What makes the heel turns on this list so good, though?

    Some had an amazing shock value and has us see things we thought we may never see.

    Others would set up some of the best and most important matches in the history of the WWE.

    Then there are those heel turns that show us how fantastic a wrestler really is.

    It takes a lot to pull off a extremely good heel turn.  When it's done right, though, it can lead to amazing things for both the wrestler and the WWE.

    Here are the best 10 heel turns in WWE history.

    Don't forget to comment and share your favorite heel turns.

10. Austin and Vince Unite

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    Stone Cold Steve Austin turning heel during his WrestleMania 17 match against the Rock was unbelievable.

    With the history and feuds McMahon and Austin had, why would Austin turn his back on the fans and work together with his longtime rival?

    Austin’s heel turn was hard to pull off, to say the least. The biggest problem with him turning heel was how much the fans still cheered for him regardless of what antics he did.

    Even though the fans didn’t want to boo Austin, his heel turn came at the right time.  Stone Cold had been doing the same gimmick for years, and with two big stars in the WWE, Austin and the Rock, Stone Cold turning heel helped create a great feud between the two top wrestlers.

    His heel run also spawned the famous "What?" chants.

    Stone Cold's heel turn may not have been extremely successful in the long run, but it’s one of the bigger moments of his career.

    To see Austin and McMahon work together after being such bitter enemies is one of the most shocking moments in the history of the WWE.

9. The Corporate Champ

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    The Rock is one of the best wrestlers in WWE history.

    His heel turn had the people's champion turn into the corporate chump, and was one of the best heel turns in the WWE.

    After The Rock's Nation of Domination run, he began to build up a big fan following in the WWE. He was good at cutting promos, and extremely entertaining both inside and outside of the ring.

    His popularity with the WWE would lead him to the Championship.

    Eventually the Rock began to feud with McMahon, who had a problem with the "people" who, The Rock represented.  At the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View in 1998, the Rock would wrestle against the then-heel Mankind for the vacant WWE championship.

    Rock would lock in the sharpshooter, and Vince would call for the bell much like he did with the famous Montreal screw job a year prior.

    The Rock, Vince, and Shane would hug in the ring as it became clear that the Rock had sold out.

    The new corporate champion would go on to have a great feud with Mankind which lasted for several months.

    The Rock would then feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin once Mankind was out of the picture.  One of the more memorable moments of their feud was when the Rock threw Stone Cold, and his belt, off a bridge.

    His heel turn would eventually come to an end during his feud with Austin.  His popularity had increased so much that he became the peoples champ once again.

    The Rock's run as the corporate champion though, remains one of the best heel turns in WWE history and proved how well the Rock could play both the face and heel characters.

8. Macho Turns on Hogan

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    Compared to heel turns of the present, this one took time to build up between 1987 and 1989, which made it that much more effective when the Macho Man turned his back on Hulk Hogan.

    Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan joined forces in 1987 to form the Mega Powers.  The name might be a little lackluster, but this tag team was not.

    With the lovely Elizabeth at their side, these two wrestling legends went on to feud with the Mega Bucks and Twin Towers.

    Sadly though, the Mega Powers would eventually come to an end.

    Even though Savage was the champ, Hogan still had popularity on his side, and months of playing second fiddle to the Hulkster wore on Macho Man.

    Savage’s heel turn would be complete at “The Main Event” in February 1989.  Savage was thrown into Miss Elizabeth, and Hogan carried her backstage to receive medical help.

    Hogan would come back to the ring and Savage would refuse to tag him in.  Instead, he slapped Hogan in the face and left him to fend for himself.

    Backstage Macho would take a cheap shot at Hogan, hitting him with the championship belt, and Macho's heel turn would be complete.

    Not only did this heel turn have a great build up, it would lead to one of WrestleMania's most legendary matches, when Hogan would square off against Savage for the title at WrestleMania V.

    Macho Man's heel turn ended up being one of the best turns in the WWE.

    It would also set up one of the best matches in WrestleMania history.

7. CM Punk Shows His True Colors

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    CM Punk debuted in the WWE as a face wrestler.  He was good at being a face, winning the Money in The Bank ladder match twice, but Punk was getting stale.

    In 2009 though, things would change for the better.

    Punk would use his Money in The Bank contract at Extreme Rules in 2009 and defeat Jeff Hardy who was pretty beat up after just winning the title.

    His heel turn would be gradual.  He would start by dropping hints about his straight edge life style, and how that made him better than everyone else, especially Jeff Hardy.

    Punk took time to build up his heel turn, which made it all the better when he finally turned when he attacked Hardy.

    CM Punk would make Hardy leave WWE, and would go on to make his own heel faction, the Straight Edge Society.

    He would feud with Rey Mysterio and even cheat to beat the Undertaker.

    Punk may still somewhat be a face wrestler now, but he is using his amazing heel turning abilities to start another gradual and slow turn as the current WWE Champion.

    CM Punk is great as a face wrestler, but he's even better when he is a heel.

    Punk's turn was one of the best in the WWE, and while the immediate heel turn might be the popular way to do things, taking your time, and milking the audience and your opponent makes the eventual turn even better.

6. Bret Hart Hates America

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    Bret Hart's heel turn was very important to the WWE.

    It helped usher in the Attitude Era, one of the greatest eras of wrestling.

    Hart's heel turn was against his American fans.  He remained extremely popular in Europe and in Canada.

    His turn began just before he started feuding with Steve Austin.  The Hitman had a match against Sid Vicious for the title. Stone Cold would try to help Hart win while the Undertaker would try and help Sid win. In the end, the Hitman failed to defeat Sid Vicious.

    Once the match was over, Hart would go on a rampage and go as far as to shove Vince McMahon.  Not only did this rant help usher in the Attitude Era, it also played a part in Vince's character as "the boss".  Before this incident, McMahon had just played the announcer role.

    This heel turn would also help get Stone Cold Steve Austin over as a face, and add to the amazing match they had at WrestleMania 13.

    Throughout the rest of the year (1997) Hart would feud with Austin, and even faced the Rock for the Intercontinental Championship.

    Hart would eventually create the new Hart Foundation with Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman.

    The group would be popular in Europe and Canada, but would get major heat from the American fans.

    Hart's heel turn helped set up the Attitude Era and also helped turn Stone Cold Steve Austin into a fan favorite.  It was one of the most important heel turns in WWE history and should be on anyone's top 10 list.

5. Chris Jericho Has Been Saved

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    Jericho came back to the WWE in 2007 after taking a break from wrestling, but he had a hard time getting a good feud going.

    He stumbled around the first year, having bland feuds with JBL and Randy Orton. Jericho would still remain a fan favorite.

    Everything would change in 2008 when Jericho would begin his heel turn.  Jericho had placed himself in between a feuding Shawn Michaels and Batista.

    Jericho was the special guest referee for their match at the Backlash Pay-Per-View in 2008, and would confront Michaels about faking an injury to win the match.

    Eventually Jericho would have Michaels on the Highlight Reel, where he would call him out in front of everyone for faking the injury, and would also question how the fans still cheered for HBK even after he faked being hurt.

    At first Jericho would tell HBK that even though he lost against Batista in a stretcher match, the people still loved him.

    Jericho would eventually attack Michaels for lying to him about the injury, and send Michaels crashing into the Jeritron.

    What makes this heel turn so fantastic is how Jericho, like Punk would do a year later in 2009, took time in building up his turn.

    Then when he did turn, gone was the Y2J of the past, and instead Jericho had evolved into a completely different character.

    He began coming down to the ring in a suit, with a smug look on his face.  He turned into a egoistical villain and had fantastic promos which added to his character.

    He would go so far as to punch Shawn Michaels' wife in the face.

    Jericho showed the WWE Universe why he is one of the best in the business with his heel turn in 2008.  He was able to completely rebuild his character, and become the top heel in the WWE. 

    A lot of heel turns can happen in an instant, but Jericho was able to build up his turn, and kept it going with fantastic promos.  Jericho's heel turn was clearly one of the best in WWE history.

4. Larry Zbyszko Turns on His Mentor

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    One way for a wrestler to turn heel would be to attack his babyface mentor.

    It worked for Larry Zbyszko a little too well.

    Larry Zbyszko entered the wrestling world with help from his mentor, Bruno Sammartino.  Sammartino is one of the greatest wrestlers ever, and whose reigns as the WWE, at the time the WWWF, champion total more than a decade.

    Zbyszko had a hard time removing himself from Sammartino's shadow.  Even though he had been in big feuds with Superstar Billy Graham and Killer Kowalski, and was at one point half of the WWWF world tag team champions, he was still known as Sammartino's student.

    In order to break himself free from his student image, Zbyszko would challenge Sammartino to a match, threatening to retire if he didn't accept it.

    The match would happen, as expected, with Zbyszko unable to pin Sammartino.  Sammartino had Zbyszko in the bear hug, one of his finishing moves, but let him go. 

    Eventually Zbyszko would end up getting thrown outside the ring, where he would grab a chair and use it on Sammartino, leaving him lying in a pool of his own blood.

    Zbyszko instantly became a heel that night.  He was so despised by fans that they would riot wherever he traveled.  He had his car damaged, a taxi flipped, had fans throw rocks at him, and at one point was even stabbed.

    The Sammartino and Zbyszko feud would last through much of 1980, and would come to an end in a steel cage at Shea Stadium.  36,000 fans would be in attendance to watch Sammartino beat Zbyszko and put the pupil in his rightful place.

    Zbyszko might have been stuck in Sammartino's shadow, but when he turned heel, he became one of the most hated wrestlers ever.

3. Friction Between the Rockers

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    The Rockers were a fan favorite tag team. Their eventual breakup though, would help Shawn Michaels become the Show Stopper.

    The Rockers started up back in 1985, and had several accomplishments along the way to their eventual split in 1992.  They had become the AWA tag team champions in 1987 and headed for the WWE in 1988.  They would go on to feud with various other tag teams; their biggest rivals would be the Brain Busters.

    They would never officially hold the WWE tag team championship, but they did defeat the Hart Foundation in 1990, who were the reigning champions at the time.

    The Rockers would split up due to backstage disputes between Michaels and Jannetty, but it would become official in 1992 on Brutus Beefcake's Barber Shop show.

    The Rockers would shake hands to show that they had put their differences aside. Michaels had other plans, though, as he would end up taking out Jannetty with Sweet Chin Music. He would then send Jannetty through the Barber Shop window.

    Of course, if you're like Bobby Heenan, though, you could always believe Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape.

    Michaels and Jannetty were supposed to feud after the break up, but Jannetty ended up leaving the WWE for personal reasons.

    Without this fantastic heel turn, Shawn Michaels would not have ended up as the Show Stopper we know him as today.

    The Rockers may have died that night, but Shawn Michaels' career exploded.

2. Sgt. Slaughter Is a Traitor!

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    Sgt. Slaughter was an American hero. Such an American hero that he would eventually became a part of G.I. Joe. 

    Slaughter first debuted in the WWE as a heel, but his character would explode as a face wrestler when he would go up against the Iron Sheik in 1984.

    He would leave the WWE so he could still pursue the G.I. Joe part of his career, which included providing the voice for the character on the cartoon show.

    When Slaughter returned to the WWE in 1990 though, he was a different man.

    Instead of the American hero that left the WWE, Slaughter had come back as an Iraqi Sympathizer at the time when the U.S. was involved in the Gulf War.  He claimed America had gone soft as a result of the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

    Slaughter would capture the WWE championship in 1991 when he would defeat the Ultimate Warrior.

    Slaughter had also been receiving death threats because of his heel turn and character.

    Eventually, he would clash with the Real American, Hulk Hogan, and would lose the title to him at WrestleMania 7.

    Soon after his loss to the Hulkster, Slaughter would come crawling back to his country and beg them to accept him as an American hero once again.

    Slaughter may have retired as a hero, but his heel turn back in 1990 was one of the most memorable in WWE history.

1. Andre Is No Longer the Gentle Giant

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    Andre the Giant was a fan favorite for years in the WWE. 

    While he did have a couple of matches where he was disqualified or lost by count out, Andre had never been pinned in his WWE career.

    His record and his gentle giant persona would all change in 1987.

    Hogan had been WWE champion for three years when he was invited to Piper's Pit to accept a trophy.  Andre would come out to congratulate his friend, and everything seemed to be fine between the duo.

    Andre would begin his turn on Piper's Pit, as he accepted a smaller trophy than Hogan’s for going undefeated for being "the only undefeated wrestler in history."  Hogan would come out and congratulate Andre, but the focus would be on Hogan.

    Andre, annoyed, would head backstage.  The next time Hogan and Andre on Piper's Pit, Andre would be accompanied by his new manager Bobby Heenan.

    Hogan would try to reason with Andre, but Heenan claimed Hogan used Andre.  Eventually Andre would challenge Hogan for his title and would rip his shirt and crucifix as he left Hogan in shock.

    Andre's heel turn is the most important in WWE history.  This turn would lead to one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, as we would see Hogan and Andre face off at WrestleMania III.

    The gentle giant, who had been a fan favorite for so long was now going up against the biggest babyface in the WWE at the time.

    The man who had been a fan favorite for almost his entire career would stoop so low as to take on Heenan as his manager, and challenge his once good friend to the match of a lifetime.

    Without Andre's heel turn, there wouldn't have been the legendary bodyslam heard around the world.

    Clearly his turn was extremely important for the success of the WWE, and without it, the company might not be where it is today.