WWE: The 25 Most Notorious Villains in Wrestling History
The argument can be made that heels are more important than faces in the professional wrestling world. Without the bad guys, who would we root for?
Sure, two faces have the ability to put on a great match, but nothing is better than seeing a battle between good and evil being played out in the ring.
Throughout history, there have been heels that have failed to get the audience to truly hate them, due to a lack of charisma, poor mic skills, or one of many other reasons.
These are not those heels.
This list takes a look at 25 of the top villains in professional wrestling history. Some are here because of a shocking heel turn, others are here because of their extended and well-performed periods as a heel.
Most made this list because they knew how to get the fans to hate them, but above all they are all some of the best performers this business has ever seen.
Remember, this list is completely subjective. I'm sure I may have left out some superstars or included some that many of you will not agree with, so please feel free to sound off in the comments.
Enjoy! And thanks for reading!
No. 25: Randy Orton
Though he has recently become a fan favorite, Randy Orton has been one of WWE's biggest heels since 2003.
Making his first statement as a member of the stable Evolution, Randy Orton adopted the "Legend Killer" gimmick that is still prevalent today. He fought both in and out of the ring with many fan-favorite legends including Shawn Michaels, Harley Race, Mick Foley, Undertaker and Hulk Hogan.
Randy Orton was also one half of one of the most dominant tag teams of the last five years, Rated RKO, with Edge.
Together they held the WWE Tag Team Championship and feuded with fan favorite tag team, D-Generation X. After splitting with Edge, Orton continued as one of WWE's top heels, feuding with John Cena for the WWE Championship.
Orton's persona also makes him seem like a natural heel. He has a constant look of a predator ready to pounce on his prey, which has earned him the nickname "The Viper."
Randy Orton will no doubt continue to be one of WWE's biggest superstars and likely one of the biggest heels of this generation.
No. 24: Vickie Guerrero
I felt the need to include one of the biggest female villains in WWE history on this list.
Vickie Guerrero made her first big impact in WWE when she turned on her family friend, Rey Mysterio, during his feud with Chavo Guerrero. She has never looked back and has remained one of the company's top heels ever since.
Vickie then began an on-screen relationship with Edge, helping by granting him favorable matches that eventually led to him winning the World Heavyweight Championship. She also helped Chavo Guerrero win the ECW Championship as part of the "La Familia" storyline.
Vickie has continued to help heels secure title matches and eventual championships throughout her tenure in WWE. She has been "romantically" linked to Big Show and Dolph Ziggler and helped the latter win his first World Heavyweight Championship (a reign that lasted for about an hour).
She also was the manager for Lay-Cool, the team of Layla and Michelle McCool, and helped them win the WWE Diva's and Women's Championships on several occasions.
No. 23: The Undertaker
Though The Undertaker has always portrayed a rather dark character, never has there been a more villainous Undertaker than when he ran the Ministry of Darkness.
In October of '98, Paul Bearer turned on Kane and re-joined The Undertaker, claiming that a "plague of evil" would be unleashed near the end of the year.
When The Undertaker debuted as the force behind the Ministry of Darkness, he abducted Mideon and Viscera to join the Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) as his minions. The Brood also eventually joined the Ministry and The Undertaker vowed to take WWE from Vince McMahon.
The Undertaker continued to torture those in The Corporation, Vince McMahon's stable, attempting to marry Stephanie McMahon to complete his takeover of WWE.
Eventually, it was revealed that Mr. McMahon was behind the Ministry the whole time, and the two factions joined together as the Corporate Ministry.
Eventually, the storyline faded out and The Undertaker took time off to heal from injuries. Though he returned as a biker, his time spent as a heel and the dark, disturbing storylines were already etched into WWE history.
No. 22: JBL
JBL spent his entire time in WWE as a heel while under this particular gimmick.
After Ron Simmons was released from WWE, JBL struck out on his own and feuded with Eddie Guerrero and The Undertaker, winning the WWE Championship in the process.
JBL continually defended his title by getting himself or his opponent disqualified. JBL held the WWE Championship for 280 days, the longest reign in a decade.
After his wrestling days, JBL took on the role of a color commentator on SmackDown. He frequently got into the ring to disrupt matches by fan favorites such as The Undertaker or Batista.
No. 21: Iron Sheik
It's not hard to get heat from the crowd when you hate America.
Iron Sheik teamed with Nikolai Volkoff as the Foreign Legion and would frequently tell the fans, "Iran number one, Russia number one," and then spit after saying "USA."
Sheik was also the man who ended Bob Backlund's nearly six-year streak as WWE Champion. Sheik had injured Backlund with a Persian club before the match had even started.
Sheik still makes sporadic appearances on WWE programs, usually in a comedic manner.
No. 20: Edge
Though his final run in WWE before his abrupt retirement was as a face, Edge was one of the most successful heels of the latter half of the past decade.
Edge was the first superstar to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, taking the WWE Championship from John Cena. He then proceeded to have a "live sex celebration" with Lita on the following night.
A few months later, Edge debuted his own "Rated R" version of the WWE Championship.
Edge was also a member of Rated RKO and was a Tag Team Champion alongside Randy Orton. They feuded with D-Generation X and Ric Flair.
Edge may have went out on top, but the "Rated R Superstar" was an original bad boy.
No. 19: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Though Hulk Hogan had Andre the Giant as one of his (literally) biggest enemies, Roddy Piper was another, only he knew how to work the mic.
Piper knew how to get the fans to hate him, and he loved it. He had the attitude of a rock star and the arrogance to go with it, but he backed it up as well.
Some of his biggest heel moments include cracking a coconut over Jimmy Snuka's head and kicking singer Cyndi Lauper in the head during his interview segment, Piper's Pit.
Though he never won WWE's top prize, he was definitely one of WWE's most notorious villains.
No. 18: Michael Cole
Micheal Cole is one of today's biggest heels, and he is not even a real in-ring competitor.
Cole knows how to get under the skin of everyone, from fans to other commentators. He is the typical jerk who always roots for the heels, even joining forces with them to take on fan favorites. He has picked fights with John Cena, Jerry Lawler, Daniel Bryan and The Rock.
What makes Michael Cole so effective is that he is so damn annoying. He will interrupt matches (typically Diva's matches) and use the microphone to speak over everyone else while reading e-mails from Raw's anonymous General Manager.
We haven't seen the end of Cole, and he will continue to get more annoying as time goes on.
No. 17: Andre The Giant
What better way to become one of the biggest bad guys in pro wrestling history than to feud with one of WWE's top babyfaces of all time?
Andre the Giant wrestled Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III in what is still considered one of the biggest matches of all time. Though Hogan had been World Heavyweight Champion for three years prior, Andre's heel turn pushed Hogan even further into the spotlight.
Andre also worked a storyline with Ted DiBiase, who had hired Andre to win the WWE World Championship and then sell it to him.
He then continued with several smaller storylines, unable to perform as well as years prior due to his declining health.
No. 16: Chris Jericho
Y2J, Chris Jericho is one of the most egotistical, cocky heels in the history of WWE.
The first ever Undisputed WWE Champion, Jericho defeated not only The Rock, but also Steve Austin on the same night to win both the WCW and WWE Championships. He defended the titles successfully for months, and continued to be one of the top heels in the company.
Jericho also had one of the best heel runs during his feud with Shawn Michaels in 2008. He tossed The Heartbreak Kid through the Jeritron 5000, injuring his eye and kicking off a feud that lasted for months.
During the feud Jericho also "accidentally" punched Michaels' wife, further adding to the personal nature of the feud, and received more heat from the crowd.
Jericho continued his heel persona until his departure from WWE to pursue more time wiht his band "Fozzy" and a stint on Dancing with the Stars. When he returns, we can look forward to more great work from him.
No. 15: Ric Flair
He isn't called "The Dirtiest Player In The Game" for nothing.
Flair originally made it big as a heel as a member of the Four Horsemen. While a member of the Four Horsemen, Flair pretended to turn face to help Dusty Rhodes only to have the other members of the Horsemen attack Rhodes. This caused an actual riot in the arena.
Flair continued to play dirty throughout his career. He won a total of 16 World Championships and used underhanded tactics frequently to win his matches and defend his titles.
Flair continues to be a prominent heel in Impact Wrestling today as a member of Immortal.
No. 14: Ted DiBiase
DiBiase's greed and arrogance topped anyone in WWE history.
Whether it was trying to buy the WWE Championship from Andre the Giant after he couldn't beat Hulk Hogan on his own, or creating his own Million Dollar Title, DiBiase always seemed to buy his way to the top.
DiBiase would also host challenges where he would pay a spectator if they could perform a certain task. One time, he told a little girl to bounce a ball 20 times, only to kick the ball away after 19 bounces.
His maniacal laughter, especially in the little girl's face, will forever be remembered as one of the most evil sounds in WWE history.
No. 13: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Austin was one of the baddest superstars ever, only the fans loved him for it.
Stone Cold was one of those rare heels that are loved by the fans. He would curse, flip off the entire arena and sometimes cheat to win matches, but the crowd stayed behind him.
That all changed at WrestleMania X-Seven, where Austin turned on The Rock and hit him with a chair several times before pinning him to become the new WWE Champion. Austin then shared a beer with his former enemy, Mr. McMahon, solidifying his heel turn.
Austin remained a heel for about a year, teaming with Triple H as the Two-Man Power Trip. Together they held the Tag Team Championship while Austin was WWE Champion and Triple H was Intercontinental Champion.
Though they didn't last long, and Austin's heel run eventually came to an end, he is still considered on of the biggest villains in history.
No. 12: Triple H
Though Triple H has had numerous runs as a face, he was the leader of Evolution and had two of the most shocking heel turns in recent history.
Triple H was revealed to be the mastermind behind Stone Cold getting run over prior to the main event of Survivor Series in 1999. He also turned on his best friend, Shawn Michaels, After Michaels was found attacked in a parking lot.
Triple H originally vowed to find who beat up Michaels, but when security footage showed that it was actually Triple H who was the perpetrator, his heel turn shocked the WWE.
Triple H may not always be a villain, but when he is, he is one of the best.
No. 11: "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Though he was one of the biggest faces of the WWE at times, Randy Savage was far more effective as a top heel.
The beginning of the end came at the '89 Royal Rumble. Hulk Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage, prompting an issue between the two that was only squashed with the intervention of Elizabeth.
Things truly fell apart the next month when Savage accidentally knocked Elizabeth unconscious during the Mega Powers' match against the Twin Towers.
When Hogan helped Elizabeth to the back, Savage slapped his former friend in the face and left him to finish the match alone, cementing his new status as a heel.
Savage's raw emotion and insecurities were something relatively new for a heel to show. What also was unique was the fact that Savage turned heel while holding the WWE Championship.
This also played a part in his heel turn as Savage felt that although he was the champ, he was still second to Hulk Hogan.
Savage also worked as a heel while a member of nWo and helped WCW and the group succeed in their war with WWE.
No. 10: Honky Tonk Man
The longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all-time is also one of the biggest heels of all time.
The Honky Tonk Man started his heel run by taking out Jake Roberts with a guitar. He then became Intercontinental Champion, defeating Ricky Steamboat by using the ropes as leverage and continued to use underhanded techniques to make sure that he held onto the title.
He would purposely get himself disqualified or counted out in order to retain the title against his tougher opponents, including Steamboat, George "The Animal" Steele and Bruno Sammartino.
The Honky Tonk Man had a great feud with Randy Savage that saw Miss Elizabeth brought into the picture on a frequent basis. HTM would make advances toward Elizabeth to upset Savage, resulting in many matches for the Intercontinental Title, but he never dropped the belt.
The Honky Tonk Man eventually dropped the Intercontinental Championship to The Ultimate Warrior, after holding it for 454 days, a reign that will likely never be topped. He faded out of WWE but will forever be remembered as one of the dirtiest champions of all time.
No. 9: Eddie Guerrero
With "I Lie, I Cheat, I Steal!" as his motto, Guerrero never hid the fact that he was a bad guy.
Probably the most villainous of all storylines was when he claimed to be the father of Rey Mysterio's son, Dominick.
During a segment that he called "Eddie's Bedtime Stories," Guerrero revealed that Dominick was his biological son and that Rey had adopted him because he and his wife were having trouble conceiving a child of their own.
Guerrero then started wearing a shirt that said "I'm Your Papi!" and ended up fighting Rey Mysterio for custody of Dominick.
No. 8: Sgt. Slaughter
When Sgt. Slaughter returned to WWE as an Iraqi sympathizer, he instantly became one of the most hated men in pro wrestling.
Rumors state that Slaughter had to walk around with a bulletproof vest and that WrestleMania VII was moved to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena because of a bomb threat at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum aimed at Sgt. Slaughter.
Slaughter was also frequently denied food at restaurants and needed security wherever he went.
No. 7: Jake "The Snake" Roberts
There's nothing more sinister than bringing a live snake to the ring with you.
For years Jake Roberts had been a fan favorite. That changed when The Ultimate Warrior asked Jake for help to prepare him for his match with The Undertaker. Roberts shocked the world when he betrayed Warrior and tricked him into opening a chest containing a cobra.
After joining The Undertaker and completing his heel turn, Roberts began his descent into pure evil, which would eventually lead him into one of the greatest feuds ever with Randy Savage.
Roberts continually berated Savage for losing a retirement match against The Ultimate Warrior. Savage was eventually reinstated and the two feuded for several months, including one meeting where Roberts' cobra actually bit Savage, leaving rather large puncture wounds.
Roberts left and returned to WWE as a born-again Christian and has appeared in many promotions around the world, but his time as a heel in WWE will be what he is remembered for.
No. 6: Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
Manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan stood in the corner for some of the biggest heels in pro wrestling history, but it was Heenan himself who drew the most heat.
Heenan got his start in the AWA managing Nick Bockwinkel, one of the company's biggest heels. After Vince McMahon lured him to WWE, Heenan took the role of managing Jesse Ventura until blod clots forced Ventura into retirement.
Heenan went on to manage other superstars including Big John Studd, Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Harly Race, Rick Rude and many more.
Heenan eventually took over as a color commentator alongside Gorilla Monsoon. Together, they produced some great moments with Heenan constantly rooting for the bad guys. He would call the fans "humaniods" and weak wrestlers "ham-and-eggers."
He continued to play the heel role throughout his entire career and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
No. 5: "Ravishing" Rick Rude
Rick Rude defined the terms "cocky" and "arrogant" while working for WWE.
Rude would frequently flaunt his bodybuilder's physique to taunt and mock his opponents, not only claiming, but showing them that he was better.
Rude's greatest heel moments shinned through during his feud with Jake Roberts.
Not only did Rude kiss Roberts' wife, but he also came to the ring wearing a pair of tights with her face airbrushed over the crotch region.
No. 4: CM Punk
CM Punk is one of the top villains in WWE today and if he doesn't leave WWE when his contract expires, I think he will become one of the top heels of all time.
Punk has had several effective heel runs, including when he founded the Straight Edge Society, a stable committed to the straight-edge lifestyle, while putting down anyone who used drugs or alcohol.
Punk is also the current leader of Nexus and is the hunt for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
One of Punk's biggest heel moments came in 2010, prior to his match with Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania. When Rey Mysterio came out to the ring with his family, CM Punk interrupted with the rest of the Straight Edge Society.
Punk told Rey's son, Dominick, how he would destroy his father and told Rey's wife that she looked "beautiful and voluptuous."
However, the biggest heel moment came when Punk sang "happy birthday" to Rey's daughter Aalyah, something that was beyond normal levels of CM Punk creepiness.
No. 3: Hollywood Hogan
Though he was one of the biggest fan favorites in the '80s, the '90s version was as bad as you could get.
in 1996, Hulk Hogan shocked the world when he turned heel to aide Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at Bash at the Beach. The response was immediate, as the ultimate hero turned to the ultimate villain.
As Hollywood Hogan, the leader of the New World Order, he helped WCW win the ratings war and was the most hated man in wrestling for years.
No. 2: Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon is the ultimate evil boss.
Throughout most of recent WWE history, Vince McMahon has portrayed the Mr. McMahon character, the evil chairman of the board who tends to feud with the top faces of the company.
Though he has since stepped away from the Mr. McMahon gimmick, Vince will forever be remembered as one of the most notorious villains in WWE history.
Some of Mr. McMahon's most memorable feuds include those against D-Generation X, The Rock and Steve Austin. He was also the driving force behind the Montreal Screwjob, where he legitimately screwed Bret Hart out of the WWE Championship.
One thing is for sure, you don't mess with the boss.
No. 1: "Classy" Freddie Blassie
Freddie Blassie wrote the book on how to be a heel in the pro wrestling business.
Blassie would take on anyone at anytime, and cheat to win. He perfected the underhanded techniques that are so often used today.
The poke to the eyes while the referee isn't looking, raking opponents' eyes on the top rope and short jabs and illegal chokes were all staples of Blassie's move set.
Blassie also knew how to get under the fans' skin. He was frequently pelted with objects from the stands and was even involved in altercations with fans.
He was once blinded by a hard-boiled egg that was thrown by a fan and had to constantly avoid being pelted with rocks, batteries and other hard objects.
Blassie had also been stabbed several times and had his vehicles vandalized and destroyed by fans.
Everyone hated Blassie, which means that he was great at his job. You have to put the man who was good enough at his job to get stabbed by a fan the top spot.