Bobby Roode and 7 WWE Superstars Who Must Turn Heel in 2019
"New year, new me" is a philosophy many people love to adopt, signaling changes in their attitude to come.
In WWE, it doesn't take the start of a new year for Superstars to flip on a dime and suddenly start acting differently, as if their entire personality reversed from the core.
More often than not, wrestlers switch to a more villainous persona, rather than becoming altruistic out of nowhere.
Daniel Bryan's recent turn is evidence of that, going from one of the biggest fan favorites of recent years to someone who spews vitriol every time he picks up a microphone.
However, while the evil people in WWE often drive the stories, not everyone can be a villain. The roster needs to be balanced out.
In this two-part series, we'll be examining Superstars who should turn heel or face in 2019, starting with those who should go bad over the next few months.
There are lots of options to pick from, but the following babyfaces in particular should tap into their darker side at some point this year.
Bobby Roode carved a name for himself in the wrestling business as a main-eventer in Impact Wrestling long before coming to WWE.
At first, he kept that momentum and credibility at the top of the food chain in NXT, but the same success didn't last long on the main roster.
Since fans enjoyed him as a performer and sang along to his catchy entrance tune, WWE thought it would be smart to turn him babyface and go with the flow. Sadly, everything went downhill after that.
After becoming a good guy, Roode has struggled to keep even a modicum of relevancy.
Even holding the Raw Tag Team Championship hasn't helped, as the team of Roode and Chad Gable is lazy and not connecting with the WWE Universe as they should.
More than anybody this year, The Glorious One is in desperate need of a heel turn to go back to what previously worked.
As a babyface, he does nothing but forcefully spit out his "glorious" catchphrase and lose to more important people—or, in some cases, jobbers such as Konnor. As a heel, though, his acting is more natural and the potential for a main event run still exists.
As a heel, Roode could feud with people such as Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio and others with whom he could put on amazing matches with, but his ceiling as a face is the midcard at best.
If he doesn't turn in 2019, he's doomed to stick around the tag team division and as an afterthought come WrestleMania 35 and beyond.
Bray Wyatt has spent the majority of his career a heel and for good reason, as his character is pretty hard to accept as a hero.
Cult leaders with dark ideas on how the world should operate who call themselves The Eater of Worlds are textbook evil. No wonder his team with Matt Hardy didn't feel right.
After dropping the tag titles, Wyatt has yet to be seen in any official capacity, only wrestling house shows and a dark match at Starrcade.
He has tweeted several cryptic things about needing to change his outlook on life and realizing he isn't a god, which seem to indicate he's in line for a new character in some fashion, but nothing concrete has even been teased.
Ideally, Wyatt would stay a babyface and try out a new gimmick that feels fresh and new, but knowing WWE's lack of creativity over the past few months, it's hard to imagine all parties would be able to pull that off.
More than likely, he'll come back with some slightly altered ring gear to cut the same nonsense promos about mystical mumbo-jumbo. If that happens, he has to turn heel in order for it to work.
Granted, going back to the same Wyatt we've had for years is not an upgrade. It isn't interesting and won't advance his career in any way.
However, if he returns and has the same gimmick regardless of his heel or face alignment and tries to pick up where he left off as a hero, he's going to fail hard without Hardy carrying him.
Sometimes, it's better to accept something mediocre than to try to force something different that is even worse.
Once upon a time, it seemed Finn Balor was poised for great things on Raw when he won the Universal Championship.
By the next day, everything changed when he had to forfeit the title due to injury. He has never come close to that level since.
There used to be a reasonable hope he would turn things around and WWE just wasn't getting around to it, but after the past two years, it's become clear the powers that be just don't value Balor that highly anymore.
Rarely does he have a legitimate feud going on that he isn't the loser of, and it seems he's fallen into the trap of being a good wrestler who can put on a great match and then come up short in order to make the heels he's feuding with look better.
WWE has always had favoritism toward heels, and if Balor is going to turn things around, a change in that dynamic can make all the difference.
Perhaps he can tap into his "Demon" gimmick and take it in a more sinister direction, or he can just become a cockier version of himself with The Balor Club going to his head.
If the past year is any indication, coming up short in midcard feuds should not be the level of his aspirations While he might want to be a beacon of positive energy to all peoples, he might need to turn evil for his career's sake.
Despite being a former intercontinental champion and, at one point, one of the most popular people on the roster, Zack Ryder didn't wrestle a single televised match on Raw in 2018 until the last edition.
His appearances were kept to Main Event and one dark match against Mojo Rawley, but neither of those things are worth being proud of.
Obviously, this is not the way Ryder wanted his career to go and he's hungry for more, but WWE doesn't consider him a priority to invest in.
In an attempt to do something until his luck turns around, Ryder's best option might be turning heel and trying to tap into the fledgling tag team division, where he can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
He even has a built-in tag team partner sitting there waiting for him in Curt Hawkins, who is not only his best friend and co-host of Zack and Curt Figure It Out but also his former teammate.
Together as The Major Bros and Edgeheads, the two were able to capture the tag titles in 2008.
Ten years later, maybe it's time to revisit this option in order to at least give Ryder some relevance, rather than continuing down the path of being a midcard babyface jobber who can't get onto his brand's show.
Asuka or Ronda Rousey
When Asuka was NXT women's champion, the longer her title reign went on, the more villainous she started to act.
Her undefeated streak went to her head and her level of cockiness increased with each win to a point where she was definitely the heel in her feud with Ember Moon.
Now she's holding the SmackDown title, she could go down a similar road—especially if someone such as Moon goes over to the blue brand in the Superstar Shake-up.
With SmackDown moving to Fox in October, however, there's a strong possibility Ronda Rousey switches over to that show and becomes the true focal point.
If so, it's inevitable she and Asuka will clash at an event such as SummerSlam, where whoever is the heel will depend on WWE's other plans.
In a scenario in which The Empress of Tomorrow turns heel, Rousey can be booked as the savior who ends her title reign and is the babyface figurehead of the women's division of SmackDown.
Alternatively, if Rousey drops the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania to someone as popular as Becky Lynch, it will force the former UFC star to play the heel by default, and she might just carry that momentum into the rest of the year.
Then, it would be Rousey who has to turn heel and Asuka who would remain a babyface, as she could still be toppled and dethroned in the same situation.
Until Royal Rumble happens, we won't even know who these two will face at WrestleMania, so we'll just have to wait to see which scenario makes the most sense.
Dave Mastiff may be an unfamiliar name to most, but he's the largest member of the roster for NXT UK.
The Bomber typically sports ring gear reminiscent of Vader and exerts his size over opponents in dominant fashion.
Somehow, though, he's a babyface, even in the midst of his current feud with Eddie Dennis, who is on the scrawnier side.
It goes against convention, which is nice to see once in a while, but the reason bigger athletes are usually heels is that they're typically easier to write that way.
When someone is bigger than their opponents, it forces the smaller people into the role of the underdog and the person fans want to see overcome the obstacles.
WWE then has to make the call of either having a large babyface such as Mastiff lose to those smaller heels and hurt their credibility, or they need to be the top of the food chain, where they start to seem more like the villains over time.
United Kingdom champion Pete Dunne is a babyface. If the two ever faced each other, he would fall into the smaller underdog category, and Mastiff would be forced into the heel role by default.
The only way around that is for Dunne to turn heel in advance and be so disliked that Mastiff wipes him out in a similar fashion to watching someone like Braun Strowman take out a pest like Baron Corbin.
However, Dunne is beloved, so Mastiff needs to turn heel to reach his full potential in 2019.
Then, he can be the one to take the title off Dunne and set up NXT UK with a gargantuan champion who will be difficult to take down.
Yes, The Miz just turned babyface at the end of 2018, but there's no way it's going to last.
His previous face turn in 2012 wasn't successful, as it felt forced and unnatural. He never quite made the transition from heel to face in a way others such as Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels were able to.
Several months later, WWE went back to the well and he's been a heel ever since, which is his bread and butter.
He's just too good as a heel, and even though fans have grown to appreciate him as a performer, he's easy to want to see get beaten up or jeered when he comes out on top.
Perhaps more than anybody on the roster, The Miz is someone who fans love to hate, and his partnership with Shane McMahon isn't going to turn that perception around.
If anything, it's going to make Shane-O-Mac harder to cheer, rather than making it easier for fans to embrace Miz as a face.
It's inevitable those two will split and stop being a tag team, likely before WrestleMania to set up a feud between the two in which The A-Lister has to be the villain of the story.
You can set your watches to sometime in February or March when Miz reverts back to being a bad guy, as it's just the natural order of things.
Until then, we can enjoy this change in character and see what fun comes out of it before The Miz succumbs to old habits.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.