Ranking the 10 Best Babyfaces in WWE and AEW Right Now

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2022

Ranking the 10 Best Babyfaces in WWE and AEW Right Now

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The heroes in any story captivate the imaginations of fans and forge emotional bonds with them that keep them coming back for more. They are the larger-than-life figures who fuel stories and inspire generations of followers. In wrestling, we call them babyfaces, the good guys around whom stories revolve.

    Today, WWE and All Elite Wrestling have crafted some of the most interesting babyfaces in the industry, the men and women fans tune in to follow on their journeys to greatness.

    Who are they, and why are they among the top 10 best in the business?

    Let’s take a look.

10. Brock Lesnar

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    The Country Ass-Kicker is the babyface no one in the WWE Universe knew they needed.

    For the first time in what felt like an eternity, Brock Lesnar has been allowed to express himself and be the charismatic destroyer who had been obstructed from fans by his on-screen pairing with Paul Heyman. Since his return in August 2021, Lesnar has unabashedly played to the crowd and gleefully thrown around any heel in his path.

    This babyface's story did not end as triumphantly as he may have imagined with a WrestleMania 38 loss to Roman Reigns in the Winner Takes All match, but his popularity has been undeniable since the start of the year.

    Though he may not be on television in the immediate wake of the biggest show of the year, the foundation has been laid for Lesnar to bounce back and be one of the top babyfaces in the company whenever he returns. Look for him to make an impact right around the start of the summer as WWE makes its push toward SummerSlam.

9. Cody Rhodes

2 of 10

    The prodigal son returning to the company he left in order to make his name, back to honor his father's legacy by winning the one championship the iconic Dusty Rhodes never officially held is a hell of a story and endears "The American Nightmare" Cody Rhodes to the WWE Universe.

    Rhodes struggled to retain his popularity in AEW, the company he helped found. New faces, lackluster storylines and personality clashes earned him choruses of boos from that company's fans, but his return to WWE has been greeted with overwhelming positivity by fans excited to see the kid they watched grow up return as a man.

    Driven by history and determined to cement his family's legacy by capturing the top prize in WWE, Rhodes has laid out a simple and understandable mission for himself that has fans rooting for him. How long he can maintain his popularity on his journey to the gold, in the midst of an all-out push from management, without pushing the limits of goodwill he has built with the audience, will be the question that bears watching over the next few months.

    For now, though, he is a red-hot babyface with clear and emotion-fueled intentions, and the fans are responding accordingly.

8. Drew McIntyre

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    The Scottish Warrior may have a laugh or two with the audience and carry a sword to the ring in a gimmick that's better suited to the 1980s, but make no mistake about it: Drew McIntyre can be one badass babyface when the time calls for it.

    Ferocious, he works with an intensity typically saved for heels but does so in a way that fires up fans. He plays to the crowd and, when allowed, showcases some of his enormous personality. Whether counting down to the Claymore or swinging said sword at the likes of Happy Corbin or Sami Zayn, McIntyre knows what makes a consistently over babyface and has utilized it to his benefit over the past two years.

    A former WWE champion, it would be nice to see how he performs with that title in front of fans since his first two reigns with the gold occurred during the Thunderdome era of Raw shows at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Until then, look for McIntyre to remain one of the best babyfaces in the business as he walks the fine line between serious ass-kicker and fun-loving Scot.

7. CM Punk

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    CM Punk is one of the most popular professional wrestlers on the planet, thanks in large part to the rapport he built with fans prior to his departure from the business in 2014. Back after seven years away and delivering some of the best work of his career for AEW, he is a different character than he was previously.

    Once fueled by anger and frustration over his position in and overall direction of WWE, he appealed to fans who denounced the status quo and wanted someone different to root for. Now he is a grizzled vet seeking that one last great run.

    His beard greyed, his body more beaten up than it used to be, he wrestles wiser than he did before. The connection with the fans never went away, and his entrance is greeted with the loudest ovation of the night no matter where he is.

    He still speaks with the same conviction and recently wrapped up a rivalry with the most hated man in wrestling, MJF. Now the competitor whose persona is almost certainly inspired, in some way, by Marvel's Old Man Logan comic book series, has one goal: winning the AEW world title.

    Given the response from the crowd when he motions around his waist for the title, expect fan support to grow from there as he inches closer to his latest championship conquest.

6. Dustin Rhodes

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    Dustin Rhodes may not get the television time that others on this list do, but there is no denying the grandson of a plumber is a great, fiery babyface competitor whose promos are as good as the in-ring work that has kept him over with audiences.

    The Natural has a way of connecting with audiences thanks to the raw emotion he brings to his performances. He knows when to fire up and yell at an opponent. He can turn on the tears when necessary to put over the heaviness of a segment. His facial expressions are on-point, and his body language lets the audience know what he is feeling when there is no microphone in sight.

    He is a throwback, an old-school performer in the same vein as his father, the late "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. His willingness to try new things and prove he is capable of keeping up with the young stars of today's wrestling world only helps keep fans invested in him as a performer.

    That will not change.

    A match with fellow top-10 babyface CM Punk on Wednesday's Dynamite should highlight two men with unbreakable bonds with the audience.

5. Eddie Kingston

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    Eddie Kingston speaks his mind. Fans never have to ask what he is thinking or how he feels because he is such a raw promo that it will be laid out for the whole world to see by the time he drops the mic. It is that honesty and openness that has endeared Mad King to audiences during his AEW run.

    So much so that he started his career in the company as a heel before fans essentially forced president Tony Khan's hand and demanded he makes the turn. In the same mold as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in that he will tell you what is on his mind if he is given the opportunity (and even if he is not), Kingston has forged a bond with audiences that appears impenetrable.

    He is not the biggest, strongest, flashiest or most high-flying. He is a brawler, throwing fists and elbows, kicks and clotheslines at the opposition. He is not pretty and will not be sent to do late-night TV guest spots. Nor will he be hand-picked to be on the cover of a mainstream publication. And that is OK.

    Kingston is real, raw and of the people. He started on the indy scene, scratched and clawed his way to AEW and needs nothing more than an opportunity to beat up someone. Fans flock to that and will continue to do so, especially as he defends the honor of professional wrestling against Chris Jericho and sports entertainment.

4. New Day

7 of 10

    New Day's Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E are perpetually over. Despite start-stop pushes and WWE Creative's tendency to inevitably slot them back into a feud with The Usos as part of the program that never ends, the trio is as popular as any act on WWE television.

    Why? Because they do not pretend to be something they are not.

    Kingston, Woods and Big E can turn on the intensity when needed, sure, but they are fun-loving guys who are passionate about entertaining the audience, and it shows every time they explode through the curtain.

    Kofi is the super-athlete capable of pulling off amazing feats between the ropes. Woods is the talker. He handles the mic, keeps the fans engaged and has no problem belting out the theme from Final Fantasy VII on his trombone. Then there's Big E, the powerhouse of the bunch who's capable of hurling any opponent across the ring with an overhead suplex before putting them down with The Big Ending.

    The dynamic of the trio's in-ring abilities and their enormous personalities have helped keep them over for nearly a decade. Singles success by all three and the overwhelming positivity with which that was received only further established New Day's spot as one of the premier babyface acts in wrestling.

3. Jurassic Express

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    Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus make up an unabashed babyface tandem that brings energy and intensity to their performances, two traits fans appreciate in pro wrestling good guys. No matter their spot on their card or how big (or small) of a push they may be on the receiving end of, the AEW faithful has always greeted Jurassic Express with thunderous ovations.

    Perhaps it is the dynamic of a large, tattooed dude in a dinosaur mask partnering with the handsome, clean-cut son of a Hollywood star. Maybe it is the dynamic offense and unbridled athleticism they bring to the ring. Whatever the case may be, there is no denying the connection the team immediately built with the audience and then strengthened over the past three years.

    Their victory over the Lucha Bros for the AEW tag team titles in January was one of the feel-good moments in the company's short history, a payoff for two years of consistently chasing gold but always coming up short.

    The underdogs have climbed the mountain and achieved greatness in the form of championship gold, yet their popularity has not waned. If anything, they are more over now than ever before, something that typically does not happen with characters like those.

    The more Jungle Boy ramps up his in-ring intensity, which we have seen him do consistently over the past year, the greater the odds the team remains incredibly over with the AEW faithful—with or without the tag team titles around their waists.

2. Bianca Belair

9 of 10

    Bianca Belair is the best babyface in WWE, and it's not even remotely close at this point.

    Athletic, charismatic and likable, she managed to avoid the inevitable betrayal from WWE fans whenever a babyface gets hot and achieves success. No matter how many matches she won or in spite of the championships she has acquired, she has remained a fan favorite thanks to her hard work, determination and traits.

    The EST character has always been an extension of Belair's personality. Not once has anyone thought that she is forcing things or that it is not a realistic representation of the woman behind it. The EST is Belair, and fans have jumped at the opportunity to support her as a result.

    That was on full display at WrestleMania 38 when she defeated Becky Lynch in one of the best matches on the card, receiving an enormous ovation when she downed Big Time Becks with the KOD to win gold at the event for the second consecutive year.

    There are others who get more television time and are more prominently featured in marketing and merchandising, but it is the EST who has proved to be bulletproof in regard to fan reaction. That should not change, either, as she continues to build her bond with the WWE Universe and wows them with in-ring abilities that are only becoming better with every match.

1. Hangman Page

10 of 10

    AEW sucked in fans with an emotional story for "Hangman" Adam Page.

    The world champion had to overcome self-doubt, immense anxiety, betrayal from his friends and the decision to embrace new acquaintances before he could roll into Minneapolis in November and defeat Kenny Omega for the title.

    Since then, his own self-consciousness has forced him to defend that title against all comers in any match they choose. He has overcome the challenge of Bryan Danielson, survived Texas Death matches against Adam Cole and Lance Archer and will almost certainly take on the challenge of CM Punk in time for Double or Nothing in May.

    Why? Because he has this sense of duty to prove himself. Not only to fans but to himself. He needs to prove that he is championship material and that his win over Omega was not a fluke. Each week, his confidence grows, but at what point will it get the best of him?

    His emotional journey has layers, and the fans have been all too eager to embrace and invest in him. It has made for great television and the most over babyface in the industry.