Many have been attempted but few have hit the spot; here we countdown the top five heel turns of all time!
Note: This list only takes into account WWE heel turns so the infamous Hulk Hogan/NWO turn will not be included. It would be a bit predictable in any case.
Chris Jericho is saved
After returning in 2007, Y2J endured a forgettable year stumbling about as a face in some meaningless feuds with JBL and Randy Orton. After Shawn Michaels faked an injury to win a match against Batista, Jericho would call HBK out about it on an episode of the Highlight Reel. Jericho completed a marvellous heel turn by smashing Michael’s head through the Jeritron demanding an explanation for being lied to about the injury. Jericho would build on this turn and produce one of the greatest heel characters of all time, an egotistical villain who delivered fantastic promos and became the top heel in the company.
CM Punk and the SES
After winning the Money in the Bank ladder match for the second time, CM Punk was still over with the crowd but his character was turning dangerously stale and there was a danger fans would turn on him. WWE responded by gradually turning Punk heel after he cashed in his contract on a depleted Jeff Hardy but there were still question marks over Punk’s intentions. Punk would start dropping hints suggesting he was better than Jeff because of his straight edge lifestyle, and the patience with this turn was validated when Punk finally made the full turn and attacked Hardy. Punk and Hardy embarked on one of the best feuds in modern history, culminating in Hardy’s WWE exit and the creation of Punk’s Straight Edge Society.
Bret Hart turns on America
Quite possibly the most important heel turn of all time, no one could have foreseen the consequences of Bret Hart’s heel turn and shunning of America. Hart’s turn took place during his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, which helped the Rattlesnake get over as a face, culminating in the fantastic match the pair had at Wrestlemania 13. Hart’s turn would lead to the creation of the Hart Foundation and although he was hated in America, he was incredibly popular in Canada and Europe. This heel turn would help usher in the Attitude Era as Vince McMahon became more of an active character and Austin was solidified as a face.
Vince McMahon: the boss from hell
The infamous Montreal Screwjob in 1997 paved the way for Vince McMahon to become the biggest heel in the company, quite an achievement for someone who was not a wrestler. Vince came to represent every obnoxious boss who would make work for his employees a nightmare saying that the foul mouthed, beer drinking Stone Cold Steve Austin would not make for a good WWE Champion. Their rivalry went on to become the greatest in the history of the industry as he pulled out all the stops to prevent Austin from becoming champion, and the Texas Rattlesnake would get some over the top acts of revenge against the boss. With Vince as the biggest heel in the company, the Attitude Era is why the WWE is still in business today and survived the Monday Night War with WCW.
Stone Cold unites with Vince
This is quite a controversial choice as one the greatest heel turns of all time because I, even to this day, still have mixed feelings about this heel turn. Even for wrestlings standards, the idea of Stone Cold siding with Vince was quite ridiculous and undid years and years of WWE television. At Wrestlemania 17 against The Rock, Vince and Austin joined forces and in all fairness to WWE, in hindsight, it made sense. Austin’s run as the face of the company was becoming stale and the whole point of a heel turn is to shock the audience; there was certainly no bigger shock than this pairing. The actual turn itself could have been executed better as the company protected The Rock a bit too much by having him kick out of a ridiculous amount of chair shots and the moment could have been done quicker to maximise the shock factor. All in all, Vince and Austin side by side was an image we thought we would never see, so this heel turn certainly served its purpose.