Wrestling fans can be very fickle people, one minute they love something and the next they hate it. Whether it’s a storyline angle, a debuting character or a returning legend, wrestling fans often struggle to make up their mind on things they love and loathe. This is the fine line that wrestlers have to tread to earn the respect of their audience and that is one of the toughest tasks that face them. Many superstars are lucky enough to become top heroes or villains through the actions of their characters, earning the love or hate the right way.
However, others can become that because of situations out of their control or issues in their personal lives, which again alters the fans perception once more. Often times great heroes of the industry have fallen to become hated by fans because of things they have said or done in their lives, or sometimes for simply sticking around too long and trying to entertain them.
Other wrestlers often become villains, either on purpose or through their own actions outside of the industry and have to work hard to regain that trust from the fans to be admired later down the line. Sometimes that comes through simply retiring and being classed as a legend, other times it comes from sheer hard work and dedication.
This list will look at 10 examples of wrestling heroes who fans now hate and 10 wrestling villains who fans now admire in this ever-changing world that is professional wrestling.
20. Villains We Admire: Madusa/Alundra Blayze
During the Attitude Era if you fell on the WWE side of the coin, then Madusa was likely somebody that you lost all respect for when she debuted for WCW, literally throwing WWE’s Women’s Championship into the trash.
It was the ultimate sign of disrespect towards her old company, fans, and fellow female wrestlers. It wasn’t something that was ever forgotten and certainly caused a reaction from the company. However, fast forward to today and she has landed in the WWE Hall Of Fame, with the past exactly that, she is now looked at as a pioneer of women’s wrestling and someone who opened doors for wrestlers across both company’s.
19. Heroes We Hate: Vader
Vader will go down as one of the greatest big men in the history of wrestling and is a legend of the industry. His smash mouth, physical approach to wrestling made him stand out amongst the pack and gained mass respect from wrestling fans around the globe.
However, his comments towards modern day wrestling ended up causing him to lose the respect of many wrestling fans as he appeared out of touch with what wrestling now is and disrespected two of the top independent stars in the world. When Ricochet and Will Ospreay competed in Japan they stunned the world and did divide opinions, but Vader certainly made it clear that he is not a fan of modern wrestling and went slightly overboard with his comments toward Ospreay in particular, causing a stir amongst wrestling fans.
18. Villains We Admire: CM Punk
Throughout the majority of his main event WWE run, CM Punk was a heel and was one of the very best at it. He was so good that he got the WWE Universe to love him and turn the jeers into cheers, an impressive feat for any wrestler. Punk then walked out on the company during the prime of his career and totally turned his back on wrestling in general, a move that if many other wrestlers did the fans would call out.
However, due to Punk’s status with fans, they actually seemed to love him even more for it. Instead of being annoyed that he had totally abandoned them, fans would (and still do) chant his name around arenas making it clear they still love him just as much as they did during his career.
17. Heroes We Hate: Roman Reigns
Whether you would class Roman Reigns as ever being a hero is debatable, hence his low entry in this list, but at one point, the Big Dog was one of the most popular wrestlers in all of WWE, whether people like to admit that or not. As a member of the Shield, the WWE Universe loved Reigns and wanted to see him reach the level that he now has. Yet the journey he took to becoming the face of the company was when fans quickly began to hate him, believing that he was simply being pushed too strong, in a similar way to how John Cena was once treated.
Now hearing a chorus of boos for Roman is commonplace, despite how popular he used to be and even though WWE has tried to convince fans to act otherwise with the Shield reunion, the final outcome will end the same way.
16. Villains We Admire: X-Pac
He might be seen as the legendary member of DX now but at one point something called ‘X-Pac heat’ existed and he was a detested man in wrestling. Now as a heel, getting heat is a great thing but his heat was that fans simply didn’t want to see him, at all.
Thankfully he managed to get past that stage due to his brilliant talent. However, some of his actions and stories of his behaviour leaking out didn’t help his reputation among the WWE Universe. However, X-Pac did patch things up in his life and is now one of the most honest and open wrestlers you could possibly find. Admitting to his mistakes, X-Pac is a man who has seen the error of his ways and gained the fans love because of it.
15. Heroes We Hate: Brock Lesnar
When Brock Lesnar first broke into the business he really was the next big thing, totally changing the game with his size, power, and freakish athleticism the man could do it all and when he left it was a real shame, with so many dream matches which never happened.
However, his eventual return to the company (as an even bigger star after conquering UFC) made him an even bigger star than before and wrestling fans welcomed him home with open arms. Unfortunately, the Beast appears to have just lost that passion to put on a killer match and now seems to just run through the motions, causing fans to slowly begin to question how much they really need him over promoting the full-time talent.
14. Villains We Admire: Big Show
The World’s Largest Athlete has swapped between face and heel so many times it’s difficult to remember quite how many times he was a villain throughout his career. However, one thing that sticks clearly in peoples minds is when fans would chant “please retire” towards Big Show on a weekly basis.
Bored of his work and wanting a change, the WWE Universe let Show know that they wanted him to hang up the boots, little did they know what was to come. Big Show proved everyone wrong during his feud with Braun Strowman, which helped solidify him as a top WWE star. Fans would now welcome back Big Show with open arms for one more match and he has finally regained the respect that he deserves from the audience.
13. Heroes We Hate: Vince McMahon
While he isn’t technically a wrestler, Vince McMahon has got in the ring before and after all, he owns WWE so he is fitting on the list. It has to be said that Vince McMahon is a complete genius and it’s unlikely anybody will ever come close to achieving what he has in the world of wrestling.
But with that said, no matter how many great ideas he creates or angles he puts himself in, he creates an equal amount of poor ones. These angles simply don’t connect with audiences for different reasons. With the growing popularity of NXT and the excellent job that Triple H is doing, it is putting even more pressure on him. With claims of Vince now being out of touch, some fans are starting to turn on the creator of the empire.
12. Villains We Admire: Batista
Batista is a strange case when it comes to how he is treated by wrestling fans as he has been both loved and loathed throughout his career. While at times he was hated on purpose as he portrayed a heel, during his second run with the company the fans simply didn’t accept him at all. It was strange to see Batista so hated by the WWE Universe considering the Hall Of Fame career he has had. That shows how strong the “Yes Movement” really was at that time. However, most fans have now changed their perception of The Animal, with Batista being well respected among wrestling fans.
A lot of that is down to the fact Batista has been able to break into Hollywood and wrestling fans want him to fly the flag of the sport during his press tours. Whether he ever returns to the ring remains to be seen but he is now an admired legend of the business who will no doubt end in the Hall Of Fame in the near future.
11. Heroes We Hate: Kane
Whenever a wrestling legend outstays their welcome fans can quickly turn on them, forgetting what they have achieved throughout their careers and only focusing on the fact that they are still around taking up TV time right now.
That has been the problem with Kane over recent years, with many fans wanting him to hang up the boots for good. The Big Red Machine has been one of the greatest big men in the history of WWE, but he has certainly lost a step and the fact he is destroying top-tier talent is something fans aren’t enjoying. Kane will eventually regain the respect and love from the WWE Universe when he does call it a day and move into the legendary stage of his career. Right now though he is having to take his turn in embracing the hate.
10. Villains We Admire: Edge
The “Rated R” Superstar had many amazing moments throughout his Hall Of Fame career, both as a face and a heel. It is actually his work as a heel that got him to the very top and is likely how he will be best remembered. Edge was a sleaze ball, the ultimate opportunist and somebody that was so easy to hate. He was a true villain of WWE and that is how the fans saw him, no matter how many times he tried to be a babyface afterward.
However, seeing any man be forced to retire from the business due to a legitimate injury will always snap a fan back into reality and that is what happened with Edge. Seeing him with tears in his eyes be made to tell the world he had to call it a day was too much for fans and he quickly gained the legendary status that he deserved.
9. Heroes We Hate: Fabulous Moolah
With women’s wrestling now being bigger than it ever has been, many people might look back to former legends to see who paved the way for this evolution to be taking place. If they do, Fabulous Moolah is a name they will quickly come across as one of the greatest of all time.
Moolah often trained the future women wrestlers which is all well and good, until it was found out that she would take cuts from the money they earned or even take the bookings herself if she thought it was good enough. While people saw her as a pioneer, this news opened her up to being selfish and only focused on helping herself, which has altered some fans’ opinion of her.
8. Villains We Admire: Goldberg
The former WCW megastar ended his wrestling career in a terrible way that left him in the position as a villain in the eyes of many wrestling fans. Booed out of WrestleMania 20, it was clear that wrestling fans didn’t have any respect for him.
However, when he left the ring at WrestleMania 33 against the same man he faced during his last ‘Mania outing, there was only a standing ovation for Goldberg as the WWE Universe quickly showed its admiration for him. His return to WWE was a short run that had plenty of impact, with him becoming Universal Champion and showing the wrestling world exactly how much he respects them and they paid him the same back.
7. Heroes We Hate: JBL
A known bully inside the WWE locker room, JBL isn’t just hated by fans but by many involved in the wrestling industry as well. The fact that #FireJBL was trending earlier this year should show exactly how fans feel about him right now. However, that wasn’t always the case as his brilliant wrestling career saw him well respected by fans who would be excited about his returns, whether in the ring or on commentary.
While some fans still would be excited to hear JBL’s theme music play, a large portion has lost all respect for the former World Heavyweight Champion, especially since Justin Roberts released his book that detailed many incidents of bullying from Bradshaw, changing peoples opinions on him.
6. Villains We Admire: Goldust
Right now he might not be up to much but Goldust has had a legendary career in wrestling, winning multiple championships and creating one of the greatest ever gimmick characters in history. However, Goldust isn’t without his dark past. He went through a dark period in his life which saw him fall into the path of addiction that made him gain weight and act out of character. Allegedly being involved in domestic abuse, it seemed that Goldust’s career could have ended in a very negative manner.
Thankfully, he managed to come out of it incredibly well and had a fantastic run with WWE which even allowed him to team up with his brother, Cody Rhodes, and salvaged his legacy and even enhanced it.
5. Heroes We Hate: Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka
Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka is one of the greatest in-ring wrestlers of all time, showing what high flying wrestling can be with his Superfly Splash finisher, he was a legend of the industry. However, when he sadly passed away his status among people was made very clear. WWE didn’t make a big deal out of the situation to pay tribute, as they usually do for people of his legendary status.
The reason is that Snuka had only just had a criminal case dropped against him, with the court only deciding not to continue due to knowing he was nearing the end of the road. The fact that he was involved in such a horrible case drastically changed peoples perception of him, leaving a bitter taste in fans mouths when they discuss his excellent career.
4. Villains We Admire: John Cena
John Cena has always had a love-hate relationship with the WWE Universe and to some people he will never have been a villain, to begin with, and to others, he still is and always will be. Yet there has been a very clear shift during the last year in regards to how the majority of fans see Cena.
At one point, John Cena would have always been booed regardless of the circumstances, with only his diehard fans chanting his support. It appears as time has gone on fans have begun to realize quite how much work the leader of the Cenation puts in for the company. Cena has always been the hardest worker in the room when it comes to WWE and that has now been noticed by audiences as he begins to move into the final stages of his active career, a respected legend of the industry.
3. Heroes We Hate: Hulk Hogan
When a lot of people think about wrestling, Hulk Hogan is one of the immediate names that come to mind. A legend of the business, Hogan put wrestling on the map in a major way and inserted the sport into pop culture. However much of his personal life was chaotic and negative, making him someone that fans would often fall out of love with. Whether it was the steroids scandal or his divorce, there has been no shortage of controversy in Hogan’s time.
He managed to save the biggest for last (for now), with his recent racism scandal that saw many fans lose all respect for him. Not only that but WWE were forced to blacklist the legend, removing him from the Hall Of Fame and stopping any references to him moving forward, with his legacy now in tatters.
2. Villains We Admire: Triple H
If you search for articles based around wrestlers that ‘bury’ talents or only focus on themselves, chances are very high that Triple H will at least make the top three in those lists. While there have been times when The Game could have put somebody over and decided not too, the belief that he buries people has always been grossly overplayed. That belief is never more inaccurate than in the current day when HHH spends the majority of his time building the stars of the future.
As the man responsible for NXT and one of the hottest brands of wrestling today, Triple H has shown exactly why he is one of the greatest minds in wrestling. From pushing women’s wrestling to signing a whole host of independent wrestlers, Triple H is making decisions that are pleasing all wrestling fans and he is now gaining the respect that he rightfully deserves for that.
1. Heroes We Hate: Chris Benoit
It shouldn’t come as any surprise to see Chris Benoit here after all his actions that turned him from hero to zero. They are the most shocking in the history of professional wrestling and changed the landscape of the business forever. Benoit was a hero in all sense of the word. An underdog who rose to the top he had the support and love of fans and colleagues. He reached the very top of the wrestling world, which his in-ring talent deserved.
However, his actions in his personal life which saw him take the lives of his wife and child before his own are so horrid that he can never be seen in the same light again by anybody. While there were surely situations going on that we will never know about, nothing can excuse what he did that fateful night, which saw him quickly fall from grace.
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