The acting in wrestling will always fly under the radar due to the many variables in play with the job. We all look at the in-ring work, promos and charisma when it comes to a performer. The acting ability is something we forget about, but is needed for many of the wrestlers to pull off an effective face character. Many of the great fan favorites over the years have actually been the exact opposite outside of the ring. There’s a belief that the worst guys make the best face characters and the best human beings end up portraying the best heels.
We have witnessed numerous beloved faces through the years get exposed for being a jerk outside of the ring. Stories leak of wrestlers abusing power, playing politics and treating their peers poorly. Others have developed reputations for being rude and unappreciative towards the fans that supported them. They had us all fooled with their portrayal of heroes on television that just did not carry over outside of the squared circle. These are the top fifteen “good guys” that were actually villains in real life.
Bill Goldberg's reputation is polarizing. Goldberg does a lot of great things outside of the ring for children, but his personality makes it difficult to get along with him as a peer. WCW pushed him to the moon with an undefeated streak that lasted 173 matches. Goldberg had little experience and treated many of the veterans poorly due to his star power.
14 Scott Hall
Scott Hall was one of the coolest face characters for WWE in the mid-90s as Razor Ramon. Fans adored him and he could have been a future WWE Champion, but he made the decision to leave for WCW. Hall spent the majority of time in WCW as a heel. However, fans completely treated him like a hero by reciting his promo lines and cheering him on a weekly basis.
Sabu's hard work and trendsetting ideas in ECW made him a beloved figure. Sabu will go down in the history books among the most popular good guys in ECW history. Fans still love him today, but he makes it tough to love him at conventions. Sabu doesn’t have a friendly personality and it shows with awkward interactions at meet and greets where fans just want to talk to him.
12 Randy Orton
WWE has put faith in Randy Orton in both face and heel roles through the years with a career spanning about fourteen years now. Orton achieved a lot of his success as a good guy. Orton's popularity was shown recently in the 2017 Royal Rumble when eliminating Roman Reigns to win it all. Orton may have the fans in his corner on television, but he's thought of as one of the biggest jerks in wrestling history.
11 Booker T
Booker T is a legend with a career lasting almost three decades. The majority of Booker’s career was impressive and he used to be known as one of the coolest wrestlers in the business. Things changed as he started to grow older. Despite being a good guy on television more often than not, Booker has shown an ugly side outside of the ring in his later career.
10 Shawn Michaels
Most longtime wrestling fans today have childhood memories of watching Shawn Michaels dominate WWE in the mid-90s. His face title reign gave us great matches and moments to make him a legend. Michaels returning for a second run in the 2000s allowed him to add to his legacy with another run as a highly popular face.
9 Lex Luger
Lex Luger got by on his physique and look for the entirety of his wrestling career. His bodybuilding look made him a valued commodity in both WCW and WWE during the 90s. Luger primarily played a face character and achieved the brunt of his success in WCW as one of the faces of the company during the Monday Night Wars.
Konnan's legacy in Mexico for his work in the early 90s was highly underrated. Konnan was compared to Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan in Mexico during his time as the top face in AAA. WCW signed him due to the successful stint and it led to his career taking off in the United States. Konnan was one of the few international stars in WCW to get over as a face due to charisma and personality.
7 Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks is one of the most popular female wrestlers in recent WWE history. Her merchandise numbers of Banks are stronger than every female wrestler in recent history aside from The Bella Twins. Banks’ outstanding in-ring skills and entertaining character work connected with fans back in NXT and now on the main roster on the Raw brand.
6 CM Punk
CM Punk's popularity during his face run in 2011 made him among the most beloved wrestlers WWE has ever seen. Fans still chant his name out of rebellion towards management and out of love for his work. Punk has admitted he's a jerk at times and considers himself a heel. He proved it with many antics outside of the ring painting him in a negative light.
5 Steve Austin
Every diehard fan loves Steve Austin, but he's had his fair share of bad moments. Austin definitely is a great face character in the history of wrestling. The entire business changed for the better when Austin turned into an anti-authority hero and dominated WWE. It helped WWE win the Monday Night Wars after getting destroyed by WCW for over a year.
4 Ric Flair
Ric Flair is remembered by longtime fans for being a heel, but the newer fans only know him as a face. The majority of Flair’s final run in WWE saw him play a face character. Flair did a good job in the role as a beloved veteran appealing to the fans that respected him for all he did. Unfortunately, Flair doesn’t treat others with the same respect he gets.
3 Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam's face character was among the coolest you'll ever find in a wrestling ring. Van Dam portrayed a face for the entirety of his prime and the fans absolutely loved him. Both WWE and ECW saw RVD become one of the top faces in their companies. This led to Van Dam developing a massive ego. Popularity and talent saw RVD rub others the wrong reason for many years.
2 Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid’s in-ring style revolutionized the wrestling industry by influencing many future stars. His stiff action in the ring and ability to implement high-flying moves made him a great face. He inspired a variety of wrestlers who weren't considered big enough, making them believe they could make it too. Unfortunately, that was where the positivity ended for Dynamite.
1 Hulk Hogan
WWE put all of their eggs in the basket of Hulk Hogan in the 1980s and it proved to be a genius move. Hogan was arguably the most popular good guy in the history of the business. His pure face character saw him do everything right, including being a role model for the young kids of the era. Time would prove Hogan should have been a role model to no one.
Hogan was a huge jerk to many wrestlers and tried to use his power to hold others down. Aside from the awful tactics used in the ring, Hulk is also a huge villain in real life. His infamous leaked sex tape saw him unleash a hateful racist tirade. Hogan has tried to repair his reputation, but even his apologies come off as phony. It's fitting that a legendary good guy turned out to be the biggest villain in wrestling.
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