A long time ago, the wrestling world was divided into heels and faces. Technically, it still is, but the heels and faces were much different in the “golden age” of professional wrestling. Faces were shining examples of everything right in the world who achieved god-like status among fans. Heels, meanwhile, were essentially the worst examples of humanity that the world has ever produced. Over time, however, the line separating heels and faces began to fade away. Fans came to accept that sometimes you are going to boo the heel and cheer the face because you like one performer more than you like the other.
Regardless of which age of wrestling you’re talking about, the truth remains that not everyone who has ever been cast as a face is a good person in real life just as not everyone who has ever been a heel is a bad person. In fact, it’s quite shocking how often the opposite proves to be true. Some of the greatest heels to ever grace a wrestling ring are the nicest people you’ll ever meet, while heroic faces are the jerks that you wish you never met. While there are many instances of this phenomenon, these are the eight babyfaces who are jerks and the seven heels who are sweethearts.
15 Babyface Jerk - Roman Reigns
The case of Roman Reigns both in and out of the ring is a curious one. Hardcore WWE fans have rebelled against the rise of Reigns as they believe that the popular superstar isn’t deserving of the quick rise to the top of the company that he currently enjoys. It seems like the backlash against Reigns may have taken its toll on the mentality of the young star as many have reported that Reigns is kind of a jerk outside of the ring.
It’s understandable that Reigns would feel some animosity against the people that boo him, but unlike guys like John Cena and Kurt Angle who took it in stride, Reigns often goes out of his way to belittle the opinions of those who don’t like him. There is also the matter of his substance abuse violation to consider.
14 Sweetheart Heel - The Miz
There are a lot of stories out there that portray The Miz as a huge jerk. It’s understandable why that is the case. Miz is often seen as kind of a primadonna whose rise through the reality TV show circuit has left him with no appreciation from the world of professional wrestling and its fans. This accusation is supported by claims of The Miz having some negative fan interactions. The one thing that is common about all these interactions, though, is that the people in them either approached The Miz in front of cameras or like they were expecting him to be a heel. That’s because Miz is really just an old-school heel who works to maintain his villainous persona.
However, nearly every story involving The Miz getting to be a normal person paints him as a genuinely good guy who really does love the business.
13 Babyface Jerk - Bret Hart
It feels strange calling Bret Hart a jerk. For years, Hart was the one guy in WWE who seemed to be ego-free, genuinely nice, and an actual rolemodel in a sea of pretenders. His clashes with Shawn Michaels seemed to justify that perception. Sure, Hart had a heel run which painted him as kind of a bitter jerk, but that was just an act, right? Well, it’s starting to seem that heel run may have not been far from the truth. As Hart ages, he becomes increasingly bitter towards other wrestlers and the business in general. He’s always been portrayed as kind of a stoic guy who doesn’t really display many emotions towards fans, but now it’s becoming clear that Hart suffers from years of resentment.
12 Sweetheart Heel - Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle has sometimes been a babyface in his career, but most fans remember him as a truly great heel. Angle came into WWE as a legitimate Olympic hero whose accomplishments are nearly unrivaled. He soon learned that he could turn his accomplishments into a unique “I’m better than you” character. While it would be perfectly understandable to hear that Kurt Angle has got a bit of an ego, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case at all. While there was a period in Angle’s life when his substance abuse issues made him a pain to deal with, now it seems that Angle has turned his life around and seems to be especially appreciative of the fans that stayed with him along the way. It’s difficult to find a bad fan interaction story involving Angle.
11 Babyface Jerk - Jeff Hardy
It’s easy to forget how over Jeff Hardy was in WWE since it seems like it happened so long ago, but there was a time when Jeff Hardy was arguably the most popular wrestler in the company. He was going up against guys like Triple H, The Undertaker, and Edge and getting fans to boo them en masse. Of course, that’s in front of the camera. Behind the scenes is a different story. Jeff Hardy’s rise in WWE coincided with his extreme drug usage and personal problems. Everything came to a head at some point, and Hardy just became kind of a jerk.
There are stories about Hardy being a jerk to fans, but most of the worst stories regarding Hardy involve his interactions with fellow wrestlers. From refusing to stay sober to refusing to even show up, Hardy has burnt a lot of bridges in his professional and personal life.
10 Sweetheart Heel - Big Van Vader
Lately, Big Van Vader has confirmed that his health is on the decline and believes that he may be living his last days. This revelation has led to some people thinking back on the career of Vader and realizing that there are two different ways to view it. One way is to remember the in-ring Vader character; one of the very best monster heels that ever stepped into the ring. The other is to remember Leon White; the man behind the Vader character who is often called one of the nicest people in the wrestling business. It’s absolutely incredible that someone as humble and seemingly gentle as White was able to establish a legacy as one a legitimate tough guy who struck fear into the hearts of his opponents.
9 Babyface Jerk - Seth Rollins
It’s always a bit of a surprise to hear that Seth Rollins is supposedly kind of a jerk. Sure, the guy plays an excellent heel in the ring, but he’s also one of the most beloved wrestlers of the modern era. Rollins' incredible work ethic and amazing abilities make him an easy guy to love. It’s just a shame that his actual personality ruins his legacy. The big thing with Rollins is that he’s supposedly a bit entitled and prone to fits of anger. WWE Network prank show Swerved actually played off this a bit by featuring Rollins in a staged encounter with a security guard, but he’s also flipped out on real-life people. Rollins has also been involved in some bizarre relationship spats that he’s made public.
8 Sweetheart Heel - Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is a unique heel in the world of wrestling. He sometimes comes across as the one guy that is addressing the internet wrestling fan crowd with his sneering statements. Many find Owens to simply be entertaining, but he’s also the one wrestler who can get under the skin of even the smartest WWE fans if he’s really trying to do so. All this makes it that much more surprising that Owens is actually a genuinely nice guy outside of the ring. While Owens draws some of his sarcasm from his real-life persona, he’s also a guy that’s been wrestling for years now and loves this business - and the people who are fans of it - as much as anyone else. Plus, he really is an actual family man.
7 Babyface Jerk - Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks is similar to Seth Rollins in that it’s hard to believe that her reputation for being kind of a jerk is valid. After all, we’re talking about one of the best female wrestlers on the planet and one of the most entertaining performers in the business regardless of gender. It also must be said that Banks did play a major heel character in NXT meaning that some of her heelish tendencies can be attributed to her staying in character. All that being said, it seems just as likely that Banks' real problem is that she’s a still a very young person who has become quite famous in a short amount of time. Because of this, Banks sometimes comes off as hostile towards her fans by doing things like refusing to take pictures.
6 Sweetheart Heel - Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt is one of the best heels in the business today. While Wyatt tends to draw cheers no matter what he does, he has still crafted a compelling villainous character who can work a compelling series of matches against any babyface in the business. The nature of Wyatt’s character combined with how well he plays the role means that many fans feel as if they do not really know the man behind the persona. That’s a shame, because Wyatt is one of the genuine nice guys in the wrestling business. He doesn’t make the effort to stay in character outside of the ring, which catches some fans off-guard when they realize that the real Bray Wyatt is an incredibly nice guy who is a little bit goofy and really just a big wrestling fan living his dream.
5 Babyface Jerk - Hulk Hogan
Is it a case of beating the dead horse at this point to call Hulk Hogan a jerk? After all, he kind of admitted that he was a huge jerk when he made his Hollywood Hulk Hogan heel turn. Since then - and, honestly, before then - the world became aware that the guy who once told kids everywhere to say their prayers and take their vitamins cared only about himself. What’s amazing about Hogan all these years later is that he’s never really been able to shake his jerk ways while other performers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels have redeemed themselves from their heelish youth. Hogan, meanwhile, just keeps finding new ways to build on his reputation. Most recently, it was his racist tirade that got him blacklisted from WWE once more.
4 Sweetheart Heel - Edge
Calling Edge a heel is a bit of a stretch, but his best years did come when he was playing a villain. In fact, Edge’s most notable heel run - his Rated-R Superstar days - came as a result of his behind-the-scenes affair with Lita. While such actions aren’t usually characteristic of the type of behavior we associate with the nice guys of wrestling, that seems to be just a blip on the otherwise sterling reputation of Adam Copeland. Edge often comes across as a young kid who never quite got over the fact that he actually became a professional wrestler, and that’s apparently exactly what he is. Edge loves to talk wrestling, playfully mess with fans, and ensure that everyone who meets him walks away talking about how shockingly cool he is.
3 Babyface Jerk - Goldust
While Dustin Rhodes’ early WWE run saw him turn the Goldust character into a unique heel, he would later establish himself as more of a comedy character who is beloved by new WWE fans and older viewers. What’s amazing about that is that Dustin Rhodes’s outside the ring antics have should have made him a real-life heel years ago. While some say that Dustin Rhodes’ has mellowed out over the years, his reform has still been lowlighted by a series of social media interactions which reveal his unique world views. From calling middle-eastern fans terrorists to criticizing those who celebrate Christmas without worshiping Christ, Rhodes has always been very vocal about his beliefs. In fact, WWE finally had to step in and force him to back off a bit.
2 Sweetheart Heel - Samoa Joe
Right now, Samoa Joe is one of the best heels in wrestling. Joe's incredible persona is based, in part, on his relentless aggression and tendency to act like the bully you grew up with in high school. Of course, most high school bullies don’t grow up to become rich and famous professional bruisers. Like many wrestling tough guys before him, however, Joe is actually just a giant teddy bear. That’s not to say that he won’t harass someone that is trying to do the same to him, but he is much more likely to throw a smile than a punch. The thing about Samoa Joe is that he strives to be a locker room leader. That attitude results in him often setting an example both in the ring and outside of it.
1 Babyface Jerk - CM Punk
Oh sure, CM Punk spent more time as a villain in WWE than as a strict face, but he was one of those guys who fans rooted for no matter what. It’s not hard to understand why that was the case. At a time when WWE was trying to churn out the same brand of generic wrestlers that they had been producing for years, Punk came along and provided WWE fans with a real alternative. He was someone the average viewer could look up to as a different kind of hero who represents the people. It’s just a shame that he’s such a jerk.
The thing you have to understand about Punk is that the jerkish qualities which earned him so many of his fans are the same qualities which makes him a very difficult person to get along with. He’s a mix of good and bad which makes him the perfect representative for this list.