Wrestling is a business built on good guys and bad guys. Would the fans appreciate a good hero if they didn’t have a great villain to face? Or would a great villain shine through without a hero to contrast him? The industry is built around the creation of protagonists and antagonists and the moments in which these characters are cemented have been some of wrestling’s greatest. A long time babyface (good guy) turning to the dark side changes the entire landscape of a company and can help to reinvigorate a previously stale character. Equally, when a heel (bad guy) is so good that people can’t help but cheer them, a face turn can be the indicator that the company is fully behind this performer and want the fans to cheer them as they are pushed to new heights. Either way, a turn in wrestling means excitement and, when done correctly, can be legendary.
But what are the best turns that have ever happened in wrestling, I hear you ask? Well, I don’t, but who are you, the truth police? It’s a figure of speech, get over it. Where was I? Oh yes, well, if you actually did ask that, then, luckily for you, I just happen to have an endless pit of wrestling knowledge (and Wikipedia) and have compiled a definitive list of the greatest face and heel turns in wrestling history. To clarify, this list will only feature the precise moment a character officially turned, not the moment the turn began or any time a heel or face was treated as the opposite, despite remaining in character.
Also, apologies, but this list is mostly WWE, but only because I truly feel that these moments are the best heel and face turns to have happened in wrestling. If you have an issue with this, then I’d love to discuss it with you. Email me at Idontcareaboutyouropinion@gmail.com or you can drop me a letter at 123 Be Quiet Street, Shutyourfacetown, Youidiot County. Right, if everything’s clear, let’s begin. Here are eight face and seven heel turns that will forever live in wrestling history as some of the greatest of all time.
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15 FACE: The Star-Spangled Luger
We begin with a face turn that ultimately didn’t pan out, but at the time, it was one of the most successful transformations of character wrestling had ever seen. Lex Luger arrived in WWE in 1993 under the gimmick of a narcissist (which was an exhausted gimmick even then) and would rile up the crowds by posing in front of mirrors and rile up his fellow wrestlers by knocking them out with the metal plate he had inserted into his arm after a motorcycle accident. Seriously, he actually took people out with this. He was basically Iron Man. Anyway, things would change big time for Luger when, in 1993, Hulk Hogan would leave the WWE for WCW and would leave WWE in a massive predicament. Hogan was their top star and had been for the past decade plus. Now that he was gone, what the hell were they gonna do? The answer. Hogan 2.0. Luger was chosen as Hogan’s replacement; probably because, with his bulging muscles, good looks and bleach blonde hait, he was about as Hogan as you could get. He even had a thing for Miss Elizabeth. However, there was just one problem – Luger was a massive heel. To overcome such an obstacle, WWE had to use the most powerful weapon in its arsenal – the blind patriotism of the American public. The then-WWE Champion, Yokozuna, hosted a body slam challenge onboard the USS Intrepid on the 4th of July. Wow, that was the most American sentence ever written. After several athletes tried and failed to slam the giant Japanese-Samoan, who should descend from the heavens themselves, riding a bald eagle, apple pie in hand (ok, maybe those last two aren’t true) but Lex luger himself. Despite being a heel, Luger took the challenge and, using the power of red, white and blue (and, let’s face it, probably steroids) hoisted the champion up in the air and slammed him, prompting a huge cheer from the athletes and servicemen watching. The turn may have ultimately failed as the locker room rejected Luger as their top guy in favour of Bret Hart and Luger may have turned out to have been a awful person, but there’s no denying that slamming Yokozuna on the battleship was a stroke of genius and one of the most effective turns in wrestling history. I wonder where the Lex Express is right now.
14 HEEL: Triple H Says RIP DX
There can be no doubt that D-Generation X was and always will be one of the most popular and influential stables in wrestling history. Originally consisting of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna and Rick Rude, the group would expand to include the likes of The New Age Outlaws, X-Pac and, most importantly, Hornswoggle. DX were at the height of their popularity in 1999, having turned face against Vince McMahon’s evil Corporation and fully exploited their “anti-establishment” gimmick to the delight of the ravenous, Attitude Era crowd. In 1999, WrestleMania XV was the site of two DX vs Corporation singles matches – Kane vs Triple H and X-Pac taking on Shane McMahon for the European Championship. After Chyna turned on Kane to reunite with Triple H, it looked like things were thoroughly going DX’s way, especially when X-Pac got the upper hand in his match with Shane after a run-in from The Game. Just as X-Pac was about to pin Shane and win the title, the unthinkable happened; whilst the referee was distracted by Chyna, Triple H would hop in the ring, Pedigree his stablemate and place McMahon’s hand over X-Pac’s body, prompting the referee to count three and allowing Shane to retain. This officially marked the beginning of Triple H’s on screen affiliation with the McMahon family and the end of DX (well, until WWE needed some cash and revived it a dozen times), as well as marking Triple H out as a top level heel within WWE, a role he still holds to this day. The reason this turn ranks so low is that Triple H’s constant character changes over the years kinda lessens the impact of any turn for The King of Kings, but there can be no denying that this heel turn was massively significant for the company and would help define Triple H’s legendary career. Also, it means X-Pac didn’t win a match, which makes me happy.
13 FACE: Virgil Serves DiBiase
Ted DiBiase was a mega heel in the late 80s and early 90s. His dastardly antics and the way he would throw his money around to get what he wanted made him absolutely loathed by the fans and one of the bggest additions to his character was that of his personal assistant, Virgil. Let’s get the awkward stuff out of the way first – yes, a rich white man did have an “assistant” whom he would get to do degrading things and would mistreat and, yes, he was African-American and, yes, it was really uncomfortable, but, for the sake of this list, we’ll ignore all that. Virgil served as DiBiase’s assistant/bodyguard during his time in the then-WWF, often interfering in matches on The Million Dollar Man’s behalf, taking beatings on his boss’ behalf and generally making sure DiBiase didn’t get what he deserved. However, as time went on, Virgil would become the target of abuse from DiBiase; humiliation, name-calling, embarrassment, all despite Virgil’s many years of devotion and loyalty to the Million Dollar Man. Well, Virgil could only take so much of this disrespect and, when DiBiase finally went too far, he took matters into his own hands. At the Royal Rumble 1991, during a tag team match that pitted DiBiase and Virgil against Dusty Rhodes and his son, Dustin (better known as Goldust), DiBiase shouted and yelled at Virgil, even attacking him outside of the ring for being dominated by Team Rhodes. After DiBiase got the win by rolling up Dusty, he went to celebrate with his personal title, the Million Dollar Championship. However, before he could rejoice, Virgil used the championship as a weapon, bludgeoning DiBiase with it and turning face in the process. After years of being the evil henchmen and being associated with one of wrestling’s biggest bad guys, Virgil turning good was a huge deal and it drew a huge reaction from the crowd. Virgil would go on to defeat DiBiase by countout at WrestleMania VII and would eventually win the Million Dollar Championship from DiBiase at SummerSlam 1991. Turning face against one of the biggest heels of all time made Virgil’s turn extremely effective and it’s one of the most memorable face turns in WWE history to this very day. As for Virgil nowadays, well, the less said about that the better I think.
12 HEEL: Sami Zayn Gets KO-ed
So, Kevin Owens just became the Universal Champion... excuse me for a second... ok, I’m done screaming, let’s get on. When you think about it, the recently-crowned Universal Champion’s latest victory is no really shock, especially when you consider his first big moment in the WWE. The man formerly known as Kevin Steen made his WWE debut in NXT Takeover: R Evolution, defeating CJ Parker (remember him?) in his debut match. However, it would be later that night that Owens would cement himself as one to watch in WWE. The main event of the show was Adrian Neville (who seems to have lost his first name somewhere along the line) against Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship and Zayn would defeat the Man That Gravity Forgot to win the belt. Zayn was congratulated by everyone backstage, including Kevin Owens, who was the last man left in the ring with Zayn, due to their years of friendship on the independent scene. However, this friendship was about to take a turn for the worst. As Owens helped Zayn up the entrance ramp, his friend weary after a long battle, Owens did the unthinkable and slammed Zayn into the ramp. As a shocked crowd looked on, Owens picked up his fallen former friend and proceeded to powerbomb him into the ring apron (which is the hardest part of the ring, if you didn’t already know) laying the champion out and setting the tone for what would become a legendary feud. Zayn and Owens would do battle many times on NXT and the main roster and have delivered plenty of memorable moments and amazing matches as a duo, but it will forever be this moment that will be Zayn and Owens’ Genesis; the moment when it all began; the birth of one of the greatest heels in recent years in KO. With Owens as the new top guy on Raw, who knows what more there is to come from the Prizefighter, but I can guarantee you one thing, it’s going to be epic. I’m so pumped for this title reign, thank you, Triple H.
11 FACE: Bryan Gets A Yes
Wrestling is full of faces, but only a select few have become megastars. Hulk Hogan, Sting, Stone Cold Steve Austin, these men are part of an elite few that have been loved and cheered by almost their entire audience and have been pushed in a way to reflect this. WWE hadn't really had a face of this calibre since John Cena’s early days. That is, until Daniel Bryan came along. The man who won over legions of fans in Ring of Honor as The American Dragon debuted in the WWE as a part of the heel faction, Nexus, in 2010 and would have another successful run as a heel during his time as World Heavyweight Champion in 2011/2012. Bryan’s place as a face was initially cemented at SummerSlam 2013, when he defeated John Cena to become WWE Champion, only to lose the belt minutes later after Randy Orton cashed in Money In The Bank after Bryan was Pedigreed by Triple H. After Bryan failed to regain the belt numerous times, he entered a programme with Bray Wyatt at the Wyatt Family, eventually joining the group after realising he would never be accepted by the WWE top brass as a main eventer. After a few weeks in the Family, it looked Bryan would be a permanent addition to group. However, things would all change on January 13th 2014. After Wyatt and Bryan lost a steel cage match to The Usos, Wyatt approached Bryan and went to perform the Sister Abagail on him, as was his ritual with members of his family when they lost a match. However, as Bray went to perform the move, Bryan refused, moving out of the way and attacking Wyatt. He then removed his overalls to reveal his original wrestling gear and lead the WWE Universe in a rapturous “Yes” chant before giving Bray the Running Knee. Bryan would end this segment sat atop the cage, leading his thousands of fans in one of the biggest “Yes” chants of all time. This could be defined as the moment that made Bryan the star he is, the moment that lead to the WWE fans chanting for Bryan the whole way through the Royal Rumble in 2014, the moment that lead to Bryan’s eventual rise to the top and his fairytale victory in the main event of WrestleMania XXX. It may not have been that impactful a turn as Bryan hadn’t really been too big of a heel up to this moment, but in terms of long term repercussions, this moment was massive. Looking back at it, probably best Bryan didn’t get Sister Abigail-ed. Who knows what another head injury would have done.
10 HEEL: Andre Goes Bad
Andre The Giant was a giant face in the days of the territories and the early days of the WWE. His giant frame and kind-hearted nature (even though, backstage, he was anything but) made him one of the biggest fan favourites at the time and the novelty of a man Andre’s size made seeing The Eighth Wonder of the World even more special. It was hard not to like Andre back in the day, however, it wasn’t impossible, especially when you put him up against a face on the level of Hulk Hogan. After agreeing to turn heel in 1987 (his first major heel turn ever), Andre would confirm his position as a naughty dude (I don’t know why I used that language) on a 1987 episode of Piper’s Pit, when he confronted then-WWE Champion, Hulk Hogan. Andre had just received a trophy for being undefeated across his WWE career (which was only partially true – he’d been counted out and disqualified), however, the week before this, Hogan had received an even grander trophy for being WWE Champion for three years. Whilst it may have been the most schoolboy of reasons to turn heel ever, that was enough justification for Andre, who demanded to speak to Hogan man to man about the subject. On the 7th February, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan acting as a mouthpiece, Andre vented his frustrations at Hogan, eventually leading to the big man ripping off Hogan’s shirt and storming off. Whilst it may not have been the most impressive looking turn, Andre going bad was a huge deal. The man had been a beloved face his whole career, not to mention that Hogan now had to deal with an angry, undefeated giant posing a threat to his title reign. A genius decision that lead to one of the most beloved WrestleMania matches ever at WrestleMania III, with Hogan defeating The Giant after sending him into a coma with a body slam (apparently), turning Andre heel was one of the biggest turns ever and there is no pun indeed there. Well, maybe there was a little bit of a pun. Alright, it was totally a pun, but shut up.
9 FACE: Andre Goes Good
Yes, he may have been one of the top heels in the company for over three years, but there was no way they were going to let Andre go out as a bad guy. Andre’s heel turn was done for shock and for storyline, however, his face turn in 1990 was done entirely out of respect. By the time 1990 rolled around, Andre was not in good shape. The condition that made him so large was taking its toll on the big man and it was clear that his wrestling career was coming to an end. To say thank you for all his years of service, the WWE decided that the final image fans had of Andre would be of him as a good guy and where better to make such a historic change that an WrestleMania. Andre and his tag team partner, Haku, were defending their World Tag Team Championships against Demolition at WrestleMania VI when a miscue from Andre and Haku (known collectively as The Colossal Connection) lead to Haku being pinned. Despite not actually being tagged into the match, Andre was blamed for the defeat by both Haku and their manager, Bobby Heenan. When Heenan slapped The Giant, Andre decided enough was enough and slapped Heenan back, The Brain selling it like he’d just been shot at point blank range. Andre then blocked a kick from Haku and shoved him away, all while the crowd, who had booed him for so long, cheered Andre like he’d never been anything else than a beloved hero. This would Andre’s final high-profile match in the WWE and, just three years later, The Giant passed away, leaving a legacy and following bigger than any giant could ever be. Despite maybe being more impactful as a heel and his time as a bad guy yielding more main event matches, Andre’s face turn will always be remembered as the final image of The Eighth Wonder and, for a man who gave so much of his life to wrestling, I can’t think of a more fitting way to say goodbye. Rest In Peace, Andre. Thank you.
8 HEEL: Michaels Rocks Jannetty
It’s safe to say that Shawn Michaels has pretty much always been popular. Well, depending on who you ask (Bret Hart). However, I think I’m fairly justified in saying that, as a performer, most people love to see HBK and almost all diehard wrestling fans have him in their top ten of all time. Michaels was just one of those people destined for greatness; for proof of this, look no further than his first heel in the WWE in December of 1991. After a series of incidents between Michaels and his tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, the team collectively known as The Rockers were invited to appear on Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s talk show segment, The Barber Shop, to reconcile their differences. After appearing to iron out their relationship, Michaels and Jannetty took their bows in front of an adoring audience. And then Shawn Michaels kicked Marty Jannetty’s head off. The stunned audience watched as Michaels picked a fallen Jannetty off the ground and threw him through the glass window of The Barber Shop set, formally ending The Rockers and beginning a heel career that would define a legend. Whilst it’s almost become a cliche to rank this moment as one of the best, there’s a reason everyone has so much to say about it. The shock of the turn, the brutality of the attack, the fact that either Michaels or Jannetty could have been the one to go bad all make this one of the most impactful heel turns of all time; just look at what it did for HBK. Would the turn have worked had Jannetty gone against Michaels? Probably not, as Jannetty had nowhere near as much charisma as Michaels, which, to be fair, is like saying someone is nowhere near as a good a swimmer as Michael Phelps. An iconic moment that lead to a Hall of Fame career, Shawn Michaels’ first heel turn will go down as one of the best of all time and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest segments ever to air in the WWE. As for Jannetty. Well, he, umm, won the Intercontinental title that one time, remember that? No? Oh dear. Sorry, Marty.
7 FACE: Batista Walks Alone
Ohio Valley Wrestling served as a developmental territory for the WWE during the 2000s and perhaps it’s greatest achievement came with its class of ’02. By this, I mean the four high-profile graduates of the territory that all ascended to the main roster around about 2002 that all went on to become massive, company-defining stars in their own right. These four men are: John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Batista. All four of these men have their defining moments, the moments that their journey to the top began and for The Animal, you could argue that his was the moment he turned on Evolution on an episode of Raw in 2005. The future Guardian of the Galaxy had won the Royal Rumble in 2005 (after a restart, lest we forget) and had the choice of taking on either Raw’s World Heavyweight Champion (Triple H) or Smackdown’s WWE Champion (JBL) in the main event of WrestleMania 21. At the time, Batista was a part of Evolution, a highly influential stable that also consisted of Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton, although, at this time, Orton had been kicked out of the group for winning the World Heavyweight Championship and that was totally triple H’s gimmick in the mid-2000s. The nerve. Anyway, in an attempt to persuade Big Dave to go after JBL, Triple H arranged for a limousine similar to that of JBL’s to attempt to run over Batista, with Evolution saving him from harm. On an episode of Raw before WrestleMania, Batista was presented two contracts – one for a match with either champion at WrestleMania – and it looked like JBL was set to face The Animal at Mania. Batista would appear to sign the Smackdown contract (JBL was on Smackdown at the time), giving Flair and Trips the thumbs up. However, Batista smile soon faded and his thumb slowly turned until it was facing downawards. In that moment, a hero was born. Batista, aware of Triple H’s plot to have him run down, attacked both of his former stablemates and delivered an emphatic statement; hoisting Triple H up into the air and delivering a vicious Batista Bomb through the table in the ring. Not only was this the end of Evolution, but it was the end of Batista asa a bad guy, with The Animal going on to topple Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania and capture his first world championship to huge applause. Batista may have burnt most of his bridges with the WWE now, but, for a time, he was the biggest star in the company and it began with this moment. Also, what is up with Triple H and having people run over. First Stone Cold and then this. That man has road rage.
6 HEEL: Rollins Shatters The Shield
The most significant heel turn in recent years and the moment that would define the WWE main event scene as we know it today. The Shield were a huge deal in WWE. From 2012 to 2014, they ran riot, first siding with CM Punk in his feuds with John Cena and The Rock, then capturing the United States and WWE Tag Team Championships between (Dean Ambrose’s US title reign being the longest in WWE history) and doing battle with Evolution (minus Ric Flair, obviously), defeating the legendary group on two back to back Pay-Per-Views. All of this made the group one of the most popular factions WWE had seen for a long time and so, when the time came to break them up, WWE needed to do it in a big way. And boy, did they get it spot on. The night after Payback 2014, a Pay-Per-View that saw The Shield defeat Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista in the main event, Triple H and Orton came down to the ring to face off with group. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns stood in the ring facing down the former world champions with confidence; they outnumbered them, they’d already beaten them twice, what could possibly go wrong? As things looked bleak for the remaining Evolution members, Triple H, sledgehammer in hand and collar as open as physically possible, uttered the now immortal words, “There’s always a plan B”. With this, Seth Rollins, chair in hand, struck down Reigns with a vicious blow, leaving Dean Ambrose and the millions watching around the world in utter shock, before Rollins laid out Ambrose too, tearing down The Shield and alligning himself with the villainous Authority. Whilst it might have stung at the time, splitting up The Shield when they did was a brilliant move; it didn’t give fans time to get bored with them and it made three top level stars, all of which have gone on to become world champion and it could be said that the three former members have been the pillars of WWE’s main event scene for the last year and a half at least. Rollins made an amazing heel during his time with The Authority and his dramatic turn can be attributed as one of the main reasons behind this. It gave him so much momentum as a bad guy and gave the fans a real reason to hate him, after all, he did destroy one of the most popular factions ever. In what will surely be remembered as a classic moment for years to come, the destruction of The Shield and Seth Rollins’ related heel turn was a stroke of pure genius. Strange to think that, nowadays, if someone hit Roman Reigns with a chair, they’d get the biggest pop of the night.
5 FACE: The Rebirth of Hulkamania
To most people, Hulk Hogan equals pro wrestling; unless you work for WWE, then Hulk Hogan equals a system error reading “no records found”. Hogan was a huge draw in the 1980s and early 90s; his endless energy, bulging muscles and patriotic ramblings made the Hulkster a sure fire draw for the WWE and cemented him as the top face in the company for almost his entire run. When the Hulkster left in 1993 (and believe me, we’re getting to that later) fans wondered if they would ever see The Hulkster in WWE ever again and, when he turned to the dark side in WCW (later, I promise), fans were even more dubious that the same Hogan that left the WWE would ever return. However, in wrestling, anything can happen and, in 2002, WWE welcomed home one of its most beloved sons. Appearing at the No Way Out event, Hogan, who was suuposed to be playing a heel, got a huge reaction from the crowd, all of whom were overjoyed to see the legendary Hulkster back in a WWE ring. In the build up to his WrestleMania classic with The Rock at WrestleMania X8, the WWE tried everything to get the fans to go against Hogan, even having him hit The Rock’s ambulance with a truck. He tried to murder Dwayne Johnson and still people loved him! What is wrong with wrestling fans? By the time the match rolled around, the fans were hot as hell for the bout, cheering the supposed heel Hogan and even booing The Rock. No one does that. Unless you were in Philadelphia in January of 2015, but that’s beside the point. Despite the fans hot for Hogan throughout the entire match, the real turn came at the end of the bout, after Rock had beaten the Hulkster in just his second ever clean Mania defeat. Hulk’s former buddies, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, came to the ring and laid into Hogan for losing the match. Seeing how crazy the crowd had gone for Hogan, The Rock decided to change the planned end to the match – an end that just saw Hulk beaten up and laid out by Hall and Nash – and ran back down the ramp, saving Hogan from the beatdown and allowing the Immortal One to trade a few blows with his former stablemates, which only made the crowd love him more. Despite the fact that this lead to an awful WWE Championship run from Hogan, this was still an amazing moment to be a wrestling fan. Hulk Hogan, not only back in the WWE, but back to his glory days as the bad guy-thumping, red and yellow-wearing Real American. Incredible. Shame the Hulkster had to ruin it for himself by, you know, being a massive racist and all that. Real shame.
4 HEEL: The Corporate Champion
Whilst The Rock may have been a huge babyface going into his match with Hogan in 2002, this wasn’t always the case. The Rock, aka The Great One, aka The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, aka The People’s Champion, aka That Guy What Was In Tooth Fairy had a tricky start to his WWE career. Debuting in 1996 as Rocky Maivia (a combination of his father, Rocky Johnson, and grandfather’s, Peter Maivia, ring names), fans initially rejected him as his cheesy, white meat babyface character was, quite frankly, really annoying. Things got better for Rocky when he became a founding member of The Nation of Domination in 1997, this time as an arrogant heel who insulted his audience and thought very, very highly of himself. This was when the name “The Rock” first appeared. Rock would remain an official heel for over a year, but the fans, entertained by his incredible promos and brilliant matches, started to cheer for The Rock, eventually leading to a legit face turn for The Great One in late 1998. After Steve Austin was forced by evil Vince McMahon to vacate his WWE Championship and a series of matches failed to produce a new champ, a tournament dubbed the “Deadly Games” was created for Survivor Series of 1998 to crown a new champ. The final of this tournament was between The Rock, the so-called “People’s Champion”, and Mankind, who was firmly in the pocket of McMahon. Or so it seemed. As the match reached its conclusion, Rock turned Mankind over and placed him in a Sharpshooter submission hold. Vince would call for the bell and, in a fashion eerily similar to that of the previous year’s Survivor Series (look it up), referee Earl Hebner (look him up) declared The Rock the winner by submission. The Rock released Mankind and celebrated with Vince and Shane McMahon, revealing that he had been the Corporation’s evil puppet the whole time, stunning the fans and turning one of the most beloved faces in the WWE into its top heel. The fact that Rock had fought off everything The Corporation had thrown at him up until this match made this turn so shocking and so unexpected that many fans still talk about it today in the highest regard. It set up The Rock as a heel, it set up Mick Foley as a face and allowed him to win the WWE Championship a bunch of times in 1998 and 1999 and it lead to one of the greatest WrestleMania main events of all time in Stone Cold vs The Rock at WrestleMania XV. So, yeah, this one was pretty good. Not really much else to say there
3 FACE: Macho and Elizabeth Reunite
OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! Sorry, I just really like Macho Man. “Macho Man” Randy Savage was a megastar in the late 80s/early 90s in the WWE. Feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ricky Steamboat set him apart as one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time and his never-ending energy and eccentric character made him a household name and a pop culture icon. Savage turned heel against Hulk hogan in the lead up to Wrestlemania V as The Mega Powers storyline set The Hulkster and Randy against one another one year after his first WWE Championship win. He remained a heel right up until WrestleMania VII and his *sarcastic cough* “retirement match” with The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior defeated Savage in this match, kayfabe ending the Macho Man’s career in dramatic fashion. In the wake of his defeat, Macho Man’s manager, Sensational Sherri, attacked him, beating him whilst he was down and further humiliating him. However, what Sherri didn’t know was, sitting in the crowd that night, was one Miss Elizabeth. Elizabeth had Savage’s manager for four years prior to Sherri and had established herself as one of the most beloved managers in wrestling history, her partnership (which was both business and personal) Macho cherished among wrestling fans. Seeing her former man being humiliated was too much for Elizabeth and she decided to act. Rushing down to the ring, Elizabeth shoved Sherri off of Savage, saving him from her vicious assault. Looking up to find his former beau had come to his aid, Savage’s face told the entire story. Regret, relief and, above all, love for Elizabeth. It was all written on the Macho Man’s face. The two would embrace for the first time in many years and it was such a heart-warming moment that many fans could be seen crying in the audience; tears of joy for the first couple of wrestling. Savage turning face by reunited with Elizabeth was such a strong moment that it provoked genuine emotion amongst the audience, something most wrestling today can only dream of doing. Seeing Savage and Elizabeth back together was so powerful that it automatically turned the Macho Man face; there was just no way it could have done anything else. A perfect way to end a storied career. Well, except for the fact that Savage would be wrestling again by the end of the year and the fact that he would be WWE Champion at the next WrestleMania. God, you just have to ruin everything don’t you? Thanks a lot.
2 HEEL: Hogan Goes Hollywood
Three men, one moment, three little words. New. World. Order. Hulk Hogan leaving the WWE in 1993 was a pretty big deal. He’d been the main guy in the company for nearly a decade and no one else had come close to being as big a draw as The Hulkster. However, things were starting to go downhill for Hulk, with his babyface shtick becoming stale with the fans who were getting a little bored with the same old Hulk. So, how do you reinvigorate a career as legendary as Hogan’s? Turn him heel, of course, which is exactly what WCW did in 1996. This legendary moment took place at the Bash At The Beach Pay-Per-View during a six-man tag match pitting Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger against Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and a mystery partner. Hogan would interfere in the match, seemingly to come to the aid of the faces. However, in a now infamous turn of events, Hogan would attack Savage, dropping the leg twice across the Macho Man, declaring himself to now be called “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and officially joining forces with Hall and Nash to form the group known as the N.w.O. Hogan’ heel was shocking; he’d been a face for so long, fans thought he’d never go bad, to the point where, when it actually did happen, many fans didn’t even realise the magnitude of the situation, because it was so inconceivable. It’d be like John Cena turning heel today. Hogan’s turn and the subsequent formation of the N.w.O revolutionised wrestling and lead to most of the dominance WCW had over WWE in the Monday Night Wars. Because Hogan turning to the dark side was such an incredible and drastic change and because it led to some of the most incredible wrestling moments ever produced outside of WWE, Hulk Hogan’s heel turn at Bash At The Beach 1997 will forever be known as the greatest heel turn in wrestling history.
1 FACE: Steve Austin - Birth of a Megastar
So, as it turns out, 1997 was a damn good year for heel and face turns, because not only did the best ever heel turn take place then, but so did the best ever face turn. The moment in question came at WrestleMania 13, which, all things considered, was a load of crap. All except for this match. The match in question pitted two future Hall of Famers against one another; “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Bret “The Hitman” Hart in a no disqualification submission match. Going into the match, Austin was loathed by the fans, costing fan favourite Hart the 1997 Royal Rumble after Austin won in controversial circumstances. The stage was set for a vicious and bloody battle as the two men fought in a grudge match for the ages, with the added exposure of UFC star Ken Shamrock (in some incredible shorts) as the guest referee. The match was, quite frankly, a masterpiece; both Austin and Hart were brutalised by each other, Austin was placed in a Figure Four leglock around the ringpost and Hart was battered with the steel steps. The defining moment in the match came at its conclusion; Austin, blood dripping from his forehead, was trapped in Hart’s Sharpshooter submission hold in the centre of the ring, nowhere to go, but refusing to give up, opting to pass out from the pain rather than tap to the Hitman. Seeing Austin, bloodied and beaten in the ring, but still refusing to give up, changed something in the fans. Rather than boo The Rattlesnake, fans cheered him as a hero – the man who didn’t give in. Equally, Hart’s actions and frustrations towards Austin turned the fans against the man they once cheered. Whilst Hart’s heel turn was incredible, I only wanted to include one turn from this double turn on the list and there can be no argument that Austin’s face turn is the stuff of dreams. Just look at the results; Austin went onto become one of, if not the, biggest babyfaces in wrestling history and within one year of this event was a beloved world champion. The sight of Austin covered in blood but remaining strong has become one of wrestling’s greatest still images and the finish of the powerful face refusing to submit has become almost a cliche nowadays, such was the importance of this match. For all it led to, for the incredible moments it gave us, for playing a massive part in creating the legacy of Stone Cold, this moment will forever be remembered as wrestling’s greatest face turn. And that’s the bottom line... because the article’s over. That’s how it works.
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