The job of the heel is simple. Generate heat by all means by either insulting fan favorites, insulting the crowd or their city, constantly winning by outside interference or cheating, brash behavior, and depending on the heel, showing cowardly or arrogant qualities. They are basically the antagonists of wrestling and if the crowd hate them, it means they're doing a good job.
Some examples of great heels who the fans love to hate are The Miz, Triple H, Vince McMahon and Randy Orton to name a few. These are figures who knew how to draw hate from the crowd and usually excel better as a heel than a face due to their actions and promos. They also proved to be the perfect foil for many top faces in the wrestling world because no one wanted to support them.
However, there is an exception to the rule. Sometimes, there emerges heels who the crowd can't help but love. This could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe their foes have been faces for way too long and the crowd just want to cheer for someone else but most of the time, it's because of the heel themselves.
Sometimes, a heel can be cheered simply due to their personality, promos (and ability to entertain) and wrestling ability. This is a rare feat to accomplish though. The heel still has to show heel-like mannerisms like cheating or being arrogant after all. Anyone can mock the crowd's city for example, but if you do it in a charismatic, memorable manner, the crowd will boo you but then proceed to laugh as well.
Eventually, heels get over so much that the creative team have no option but to prepare for a face turn. And so, we take a look at 15 of the best heels that we couldn't help but love in the wrestling world.
16 Dolph Ziggler
14 Brock Lesnar
When Brock Lesnar first arrived in the WWE, he was a heel, terrorizing the roster right from his debut. He would slowly progress to the main event scene after winning the King of the Ring which led to a title match with The Rock at SummerSlam. Like he does so usually now, Brock conquered The Rock and was even cheered (though mainly because many grew frustrated with The Rock's absences due to his movie career) but he was being cheered before that as well.
12 Shawn Michaels
HBK would embark on a prominent heel run as the leader of D-Generation X in 1997 alongside Triple H and Chyna. Already a heel, Michaels would go to new heights, feuding with The Hart Foundation with antics such as blowing his nose and humping the Canadian flag. As the degenerates continued to entertain, fans would soon grow fond of DX and Michaels in particular until his first retirement in 1998.
11 Ric Flair
10 The Undertaker
9 Daniel Bryan
8 Razor Ramon
7 Chris Jericho
6 CM Punk
5 Kurt Angle
3 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Probably the biggest babyface of the last 20 years, Austin however, started his WWE career as a heel, first in the Ringmaster gimmick before transitioning into the popular Stone Cold gimmick. Fans would soon start rooting for Austin thanks to his unique Stone Cold stunner which helped him beat Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the King of the Ring finals before cutting his iconic 3:16 promo (a catalyst for the Attitude Era).
2 The Rock
Even though The Rock has been a face longer than a heel, some would argue that he was better off being the bad guy. When he became the Corporate Champion in 1998, siding with the McMahons, The Great One became public enemy number one. Booed out of every arena, The Rock knew how to gain heat but the WWE realized something. Slowly, The Rock's charisma, promos and unique catchphrases were catching on with the fans. No longer were they booing The Rock just for the heck of it but to provoke an entertaining response from the Brahma Bull. Fans even produced loud ovations when The Rock's music hit, because they knew he'd have something good for them.
1 Vince McMahon
When it's all said and done, Vince McMahon has to go down as one of the most popular and beloved heels. This might sound crazy or weird to some considering he usually had the gimmick of the 'evil boss' but McMahon and his promos, selling and general segments simply entertained people, making them want more from the chairman of the WWE. Everyone took notice when his theme song hit the arena.
From his selling of the famous beer truck episode to the infamous power walk to his facial expressions - even if he interrupted a fan favorite to insult them, you couldn't help but cheer or get entertained by McMahon even though he's been a heel for the best part of the last 25 years.
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