A babyface turn in professional wrestling requires the proper opponent, impeccable timing, and the right place. But far too often have we seen superstars turn good before they were ready for such a drastic turn.
On the flip side, there have been many surprising but incredible babyface turns in WWE. Let's take a look at five babyface turns that flopped dramatically, and five that succeeded big time.
10 Failed: Braun Strowman (2017)
Strowman was popular portraying a dominant and destructive heel in 2017. He was in the midst of a big main event push, and a Universal Championship reign appeared to be in his future.
Strowman teamed up with The Bar, Kane and The Miz, against The Shield at the 2017's TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view. But Strowman's teammates ganged up on him and put him in a garbage truck, and Shield went on to win the match.
WWE completely botched Strowman's big push, however. His Money in the Bank went to waste. He lost Universal title matches to Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, and it doesn't look like he'll get a big push any time soon. Why give this guy such a massive push if you're not going to put the belt around him?
9 Succeeded: Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X8)
After returning to WWE in 2002 and reforming the New World Order, Hulk Hogan was receiving plenty of favorable treatment from the fans. Even when he went up against The Rock at WrestleMania X8 in Toronto, Hogan received a much larger ovation than The People's Champion.
After Rock defeated Hogan, Nash and Hall came out to attack their long-time partner. Together, Rock and Hogan fought them off, and the latter's babyface turn was assured. It was the perfect time for WWE to turn The Hulkster back into a face, as he was being treated as one anyway. It was a nice way for him to finish out his last long-term stint with the company.
8 Failed: Roman Reigns (2014-2017)
Roman Reigns had immense popularity as a member of The Shield, but once Seth Rollins backstabbed the duo, WWE decided to change things up by pushing The Big Dog as their next "face of the company."
Reigns would headline four straight WrestleMania events from 2015 to 2018. He won the 2015 Royal Rumble and took down many big-named legends like John Cena, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, and Triple H.
Well, Reigns has yet to fully get over as the top guy in WWE. Since the start of 2019, the company has been pushing Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston as their main stars. The company simply wasted several years pushing Reigns before he was ready to be the No. 1 guy, and they refused to acknowledge that his big push wasn't working.
7 Succeeded: Batista (2005)
Batista was the enforcer of Evolution during its first go-around, and it looked like he was going to be stuck as a mid-card superstar for the bulk of his career. But everything changed when The Animal won the 2005 Royal Rumble.
Batista turned on Triple H and Ric Flair (the remaining members of Evolution) and challenged his leader for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21. Batista won the match, and it set the stage for him to enjoy a Hall of Fame-caliber career. Shortly after, he became the main face on SmackDown.
Some babyface turns are forced and happen to quickly, but the timing of Batista's was perfect, and his rivalry with Triple H was among the top storylines of the Ruthless Aggression Era.
6 Failed: Randy Orton (2004)
Randy Orton defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004, becoming the youngest World Heavyweight Champion ever at the age of 24. But boy, did WWE ever throw him into the fire too early.
Orton turned face when Triple H expressed jealousy and brutally attacked him (along with Batista and Flair) following a successful title defense over Benoit. That led to an ongoing rivalry that saw Triple H successfully win and defend his title numerous times against Orton.
It was simply way too early for WWE to push Orton. He had a lot of work to do, and this was on a Raw roster that also included Batista, Flair, Edge, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Shawn Michaels, among others. Orton simply needed more time and wasn't ready for a World Championship feud plus a program with a WWE legend.
5 Succeeded: Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania 13)
Bret Hart went up against Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13, leading to one of the most memorable matches of all time. A relentless and wounded Austin kept on pushing through the match, before finally passing out and losing.
Hart continued to attack Austin after the match, and it turned The Hitman heel - while The Texas Rattlesnake emerged as a babyface. WWE would never look back here, as Austin took over as the face of the company, and he led them into the Attitude Era during a tense war against WCW. If Austin had never turned face, who knows where WWE would have gone in the Monday Night Wars?
4 Failed: Batista (2014)
Yes, Batista pulled off the rare feat of having one historic babyface turn as well as a disastrous one that everybody would love to forget. The latter took place during January 2014, when he returned to WWE as a face following a four-year hiatus from the company.
Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble event but was pelted with boos after the match. Fans simply wanted Daniel Bryan to win that event, and they were livid when The Animal came away as the victor. WWE had no choice but to turn Batista back into a heel, and he'd lose to Bryan at WrestleMania XXX.
The Animal has stated that he knew it was a mistake to be brought back as a face, and creative frustrations led to his second WWE departure just several months after his return.
3 Succeeded: John Cena (2003)
During the first couple of years of his WWE career, Cena was a heel mid-card superstar and even clashed with fan-favorite Brock Lesnar for his WWE Championship. But the company decided to turn Cena into a face in 2003, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cena turned face when he refused to join Team Lesnar at Survivor Series 2003, aligning with Team Angle in a winning effort instead. In 2005, WWE pushed Cena as their top main event babyface, and he never looked back. Vince McMahon saw something special in Cena, and his decision to turn the wrestler from a heel to a face changed the history of WWE forever.
2 Failed: Lex Luger (1993)
Lex Luger joined WWE in 1993, and his arrival came at a perfect time for Vince McMahon. Hulk Hogan, the long-time face of professional wrestling, had left the company and WWE needed somebody to build around.
McMahon pushed Luger into main event status quickly, giving him his own bus (The Lex Express) while turning him into an "All-American" hero. But Luger never displayed strong enough in-ring skills, he was simply all muscle and didn't have the same charisma as Hogan.
WWE fans wouldn't fully get behind Luger the way they did with Hogan, and he decided to leave for WCW in 1995. Eric Bischoff reportedly lowballed Luger in contract offers, but it was enough for the latter to accept anyway.
1 Succeeded: The Undertaker (1992)
The Undertaker joined WWE in 1990, and he spent his first two years in the company as a heel. The Phenom aligned himself with established veteran Jake "The Snake" Roberts, but when their partnership ended, it sure changed everything.
In early 1992, there was a segment where Roberts was about to attack Miss Elizabeth with a steel chair. Undertaker came to her rescue and prevented Roberts from performing the heinous act. That began a feud between the two legends, and Undertaker defeated Roberts at WrestleMania VIII.
With that, Undertaker had established himself as one of WWE's premier superstars and faces. Almost 30 years later, he remains among the top performers in the company.