Let’s be real here, being a heel is much easier than being a babyface, especially in today's climate where it’s cool to be viewed as a “bad guy.” Heels have a broader range in terms of promo attributes and in ring characteristics. Babyfaces on the other hand have a small playbook which generally sees themselves as the classic, humble underdog, similar to the character that Sami Zayn has been playing to a tee.
With this being said, there comes a time for change. The WWE product seems to be plagued by being stagnant, as creatively the company seems lazy and the product is far too predictable. This has caused countless WWE stars to lose their way and fall into irrelevancy.
This article will shed a spotlight on some of these wrestlers and it will also take a look at some high profile names that will also benefit from a role change. The name of the game is unpredictability, which is what the WWE Universe desperately wants. This article will take a step in that direction and look at wrestlers that need to change creatively. Here are eight wrestlers that must turn heel and seven that need to turn face, enjoy!
15 Heel: Randy Orton
No matter how you look at it, heel or face, adding Randy Orton back to the mix is a huge plus, especially with a brand split on the horizon. At the age of 36, his veteran presence is an invaluable asset at this point, especially when you look at the WWE’s current roster which features several “green” Superstars trying to establish a name for themselves. In order to do so and legitimately draw, they need the presence of Randy Orton. His accomplishments speak for themselves, as he's a four-time World Heavyweight Championship reign, along with being an eight-time WWE Champion.
This begs the question, how should Randy be booked when making his highly anticipated return? Well, according to rumors, Orton is the current front runner to take on Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. So whether he’s a heel or face, it really won’t matter, as the match is a draw regardless. However, when looking at things in the long run, Orton must be a heel. His wrestling DNA speaks for itself, as Randy is a big time player when he plays a vicious and brutal heel gimmick that’ll do anything to not only win, but destroy his opponent by any means. With a lack of established heels in the WWE, turning Orton seems like an absolute necessity in the future.
14 Face: Alberto Del Rio
I never thought I'd consider this, but at this point, Alberto Del Rio may be better served as a face, rather than a terribly used heel. His gimmick at the moment is rather confusing, as the company continues to align him with heels, although he doesn’t get along with them (for example, Sheamus).
His accomplishments throughout the years haven’t gone unnoticed and the WWE Universe still reacts to Del Rio. We tend to forget, but the guy had some remarkable championship runs which included two World Heavyweight Championship wins along with two WWE Championships. Not to mention, he won the 2011 Royal Rumble. With these factors in mind, the crowd respects Del Rio and would get on his side during a face run. Either way, at the age of 39, we hope to see Del Rio flourish sooner rather than later.
13 Heel: Asuka
Her style is one of a niche untapped in the women’s division and her potential with the company is certainly sky high. Asuka’s in-ring work has heel written all over it, as she is overly aggressive and looks to destroy everyone in her sight. Which begs the question, why is she being booked as a face? Her style was always going to get over with the NXT underground crowd, but booking her as a face just doesn’t seem right. Particularly looking at her match against Bayley, the loss seemed that much harder to swallow due to the fact that both Superstars were faces. The company certainly failed to hit a home run as the story could have been a classic babyface versus villainous heel, though Triple H didn’t see it that way and kept them both on the good side.
Looking to the future, the company must eventually make Asuka turn, whether it’s down in NXT or on the main roster. Her work will reach new levels once she makes the turn and can fully use her vicious in-ring style. Keep your eyes open for a future turn.
12 Face: Curtis Axel
As rare as it seems to find Curtis Axel’s name making headlines on various wrestling news outlets, Bret Hart vocalized his displeasures on the way Curtis Axel is currently being booked with the company. The Hitman claimed that the company is wasting away his potential in a useless lower card comedic role.
Bret’s knowledge for the business is usually top flight and he remains one of the most respected professional wrestlers in history. His comments about Axel’s poor use are spot on in my view. Let’s not forget, there was a time when Axel was a serious competitor, winning the Intercontinental Championship and walking in his father’s footsteps. Now, that seems like a distant memory as he’s gone through some painful gimmick changes which included a Hulk Hogan parody.
With an upcoming brand split, changing Axel and breaking up The Social Outcasts is an absolute must for every member. In terms of booking for him, let him perform a series of good wrestling matches to get him back on track with the fans and himself as a professional. At the age of 36, doing this in the near future is a must.
11 Heel: Sin Cara
Here’s a name you probably weren’t expecting to see on this list. Once again, what worked in NXT lost steam on the main roster and fell to irrelevancy at the blink of an eye. The highly talented Kalisto and Sin Cara seemed like a dream team down in developmental, but since being called up, that label has been lost.
Kalisto seems to be the one the company is pushing, although Sin Cara should not be overlooked. With the Cruiserweight Classic tournament making headlines down in NXT, the WWE should use this to their advantage by starting a Cruiserweight feud on the main roster between partners, with Sin Cara turning on Kalisto. This can help get both wrestlers over while giving the fans a glimpse of what is to come with a new ground breaking Cruiserweight Division on the horizon. From a booking stand point, this story seems like a must.
10 Face: Tyler Breeze
It’s rather painful to admit because I loved this guy as a heel down in NXT, but at this point Breeze is in desperate need of a change. His gimmick was initially celebrated down in the underground society that is NXT, as the crowd loved it and understood the story Breeze was telling. More importantly, he added depth to the NXT program and quickly became labelled as a guy that could have a good match with just about anyone, similar to the greats in the professional wrestling industry.
With all this praise came his call up, which could not have gone any worse. In true WWE style, his gimmick became way over the top and was glamorized by the WWE production truck to a level that just made it cheesy. After a lackluster feud with Dolph Ziggler, Breeze faded to a pre-show role and later a comedic lower card competitor.
Similar to Curtis Axel, the only way to salvage Breeze at this point is to alter his gimmick and let him show off his worth in the ring. With SmackDown potentially being labelled as the “wrestling” brand again, we certainly hope he will get to showcase his wrestling skills on that brand.
9 Heel: American Alpha
I can hear TheSportster's readers booing me as they're reading this, but hear me out before passing judgment. As of now, there is clearly no team that can hold a candle to American Alpha. You can argue that Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano are getting there, but in my books, it’s still rather premature to compare the teams.
With all that being said, you can’t help but compare them to The World’s Greatest Tag Team, which featured Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. What made Benjamin and Haas so iconic as a team was their ability to use their obvious skill as a way to boast in front of the crowd. With no clear heel team in sight at the moment, American Alpha can jump on the heel boat and recreate themselves as one of the most dominant tag teams of our time, using their egos as a way to create some serious heel heat.
Booking wise, I’d turn the duo in a high profile feud with Ciampa and Gargano which is mouth watering to say the least. A feud with the two teams can last for months, ending with a main event clash on an NXT PPV which would glamorize the tag division even further. The potential is scary.
8 Face: The Ascension
It's sad to see how badly this duo has fallen in the last couple of years, as during their prime in NXT, it was laughable to think that they would fail on the main roster. But, in typical WWE fashion, the company went overboard and had no idea how to book them. After a series of losses, they said 'hey, why don’t we put them with someone else who wears face paint'...enter Stardust. Once again, the trio fell to the undercard and it eventually caused Rhodes to part ways with the company.
Following Konnor’s suspension, some thought the WWE would use this time wisely to recreate the team, but once again they were used to put another duo over.
In terms of salvaging this team, some believe it is far too late and they’re better off puling a Cody Rhodes and leaving the company. Though, with a brand split on the horizon, depth is needed and some fans still believe that there is something more to this team. Maybe a drastic face change can freshen things up. How about joining Balor and creating a new Club? Food for thought, I guess.
7 Heel: Paige
At the moment, it seems like every article that discusses struggling Superstars features Paige in some form. Her early success set the bar unreasonably high and this could follow her throughout her entire career. This factor has plagued several wrestlers that were rushed too soon and it looks to be happening to Paige at the moment. Let’s all take a deep breath for a moment and remember that Paige is only 23, making her by far the youngest talent in the WWE locker room. So, expecting her to maintain such a high level is a little farfetched to say the least.
As opposed to other wrestling news outlets, I think the company did well to slow down Paige. She’s still extremely green outside of the ring and has well over a decade of wrestling left in her repertoire. With the brand split coming up, this is the time to repackage Paige as a main player and the only way to do so is as a heel. Her work with Charlotte, although met with controversy (Paige talking about Charlotte’s brothers passing), was quite entertaining and showed her range as a vicious heel with no regard for what anyone else thinks, it was quite CM Punk like as a whole. The WWE must use her in a similar manner and the time to pull the trigger is now.
6 Face: Austin Aries
People like Austin Aries have made the WWE rethink their outdated philosophy on indie wrestlers. His experience and wisdom have worked wonders in the ring, but more importantly outside of itwith the younger talents. With an indie legend in AJ Styles up on the main roster and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived down in NXT, the WWE is now strongly pursuing independent talent because of the impact these two have had in their short stay with the company.
His backstage success is invaluable, but more importantly, at the age of 38, the Milwaukee native hasn’t missed a single step putting on spectacular matches with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura. Telling a story in the ring is his strong suit and this has been extremely apparent since his NXT debut.
With all this in mind, you can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Austin once he makes the main roster jump. Typically, and most probably, the company will take the safe route and use him as a heel in order to put over younger faces. Though, it would be quite the spectacle to see Aries use his Greatest Man That Ever Lived gimmick in a heroic fashion, by putting on some fantastic matches and earning the mainstream WWE crowd's respect. Also, on a personal note, can you imagine a team of Aries and Jericho? It's mouth watering!
5 Heel: Xavier Woods
At the age of 29, Xavier Woods has spent the bulk of his career as a tag team wrestler. He enjoyed a Tag Team title run with Wes Brisco down in FCW and, later, a TNA Tag Team Championship run with the highly entertaining Jay Lethal. During his WWE stint, Woods seemed like another wrestler that would just fall into irrelevancy, but once again a tag team saved his career. After a rocky start, The New Day has become the most over trio on the main roster and it's not hard to see why the team has held the titles for almost a year.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and that’s especially inevitable in the world of pro wrestling. As of right now, The New Day should not break up, as the trio is still extremely over and offers some much needed depth to Raw. As for future bookings, the duo will likely eventually part ways. Seeing as Big E and Kofi are far too over with the WWE Universe, this leaves Woods as the odd man out and the one most likely to turn. In addition, Woods is the best of the bunch on the microphone, furthering his appeal as a heel. Once he goes his separate way, you can expect Woods to enjoy a career similar to The Miz, which will see him become a beatable heel that sometimes tends to find ways to win when it matters.
4 Face: AJ Styles
Like they say, timing is everything in the world of sports entertainment. With this being said, the feeling amongst many fans is that the company pulled the trigger way too soon on an epic AJ Styles heel turn. Being a part of the WWE for a little more than half a year, the room to grow was still there. Right now, AJ is way too over with the WWE Universe, making it impossible for him to generate any heel heat.
Creatively, I, like so many other fans, would have loved to see the company book Cena as the unlikely heel, set to take on the travelled face of the wrestling industry, which would add much more prestige to the matchup. But, once again, in typical WWE fashion, they chose the easy route, which will probably end with a predicable John Cena victory at SummerSlam. I’m all for the heel AJ, but I just think it was premature.
3 Heel: John Cena
Time and time again, the WWE fails to take advantage of glorious opportunities to turn Cena into a heel, which would cause a massive product overhaul. Instead, the company continuously keeps John the same, for obvious reasons as no one sells merchandise like Super Cena. However, with ratings at an all time low, there is a bigger issue at hand and that is the current product.
Whether you see it or you don’t (see what I did there), Cena dictates the direction of the business. As long as Cena stays a face, the product will continue to be stale and predictable while appealing to a younger audience.
A heel turn can change everything and pave the way for a new era, similar to the one that Hulk Hogan helped to usher in during his WCW/nWo days. It’ll be interesting to see if John’s gimmick will remain untouchable.
2 Face: Seth Rollins
Change - that is what WWE fans want from the current product. Seth Rollins was a face that could have provided such a spark with his highly anticipated return. His road to recovery was well documented by the WWE Network and this made fans excited and warm to his return. After receiving a thunderous ovation following his return at Extreme Rules, predictably, Rollins once again clearly established himself as a heel the following night. So now, they have Rollins, the heel, getting cheered and Reigns, the apparent super baby face, getting booed out of the building (#WWELogic). In giving the fans something new, the Superstars could have thrived under their new roles, establishing their star power even further. Instead, they went back to the same gimmick and constant Shield references.
If Seth and Roman are to stay on the same brand and man the ship on Raw, you hope someone in that creative bubble can capitalized on the potential of both these Superstars.
1 Heel: Roman Reigns
The next entrant was pretty obvious, as no matter what way you look at it, Roman Reigns must turn heel at this point. Fans tend to compare Roman’s face run to John Cena’s, which is totally false. John appeals to a younger crowd, which is why he’s been kept as a face for so long. Reigns, on the other hand, appeals to women that find him good looking. Seriously though, their babyface reactions are totally different. Roman is at a point where change is necessary. The WWE built him wrong and his rise was far too predictable for fans to get on board.
His wrestling style is noteworthy and deserves praise, as the “you can’t wrestle” chants he receives are kind of ridiculous. His style screams heel, due to his ability to dominate a match with his overpowering in ring work, mixed in with his lethal strikes. Reigns can be salvaged and the only way to do so is by establishing him as a top of the line, ruthless heel.