The key ingredient to any epic battle is having a villain to root against. In the WWE, that villain is known as a heel. The heel character not only makes you want to see them get what's coming, but they actively make you feel for, cheer for, and struggle with the baby face (good guy).
In the history of WWE, there have been some magnificent heels. Ric Flair, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Bobby The Brian Heenan, Roddy Piper, and Vince McMahon are just a few of the best. They are characters the current crop of WWE Superstars assigned to be a "bad guy" can only hope to aspire to.
With such a rich history of heel characters, who is going to lead the way for the current roster? It's not as easy as it once was to be a heel. In today's wrestling environment, the bad guys often get cheered and the good guys get jeers. If you're going to be the best, you have to work that much harder.
Below are five candidates the wrestling's current most effective heels.
5. Chris Jericho
We'll start our list with Chris Jericho for two reasons. One, it's only fitting to say these five heels just "made the list" (a phrase Jericho has made famous), but also he ranks in at number five because he's not currently an active roster member.
Still, Jericho is one of the all-time best. He can flip the audience like a switch and have you cheering or booing on command. With a simple word like "quiet" or "idiot" Jericho has the ability to dictate the pace of any promo, and he refuses to let people cheer for him when he's paid to be a bad guy. He goes so far as to refuse to sell merchandise while a heel because he doesn't believe fans should wear his merchandise while hating him.
4. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns makes the list, not because he did anything special, but because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time to be the next big babyface star of the WWE. To his credit, he has embraced the hatred and he's going to use his tweener status to become a huge star.
His current feud with John Cena is either going to cement him as a huge bad guy or finally get fans on his side, but he's just arrogant enough knowing he's being groomed to be the most hated wrestler in the company by fans.
3. Paul Heyman
If you want to get someone over as respected but also a bad guy, team them up with Paul Heyman and let Heyman weave his magic. There is perhaps no better talker in the WWE today than the old head of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Perhaps it's because he's part mix of incredibly skilled at getting his points across and also that those who know wrestling know Heyman as legitimately underhanded and unethical in real life. The combination of the two things make him more than believable than most.
Heyman isn't the best though. He wasn't able to get over everyone including Cesaro and Curtis Axel, which hurts his stock somewhat.
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2. The Miz
The Miz is altogether a different kind of heel. As a wrestler, you don't actually think he's going to win, but once he starts talking, you can't help but feel every word, believe in his conviction and in many cases start to root for his cause.
It's because you start to cheer for him that he didn't place first on our list, but an argument can be made that right now, there's no one better on the mic than The Miz right now. Even John Cena gave him props in one of his recent in-ring promos for grinding it out and making a career for himself in the WWE. The Miz really is a living, breathing example of what perfecting your work on the mic can do for your career.
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1. Kevin Owens
What makes Kevin Owens so good is that he never stops being a heel. During his promos or during his matches as he's beating on his opponent, he's consistently trash-talking, but he's got the in-ring goods to back it up.
Owens is not your typical stereotype wrestler. He doesn't really look the part, but he's conniving, arrogant and witty. He's quick on the mic and relentless in his approach and he goes until he gets what he wants, no matter what tactic it takes to achieve his goal.
There's not a performance he hasn't nailed since arriving in WWE, and he's constantly hitting home run after home run. Right now, he's the best and to be honest, it's not really close.