Who Were the Best Wrestlers at Playing Both Heel and Face?

Discussion in 'The Wrestling Archives' started by OYDK, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. OYDK

    OYDK King Of The Ring

    Feb 19, 2014
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    Over the years I've seen more than a few threads pop up discussing the greatest heels/faces of all time but I don't think I've ever come across a thread asking who was best at playing both. There were some wrestlers throughout the years that you just couldn't help but to hate (kayfabe), for example; HHH, Piper, Flair, etc. However, there were also those wrestlers you couldn't help but root and cheer for like Daniel Bryan, Stone Cold, and Dusty Rhodes. And then there were those guys in the middle. I'm curious as to who, you personally, think was the best wrestler ever to illicit a desired reaction in both the heel and face role.

    I've got a couple guys in mind but I'll just go with my top pick:

    The Rock: As a heel with the NOD, I would argue that there was nobody with more heat than The Rock. The fans absolutely hated him and "Rocky Sucks" chants were a weekly occurrence. Eventually he began to tease some tension with the NOD, turned face, and the fans made him their "champion" just to be swerved a few months later, when Rock would align himself with The Corporation. At this point he was the top heel in the business and had proven that he could also get the fans on his side when he wanted to. And than of course, he finally began his real run as a face and arguably became the most popular wrestler, ever. You'd think at this point that The Rock would be unable to become a true heel again, but he proved everyone wrong with Hollywood Rock... maybe the greatest heel gimmick of all time.

    So, who do you think was best at playing both heel and face throughout their career?
  2. Mustang Sally

    Mustang Sally Sells seashells by the seashore

    Nov 12, 2008
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    Randy Savage.

    In the early part of his career, the guy was so bad I didn't think there was any possible way he could turn face and have it be convincing, even though just about everyone who's ever performed in the ring has taken a turn at good guy and bad guy.

    Savage radiated 'badness' from the glee he seemed to take in strangling Ricky Steamboat with the ring rope to the awful manner in which he treated my girlhood idol, Miss Elizabeth.

    The interesting thing is that when he did go good, he really didn't act all that differently than before. He fought in essentially the same manner except that we now cheered him when he did the same stuff to bad guys that we hated him for doing to the heroes. That's effective characterization.

    That whole bit with Elizabeth, Sherri and Ultimate Warrior at WM7 was likely my favorite WWE moment of all time.

    Savage could do it all.......for good & for bad.
    Dagger Dias likes this.
  3. Waylon Mercy

    Waylon Mercy Pre-Show Stalwart

    Jun 11, 2012
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    Totally agreed with Savage.
    Would also rate Stone Cold Steve Austin at the top of my list, as his character was initially intended to be a heel. The incredible turn of events at WM 13 solidified Austin as a face, yet he still maintained the edge he had as a heel.
    Also would give Eddie Guerrero's "Latino Heat" major props. He was a master at using heel tactics (while being 100% completely face) to score a cheap win over his opponents. The fact that he lied, cheated and stole wins from heels and playing it up for the crowds made him incredibly popular. He pretty much turned the formula upside down.
  4. Prince Vee

    Prince Vee Better than I think I am

    Nov 25, 2014
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    The first name that came up my mind was Chris Jericho. But one would say he's a better heel than a face it doesn't matter anyhow coz the fans love him when he runs as a face. I really enjoyed his recent work with Bray Wyatt as a face.

    Next I would add CM Punk to this list. His character in WWE is some sort of unique that made the crowd to love him whether he's a face or a heel.

  5. hatehabsforever

    hatehabsforever Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator

    Mar 5, 2007
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    I would have to select the late :( Rowdy Roddy Piper. When he was bad, he was utterly despised, going way back to the earliest days of Wrestlemania. But when he was the funny, smart assed Piper, especially later in his career, he typically had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands. Piper was such an asshole when he was a heel, but would elicit a very favorable face reaction when he was playing the other side of the coin. All due respect to Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, the Rock, and a handful of others who were great at playing either side of the heel/face game, but Piper was in a class of his own in this regard.
  6. The Fabulous Rougeau's

    The Fabulous Rougeau's Championship Contender

    Mar 13, 2012
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    Hogan and The Rock are the 2 best examples of guys who were on top of there games at the highest level as both. After them a guy like Jericho has to be mentioned. He is just as adept at playing a face as he is a heel and has done both at the highest levels.
  7. Jonyboyuk2

    Jonyboyuk2 Getting Noticed By Management

    Feb 2, 2012
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    The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and Bret Hart.

    Rock was awesome as a heel and was so bad he became good. His run from late 1998 to 2001 was so brilliant and its a shame younger fans never saw how good that time was.

    Hogan; number 1 face of all time. When he went bad - he changed wrestling forever. And he was very effective during the first 2 years of his heel run.

    Roddy Piper - he was a legit bad ass bad guy. What I admired is he played a heel for years then when he turned face he stayed that way forever. Absolute beast.

    Shawn Michaels baby face run in 1996 was when he was the main eventer every PPV. But his face run from 2002 to his end of career was brilliant. Yes I know he went heel in 2005 for 3 weeks or so for the Hogan match but he was predominantly a face for 99.99% of his last run. His mic work as a heel during that short time was brilliant too.
    HBK was always exciting in the ring whatever role he played.

    CM Punk- excellent as both face and heel. His pipe bomb moments all the way through to his bouts with Rock and Undertaker - excellent.

    Bret Hart - he was the great hero - then he turned on the USA fans (or they turned on him depending on how you see it). What a babyface bret was - but then his 1997 turn was just a white hot 6 month period and one that laid the foundation for Stone Cold.

    L@RISANO R.I.P Mustang Sally :( :( :(

    Nov 27, 2013
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    the Undertaker is my pick.

    Strong Heel as Ministry Taker and by an largr haz been a beloved Babyface character for the past decade or more and cant be said to have become stale whatsoever.
  9. World Class Mark

    World Class Mark Occasional Pre-Show

    Jan 3, 2015
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    Rock, agreed. Savage, agreed. HBK, agreed. I also thought Bret was fantastic in his last run as a heel, and he was a great face as well. Stone Cold. Flair was a great … well, he always got cheered as a heel, so he's kind of in another category, but he played both sides well. I liked Angle as a heel in WWE and as a bad-ass face in TNA.

  10. S'All Goodman

    S'All Goodman S'All Goodman

    Aug 4, 2014
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    My 2 picks for the greatest heels would have to be JBL - 2004 and Jericho - 2008.

    I hated JBL back in 2004, especially when he beat Eddie. he didn't care about being a 'cool heel' he was an old fashion heel who would do anything to be hated by the fans. there was nothing cool about him. Still to this day, his 2004 heel run was one of the greatest heel runs I've ever seen.
  11. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

    Apr 10, 2013
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    Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Arguably just as over as Hogan was in the late 80's. In fact so over, they scrapped a planned program between Jake and Hogan because Jake was actually getting more cheers than Hogan was....in the HEYDAY of Hulkamania!! Jake was cool as a face. His music, walking to ring with Damien, his legendary promos on the mic, and who could forget the DDT!! To me he was one of the first "tweeners" because Jake had a sinister side to him. Even though he was a bonafide babyface there was always something about Jake was separated him from the rest of the babyfaces.

    Leading too....his HEEL turn in '91!! This is where "The Snake" character truly blossomed in my opinion. It was amazing because he still kept the characteristics that made him a fan favorite. He was still Jake "The Snake" Roberts, he didn't change at all. He walked the same, spoke the same, wrestled the same. But no one can forget his king cobra attack on Randy Savage or slapping Elizabeth. Jake was a masterful heel but he could play both so well. I was sorry to see his heel run cut so short at WrestleMania because they could've done so much with Jake.
  12. HamSwissman

    HamSwissman Occasional Pre-Show

    Mar 20, 2011
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    Another name to add; Kurt freaking Angle. The guy could be the comedy act heel, comedy act babyface, ruthless heel, ruthless face or about anything in between. I'd personally say he was best as a heel, but the guy could do it all.
  13. Radical Canadian Goose

    Radical Canadian Goose Getting Noticed By Management

    Feb 14, 2010
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    To me it's HHH. He draws crazy heat as a heel ands ridiculously hated by the fans when he opens his mouth (be it the blue blood version, the heel Dx, 2 man power trip, authority, and other angles) the fans boo. But as a face he was crazy popular as well (see DX). Savage,Angle, Rock, Austin, Piper are all awesome picks, I just choose the son in law of the boss
    Mustang Sally likes this.
  14. Jeff Deliverer of Mail

    Jeff Deliverer of Mail Join WZCW because writing is hip
    E-Fed Mod

    Jun 15, 2015
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    Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Bret the Hitman Hart, HBK , Undertaker , Triple H , Stone Cold Steve Austin , Lex Luger , Randy Orton , Kurt Angle , Big Kevin Nash , C.M Punk , Chris Jericho....they all did great jobs as Heel/Face in my opinion.

    " If the United States were to get an enema , you'd stick the host right here in Pittsburgh ! ". - Awesomely said by a heel Bret Hart.
  15. WorstWrestlingExcrement

    WorstWrestlingExcrement Getting Noticed By Management

    Jul 8, 2015
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    Macho Man " Randy Savage" Rowdy Roddy Piper,Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger , SID VICIOUS, "Mr Wonderful " Paul Orndorff , Bret Hart, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Kevin Nash , CM Punk , Triple H, Andre The Giant and Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Ric Flair
  16. roipdh123

    roipdh123 Getting Noticed By Management

    Jul 22, 2012
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    Jake Roberts & Cm Punk & Ric Flair & Hulk Hogan & Chris Jericho & Paul Orndorff & Roddy Piper & Goldust & Triple H & Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart & Owen Hart & Andre The Giant & Eddie Guerrero & Kurt Angle & The Undertaker & Mick Foley & The Rock & Lex Luger & Booker T & Vince McMahon.

    But I really think the best one is Jake for the reasons said above. Absolutley a pheonomenal performer.
  17. FlairFan2003

    FlairFan2003 Mid-Card Championship Winner

    May 1, 2007
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    There are two ways to switch from hero to villain - You either do a complete 180 with your character, or you make very subtle changes in your promos and ring work and the crowd reacts.

    Personally I prefer a wrestler who can get the crowd to clearly hate him or clearly cheer for him with just the most minor of adjustments in presentation. It shows their charisma and ability to engage the audience is so strong they can basically be the same character all the time and work you into cheering or jeering based on the storyline. That's not say there haven't been successful ones who basically played two completely different characters, that just personally isn't as impressive as the guys who can change an entire audience with just minor tweeks in their presentation and stay true to their original character.

    Guys like Flair, Piper, Kevin Nash all come to mind as extremely over as heels and faces while basically playing the same character, just minor changes here and there and crowds completely went the opposite direction. To a lesser extent HHH post DX has been able to do this but he at least to me always seemed more over with fans as a heel. In his later years Randy Savage was in this camp too, once he got past the ridiculous "Macho King" gimmick, basically playing the wild card crazy guy pretty much straight through 1992-on while having a couple of character switches that worked very well with the audience, actually changing very little about his basic character.

    Although that is definitely my favorite kind of performer when it comes to playing both the hero & villain there are couple of guys who managed to have very successful runs as both that deserve some props even though they are part of the other category - those who completely made over & changed their entire presentation to switch sides. Those guys would include Hulk Hogan (Hulka-Mania vs Hollywood), HBK (the arrogaunt, over the top cowardly DX version vs the middle of the road, older, wiser, man of the people post 2002 version), Lex Luger (his All American WWE gimmick was very similar in his work and presentation to his fan fave days in the NWA/WCW, while his heel work either in the Horsemen or with Harley Race was near identical to his Narcissist Gimmick, two completely different personas and presentations that both had a lot of success), are among the very best in this category through the years I believe.

    I'll also say I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of Edge from his tag team days into the Rated R SuperStar and it would have been interesting to see if he could have maintained the same level of popularity in that role as a face as he did as a heel, where he was terrific, albeit injuries hampered his career.

    Mick Foley is kind of a category all to himself....managing to be both hated and loved based on storyline needs in almost all of his various incarnations, yet he played a lot of different characters to achieve that....almost like a hybrid of the two styles.
  18. Rhodes2TheFuture3313

    Rhodes2TheFuture3313 Getting Noticed By Management

    Mar 21, 2013
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    There's so many, but the ones who really stood out: Jake Roberts, Macho Man, Ric Flair, Razor Ramon, HBK, Y2J, Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton, Latino Heat, and John Cena. Cena's heel run as the Dr. of Thuganomics was and remains simply brilliant. Some guys I didn't mention: Hogan was great as Hollywood, but he's way too popular and well-known as The Real American. Stone Cold and the Rock were way better as bada$$ faces. Piper despite his great early work as a heel, much better as a Face. Andre was so loved during his late heel run it's amazing they pulled it off. The Hitman wayyy better Face. HHH arguably the best HEEL of all-time.
  19. CrucifiedRaven

    CrucifiedRaven The Evenflow Effect

    Aug 12, 2012
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    For me it is The Rock. As posted by others, a lot of guys have been really good. Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, etc. But for me The Rock did both the best.

    His entire career progression and rise to the top was quite fascinating to watch. As a heel, there weren't many more hated in the company during his days in the Nation of Domination and as the Corporate Champion. His 1998-99 feuds with Ken Shamrock, HHH and Mankind go without saying.

    From there, I don't think I need to talk about his 1999-2000 babyface run and how insanely over the guy was.
  20. comrade_mario

    comrade_mario Mid-Card Championship Winner

    Feb 11, 2010
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    Randy Savage and Bret Hart get my votes. I think some people too easily discount how hard it actually is to do something like Savage did when he switched himself from being a hugely over babyface champion in to the company's top heel whilst in the midst of his run. He went from a great babyface run to possibly even a better heel run as the Macho King then before switching back in one of the wall time great Wrestlemania matches and moments at Wrestlemania VII.

    Bret and Austin's double turn at Wrestlemania XIII was a thing of beauty then. I know it's easy to look back on and say it was the right moment for Hart to turn but he still had a huge fanbase in the US at the time, as evidenced by the amount of cheers he got the next night on Raw before he cut a great promo on how American fans can stick it. I think people need to give him more credit for remaining over as a heel past Summerslam too. He was the best wrestler of the year in 1997, his character and feud felt very fresh and people still had a tonne of respect for him. It would have been easy to allow himself to get over with the audience based on his new attitude but he firmly kept on the heel path instead.
  21. MCMG

    MCMG King Of The Ring

    Apr 19, 2010
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    There are a bunch of names that come to mind. Many already suggested. Savage, Jericho, Punk, Orton all stand out. I suppose there are others. For example, Edge was a solid babyface but his heel work is just so much better. Similar with the likes of Piper, Flair and Batista. It's not as if Shawn, Taker, Foley, Austin and perhaps Lesnar (that remains to be seen) where bad at one of the roles but I would suggest there are two names that are truly above the rest.

    Triple H was special in either role. To me, he is one of the greatest heels of all time and his work can still be seen to this day. He is fantastic at getting heat and very few wrestlers have got emotion out a a crowd like Triple H. Indeed, with him being on TV less often, playing a more mellowed character and his reputation off-screen; I think he may be cheered a bit more often. Give him one promo, however, and he will have an entire crowd hating him. Evolution was fantastic. As with the stuff with Stephanie in the early 2000's.

    His babyface work was also very good. The work in DX (in different eras) really stands out. How about that awesome run after his injury in 2001. The guy could be a funny babyface but also a bad-ass; for example, him breaking into Randy Orton's house in 09. Sure it is in part due to longevity, but very few wrestlers have offered as much as both a heel and a babyface.

    The Rock is an obvious name. He is entertaining as either but I think I prefer his work as a heel. Both in the corporation and when he was Hollywood Rock. Flip that to when he was a babyface and we have him feuding with Triple H or Cena. Again, very memorable and entertaining.

    Jericho, Punk and Savage are all fine examples as well but Triple H and The Rock belong in their own elite class. No-one, in my eyes, conquered both roles as well as these men did. Indeed, both were versatile within their realm of heel or babyface further strengthening their case.

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