As long as professional wrestling has existed, so have babyfaces and heels — the good guys and the bad guys. You can’t have a hero without a villain and that’s an equation that has served the sport well over its many years.
What happens when the good guys go bad, though? That, in wrestling terms, is called a heel turn — when the hero turns his back on the fans in an effort to look out for him or herself. One of the most legendary heel turns of all time if celebrating an anniversary. July 7 marks 20 years since Hulk Hogan turned his back on the Hulkamaniacs to launch the New World Order in WCW.
As Hulk Hogan’s heel turn was such a momentous event, Zap2it is looking back on that and 7 more heel turns that defined professional wrestling.
Hulk Hogan joins the nWo – ‘Bash at the Beach 1996’
It was a moment many never expected would happen. The “Real American” Hulk Hogan turned his back on the very establishment that made him to create the New World Order with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Fans pelted him with garbage and the group ran roughshod all over WCW until its inevitable demise in 2001.
The Rock goes Hollywood – ‘WWE Smackdown’
When The Rock turned heel in 2003, it couldn’t have been planned any better. After an absence to focus on his film career, the fans were ready to berate him for selling out and leaving them behind. Then, in an almost perfect “Smackdown” promo, he more or less told them to. That’s when Hollywood Rock was born, leading to a number of memorable moments, including his final match against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at “WrestleMania 19.”
Shawn Michaels turns on Marty Jannetty – ‘The Barber Shop’
Without this moment, it’s entirely possible Shawn Michaels’ career would have ever taken off. As his own star began to soar, Michaels superkicked his tag team partner Marty Jannetty in the face and threw him through a window. That solidified the newly-minted Heartbreak Kid as the baddest new villain on the block.
The Bret Hart/Steve Austin double turn – ‘WrestleMania 13’
It’s something that’s practically impossible to pull off in wrestling but has happened perfectly once. In their match at “WrestleMania 13,” good guy Bret Hart turned heel, while the villainous Steve Austin turned face. It’s a moment that made Austin’s career and breathed new live into Hart.
Chris Jericho reinvents himself – ‘WWE Raw’
When Chris Jericho returned to WWE in 2008 after an extended absence, his mojo just wasn’t there. Instead of evolving, his character was the same cocky wannabe rock star he’d always been and that didn’t impress the audience anymore. When he smashed Shawn Michaels’ head into a TV though. He dropped the show-off personality and adopted a wardrobe that consisted of suits and a monotonous speaking voice that loves to use big words to taunt the audience. It was the best run or Jericho’s career and his feud with Michaels during that time is the stuff of legend.
Seth Rollins dismantles The Shield – ‘WWE Raw’
For nearly two years The Shield was one of the most dominant forces in WWE, dismantling teams like Evolution and The Wyatt Family on numerous occasions, capturing the United States and Tag Team Championships and becoming one of the company’s hottest acts. That is until Seth Rollins made a deal with Triple H and stabbed his two friends — Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns — in the back, killing The Shield. It worked out well for everyone in the end, as all three members are now main event talent in WWE.
Ric Flair double crosses Sting – ‘Halloween Havoc 1995’
Let’s be honest, the fault of this one is on Sting. Ric Flair has been double crossing people for decades, so it should have some as no surprise. But it did. Flair helped Sting make his career and with one punch to the head, he tried to take it all away, crushing Sting’s dreams of having a best friend.
The Mega Powers explode
If you were a fan of pro wrestling in the 1980s, chances are Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were your heroes. When they came together to form a team known as the Mega Powers, it was beyond the wildest dreams of most. Of course, nothing good lasts forever and Savage’s ego and paranoia overtook his common sense. When he spied what he believe to be Hogan getting too close to his girlfriend Miss Elizabeth, it was all down hill from there.