Jealous of how much attention Heenan was paying to his other client, Ravishing Rick Rude, Mr. Wonderful decided to publicly fire Heenan and hire Sir Oliver Humperdink instead. The funny thing about it was, Orndorff had already fired Heenan two years earlier and reunited with him by mid-1986!
Cena was quickly becoming popular when Paul Heyman courted The Doctor Of Thuganmonics to join his client Brock Lesnar’s team at the upcoming Survivor Series. But Cena joined Kurt Angle’s squad instead, leading him to an unprecedented level of cheers… at least, for a year or so.
49) Paul Orndorff turns on Bobby Heenan (1987)
50) John Cena refuses to team with Brock Lesnar (2003)
Raven and Dreamer waged one of ECW’s longest-running feuds, so it was a huge surprise that Raven would appear out of thin air and aid his former foe in a match against The Dudley Boys, making the two ECW World Tag Team Champions.
The Samoan Bulldozer didn’t take direction well from Orton and Carlito when it came to them telling him to destroy John Cena. Instead, Umaga attacked his co-conspirators beginning a very brief but memorable babyface run.
47) Umaga turns on Randy Orton & Carlito (2007)
48) Raven teams with Tommy Dreamer (1999)
Albano had previously mocked Lauper in their feud, but teamed with her to raise funds for MS research. This draw the ire of Rowdy Roddy Piper, who broke a gold record over Albano's head and forever turned him fan favorite.
Although it seems like a such a long time ago now, The Shield were asked to destroy Jerry “The King” Lawler by Kane and company, and instead decided to rebel.
After losing a hard-fought match to Sting at Bound For Glory, Hogan was incapacitated as Stinger was brutalized by Ric Flair, Bully Ray and others. Hogan eventually came to Sting’s rescue and helped The Icon clean house, before the two turned their collective attention to Eric Bischoff.
Following last week's Top 50 Heel Turns list, I decided to cross the tracks. Believe it or not, it was much harder finding 50 memorable and cool face turns over the years. My criteria:
I had to have actually watched the face turn happen at one point over my 30+ years as a wrestling fan.
The choices here aren't necessarily endorsements of how well the turn worked for that individual, but rather the enjoyment of the actual moment itself.
These turns, for the most part, should had some sort of impact on the history of the wrestling business, be it shaking up storylines or freshening up characters.
If you leave and come back six months later to a babyface pop, good for you. But that doesn't count on this particular list. Some sort of incident had to set this up beyond "he or she came back".
Ready? Here we go!
Shortly after becoming the youngest-ever World Champion, Orton was dumped (literally) by stable-mates Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista. However, Orton refused to give up the championship and instead spit in the face of The Game and blasted him with the belt.
43) The Shield defies The Authority (2014)
44) Captain Lou Albano Embraces Cyndi Lauper (1984)
45) Hulk Hogan turns on Immortal (2011)
46) Randy Orton is betrayed by Evolution (2004)
Although Punk’s relationship with Heyman had been strained following his WrestleMania loss to The Undertaker, no one saw Heyman intentionally costing Punk the Money In The Bank ladder match as a real possibility.
The Bad Guy took offense to Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster calling him a “loser” after Ramon was upset by The 123 Kid on Raw. He also didn’t take kindly to Money Inc.’s offer to become their personal janitor.
41) CM Punk is betrayed by Paul Heyman (2013)
42) Razor Ramon fights back agaist Money Inc. (1993)
Matching the real-life events that were happening in his home country of Lithuania, Nikolai abandoned his heel persona after decades of doing so after turning against Zhukov, his former Bolsheviks partner.
Knobs and Sags were unaware that their manager Hart had given away their title shot to his other clients DiBiase and Shyster. A subsequent bribe by DiBiase to look the other way led to a brawl between the two teams.
39) Nikolai Volkoff turns against Boris Zhukov (1990)
40) The Nasty Boys turn against Jimmy Hart & Money Inc. (1992)
A member of The Four Horsemen at the time, Benoit replaced stablemate Brian Pillman in a feud with Sullivan, which at the time was strictly a heel vs heel rivalry. Benoit gained Sullivan’s wife Nancy (in the storyline and unfortunately, in real life as well).
After years of being The Rated R Superstar, Edge set out on a crusade to silence The Anonymous General Manager, heel announcer Michael Cole and anything else he deemed “stupid.” This led to a feud with Jack Swagger before he turned heel once again.
37) Chris Benoit feuds with Kevin Sullivan (1995)
38) Edge declares war on all things "stupid" (2010)
Although she was the not-so-secret object of Mr. McMahon’s affections, Stratus had enough after Vinnie Mac ordered her to get on her knees and bark like a dog. So she bided her time until WrestleMania X-7, where she slapped her former lover in the face.
After being abused by his handler Kim Chee and manager Wippleman, Kamala was starting to push back when Rev. Slick ran to ringside to aid The Ugandan Headhunter. “You – are – a – man!” the Slickster chanted repeatedly, until Kamala started believing it.
35) Trish Stratus turns on Vince McMahon (2001)
36) Kamala turns on Kim Chee & Harvey Wippleman (1993)
While The Big Red Machine has switched allegiances numerous times in his career, his first major run as a good guy came when he broke free from Vince McMahon’s Corporation and became tag team champions with D-Generation X member X-Pac.
33) Superfly Snuka turns on Captain Lou Albano (1983)
34) Kane turns on The Corporation (1999)
Snuka was solidly behind his manager Albano until he appeared on Buddy Rogers’ Corner and learned from Rogers that Albano was taking an unfair cut of his weekly paycheck.
On an edition of Prime Time Wrestling, the panelists speculated on whom Macho Man Randy Savage would choose to team up with him against Perfect's associates Flair and Razor Ramon at the upcoming Survivor Series. Perfect shocked everyone, most of all fellow panelist Heenan, by saying he would be Savage's partner.
Was it a slow burn that took several months to play out? YES! Were the Dr. Shelby “anger management” sketches more than a little silly at times? YES! But did it help to make Bryan one of the more popular wrestlers in recent memory? YES! YES! YES!
32) Daniel Bryan befriends Kane (2012)
31) Mr. Perfect turns on Ric Flair, Bobby Heenan (1992)
After being “screwed” by Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and The Rock in the final round of the Survivor Series WWF Title Tournament, Foley decided that he wasn’t cut out for the corporate life anyways and exacting revenge on The McMahon family would be far preferable.
Foley’s first flirtation with fan favoritism came when Cactus wanted to be on Big Van Vader's team. Vader manager Harley Race pitted Cactus against Paul Orndorff. All hell broke loose when Race aided Orndorff, prompting Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy to wallop his partners with a shovel. Bang Bang!
29) Mankind turns on The Corporation (1998)
30) Cactus Jack turns on Harley Race (1992)
DiBiase proudly announced that he had purchased Hercules’ contract from Heenan and planned to use Herc as his own personal slave. Of course, Hercules had no idea of this development and decided that wasn’t happening.
The roles were reversed following Taz and Sabu’s much publicized feud in the early PPV days of ECW, with Taz becoming one of the company’s top good guys.
27) Hercules turns on Bobby Heenan & Ted DiBiase (1988)
28) Taz does a double-turn with Sabu (1999)
Answering an open challenge on the USS Intrepid, Luger shed his “Narcissist” gimmick to answer the foreign challenge of Yokozuna, which he did by bodyslamming the 600-pounder in front of the world.
When DiBiase asked Slick to retrieve his Million Dollar Belt for the ominous green bag of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, The Doctor of Style told his protégé Boss Man to retrieve the belt. And retrieve it he did… until he found out DiBiase was offering Slick a bribe, at which point he returned the strap to Roberts.
25) Lex Luger turns for the love of his country (1993)
26) Big Bossman turns on Slick & Ted DiBiase (1990)
Adonis accidentally cut Beefcake's hair during a tag team match, and then teammates Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Dino Bravo abandoned him following a loss at WrestleMania III. Beefcake hung around ringside until Adonis lost a haircut match to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and gleefully shaved Adonis’s blond hair.
Upset that he hadn’t been pushed by WCW owner Bischoff, Guerrero rebelled by creating the Latino World Order, an offshoot of Bischoff’s new World order.
23) Brutus Beefcake turns on Adrian Adonis (1987)
24) Eddie Guerrero turns on Eric Bischoff (1998)
Mocking and then facing off against fellow villains The Nation of Domination gave Triple H, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and Chyna the cheers that fans had been waiting to give them since the birth of the attitude era.
Shortly after debuting in Jim Crockett Promotions, The Warriors became de factor face for taking on the foreign threats of Ivan and Nikita Koloff. This gave the fans a chance to cheer Hawk and Animal for the first time in their careers.
21) D-Generation X feuds with The Nation (1998)
22) The Road Warriors feud with The Koloffs (1986)
"Macho Man" was well on his way to becoming a fan favorite, but the real catalyst came during his feud with Honky Tonk, when he defended Miss Elizabeth's honor after years of treating her like his “property”.
Rock had lost his WWF Title to Stone Cold Steve Austin at the prior night’s WrestleMania and was getting chewed out by Corporation members including Vince and Shane McMahon and Triple H, when he finally saw The People’s Light and fought back.
19) Randy Savage feuds with The Honky Tonk Man (1988)
20) The Rock turns on The Corporation (1999)
Angle had been a heel since the beginning of his WWF run, but his loyalty to the company in its battle against WCW and ECW gave him cheers for the first time. Combine that with his run as an American hero while challenging Steve Austin for the WWF Championship right after 9/11 and you had a surefire recipe for success.
Koloff feuded viciously in the NWA with both Rhodes and Magnum T.A., but once Magnum was hospitalized in a car accident, Koloff teamed with Rhodes out of respect for his fallen rival, and the newly-christened Superpowers won the Crockett Cup.
17) Kurt Angle defends WWF against The Alliance (2001)
18) Nikita Koloff aids Dusty Rhodes (1986)
Even though his slaps across Heenan’s face were mis-timed and look extremely phony, the pop for Andre at WrestleMania VI was massive, and allowed him to leave the ring in last final “big” match a good guy.
Even though Page had a history with both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in their first WCW runs, it didn’t mean that Page would automatically accept their nWo tee-shirt. Once DDP refused it, he became one of the company’s top babyfaces.
16) Diamond Dallas Page refuses the nWo (1997)
15) Andre The Giant turns on Bobby Heenan & Haku (1990)
Dreamer had a hard time gaining fans’ respect in ECW until he took 10 lashes from The Sandman and Woman, at which point he shouted “Thank you sir, may I have another?” giving him major props from the ECW faithful.
Flair had successfully regained his NWA World Title from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at the end of their classic series, but Funk (a ringside judge for the match) wasn’t impressed. His piledriver of Flair through a wooden table turned Nature Boy face for the first time in many years.
13) Tommy Dreamer gains ECW Fans' Acceptance (1993)
14)Ric Flair is attacked by Terry Funk (1989)
The Sheik had just finished off Steve Lombardi at a television taping and was heading backstage when he crossed paths with fellow heel Slaughter, who was heading to the ring for his bout. But much like the Dr. Seuss story The Zax, the two grapplers refused to move out of each other’s way, turning Sarge into the prototypical All-American fan favorite.
Although Luger has turned back and forth many times, his most inspirational turn was at the aid of his friend Sting, who had been bullied out of title contention by Ric Flair and company.
11) Sgt. Slaughter feuds with The Iron Shiek (1984)
12) Lex Luger saves Sting from The Four Horsemen (1990)
For years, Wrestling Superstar Virgil was at the beck and call of The Million Dollar Man, doing whatever menial task his boss asked of him. But at the Royal Rumble, the bodyguard had enough and walloped his boss in the face with The Million Dollar Championship to a huge face pop.
Roberts was waiting backstage for Randy Savage and Elizabeth to arrive, when he would hit one of them with a steel chair. But The Snake's running buddy The Undertaker snatched the chair from Roberts at the last possible second, positioning The Dead Man as a hero for the first time in his career.
9) Virgil turns on Ted DiBiase (1990)
10) The Undertaker turns on Jake Roberts (1992)
While this turn doesn't sound monumental on paper, it definitely had huge implications. Sting was a charter member of Gilbert’s Hot Stuff International Stable in the UWF, until Gilbert cost him a match against Terry Taylor. This allowed Sting to dump his manager and shift allegiances, a disposition that followed The Stinger for almost all of his career.
After weeks of waiting to see whether The Game would reunite D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels and break free from his father-in-law, we got our answer on Monday Night Raw, when Triple H kept Michaels out of harm’s way during an attack by The Spirit Squad and delivered a couple of crotch chops to hammer home what was going on.
7) Sting turns on Eddie Gilbert (1987)
8) Triple H turns on Vince McMahon (2006)
When Hogan returned to the WWF, it was as part of the nWo with Hall and Nash. But by the time he competed at WrestleMania X-8 match against The Rock, The Hulkster was clearly hearing far more cheers than jeers. Hogan embraced Rock following the match, which led to a confrontation with Hall and Nash, ending their alliance for good.
For most of their friendship, Michaels hogged the spotlight, while the bodyguard Diesel did grunt work in the background. But Big Daddy Cool ended his employment with HBK at Survivor Series and captured the WWF World Championship the following week, setting up for the main event of the next year’s WrestleMania.
5) Hulk Hogan turns on Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (2002)
6) Diesel turns on Shawn Michaels (1994)
After months of teasing a turn against his Evolution stablemates, The Animal was presented with a choice: challenge for the World Title on SmackDown or face his stablemate Triple H on SmackDown. Batista definitively answered the question by powerbombing The Game through a table and signing a contact to meet him at WrestleMania XXI.
After taking some time off following WrestleMania II, Piper was angered that his Piper’s Pit talk show had been replaced on WWF programming by Adonis's Flower Shop. Adorable Adrian stole Piper's bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton to boot! This led to Piper taking on his former running buddies Adonis, Orton, Jimmy Hart, Magnificent Muraco and Mr. Fuji.
3) Batista turns on Triple H and Ric Flair (2005)
4) Rowdy Roddy Piper turns on Adrian Adonis (1986)
Savage, a heel for the past few years, lost a retirement match at WrestleMania VII to The Ultimate Warrior. To make matters worse, he was dumped (and beaten up) by manager Sensational Sherri. The “save” by his former manager Miss Elizabeth and their subsequent reunion with left more than a few people with tears in their eyes.
Austin was already hearing his fair share of cheers as he headed into WrestleMania XXIII against Hart, who was starting to be booed more and more. Although Stone Cold lost the match, he never quit, passing out from the pain instead and cementing his legacy as the toughest S.O.B. in wrestling. Stone Cold also became one of the first wrestlers in history to turn face without changing his character in the slightest, while capitalizing on a very unusual set of circumstances.
1) Steve Austin does a double-turn with Bret Hart (1997)
2) Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth reunite (1991)
So what did you think? Any major face turns missing from this list? Any you would have ranked differently? As always, leave your feedback in the Comments section below...