Until Superman played by the morals of humanity, saving others and selflessly staking his life on the line countless times, he was the epitome of superheroes but as soon as she started thinking about himself and going for glory, mankind shunned him to the deepest depths of despair.
It is easy to be the hero in someone’s story because at the end of the day you will have to play the good guy whose path is always charted. However, being the villain in someone’s story is not something that comes scripted in a book. It can be forged from madness like the Joker’s, a voracity to conquer the world and inflict self-styled morals like the deranged titan, Thanos, or simply breed chaos like Vince McMahon.
Wait, did I just say Vince McMahon? I did. The man who can be single-handedly defined as the biggest heel of all time in WWE, Vince owns the company and decides the drumbeats to which the WWE universe will perform.
What exactly is a heel? Going by the lexicon, it is an extremely obnoxious person or thing committed to performing derogatory, deranged, heinous and nefarious acts that will make people reprehend him to the very core.
In WWE’s story-telling, like the way the Universe needs baby faces to uplift the morals and the righteous side of the universe, similarly, heels play an extremely crucial part in according the ultimate shape to the story.
In today’s story, we will take a look at the five most beloved and popular heels of all time. Please do take into account, that these heels are not the best in business but managed to the crowd detest and abhor them alongside the deep-rooted admiration that they have built over the span of years.
#5 CM Punk
Popularity and the leader of the straight-edge of the straight-edge society go hand in hand, despite CM Punk is one of the most notorious heels of all time. He was drafted into WCW in 2006 but it took him three long years to finally leave a mark on the fabric of WWE as one of the greatest heels of all time.
After being drafted to the brand Smackdown in 2009, Punk won the Money in the Bank ladder match for the second time and waited patiently like a hawk to lay his hands on his prey (read that as the prized WWE title). He finally chose to cash in on the contract following a relentless display of aggression at a ladder match between Edge and Jeff Hardy in Extreme Rules in the month of June in that very year.
However, what defined the start of his heel run was Punk cashing in on against Jeff who just survived the scorching heat of a ladder match against one of the topmost heels of all time, Edge. He continued with his acts of defining himself as a heel by getting himself deliberately disqualified at the Bash in order to retain his crown. This was the defining moment in his heel turn as he started pulling Hardy’s previous struggle with drugs and calling out the industry’s magnates effortlessly with his acerbic volley of invectives.
Punk’s next big short at validating his nefarious side was the formation of a straight-edge society that was a cult-like faction and it witnessed Serena Deeb shave her head in the middle of the ring.
Despite the straight-edge society failing, Punk would continue with his leadership role, now as a head of the newly formed Nexus. However, it was his pipe-bomb promo against the authority that turned him into the most popular act on TV and WWE.
With all said and done, Punk finally gave up his heel run as he failed to defeat the Undertaker at Wrestle Mania 29 and returned for one last time but this time as a face.
#4 Ric Flair
The nature boy and the man with the highest number of WWE championships, Ric Flair was a substantial heel of all time. He got a lion’s share of his legacy built in the Jim Crockett Promotions, the NWA and the WCW, he also evolved himself as one of the greatest heels in WWE.
In late 1991, he switched his allegiance from the WCW to WWE, bringing with himself the prized NWA Heavyweight Championship. He called himself the real World Champion which didn’t sit well with the WWE Universe as they preferred Hulk Hogan as their messiah with that same title.
His rancour with Randy Savage at Wrestle Mania VIII will eventually turn out to be the best icing on the cake for his heel career. He would repeatedly allude to the fact that he and Savage’s wife, Elizabeth were having an affair behind his back. He would even go onto the extent of claiming to validate it by dangling banners of Elizabeth from the rafters of the Canseco Fieldhouse prior to their title match.
Despite Flair losing out the title to a livid Randy Savage, he shortly concocted a partnership with Razor Ramon and regained the title, underlining his supremacy. With all said and done, his stint with WWE would eventually meet an end in 1993 but he would return to the company eight years after the ill-fated fall of the WCW.
He would eventually come out as an accomplice to Triple H’s nefarious acts and then would go onto be an industrious part of the infamous faction “Evolution” before finally pulling the plug on his WWE career.
#3 Chris Jericho
On August 9, 1999, the turn of the clock came for Chris Jericho as he made his anticipated debut, cutting short “The Rock” in the middle of a promo. This sent a boatload of cheers throughout the WWE universe because not every single day you get to stop the Rock caught in the middle of his speech.
His initial heel-turn drew severe flak as he attempted to break Chyna’s thumb with a hammer after an ignominious defeat at the 1999 Survivor Series. This was followed by a babyface run for the next two years before WWE was impressed by his remarkable run and finally decided to turn him into a heel.
He kept on using unclean means to lay hands on the title and this would leave the rock unfazed who will go on to heap countless praises on Y2J.
For the next three years, Jericho would prove to be the ultimate heel by laying waste to several opponents who would cross paths with him and eventually gaining several titles too. However, the culmination of his heel character will blow through the roofs in 2008 when he collided with the Heartbreak Kid.
It was this collision that shaped up the vignette of the Y2J as he would shuffle his stance from a comic villain to a much colder and calculated inhuman who would stop at nothing to win whatever has been his.
He named himself the best in the world and organized a series of brutalized assaults on HBK with the intent to finish his career. The duo fought one of the most brutalized, bloodied and bruised bouts in the glorious and chequered antiquity of WWE, leaving each other sprawled in a pool of blood at the No Mercy PPV in 2008.
Jericho would continue his heel run by excruciating the likes of Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Micky Rourke and most infamously Rey Mysterio from whom he would attempt to steal the mask, and soiling the latter’s tradition in the process.
His collaboration with the Big Show also got him several title-shots for the Tag Team championship and the duo left the WWE tag echelons absolutely spooked.
#2 Triple H
The Cerebral Assassin, the Connecticut blue blood Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The Game, The King of Kings, the degenerate leader of the DX, call him by whatever name you want to, this man has redefined the concept of being a heel.
His first real shot at glory arrived when he fought out a fierce bout with Mankind that eventually gave rise to the belief that he is a top-table contender. He broke all ranks with his phenomenal performance as a heel for the faction DX that was found by him and Shawn Michael.
The first major brush of his heel turn will come when he would announce on the wedding night of Stephanie McMahon and Test that he has espoused Steph the night before.
Throughout 2000, Triple H would become WWE’s most valued wrestler and despite being abhorred by the entire WWE universe, his towering presence would result in countless nominations for matches of the year.
He would take a year off to recover from his quadriceps tear and then his return to WWE in 200 would commence the infamous “Reign of Terror”. He was always main-eventing PPVs, maintaining a very close bond with the World Heavyweight championship and very rarely lost clean to his oppositions.
It was in 2013 when his role as the Authority began with Triple H once again entering the ring against Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan and the Undertaker to prove the despicable and yet the most beloved man of WWE.
#1 Stone Cold Steve Austin
If there was one man who spearheaded the company’s rise to the zenith of popularity, it was the Texas Rattlesnake aka Stone Cold Steve Austin. He championed the cause of being the industry’s face in one of its most remarkable phases known as the Attitude Era.
Despite being a phenomenal wrestler, his flight of fancy was stuck with Ted DiBiase being his spokesperson. It was a heel-turn from SCSA that changed his entire paradigm and the face of WWE forever.
After the departure of DiBiase, SCSA finally attained his Stone Cold gimmick and started tearing his opponents to shreds with calculated methods of brutality. With this also arrived one of the most infamous finishing moves of all time, the Stunner. The Stunner was an Ace Crusher variation but got a new lease of life with Stone Cold rechristening the move.
He also spawned the use of blasphemy and profanity that was a new side to Vince’s controlled showdown. We will take you through a few remarkable lines that Austin would drop after defeating Jake Roberts in the King of the Ring finals in 1996. They were, “You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere! Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16… Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”
Late in 1996, he targeted Bret Hart by antagonizing him and issuing a volley of swear words at the icon, provoking him to return to the ring for one more time. The rivalry will go on for a considerable amount of time with a sudden switch in the fate of the two superstars as Austin chose light while Bret Hart stepped into the darker side of the force.
As a result of all this popularity and his brutal in-ring personality laced with some crazy wrestling skills, SCSA was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.