If you have been watching WWE for any length of time, you quickly realize that things are built on the simple premise of good versus evil. You have the face, fan favorite, and the heel, villain. Within a few seconds of a match or story line being introduced, you see it. Within the confines of professional wrestling, those lines get blurred sometimes. Other times, it is made VERY clear. of the years, we’ve seen many excel at being a face character…and we have seen those that excel at playing the heel character. During that time, you just can’t imagine one flipping sides and doing well. They are so set in their ways. It is just that hard to fathom…until it happens.
Roman Reigns is a heel, ladies and gentlemen. While he was a heel during his early run with The Shield, that was another lifetime ago. When Reigns returned from leukemia and his major main event run for the past five years, we all thought his heel days were long gone. No way he would be anything except the face of the company and preach good, strong words of wisdom to the younger generation. Oops! Wrong. Back in August, Roman Reigns returned from hiatus and was immediately a new man. No, not just his fancy teeth. He was aligned with known slimeball Paul Heyman and only cared about winning the Universal Champion. He was THE head of the table, THE tribal chief, and nobody was going to tell him any different. Best of all, he did a great job. This wasn’t some forced heel turn or ‘blah’ presentation. Reigns has been the highlight of the entire industry every single week.
Sami Zayn is a heel. Unbelievable, right? He may have turned a few years ago, but it is still shocking to me. Zayn was pure face throughout NXT and had fans in the palm of his hand. They cheered him, they cried with him, they lived his journey to the NXT Championship. His epic feud with Kevin Owens, his heartbreaking debut against John Cena, all of that was designed to be the biggest underdog of all-time. Yet, he turned…to help his enemy Kevin Owens….and guess that? He has done an amazing job. Silly me for doubting Sami Zayn. I just never saw it. Now that I see it, wow. He is great and can easily make a great face OR heel champion at the top of the card one day.
Candice LaRae is a heel right now in NXT. Next to her husband, Johnny Gargano! Both were cheered so heavily for years in NXT. I didn’t know if a heel turn would work, truth be told. I just assumed too many people would want to cheer for them. Nope, I was wrong. Gargano and LaRae have their characters down. To a smaller extent, Dakota Kai is a heel as well. Toni Storm just turned as well! What the heck is going on? NXT has been turning some beloved fan favorites as of late, and most of them have not only done well but done GREAT! You never know until you try, right?
Daniel Bryan was a heel last year. Never in a million years did I think he’d turn. You have to remember he retired in 2016 due to his health. It was sad, crushing, and a huge bitter pill to swallow for his fanbase. Bryan was done wrestling, whether he liked it or not. Quite the emotional send off. Except this is pro wrestling. Nobody ever truly retires. He fought his way back into the ring, by getting cleared. Doctor after doctor after doctor, they all said YES! Until finally WWE said YES! He was back in early 2018. Another emotional scene, this time tears of joy. He was returning to the squared circle, just in time for a successful WrestleMania 34 event. Not even seven months later, Bryan was cheating to win the WWE Championship. Resorting to cheap tactics, he was on top again. This time, with a muscle bodyguard to watch his back as well. The most beloved face of our generation was now getting booed and lecturing us on what is right and wrong. Unreal…but we loved it. Bryan did a near perfect job with that title run and did so as the bad guy.
Bayley is a heel. Freakin BAYLEY! Ms. Huglife herself is now getting booed and cheating. I can’t even begin to tell you her history growing up and training. Plus, her time in NXT and getting cheered by Izzy, her number one fan. All thrown away last year on Smackdown to destroy the tubemen and ditch the upbeat theme music to strut around with a hairstyle that defies words. A new Bayley was introduced and once you take away the initial shock, she won the Smackdown Womens Championship…and didn’t lose it until well over a year later. She did great. She is still doing great. Bayley as a heel, never say never in wrestling.
I could go on all day here. Finn Balor turned last year. Tommaso Ciampa had a mini-heel turn earlier this year. I don’t know if NXT is just trying things out or what. It has been working! That is the most shocking part of all these recent heel turns. They have stuck the landing! It makes me think about who may be next. Who is currently a face that you think would NEVER turn? Dominik? Rey Mysterio? Kofi Kingston? Otis? R-Truth? Leon Ruff?
In a world where Roman Reigns, Bayley, and Sami Zayn are all heels on the same show, anything is possible in WWE…
By Justin Watry