Professional wrestling is a weekly soap opera, with good guys and bad guys settling their differences inside the squared circle. The matches they have in the ring are accompanied by complex storylines, that take place over the course of several weeks, months, or in rare occasions, even years.
The Attitude Era changed the dynamic of babyface reactions and heel heat. Revolutionary Superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin were considered as being anti-heroes, who usually wouldn't play by the book but the crowd still loved them to death.
Despite the change in this dynamic, wrestling continued having traditional babyfaces who were cheered by the fans, and heels who were booed out of the building on a weekly basis. A character can sometimes turn their entire persona and become a babyface/heel if the storyline and the audience reaction demands it.
Let's take a look at 6 greatest babyface turns of the 21st century.
#6 Brock Lesnar
At Survivor Series 2002, a white-hot Lesnar faced off against The Big Show with the WWE Title on the line. In the closing moments of the match, Lesnar delivered a thunderous F5 to Show, and proceeded to pin him.
Lesnar's manager, Paul Heyman, suddenly grabbed the referee and hit him into unconsciousness. A shocked Lesnar chased Heyman around the ring before getting a Choke Slam from the giant. Big Show then pinned Lesnar to win the WWE Title.
Brock had just come out of a feud with The Undertaker and was still lingering between being a babyface and a tweener. Lesnar, who was hated by the crowd for destroying The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell, immediately became a fan favorite and began getting positive reactions. Lesnar went on to win the Royal Rumble match and the WWE Title at WrestleMania 19.
#5 Trish Stratus
The WWE Hall of Famer wasn't a well-liked diva in early 2001.
Trish got into a storyline with Vince McMahon and his family. The angle saw Trish getting into a relationship with Vince McMahon and the two of them boasting it in front of Vince's wife Lina McMahon, who was in a comatose state at the time and relegated to a wheelchair.
The build to the father-son match at WrestleMania 17 between Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon was an interesting one, as Trish turned into a full-blown homewrecker. Trish wheeled Linda out at WrestleMania so that she could see Vince destroy her son, Shane.
To the shock of everyone in the arena, Stratus turned babyface by slapping Vince and chasing Stephanie out to the back. The reaction she received on this turn helped her become a bonafide female Superstar and a 7-time Women's Champion.
#4 Hollywood Hogan
Hogan came into the match a dastardly heel, but as soon as the bell rang, the Toronto crowd began cheering for The Immortal One. The fans in Canada hadn't forgotten WrestleMania 6 when Hogan had lost his WWE Title to The Ultimate Warrior 12 years ago.
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The ending to the match saw The Rock come out on top. This led to Hall and Nash coming out and beating the tar out of Hogan. The Rock came back to the ring and helped Hogan fend off the villains, thus completing Hogan's face turn.
Hogan was so popular at the time that WWE didn't have a choice but to put the WWE Title belt on him, which he proceeded to lose to The Undertaker at Judgment Day 2002.
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#3 CM Punk
The Savior of the Masses, as he liked to call himself, CM Punk was on the verge of leaving WWE after his contract obligations were done with.
The departure was turned into a storyline where Punk threatened to leave the company with the WWE Title and defend it elsewhere. Punk delivered one of the greatest promos of all time on an episode of Monday Night Raw, when he ripped on WWE, Hogan, The Rock and Cena. Additionally, Punk blamed the fans for him leaving the company.
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At Money In The Bank 2011, Punk won the WWE Title despite Mr. McMahon's attempts to screw him out of the title. The moment he won the title, the white-hot Chicago crowd roared in unison and Punk turned into a full-blown babyface.
Punk lost the title to Del Rio at Summerslam, but took it back at Survivor Series 2011, kicking off a 434-day WWE title reign.
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#2 Triple H
Mr. McMahon was beaten to a pulp by Shawn Michaels in their WrestleMania 22 encounter, with Michaels coming out on top in the end. This didn't stop the boss from trying to make Michaels' life a living hell.
Vince, Shane and The Spirit Squad took down Shawn on multiple occasions. Triple H ended up getting on the wrong side of Vince and was put into a gauntlet match against The Spirit Squad.
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The match ended in shocking fashion, as Shawn Michaels ran down to the ring to the aid of Triple H, and reformed D-Generation X in front of Vince's eyes. The Game and The Heart Break Kid received a thunderous pop from the crowd as soon as they joined forces again.
For the next several months, The McMahons and DX locked horns, with Triple H and Michaels doing everything they could to piss off McMahon.
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This led to several confrontations between The Animal and the self-proclaimed Wrestling God. On an episode of Raw, Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff tried to get Batista to sign contracts for their respective brand's title matches. After pondering on it for a while, Batista decided to sign the SmackDown contract, as Triple H watched in sheer joy.
Suddenly, Batista signaled that he was staying on Raw, by turning his thumb down on The Game. A beatdown followed, with a Batista Bomb on Triple H on the table. The crowd went into a frenzy on this long-anticipated face-turn and Batista went on to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania 21.