When things get stale for a WWE character or if the heel side is heavier than the face side in WWE, performers undergo a heel turn or face turn. Sometimes the feuds for a performer as a heel have been exhausted, necessitating a change of persona for particular Superstars.
Recently on SmackDown, there was a need for new faces, so both Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro turned into good guys. Sometimes, that change of character can save a WWE Superstar's career. While his spot in WWE was never in doubt, Roman Reigns' recent heel turn has revitalized his career. Alongside Paul Heyman, he is doing the best work of his career.
Not every face or heel turn, however, has the same impact. Some performers act the same whether they are good or bad, like Charlotte Flair, Sheamus and Randy Orton. It's just who they feud with that essentially dictates if they are heels or faces. So which recent heel/face turns of the last few months have been effective? Here are grades for five particular character shifts in WWE.
#5 Heel turn - Sheamus
Sheamus has been in the WWE for over 10 years. In that time, he's experienced a heel turn and a face turn on several different occasions. More recently, however, he has leaned heavily into the heel facet of his character. With the Bar, he was a part of a heel tag team and when he and Cesaro split, his heel turn remained in place.
Returning from an injury last year, Sheamus did so as a bad guy, targeting Jeff Hardy. It was when he was shifted to RAW during the 2020 WWE Draft when things briefly changed. Since Drew McIntyre was his friend and they grew up in the business together, he was subtly changed to a face/tweener. The Celtic Warrior fought heels but still maintained heelish tendencies. He'd still Brogue Kick allies like Keith Lee after matches. Lee constantly told McIntyre not to trust Sheamus and the Limitless One ended up being correct.
Sheamus turned on McIntyre after the Royal Rumble and was looking for a shot at the WWE Championship. McIntyre was more than willing to give it to his long-time friend, but instead, both men were put into the Elimination Chamber. McIntyre retained his title but lost it to a Miz cash-in shortly after.
The reason why this heel turn wasn't anything special is because it was telegraphed for a while. Lee's constant warnings to McIntyre almost seemed like it would be Lee who would turn. Instead, Sheamus switched his allegiance again. His character is aggressive whether a heel or a face, so there isn't much of a difference for the Celtic Warrior.
Grade for Sheamus' heel turn - C+