In the world of professional wrestling, an effective babyface will get the audience to watch the show but an effective heel will make sure that the audience is fully invested in the triumph of that babyface, that's how important a great heel is in the wrestling industry. They mesmerize us with their villainous personas, ignite intense rivalries, and leave a lasting impact on WWE history. From larger-than-life personalities to captivating storylines, these top 10 greatest heels in WWE have left an indelible mark on our memories.
10. Triple H
Triple H’s career doesn’t need any introduction. The moment Hunter debuted in the WWE, every person on that roster knew that he was destined for great things. Triple H has been a part of some of the landmark factions in the entire industry, namely DX, and Evolution. While he was a member of the DX, he reveled in breaking the rules and sticking it to the ‘Man’ which made him one of the most entertaining heels of that era and had some amazing matches with The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, just to name a few.
His most recent heel run was during the Authority storyline, where he was the big boss that Daniel Bryan had to overcome to achieve his dream and win the WWE Undisputed Championship.
9. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels rose to stardom in the wrestling world, primarily known for his partnership with Marty Jannetty as The Rockers tag team. Their popularity among fans helped lay the foundation for Michaels' career. However, it was a shocking moment in 1992, when Michaels superkicked Jannetty through the "Barber Shop Window," that truly revealed his star potential. This unexpected turn made it clear to fans that Michaels possessed something extraordinary.
After this heel turn, Michaels adopted the moniker "Showstopper" in WWE. His arrogant persona and captivating character allowed him to generate strong reactions from the audience. Michaels engaged in memorable matches with legendary wrestlers like Bret Hart, Diesel, and The Undertaker, showcasing his remarkable in-ring abilities. His compelling promos, including the notable one in Montreal, highlighted his attitude and swagger, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest heels of that era.
Although Michaels' time as a heel was relatively short, its impact was profound. His contributions during this phase of his career significantly influenced his legacy as one of the most influential wrestlers of his time.
Edge, the wrestling legend we all know and love, has had an incredible journey in WWE. From winning championships to headlining unforgettable events, he has left a lasting legacy. But let's not forget his early days as one of the most despised heels in the business.
Teaming up with Christian in Gangrel's brood, they shocked fans by betraying their leader and transforming into ruthless villains. It was a bold move that set the stage for Edge's iconic run as the "Rated-R Superstar" in the mid-2000s. This persona pushed boundaries and made him infamous for bending and breaking the rules.
His feuds with wrestling icons like John Cena, The Undertaker, and Batista were legendary. Edge knew how to get under their skin, delivering razor-sharp promos that were filled with wit and crafted to elicit strong reactions. He was a true master of being a heel, expertly generating disdain from both his opponents and the audience.
Although Edge eventually transitioned to a different phase in his career, his impact as one of the greatest villains in WWE history cannot be denied. His captivating performances and ability to evoke intense emotions have secured his place among the all-time greats in the industry.
7. Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa initially gained recognition in NXT as one half of the popular tag team DIY, alongside Johnny Gargano. Their chemistry and in-ring abilities quickly endeared them to fans, solidifying their status as fan favorites. However, their partnership took a devastating turn in 2017 when Ciampa shockingly betrayed Gargano.
Ciampa's heel turn was nothing short of dramatic, leaving fans stunned and emotionally invested in their storyline. It sparked one of the most intense and personal feuds ever witnessed in NXT. Embracing a sadistic and ruthless persona, Ciampa became one of the most despised villains in the company.
The matches between Ciampa and Gargano became the stuff of legend, showcasing their incredible in-ring skills and telling a compelling story. The physicality and emotional investment in their encounters made them some of the most memorable moments in NXT history. In 2018, Ciampa's reign as NXT Champion further solidified his impact, as he displayed dominance and cunning in his pursuit of the title.
Not only was Ciampa an exceptional in-ring performer, but his promos were also a highlight of his heel character and further solidified his status as one of the most captivating speakers in the company.
Ciampa's heel run in NXT showcased his versatility and ability to evoke strong emotions from the audience. His character work, combined with his in-ring skills, propelled him to great heights and secured his place as one of the standout talents in NXT history.
6. Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon, the owner and chairman of WWE, was probably one of the best heels of his own company. While he was involved only in a backstage capacity at the start of WWE, after the Montreal Screwjob the curtain was raised and out came a heel that would be remembered for the ages.
During the 1980s, McMahon emerged as a notable heel commentator, using insults and belittlement to undermine the wrestlers in the ring. This persona solidified his presence as a formidable antagonist, gaining attention and establishing his role in the industry.
In the 1990s, McMahon's character evolved into a corporate villain, involving himself in controversial storylines like the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Engaging in intense feuds with legendary figures such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mick Foley, he firmly established himself as one of WWE's most memorable heels.
What truly set McMahon apart was his willingness to put himself in physical danger. He fearlessly participated in various matches and angles, including a noteworthy street fight against his own son, Shane McMahon, at WrestleMania X-Seven.
Overall, McMahon's contributions as a heel cannot be overstated. His ability to captivate audiences, push boundaries, and apply his exceptional business acumen has made him an influential and unforgettable figure in wrestling history. Whether as a commentator or a corporate antagonist, McMahon's impact on WWE and the industry as a whole remains undeniable.
5. CM Punk
CM Punk rose to prominence in WWE during the late 2000s, captivating audiences with his distinctive appearance and rebellious demeanor. While initially a fan favorite, it was his transition into a heel character that solidified his lasting legacy.
The pivotal moment in Punk's career came in 2011 with his now-famous "pipe bomb" promo. During this electrifying speech, Punk openly criticized WWE and its management, instantly establishing himself as a rebel and an outsider. This instantly propelled him to the status of one of WWE's most beloved and talked-about heels.
As a heel, Punk exuded a no-nonsense attitude and fearlessly expressed his opinions. He fearlessly criticized WWE and its performers, refusing to back down from any challenge that crossed his path.
Punk's feuds with legendary figures like John Cena and The Rock are etched in WWE history as some of the most memorable rivalries.
Despite his controversial departure from WWE in 2014, CM Punk left a monumental mark through his heel persona on the WWE and inspired many wrestlers to do the same as well.
4. Randy Orton
Randy Orton made his mark in WWE as a member of the notorious heel faction Evolution, standing alongside legends Triple H and Ric Flair. It was within this influential group that he showcased his talents and quickly rose to prominence. Orton's unique blend of arrogance and a merciless in-ring style set him apart from his peers, establishing him as a standout performer.
Throughout his illustrious career, Orton has been involved in numerous unforgettable feuds as a villain. His feud with John Cena and Edge are among the standouts; betraying Edge in 2010 while he was his tag-team partner and breaking up the Rated RKO or his long feud with John Cena for the WWE Championship. He has also had feuds with Triple H, Jeff Hardy and numerous other legends, signifying why he is called The Legend Killer. His way of adopting tactics that would the audience turn in their chairs, his sniper-like promos dissing other superstars and commenting on their personal life, or his unexpected burst of anger resulting in an RKO out of nowhere, his heel persona is considered to be one of the most well-known run in the entire company.
3. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar's WWE career is defined by his brute strength and unmatched wrestling prowess. As a heel, Lesnar was a destructive and unstoppable entity, wreaking havoc with his incredible strength and agility. His most iconic moment came in 2014 when he shockingly ended The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak, leaving a lasting impact.
Lesnar adeptly portrayed both heel and face characters throughout his tenure, but his work as a heel stands out. As WWE Champion, he became the ultimate boss figure, earning intense animosity from fans. His suplex city and finish spamming matches made him one of the most despised yet respected wrestlers of his era.
For the past decade, Lesnar has been one of the most dominant heel in wrestling, which has elevated his illustrious career, ensuring that he will always be remembered as the feared Beast Incarnate.
2. Roman Reigns
Our Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns, has emerged as one of the most dominant heels in WWE history. Roman Reigns had an underwhelming run as a babyface, never quite getting over with the audience, but in 2020 Roman finally went over to the dark side and turned heel at SummerSlam, subsequently winning the WWE Universal Championship at Payback in the same year and since then, his reign has been one of pure dominance. From legends like Edge and John Cena to fresh talents such as Sami Zayn and Daniel Bryan, everyone has tried to go against him and each one of them has failed. Fans have been clamoring for his heel turn since 2015, and it’s safe to say that fans can be right sometimes because critics have hailed his heel run as one of the greatest in the history of wrestling. With his way of cutting promos, weaving storytelling in his matches, or just blatant disregard and disrespect for his opponent, he showcases himself as the Big Boss of WWE. His WWE Undisputed Championship reign is nearing 1000 days, and it’s still anybody’s guess as to who will be the one to dethrone him.
1. Ric Flair
Ric Flair is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Nature Boy still holds the record of winning the most amount of championships; 16; in the wrestling industry which is just a sliver of his acomplishments. However, it is his charismatic personality and incredible connection with fans that truly make him stand out. Embracing the role of the "heel," Flair portrayed a self-assured and arrogant villain who reveled in his own successes. Surprisingly, this villainous behavior only endeared him further to the passionate wrestling fanbase, with his distinctive "Woooo!" chant becoming an iconic symbol of wrestling culture.
Throughout his illustrious career, Flair engaged in unforgettable rivalries with some of the industry's biggest names, including Dusty Rhodes, Sting, and Shawn Michaels. His matches were consistently captivating, thanks to his dynamic in-ring style and his remarkable ability to sell moves and tell compelling stories. After retirement, Flair has guided numerous young talents and helped them achieve great success in the industry. His heel persona has acted as a blue-print for the current superstars to follow and establish their own spin on the character which signifies how big of a mark Flair left on the industry.