The heel turn can be one of the most effective use of storytelling in wrestling.
It can reinvigorate a tired character into a main event star, breathing new life into somebody the fans may have given up on.
Some of the best heel turns have created some of the greatest wrestling characters of all time – Hulk Hogan joining the NWO being one key example.
However, they don’t always go right. Sometimes a heel turn goes badly, with fans rejecting it completely, not understanding why their favorite has turned bad, or simply being confused at what is going on.
Here are the worst heel turns in WWE history. Tell us which is your least favorite in the comments section below.
Rikishi Turning On Steve Austin “For The Rock”
Going from thong-wearing break-dancer to an attempted murder with a car, Rikishi’s heel turn was as confusing as it was bad.
At Survivor Series 1999, Rikishi ran over Steve Austin with a car, taking him out of the main event match against Triple H.
This put Austin on the shelf for a number of months, leading fans to try and figure out which of his rivals tried to kill him on that fateful.
Eleven months later, Rikishi revealed he was the one who hit Austin with his car! He famously claimed he “did it for The Rock”, which The Rock denied by calling him a “thong wearing fatty”.
It later came out that Triple H got Rikishi to do it, but it didn’t matter. Rikishi was not up to being a main event heel, and the move away from Too Cool was too drastic for the Samoan.
His time in the main event was short, and even Rikishi agreed that his heel turn came too soon for him.
Randy Orton and Triple H Ruins Daniel Bryan’s Moment
At Summerslam 2013, Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena to win the WWE Championship for the first time.
This came after an incredible career where Bryan worked hard to become the best wrestler in the world, winning over WWE fans and management in equal measure.
Nothing could spoil this moment – unless special guest referee Triple H had anything to say about it.
While Bryan was celebrating his win at Summerslam 2013, Triple H turned heel by hitting him with a pedrigree. Randy Orton then entered, turning heel by cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and pinned Bryan for the title.
This heel turn was a way to get Daniel Bryan out of the title picture, despite im being beloved by the crowd.
It also formed The Authority, widely regarded as one of the worst factions in WWE history.
Eddie Guerrero Turns On Tajiri…and Nobody Cares
In 2003, Eddie Guerrero turned on his brand-new tag team partner Tajiri.
The pair had not been teaming together for long, so the fans had little time to build up a connection with the two men as a duo, despite their success as WWE Tag Team Champions.
After a short time together, Eddie Guerrero attacked Tajiri, turning heel and ending their team together. But the fans simply didn’t care.
Guerrero was the same old liar, cheat and thief he was as a face – nothing changed about his character, but WWE expected fans to boo him.
This obviously did not work, and Eddie Guerrero was celebrated as a huge babyface WWE Champion less than a year later.
Michael Cole Turns Heel And Ruins The Entire Show
2010 saw one the birth of one of the worst characters in wrestling history – Heel Michael Cole.
Cole first began turning heel by showing his support for The Miz, but he soon dominated the entirety of Monday Night Raw with his incredibly annoying commentary work.
As the lead announcer, Cole ruined the entire show. He completely ruined any chance of enjoying the show, being the most irritating, obnoxious characters in the history of wrestling.
He did have some highlights – the “Cole Mine” (a big plastic box he did commentary from) being at ringside being the main one – but he generally made the show unbearable to watch, and thousands changed the channel in protest.
This awful heel turn ended with Jerry Lawler had a heart attack live on Raw, but not before the pair wrestled in the worst wrestling match in WWE history.
Steve Austin Joins Vince McMahon At WrestleMania X7
When “Stone Cold” Steve Austin turned on The Rock to join Mr McMahon at the end of WrestleMania X7, it signaled the end of the Attitude Era in WWE.
Austin’s heel turn was a confusing disaster, as he was the top face in all of wrestling, beloved by every wrestling fan in 2001.
If you look at this in a business sense, it has to be the worst heel turn. WWE business dropped off a cliff after WrestleMania X7, with fans not at all on board with a heel Stone Cold.
With the death of WCW just weeks earlier, fans wanted to see a face-Stone Cold doing battle with all the stars of WCW.
Instead, they simply turned off the TV. Ratings took a nosedive, and pay per view buys went down to a level they never recovered from.
Even Steve Austin has admitted it was a bad idea, and wishes he’d hit McMahon with a stunner in the ring instead.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.