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Opinion

Tiffany’s Take: Why Just Turning Wrestlers Heel Doesn’t Work

Turning heel doesn’t always work. Tiffany takes a look at some times it did, and other times where it hasn’t.

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Johnny Gargano Candice LeRae Heels

Turning heel doesn’t always work. Tiffany takes a look at some times it did, and other times where it hasn’t.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself diving into the archives of the WWE Network and watching shows from the Territory days, back when faces were faces, heels were heels, kayfabe was alive and well, and the marks were in the majority. One thing I noticed was that when a top babyface turned heel or vice versa, it was usually for a reason and something usually came out of it, if not a title reign, then a run at the title. It was also used to refresh a character that seemed to be going nowhere. There was USU+ALLY a purpose and plan behind those changes…usually being the operative word.

Has that changed since those golden days?

Well, yeah.

Nowadays, any time a wrestler is perceived as getting stale, or just doesn’t seem to be doing anything, the IWC wants them to turn heel because heels get the best promos, and seem to be cooler, but I would argue that unless whoever is booking/writing has a definite plan for how they want things to go, and is willing to stick to it, turning a wrestler heel is basically pointless and the same can be said for turning a heel face.

Let’s look at some heel turns that worked and some that didn’t.

Hulk Hogan

Why It Was Needed: By 1996, Hogan’s uber-good guy gimmick had pretty much run its course and his sports-entertainment style of performing was not working in WCW, which still retained its NWA/Southern-style wrestling way of performing. Plus, WCW was Ric Flair’s yard, and even though Hogan did win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, he was not the beloved Face That Runs The Place that he’d been in WWF.

Did It Work?: I would say it did. Hogan was in DESPERATE need of a new gimmick and embracing the dark side, after teasing it in 95, probably saved his career. It allowed the fans, who had gotten tired of Hogan’s gimmick, to openly boo him. In 1999, he would return to being the red and yellow babyface, and the fans loved it.

The Rock

Why It Was Needed: To put it bluntly, the Rocky Maivia gimmick had fallen as flat as cheap champagne. In 1996, wrestling fans had seen Hulk Hogan turn heel, and wrestling was starting to get edgier, even if we weren’t fully into the Attitude Era just yet, so an 80s throwback was not going to work with 90s wrestling fans.

Did It Work?: Well, saying yes, would be a HUGE understatement. Rock’s career was made by ditching Rocky Maivia and becoming The Rock and the fans loved it because he could talk trash with the best of them and was more entertaining as a heel. Of course, Rock would turn face after about a year, but he was more of a tweener and his status with the fans meant that the fans still embraced him.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Why It Was Needed: In my opinion, this wasn’t needed. Even after losing a year of his career to health problems, Austin was every bit as over as he’d been in 1999. I can see the argument that the Austin vs McMahon feud had run its course, but it seemed to be done more for shock value than a genuine plan.

Did It Work?: No. The fans didn’t want to boo Stone Cold Steve Austin, and even when he formed the Two Man Power Trip with Triple H, and it got over, the fans never really embraced it, even when Austin seemed to have been driven insane by his need to keep the WWF Championship.

Sammy Guevara

Why It Was Needed: It’s hard to say. I wasn’t familiar with Guevara before AEW, but the promos he cut about being tired of hearing how full of potential he was, made him seem like the best kind of heel: A heel with an ax to grind. He was hungry and eager to prove himself and Cody being condescending, even if he didn’t mean to be, and getting the win, only seemed to fuel him.

Did It Work?: I would say so. Before audio of him saying some really appalling things about Sasha Banks, Guevara was easily one of the most entertaining parts of Inner Circle, and he and Jericho were a great tag team.

Dean Ambrose

Why It Was Needed: Dean Ambrose had returned from a nearly nine month absence due to a torn triceps injury that lead to a bout with MRSA that nearly killed him with a new look and a more hard-nosed attitude, which caused clashes with Rollins and Reigns, who wanted their goofy Lunatic Fringe back.  Plus, it could be argued that the funny, goofy Dean Ambrose had run its course.

Did It Work?: No, for several reasons. 1. Fans still loved Ambrose and had cheered the new attitude he’d come back with in July 2018. 2. The timing of the turn was TERRIBLE, Roman Reigns had just announced that he was taking a leave of absence due to a recurrence of the leukemia he’d fought in his twenties. Fans didn’t want to see the Shield completely shatter, but the higher ups in WWE decided to go ahead with it anyway. 3. No one seemed to have figured out how to do this turn right. Instead of Ambrose just being a badass, he was turned into a fussy germaphobe that got a shot in his ass on national TV and wore a gas mask to the ring.

Seth Rollins

Why It Was Needed: I can’t say that the turn was NEEDED, but it was clear that someone had decided that it was better to end the Shield right after their huge win over Evolution rather than let them risk going stale and left the fans wanting to see the Shield reunite.

His most recent heel turn was needed because the face run had gotten stale, and being a heel seems to suit Rollins more.

Did It Work?: Yes, in both cases. Seth Rollins was easily the most hated heel during both his heel runs. In 2014/15 and 2016, seeing the former rebel turn sell-out fighting against his rebellious former friend, made for great TV.

In his current run, Rollins has been able to show how much he’s grown as a character and embracing the fans’ dislike of him due to his opinions and almost constant push.

Shawn Spears

Why It Was Needed: After being a middle/low card character best known for being able to count to ten, Spears really needed a new gimmick to make people forget about the Perfect 10 and get to show his real in-ring abilities.

Did It Work?: Yes and no. Yes, Spears got a LOT of heat for attacking Cody, who had brought him in, though it could be said that Cody referring to Spears as a ‘good hand’, which is the wrestling equivalent of saying ‘he’s got a great personality’, was a good catalyst for turning a new leaf. However, Spears hasn’t been interesting enough, even with the legendary Tully Blanchard as his manager, to really go far with it.

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae

Why It Was Needed: I can’t say Gargano’s turn was needed, but LeRae had been suffering of a lack of direction, basically being relegated to the Big Sister of the NXT Women’s Division, while finding herself abandoned when she needed help.

Did It Work?: These two are an example of a heel turn not accomplishing much. After an initial hot moment, Gargano and LeRae are basically still where they were when they were both faces: Mid-Card and nowhere near the title picture. LeRae has managed to keep some of her heat, but it’s clear that there really are no plans to really use the turn to put her in line for a title shot.

Dakota Kai

Why It was Needed: Kai may have been a fan favorite, but she’s an immensely talented performer in a promotion full of them and she definitely could’ve used a fresher gimmick after being gone for so long and a run at the title.

Did It Work?: Much like LeRae, this heel run hasn’t done a lot for Kai. She’s got more heat, and is helping get Raquel Gonzalez over, but she’s basically still where she was as a babyface, which is very disappointing.

Britt Baker

Why It Was Needed: While Baker was great as a babyface, the gimmick didn’t seem to suit her, especially after the LIT promo she cut on Bea Priestley after a botch by Priestley caused a concussion and complications that nearly cost Baker her wrestling and dental careers and seeing her get more and more annoyed at others getting title shots instead of her was fun.

Did It Work?: I would definitely say so. Baker has embraced being a heel and is clearly having a blast doing it. Even a leg injury hasn’t kept her from wreaking havoc on TV. Her feud with Big Swole, that was sidelined due to the Coronavirus outbreak, is a highlight of Dynamite.

Shawn Michaels (Rockers) 

Why It Was Needed: It had been clear for awhile that HBK was the breakout star of the Rockers and it was time for him to go off on his own since it had become clear that WWF had no intention of putting the WWF Tag Team Championship Belts on the Rockers in a way that counted.

Did It Work?: Well, HBK is a two-time Hall of Famer, a multi-time champion, Mr. WrestleMania, and an inspiration to generations of fans, so…yeah, you could say that it worked.

Becky Lynch

Why It Was Needed: Despite easily being the most over babyface in the SmackDown Women’s Division, Lynch just couldn’t seem to get to the next level, mostly because WWE didn’t really seem to want to do anything with her over Charlotte Flair.

Did It Work?: Honestly, this is a tough one to call. Lynch turning on Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam 2018 actually made her even MORE popular than she had been before. So, in terms of a successful heel turn, the answer is ‘no’, in my opinion. However, in terms of reviving her career and making her into a STAR, the answer is a DEFINITE ‘yes’ as she was the face of WWE before taking time off to have her baby.

Bayley 

Why It Was Needed: Bayley was always really popular in NXT, where her kid-friendly gimmick was a huge hit, but it had fallen flat on the main roster where tweeners/heels like Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss were more popular.

Did It Work?: Oh yeah. It can’t be argued that heel!Bayley is WAY more interesting to watch than face!Bayley was, add in heel!Sasha Banks and you have the most entertaining pair on SmackDown right now.

Sasha Banks

Why It Was Needed: Even though Sasha is over no matter what she does, she seemed to struggle as a babyface before going back to being a heel, which she always excelled at.

Did It Work?: Hell yeah. Banks came back from her sabbatical last year, fully embracing her true form as a heel and getting Bayley to turn heel too has made them the highlight of Smackdown.

Alexa Bliss

Why It Was Needed: In NXT, Alexa Bliss’ face character, sparkly, cute, fairy-ish, wasn’t getting her anywhere. She was in the mid-card and losing to any one of the Horsewomen.

Did It Work?: Bliss is definitely an example of someone really finding their stride as a heel character. As the vicious Goddess of WWE, she won both the SmackDown and RAW Women’s Titles multiple times and helped get Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey over as babyfaces. However, her more tweener run with Nikki Cross has been very entertaining.


These aren’t the only ones, of course, there have been TONS of turns over the years, many of them just by Big Show, but the one factor all the successful ones had, as I stated before, there was a plan in place for how it was going to go and the person doing the turning got something out of it. Just turning someone to refresh a stale gimmick isn’t enough, there needs to be a reason and there has to be a plan. This isn’t a strictly WWE thing, AEW has had some turns that really didn’t work out. The person turning also needs to FEEL it. If a wrestler is having fun being a heel, the audience will come around if they weren’t into it at first.

It can also be said that the same holds true for turning a heel face: there needs to be a plan in place or the fans will get bored of it and you’ll be right back where you started. Also, the wrestler needs to feel it or the fans won’t buy it. Just turning isn’t enough, for the wrestler or the fan.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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