By Adam Blampied
A well-executed heel turn can revitalise a company, just ask Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon.
In 1996, the Hulkster swapped the tiresome red and yellow for the edgy black and white, and standing on the shoulders of the nWo phenomenon, WCW entered into a period of hitherto-seen financial boom. This lasted until early 1998, when Vince McMahon’s heel turn said ‘hold my beer’ and his subsequent feud with Steve Austin took WWF to even further heights of money money dollar dollar.
However, not every turn works out to be quite so industry-shaping. Some turns backfire creatively – all of Sting’s heel turns in WCW & TNA spring to mind – whereas some backfire so much that they actually end up causing lasting damage to not only the wrestler but sometimes to the promotion itself.
10. Braun Strowman ForGETS THESE FANS
Once upon a time, Braun Strowman was seen as a star with Hogan-levels of potential for galvanising the fans. Cut to 2020, he’s Universal Champion and that sound you can hear is tumbleweed lying perfectly because even it can’t be arsed.
Remember when Braun was powered by ACME logic, and drew huge reactions by being a gleefully indestructible, double-bass playing, ambulance flipping, grappling hook wielding looney tune? He got a thunderous pop at SummerSlam 2018 when it looked like he would cash in Money In The Bank against the Bog Dog and the Beastie Boy. What happened next, however, would permanently curtail his popularity.
He turned heel, allied himself with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler and was immediately nerfed beyond all recognition. The man who could flip over the sky itself suddenly needed backup, and couldn’t even finish a Hell In A Cell match after a small amount of Brock Lesnar interference. When you consider the amount of money WWE could have made if they’d continued Strowman’s ascendance to Godhood, it’s one of the most damaging turns of the last few years.
9. The Heartbreak Kid Throws A Tantrum
Several sex tapes and Saudi shows have tarnished the shine of the Showstopper and the Hulkster. However, no matter how we feel about them today, in 2005, on paper, Shawn Michaels vs Hulk Hogan was the dreamiest of dream matches.
It ended up being a disaster, viewed by some akin to a B-movie cult classic, but by others and a colossal waste of wrasslin’ potential. Shawn Michaels sabotaged the match, cartoonishly over-selling Hogan’s offence with unnecessary flips and facial gurns so much that the whole affair resembled a man wrestling inside his own personal tornado while an orange golem stood there looking confused.
The reason Shawn decided to tank the match was simple. A month before SummerSlam he had been forced by WWE to turn heel, at Hogan’s request, he hadn’t wanted to, and this is what happens when Shawn Michaels gets grumpy.
The brief heel run was actually pretty good. Michaels cut his brilliant ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ promo in Montreal, and did a couple of funny skits about Hogan being old. Despite this, Michaels was incensed by being asked to compromise his character, and when Hogan nixed the months-long program HBK had been promised in favour of a one-and-done at SummerSlam, his anger boiled over and now that marquee match, HBK vs Hogan, will never truly come to be.
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