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Greatest/Worst vs. Favorite/Hated Heel and Face Turns

I thought this might make for an interesting topic for the blog, given recent events involving CM Punk: what do you consider to be the greatest (in other words, the best executed and/or most significant) heel/face turn in professional wrestling history and the worst? Also, which heel/face turn would you consider a personal favorite (whether or not it did anything for business) and which did you absolutely hate with a passion?

Oo, fun list!

Best executed:  Paul Orndorff on Hulk Hogan.  Made sense from a business standpoint (#2 face upgrades to #1 heel), made sense from a storyline standpoint, drew MILLIONS of dollars in house show revenues alone.  Turned me into a fan for life.  Secondary honors go to the Midnight Express for making the Dynamic Dudes look like the gullible rubes we all knew they were.  The best ever face turn was clearly Virgil in 1991.  

Worst executed:  British Bulldog on Diesel in 1995.  Made no sense because they had no prior interaction, set up a title match that no one wanted to see and ended up being one of the lowest-bought PPVs in history, took a career midcarder in a loser tag team and suddenly we're supposed to buy him as a main event threat?  Epic fail all around.  Secondary honors go to both times that Billy Gunn turned on his tag team partners and failed as a single (Bart Gunn in 96 and Road Dogg in 99).  Worst face turn would probably be Randy Orton in 2004 because he looked like a weenie and it accomplished nothing.  

Favorite:  Barry Windham joins the Horsemen in 88. My friend was in TEARS when we were watching.  Also, Flair turning on Sting at Havoc 95 has gained momentum with me over the years to the point where I now love it and all the little nuances associated with t.  

Hated:  Mabel's turn in 95.  We all knew what was coming and there was nothing we could do to stop it.  

Comments

  1. I've got to say Hogan turning on WCW and kickstarting the NWO is probably more significant than Orndorff on Hogan.  I can't imagine that house show revenue then comparing to all of the money WCW was raking in 96/97

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  2. Best executed heel turn was The Rock at Survivor Series 98. My favorite was Randy Savage's face turn at WM 7. And the worst turn was probably Goldberg's heel turn. As for a more recent example, I really dug Sheamus' face turn last summer until they used it as an opportunity to turn him into John Cena Lite.

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  3. Favorite face turn: Jimmy Snuka's face turn, abandoning Captain Lou as his manager for Buddy Rogers, and immediately getting pummeled by Ray Stevens with two piledrivers on the concrete

    Most significant heel turn: Hogan's.  Of course.

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  4. YankeesHoganTripleHFanSeptember 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    I have go with Hogan to the NWO and Austin turning face at Wrestlemania 13. It's safe to say that both those turns ended up drawing a few dollars.

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  5. Can we add a category?  How about most shocking?  This wasn't my favorite turn, but the Scott Steiner turn was a pretty shocking turn and led to his entire new persona.

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  6. While I agree with everything listed I must add the double turn by Bret and Austin at WM XIII. It gave the template for the Canada-USA storyline in 1997.

    As far as bad heel/face turns the Flair/Hogan "double turn" at Uncensored '99 lacked credibility. Flair had done many heel turns in the past, but this one made zero sense. Bringing back the red and the yellow like they did was mistiming and poorly planned.

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  7. Best executed: Out of so many great ones, the one that sticks out to me is Batista's turn on Rey Mysterio at "Bragging Rights 2009". Batista was frustrated by coming so close to winning the World Heavyweight title, and then took out his frustrations on Rey in the process. I'll always remember the line "I'm gonna rip your head off", then he goes from "calmly frustrated" to PISSED in an instant, followed by a HELL of a clothesline to Rey.

    Worst executed: I'd have to go with Scott's pick, the British Bulldog turning on Diesel in 1995.

    Favorite: Same as my pick for best executed.

    Hated: HHH turning on Ric Flair during Raw Homecoming (10/3/05). After the run with Evolution, in my opinion, there was no need/reason for HHH to turn on Flair, only for this entire storyline to be totally forgotten like it never happened.

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  8. Heel: Owen '93-'94, Savage '89

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  9.  That Flair/Hogan double turn did lack credibility, good call.

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  10.  GOOD call on the Ahmed Johnson heel turn in the summer of 97. After waging such as war with Faarooq (and the Nation), you're suddenly going to join them, with a complete lack of an explanation, smh?

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  11. Favorite turn: Owen turning on Bret at RR94. Even though I saw it a year after it happened I still loved it. Did I ever mention that I hate Bret Hart...

    Least Favorite: Hall turning on Nash. Just stupid on so many levels. For one, it wasn't really a turn at all, seeing as how both both guys were already heels to start with. Plus it made no sense at all and went nowhere.

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  12. Face to Heel: Hands down Hogan BATB 96'... it turned the business around 360.

    Heel to Face: WM7 Savage reunion with Liz... it doesn't get much more emotionally charged than that

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  13. I agree about Hogan, however I loved Flair in his role as the "President" with Little Naitch by his side.

    It gave us some great quotes!

    "Hey kid you shut your mouth before I take your mother and make her a woman WOO!"

    "I'm The President, I do what I wanna' do, when I wanna do it WOOO!"

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  14. Best: Hulk --> Hollywood, Randy Savage via Elizabeth (tho technically a tweener for awhile)
    Worst: Goldberg goes heel, Sgt. Slaughter "I want my country baaaaack" face turn
    Favorite: Sweet Sapphire turns on Dusty (disturbed me greatly as an 8 y/o), Flair face turn in 1989

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  15. For me, the "best" discussion begins and ends with the Bret/Austin double-turn at WrestleMania XIII.  I know it's probably a pretty cliche choice, but it changed the business forever and created the biggest star of all time.  Sure, Austin's ascent started well before WM, but that match and that turn cemented him as a main event face who would go on to make zillions of dollars.

    As for a personal favorite, I'd have to go with Mr. Perfect's face turn on "Prime Time Wrestling" in late 1992 after the Ultimate Warrior bailed on the promotion (again).  Hennig is my all-time favorite wrestler and when it became clear that he was not only turning on Flair and Heenan, but returning to active competition, I absolutely marked out.

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  16.  The Goldberg heel turn in 2000 is another good choice.

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  17. They didn't bring back red and yellow Hulk until late summer tho, right? That whole angle was weird, because I never saw how it was supposed to be a turn for either guy. I just remember Hogan was doing the Hulk Up routine and getting face pops with it in his matches with Flair but not really otherwise. Oddly enough, he also did that in his first NWO match with Flair at COTC, so I guess I always just assumed that was a strictly Hogan/Flair thing since the rest of the time he played cowardly heel.

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  18. Worst, hated- Punk's current heel turn, or am I still supposed to wait and see how it plays out?

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  19.  The red and yellow did return in the summer of 1999.

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  20.  If we're adding that as a category can I add Coach turning heel as its a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.

    Sure it didn't amount to much in the long run but it was just perfectly executed.

    I can't recall who was wrestling but all I recall is a chair swinging in from off screen to take out the face.  Camera pans left and you see that Coach was the assailant... and it worked in a funny kind of way.

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  21. In a way, the Randy Savage face turn in 1991 is pretty cool because it was very gradual and.natural from a character standpoint. Obviously the crowd warmed up to him at WM 7, but he played it down in his commentary on Superstars when he started on Superstars a couple of weeks later. He'd still support the heels on commentary and would interview heels. I can remember him cracking jokes and being very unsympathetic to Damien getting the big Earthquake drop. He'd disparage the Warrior on commentary or pretend to not know who he was haha. The first sort of tweeter moment was when Undertaker locked UW in a a casket and He thought that might be going a little too far. So technically,I don't think his actual turn was complete until around the time of the wedding.

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  22. I'm not sure if Nikita Koloff's original face turn is one of the best or one of the worst.

    My favorite remains the Megapowers Exploding.

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  23. Randy Orton's "turn" after Summerslam 2004 is one of the worst too.

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  24.  I think someone needs a lesson in conversational geometry. . . .

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  25.  Oft mentioned in these parts was the nonsensical "Rikishi ran over Stone Cold" line of ludicrity. As opposed to turning a #2 face into a #1 heel it turned a legitimately over midcard face into an afterthought. If things are going the way I think they're going Big Show will be the new clubhouse leader for face turn - he just spent months trying to get over as a huge scary monster and now he's replacing Cena's spot at house shows. Mark Henry would even make more sense in that spot if he's healthy.

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  26. quick, someone find the last action hero video again

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  27. 360 degrees is a full circle...

    Unless you're implying that the nWo, at the end of the day, killed WCW, and thus was entirely pointless.  Which might be deeper than what you were going for.

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  28. Ah so it made sense in the 80's when the #2 face became the #1 heel. Interesting.

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  29.  Yeah, the Owen one has to be right up there, even though you saw it coming.  In a way, I prefer the heel turns in particular that you begin to anticipate because they come about naturally versus the 'shock' ones.

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  30. Bill Watts turned WCW 360 degrees.

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  31. Crush's heel turn on Savage was very well executed, as was Barry Windham turning on Dustin Rhodes at the tail end of the Bill Watts era. Thw worst would probably be Tatanka joining the evil Million Dollar Corporation and then basically doing nothing. At the very least he should have opened a crooked Indian casino.

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  32. Best executed: Hogan 96, followed by Batista's face turn on Evolution and his later heel turn on Rey.

    Worst executed: Any time a heel turns on another heel and the guy who gets attacked turns face: Orton leaving Evolution, Miz turning on Morrison, Sid laying out HBK, etc. Being such a prick that other pricks don't like you doesn't make you a good guy, it makes you an uber-prick. Plus it is literally exactly the same as when a heel turns face by attacking his heel partner, except in that case he has agency over it and it seems like a choice whereas in the other scenario it just spells "face by default" and that never works.

    Favorite: Punk in the original Summer of Punk in ROH, holding the entire crowd in the palm of his hand and just tearing them apart at their most emotional moment. Just brilliant.

    Least favorite: Austin turning heel at X7. Some people love this but I just didn't buy it, and it felt forced to me.

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  33. Shawn Michaels kicking Marty Janetty throught the Barbershop window has always been one of my favorite heel turns (c'mon Kofi kick R-Truth through something).

    And like Scott said you can't discount the Windham joining the Horsemen angle, that was one epic heel turn.

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  34. I meant exactly that! Turned business into a success and then into the shitter again. Okay I meant to say 180... My bad. 

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  35. Mabel's turn didn't bother me at all. I mean, the push that followed was the worst thing ever in the worst year ever, but it's not like there were any better choices or anything better to do with Mabel as a face. 

    Unless you're thinking Men on the Mission v. Owen Hart/Yokozuna would have been great tag matches... 

    CM Punk's is the worst executed AND my most hated. 

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  36. He may not have been going for what he went for, but it made more sense what you said then what he said. 

    Although actually, in at one point WCW sucked and WWF was better, then the nWo changed that, and then it went back to where WCW sucked and the WWF was better, but then ALSO WCW went out of business so I guess that was turning business around 540 degrees? 

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  37. So many people have waxed poetic about that Batista turn, what show or DVD can I see this match and turn on? 

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  38. There's a Youtube clip that has one of Nikita's first appearances (if not the first) as a face backing up Dusty against the Horsemen. The crowd is going absolutely beserk in it. Based on that alone I'll call it a sucess.

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  39. Gotta disagree on the MX/Dynamic Dudes one. Being well executed. Cornette hitting whichever Dude it was with the racket drew a loud pop. I guess technically they did everything right, but the Dudes were just an awful gimmick.

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  40.  That was on the "Bragging Rights 2009" PPV, the post match activities after the Fatal Four Way match with Batista, Mysterio, Taker, & CM Punk.

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  41. I can't decide if I would consider either of these worst executed or most hated, or both: 

    Sid turns on Shawn Michaels the night after WM XI...joins the Corporation a few weeks later....why? Was there really no other way to get the fans to boo Sid besides having him join Ted DiBiase's loser stable?

    Also, Ed Leslie turning on Hogan to become the Butcher.

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  42. One great thing about Windham's heel turn was how well it contrasted with Luger's face turn (which also deserves mention).

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  43. I think you could just pull any face or heel turn out of a hat from Russo's WCW run and have a contender for worst executed.

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  44. I think the explanation was black people have to say together. 

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  45.  The booking of Mabel was actually pretty good as he was made to look strong over the months and built up as an actual threat. It's just a shame that such good booking was wasted on an awful wrestler like Mabel.

    And Mabel shouldn't have gotten any kind of a push at all, I believe a better choice to give the big heel push to would have been Kama as I actually kinda dug him at the time.

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  46. The Road Warriors' heel turn itself was well done, it was the follow up (and the fact the fans did not want to boo them) that was lacking.

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  47. Orton's failed turn in '04 had nothing to do with how he looked, but how heavy of a heel was, only to be turned in five seconds flat. Fans didn't buy it, because they hated him too much to suddenly cheer him without any justification.

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  48. "King Kama" has a nice ring to it, too.

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  49. Clever clever.  Hulk Hogan wasn't exactly being booed out of the building in 1986, was he? I think that if you draw at best a 50/50 reaction, you cease being an effective #1 babyface.  Plus Hogan was already the champion, etc. etc. etc. TO DEATH.

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  50.  It may have not made sense but I actually liked Ahmed turning heel and if he had stayed healthy the turn could have rejuvenated his career and made him into a main eventer again and the turn also gave the Nation credibility they sorely been lacking at the time and as Scott said that heel Ahmed looked fucking scary.

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  51. Andre turning on Hogan in early 1987 wound up drawing a precent decent gate and PPV buyrate, if I am not mistaken. 

    From a logic perspective, I always enjoyed the Honky Tonk Man turn as it resulted from the letter writing campaign where fans basically had to choose where they loved or hated them. They responded overwhelmingly that they hated him, he obliged, took on Jimmy Hart as his manager, and began cheating and acting like a coward. 

    I've got to slightly disagree with heels getting attacked by other heels and thereby turning face being the death-knell for them.  It's about execution and, in fairness, whether or not the fans really want to cheer the character.  Cases in point - Honky whacks Jake Roberts with the guitar on the Snake Pit and Bad News Brown double-crosses Bret Hart during the WM IV battle royal.  Bret and Jake's face runs turned out OK.   



     

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  52. Best heel turn - Hogan or Hart (1a & 1b)

    Worst heel turn - Goldberg

    Best Face - Hogan wm 18
    Honorable Mention for the unintential hillarity of "The West Texas Rednecks" (they thought a country group would be jeered against Master P to the southern 'Wrasslin' fans)

    Worst Face - DX '06 (Yuck!)

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  53. Trish's heel turn on Jericho after the match with Christian at Wrestlemania 20 may be one of the best executed heel turns by a female wrestler ever.

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  54. Doink's turn was terrible.

    Funk on Flair after the Steamboat match was a great heel turn and an awesome transition from one feud to another.

    More recently, I actually really like R-Truth's initial heel turn. I was only familiar with his WWE work as R-Truth or K-Kwik so it was a serious revelation when he pulled off such an awesome heel after being a really vanilla Cena-loving face for so long.

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  55. You're thinking of Summerslam 2003, Shane v Bischoff as I recall.

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  56.  Good call on Honky.  I'm a bit shocked they haven't recycled that storyline in the age of TRENDING WORLDWIDE and TOUT.

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  57.  I liked Truth's turn at the time too.

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  58. I wouldn't call it a serious contender for 'best face' turn because it didn't really lead to anything memorable - but in terms of just being well executed 'technically' Ole getting kicked out of the Horsemen was really well done.  There's a series of Youtube clips that lay out the whole story as it aired on various JCP shows.  

    The angle, or at least what's shown in the clips, just flows together - with each promo or action leading to the next step over several weeks.

    If you want to check it out, the first clip is:
    http://youtu.be/FwzwAOIXGZg
    (warning - there's a lot of them). 


    Kind of funny how the archetypal "old school Southern wrasslin'" promotion could tell a better story (featuring family conflicts, greed, divided loyalties, and betrayal) better than Stephanie's trained writer monkeys.

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  59.  Such a shame they fucked Sid over like that. I can't believe someone on the booking team would think that Sid joining the Corporation would give him credibility or something when Sid could get over on his own (and he was very over on his own before joining the Corporation). I was just a dumb mark kid at the time but even I knew the Corporation was a loser stable that killed the careers of anyone who joined it.

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  60. I hinted at this earlier and wanted to put this here.  The Punk heel turn makes no logical sense from a character or storyline standpoint.  I think we can all agree on that.  It also makes no sense from a fiscal point of view considering every PPV this year had done better than the previous years AND he was the number one t-shirt seller at various points.  Most of us can agree on that, too.

    But what if Vince, HHH/Steph, or Cena had nothing to do with this?  What if CM Punk--someone who has shown that he can get what he wants out of Vince--pushed for this?  He loves being a heel.  It's a dream of his to be managed by Heyman.  AND there was this recent UK Sun interview where he stated that he believed the heel turn made sense (in fact, went overboard in justifying it).  

    Maybe and just maybe because it's only a theory... we should blame Punk for this atrocious heel turn.

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  61. Bulldog is nowhere close to being the worst. He wanted the title, so he alligned with Cornette and went after the champ, it's not his fault it was Nash's at the time. Sure the Diesel match sucked, but look at all the great stuff that followed with Bulldog as a heel. The Bret matches, the Shawn fued, Camp Cornette, teaming with Owen, anything involving the Hart Foundation. Face Bulldog was boring as hell when he was a singles, the heel turn was exactly the shot in the arm he needed.

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  62. Plus he was only in the Nation for a few weeks beforeing getting kicked out for something or other.

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  63.  I know what you're getting at but really Bulldog turning on Diesel made no sense whatsoever and it was a potential match nobody wanted to see. They should have been more patient and had Bulldog do the turn on Bret once he won the title because at least there's a lot of history and backstory there.

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  64. How did it not make sense? He was gunning for Diesel's belt. He never received world title shots playing by the rules. Greed and/or jealousy is the simplest motive for turning heel.

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  65.  Despite the character Punk plays on tv, he seems like a company man. He knows where his bread is buttered and I've never seen an interview of his where he had anything negative to say about the company or the booking team.

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  66. Greatest face turn: Bret, Bulldog and Owen hug it out.

    Well, that's how _I_ saw it!

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  67. Too bad he's back where he started... only alot worse.

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  68. It's degree-ception.

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  69. Just razzing you.  It's just a thing that a lot of people say.

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  70. I'm not, everyone would tout and tweet that they hate Cena and want him to turn heel.

    Or at least the fans that have a grasp of the English language would.

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  71. You now what always bugged me? Why didn't the Godfather just go back to being Kama Mustafa when he joined the RTC? Wasn't he technically Kama the Godfather while in Rock's Nation?

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  72. Ironically enough, the heels attacking another heel is EXACTLY how John Cena turned face back in 2003. But at least in his case it was after he defiantly turned down Heyman's offer to join Team Lesnar at Survivor Series.

    So, it was kind of like DDP refusing the nWo.

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  73. Was Ahmed really ever a 'main-eventer' though?  He had a dance with the uppercard via tag-teams with some of the main event players at the time, but missed just about every opportunity at a singles match for the WWF title.

    He certainly had the look Vince liked, but I think his in-ring ability and ability to talk would have hamstrung his efforts to become a main event guy.

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  74.  Yeah I hadn't thought of the Hogan X8 turn.  That was pretty remarkable, at least as a moment.

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  75.  In that case somebody like Barry Horowitz would have also made sense in turning heel on Diesel too because he would have wanted a title shot. Fact is Bulldog never proved himself that he should be a #1 contender to the belt when he was a face. The dude couldn't even win the tag titles.

    Now THIS would have made sense: Bret wins the title, Bulldog gets pissed off and turns on him, why? Because Bulldog proved that he was the better man over Bret at Summerslam 92 and thus in his mind he deserves to be champion over Bret. Turning on Diesel made no sense because there was no reason Bulldog would think that he deserved the belt.

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  76. A personal favorite, and one that hasn't been mentioned yet, was the Radicals turning on Cactus Jack.

    The four of them were giving these heartfelt speeches thanking the fans for the opportunity to compete in front of them, and thanking Foley for bring them in. Then Triple H comes out and says "Are you going to thank the guy who gave you the opportunity? Or the guy that gave you your contracts?" The Radicals then jump Foley and beat the living hell out of him, and Benoit's explanation immediately afterward made perfect sense. 

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  77.  He was originally Kama in the Nation before he got a gimmick makeover and he probably wouldn't have wanted to return to his Kama name anyway because I think he drew the most money as the Godfather. Plus I'm sure someone on the booking team got a kick out of calling him the GOODfather.

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  78.  Well Ahmed was never a real main eventer as I don't think he was ever put in a position to draw money but in 1996 they were certainly grooming and protecting him and I'm sure he would have won the world title by 1997 if he had stayed healthy.

    Plus I'm sure Vince still wanted to push him as a main eventer despite his injury woes as originally there were 3 PPVs in 1997 where Ahmed was scheduled to face the Undertaker for the title before injuries derailed those plans.

    And while he couldn't talk he did have a bunch of charisma and he was a pretty good worker for a big guy: the guy was mobile enough to do hands free topes outside of the ring.

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  79. I could definitely believe that Punk pushed for a heel turn (and why wouldn't he?  He went from #2 face to #1 heel and has been more featured than any other time during his reign), but I don't believe he is responsible for the manner in which he turned heel.

    I actually COULD buy into the whole respect motivation, but it's terribly misdirected.  Having guys like Cena and Lawler and others telling Punk he needs to earn respect -- after having one of the longest title reigns in two decades, almost always retaining the title cleanly and frequently having 5 star matches -- is insulting to both the audience and his character.  It just justifies his frustration.  Punk should be whining DESPITE the faces agreeing with him.  Then Punk looks like the irrational dick in the situation.

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  80. I'm not sure that's the same.  It's more like the heel turns face, then gets attacked by other heels.  Like how Undertaker stood up to Jake Roberts.

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  81. Gonna quip into two things. One. The current Punk heel turn. I like it and hate it at the same time.

    Unfortunately the other players are ruining it. But I think that whining is a very effective way to do a slow burn heel turn. It did wonders for Bret. The problem is the same as it's always been. Vince McMahon believes that being a bully is a good thing. So Cena is written to act like one and Punk is complaining about it. Unfortunately it gives Punk sympathy and people agree with him. As opposed to just being annoyed at the whining. And Vince and Steph don't comprehend it.
    Steph and the writing team suck. She reminds me of JK Rowling. (Go with me here) Who in interviews, couldn't understand why people started having sympathy for Draco Malfoy. Malfoy who was living with a sociopath and abusive father and lashed out at who his father told him to. It's a complex character that deserves sympathy, but Rowling just could not grasp that. 

    The writing team is the same way I think. Though really they always have been. Look at the way Hogan beat Sheik for that first title. Hogan didn't wait for him to get ready. belittled him, humiliated him verbally before the match started and basically treated him like a POS. 

    Now the second thing is that it's virtually the same thing Hogan did when he turned heel. But as a heel it makes sense! Dropping the leg and joining the NWO was brilliant in that regard. ...I have no idea. This all makes sense in my head.

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  82. The choices are actually pretty obvious.

    Best face to heel: Hogan BATB96

    Best heel to face: Austin WM13

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  83. I'm convinced that he would have got a title run in 96 if he didn't have kidney problems. If Shawn didn't pull a power play on Vader winning the title, I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the plan for the title was Shawn-Vader-Ahmed and back to Shawn for Bret/HBK 2 at WM 13. But you know, fate and all that.

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  84. Don't worry, so did I.  =)  As I assume did most Canadian wrestling fans...

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  85. Yeah, but Horowitz was a jobber. Worlds apart. Bulldog had been with the company (on and off) for ten years at that point and had beaten most of the big names. Outside a couple losses to Shawn, he never even really had any convincing defeats as a singles. He was pissed because he was always looked over as a face, he never received a single shot at the belt despite having an excellent win-loss record. Here, let Jim Cornette explain it:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6nbsz_british-bulldog-jim-cornette-specia_sport

    they even lay the foundation for the Bret fued in the future. And as far as a match "nobody was looking forward to" we had to put up with Diesel vs. Sid and Mabel all summer, Davey was a huge step up.

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  86.  He reminded me of 1994 Bob Backlund, as he just went psycho. Then he ended up goofy crazy, like 1995 Bob Backlund. Just call him Bob Blacklund lol

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  87. The actual turn (the creepy conversation) is here.  I never saw it prior to today but I can agree, the delivery is awesome.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Ri3UDgWN4

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  88. You're right about that, lol.

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  89.  While Bulldog was a known guy and was fairly protected and beat a lot of guys, the guys he beat were mostly JTTS type guys and nobody important as he pretty much lost all his high profile feuds: couldn't win the tag titles, couldn't win the KOTR, couldn't win the Rumble, lost cleanly to Shawn in Feb of that year, even did jobs to King Kong Bundy and Jeff Jarrett on tv that year too. The only thing on his resume that may have warranted him a title shot was that he once beat Bret for the IC title and that happened in 1992. Bulldog had done nothing since his return in 1994 where he felt he should have gotten a title shot.

    And while Bulldog was a better worker than Mabel, I'd say more people were looking forward to Diesel/Mabel than iesel/Bulldog as Diesel/Mabel did have a good build behind it and was set up months in advance whereas the Bulldog thing literally came out of nowhere.

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  90. Koloff's face turn is definitely one of the best, and I'd argue his heel turn in '91 when he came back is up there, too, because of the shock value.

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  91. heel turns: Rock turning heel at Survivor Series 98'. Triple H's November 2000 and July 2002 heel turns were both awesome. 

    face turns: I know there are tons of Nash haters but they sold a shitload of nWo Wolfpac red and black t-shirts.

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  92. He and Miz had a good thing goign for awhile. They were awesome together, no pun intended. Still made the did away with the tag team and with R-Truth as an interesting character in general.

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  93. Gotta agree with you on Batista's face turn on Evolution (as a side note, wow has Batista had some good turns...).  The thing that makes it stand out to me is it was pretty obvious what was going to happen, but it was so well executed by everyone involved, it doesn't matter you could see it coming a mile away, it was still a satisfying payoff and I'm glad they didn't swerve for the sake of swerving there.

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  94. I wouldn't say *nobody* wanted to see Bulldog-Diesel.  I certainly did as a 10-year-old mark.  It did come from nowhere, but then, Davey Boy was an established guy (who had been an even bigger deal in WCW), so it made sense that he would want the belt.  It was a fresh matchup with a guy who might actually be a threat (unlike everybody in the Corporation).
      
    I think we've gotten so hung up on  debunking the Russo mentality that wins and losses don't matter that we assume the opposite must be true and fans meticulously keep track of who's being jobbed out and who's getting pushed from month to month, when in fact the truth is somewhere in the middle, and the ironic thing is that winning actually mattered *less* in the era before the Monday Night Wars, because whole shows were built around making midcard guys like Bulldog into threats via squash matches and promos.  So it didn't really matter that he lost to  Jeff Jarrett on Superstars, because he had five years of residual heat built up and Jarrett, even as a former IC champ, sort of began and ended with his goofy gimmick and was never really taken seriously during his initial WWF run. The reason nobody bought the PPV was that they waited until two weeks before the show to pull the trigger.

    Oh, and FYI: nobody wanted to see Mabel vs Diesel in '95.  The pops Mabel got early  were all in the context of tag matches, where he could get the hot tag after the crowd built up anticipation to see the big guy come in and kick ass.  Outside of that, he had the look and that was it.  They made no serious attempt to push MOM as a heel team (which actually might have gotten over) and instead thrust everything onto Mabel, who had no track record as a single and no natural charisma evident as of yet.  Like Scott says, you just watched it happen and there was nothing you could do about it (except watch Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and The Undertaker).

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  95. Nikita had that "it" factor where he was so badass that people wanted to cheer him, but he was running one of the two foolproof 80's heel gimmicks (Russian- the other being somoene who hurts Hogan) so he drew massive heat. So when he turned and it was "OK" to cheer him, the crowd bought in fully.

    But, I never liked the turn for two reasons
    1) It made no sense. He had just spent a summer brutalizing Magnum TA. Then when Magnum gets hurt he suddenly is no longer a heartless coldblooded monster AND he no longer believes in the values of the Motherland? I mean he went overnight from hating everything about America to teaming with Dusty just because someone he hated gut hurt. I think it would have made more sense to slowburn the turn- but they had Magnum/Flair more-or-less in stone for Starrcade, so they had to rush it.
    2- He was unbeatable as a heel-Russian.... he was beatable as a face-Russian. As a heel who hated America he beat Magnum, destroyed Flair and basically held his own two-on-one against the Road Warriors. As a face, he choked against Flair and was the #4 face in the Wargames and his biggest win was the Crockett Cup with Big Dust getting the pin. It just made it seem like he was better when he hate America.

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  96. It was right before I got in to wrestling, but the Freebirds turning on the Von Erichs is one that gave WCCW a license to print money and was pretty well done. I mean people in Texas straight up loved the Von Erichs and when Hayes slammed Kerry's head in the cage there were fans comming out of the stands to try and get at him. I have heard a lot of the older guys talk about really loving that turn.

    Andre on Hogan was for me, as a young mark fan, the be all and end all. The idea that Hogan and Andre were going to actually fight was mind blowing- and I thik it might have done OK business.

    One of the worst was Curt Hennig turing heel on Nick Bockwinkle. Curt was the young guy who just could not beat the veteran because of Bockwinkle's cheating- so he turned heel himself, and that might have been OK but-
    1) He got put with Larry Zbysczo who was just a heat leach.
    2) Bockwinkle was and had always played a ratfuck that nonone really wanted to cheer.
    3) Hennig was the next (and last) really big thing for the AWA, but they turned him in to just another guy who could not win the big one without cheating because Verne still believed that his son was the face of the company.

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  97. My favorite heel turn was Jeff Hardy's turn in 2010.  His in-ring performance was terrible as a heel due to his drug problems spiraling out of control at that time, but I thought he had the best run of promos in his entire career as a heel.  It helps that I was legitimately shocked to see Hardy turn heel, since I thought either Angle was leaving with the belt or Anderson was turning heel to screw him out of it.  Bobby Roode's heel turn last year is a close second, largely because I found out about it well in advance.  Roode's heel run has worked out alot better in the long run than Hardy's.  Randy Orton RKOing Stacy Kiebler to turn heel after his failed face run was another great turn.

    My favorite face turn was Triple H being turned face by the fans around Wrestlemania 22, although that one didn't work out very well in the long run because he suddenly reverted to his character from nearly a decade earlier, which I didn't want to see (I wanted to see HHH and HBK reunited, with their characters from that era).  I really enjoyed Cena's face turn as well at the time, although we all know how badly that turned out.

    My most hated face turn is an easy choice.  Matt Morgan turning face in 2010 and leaving Immortal a week or 2 after Immortal was formed.  This was made even worse by the atrocious concussion angle.  Matt Morgan basically talked Mr. Anderson into giving up a title shot because he had a concussion, making Anderson look weak.  Then, they played this thing straight instead of revealing that Morgan was just using the concussion issue to take Anderson's spot.  A close second would be when Fortune turned face prematurely because Booker T and Kevin Nash decided to enter the Royal Rumble instead of being part of the Main Event Mafia reunion that TNA was already building to.  Immortal was neutered and TNA's top heel group was never really a credible threat again, yet they remained a major focus of the show for 8 more months until Sting finally put them out of their misery.

    My most hated heel turn would be when The Pope turned heel for that awful feud with Samoa Joe.  In that feud, Joe invaded Pope's privacy and yet Pope was supposed to be the heel.  This feud featured terrible matches between Pope and an unmotivated and out-of-shape Samoa Joe and appearances by Joe's ridiculous-looking cameraman Okato (Kazuchika Okada, now one of the top stars in New Japan and one of the best wrestlers in the world, being used as a jobber in a ridiculous costume).  As if Pope's character wasn't destroyed enough by that feud, he went on to feud with Devon for months in a feud where he was attempting to corrupt Devon's kids.  This was one of TNA's top faces and now his career is basically over because of these feuds.

    Orton's initial main event push was horribly botched by WWE.  They actually thought that they could kick him out of Evolution, job him out to Triple H immediately, deny him a rematch and have him chase Triple H from September until Wrestlemania in April and the fans would still be behind Orton.  That storyline worked with Lesnar because Lesnar was already established as champ when he was robbed of the title and because he was robbed in November, not September, so the storyline had sufficient time, but not too much time (WWF also did a similar storyline with Austin for Wrestlemania 15, although Austin was established as champ moreso even than Brock and already over as the biggest star in the industry).  I would have preferred if WWE had just kept Orton as heel champ (and Evolution leader) and Triple H in a supporting role within Evolution until the Royal Rumble, which he enters and wins.  They could have played this match either way.  Either Triple H could have been jealous of Orton, effectively turning the rest of Evolution face, or Orton could have kicked HHH out of the group for daring to win the Royal Rumble and challenge him.

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  98.  I was a dumb mark kid too back then, but everything about the Bulldog turn on Diesel didn't make sense. You argue that Bulldog wanted the world title, but Bulldog had never been motivated by the world title before this. Now with Luger, he was EXTREMELY motivated by the world title, so if he turned on Diesel out of nowhere just so he can get a shot, it would of made sense and been in character for Luger to do such a thing, but Bulldog's main motivation as a character was family based as he made a big deal about being married to Diana and being part of the Hart Family. It seemed he'd much rather defend the family rather than achieve great success.

    Given that, this would have been another way to do the Bulldog heel turn that would have worked within his character and flowed natrually as a storyline: Backlund steals the title from Bret at Survivor Series, Bulldog vows revenge and promises to get the title back to restore the Hart family legacy, Diesel wins the title a few days later and Bulldog is pissed at Diesel for killing his kill and now he wants to go afer Diesel.

    And I'm not trying to defend Diesel/Mabel, I know there were a million other good choices they could have gone with as a Summerslam main event and I know Mabel wasn't over and Diesel's heat was being killed little by little on a daily basis, but fact was it was a good well booked feud: Diesel  was the virtuous champion overcoming everybody and Mabel was killing all the faces that came his way. It's simple storytelling and despite it featured two guys noone could care less about, fans did buy into the match a little bit, moreso than Diesel/Sid and Diesel/Bulldog. Read the posts on RSPW dating back to the summer of '95, some people even thought that Mabel was actually going to win the title, that was how strongly he was being booked at the time.

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  99. The Rock at Survivor Series '98 was memorable and was easily the pinnacle of Russo's run (even if it was the worst collection of tournament matches since Wrestlemania 4).  

    Hated the one at Fall Brawl '97, with Hennig turning on the Horsemen to become Just Another Guy in the nWo.  Curt just seemed like the ideal Horseman.

    The 2001 Austin heel turn was contrived and forced, just like Punk's current one, even if the Austin heel character did eventually become pretty cool and nuanced.  

    Goldberg's heel turn was ridiculous in theory and in practice.  

    Randy Savage's face turn at Wrestlemania 7 was epic for all the right reasons.          

      

      

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  100. My favorite turns would have to be Bret Hart and Steve Austin's double turn at WM 13.

    My least favorite is when Austin turned heel at WM 17.

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  101. "...took a career midcarder in a loser tag team and suddenly we're supposed to buy him as a main event threat?"
    Hey...it worked for JBL.

    Eventually.

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  102. Personal favourites - BEST: Any of Shawn's "active" Heel turns (Barbershop, Gradual return to dickheadness in 97 and the short but sweet Hogan turn in 05) - hated his two pointless ones while Commisioner!

    WORST: Any of Shawn's "active" face turns (being beat up by Sid and HHH in 95 and 02 - although both turned out ok, it was a heel turning on a heel and of course his "the last few months never happened" face turn in 05.

    Sting's Heel TUrn in 99 was all kinds of bad as well.
     

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  103. "...that never works."

    so WHY exactly did you list Sid/Shawn Michaels then? because that one definitely turned Michaels in a full blown babyface who was over like crazy?! (I although I must admit that having Diesel come out and make save probably had a lot to do with that)

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  104. KOTR 95 and KOTR 96 want their crowns back

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  105. Two personal favorites that haven't been mentioned yet......

    1.  The Demolition/Powers of Pain double turn at SurSer 88.  IIRC, this came out of nowhere re: the buildup to the event.  It made a lot of sense at the time (fans wanted to cheer the Demo's and were given no good reason whatsoever to cheer the PoP, other than "two painted guys who WEREN'T the Demo's"...heck they were heels in JCP that emerged in the WWF with one of the poster children for the "How is he a face?" question, "The Baron" Von Raschke.The turn propelled the Demo's to a solid, bankable upper mid-card act, and alas, the PoP's weren't as fortunate, but they each had decent mid-card solo runs nonetheless. Plus, as a twelve-year-old mark, it was a neat thing to watch (and isn't what this is all about, at the end of the day?)

    2.  Easily the funniest one in hindsight, 26 years later:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH_3RJpDP1M

    Pez Whatley turning up his hyper-soul persona to 11, breaking out the JCP-trademark "midcarder who has nothing going on in his own life has to put over all of the OTHER feuds" promos, when Jimmy Valiant, one of most grating babyfaces who brought nothing to the table ever, pops in and doesn't even talk for 15 seconds before giving Pez the backhanded compliment of a lifetime, clearly not knowing any better.  Pez's tone hilariously changes, and he proceeds to beat the sh*t out of him, justifiably so.  Bonus points for (a) Pez just happening to carry scissors with him at all times, apparently, as he breaks them out to cut off Boogie Woogie's ponytail, and (b) David Crockett's shriek in horror as this happens (maybe he thought Pez was gonna stab him). 

    We DO get the great Jimmy Valiant promo one or two weeks later, where he drops the "Boogie Woogie" schtick entirely and speaks from the heart....only to prove how little he learned about keeping friends just a few months later when Manny Fernandez turned on him as well. 

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  106.  Honestly, just to have three examples instead of two, because I thought it looked better. Although in that case, while it was clear from the tone of the announcers on TV that we were supposed to feel  pity for Shawn, the live crowd didn't know what to think and thought maybe Sid was turning face on him.

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  107. It was well executed. The fans just said "Fuck you, we STILL won't cheer for the Duds."

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  108. 'Best' heel turn (as well as my favourite):  Bret in 1997.  That was built surreptitiously for almost a year, and the schism that even pitted fans worldwide against one another was very well-done. 

    'Worst' heel turn: DDP as the stalker.  That was just pitiful.  I know it was technically a debut, but it's DDP.  Nobody really bought it.  It would be like Rick Rude as a face.

    My favourite face turn: Ole in 1987.  Just a man fighting for his family who happens to be one of the great promos of all time.

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  109. 96 does have the awesome Austin/Mero match in its defense. But it doesn't have much else going for it.

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  110. Good call. It was awesomely executed and lead to one of the greatest runs by any female wrestler. Heel Trish was great.

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  111. Thank you. One of my pet peeves is when people confuse 180 degrees and 360 degrees.

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  112. Yes! We were watching that event and when they panned over to show Coach, we all were shocked. It was actually pretty great.

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  113. Well, Owen Hart's awesome commentary is a plus (but all the highlights are on YouTube anyway), and there's Austin's epic victory speech. That show is, otherwise, irredeemable. 

    95 is off the charts bad. 

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  114. I don't know if this is the official moment of his face turn, but Randy Savage aligning with Hulk Hogan after being attacked by the Hart Foundation and Honky Tonk Man is one of the greatest moments in wrestling history. People are rejoicing throughout the crowd like they're at a religious event.

    I love the Flair turn at Havoc 95 as well, Scott. Watching Flair get tagged in and strut around before beating the shit out of Sting is perfect.

    Giant turning heel and joining the nWo was one that never made sense to me. He had come in specifically to take out Hogan. Hogan was the guy that stole his title. And now he's with the nWo for some reason. I didn't get it.

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  115.  I just watched this whole episode on Youtube awhile back.  The camera pans to a conflicted Hennig are PRICELESS, awesome build throughout that show.

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  116. Yes!  We talk about the Megapowers story arc giving us one of the best-executed feuds ever, but I think we lose sight of the original beatdown/rescue sometimes.  Classic

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  117. Yeah good point.  I guess I should have said "World Title Tournaments".  There were some truly hideous KOTR tourneys.  I would add 1999 to the mix too

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  118. Yeah, 95 KOTR probably qualifies as worst tourney ever.  At the very least the boring WM4 one had a great payoff (Savage) and the 1998 one had a good story and kicked off Rock's superstardom.  That KOTR was awful AND had a terrible payoff (Mabel).  

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  119. Giant joining the nWo still made more sense than Savage did.

    Anyway, on the Nitro where Giant joined them he did a long promo that more or less explained it - he had seen how rich and successful Hogan was, and wanted to be that rich too.   And I think they also hinted that he was upset that nobody from WCW came to Hog Wild after Hall and Nash interfered on Hogan's behalf.

    Plus Giant wasn't really a true face - he was only face in the sense that all of WCW was a face against the nWo, but he had pretty much been booked exclusively as a heel until then.  It was more like he left one heel stable and joined another heel stable.

    Now Savage joining was really nonsensical - he had been beaten down many, many times and just out and out humiliated by the nWo (they painted a yellow stripe down his back).

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  120. One of the best examples of the "organic" face/heel turn, where the crowd essentially turns him by force of will.

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  121. Yeah of course Hogan-Andre.  Not sure how that hasn't been mentioned much

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  122. Yeah, Sid just screams "lone wolf" and works so much better as that dominant, crazy killer who trusts no one.  Why would "SYCHO SID" care about Dibiase's money or think he needed a stable backing him?

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  123. Probably still giving themselves residual pats on the back for that one.  smh

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  124. The 1st promo that Sting & Luger did as heels on the Nitro after Fall Brawl '99 was awesome. 

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  125. They really should've turned Razor heel. Heel Razor-Face Diesel would've been a fun program.

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  126. MOM-Yoko/Owen on Raw in 1995 was actually a really fun match.

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  127. Savage-Liz reunifying is my favorite WrestleMania moment.

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  128. It's just dawned on me that British Bulldog is perhaps the most divisively remembered wrestler among fans, at least on this blog.  This is like the third or fourth thread I can remember with people going back and forth on whether he was a forgettable mid-carder who had to be carried to any sort of good match, or a solid long-term star who was always believable as a #1 contender.  I know I always thought of him as a major star, but that may have just been because I first watched WWF in the UK, where he was the de facto most popular wrestler on TV, and his longevity; during that New Generation era he had a certain aura of having been around for a long time, going back to the Hogan era.  Drugs and injuries claimed him after '97 though.  

    Personally, I agree that Bulldog's turn on Diesel came out of nowhere and a Razor turn would have been  better given their history; a Razor alliance w/ MOM would have made a lot more sense as well.  Having said that, I found Bulldog to be a solid, believable heel challenger, especially to Bret given what a good match that was.  He was always booked very strongly; if you look at the jobs to Jarrett and Bundy that you mentioned they were both count-outs that made Bulldog still look strong.  It was just that they put the cart before the horse with his turn; if he had turned on Luger or Bret and then gone after Diesel it would have worked.  

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  129.  Not even remotely the same situation, and it's not Punk who is floundering in this role, it's the ensemble cast around him

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