This year is the 24th anniversary of one of the moments that changed sports entertainment forever. The birth of the NWO. The height of the Monday night wars were epic to live through.
The heel turns through the history can make us feel sad, distraught, and take us completely surprised. The best turns will come as a surprise and lead to great rivalries. Everyone will have different lists or mix theirs around depending on your emotional attachment. Let’s get to the list:
7. The Fabulous Turn: Back in 1982 and that timeframe one of the hottest families in the wresting business was The Von Erich family. On a Christmas Day edition for the NWA World Heavyweight title in a cage match featuring Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich. When Michael Hayes who was the “special enforcer” took a cheap shot at Flair, Kerry refused to win on a cheap hit like that. Later in the match when Kerry went to escape Terry Gordy slammed the door on Von Erich and cost him the match starting the great Von Erich and Fabulous Freebird rivalry.
6. Tween Cross Rhodes: Staying with 2 themes, Ric Flair and the 80’s. Flair was a tweener and on the cusp of a face turn. While defending the NWA title against Nikita Koloff and winning, after the match Koloff and his minions started to lay a beatdown on Flair. Dusty Rhodes came down for the save but Flair, Arn Anderson and Ole would in turn beat down on Rhodes and break his ankle. Thus sealing Flair’s fate as a heel.
5. Andre’s Giant Turn: On Piper’s Pit in 1987 Hulk Hogan was being give an award/trophy for holding the WWF Championship for 3 years. Andre also received a trophy for his undefeated streak but was much smaller. Andre tired of not getting a shot recruited Bobby Heenan to be his manager, demanded a title match while disrespecting Hogan which led to their infamous match at Wrestlemania III.
4. Original Shattered Dreams: Back in the early 90’s WWF’s hottest and most flamboyant tag team was The Rockers. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty had started having issue. They went on the talk show “The Barber Shop” run by Brutus the Barber. As things to have appeared to be repaired the world stopped as Michaels super kicked Jannetty through to pane glass window. Back then this was a big deal and still talked about.
3. Oh No Joe!: Back in the late 80’s there was Sgt. Slaughter, an all American bad ass and was even in the cartoon G.I. Joe. Eventually he left and was in the AWA till it died out. Slaughter came back late summer in 1990 as an Iraqi sympathizer and had a hatred for and turned his back on America. During the Gulf War for a former American hero to turn his back on the red, white and blue was devastation.
2. When it Became Cool to Hate the Boss: It’s hard to agree for everyone to figure out when Vince turned heel. At one point we knew him as Vince McMahon was just the commentator but was also known as the owner. Then one faithful night in Montreal on November 9, 1997 he showed us the “Mr. McMahon” side. The heel.
While some will tell you the corporate boss we loved to hate came around with his feud with Steve Austin, just as many if not more think it came at The Montreal Screwjob. Long story short Vince promised Bret Hart he could leave the WWF for WCW as champion. Vince perhaps however fearing another Alundra Blayze/Medusa incident with the WWF Title getting dumped in the trash had Hart’s real life rival Shawn Michaels lock Hart in the sharpshooter and Vince had the bell called for as if Bret Hart submitted. The man we all loved screwed one of the most popular wrestlers.
1. “But Who’s Side is He On?”: In the spring on ’96 Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left WWF and joined WCW as The Outsiders and promised carnage. As they brought chaos to the promotion and uncertainty as they touted a big surprise as the 3rd man of their group. July 7, 1996 at Bash at the Beach. Sting and Macho Man were left alone to face the Outsiders since Lex Luger was hurt. Hogan ran down to the ring to make the save.
Then it happened. The leg drop heard around the world. Hogan dropped the leg on Savage. Let me repeat that. Everyone’s hero growing up, the guy who told us to take our vitamins, say our prayers and all around be good, leg dropped the macho man. Hogan turned his back on his Hulkamaniacs and joined Hall and Nash to form the NWO and calling the kids left crying in the audience ungrateful.
When you can generate the kind of heat where everyone is throwing trash in the ring for 10 minutes, that my friends is the greatest heel turn in history.
Did I miss a great turn? Should the list be in a different order? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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