?????????????????????What up yall…been a minute…pardon me as I get back into the swing of things. Everybody that knows me knows that I’m a wrestling fan. It’s a very poetic deal, the classic “good vs. evil” altercation mixed with high drama. It’s As The World Turns mixed with roller derby mixed with amateur wrestling with a sprinkle of hot oil fight Fridays down a Nasty Nathan’s on Baltimore Street. Don’t Google that last part, I made it up, but you get the idea. Everybody knows the usual characters, the Hogans, the Cenas, the Mysterios, the Rickey “The Dragon” Steamboats, they’re cool, they’re legends and that’s great. To me, the intrigue comes from the villains, the bad guys, or the heels as the’re known in pro-wrestling jargon. It is in their spirit I present the top 10 Heels (Bad Guys) in wrestling history.
10. Nikita Koloff – The Russian nightmare was the 1st wrestler I was ever scared of. This guy was the real deal to me. He started out quiet and always had this chain with him in his interview with his “uncle” Ivan. During the midst of the Cold War, and after seeing Rocky IV I knew the Ruskies were bad dudes, and this guy was the worst one. In real life, during his prime, this guy, a Minnesota native, wouldn’t speak English outside of his home, he was all about keeping kayfabe(Google it). Add his signature Russian Sickle and this was a really scary dude.
9. Nikolai Volkoff/Iron Sheik – The only tag team on the list. They make the cut for a few reasons. The fact that they were another cartooned version of real life events (the cold war Russian and the Iranian Terroist) is important. The former went as far as to sing the Soviet National anthem before each match which drew some of the best heat (Boos) from the crowd. I remember them being the 1st tag team set of the classic LJN WWF toy line that I got, along with the classic Hogan figure. I also blame Sheiky baby with spoiling the “wrestling is real” thing for me. This guy was in a bitter feud with “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan on TV and then gets caught in a car smoking that good with him…ruined it for me for a while.
8. Kevin Sullivan – If you saw this guy getting gas at the pump across from you, you would say that guy just looks like a real scumbag. Being that this guy did some booking, he probably was. He was also the leader of one of my favorite heel stables of all time (The Varsity Club). He always ran a weird devil worship type of gimmick. This reached its paramount with his Dungeon of Doom stable which was a bit creepy. He’s even been accused of having something to do with the Benoit double murder suicide, but that’s some old bull.
7. Macho Man Randy Savage – DIG IT!! Oh YEAH!! SNAP INT…You get the point. He played the heel half in the greatest match of all time and some of the best match building of the 80’s between him and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. During the build for the match at Wrestlemania III, Savage kayfabe crushed The Dragon’s larynx with the ring bell on Saturday Nights main Event. While Rick’s acting in regards to his “injury” was a bit campy, the spot fest that followed in Michigan was an all time classic. Macho was also notorious for mistreating his valet/old lady Miss Elizabeth, going as far as to sometimes put her in harm’s way to save his own arse. He was one of the best characters in wrestling history. RIP
6. Sergeant Slaughter – We all remember the huge chin, the gravelly voice, the army gear and the American Hero Sgt. Slaughter. Few remember his run as a traitor during the Gulf War. He returned to the WWF after a hiatus in an Iraqi uniform waving their flag with the Iron Sheik in a new gimmick and General Adnan. This was one of the most controversial angles in the history of the WWF. He actually received death threats during this time and often wore a bulletproof vest and ha d a security detail. That was classic stuff there.
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin – While his best stuff was as a grey area face with his programs with The Rock and Mr. McMahon, his heel stuff was what got him over. He wins the King of the Ring in ’96 by beating Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the finals. After the match he goes into one of the top 3 promos of all time on Roberts, who was running a Christian rebirth gimmick, saying you talk about your Pslams, and your John 3:16, well Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass. It wasn’t meant to put the guy over but his popularity shot through the roof, a legend was born.
4. Rowdy Roddy Piper – He was THEE heel when I started watching wrestling. He never needed the title to make him popular, his persona and his speeches in the iconic Pipers Pit made the crown hate his guts. Him vs Hogan, Mr. T, , Bruno Sammartino, him kicking Cindi Lauper in the head all were a huge part in making him the #1 bad guy. The main thing that made me hate his guts as a kid was when he was being offensive to Jimmy Snuka and performed a coup de grâce on Superfly’s dome with a coconut. Well done rowdy one, well done.
3. The Rock – It’s no secret that Vince McMahon runs the WWE/F with an iron fist, having final say on stories and the direction of the show. Rocky Maivia was a 3rd generation wrestler who was called a “Blue Chipper” by Good Ol’ Jim Ross. He got a big push as a good guy and it went well at fist. Gradually the fan started turning on him, chants and sights saying “Rocky Sucks!” started popping up everywhere. You see, Vince thinks he has final say but if the fans reject a “Superstar” they won’t work. What puts the son of the Soulman so high on my list is his reaction. He drops the Intercontinental belt and was taken off TV for a reboot. When he comes back he’s not a nice guy, he’s referring to himself in the 3rd person, he’s got a laundry list of rude catch phrases, and he has a crew of bad black dudes (Ron Simmons, D’Lo Brown and Papa Shango) to back him up. The Rock is born, and that, as we say is history.
2. Hulk Hogan – If you look in a wrestling dictionary for babyface (the pro wrestling term for good guy) there will be six foot seven tall white guy with a blond hair, handlebar mustache, with yellow trunks, a red and yellow bandana (with or without the hair attachments), long blond hair (with or without the hair attachments), and a tear-away matching tank top that reads “HULKAMANIA”. For years in the WWF he was the quintessential good guy. He ended that run to go to greener pastures in WCW and to help the company try to compete with Vinnie Mac up north. After two years there the baintrust over there got ambitious and figured “what could we do that hasn’t been done?” The answer: a Hogan heel turn. Whatever it was it worked, there were more pissed off fans than there was trash in the ring that night. The NWO was born and I have NEVER see a reaction that strong for one person. Donning the black beard and black tights and the sunglasses, Hollywood Hogan became one of the biggest heels of all time.
1. Ric Flair – The kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, jet flying, limousine riding, son of a gun was the epitome of a heel. The great wrestler, who backed it up in the ring but let you know about it. He let you know he was rich, he had a lot of women, and he could beat you up all at the same time. Slick Ric was that dude when it came to being a bad guy. Add in the Horsemen and you have the best heel stable of all time as well, as a matter of face the greatest stable period. This guy played the foil to all of the greats: Sting, Savage, Hogan, Steamboat, Harley Race, Dusty, Magnum T.A., Ronnie Garvin, Barry Windham, The Great Muta, the NWO, Kurt Angle, HHH, and Shawn Michaels…the list goes on and on. It may be shorter to say who he didn’t run a good heel program with. He’s helped every major promotion with the exception of ECW, and definitely deserves the top honor as the best heel of all time.
So there you have it, the greatest heels (bad guys) of all time. I did not include Mr. McMahon because he is not a regular in ring performer, but definitely deserves a spot in any other heel countdown. A RIP shout to the folks that were killed and a prayer for the injured in Beantown. We’re thinking ‘bout ya’. While I’m at it RIP to Flair’s kid Reid. But anyway, I have whittled my wanted kicks list to three, and Dallas Cowboys football is 145 days away, and Ric Flair is the greatest heel of all time, if you aint down with that…Your Opinion is Wrong. Peace