In wrestling, a heel is a basically a villain character who breaks the rules and behaves immorally, so as to act as the antagonist for the faces or the “good guys”.
Heels are normally hated amongst audiences and are known for having bad reputations. But it’s hard to disagree that if it weren’t for them, there really wouldn’t be any drama to look forward to.
The PG or Parental Guidance Era in WWE, considered to have lasted from 2008 to 2013 or 2014, was a much debated era for wrestling as most fans weren’t too happy with all the restrictions.
Even so, the era was responsible for producing some of the most skilled and feared heels because these wrestlers were forced to learn techniques outside of resorting to crude violence.
Here, I’m counting down the top 10 best heels of the WWE’s PG Era.
While Seth Rollins was still a member of The Shield with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, he was often overlooked for being the one least likely to become world champion.
But he quickly proved everyone wrong when he became the first one to win the prestigious prize.
Some might argue that it was because of The Authority that he gathered so much heat from the fans, but that wasn’t always the case. After he betrayed The Shield, it led to his successful gimmick as The Chosen One and the WWE making him a heel superstar.
Rollins’ controversial deal to disband The Shield had fans chanting “You sold out!” for over a year, thus proving how much he was hated by them. Without the Authority’s influence, Rollins was also able to defend his title against Dean Ambrose at Money in the Bank.
R-Truth’s villainous arc didn’t last too long but he was still one of the most impactful heels during the PG Era. His unpredictability, persistence and confidence proved that he had a lot of potential as a WWE star.
Truth’s reason for turning heel was his belief that the WWE were conspiring against everyone to keep John Cena on top. What came as a result of this distrust was him becoming a serious threat to Cena’s championship title.
Some of the rashest decisions Truth made include attacking his former partner John Morrison and making other fan favourites his targets. However, it was behaviour like this that caused him to get a Wellness Violation, which WWE used to make him return as a babyface.
Despite an underwhelming start to his reign as a heel, things eventually fell into place for The Miz and he has become one of the greatest heels in WWE history.
The Miz’s wrestling skills weren’t his strongest his suit; his charisma on the other hand was what took him to such great heights in his career.
The addition of his wife, Maryse, acted as a catalyst in earning him so much hate amongst audiences because of his increased self-righteousness.
The Miz’s great reign came to an end when WWE decided to turn him babyface again. The decision didn’t sit well with fans because it was clear that they enjoyed watching him as heel and his abilities remained unmatched.
Mark Henry had one of the most revolutionary transformations, from being someone that most people wouldn’t even bat an eye at, to becoming a ruthless machine filled with rage.
Henry wasted no time in establishing his influence by taking down Big Show all on his own and subsequently destroying anyone who crossed his path. He then formed “The Hall of Pain” which included pros like Kane, Randy Orton, Seamus and many others.
By the fall of 2011, Henry had gained so much momentum that WWE had no choice but to give him the championship title. Even still, his greatest accomplishment was convincing everyone that he had retired; only for him show up unannounced and attack John Cena later on.
Batista was WWE’s Breakout Star in 2005 who managed to win over audiences quite easily. However, after a while, fans got tired of ‘The Animal’ and this led to him being resented by them.
WWE took advantage of this opportunity and they decided to start marketing Batista as a heel. At Extreme Rules 2009, Batista finally revealed his dark side and he let out all his pent-up frustration on his long-time friend, Rey Mysterio.
Batista was also known to be exceptional with the mic, constantly criticizing the WWE Universe. Although he was forced to leave after an unforgettable incident with John Cena that put him in a wheelchair, he came back furious as ever in 2014 for another amazing heel run.
Unfortunately for the star, this run also never reached its full potential.
Brock Lesnar has become one of the most dominant heels of the WWE, which is quite impressive considering his limited appearances on television. His return in 2012 was a huge driving force for his success.
Despite losses to John Cena and Triple H early on, Lesnar came back with a vengeance to take on any challenger at one of the company’s big four events.
The peak of Lesnar’s career was when he became the man to finally end The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. From then on, he became a force to be reckoned with and anyone who put up even a decent fight in front of him would be deemed worthy of moving on to better things.
Kevin Owens made a name for himself when he went against his best friend and beloved babyface, Sami Zayn, on his very first night at WWE.
He managed to turn the whole audience against him and that was the beginning of his rule as one of the best active heels today.
What made fans hate Owens for the most was when he beat John Cena in his first pay-per-view match. But no matter the scenario, Owens always brings his A-game and never disappoints when it comes to following through on his threats.
Even with all these incredible accomplishments, Owens’ most revered characteristic is his double persona: one being a terrifying heel that ambushes his opponents, and the other being a man just looking to provide for his family.
Within the first few years of Edge’s career, he was already the most hated person. Once he was given full range with what he could do and say, he embraced the opportunity and eventually earned his place in the Hall of Fame.
Edge was an unstable competitor who cheated his way through matches. But what really made his career was when he cheated with Lita and turned his real-life rivalry with Matt Hardy into a storyline in the ring as well.
Edge was ruthless and used all his anger to show everyone what he was capable of. In 2006, he became WWE Champion for the first time and over the next five years, he won the title ten more times.
Edge’s reputation and repulsive actions prove exactly why he’s so high up on this list.
CM Punk started off as a popular babyface in his early days. But in 2009, when WWE allowed him to experiment as a heel, he took the opportunity and ran with it. And once he did, no one was going to come even remotely close to what he could achieve.
Punk was flawlessly able to ensure that everyone turned against him, with his actions and his constant comments on how his lifestyle was better than theirs. His unforgettable feud with Jeff Hardy on SmackDown in 2009 was certainly one of the highlights of an otherwise dull year.
Whether he was headingThe Nexus or The Straight Edge Society, or he was committing deplorable antics of faking a heart attack and pretending to eat the ashes of the late Paul Bearer, Punk obviously had fun taunting his opponents and that’s what makes him such a great heel.
Chris Jericho is hands-down the best heel of the WWE’s PG Era. The way he masterfully reinvented himself and came back as a villain with no redeemable qualities is truly commendable.
He was merciless and so committed to his part that he took his persona even beyond the ring.
Jericho was a jerk to his fans and even went as far as not allowing any merchandise of his to be created at the WWE shop. Every single action of his drove the fans crazy and his versatility put him in a class of his own.
Once Jericho had revamped his persona, he became unstoppable. He unmasked Rey Mysterio, exposed CM Punk’s family trauma, turned on AJ Styles, and most of all, started a long, bloody rivalry with the celebrated Shawn Michaels.
At the 2008 Great American Bash, Jericho finally put an end to his feud with Michaels by beating him to pulp. But what made this event such a huge milestone in history was the fact that it was responsible for starting the PG Era. This only goes to show how influential he was as a heel.
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., doing business as WWE, is an American professional wrestling promotion. A global integrated media and entertainment company, WWE has also branched out into other fields, including film, American football, and various other business ventures.
WWE shows are sports entertainment, featuring story line-driven, scripted, and partially choreographed matches; though including moves that can put performers at risk of injury, even death, if not performed correctly. It was founded in 1953 as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation and is the largest wrestling promotion in the world. It is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.