One of the most popular blogs in the history of the CCB was a piece last year on the top 10 WWE heel turns. So it only makes sense to come back with a companion piece which takes a look back at the top 10 babyface turns in WWE history.
Sgt. Slaughter turns babyface (1984) – My memories as a kid growing up in the 1980s watching wrestling don’t get much better than this one. The Sarge was a real bad dude who wrecked havoc on two different tours of duties into the lives of the WWE’s great 80s heroes. That is why it was both shocking and refreshing when he crossed the line against the Iron Sheik in 1983. The magic moment in which Slaughter led the fans threw the Pledge of Allegiance is a moment I’ll never forget as a wrestling fan. Unfortunately many have as it didn’t even rank in WWE’s own top 10 list of great babyface turns.
Hulk Hogan turns babyface (1984) – Here is one that is often overlooked yet changed the entire course of business. Hulk Hogan left the WWE as a bad guy in the early 1980s only to randomly appear out of nowhere in 1984. Instead of picking up where he left off feuding with the likes of Andre the Giant and Tony Atlas, Hogan came to the aid of his former foe Bob Backlund. Backlund vouched for Hogan when he told the fans that the Hulkster wouldn’t have Freddie Blassie around anymore and that he was a changed man. It doesn’t get much better than getting an endorsement from the guy whose spot you are taking. The rest is history and a lot of it.
The Undertaker turns babyface (1992) – The Undertaker was certainly not a wrestler you thought of in 1992 as a babyface hero. Yet the time came for Taker to do the first of many turns and fight for the fans. The turn came when Jake Roberts tried to attack Randy Savage’s manager Miss Elizabeth with a chair. The Dead Man came to the rescue of the damsel in distress. Roberts questioned his protege’s allegiance which was answered by The Undertaker shutting the casket on Roberts’ hand during a segment on the Funeral Parlor. Roberts wound up jamming Taker’s hand in the casket allowing him to beat up Paul Bearer, solidifying the end of the relationship and Taker’s place on the dark side. The turn was huge at the time and one of the bigger ones in WWE history when you look back at The Undertaker’s run up to that point.
Steve Austin turns babyface (1997) – The Stone Cold babyface turn is right up there with Hogan’s in regards to the impact that the angle had on the business. Austin was already hot but he was red hot with this turn. The big event took place in the famous double-turn match at WrestleMania 13 with Bret Hart. Austin’s turn simply came by passing out to the sharpshooter, blood running down his face, and never quitting. Most have ranked this as the top babyface turn of all-time. I’d probably put it second behind Hogan’s 1984 turn.
Superfly Snuka turns babyface (1982) – This was the first big angle that grabbed me as a wrestling fan. Jimmy Snuka was an animal as a heel. Snuka was a sadistic, maniacal, savage heel that fans cheered at a time when that rarely happened. Snuka’s leap off attempt of the top of the steel cage onto Bob Backlund sealed the deal with the fans. The turn started with an appearance in Buddy Rodgers’ Corner. Rodgers accused Cpt. Lou Albano of mismanaging Jimmy’s finances. Jimmy in turn fired Albano who didn’t go away quietly. Albano made a deal with Freddie Blassie and hired Ray Stevens to deliver a devastating piledriver to the Superfly outside of the ring on the concrete floor. Snuka returned to seek revenge and take his place as one of the most popular WWE stars for this time period in WWE history.
Batista turns babyface (2005) – This was a great one and an angle that simmered for months. Batista’s unhappiness with Triple H in Evolution was evident far before he finally had enough. Hunter saw a rising star and suggested that Batista not enter the Royal Rumble. Hunter’s motive was that he didn’t want Batista to threaten Triple H’s title reign. Batista entered anyway and won a shot at the world heavyweight championship. Hunter tried to have Batista run over by a limousine but that couldn’t stop the big man from coming after him. Batista finally swerved Hunter in one of the greatest RAW segments in history in which he signed a contract to face Triple H and not JBL, thus turning babyface and endearing himself to the hearts of WWE fans.
Lex Luger turns babyface (1993) – I completely forgot about this one until I read fellow CCB writer Seth Guttenplan’s list from a while back. Lex wasn’t what I’d call a monster heel in the WWE but he was certainly one of the top villains. The narcissist was the last guy you’d expect the fans to root for. That all changed when Jim Cornette held a bobyslam challenge on July 4th for Yokozuna. Lex surprised Cornette and company when he came in via helicopter and slammed the big man. The body slam launched the Lex Express and while the express quickly ran out of gas, the turn was a big one for its time.
John Cena turns babyface (2003) – If you want to talk about the historic impact of a babyface turn you have to put John Cena’s right up near the top of the list. In 2003 Cena was rumored to be joining Team Lesnar at the Survivor Series. Cena was confronted by SmackDown G.M. Paul Heyman and the team after pulling off an upset against Rey Mysterio. Heyman declared Cena as the fifth member of Team Lesnar at Survivor Series. Cena told Heyman that he had a problem with being told what to do and started running down the team. A-Train jumped Cena and pretty soon members of Team Lesnar were all taking their shots at Cena. Lesnar capped off the turn by nailing Cena with a steel chair. Hey, it only took 9 years but Cena would eventually get his revenge on Lesnar.
Randy Savage turns babyface (1991) – When I threw this question out on the CCB Facebook fan page many responses pointed to Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion as the best babyface turn ever. Savage’s heel turn of course made the last list. Savage lost to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII in an emotional retirement match. Savage’s manager Queen Sherri berated Savage after the match for losing when out of nowhere Elizabeth ran down the aisle and disposed of Sherri to a rousing ovation. The courtship between Savage and Liz at that point was one of the most memorable in WWE history. I can’t think of a more over love story in pro wrestling history.