While we all sympathies with the hero, everyone loves a good villain. And what source of entertainment gives us better villains than Pro Wrestling?
The constant battle between the good baby faces and the evil heels have been happening since the early 20th century. But the main period of time that a lot of people look back at is the 80s, where both the WWF and NWA were battled it out for attention.
During that time the Heels were larger than life, and at times scary.
So who were the best heels in pro wrestling? Let’s find out:
NUMBER 5: Jake “the Snake” Roberts
With one look at his picture you more or less get the idea of what Jake Roberts was about. He was cold as ice.
You could look deep into his eyes and get memorized much like a snake. He was dark and cool and had for his time one of the coolest finishers, the DDT.
Aurelian Smith Jr. was born in Gainsville, Texas but got his start in the Louisiana working for Mid-South wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling. There he worked with a number of legends such as the Legion of Doom.
In 1986 he landed in the WWF as Jake Roberts, a month before WrestleMania 2. He made his name during a feud with Ricky the Dragon Steamboat.
During a Saturday Night’s Main Event he DDT’d Steamboat on the concrete in front of his wife, knocking him out.
Roberts would then put his pet snake Damien on his and even putting it in his mouth. This was up there in the evil meter.
The feud would lead to a no DQ match at The Big Event in Toronto and a rematch on TV.
In the 90s Roberts would work with Randy Savage and would have his snake bite him. Over the next few years, Robert’s would fall from grace due to drugs and bounce around different promotions such as WCW and AAA.
He would also be one of the main subjects of the documentary film Beyond the Mat, showing the toll that his life had taken on him.
In recent years, he’s tried to get his life back into order by working with Diamond Dallas Page.
While his career was short and he never held any major titles, Roberts is well known for his stone cold demeanor and the use of his pet snake.
Number 4: Abdullah the Butcher
When it came to monsters in the 80s there were few that were as scary as Abdullah the Butcher.
Lawrence Shreve was born in Windsor, Ontario in 1941 and got his start in the Canadian Wrestling scene. He really didn’t become popular until he started in WCCW and WCW in the mid 80s.
Abdullah wrestled all over the would and had big matches in places like Japan were he fought Terry Funk and even Hulk Hogan.
Abdullah wasn’t known for his wrestling but for his blood bath matches and his use of the fork as a weapon.
During his runs he would battle the likes of Bruiser Brody, Carlos Colon and Hercules Ayala.
In the 90s he would be known for the Chamber of Horror’s Match in WCW. After that he would work many indie promotions all over North America.
Abdullah was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. However his reputation would be brought into question when Devon Nicholson claimed that he caught Hepatics C after wrestling with Abdulla, causing him to lose a WWE contract.
Despite this Abdullah will be remembered for his blood bath matches and his generally scary look.
Number 3: The Iron Sheik
One of the many tropes of heels in wrestling is the idea of a foreigner, a person that represents everything that the local crowd isn’t. In the WWF during the 80s the Iron Sheik was that person.
Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Iran in the 40s. He was an amateur wrestler and even made it on the Iranian Olympic Greco Roman team in 1968. He later moved to the United States to help coach the US team.
During that time he trained in Pro Wrestling and wrestled in different parts of the United States under different names until he landed in the WWF.
Sheikie took his name after the Iranian Hostage Crisis and quickly became a big heel in the US.
During his time in the WWF he teamed with Nikolai Volkoff, a man using a Russian gimmick, and the two would stand in the ring and sing their national anthems.
Sheik became such a succes that he ended the six-year reign of Bob Backland as the WWF champion.
The Iron Sheik would then lose to Hulk Hogan starting his title reign and the Hulkamania craze as a whole.
He continued to team with Volkoff and feud with other’s in the company until an incident happened where both he and Jim Duggan were pulled over while under the influence of drugs. Sheikie left the company and bounced around other promotions and ending up in the WWE several different times.
The Iron Sheik is still known to this day as one of the all time greats of wrestling. With his Iranian flag and his distaste for Americans Sheikie was one of the top heels of the 80s.
Number 2: Ric Flair
When it comes to wrestling there are few names bigger than Ric Flair. With his blond hair and his trademarked “Wooooo,” Flair is one of the greatest wrestling personas in history.
Richard Fliehr was born in Tennessee in 1949 and trained by Verne Gagne and landed in Jim Crockett’s Mid-Atlantic promotion in the mid 70s.
Over the next five plus years he’d work his way to the top of the promotion and the NWA. For the next decade he would be NWA Champion eight times.
However, it wasn’t his ability in the ring that made him a heel, it was the way that he acted outside of the ring. He was the jet flying son of a gun, who would talk sh*t about anyone without ever caring, that is until the main babyface would confront him.
Flair along with his heel stable the Four Horsemen, were on top of the NWA for the decade. While the group would often lose major matches like War Games they acted as if they won, making them even more hated.
Many great faces were built due to feuds with Flair. Names like Lex Lugar, Sting, Roddy Piper, Ronnie Garvin and Ricky Steamboat.
Over his career Flair would use his cheating ways to win the NWA Title 10 Times, the WCW title seven times and the WWF Championship twice making him 19 time champion from these three organizations alone (22 times if you count Central States Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling and All Star Pro Wrestling).
Despite this Flair doesn’t top our list. So who’s a better heel than Flair?
Andre The Giant:
While Andre was one of the WWF’s top heels in 87-88 during his feud with Hulk Hogan he was loved for most of his time in wrestling. It’s his great size that made him a fan favourite, there were a number of people that wanted him to crush Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3 but he was more often than not a baby face. Andre retired in 1992 and died a year later. He was also the first person inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
While Heenan did wrestle he was mostly known as a manager (one of the best). Heenan managed some of the greatest heels in wrestling, names like the BlackJacks, Rick Rude, Harley Race, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, and Ted DiBiase. He was also a great colour commentator making some interesting arguments for why the bad guys were right and the faces wrong. However, in 2002 he was diagnosed with Cancer and over the years he’s been hospitalized. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
…Need I say a lot here? He’s the Million Dollar Man, he bought the WWF title after Andre beat Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The man was a great heel. In 2010 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Number One: Rowdy Roddy Piper
When it comes to the coolest of the cool, Roddy Piper was it. Piper could either knock you out with a sleeper in the ring or undress you with his words when he was cutting a promo, making him the greatest heel in 80s wrestling.
Roderick Toombs was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1954. He grew up in a tough family, leaving home during junior high. Piper made his in ring debut at the age of 14 when he faced Larry Hennig (Curt Hennig’s father).
He came down to the ring playing the bagpipes and his gimmick was born. Piper would wear a kilt down to the ring and would be billed from Glasgow Scotland for his career. The visual of Piper walking down to the ring with a kilt was enough to piss off many of the American fans.
Piper made his way through the NWA promotions in the late 70s and early 80s before ending up in the WWF 1984.
Piper didn’t wrestle at first due to an injury he suffered after wrestling Greg Valentine in a dog-collar match, so he spent the first few months in the company as a loud mouth manager for Paul Orndorff and David Schultz. He would later work with Cowboy Bob Orton (Randy Orton’s Father) who acted as a bodyguard.
He also hosted an interview segment called Pipers Pit, where instead of interviewing the wrestler he would insult and braid them making the crowed love them even more. The biggest moment from the segment happened when he hit Jimmy Snuka with a coconut, leading to a large feud.
Soon after Piper and Hulk Hogan started a popular rivalry. Hogan was working with pop star Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano as the Rock N Wrestle connection. Piper attacked Albano and even kicked Lauper after she grabbed his leg.
From there the War to Settle the Score Began.
The Feud lead to a dramatic increase in interest in the WWF leading to good sales for WrestleMania 1, where he teamed with Paul Orndorff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, and WrestleMania 2, where he boxed Mr. T.
After the match with Mr. T Piper became a baby face but his heel run helped kick off the popularity of the WWE.
Piper would take time off from wrestling after WrestleMania 3 and make the film They Live. He returned at WrestleMania 5 and would stay with the company until 1996, when he left for WCW.
During his time a WCW he would get a clean victory over Hulk Hogan and make appearances until the company was bought out in 2000.
He’d return to the WWE several times over the years also making appearances in TNA where he smacked Vince Russo in the face (something many wrestling fans have wanted to do for a while now).
Piper still appears on WWE TV every now and again for a Pipers Pit segment. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
However, it’s because of his first heel run that made him such a star making his the greatest heel from the 80s.
Felt I was wrong, then comment on who your favourite 80s heels are.