Friday, February 23

10 Wrestling Babyfaces That Polarized Fans

The topic of polarizing babyfaces became more common in recent years with fans approaching wrestling in different ways. Things like the internet, wrestlers sharing more, and promotions being under fire led to some names having mixed reactions. Wrestling promotions used to want to have a full-fledged babyface loved by all and still do to an extent.


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Fans might have cheered for these wrestlers in the ring, but behind-the-scenes they were jerks.

However, plenty of faces getting boos can easily be saved now by the reaction to the live audience. There is a history of good guys having to deal with polarizing reactions. Companies used to try hide it from spreading, but that hasn’t always worked. Each of the following babyfaces from WWE and beyond were the most polarizing in wrestling history.


10 John Cena Always Got The Loudest Reactions

First Major WWE Babyface To Make It Part Of His Character

  • WWE Tried Fighting Polarizing Reaction At First
  • Fully Embraced It When Boos Grew Too Loud
  • Became Part Of Cena’s Overall All-Time Legacy

WWE wanted John Cena to be a pure babyface that everyone loved when they meticulously planned out his first WWE Championship win. However, Cena started to run into fan resistance when feuding with popular established names like Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Triple H and Edge.

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More and more fans continued to boo Cena until WWE started embracing it and using the word “polarizing” to describe the crowd. Cena spent about a decade having mixed reactions with WWE content that his supporters and critics both created a loud must-watch atmosphere.

9 Ronda Rousey Turned Heel Since Fans Didn’t Support Her

Wrestling Fans Struggled To Fully Embrace Rousey

  • Joining WWE Made Mainstream Sports Headlines
  • Fans Fully Turned On Rousey During Becky Feud
  • Ronda Was Even More Polarizing In Second Stint

The signing of Ronda Rousey by WWE was massive news since she was arguably the most popular name in UFC at her peak. Rousey loved pro wrestling and had a close friendship with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to broker a WWE deal.

Fans were into Ronda at first, but the feud with Becky Lynch made her quite polarizing. Rousey realized that anyone fans respected more like Becky, Charlotte Flair or even Liv Morgan would get the cheers to warrant her embracing a more sadistic side at times.

8 Seth Rollins Was Never Fully Accepted As A Babyface

Some Fans Still Haven’t Accepted New Gimmick

  • Rollins Always Had Hiccups During His Big Babyface Pushes
  • Universal Title Reign Saw Him Losing Fan Support Vs Fiend
  • Current Gimmick Has Polarizing Effect On Fans

The babyface chapters of Seth Rollins’ WWE career always tend to have some polarizing aspects to it. Rollins witnessed fans turning against him in 2019 during his Universal Championship reign, especially after the all-time bad Hell in a Cell match against Bray Wyatt.

Another polarizing run did see more fans rallying behind him with the current gimmick. Rollins wearing over-the-top outfits and delivering his unnecessary laugh led to many fans viewing him as jumping the shark. WWE is expecting to have a split crowd for the Rollins vs CM Punk program.

7 Batista Wasn’t As Loved As Some Of His Best Opponents

World Title Reigns Caused Fans To Have Mixed Reactions At Times

  • Lucked Out With Hated Heel Triple H Putting Him Over
  • Fans Started To Turn On Him
  • Batista Embraced Boos During Feud With Fellow Face Undertaker

WWE crowned Batista on the same night as John Cena when both guys won the top two world titles at WrestleMania 21. Batista never had the crowd wanting to heckle him every week like Cena did during his time as a polarizing face.

However, certain opponents exposed that a solid percentage of the fan base didn’t fully embrace Batista. The Undertaker feud was a face vs face program, but it exposed Batista having a lot of critics. Future matches with names like Edge and Booker T featured enough polarizing receptions.

6 Bianca Belair Has Been Booked Strongly From Day One

Getting Booked Too Strongly Caused Her To Become Polarizing

  • Polarizing Reaction Was More Natural Regarding Dominant Character
  • Match With Io Shirai Officially Made Bianca Polarizing
  • WWE Slowing Down Over-Using Belair Since Then Showed Response

There was a lot of confusion regarding why some WWE crowds were booing Bianca Belair. WWE doing a great job with Bianca at the start of her ascension is partially why it played out this way with some fan resentment.

Belair was booked strong from day one on the main roster to show her potential playing out in big matches against Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch. Backlash 2023 featured the red-hot Puerto Rico crowd booing Bianca out of the building in favor of a fresh Io Shirai to explain the fan rationale.

5 Hulk Hogan Saw Fans Turn On Him In The 1990s

Hogan Lived Every Babyface Experience Possible As The OG Face

  • Had Multiple Polarizing Reactions In Feuds Against Top Names
  • Jumping Ship To WCW Made More Fans Turn On Him
  • Hogan Used This To Turn Heel And Form The NWO

Vince McMahon handpicked Hulk Hogan to be his face of the company when the Golden Era started in his vision. Hogan was generally beloved to help lead WWE to new heights as a mainstream brand, but playing the same role for over a decade made him stale.

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There were some instances of Hogan experiencing boos against certain talents like Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts. WCW signing Hogan caused his polarizing reputation to grow even worse. The WCW crowds booing Hogan more frequently partially influenced his tremendous heel turn.

4 CM Punk Isn’t Loved By Everyone

Will Always Be Infamously Polarizing In Wrestling History

  • Loved Having Polarizing Reputation Behind The Scenes
  • Flirted With Polarizing Tweener In Final AEW Face Run
  • WWE Clearly Wants Split Crowds For CM Punk

Some names will always get a response from fans no matter how positive or negative due to their persona. CM Punk made a career out of rubbing people the wrong way and doing things his own way as part of that journey fans connected with.

AEW witnessed the worst-case scenario of Punk backstage drama, but he played an interesting polarizing face upon his return from first suspension. WWE has Punk in the face role with fellow faces like Seth Rollins ripping him apart to play into that side of his character moving forward.

3 Bayley’s Act Didn’t Work As Well On The Main Roster

Smash Hit NXT Babyface Became Hated By Many Main Roster Fans

  • NXT Success Created Huge Expectations For Main Roster Run
  • Fans Started To Lose Faith After Getting Buried Multiple Times
  • Heel Turn Saved Her Career With Character Rebranding

The WWE crowd has changed a lot in recent years with many new viewers jumping on the WWE bandwagon. Babyfaces rarely see the audience turn on them today, but the 2010s featured that happening quite often to any pure babyface.

Bayley getting called up from an all-time great NXT stint had fans comparing her to John Cena, in terms of a wholesome babyface appealing to kids. Poor creative made Bayley look a bit too weak, and many fans started booing her. The heel turn was the best thing to ever happen to Bayley on the main roster.

2 Shawn Michaels Was An Annoying Face In His First WWE Run

Became The Most Controversial Babyface Of The ‘90s

  • Michaels Had Heartwarming Moment Winning Title
  • Fans Lost Interest In Cheering Him Against Cool Heels
  • Michaels Needed DX Turn To Save Momentum From Title Reign

WWE took a risk by making Shawn Michaels the face of the company in 1996 after the Diesel experiment failed, and Bret Hart took time off. Michaels had some of the best matches in WWE history defending the belt, but his face character lost all steam. Antics like phony retirements and a general rude personality at the time made it hard to keep loving him.

Fans started booing Michaels in the “grittier” cities like New York City and Philadelphia. Michaels getting booed as the hero against Sycho Sid and Mankind showed the audience losing faith. The resentment of the audience turning on Michaels caused him to channel the energy needed for the DX heel turn.

1 Roman Reigns Was Hated By Most Fans As The Big Dog

Polarizing Babyface Until He Finally Turned Heel In 2020

  • Roman Found Fan Backlash As Soon As His Main Event Push Began
  • WWE Wanted To Make Roman Fill The Shoes Of John Cena
  • Roman Wanting To Turn Heel Was Best For All Involved

WWE made it clear that Roman Reigns was going to become the face of the company shortly after The Shield broke up. Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble match, but the fans completely turned on him that night with boos from his entrance to his over-the-top win.

The next few years saw the real-life story of WWE making Roman the face of the promotion and fans resisting it. Reigns had an edgier side than John Cena to play into the boos, but he never fully won the entire fan base over. WWE taking the risk of turning Roman heel ended up taking his career to new heights.

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