A few months ago I wrote an article called the "Top 10 Heel Turns in TNA/Impact Wrestling History", where I mentioned some of the most shocking and iconic acts of betrayal ever seen in the company's near 20 year existence.
So now, I'm here to look at the other side of the coin as I talk about ten of the most memorable times wrestlers went from the being dastardly heels to becoming beloved heroes.
Similar to what I did for the ten best heel turns list, I will be ranking these turns not just for how shocking they are but also from a variety of factors like:
- How were the seeds for the turn planted?
- How iconic it is?
- And most importantly what did the person or people do after the face turn?
Bonus points if the face turn in question improved or gave the wrestler/s a gimmick change that helped them get over with the crowd.
10. Matt Morgan Steps Up For Mr. Anderson
By late 2010, Jeff Hardy felt untouchable as he joined forces with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan to create the faction known as 'Immortal' and began brutalizing all of those who dared to challenge him for his world title.
The most infamous case of Hardy's brutality at this time would have to the wicked steel chair shots that Hardy delivered to Mr. Anderson's head which lead to Anderson suffering from a concussion and Hardy mentioning in the following episodes
"People got it confused, they think I don't give, but I do; I give out concussions and there f###### free".
In a moment that certainly wouldn't happen today, Hogan and Bischoff decided to book a concussed Mr. Anderson in a chain match against Jeff Jarrett in the main event of an episode of Impact, However Matt Morgan (a member of Immortal and a real life athlete) had some legit concerns about pro wrestlers competing with a concussion but his fellow members of Immortal told him not to worry.
When it came time for this match, Double J patiently waited for Anderson only to get a well dressed Matt Morgan instead; Jarrett then grabbed a mic and brazenly told Morgan to his face
"The massacre of Mr. Anderson is taking place and there ain't a damn thing YOU...or anybody else, can do about it".
Realizing that the idea of having a fellow wrestler go out and competing with a legit concussion isn't good for a person's health, Morgan attacked Jarrett and took Anderson's place in the match thus, turning Matt Morgan babyface.
Morgan would go on to battle "The Antichrist of Professional Wrestling" Jeff Hardy for the world championship twice in the main event of the Turning Point and Final Resolution events in 2010, not to mention The Blueprint would be instrumental in Hardy losing the world title to Ken Anderson at Genesis 2011 and would find a level success in the inaugural Bound For Glory Series in 2011 as a result of his babyface turn.
9. Angelina Wins And The Beautiful People Reunite
When Angelina returned to T.V. from her temporary firing in 2009, she wasn't to pleased to see what had happened to the group that she created, which began a feud between Madison and Angelina for the Knockouts Championship.
Following numerous failed attempts by Lacey and Velvet to take care of Angelina, an unknown woman wearing an all black skintight outfit, ski mask and motorcycle helmet would randomly appear and aid Madison in her matches leaving some to wondering if it was either Lacey or Velvet in disguise but as it turns out it wasn't.
Divisions would began to unfold within The Beautiful People thanks Madison's association with the masked woman as well as Lacey and Velvet losing the Knockouts Tag Titles to Taylor Wilde and Hamada also thanks to the masked woman.
On a special 2010 episode of Impact known as "The Whole F'n Show" Angelina would defeat Madison to become five time Knockouts Champion and then just two weeks later a rematch for the title would take place with the mystery woman being the corner of Madison and Velvet in the corner of Angelina.
Long story short, Velvet prevented the mystery woman from interfering and helped Angelina retain the gold; Afterwards, Velvet would get into the ring and looked at Angelina before raising her arm in victory and in the process turning Velvet face and reuniting the original blonde duo.
This moment wouldn't last as Madison Rayne and her masked assailant attacked both Velvet and Angelina before the mystery woman revealed herself to be former Knockouts Champion, Tara.
8. Rockstar Spud Fights Back
Following the iconic moment of Dixie Carter being put through a table (more on that later), EC3 was attacking everyone who he thinks were responsible for his Aunt's horrific table bump; This ultimately led to EC3 confronting, belittling and assaulting his "friend" Rockstar Spud, who was looking for forgiveness for his failure to protect Madam Dixie.
EC3 was having none of this and continued to demean Spud every chance he got, that is until October 8th, 2014 where Spud slapped EC3 in face after taking the abuse way too much and as a result a feud between both men would begin and would go from October into March of 2015 when Spud and EC3 faced off in hair vs. hair in Spud own home country of England.
Sadly, for the former Chief of Staff, he would not only lose the match but he would also lose his hair as part of the stipulation; however, this didn't detoured Spud's momentum as the next appearance for Spud on Impact T.V. saw him cash in his feast or fired briefcase for the X Division Championship on Low Ki and ended up being a two time X Division Champion by the end of the year.
Spud would continue to prove himself as a competitor by wrestling in high profiled matches with names like Drew Galloway, Kurt Angle and Austin Aries with the latter of which resulting one of the biggest wins in his career.
7. Bully Ray Turns On Dixie Carter
In 2014, Dixie Carter was by this point a heel and she was mad with power; Enlisting her kayfabe nephew EC3 and Rockstar Spud as her backup, Dixie felt completely unstoppable and any wrestlers who dare to question her authority ended up injured or fired from the company.
On the January 30th addition of Impact, a new investor was revealed to have bought shares of the company from the TNA Board of Directors and that investor was former WWE United States Champion, MVP.
MVP mentioned in the months following his debut that he was here to clean up the mess that Dixie made of the company and decided that the best way to determine who should have all the power in the company is to have a four-on-four lethal lockdown match.
So when the match happened at the Lockdown 2014 PPV, things looked relatively close for both teams, until Dixie pulled an ace out of her sleeve or in the form of Bully Ray who came out and was revealed to the special guest referee and just like that it looked for certain that Dixie was going to retain her kayfabe strangle hold over the company.
As Bobby Roode was looking to put MVP through a table that was set up in the ring until Bully Ray surprised everyone when he not only stood in front of the table but he also slammed Roode in the middle of ring after Bobby put his hands on Bully; MVP managed to get up on his feet and hit his signature drive-by kick to the head of Roode before Bully made the three count.
On the next episode of Impact Bully Ray came out and explained his reasoning for why he did what he did at Lockdown, he boldly told the fans that the last thing this business needs is another Dixie Carter running around and making decisions (Tell that to AEW's Tony Khan).
This turn led to Bully and Bobby facing off in a tables match at Sacrifice but, it also became the nucleus for the Dixie Carter/Bully Ray feud which became the biggest storyline for the company in all of 2014 which culminated with Dixie being put through a table by Bully Ray in front a thunderous crowd and the applause of the locker room who were in attendance.
6. Kurt Angle Respects The Locker Room
In the late 2000's Kurt Angle along with former WWE and WCW alumni's Booker T, Kevin Nash, Sting and Scott Steiner formed the Main Event Mafia, one the most well remember factions in company history following Sting's title win at Bound For Glory 2008 and the belief of Sting's famous motto
"The single most important thing that separates the men from the boys...is respect."
However things changed when Bound For Glory 2009 came around as Kurt Angle was set to square off with "The Blueprint" Matt Morgan and following the string of losses that mafia had suffered at the hands of the young up-and-comers throughout the night, Kurt was looking to turn things around.
Moments after picking up the win, Kurt Angle approaches Morgan with his hand out; Morgan was reluctant at first but does shake Kurt's hand before Angle raises Morgan's hand as a sign of respect.
On the next night on Impact, Kurt came out and talked to the crowd following his win at BFG, if anyone in the arena that night thought that Kurt was going to brag about his victory over Morgan were sadly mistaken as Kurt Angle instead says
"When I first came to TNA, What I thought I saw was a bunch of young punks looking for free handouts...and I'm here to tell you that Kurt Angle made a mistake. What I see now are a bunch of young boys who have grown into men, so to the boys and the girls in the back you have nothing to prove to me, I now consider you my peers."
Not a moment too soon following his face turn, Angle would engage in a two month feud with newcomer, Desmond Wolfe (aka Nigel McGuiness from Ring of Honor) which easily became the best feud of 2009 for TNA.
Angle would also transition into a feud AJ Styles for the world title and then later Kurt would feud with another newcomer from another promotion in the form of Mr. Anderson (aka Mr. Kennedy in the WWE) which of course led to one of the best cage matches of the 2010's.
5. Tessa Blanchard's Emotional Aftermath
By the start of 2019, Tessa was the Knockouts Champion until she lost the belt to Taya Valkyrie at the Homecoming PPV due to Tessa's persistence in antagonizing special guest referee, Gail Kim.
In the weeks that followed, Tessa would continue to annoy Gail Kim, resulting in the Impact Wrestling Hall of Famer getting physical with Tessa which led to her getting suspended. Upon her return, Gail was forced to apologize for her actions against Tessa to which she did but she also dropped a bombshell on everyone when she said that she would be coming out of retirement to kick Tessa's ass at the Rebellion PPV.
In the end it was Tessa who was able to defeat Gail Kim in the middle of the ring picking up the biggest win of her career by that point.
Moments after winning the match, Tessa sees her father, Tully Blanchard in the crowd and hugs him while he congratulates her for her victory in a feel good moment; Soon Tully then tells Tessa to get back in the ring and do something and she does just that.
At this point, many would imagine that Tessa would attack Gail Kim, but to the surprise of everyone the young Blanchard extends her hand out in a rare showing of sportsmanship to which Gail not only shakes her hand but also hugs her before congratulating her, which brings Tessa to tears.
Tessa's time as a babyface would see her transition into fighting the male side of the locker room which lead to Tessa Blanchard become the first woman to win a World Championship in a major U.S. wrestling promotion.
4. The Phenomenal One Is Back!
AJ Styles spent the majority of 2012 battling against friends turn rivals Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian which also included the infamous Claire Lynch storyline; As the year was coming to an end Daniels and Kazarian had defeated Styles both mentally and competition wise, which led to AJ taking a leave of absence from Impact programming for a couple of months.
By March of 2013 during a match/fight involving The Bad Influence (Kazarian and Daniels) and "The Cowboy" James Storm, AJ came from the back to attack Kaz and Daniels in support of Storm, however this AJ Styles was different: he was decked in all black ring attire, a black leather jacket, a brand new theme song, a beard, messy hair and a silent but at the same time violent side to him began to show.
The latter point would prove to be true as AJ would attack 'The Cowboy' just minutes later, confusing everyone as to why AJ would attack Storm. In the months that followed AJ continued to remain silent when people asked why he continued to act the way that he did but AJ had no answers for them; Styles would become a focal point during the TNA vs. Aces and Eights feud as both sides tried to recruit him with little degrees of success.
By the time a five vs. five matchup between both sides where the loser would be gone from the company came around on the August 22nd, 2013 edition of Impact, the New Main Event Mafia (who were in support of the TNA) were lacking another person until AJ Styles slowly walked his way out which confused everyone on what Styles was doing and...then...it...happened.
AJ flips his hood and rises his arms in the classic AJ Styles pose as his classic theme song "Get Ready To Fly" began playing in the background; The crowd and the announcers in attendance erupted into cheers and disbelief as "The Phenomenal One" came in as the final man for Team TNA against the evil biker gang and by the end of the match AJ helped the New Main Event Mafia pick up the win and as a result the beginning of the end of Aces & Eights would commence.
3. Hulk-A-Mania Runs Wild At Bound For Glory
After returning to the company and winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in 2011, Sting would wage war with Hogan, Bischoff and Immortal which eventually led to a high profiled match between Hulk Hogan and Sting at Bound For Glory 2011 where if Sting won his match against Hogan then all the power and control of the company would go to him and Dixie Carter.
Earlier in the night, it was shown that Eric Bischoff was talking to referee Jackson James who was revealed to be Eric's actual son, Garrett Bischoff.
The finish came when Sting put a battered and bloody Hogan in the Scorpion Death Lock submission which led to Hogan tapping out immediately, however referee Garrett Bischoff was conflicted on ringing the bell (under the orders and loyalty of his old man), but shockingly Garrett told the time keeper to ring the bell and just like that Sting won the match as well as control of the company back to Dixie Carter.
Eric Bischoff and the rest of Immortal arrived following the match and began to beat the holy hell out Sting after wrestling a grueling match with Hulk Hogan, but in a surprise twist and unexpected face turn Garrett Bischoff took a steel chair out of his father's hands as a way to stop the onslaught only for the young Bischoff to get whacked with another steel chair for his troubles.
By this point, Sting is crawling to Hogan who is in the corner and his asking for help from the Hulkster which leads to unexpected face turn #2 as the Hogan looked at the crowd before ripping off what was left of his shirt and began to beat down the his former stable mates alongside with Sting as the audience erupted into cheers. The only person left was Eric Bischoff who Hogan grabbed from the corner before winding up his fist and punched Eric's lights out.
So, in one of the biggest cases of long term storytelling in TNA history from 2010-11 the fans witness the rise and fall of Immortal at Bound For Glory as well as the return of the red and yellow superhero that they know and love.
2. The Demon Comes To The Bunny's Rescue
On the May 25th 2017 addition of Impact, Sienna and Laurel Van Ness attacked Allie following a match but suddenly out of nowhere Rosemary came towards the ring and looked as if see was going to aid in the beat down of Allie, instead she turned her attentions to both Sienna and LVN who were demolished by "The Demon Assassin".
In the weeks that followed, Rosemary revealed that "The Hive" had instructed her to protect The Bunny (aka Allie) thus, beginning the bizarre couple known today as "Demon Bunny".
Although Rosemary would lose her Knockouts title and suffered an ACL injury that sidelined her from in ring competition for months, the demon assassin would remain popular with the fans and soon she would return to the ring where she's continued to be a highlight and locker room leader for the company.
1. The TNA Originals Swerve Eric Bischoff And Immortal
Under the leadership of "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, TNA originals AJ Styles, Frankie Kazarian, James Storm and Bobby Roode formed the heel stable known as 'Fortune' and soon joined forces with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's 'Immortal' faction to become one major super group.
However by early 2011, Immortal would get messages that another group referring to themselves as "They" would appear with the aim of taking down Hogan and Bischoff and on the February 3rd 2011 edition of Impact 'They' would make their presence felt in the main event between Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Towards the end of the match, a few members of Immortal and the entirety of the Fortune faction hit the ring where they were set to lay an ass kicking to Mr. Anderson, but just as AJ Styles was looking to hit Anderson, he throw up the Fortune hand sign right in the face of Jeff Hardy before Fortune clears the ring of the Immortal members with the exclamation point seeing AJ deliver an empathic Styles Clash onto Hardy, leading to Anderson going for the cover and retaining the world title.
Afterwards, AJ Styles would take the microphone a deliver one of the best promos of his career when he revealed that Fortune were 'They' and that they weren't taking a backseat to anyone.
Eric Bischoff would soon come out a tell the Originals that they and the company weren't worth anything until Hogan and himself showed up to which Styles responded to this by reminding everyone and Bischoff himself that "You put a million dollar company out of business" and his trying to do the same thing to TNA.
AJ went even further saying:
"And it all started when you and Hogan stepped into TNA; You started spending money, you started changing things and you started hiring guys that didn't deserve to be in wrestling in the first place".
The crowd then began to defiantly chant "We Want Six Sides" right at Bischoff and the rest of Immortal before Styles and Bischoff end the segment with a declaration of war between the two teams.
What makes this face turn so great is the fact that it was completely unexpected and the reasoning for why was something that the fans could easily understand and relate to (especially now with the ability of hindsight); The segment is one of the best endings in modern TNA/Impact Wrestling History...do yourself a favor and watch the video especially Styles' passionate promo.
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