Everyone loves a good villain...
In professional wrestling this usually happens when beloved wrestlers turn their backs on friends and the fans out of jealously, revenge or sometimes pure greed.
In doing so however, these acts of betrayal have gone on to help elevated their careers in ways no one could have imagine and today I'll be looking at the ten heel turns that could be considered the most effective and memorable in TNA/Impact Wrestling.
For the purpose of this list, I'll be mentioning the heel turns that fill out these qualities:
- How were the seeds for the heel turn planted?
- How shocking and iconic was the heel turn?
And most importantly
- What did they do in the weeks/months/years after the heel turn?
10. Christian Cage Swings For The Fences
After becoming the #1 Contender to the NWA World Championship in a four way match at Victory Road 2006, Sting had his sights on then champion Jeff Jarrett, however the icon also a had someone else to deal with at the time: Christian Cage.
You see following Sting's return to the company in early 2006, Christian was questioning the icon's motives for coming back to Impact but after the competitive matchup involving Sting and Cage in the four way contenders match, Christian got into the ring and shook Sting's hand as a sign of friendship and respect.
At Hard Justice, the match was set for Sting to challenge Jarrett for NWA Championship but Christian wanted to be in Sting's corner for the upcoming world title match as backup to take care of Scott Steiner (who was Jarrett's enforcer), to which Sting agreed.
In the final moments of the match, Jarrett was left laid out and Christian got a hold of double J's guitar; In the midst of all of this, Christian instructs Sting to go to the top rope and attack Jarrett only for Christian to nail Sting right on the top of his head with the guitar which allowed Jarrett to pick up the win and retain his title.
In a sit down that occurred soon after the event, Christian would go on the say that his reasoning for turning on Sting was basically due to Cage's belief that Sting simply doesn't have the passion to be champion anymore and mention's that he (Cage) is nobody's lackey.
Afterwards, Cage would go on to feud with his friend turn enemy Rhino for the rest of 2006 leading into matches at No Surrender, Bound For Glory and even a Barbed Wire Steel Cage match on Impact before creating his own faction known as the "Christian Coalition" and eventually becoming a two time NWA World Champion in 2007.
9. Moose Sells Out
In July of 2018, Moose would become the #1 contender to Austin Aries' World Heavyweight Championship leading to a career defining match at Slammiversary for the former football star, unfortunately he would come up short in the main event.
Fast forward a weeks later and Aries defeats Eddie Edwards in a world title match thanks to the aid of his new running mate Killer Kross, but it would also lead to Moose returning to the company to save his friend and a main event tag team match between Aries and Kross vs. Edwards and Moose on the August 30th edition of Impact.
Before the match, Moose was found assaulted backstage leaving Edwards to battle Aries and Kross by himself, however just as things started to look bad Moose marched his way down to the ring to confront Aries only to turn around and spear Eddie off of his feet before revealing that his whole injury was a fake.
Moose would soon join forces with Kross and Aries before explaining his reasoning for betraying Aries was the fact that Eddie never checked on him in the hospital following his defeat to Aries at the previous PPV.
The heel turn would lead to a radical change for Moose as he would proclaim himself as "Mr. Impact Wrestling" among other things while also cutting promos that both oozed charm and intensity which lead to him rising up in the ranks within the promotion and even obtaining the TNA World Championship at one point in time.
8. One More Match For The Fallen Angel
In the lead up to Destination X 2011, Daniels wanted to wrestle AJ Styles at the pay per view hoping to give the fans another classic match with both men explaining that regardless which one of them comes out on top, the outcome will in no way interfere with their friendship but when the match happened, AJ Styles came out victorious and Daniels went on to shake his best friends hand albeit very begrudgingly.
After weeks of asking for one more match with AJ, Daniels would get his match on the September 1st episode of Impact, which saw the fallen angel pick up the win following a misstep during a springboard attempt on AJ's part; However unlike at Destination X 2011, Daniels who was elated over his win refused shake his best friends hand afterwards.
Daniels would refuse AJ a rematch and a few weeks later on Impact the two would come to blows in a brawl that went around most of the building until Frankie Kazarian tried to break it up.
Despite Kazarian's best efforts, the fallen angel would hit a swift kick into AJ's downstairs area cemented Daniels' turn to the dark side and setting the stage for a number of matches the both men would have between 2011-14 plus it would also lead to the creation of one of the most memorable tag teams in Impact Wrestling history: The Bad Influence.
7. It's All About Me And Ric Flair!!!
Not to be outdone, "The Phenomenal One" AJ Styles has also surprised the Impact fanbase by turning his back on them but this time for the championship gold.
At Genesis 2010, AJ Styles would defend his TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Kurt Angle in an ultracompetitive main event match, but it wasn't until The Nature Boy Ric Flair made his way towards the ring we things really started to get interesting.
In the final few moments of the match, Angle has AJ Styles in the ankle lock with no way of breaking out it and just a mere few second before he taps out, Flair pulls out referee Earl Hebner out of the ring which leads to an enraged Kurt Angle chased after Flair; After stopping Kurt with a clothesline, Flair throws the TNA title in the ring before telling AJ to use it which he does to the surprise of many and in the process retains his status as TNA World Champion.
The heel turn shocked the heck out of everybody as no one expected it to happened and it left many fans angry at the idea that "The Phenomenal One" would have to stoop that low to beat the Olympic Gold Medalist.
The result would lead to one of the best, if not unappreciated partnerships between AJ Styles and Ric Flair in TNA as well as the birth of the heel stable known as 'Fortune' just months later.
6. Last Call For AMW
During a feud with LAX, AMW also known as America's Most Wanted took on the Latin American Xchange in a Flag Match for the tag team titles at Turning Point 2006 but after a beer bottle shot by Storm hit not only Homicide but Chris Harris as well, it insured AMW's defeat although Storm would claim that it was thanks to Harris' incompetence as to why the team didn't win the titles that night.
On the December 14th edition of Impact, Storm and Harris got another chance to fight for LAX's tag team titles with the added stipulation for AMW being forced to disband if they lose the match. During the finals moments of the match, James Storm came into the ring with a beer bottle looking to hit Homicide with it only to turn around and crack Harris in the face with it and walk out on his partner leading to LAX retaining the titles but also the end of one of TNA's greatest tag teams.
Following this, James Storm would not only ally himself with "The Pride of Tennessee" Jacqueline "Jackie" Moore but he would also have a rivalry with his former tag partner that lasted from Lockdown 2007 until Sacrifice of that year culminating in a Bloody Texas Death Match.
In the end, James Storm's career following the breakup of AMW lead to him forming a partnership with Bobby Roode to create Beer Money Inc., not to mention Storm would become a world champion in 2011 and went on to be a main eventer in Impact from much of the 2010’s.
5. The Master Plan Is Complete
During the Aces and Eights Storyline, Bully Ray became a babyface leading the charge for the Impact locker room against the mysterious masked biker gang. Bully was also in a storyline relationship with Hulk Hogan's real life daughter, Brooke and forming a partnership with 'The Icon' Sting.
At Lockdown 2013, Bully Ray faced then world champion Jeff Hardy in the main event inside a steel cage but towards the end of the match, Aces and Eights members began climbing the cage leading to Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy standing back-to-back to each other against the gang, only for Devon (who was a member of the group) to throw a hammer at his former tag team partner to use as a weapon and hit Hardy square in the back.
Bully Ray ended up winning the match and the title before hugging the Aces and Eights members only to follow up by grabbing a microphone to announce to the world that he was the president of the biker gang, who've been wrecking havoc on the Impact Wrestling locker room for months.
This spurred the live crowd to begin throwing garbage into the ring as Bully began telling both Hulk and Brooke Hogan "Brooke I used you, Hulk I SCREWED you!" right in their faces and in the process completing Bully Ray's master plan to become TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
4. The Birth Of The World Class Maniac
Eric Young had two attempts at being the bad guy where played the leader and member of the anti-American foreign stables, World Elite and Team Canada respectively.
While both of those times were memorable in their own right, it's his heel turn on former Team Canada partner, Bobby Roode in 2015 that I've chosen for this list.
During a highly anticipated match between challenger Bobby Lashley and champion Bobby Roode on an episode of Impact, the BDC or Beat Down Clan were looking to making sure that their man, Lashley would walk out as champion.
That was until EY came to the rescue of Roode by sliding into the ring with a steel chair, however Eric would then turn around hit his former friend in the back with the same chair leaving Roode vulnerable for a spear by Lashley resulting in Roode losing the match and world title in the process.
On the next episode of Impact, Eric would go on to explain that he wasn't joining the BDC but, that he attacked his friend Bobby Roode due to EY's claims of Roode not checking on him while he was in the hospital and how Roode was never there for Young during his war with the BDC.
While Eric's turn to the dark side would see him most infamously winning a match against Sgt. turn wrestler Chris Melendez where the former army soldier's prosthetic leg was on the line (seriously?!), it also led to Eric having some of the best matches in his career with Roode, Jeff Hardy and most notably Kurt Angle at Bound For Glory in a no disqualification match thereby turning the muscular happy go lucky goofball of TNA into an intense and unhinged mercenary who attacked, hurt and hospitalized anyone he wanted.
3. Velvet And Angelina Give Roxxi A Makeover
'The Beautiful People' are a faction that every wrestling fan has either seen or heard of, as the vindictive blonde duo of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky along with latter members, Cute Kip, Madison Rayne and Lacey Von Erich are one of the most iconic stables in not just in TNA/Impact history but modern day pro wrestling.
However, unless you've been a die hard TNA/Impact fan then you might not know how Angelina and Velvet officially became the Beautiful People, well for that you'd have to go back to 2007.
In 2007, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky debuted under the name "Velvet-Love Entertainment" and wrestled ODB and Roxxi Laveaux at the Turning Point event where they manage to come out on top. Weeks later, Roxxi who's gimmick was that of a Voodoo Queen gave a premonition to both ladies regarding their safety being in danger.
Ignoring this, Velvet-Love Entertainment decided on the March 13th 2008 edition of Impact to give the voodoo queen a makeover, which she violently resisted thus leading to Angelina and Velvet attacking Roxxi using cosmetic products.
Angelina and Velvet dubbing themselves "The Beautiful People", began feuds with various knockouts and the rest as they say is history.
2. Jeff Hardy Becomes Immortal
10...10...10: the date of TNA's Bound For Glory event and the day that Jeff Hardy turned his back on the fans that supported him all for the pursuit of being the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Following an attack by 'The Monster' Abyss on RVD on "The Whole F'n Show" edition of Impact, the TNA world title became vacant and a tournament was held to see would fight for the title at Bound For Glory.
The final three competitors: Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle fought in the main event for the world title on one of the biggest PPV's in the company's history. Towards the end of the match, Eric Bischoff was looking to attack Mr. Anderson when Hulk Hogan entered the ring and the two were ready to hit each other with crutches (Hogan underwent back surgery at the time and came down with crutches).
Jeff Hardy interfered on Hogan's behalf and threaten to hit Bischoff with the crutch only to turn around and hit Kurt and Anderson with it before hitting the latter with Hardy's signature "Twist of Fate" maneuver. Bischoff would revive and kick the referee to make the three count before announcing Jeff as the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
This gave way to Jeff Hardy's "Antichrist of Professional Wrestling" gimmick which saw Hardy become twisted and evil towards his opponents most notably giving Mr. Anderson a legit concussion and taking him out of action for months.
Sadly, Hardy's time as a demented heel who be overshadowed by his infamous main event world title match with Sting at Victory Road 2011.
1. It Does Pay To Be Roode
While Jeff Hardy's heel turn was shocking and affective, even "The Charismatic Enigma" must bend the knee to the "It Factor of Professional Wrestling", Bobby Roode.
After winning the inaugural Bound For Glory Series at the 2011 No Surrender PPV, Roode was set to face Kurt Angle for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in the main event unfortunately for Roode, Angle would cheat to win by grabbing the ropes for leverage outside of the referee's vision and retained the world title leaving Roode heartbroken in the middle of the ring.
On the next episode of Impact, "Cowboy" James Storm challenged Kurt for the world title and managed to defeat the Olympic Gold Medalist in a matter of seconds following a "Last Call" superkick to the face leading to Storm winning his first and only TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Roode would get another shot at the world title after defeating Samoa Joe in a #1 contenders match in the previous week. Roode and Storm would fight for the title on the November 3rd 2011 episode. In the finals moments of the match, referee Brian Hebner tweaked his leg and Roode was outside of the ring as he noticed his partners signature beer bottle sitting on the steps.
While trying to get Bobby back into the ring, Storm would get smashed over the head by his tag team partner, before Roode quickly crawled over for the 1...2...3 and just like that, Bobby Roode sold his soul and ended a four year partnership/friendship to become the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
The crowd erupted into shock and disbelief before raining boos on the new world champion as he repeatedly spat all over his friend and tag team partner with the show coming to an end with broadcaster Mike Tenay ending with the famous line: "That's how you treat a brother?! B######t!"
From there on, Roode would become the longest reigning world champion within the company's near two decade existence and began a solo run in the main event scene that led to a reign of dominance and ego, making this not only one best heel turns in TNA/Impact, but one of the greatest heels turns in modern pro wrestling history.
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