As I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline the other day, I came across a tweet from the official Fightful account.
Kyler James, Fightful’s Social Media Manager, posed a simple question. He asked the account’s followers to choose names from the WWE roster who are in need of either a face turn or a heel turn right now.
It got me to thinking, as I’ve already been talking about some WWE names who could use a turn soon. For the sake of inclusion, though, I want to expand this week’s discussion to the AEW roster, as well. There are certainly some folks there who are in need of something different to freshen things up.
The idea is simple enough, and needs no further explanation. I just want to discuss a few of my most glaring choices, so that’s what we’re doing.
Bayley: I mentioned this in the immediate aftermath of Kairi Sane’s return at Crown Jewel, when she aligned herself with Iyo Sky, seemingly to the surprise and concern of Bayley.
I’m about done with this heel version of Bayley. Do I feel she needs to go all the way back to the “hugger” version of her character from years ago? Not necessarily, although that would get the biggest crowd reactions, I assume.
Her heel turn took place a little more than four years ago. In that span, what particularly stands out during that time? Whether or not you personally feel this way is irrelevant, but if you look all over social media, the things that stand out the most during Bayley’s heel run are… her looks. More than any match, promo, or moment, the main comments you’ll find are in regards to the way she looks, how her makeup is different, how she dresses differently on-screen, and how she is seemingly showing her butt off more than she used to. That tends to happen when her promos consist of her calling people “idiots,” which sounds more like something that a face in a family-friendly company would say. It also tends to happen because of the way WWE has used her. In 2023, Bayley has a non-tag record of 5-9 on television or pay-per-view, and a tag record of 0-8 in the same television or pay-per-view criteria. Since losing the Smackdown Women’s Title to Sasha Banks at Hell In A Cell 2020, she has lost the last eight title matches of any kind she’s been in on television or pay-per-view, including a brutal stretch where she lost to Bianca Belair on four pay-per-views in a five-and-a-half month stretch in 2021, and then followed that up with her team losing to Bianca’s team at Survivor Series War Games weeks later.
Bayley simply hasn’t been booked to seem like a big deal in a long time. She was in need of a change before Kairi returned to WWE, but now, this could/should be the perfect time for that change. Iyo and Kairi go way, way back as friends and tag partners, so even in the wacky world of kayfabe, it would make sense that they would be together. Throw in the fact that Iyo and Bayley have had tension for a while, anyway, and it looks like the wheels are already in motion here. Dakota Kai has been more faithful to Bayley, so she can be a face for this, too.
The additions of Kairi and Asuka to Damage CTRL only seems like it’s going to delay the inevitable for Bayley.
Bayley is far too good, and far too important, to be as far down the proverbial ladder as she is.
Ricky Starks: For a long time, Starks was viewed as someone who was on the cusp of breaking out and becoming a true top-tier player in AEW. A little over a year ago, after Powerhouse Hobbs turned on him and ended their partnership, Starks cut a passionate promo that really had people take notice of him and what he was capable of. It looked like AEW was really going to move forward with making the man a true main event wrestler and contender for the World Title.
That never happened.
He lost the first match against Hobbs, then won the rematch, and would go on to rack up a string of victories over a lot of “lesser” talent on the roster. It earned him a shot at MJF’s World Title on the “Winter Is Coming” episode of Dynamite in December, but he was unsuccessful there. He saw some more decent success to start 2023, but then he turned heel, almost as if the company simply wanted a “surprise” for the early days of Collision to show people that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN there. Nobody wanted the heel turn, and nobody asked for the heel turn.
Sure, the turn has given us his first sanctioned title in AEW, as he and Big Bill would win the Tag Team Titles. That’s cool and all, but I don’t think their reign is being truly accepted by fans. It doesn’t help things when Starks does podcast interviews and says that, although he is one-half of the tag champs, he isn’t a “tag team wrestler,” and that he is still aiming to win singles titles in AEW.
The company made a mistake in turning him heel to begin with. There’s still time to make up for it, though. Whether they will or not is the question.
Drew McIntyre: Perhaps the easiest choice of them all. I’m a fan of Drew’s face work. He’s very charismatic and likable, as evidenced by the crowd reactions he’s been getting over the last few years. However, the way he approaches the sport, and his matches, is similar to the way a serial killer approaches his next victim. That type of wild intensity makes for a very good heel character. He’s proven that in WWE, too.
I think it’s pretty clear that we’re heading in that direction right now. Don’t swerve us, WWE. You’ve been dragging this out for a minute now. Follow through, and follow through soon.
Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods: This one comes with a specific caveat, though. If Big E is going to make a return to the ring at some point relatively soon, then remove these two from the list. However, if Big E isn’t going to return, or if he can’t return, then yes, Kofi and Woods remain listed.
Even as faces, Kofi and (especially) Woods are often over-the-top in how loud and obnoxious they are. That can be off-putting to a lot of people. For most of New Day’s run, though, that obnoxiousness came when they were one of the biggest acts on the roster, almost always in possession of Tag Team Titles that featured lengthy reigns. Now, outside of a two-month reign as the NXT Tag Team Champions that was designed to put NXT over more than anything else, they’ve fallen off a bit. Because of WWE’s decision to unify their Tag Titles, and to push The Usos like unstoppable entities, it has been a long, long time since New Day were main roster champs. Kofi and Woods dropped the Raw Tag Team Titles to AJ Styles and Omos at WrestleMania 37… which was over two-and-a-half years ago.
A lot of New Day’s “magic” seems to be gone. Some of that might be due to Big E’s potentially career-ending injury that he suffered 20 (!!!) months ago, but if he’s not coming back, his brethren could use some sort of spark to get them going again.
Jimmy Uso: I think it’s a bit too late to turn him face again, but HE SHOULDN’T HAVE TURNED HEEL AT SUMMERSLAM IN THE FIRST PLACE, WWE, YOU FUCKING FUCKS.
Kevin Owens: Another caveat here… I think this should be a post-WrestleMania heel turn.
I know, I know… we’ve seen KO turn and turn and turn and turn. Ideally, he wouldn’t be included here, but in an ideal situation, he would still be working with Sami Zayn on Raw. When WWE decided to move him over to Smackdown, that all changed.
After WrestleMania, when Cody Rhodes probably (maybe) defeats Roman Reigns, it should definitely be Owens that turns heel and goes after Cody. It was Cody, after all, that orchestrated the trade that sent KO to Smackdown in the first place. The fact that Cody got the wheels in motion to split Owens and Zayn up is bad enough, in the eyes of Owens, but the fact that he did it to prop up and praise Jey Uso, a former member of The Bloodline, who have been terrorizing Owens for years, is even worse.
I love, love, love the work Owens has been doing as a face. He is great at it. However, the turn just makes a ton of sense, and letting KO go back to the cold, calculated killer heel that he excels at could be a lot of fun.
Your turn. First and foremost, what do you think of my choices for face/heel turns? Secondly, who do you think could use a turn of their own? It doesn’t have to be someone you feel WILL turn, mind you. Just people that, for one reason or another, could really benefit from jumping to the other side of the fence right now. As always, feel free to hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Now, let’s get to my Weekly Power Rankings, before closing the column out with the playlist of music I was listening to as I sat at my desk and typed these words out.
Weekly Power Rankings
Seth Rollins vs Sami Zayn: This could’ve taken place at any WWE pay-per-view, WrestleMania included, and it would’ve been a perfect fit. The fact that we got it on Raw was pretty cool, made even cooler by the fact that it didn’t end quickly with the interference that everyone was expecting.
MJF vs Daniel Garcia: This match was surprisingly short, considering what it seems AEW is trying to do with MJF and his matches these days. It could’ve been twice as long as it was, and I don’t think many people would’ve complained. That says a lot about how well both men performed here.
Andrade El Idolo vs Daniel Garcia: Back-to-back entries for Daniel Garcia this week. Are they finally figuring out what to do with the guy? Their track record isn’t great with that, but we’ll see if that changes now.
FTR vs El Hijo Del Vikingo & Komander: Random matches for Vikingo. Again. They’re all good matches, sure, but can we get some fucking stories for the guy to deal with?
War Games Announcement: The announcement of a War Games match, no matter who is involved and no matter if it’s a grouping that people expected, is one of those cheap pops for WWE in recent years. This was no different. Putting a bunch of performers that are super over in a big-time match together. That’s a strange enough idea that it just might work.
Tyler Bate vs Dijak: A clash of styles, but one that really worked well. This was one of those situations where both men really needed a win, so it’s unfortunate that either of them had to take the loss, but I’m glad to see Dijak move on to the Iron Survivor Challenge at Deadline next month. It’s the kind of match that could see him do a lot of damage to a lot of people.
Penta El Zero Miedo vs Swerve Strickland: I’m one of the many people who name Penta as one of the more underutilized talents in all of AEW. He has had some success as a tag wrestler, but even then, not a ton. As a singles wrestler, though, there have been numerous opportunities to push him, and it never happens. He is able to have good-to-great matches with just about anyone. Make it happen, AEW.
Santos Escobar: I was really enjoying his face work in the LWO, but like everyone else, I knew his heel turn was coming eventually. It finally happened, and it was well done. We didn’t have to wait weeks for an explanation, either, as Escobar repeatedly yelled his reasoning out as he continued to beat Rey Mysterio down. The original “plan” was for the two of them, and the two of them only. It was a “passing the torch” type of deal, but Rey continued to add member after member to the LWO. Santos couldn’t take it any longer, and he snapped. I dig it. On a side note… it seems like everyone Rey Mysterio gets close to eventually turns heel on him. Maybe he’s the problem. Dom was right!
Dragon Lee vs Cedric Alexander: We’ve seen these men have two matches against each other, and while both were really good, you could tell that they weren’t allowed to hit max volume, so to speak. It’s scary to think about what a match between them could be if it were given 17-20 minutes on pay-per-view.
Damage CTRL: We all know it’s temporary, and that Bayley is eventually going to get kicked to the curb, but this is a pretty powerful group for the time being. Bayley, Iyo Sky, Kairi Sane, Asuka, and Dakota Kai make the already rare WWE women’s stable very strong and very formidable.
Trick Williams & Carmelo Hayes: I still don’t want to see Trick and Melo split up, but I understand it for storyline purposes. NXT is doing just enough to convince people that Melo is the man who attacked Trick, but also doing enough to make people feel that they’re doing TOO much and are actually throwing out the ol’ red herring. That’s enough to keep people’s attention. This was a good back and forth promo segment that was, unfortunately, nearly ruined by Lexis King seemingly trying his best to remember his scripted lines.
The Miz vs Bronson Reed vs Ricochet vs Ivar: The overall quality of the match takes a small hit because of an apparent legit concussion for Ricochet that made things a bit wonky in the immediate aftermath. Outside of that, though, this was a lot of fun. Whether you like Miz or not, it made sense to have him win here, as he had the promo with Gunther that already seemed to set a match up. I’m not sure anyone really believes that Miz will end Gunther’s Intercontinental Title reign, but it should be a fun match nonetheless.
“Switchblade” Jay White vs Mark Briscoe: The absolute lack of any real logic behind this match makes me shake my head. Jay White has an AEW World Title shot coming up at Full Gear. Mark Briscoe returned from injury and was basically like “I’ve beaten you in tag matches, so put your title shot on the line and I’ll beat you in a singles match,” and then White was like “you’re on, Bro Namath.” Briscoe wasn’t putting anything on the line, nor was there any reason for anybody to think a switcheroo was going to take place. It just screamed out wanting to add something to the match, not being able to think of anything, and then just slapping “BUT WHAT IF MARK BRISCOE CHALLENGES FOR THE TITLE INSTEAD” on the match and then calling it a day.
The Creed Brothers vs DIY: Well, the Creeds continue their streak of good performances and seem to be getting a push on the main roster. Nobody knows what Gargano and Ciampa are in line for. You would think they’d be a big deal with Triple H in charge of the creative decision making, but you’d be wrong. Obviously, there’s still plenty of time for things to change, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if DIY were involved in the Tag Team Title picture sooner than later, but it’s still strange.
Samoa Joe vs Keith Lee: A good match, sure, but it was overshadowed by Joe vacating the RoH Television Title after it was over. He says his focus is on the AEW World Title instead, and that makes sense. It certainly makes more sense than RoH having a Television Title when they don’t have a show on television. Honestly, it’s time for the RoH experiment to come to an end. It was fun while it lasted, but everyone is better off if it just went away. Man, there was a lot of “this was good, but…” in my Power Rankings this week.
This Week’s Playlist: “What Am I Gonna Do” by Chris Stapleton… “South Dakota” by Chris Stapleton… “Trust” by Chris Stapleton… “Think I’m In Love With You” by Chris Stapleton… “SHAQ & KOBE (Remix)” by Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Dame D.O.L.L.A. & Shaquille O’Neal… “Death Grip” by The Ghost Inside… “Golem” by Caligula’s Horse… “Calypso” by MAVIS… “2 Phones” by Kevin Gates… “Angels Around Me” by G-Unit… “Who Gives A Fuck Where You From” by Three 6 Mafia, Lil Whyte & Frayser Boy… “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Young Buck, Raekwon, Jay Rock & Meet Sims… “Gun Play” by Slim The Mobster… “Agora Hills” by Doja Cat… “Blind” by KoRn… “Clown” by KoRn… “Good God” by KoRn… “Wicked” by KoRn & Chino Moreno… “Freak On A Leash” by KoRn… “Got The Life” by KoRn… “Children Of The KoRn” by KoRn & Ice Cube… “Falling Away From Me” by KoRn… “Coming Undone” by KoRn… “3005” by Childish Gambino… “2009” by Mac Miller