With LeBron James recently leaving Cleveland during a one-hour spectacle to stroke his own ego, I've decided to give a list of some of the biggest heel turns in history. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "heel turn" it is from professional wrestling. In the industry, you have the fan favorites (baby faces) and you have the bad guys (heels). A heel turn is when a baby face turns on another baby face (and the fans who adore him) and becomes a heel.
Benedict Arnold: The first heel turn in American history. This jerk turned his back on the Continental Army and fought to keep us under England's control. LeBron pissed off a state, this guy pissed off the soon to be most powerful nation in the world.
Tiger Woods: Everyone but racists and those who cheer against the favorites at all times found themselves in shock and disappointment when news broke that Tiger was a sex addict. I'd go into this in more detail, but I already touched on it in this March post.
Floyd Landis: This guy is a friggin' mess. First, he has a terrible stage at the Tour de France. Then, he has one of the greatest stages of all time the next day, goes on the win the title and brings joy to cyclist fans around the world (except France). It was an amazing comeback story of determination and never say die attitude. The only problem is we later found out he cheated and was a nut case. He used alcohol, genetics and conspiracy theories as excuses for his positive drug test. He even wrote a book claiming his innocence before he finally admitted his guilt. Now, he's trying to take down Lance Armstrong. You know, the guy who raises like hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research every year? There might not be a person left on the planet who likes this man.
Robert the Bruce: We're taking you back to the Middle Ages for this one. Bruce swore to William Wallace in "Braveheart" that he and his men would support Wallace in his battle against the English at Falkirk. Not only did Bruce not show up at Wallace's side, he spent the battle chilling next to King Edward of England. When Wallace tried chasing the group down, Bruce promptly lanced him in the chest. Bruce came back to the baby face side of things at the end of the movie and in history, helping Scotland gain independence, but Wallace was never the same after the betrayal.
Shawn Michaels: This heel turn has to be the most similar to the LeBron turn of this list. Just watch this video. Michaels is clearly LeBron, Marty Jannetty is the city of Cleveland and the Barber Shop is that joke of one-hour special LeBron put on.
In case you don't want to watch that sweet video, I'll give you a quick run down. Michaels and Jannetty were a tag team in the WWF known as the Rockers. They were having some problems and went on the Barber Shop to show that they were still friends and what not. Only instead of leaving as partners, Michaels kicked Jannetty in the head and then threw him through a window, officially ending the Rockers and Jannetty's career. Michaels went on to win the WWF Intercontinental Title, Tag Team Titles and Heavyweight Title several times in his career. Jannetty became addicted to alcohol and drugs and was hardly heard from again.
Tell me that doesn't sound exactly like LeBron situation. While he is probably going to win several championships in Miami, Cleveland will be stuck a bunch of scrubs and won't taste a championship for the next 10 years.
But in all seriousness, this guy was supposed to be good's hope against evil. Instead he became evil incarnate. He killed kids, his betrayal literally broke his wife's heart and he even cut off his son's hand. Sure, he saved Luke in the end, but try telling that to the planet he blew up and the millions (maybe billions) of people on it who were obliterated. Somehow I doubt they are going to be that forgiving when they get a hold of him in the afterlife.
All of that brings us to this man.
Hulk Hogan: This is, and always will be, the greatest heel turn in the history of mankind. Bigger than Anakin, bigger than Woods and yes, bigger than LeBron.
LeBron betrayed a city and a state, Anakin betrayed those closest to him, but Hogan betrayed the world as we know it. He was the biggest and most beloved wrestler ever. Little kids begged their parents to take them to events just for Hogan. They didn't care about anyone else competing, they just wanted to see Hogan "Hulk Up", drop the big leg drop and flex the pythons for the crowd. Everyone around the world knew and loved him.
All of this changed in the summer of 1996 when Hogan came down during a match between the team of Sting, Lex Luger and Macho Man Randy Savage (all faces) and the team of Steve Hall and Kevin Nash (heels). Everyone thought Hogan came to help Savage, but instead, he dropped his patented leg drop on Savage and kids around the world sobbed as their hero stabbed them in the back.
Hogan changed his name to "Hollywood Hogan", died his beard black and resorted to cheating to win. It was a total transformation and led to WCW becoming the biggest wrestling company in the world, ending the reign of the WWF (now WWE). There was no redemption like Anakin and Robert the Bruce had. He tried making a comeback in the mid 2000s, but it wasn't the same. Fans could never trust him again. Tiger has already found people forgiving him, Michaels became one of the most loved superstars ever later in his career. Really, no one can compare to what Hogan did, and it will be hard for anyone to ever replicate.
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child.