With the recent sorta-kinda heel turn of CM Punk being a hot topic amongst wrestling fans and those on the IWC, it’s got me thinking about the current state of both heels and faces in the WWE. Who is a heel? Who is a face? Who is the best at each? Who should make a switch? Those are the issues I’ll be looking at in this multi-part series that starts with the heels. They are a vital part of the product since good storytelling needs a villain as a foil to the hero. On the surface we’re meant to boo and root against these guys, waiting for when they get their comeuppance, but there is always a gray area. Stone Cold Steve Austin is the perfect example. He was initially portrayed as a bad guy, but was so over with the fans that they started cheering him. This dynamic can be seen recently with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Guys like these can also fall into tweener territory.

CM Punk – His promo at the end of RAW is probably as clear a heel declaration as we’ll get. While he was entertaining as a face, Punk lost his anti-authority luster from last summer even though he’s had a long title reign. To say Punk is better as a heel is an understatement. His feud with Jeff Hardy in 2009 was brilliant and his work leading the SES and New Nexus showed what a leader he can be, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he formed another stable. His Hardy-dressup, birthday serenade of Mysterio’s daughter and Devil speech from ROH are all examples of Punk’s heel brilliance.

Daniel Bryan – Turning heel was the best thing to ever happen to Bryan. He’s now a main eventer, a former WHC and had numerous chances to become WWE Champ. Charting his rise is an article in and of itself. Plus his mic skills have improved astronomically. He’s arguably the top heel in WWE with the way he can draw massive heat by yelling Yes! or No! and his recent habit of getting into shouting matches with ringside fans only helps that.

Alberto Del Rio – WWE seems intent on keeping him in the WHC picture whether or not the feud actually works. His current beef with Sheamus isn’t doing much for him and his two WWE title reigns were lackluster at best. Though his gimmick is sort of a rip off of JBL, he is very good at using it to draw heat. From the cars, clothes, demeanor and personal ring announcer everything about him shouts smug, bad guy who thinks the fans are beneath him. It doesn’t really take much with that to get the fans to boo you.

Big Show – Like ADR, WWE seems intent on putting Show in the title picture, when just Cena-Punk would clearly be better. He can play a face fairly well, but is much more adept as a villain, being built to be the typical monster heel. He hasn’t exactly failed in his current heel run, but it just doesn’t seem that successful which could be due to the way he’s been booked.

Brock Lesnar – Even a returning Lesnar couldn’t beat SuperCena. That loss from the outset didn’t set a good tone as he’s never really lived up to force he was hyped to be, mainly because he’s never around. He has Paul Heyman drawing most of the heat for him and he has to beat Triple H at Summerslam if he wants to be taken seriously going forward.

Dolph Ziggler – Probably the most promising up and comer on the roster, Ziggler has shown he’s ready for a main event spot. He can sell better then anyone and his ‘show off’ gimmick makes you want to jeer him. He has the WHC MITB, so he’s on the way up. The only knock on him as a heel is that he still has Vickie hanging around to get him heat as he’s perfectly capable of doing it himself on the mic. Hopefully his current feud with Jericho will get him over even more and push him that much higher.

Cody Rhodes – Rhodes was showing a lot of the same promise as Ziggler, but has weirdly fallen off the map since dropping the IC Title to Christian. The Dashing and subsequent Un-Dashing gimmicks have shown the range he has as a performer and he’s come a long way since his Legacy days. He hasn’t done anything lately to make him particularly heelish, but his recap of Show’s Wrestlemania history is a perfect example of just that.

The Miz – Being a former reality star was enough to get him heat from the beginning, but Miz has perfected his cocky, arrogant persona in order to get people to hate him. He’s never been the best wrestler, but that’s not what gets him over. It’s his charisma and mic skills that have the crowd finishing his signature catchphrase with Awful instead of Awesome. Miz just has that natural talent to rile people up and boo him. After a slump, his IC title win appears to have him back in the spotlight as a top level heel.

Wade Barrett – The Barrett Barrage is set to resume soon after a hype vignette on RAW. He was rolling before an injury with his feud against Randy Orton and should pick up where he left off. His bare knuckle fighting background gives him the toughness and arrogance to succeed as a heel. It also helps that he has excellent mic skills and enough charisma to lead two stables, with his work leading Nexus being the best example. His manipulation of the other members was what first tipped us off to Barrett’s devious mind. Plus in the above mentioned vignette he was sporting a beard, which pretty much means he’s coming back as a heel.

Mark Henry – Henry’s heel turn and ensuing WHC title reign was a massive boost to his career. Becoming the remorseless monster heel who destroyed everyone revitalized what was a somewhat bland mid card face character. Though he fell a bit after dropping the title and is currently out injured, he has the potential to resume his Hall of Pain when he comes back.

Antonio Cesaro – One of the former Kings of Wrestling, Cesaro got immediate heat upon debuting when Aksana spurned Teddy for Mr European. He has to separate himself from her in terms of establishing his own identity, otherwise he could develop the same problem that Dolph has with Vickie. He has shown some promise and appears to be in a feud of sorts with US champ Santino.

Damien Sandow – Probably the most promising developing heel, Sandow’s intellectual savior gimmick is great for generating heat. Having him in an angle where he beats up a fan favorite bike Brodus Clay also helps him get over. His signature ‘You’re Welcome’ catchphrase is becoming one that can easily get under the crowd’s skin.

Tensai – Hey remember those vignettes hyping Tensai’s ‘return’? Well they sure fell flat, as Creative has no idea what to do with him, but seems intent on featuring him in some way. He’s just become another bland big guy heel who can’t over with the crowd, who continually chant ‘Albert’ at him.

Drew McIntyre – The Sinister Scotsman showed so much potential as a heel during his Chosen One gimmick. He was winning matches and in major story lines. Now he’s been reduced to being a jobber who occasionally resurfaces on TV.

David Otunga – Though he’ll never be the best wrestler, Otunga has parlayed his Harvard law degree into a character who was easy for the fans to hate. His bowties, coffee mug and smarmy attitude helped him get over as Funkman’s legal counsel. Now that Ace is out of the picture, it remains to be seen how Otunga can do on his own.

Jack Swagger – He was once being pushed as a successor to Kurt Angle with his amateur background, but after losing Vickie as a manager, he’s become just another jobber. He actually had some good heel promos during his WHC reign, as underwhelming as it was in actuality.

Heath Slater – Probably one of the most well known heel jobbers, Slater recent storyline with the Legends was a boon to him in that it got him over with the crowd. His annoying nickname and his way of speaking just make you want to boo him.

Jindar Mahal – Mahal actually showed some promise when he debuted in a storyline with The Great Khali and feuds with Sheamus and DiBiase, but has become just another jobber. They tried to flesh out his character by explaining his background and his pre-match attire, but dropped it without mention.

Darren Young & Titus O’Neil – They’re heels by virtue of the fact that they are feuding with the face Tag Champs, but they haven’t done anything themselves to make them stick out as heels. They have AW as their mouthpiece and heat generator, giving them the Vickie Problem, so the crowd can’t get too invested in them as indivdiuals.

Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks,  Hunico & Camacho, Michael McGillicutty, JTG, Johnny Curtis
All these guys are lower card wrestlers who are heels for one reason or another, but aren’t featured enough for most of the crowd to even know who they are at times.