The wrestling industry relies on working fans, even now in this reality/ post-kayfabe era. Storytelling requires characters, stakes and (ideally) satisfactory conclusions. It’s the wrestlers’ job to elicit emotions from their audiences. Many heels aim to scare while others aim to be cool. The best, however, are often the ones who aim to tick people off.
Many major stars throughout the years have shown a propensity for getting under fans’ skin. They’ve used a variety of performance quirks and ideas to get the job done. In the age of social media, sparking fan fury has never been easier. Every second tweet seems to incite some rage somewhere and many wrestlers have come to enjoy poking the bear.
Whether it’s in character or in a shoot, words most definitely do hurt regardless of the podium they’re spat from. It doesn’t stop at verbiage either. Many wrestlers have taken to accentuating features they know to be disliked by fans, often wearing ridiculous attire in the process. There are some who still enjoy a more old school approach, relying on numerous shenanigans and over booking in their bouts to generate scorn.
Given how many wrestlers prefer playing heel to face, it’s safe to say most workers enjoy their own annoying antics. Here are 10 of the best.
10. Bully Ray
One half of the most decorated tag team of all time, Bully Ray has been ticking off fans (and wrestlers) his whole career. The level of heat he and brother Devon ignited during their ECW run left many wondering if a riot was imminent. At the aptly titled Heatwave 1999, Bully (still Bubba Ray Dudley at this point) tore into the Ohio crowds mercilessly. Using a variety of slurs and aggressive trash talk, a fight nearly broke out after a female fan spat at Ray in retaliation for his rated 18 comments.
Verbally dismantling crowds was a Dudley specialty in ECW. Their tirades made them one of wrestling’s most despised acts during the mid to late 90s. Ray’s loudmouth antics were given centre stage during his tenure in TNA after splitting from and feuding with Devon. Taking pride in bullying performers half his size, Ray would frequently engage in mid match arguments with the audience. His heel run in Hulk Hogan’s Immortal faction was so well received it landed him his first ever main event push.
As world champ, Bully Ray was the face of the Aces and Eights faction, an angle that torpedoed much of the good will previous world champs Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy had built up in the year prior. Despite stellar heel work, Ray was simply too annoying in the end and his crew permanently alienated many Impact fans.