While every sport has its colorful personalities, there may be no sport that relies more heavily on the personalities of its participants than professional wrestling. Many of WWE’s biggest stars — most recently Dave Bautista, John Cena, and Dwayne Johnson — have been able to successfully parlay their wrestling personas into mainstream careers in entertainment.
One of the most difficult personas to pull off in wrestling is that of the villain. Pro wrestlers adopt either a heel or face character role. While a face is the “good guy” wrestler in a match, the heel, or “bad guy,” provokes heat from the audience by cheating, fighting dirty, and behaving in an otherwise unsportsmanlike manner.
Many of the most hated villains began their careers as faces. Hulk Hogan, for example, turned heel in 1996 after a long career as a fan favorite. He then revealed himself as the mystery third member of the New World Order that was attempting to take over World Championship Wrestling. Other former faces who are now among the most hated wrestling villains include Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Bret Hart, and André the Giant.
To determine the most hated wrestlers, 24/7 Wall St. ranked all wrestlers to ever win a “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year” award from Pro Wrestling Illustrated, an international magazine dedicated to professional wrestling.
Professional wrestling has been around for decades, but the manner in which it is presented by the WWE today began in the 1990s, when the major Monday night wrestling broadcasts began to incorporate increased violence and shock value in their story lines in an effort to attract more viewers. This led to an increase in ratings and allowed for some of the biggest stars of the era to gain mainstream popularity.
Around this time, one of the actual WWE executives Vince McMahon began to appear in matches and was incorporated into the wrestling narrative. Eventually McMahon’s son, daughter, and wife developed onscreen characters and storylines, paving the way for other non-wrestling villains to gain notoriety in the WWE.
Supporting characters have also gained notoriety. So-called managers and valets, for example, may accompany wrestlers into the ring and can instigate feuds on behalf of the wrestlers. Authority figures and managers who have been effective at drawing heat in non-wrestling roles include Paul Heyman, Vickie Guerrero, and the McMahon family.
To determine the most hated wrestlers, 24/7 Wall St. ranked all wrestlers to ever win the “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year” from Pro Wrestling Illustrated, an international magazine dedicated to professional wrestling. Wrestlers were ranked according to a point system based on first place, runner-up, second runner-up, and third runner-up awards. Points related to awards given to a stable were divided amongst the wrestlers in the stable at the time of the award. Only wrestlers to win at least two “Most Hated Wrestler of the Year” awards were considered. A wrestler’s debut year in the WWE and number of featured WWE episodes are based on the WWE Raw, WWE SmackDown!, and WWE NXT programs with data from the Internet Movie Database and do not incorporate information from WrestleMania. Data on average daily Wikipedia pageviews are based on the period of July 9, 2017 to July 9, 2018.