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Playing Against Type / Professional Wrestling

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  • In contrast to being typecast as a heel in Japan after getting heat from the wrong people, Kana aka. Asuka spent much of her time in America was spent working as a face. NXT merged the two when she debuted as Asuka - who was a Wild Card. She eventually turned heel properly on NXT, but reverted to her previous Wild Card role as of her main roster debut.
  • One of the main criticisms as The Authority storyline was Triple H's depiction across brand lines. On Raw and Smackdown, Hunter's the Corrupt Corporate Executive that many have believed him to be behind the scenes. In NXT however, he's the Benevolent Boss and A Father to His Men and Women who's pet project beloved to the point of fans begging for Vince's retirement for HHH to take over the company.
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  • A.J. Lee was almost always a Plucky Girl face on the indies, due to her small stature. However she made a Face–Heel Turn in FCW to hold both titles and, while she was called up to WWE TV as a face, she found all of her success as a Yandere. She only turned back face in the last couple of months before she left.
  • Paige was essentially a bratty, clownish heel whenever she wrestled as Britani Knight. She says she's suited to being a heel because she looks fake whenever she smiles. Well in WWE she was never able to make a heel run work for very long, crowds loving her dark Anti-Hero image.
  • Taeler Hendrix was trained to be a heel in OVW but got called to do TNA's Gut Check as a face. She even visibly switched to a heel moveset during her match. And when she appeared for an all-Knockouts PPV, she entered as a face but turned heel during her match.
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  • Madison Rayne was always a face on the indies, but really found her niche in TNA as a screaming Alpha Bitch. Numerous critics had insisted that she wasn't right for the face role, and held her eventual TNA pushes as proof.
  • Becky Lynch only ever played a face in her native Ireland if she was in an intergender match. She was a heel pretty much everywhere else, SHIMMER fans especially coming to know her as an obnoxious Boisterous Bruiser. She also had an Oireland gimmick, which did not go over well at all when she tried it on WWE TV. Since getting signed to WWE, she has not been able to get booked as a heel; fans loving her natural likeability and Genki Girl personality, making her one of the biggest underdog faces of the New Era. Becky herself lampshaded this on Talk Is Jericho, talking about how she had never liked playing a face in her indie days, but had come to embrace it after joining WWE. They attempted to turn her heel again in 2018 but fans refused to buy it - to the point where WWE was trying to edit out the cheers she got in replays of her promos.
  • Wrestlicious featured a few indie girls using their own gimmicks Up to Eleven (Daizee Haze as a hippie for example) but a few of the characters were played by women departing radically from their usual routine:
  • Glamour Boy Sean was of course best known for being an exotic Mr. Fanservice in Puerto Rico and the UK while teaming with Shane. When he wasn't doing that he was under a mask in Mexico as Love Machine #2. So giving Sean a singles push was already against type in CMLL, but in addition to that also gave him the chivalrous Knight in Shining Armor gimmick Steele instead of another fan service/ladies man one. This was the most successful run of his career but his following gimmick of porn star Val Venis was a close second and much more in line(if more extreme) with what he usually did.
  • Evan Bourne is normally a face wherever he goes, and his heel runs are usually restricted to tag teams or stables. He was a singles heel in Wrestling Society X.
  • Wrestling Society X also turned the agile, unorthodox and usually playful Colt Cabana into a basic grappling 1950s style wrestler in a mask, Matt Classic.
  • Jay Lethal was most famous for his runs as a disrespectful drug using Spoiled Brat Spot Monkey and a no nonsense on the mat technical wrestler, which already a pretty wide range, but TNA managed to find something completely out of left field by making him into an expy of Randy Savage. From there he would go onto have a feud with Ric Flair after successfully proving he could imitate him as well, before settling on a Large Ham hero to the X division spot monkey role.
  • Ivelisse Vélez was typically a Dark Action Girl heel prior to getting fame from WWE Tough Enough. In most promotions she ends up getting over due to Evil Is Cool and inevitably turns face.
  • Lucha Underground features this for many of its performers:
    • Matt Cross is typically a flippy, high-flying face and has never been able to make a heel run work for long. He plays the masked heel Son of Havoc, but ended up turning face by the end of the first season. Hilariously enough while paired with Ivelisse mentioned above.
    • Sexy Star is one of Mexico's most notorious Rudas and as such is usually a massive Hate Sink, but was instead an aspiring role model to girls in Lucha Underground.
    • Ricochet is usually veers towards Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, while Prince Puma veers more towards The Cape to the point of being The Kind Napper who saved the life of Black Lotus and delivered her to Dragon Azteca and being overly trusting of Johnny Mundo, Konnan and Vampiro.
    • Ricky Banderas had a "supernatural" gimmick before, one that even involved coming back from the dead at least once in AAA. What he hadn't been was grim, stoic or subservient, as in AAA he was one in a series of obnoxious would be usurpers to Cibernetico, would insist on being announced as "El Triple Mega Campeon De AAA" and call himself El Mesias after returning from his seeming death. Mil Muertes was also much more of a Wrestling Monster than anything he had done before, getting "stronger" through various unnatural means. Muertes also lacks the Evil Foreigner\Patriotic Fervor vibe Banderas/Cibernetica/Meisas usually has as a Boricua.
    • Karlee Pérez was a screaming Dark Action Girl on NXT, and was a Violently Protective Girlfriend towards her male love interests. She portrays Catrina, a more reserved and manipulative Femme Fatale - who acts only as a manager.
    • B-Boy, the notoriously fun loving, death defying, break dancing party machine determined to leave an impact on the pro wrestling industry becomes Bael, a member of The Crew, who are group of a high tasted Hired Guns Only in It for the Money and will do virtually anything for the highest bidder.
    • Jeff Cobb is a former Olympian wrestler who used that background to play a likeable babyface on the indie circuit. Naturally, him playing the masked monster Matanza Cueto is a bit of a change.
    • Angela Fong was a Genki Girl face when she wrestled in FCW. She portrays Black Lotus, a dark and ruthless determinator out for revenge. She does so by forming an Amazon Brigade, rather than stepping into the ring herself. The Triad itself, given it is made up of Kairi Hojo, usually a dopey cheerful sailor...pirate, Io Shirai, an arrogant but well meaning defender of World Wonder Ring Stardom's honor and Mayu Iwatani, a plucky polite fashion model. Even more so in that Iwatani and Shirai were in a rivalry with Hojo in Stardom that they had only relatively recently put aside to deter incursions from rival joshi feds.
    • Cheerleader Melissa as a giant evil butterfly is particularly against type considering she had previously feuded with Princesa Sugehit, the Trope Maker for such gimmicks.
    • The cocky, self absorbed and showboating Shane Strickland as the aloof and stoic Cold Sniper Killshot. However, as time went on Killshot became more and more Strickland like and eventually was unmasked as Jermaine Strickland, with an explanation for why he initially acted so differently.
    • Paul London was a goofy, loyal to a fault Apologetic Attacker, The Gadfly and a conspiracy theorist. In Lucha Underground he is a backstabbing, murderous and remorseless member of a mystery cult that claims its roots in one of twelve Aztec tribes.
  • Jessie McKay was a Girl Next Door and Cute Bruiser on the indies, calling herself "Everybody's Favourite Girlfriend". Surprisingly enough since getting signed to WWE as Billie Kay - she has been pushed almost entirely as a heel with a Femme Fatale gimmick.
  • Sasha Banks was likewise mostly a face on the indies, and debuted on NXT as such. However she didn't achieve her stardom until she turned heel and adopted the ruthless Alpha Bitch persona known as 'The Boss'. However due to Evil Is Cool she eventually turned back face - albeit in more of a Good Is Not Nice image.
  • Katey Harvey played heel for the first two years of her career, and was booked as such in Ireland and the UK. Wrestling.ie however brought her in entirely as a face.
  • Fans of Laura "Cherry Bomb" Dennis were really shocked when she debuted in Impact Wrestling as Allie, a mousy villain that was a far cry from her Alpha Bitch act in Smash Wrestling and the indies. Her face turn into a Plucky Girl and subsequent teaming with Rosemary made it ironic since Cherry Bomb was responsible for turning Courtney Rush into Rosemary.
  • Another shocker was Ruby Riott's debut onto the main roster as a heel after both her NXT career and her indie days as Heidi Lovelace were largely spent as a face. Both her Riott Squad partners Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan debuted as heels, when they had played faces on NXT.
  • Brodus Clay first showed up on NXT Season 4 as a brutish monster, and spent a while as Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard on the main roster. At the end of 2011 he was repackaged as 'The Funkasaurus' - a happy dancing babyface. He did eventually pull a heel turn a couple of years later, but he was Brother Chucked and released soon after - so ultimately he spent more time as The Funkasaurus. According to Word of God, a planned angle was that Vince McMahon would want Brodus to be the monster and he'd debut as The Funkasaurus just to defy him.
  • Naomi was pushed as a heel in FCW but her athleticism and natural likability led to her debut as a face on NXT Season 3. They tried to make her a heel again in FCW but it didn't take. She was turned heel on the main roster in 2015 for the sake of a championship push, but again it didn't take. She stayed heel for about a year and quietly turned back face when she returned from injury. According to the woman herself, she knew the heel push wouldn't work and only agreed to it because she'd get a championship match.
  • Trish Stratus has said that she preferred playing a heel, because she got to say whatever she wanted on the microphone. However she spent much less time in that role during her WWE career - each of her heel runs lasting about a year at most. As she was WWE's favourite Plucky Girl and made a natural underdog, she was often a face, and always returns as such.
  • Irish wrestler The Fabulous Nicky was booked as a heel most places in Ireland, and arrived in Celtic Championship Wrestling that way. Fans kept cheering for him, leading to a face turn. It was the only promotion he ever got booked as a face for.
  • Torrie Wilson tried her hand at playing an Alpha Bitch heel in 2005 after spending four years as a Girl Next Door and the top face on the Smackdown brand (although she had come in as a Dark Action Girl in the Invasion). It only lasted a few months, and her contemporaries joked that it was impossible for her to make a mean face.
  • Kurt Angle was brought in as a neutral character, with the plan to let the audience decide whether they would cheer an All-American Face in the Attitude Era. They didn't and he became a parody of that character type. He's best known as a heel but did turn face three times in WWE - first during the Invasion (though he became The Mole and turned back relatively soon), second after his return from neck surgery in 2003 and finally right before his 2006 departure. In TNA he became known for switching back and forth every few months.
  • Ted DiBiase Jr. was brought in as an arrogant heel and pushed as a Generation Xerox of his father for a while. After not doing too much, he had a face turn and developed the character of a party boy who hung out with his friends and called them the "DiBiase Posse".
  • Lisa Moretti got her start in GLOW as Tina Ferrari - a fiery babyface who although absurdly wealthy was wholesome and heroic. In WWE she played Ivory a heel who was either an Alpha Bitch or a parody of Moral Guardians. She turned face towards the end of her career but not many people remember it.
  • Lucharesu rookie Mongolian Yuga left Gran Hamada's UWF/FULL in 1993 and became Jinsei Shinzaki, a decidedly Japanese Buddhist pilgrim who was more of a power wrestler with brawling tendencies in Michinoku Pro Wrestling. While Shinzaki's new gimmick stuck, the new wrestling style became associated with his alternate gimmick, Super Powered Evilside Hakushi.
  • Christopher Daniels, delusional Fallen Angel demanding worship, entered Fuukmen and Michinoku Pro Wrestling as Curryman, an Indian "superhero" paired with Hayashi Riceman who would force feed their enemies his namesake. The fact that Daniels, who is very proud of his appearance, had entered a masked men league was against type as is.
  • Jushin Thunder Liger as Control Terrorism Unit Ranger Yellow, given that the entire Jushin Liger gimmick was adapted from a television Super Hero and Control Terrorism Unit were the opposite of that. This also applies to Liger's run in CMLL with Shigeo Okumura's anti Mexican "La Ola Amarilla", considering Mexico is where he initially went when the Japanese refused to train him.
  • The perpetual Straight Man Bryan Danielson becoming a literal American Dragon New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Naturally American Angel would get the same treatment, albeit a little more appropriately in LLF where masks were the norm.
  • Staple gun wielding Garbage Wrestler Necro Butcher as a CM Punk parody in a chipmunk suit in Chikara. Fellow CZW alumnus Joker did Colt Cabana in bunny suit. Also, the usually proudly bearded Necro Butcher as the cross dressing "Grandma Butcher" in The Pro Wrestling Syndicate.
  • CM Punk's initial appearance on WWECW as a humble Warrior Poet was a far cry from the abrasive Holier Than Thou Jerkass he built his fame off of being. And that wasn't even the biggest departure the company gave him, that would be the time he and poor Alexis Laree were given a cheer leading gimmick in Ohio Valley Wrestling(because that worked so well for Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch). Despite Paul Heyman saving Punk and Laree someone was dead set on giving someone else an unfitting cheer leading gimmick, leading to an awe inspiring five man example in The Spirit Squad, which stunted four careers. None more than Kenny Dykstra, who was otherwise laconic and methodical.
  • It wouldn't be Punk's last example either, when the usually clean shaven and possibly superstitious but definitely anti religion Punk became the long haired, bearded leader of a cult known as the Straight Edge Society. Yes, Punk had always been Smug Straight Edge, but the only times he had been in a cult where when Raven and Father James Mitchell had brainwashed him.
  • The unkempt, vulgar and ever scheming Austin Aries became a much more well groomed cape wearing Casanova Wannabe in Chikara. Even more so in TNA, where he became refugee from TV land Austin Starr.
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