Most Hated Pro-Wrestling Champions

Source: Ed Webster / Wikimedia Commons

15. The Miz
> Most Hated Wrestler of the Year awards: 3
> WWE debut: 1995
> WWE appearances: 721
> Daily avg. Wikipedia page views: 3,656

First rising to fame as a brash, fratty reality TV star, The Miz has been able to turn his arrogant, self-absorbed temperament into one of the most successful heel personas of the modern WWE. One major stepping stone for The Miz’s heel character happened during an April 2009 edition of “Monday Night Raw,” when the Ohio-born wrestler turned on his then-partner John Morrison, subsequently embarking on a solo career. In recent years, The Miz has been able to use his skills on a microphone and reality TV experience to further bolster his villainous image, trash-talking the competition through his “Miz TV” segments on “Monday Night Raw.”

Source: shstrng / Wikimedia Commons

14. Superstar Billy Graham
> Most Hated Wrestler of the Year awards: 3
> WWE debut: 2004
> WWE appearances: 4
> Daily avg. Wikipedia page views: 515

In a career lasting nearly two decades, Superstar Billy Graham pioneered the gruff trash talk, flashy ring attire, and exaggerated physique later adopted by the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, and Scott Steiner. Graham gave fiery interviews reminiscent of Muhammad Ali, coining phrases such as “I’m the man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour,” and “I’m the reflection of perfection, the number one selection.” Graham defeated babyface Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF heavyweight title in 1977, which he held for a record 296 days — an unlikely feat at a time when heels were mostly used to prop up hero wrestlers and rarely won championships.

Source: Jonathan Ulman / Flickr

13. Rick Rude
> Most Hated Wrestler of the Year awards: 4
> WWE debut: 1997
> WWE appearances: 11
> Daily avg. Wikipedia page views: 1,225

Typically clothed in a glittering robe and tights airbrushed with either his or his competition’s likeness on them, “Ravishing” Rick Rude was a pioneer of the vain narcissist archetype in professional wrestling. Rude also was instrumental in popularizing the in-ring promo, famously addressing audiences with an iteration of “What I’d like to have right now, is for all you fat, ugly, inner-city sweathogs to keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show the ladies what a real sexy man looks like,” upon entering the ring. Rude’s showboating and libidinal personality sparked major rivalries with wrestlers such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Ultimate Warrior and earned him the title of Most Hated Wrestler of the Year in 1992 as well as several runners-up awards in previous years.

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12. Roddy Piper
> Most Hated Wrestler of the Year awards: 3
> WWE debut: 1994
> WWE appearances: 58
> Daily avg. Wikipedia page views: 2,555

One of the most reviled heels in pro sports, Roddy Piper was voted third runner-up to the Most Hated Wrestler of the Year award in 1981, and he was awarded the top spot in 1984 and 1985. Piper was a WWE mainstay during its global expansion in the 1980s, feuding with Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T, and — in what culminated in a title match at the widely-viewed “War to Settle the Score” — Hulk Hogan. Piper was known for his brash wit and facility with a microphone, which he was able to use to further bolster his heel image through his “Piper’s Pit” interview segments. Piper also had success as a hero, making a successful face turn in 1986 and winning PWI’s Most Popular Wrestler of the Year award that year.

Source: Gaye Gerard / Getty Images

11. CM Punk
> Most Hated Wrestler of the Year awards: 3
> WWE debut: 2003
> WWE appearances: 347
> Daily avg. Wikipedia page views: 4,836

CM Punk made his televised WWE debut at an ECW house show in 2006, at a time when hardcore wrestling fans were growing dissatisfied with the more family-friendly programming that had proliferated in the wake of the Attitude Era. Punk’s rebellious aesthetic and eclectic fighting style helped garner him a fan base, which grew as fans began to perceive the wrestler as being underutilized by the WWE. Punk used this anti-establishment fervor to fuel a successful heel turn, culminating in a June 2011 “Pipe Bomb” promo in which he called out John Cena, The Rock, and other crossover stars in an overall tirade against the WWE’s prioritization of entertainment over real wrestling.