“Babyface” is the term used to describe the fan favorite in a wrestling match and organization, the wrestler the crowd generally cheers for and wants to win. It is the converse of a heel. Sometimes, the term is shortened to “face.”
For several years, babyfaces were so named because they were generally the “nice guys” in the wrestling company, as they were clean cut, polite with the fans, expressed American values and competed fairly within the rules. However, in the 1990s, many fans began supporting a different type of wrestler, one that was rebellious in nature and stood up to authority. A fan favorite could also resort to dirty tactics in a match if he was goaded into doing so and/or openly admitted to be willing to do anything it took to win. Wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and organizations like Extreme Championship Wrestling are widely considered to have popularized this style. The term “babyface” is still applied to the wrestlers most fans support, even though the only trait they may share with traditional “faces” is an appreciation for the fans.
A wrestler's character may turn from heel to babyface at any time. It often occurs when the organization and its bookers notice that a wrestler is being won over by the fans despite his heel tactics. Common face turns include defeating a heel wrestler in a match or coming to help another face wrestler who is being overmatched by one or more heels.