Taken from villians.wikia.com, anti-villain means:
Basically the opposite of an anti-hero. While the anti-hero often fights on the protagonist's team, but with selfish motives, the anti-villain plays a villain's game, but for what's at least in their eyes a noble cause. They may be personally more noble or heroic than an anti-hero but the means to achieve their ends are often considered immoral, unjust, even evil. Sometimes they may simply be a villain with gentlemanly qualities or a code of honor or some sense of justice. Anti-villains will occasionally side with their rivals (usually the protagonist) if a greater threat than themselves comes or it is in both of their best interests. Often also considered "grey" characters due to their moral ambiguity. Examples of popular anti-villains include Magneto, Ozymandias from Watchmen, Eric Finch, Benjamin Linus, the Jigsaw Killer, Francis Hummel, Kane from Command & Conquer and The Operative from the film Serenity.
We've seen anti-heroes (Austin and Orton) and know that, if pulled off correctly, they can be a big hit. I was just wondering if there have been any wrestlers who fit the anti-villain role... if not, do you think an anti-villain would work?
I think it could work but, like most things, would have to be done correctly. I would think that in order for it to work the wrestler would have to start off as a pure heel and really get the crowd to hate him. And then after a while of being in this role, have him slowly start to become less and less "evil" but still a heel (attacking good guys, cheating to win, etc.). Then I'd have it come out that the reason why he acts the way he does is because of a noble cause (maybe he promised his kayfabe dead wife he'd be at the top of WWE someday or maybe he's trying to become champ as quick as possible so his kayfabe dying kid could see him as champion before the kid passed away). Or maybe have it come out that he was always teased, picked on, made fun of throughout his entire life and he's just grown to hate people.
Anyway, those are just some thoughts on how to pull this off. What I'm more interested in is if an anti-villain could actually work. Thoughts?