wreGimmicks, the part of wrestling that allows fans to connect with the wrestlers persona’s. For every successful gimmick there have been a hundred horrific gimmicks. The Shockmaster, Max Moon, Repo Man, The Goon; are all horrific. Some gimmicks can turn perfectly good wrestlers into a laughing stock, Terry Taylor is one of them. Prior to signing with WWF, he had been successful wrestling in UWF and WCCW, however once he had debuted as the Red Rooster his career would never been the same. It’s hard to get a gimmick right, it requires a good idea, talent and someone who can play the part and believed in the character. Goldust, had on paper a bad gimmick, however Dustin Runnels made it his own and it worked.
Today, we will look at ten wrestlers who, despite given an awful wrestling gimmick that didn’t quite work and were able to turn around into a successful career. For the record, we are talking bad gimmicks not wrestlers who didn’t really do much then change their gimmick. Hope you enjoy this and let us know if there is anyone missing from the list.
“Blue Chipper” Rocky Maivia – The Rock
Let’s start with one the Great One. The Rock is a 10 time world champion, arguably one of the most successful wrestlers ever to grace a WWE ring and make it outside of wrestling. However younger fans might not be aware that The Rock had a very interesting debut year.
Survivor Series 1996, Dwayne Johnson would make his debut as Rocky Maivia, an over positive and always smiling guy. He was known as a blue chipper, a third generation star and someone for the future. He would get a huge push, within the first three months Rocky would win the Intercontinental championship. One drawback was that Rocky had a severe lack of in-ring experience. The fans would get bored with Rocky being shoved down people’s faces. The smart fans no longer wanted to see a one-dimensional good guy, the era was changing quickly. During his matches he get jeered by fans and received huge “Rocky sucks” and “Die Rocky Die” chants.
Thankfully an injury halted the push dramatically. In August 1997 Rocky returned alongside The Nation Of Domination, he gave a promo of a lifetime which signified the transformation into The Rock. A smart mouthed and self-centred wrestler who garnered the love and admiration from millions and millions of The Rocks fans.
In the original Brand Extension in 2002, WWE decided to breakup a number of tag teams. One of these were The Dudley Boyz, who unlike their TNA singles run were not ready. D-Von Dudley was rebranded Reverend D’Von. Alongside him was newcomer Deacon Batista. A rather tall and muscular body guard. The Deacon never really had any chance to get moving. Shortly into the experiment, the Dudley Boys reunited together ending the Beacon Batista’s run.
Thankfully for Dave Bautista, he was given the chance to be part of Evolution with Triple H and Ric Flair and mentors. Under their toolage, Batista honed his craft and become a 6 time World Champion and a two-time Royal Rumble winner.
“Real Man’s Man” Steve Regal
After a successful career in Europe and WCW Regal would join the WWF in 1998. Regal debuted on Raw in June 1998, however after two matches was sent to training after appearing not in shape. An ankle injury halted any return. Steve Regal would re-debut later that year as as “A Real Man’s Man” Steven Regal. A “brawny man” who would wear lumberjack and a hard hat, it was pretty bad. Recovering from an injury during development, Regal would become addicted to painkillers and was sent to rehab a few short months into his WWF career, and would be fired shortly later. Following a short stint with WCW, Regal would return to the WWF as the “Goodwill Ambassador” William Regal where he would win the European and Intercontinental titles.
Kane aka. Dr Issac Yankem & Fake Diesel
The key to being successful in WWE, having key staff behind you (and a lot of patience). Glenn Jacobs, was discovered by Jim Cornette and sent to Smokey Mountain Wrestling who performed under the name of Unabomb. In 1995, Jerry Lawler would seek revenge against major rival Bret Hart. So who does he ask for help, he brings in his evil dentist, nicely named Dr Issac Yankem; just plainly wrong.
In late 1996, Jacobs was repackaged as Fake Diesel, WWE hoped that WWF fans would ignore the fact that the real diesel, Kevin Nash was in WCW. A heel Jim Ross had promised he had managed to bring back Diesel, Kane was the fake Diesel. It went down like a ton of bricks… hard. Thankfully patience and timing is a virtue, Glenn would be given the gimmick of Kane. After months of build up as the Undertakers long-lost brother, Kane debuted at Badd Blood 1997; attacking The Undertaker in the inaugural Hell in a Cell match. The backstory to Kane was incredible, it panned out over months, anticipation was high. It would be 6 months before the two brothers would finally fight at WrestleMania XIV.
With lots of patience in character development and not rushing the match that everyone wanted to see Kanes character was a huge hit. Winning the WWE Championship in June 1998. Kane has been able to adapt, alter and tweak his character over the years. Just like his “brother” Kane has surpassed the normal lifespan of a WWE character and arguably one of the greatest big men in the business.
Dolph Ziggler – Spirit Squad
Prior to The Miz bringing back The Spirit Squad from places unknown, did anyone actually remember that Dolph Ziggler was a cheerleader? The group of five male cheerleaders that in 2006 Vince McMahon would use to try and destroy D-Generation X? Everything about them was cringey. Once the Spirit Squad came to an end, only one of them stayed on the main roster and that was Kenny. Go even further back in time, Dolph Ziggler debuted in WWE as Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero’s short lived golfer gimmick) caddy. Roll forward to 2008 and Ziggler would return to Raw as the guy who would introduce himself as Dolph Ziggler. Not exactly promising. Despite this Ziggler would overcome the odds and prove to the world he has what it takes in the ring to steal the show every night, despite being a member of the Spirit Squad.