In order to be successful in professional wrestling, a wrestler needs to be the complete package, which includes them to needing to have a proper gimmick. They help the wrestlers distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, and a gimmick can definitely make or break a wrestler’s career. We have seen so many wrestlers succeed off amazing gimmicks and go on to have successful careers, but there have been many failed gimmicks as well.
The initial gimmicks of all the wrestlers aren’t usually that successful, forcing them to opt for a new and better gimmick to help them get noticed by the fans. The WWE has been infamous for its gimmick changes in the past, with some of them creating superstars and some destroying the careers of wrestlers as well. They gave some wrestlers outstanding new gimmicks which helped to relaunch their careers and make them big stars in the company, but there were some failed repackaging of wrestlers as well which effectively ruined their careers.
The WWE loves to tinker with its talents characters and has been successful by giving them refreshing gimmicks in the past which saved their careers but also gave some wrestlers awful ones which effectively destroyed their careers in the company.
20. Saved: Batista
“The Animal” Batista was one of the most hard-hitting wrestlers of his time in the WWE, with his powerful move-set and wrestling style making many a fan of him. But he didn’t have the most memorable debut in the WWE and was given the gimmick of “Deacon Batista” who was the enforcer for D’Von Dudley in the beginning. He wore this weird chain around his neck and looked quite stupid holding a white box. But Batista was saved from this misery when he was drafted to the Raw Brand and became a part of Evolution, playing the muscle of the stable perfectly. He would become famous as a destructive wrestler with a change in gimmick, and his success as part of Evolution led to him becoming “The Animal” which made him a main-event attraction in the WWE and kept him at the top of the ladder for a long time.
19. Doomed: Stardust
Cody Rhodes was a really talented wrestler in the WWE, who despite his amazing work was always kept down in the company. Rhodes had multiple gimmicks in the company and made each work really well actually, but even he couldn’t do anything about his terrible final gimmick, Stardust. The brother of Goldust was a new “being” born from “the stars” and while Cody did make it seem entertaining at times, the gimmick itself was absolutely awful. It was foolish and made no sense whatsoever, destroying Rhodes’ career in the WWE during the term he portrayed it. Even Cody himself was sick of the gimmick, eventually leaving the WWE to move to the Independent scene, where he’s enjoying a lot of success now. Stardust was an absolutely terrible gimmick which killed his WWE career, but thankfully Cody’s doing much better in other promotions now.
18. Saved: JBL
JBL was quite the loathsome heel in the WWE during his time on Smackdown Live!, when he won the WWE Championship and it for a record period of time as well. JBL’s transformation was surprising to many, who knew him to be Bradshaw of the APA, who was this redneck who loved to beat up people. But he changed from that to become this rich, arrogant man who let money do the talking for him and was a straight-up bully to everyone. JBL’s career was definitely saved because of this gimmick, which catapulted him from the minor leagues to the top and rejuvenated his career as well. He’d become a main event star from this successful new gimmick as well, becoming a terrific heel for the WWE and being part of many heated storyline because of his dislikable character.
17. Doomed: Emma
Emma had quite the patchy WWE career, which started off with a rather horrible gimmick for her where she would dance to the ring and act jolly. WWE later sent her to NXT, where she seemingly found her proper gimmick as a sexy heel who did some good work there. She was called back to the main roster because of it, but apparently couldn’t please the officials enough for her to keep the gimmick. She was later repackaged as Emmalina, in which she looked like this stunning diva who was hyped for a long time by the WWE. But that gimmick didn’t work at all, as she only made one small appearance as Emmalina before going back to Emma. But it was discovered after her departure from WWE that her failed Emmalina gimmick is what made officials give up hopes on her, proving how it literally destroyed her WWE career.
16. Saved: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has to be one of the most fascinating characters in the WWE for a long time, with the “Eater of Worlds” bringing a lot of mystique to the product with his work. But before he was Bray Wyatt, he was the infamous Husky Harris in WWE who rose as part of the Nexus in WWE. Harris was this overweight brawn, who obeyed others orders and looked to have no future in WWE. That gimmick almost ended his WWE run, before the company decided to repackage him in the role of Bray Wyatt. He was the leader of his stable, The Wyatt Family and slowly became a really intriguing character for the fans. Wyatt’s amazing change in gimmick helped save his WWE career, also resulting in the creation of a brilliant character, who will haunt WWE wrestlers for a long time to come.
15. Doomed: Tensai
Tensai returned to the WWE as a terrifying looking heel, and it seemed like Matt Bloom had finally found his right gimmick in the WWE after years of work in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was treated very well as this foreign, monster heel in the first few months when he maintained a winning streak above many stars. But then he started to deter, with the final nail in his coffin being placed when his gimmick was changed into that of a babyface. He was now this dancing, gullible big man who was the partner of Brodus Clay. This doomed his career in the WWE once and for all, as the failure of his face turn made WWE degrade him into a lower-mid carder. Bloom would eventually retire from wrestling and later become a trainer for WWE, but the gimmick of Face Tensai is what doomed his in-ring career.
14. Saved: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler has been a long-serving wrestler for the WWE, with his “show-off” character excelling well in the heel or face role over the years. But before Ziggler was known in this manner, he was in the WWE as Nicky from the Spirit Squad. He was this male cheerleader who would try to cause trouble as part of his group, and his character was too much of a joke to be taken seriously. So when The Spirit Squad separated, Ziggler was sent to developmental to work on his new gimmick. He returned to WWE as the Dolph Ziggler we know off, and was this arrogant “show-off” who went onto becoming World Heavyweight Champion. Ziggler hasn’t been the most successful wrestler in WWE recently, but his gimmick changed helped to save his WWE career which would’ve gone nowhere with his gimmick of “Nicky the Male cheerleader”.
13. Doomed: Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn was quite the mystical, hard-hitting wrestler in WCW when he got over after his time as part of “Raven’s Nest” and winning the feud against Raven later on. Saturn would move from WCW to WWE after the turn of the new century, and while his buddies in Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit all succeeded in the company, Saturn couldn’t find the gimmick to do so. He was going on as a mid-carder, when he was punished for beating up a jobber in a match and given a new gimmick of him being obsessed with a mop. Although his “moppy” angle was entertaining, nobody could take him seriously because of it and the gimmick change completely destroyed his WWE career. Saturn would be released by WWE later on when recovering from an injury, and the “moppy” character was the final nail to his wrestling career.
12. Saved: Rikishi
Rikishi was a really entertaining character in the WWE during the Attitude Era, when he delighted the fans with his dancing and terrifying “stink face” to his opponents. He was a really cool character, despite looking like a big guy and was something which saved his career in WWE as well. Before he was Rikishi, the Samoan had an array of bad gimmicks as a member of “The Headshrinkers” and then a masked wrestler in Sultan. These gimmicks were ruining his career, so the gimmick of Rikishi was a breath of fresh air for him. He would go on to become the WWE Tag Team Champion and a massive fan-favorite because of his amazing mannerism as well, with his lovable character proving that even big men could have a lot of fun in the WWE during a crazy era of wrestling.
11. Doomed: Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow showed a lot of potential in his early years in the WWE when he debuted the gimmick of the “Intellectual Savior of the Masses”, which was quite brilliant. He was this intellectual heel who would berate fans and garner heat, and he won a lot of things during that phase as well. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase, something he’d fail to cash in, after which his demise began. Sandow was then given the gimmick of impersonating many wrestlers and celebrities, later becoming the Miz’s Body-double as well. His change in gimmick did not work at all, with Sandow being reduced to a joke who could never be taken seriously by the fans afterward. Sandow’s WWE career reached a terrible low after his angle with the Miz ended, but his awful gimmick change earlier on had already destroyed what could’ve been a promising career for him.
10. Saved: Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman has already come a long way into his WWE career, where he has asserted himself as the “monster” of WWE during his destruction in the past few months. Strowman is quite the terrifying wrestler in WWE right now, but it took some time for WWE to find the right gimmick to make him the star he is today. Strowman was initially a “rosebud” who carried Adam Rose to the ring, but his initial WWE gimmick was the “Face of Destruction” for the Wyatt Family. He looked terrorizing in it, but didn’t click that well with the fans and was looking to be the average big man who’d be out of WWE in a few years. But WWE then gave him the “Monster Among Men” gimmick, having him destroy wrestlers and show incredible resilience and it has paid off amazingly well, with Strowman looking like a huge star nowadays.
9. Doomed: Paul Burchill
Paul Burchill looked like a wrestler with much potential when he initially debuted in the WWE, siding with William Regal on Smackdown. The two did some good work as a team, but they were separated after a point of time after which Burchill was given a new gimmick. He was given the gimmick of a pirate, as he dressed like a pirate resembling Johnny Depp’s character in the Pirate of the Caribbean movies. He would swing to the ring and looked awful as this character, which was a complete bust and WWE repackaged him soon after. But his new character was just as awful, as he showed himself to be a bit “too close” to his “sister” Katie Lea Burchill. Poor Paul could never be taken seriously due to these awful gimmicks given to him by WWE, ruining any potential for him to make it big in the company.
8. Saved: The Rock
The Rock may now be remembered for his appearances in various movies, but he will always be remembered by wrestling fans for being The Great One, who created a lot of memories during the Attitude Era. But before he could become “The Most Electrifying Man of all Time”, The Rock had to go through a really hard time settling in the WWE. He was given the gimmick of “Rocky Maivia”, a typical good-guy who was hated by many because of his rushed push. His stereotypical baby-face gimmick almost killed his wrestling career, but then the WWE decided to change his gimmick and make him “The Rock”. He would open up after the change of gimmick, showing immense charisma as The Rock and become one of the major stars of the Attitude Era, and the change in gimmick not only helped save his career but also made him the star he is today.
7. Doomed: Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko was definitely one of the best technical wrestlers of his time, with his reputation being gained because of how well he could wrestle in the squared circle. He was excellent in WCW’s Cruiserweight scene and later moved to WWE when that ship was sinking, and the WWE took him with open arms. He was part of the Radicalz with Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Chris Benoit and soon went onto win the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship. Things was going good for him, when suddenly WWE gave him a new gimmick of “Double Ho Seven”, a parody of James Bond. He was infatuated with Lita at the time and tried to seduce her, even wrestling against her. His new gimmick felt cheap and out of place for a guy like Malenko, eventually leading to his retirement in WWE.
6. Saved: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the wrestler who essentially won the Monday Night Wars for the WWE, as the Texas Rattlesnake put up some amazing entertainment during the Attitude Era. Austin was this rebellious wrestler who went on to have an iconic feud with Mr. McMahon and was the unbridled star of the Attitude Era. But before he was “Stone Cold”, he was finding it difficult to find the right gimmick and was “The Ringmaster” Steve Austin. He was accompanied by Ted DiBiase and was this heel who didn’t really gain much attention from fans. His WWE career was dwindling when he was given the gimmick of Stone Cold, and the rest, as they say, is history. He’d go on to become one of the best wrestling characters of all time, as this amazing gimmick change turned out to be the decisive point in WWE’s history.
5. Doomed: Simon Dean
Simon Dean was quite the entertaining character in WCW during the late 80s, when he was known as “Super Nova” and was a part of the Blue World Order. He was mostly a comic-relief character who asserted himself as quite the fan-favorite, often cosplaying many superheroes in the time and entertaining the fans. Nova’s impressive work got him to be signed by the WWE later on, but the company gave him a gimmick which didn’t work at all. Dean was given the character of a fitness guru, in which he would try to sell his “Simon System”, a program of diet, supplementation and fitness to the people. This was a complete bust as he barely got over among the fans and had to mostly spend as a jobber in the WWE, who completely ruined his career before it started by giving him this awful gimmick.
4. Saved: Triple H
Triple H may be one of the most powerful people in the WWE right now, but he wasn’t that high up in the wrestling circuit when he initially joined the company. It came off a rather terrible stint in WCW, where he was given many terrible gimmicks such as Terra Ryzing and Jean Paul Levesque. His initial WWE gimmick was Hunter Hearst Helmsley, something which didn’t really click with the fans. It was later on in the Attitude era when his Triple H gimmick was formed and he became the Cerebral Assassin, one of the most conniving heels in WWE . He went onto win the WWE championship multiple times and asserted himself as a top star in WWE, as the change in gimmick was crucial in making for a successful WWE career because the earlier one could’ve doomed it many years ago.
3. Doomed: Adam Rose
Adam Rose was capable of so much more in the WWE, as he had arrived in the company with a lot of experience of wrestling in South Africa. His initial gimmick in WWE was the one he portrayed in the Independent circuit, where he was known as “Leo Kruger”, a dark gimmick of a psychopathic character. But the WWE didn’t quite like it, as he was made to go through a series of gimmick changes before he got one of the “party guy”. He would be escorted to the ring by his “rosebuds” and loved to party and entertain the crowd. But it only got worse for him, as this gimmick quickly faded away and he was later given a gimmick of “Party Pooper”. Rose’s awful gimmicks didn’t allow him to be ever taken seriously by the fans, and the WWE destroyed his blooming career by constantly giving him terrible gimmicks.
2. Saved: Kane
Kane has been the Big Red Monster in the WWE for over two decades now, with the masked terror serving as a monster heel in the WWE for a long time now. He’s been used in various feuds and terrorized many with his actions, but before the man portraying Kane put on the mask, Glen Jacobs was really struggling to find the right gimmick in WWE. He was first given the gimmick of Isaac Yankem DDS, who was Jerry Lawler’s dentist. The gimmick made no sense for a big man like him and was scrapped before he was made to be the Fake Diesel brought in by JR. That was awful as well, but Jacobs was saved by the gimmick of The Undertaker’s brother in Kane. He finally landed a proper gimmick after those awful ones which threatened to destroy his career, and he’s been doing amazingly ever since.
1. Doomed: Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page was one of WCW’s best talents in the 90s because of how he grew as a wrestler in the company during that decade. He started off as a mid-carder in WCW before climbing his way to the top, as he was in the main event during the final years of the decade. He had a really cool gimmick to himself which made fans like him, but that was all changed once he joined WWE. His WWE gimmick was of him as a stalker, who was stalking the Undertaker’s wife Sara. This was a terrible gimmick for a baby-face like him and ruined his reputation in WWE, and things went from bad to worse when he given the gimmick of an optimist. DDP came to WWE as a big star, but a terrible gimmick change for him ruined his reputation and destroyed his chance at a successful career in WWE.
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