In the movie and television industry, characters are portrayed by multiple actors all the time and for a variety of reasons. Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk in Marvel Studio’s cinematic universe. In the early 80s, the hit television show The Dukes of Hazzard briefly replaced co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer after a contract dispute. Throughout the years, daytime soap operas have also used the actor carousel to fill the roles of classic characters. And even in the world of music, the rock band Kiss replaced original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss with different members to play the “Spaceman” and the “Catman”.
Somewhere along the way pro wrestling, and in particular WWE, decided to borrow this playbook from the world of entertainment. Vince McMahon has played this card on a number of occasions since taking control of WWE back in the early 1980s. Next time you’re cruising through old footage on the WWE Network, take a closer look at the body types of those masked superstars and take more notice of the facial features under the face paint. You might just be able to catch one of these WWE Superstars being portrayed by multiple individuals. But if you’re looking to learn about a few then just read on and find out about 15 Times WWE Pulled The Old Switch-A-Roo.
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15 The Undertaker vs The Underfaker
After losing a casket match to Yokozuna at Royal Rumble 1994, The Undertaker briefly disappeared from WWE. During the summer of 1994, the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase supposedly bought The Undertaker for his Million Dollar Corporation stable. The Undertaker made a return to WWE and started winning matches with DiBiase as his manager. However, this Undertaker was noticeably different despite being very similar. Southern independent wrestler, Brian Lee, was portraying this Undertaker. Was Vince McMahon replacing the original Undertaker with this new Undertaker played by Lee? Fortunately for fans, this switch-a-roo was brief and part of a WWE angle. Paul Bearer brought back the real Undertaker to do battle with the imposter Undertaker, or Underfaker as many fans call him, at SummerSlam 1994. The original Undertaker vanquished the Underfaker at SummerSlam to end the imposter angle. WWE would use this angle years later in 2006 with Kane. The original unmasked Kane briefly feuded with a masked Kane portrayed by Luke Gallows.
14 Corporal Kirchner Got Drafted After Sgt. Slaughter Went AWOL
After a dispute with Vince McMahon, patriot hero Sgt. Slaughter left WWE for Vern Gagne’s American Wrestling Association. Slaughter was originally a heel drill sergeant. He became wildly popular after turning babyface to feud with the evil Iron Sheik. Without Slaughter, who would be left to defend WWE against foreign heels such as the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Mr. Fuji? Vince McMahon could just create another Slaughter-like character and that’s exactly what he did. He took jobber RT Reynolds and transformed him into the patriot hero, Corporal Kirchner. Although never capturing the success that Slaughter did, Kirchner assumed the role of defending the flag against foreign fanatics for a while in WWE. Kirchner’s greatest moment in WWE was a victory over Nikolai Volkoff in a flag match at WrestleMania II. Kirchner was eventually relegated to being a jobber to the stars before leaving WWE due to a failed drug test.
13 The Road Warriors Weren’t Available And Along Came Demolition
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon attempted to acquire other promotions’ top stars throughout the 1980s. It was a part of his plan to transform the WWE from a regional promotion into a powerhouse national promotion. One acquisition that eluded him throughout the 80s was the most fearsome tag team in pro wrestling, The Road Warriors. The Road Warriors, Animal and Hawk, with their manager Precious Paul Ellering sold out arenas across the globe for promotions such as the NWA, AWA, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. Then in early 1987, Demolition, Ax and Smash, with their manager Luscious Johnny Valiant showed up in WWE. Demolition was a very similar concept to The Road Warriors and the managers were also a bit similar. This switch-a-roo actually had a happy ending for all involved. Demolition was able to establish themselves as a top tag team despite The Road Warrior comparisons. Vince McMahon finally signed The Road Warriors in late 1990 and fans were treated to a Demolition vs The Road Warriors dream feud.
12 Dan Spivey Replaced Barry Windham In The US Express
Barry Windham and his real life brother-in-law Mike Rotunda formed a very successful tag team in Florida in the early 1980s. In fact, the team was so successful that Vince McMahon and WWE soon came knocking with a contract offer. The US Express of Windham and Rotunda won the WWE Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions in 1985. After losing the titles for the last time, Windham left WWE leaving Rotunda without a partner. The 6’6 blond haired Windham was soon replaced with a very similar looking 6’8 blond haired Dan Spivey. Spivey and Rotunda continued on as the US Express for the rest of 1985 and 1986. This version of the US Express never captured the WWE Tag Team Championship. Instead they feuded with other mid card teams like The Moondogs, old rivals like The Dream Team and put over teams on the rise like The Islanders and Hart Foundation.
11 Fake Razor And Fake Diesel Replaced The Outsiders
In the summer of 1996, WCW pulled off a huge coup by acquiring both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash from WWE. At the time of their departure from WWE, they were portraying the characters Razor Ramon (Hall) and Diesel (Nash). Both Razor Ramon and Diesel were extremely popular with fans. Hall and Nash became “The Outsiders” and the story was that they were from “that company up north” and in WCW to take it over. The angle obviously did not sit well with Vince McMahon and WWE. In the fall of 1996, commentator Jim Ross brought Razor Ramon and Diesel back to WWE. However, Ross brought the characters back but not Hall and Nash. Rick Bognar portrayed Razor Ramon and Glen Jacobs who would go onto much greater success as Kane portrayed Diesel. Fake Razor and Fake Diesel made their exit from WWE in early 1997. They made a few stops outside WWE including the USWA and AAA in Mexico before disappearing. Jacobs was wrestling as Kane by October of 1997 while Bognar, as Big Titan, wrestled mainly in Japan until retiring in 1999.
10 Sione Replaced Samu In The Headshrinkers
In 1985, Fatu and Samu formed the Samoan Swat Team (SST) tag team. Throughout the late 1980s, they had tremendous success in a number of pro wrestling promotions such as World Class Championship Wrestling, WCW, and Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council. The next logical step for the team was to do business with Vince McMahon. In 1992, Fatu and Samu were renamed The Headshrinkers and debuted in WWE. In 1994, they captured the WWE Tag Team Championship. However, in that same year, the Headshrinkers not only lost the straps but Samu left WWE. Rather than disbanding the team, a replacement was brought in to keep the team alive in the tag team division. Headshrinker Sione aka The Barbarian teamed with Fatu as the Headshrinkers into early 1995. These Headshrinkers never won the tag team titles and were used primarily to put over teams like the Smoking Gunns, Blu Twins, and the Million Dollar Corporation.
9 Crush In The Legion Of Doom?
At SummerSlam 92, Animal and Hawk, The Legion of Doom, defeated Money Inc. and seemed to be on the fast track to regaining the WWE Tag Team Championship. However, Hawk left WWE shortly after SummerSlam and left Animal without a partner. Instead of going solo, the decision was made to pair him with another partner. In the fall of 1992, Animal teamed with none other than former archrival and member of Demolition, Crush. This switch-a-roo never made it to television. This version of the Legion of Doom only wrestled some house shows until Animal was forced to retire for a few years due to a back injury. One can only wonder what would have happened if this new Legion of Doom would have made it to television. Would the fans have accepted them? Would they have been called Legion of Doom? It would have been interesting but will have to remain another pro wrestling “what if?”.
8 Spot Got The Bone After King Strayed From The Moondogs
In 1981, the Moondogs tag team of King and Rex defeated Rick Martel and Tony Garea for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Shortly after the title win, Spot replaced King due to travel issues. Rex and Spot soon lost the belts back to Martel and Garea. They continued to team together as the Moondogs in WWE for most of the 1980s. The team eventually became jobbers. They even jobbed in singles competition and with different partners. By the late 1980s, the Moondogs disappeared from WWE. However, different Moondog tag teams have competed in various pro wrestling promotions over the years. The Moondogs had their greatest success wrestling for WWE’s partner promotion, the United States Wrestling Association, in the 1990s. They won the USWA tag team titles fifteen times using six different Moondogs in various combinations. They included Spot and Rex in addition to new members Spike, Splat, Cujo, and Rover. During the early 1990s, Spot and Rex reunited to win three of those fifteen titles. They pulled the old switch-a-roo on at least one occasion in the USWA. You really needed a scorecard to keep track of all the Moondogs running around the pro wrestling world in the 80s and 90s.
7 Konnan Blasted Off And Paul Diamond Became Max Moon
Konnan was a big lucha libre star in Mexico during the early 1990s, which got him on the WWE radar. He soon signed with Vince McMahon and was given the character of Max Moon. Max Moon was a cyborg character with a very elaborate costume that included hand cannons that shot sparks into the crowd. With the talented Konnan playing the character, Max Moon was sure to be a can’t miss success story for WWE. However, a dispute led to Konnan leaving WWE before Max Moon could even get off the launching pad. He only worked a few matches as the character before departing. Instead of letting the expensive costume go to waste, Max Moon was refueled and re-launched with Paul Diamond. Diamond had previously wrestled in WWE as a jobber and then as the masked Kato in the Orient Express tag team. Diamond as Max Moon only received a minor push before becoming a jobber and rocketing away into the future endeavors galaxy.
6 Sivi “Superfly” Afi Soared After Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka Flew The Coop
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was one of WWE’s biggest stars in the early 1980s. Snuka’s cage matches against Bob Backlund and Don Muraco are legendary. His feud with Rowdy Roddy Piper will never be forgotten and their “Piper’s Pit” incident is iconic. His “Superfly leap” off the top rope was one of the greatest finishers of that time period. However, Snuka left WWE in the summer of 1985 after being a part of the first WrestleMania’s main event. In 1986, Vince McMahon decided to bring another “Superfly” to WWE to replace Snuka. Sivi “Superfly” Afi was initially billed as Snuka’s cousin. Afi never came close to achieving the success of the original “Superfly”. He was soon relegated to a jobber to the stars. He briefly got another push as the third member of the Islanders before leaving WWE for good in the late 1980s. Snuka made a return to WWE in 1989 and remained until 1992.
5 Mistico’s Release Gave Hunico Another Shot As Sin Cara
WWE’s signing of lucha libre superstar Místico in 2011 came with high hopes. He was given the character of Sin Cara and was supposed to be the second coming of Rey Mysterio. In fact, rumors swirled of a big money WrestleMania match between the two where Mysterio could pass the torch to Cara. None of this materialized. Cara’s short WWE career was hampered by injuries and botches. The original Sin Cara left WWE in early 2014. However, a 2011 angle may have been the inspiration for the Sin Cara character to get a second and final switch-a-roo. The original Sin Cara received a 30-day wellness policy suspension by WWE in 2011. During the suspension, Sin Cara was portrayed by Hunico. This led to a Sin Cara Azul (Místico) vs Sin Cara Negro (Hunico) feud. After the original Cara left WWE for good, Hunico took on the Sin Cara character permanently. The kids who buy Sin Cara masks by the boatload and those collecting the money are probably happy there’s still a Sin Cara.
4 Battle Kat Got A Style Change After Bob Bradley Replaced Brady Boone
Brady Boone was a smaller cruiserweight style wrestler who was lost in the “land of the giants” era in WWE. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, WCW was starting to showcase smaller athletic cruiserweights like Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, and Jushin Liger. Vince McMahon may have taken notice of this when he gave Boone a push with the Battle Kat character in the spring of 1990. Under the Battle Kat mask, Boone was wrestling a style that hadn’t been seen in WWE since Tiger Mask in the early 1980s. However, Boone would leave WWE in the fall of 1990. Rather than scrap the character, which was popular with kids, WWE jobber Bob Bradley assumed the mantle of Battle Kat. Bradley was much larger and had a much different wrestling style than Boone. His version of Battle Kat was much different than the original. Bradley used a mat based approach and he also added over exaggerated cat mannerisms in his matches. Bradley’s Battle Kat soon became a jobber before disappearing from the scene. After leaving WWE, Boone used the character on the indy wrestling circuit for a few years but called himself “Fire Cat”.
3 Clowning Around As Doink The Clown
Talented journeyman wrestler Matt Borne wrestled across the country during the 1980s using a couple of different gimmicks. He mainly wrestled as the heel Maniac Matt Borne and won regional championships in promotions like Pacific Northwest Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, and Mid-South Wrestling. He then briefly wrestled as a lumberjack character called Big Josh in the early 1990s in WCW. Borne finally got his biggest break when WWE called him to portray the character of the sociopathic Doink the Clown. Borne, as Doink, would have high profile feuds with Crush, Mr. Perfect, and Bret Hart. Borne was fired in the fall of 1993 just as Doink was about to make a babyface turn. Instead of cancelling the babyface run, Ray Apollo was chosen to take over the Doink character. Apollo, as Doink, feuded with Jerry “the King” Lawler, Bam Bam Bigelow,and Jeff Jarrett. Apollo’s Doink became a jobber to the stars before vanishing in 1995. The Doink character has been played by numerous individuals on the indy wrestling circuit over the years in addition to the occasional WWE returns. In WWE, Doink has also been portrayed by Steve Lombardi,Steve Kiern, and Eugene Dinsmore among others.
2 Randy Colley Smashed It Up Before Barry Darsow In Demolition
Demolition was one of WWE’s greatest tag teams. They won the WWE Tag Team Championship three times with their first reign lasting 478 days. The team of Ax and Smash bulldozed through a very competitive tag team division in the late 1980s. They defeated top teams such as The Brain Busters, Hart Foundation,British Bulldogs, Rockers, and The Colossal Connection just to name a few. In 1990, they added a third member called Crush. Most casual fans remember these three as the only members of Demolition but there were technically four. Bill Eadie always portrayed Ax and Brian Adams was always Crush. However, Barry Darsow was not the original Smash. Randy Colley who was previously Moondog Rex in WWE was the original Smash. Colley only wrestled a handful of times as Smash before being replaced by Darsow. After leaving WWE, Colley wrestled as few different characters including Moondog Rex, Deadeye Dick of The Desperados in WCW, and Detroit Demolition. None of those characters brought Colley the success that Darsow would enjoy as Demolition Smash.
1 The Original Screw Job Starring The Spider Lady
The Spider Lady might be the most controversial switch-a-roo of all time. Wendi Richter was on top of WWE in the mid 1980s. Richter was WWE Women’s Champion and was one of the faces of the “Rock n Wrestling Connection”. Her popularity rivaled that of Hulk Hogan.However, behind the scenes, Richter had fallen out of favor with Vince McMahon. A plan was then hatched to take the title off Richter to be put back on the former champion, The Fabulous Moolah. In the fall of 1985, Richter was set to defend her crown against a masked wrestler known as The Spider Lady at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. It is unclear who the Spider Lady was but what was clear was that it wasn’t The Fabulous Moolah. However, on this night the switch-a-roo was made and The Spider Lady would be The Fabulous Moolah. In what is now known as “The Original Screwjob” Richter fell victim to a shoot and fast three count. Moolah walked away with the title and Richter walked right out of WWE. Richter never wrestled for WWE again and didn’t make another WWE appearance until being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010. Moolah went onto a long relationship with WWE that included wrestling full-time for a few more years and her “Attitude Era” run with Mae Young.
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