Originality is hard to come by in wrestling. The wrestling business has been around for several decades and the juggernaut company in the middle of the entire thing, WWE, has been around ever since 1952. Just about any and all gimmicks that we can think of right now have been done many times over by different wrestlers over the years and across numerous wrestling promotions. It's rare that we find a wrestler who has a truly original gimmick that does not take influence or inspiration from any other entity. When all inspiration is lost, wrestlers often look towards what is popular in pop culture to find their gimmick and there is perhaps nothing more popular in pop culture than music.
Music is something everybody is familiar with and everybody indulges. If we were to track what people gravitate towards in the music world, there is a good chance that it might work in the wrestling world as well. This is why we have seen a strong handful of wrestling gimmicks that take inspiration from not only music, but musicians directly. Though, there is a much, much smaller handful of musician ripoff gimmicks in wrestling that actually work given how many end up being flops. Here are just some examples.
15 John Morrison - Jim Morrison
Shortly after winning the vacant ECW Championship at Vengeance: Night of Champions, the once flamboyant and boisterous Johnny Nitro appeared on the go-home episode of ECW right before the Great American Bash with a completely new image. Now with a more stoic and enigmatic persona, Nitro's whole new presence echoed something similar to The Doors' lead singer, Jim Morrison. In fact, to add icing to the cake, Nitro changed his name to John Morrison and even quoted some lines from The Doors songs on occasion.
14 Bray Wyatt - Charles Manson
Okay, this one is kind of cheating, if only for the fact that Charles Manson is better known as being something a little more horrifying than just a musician. Regardless, the fact remains that Charles Manson was a musician and recorded some songs. In addition to being a high profile cult leader, Manson had a studio album titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult which featured such grimly titled tracks as "Garbage Dump" and "Sick City." He also produced an album with his "family" called The Family Jams.
13 Goldust - Prince
Yes, even Goldust found himself ripping off The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Appropriately enough, it was during his run as The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust. The Prince allusions in his gimmick did not last long, but most memorably during this run, Goldust painted "FU" across his face, which paralleled a stunt that the actual Prince did in real life where he wrote "Slave" on his face to send a message to a record label he was having a contractual dispute with.
12 The KISS Demon - KISS
In 1999, WCW's Eric Bischoff struck a deal with KISS that they could produce a KISS inspired wrestler in exchange for KISS to perform on an episode of Nitro. Lo and behold, KISS performed and around the same time, the KISS Demon debuted on the August 23rd edition on Nitro during the $500,000 KISS performance.
11 George Ringo - The Beatles
One of the more blatant and outlandish wrestling related ripoffs of musicians comes in the form of George Ringo, "The Wrestling Beatle." Played by a man named Bob Sabre, the idea came from Dick the Bruiser. Dick did not necessarily intend to use this gimmick to capitalize on the success of The Beatles nor was the gimmick ever meant to get over. In fact, it was intended to be as terrible as it looked. He was merely meant to be enhancement talent for the AWA, not taking too much shine away from his opponent and getting the crap getting out of him to make his opponent look good.
10 Kid Kash - Kid Rock
Originally wrestling under the name David Tyler Morton Jericho, this guy's original 1996 run of ECW was a flop and was hardly there long enough for a cup of coffee. However, when he returned in 1999, he struck gold when he was repackaged under the name Kid Kash for the fact that ECW officials thought that he bore an uncanny resemblance to Kid Rock.
9 Van Hammer - Van Halen
Few fans these days recall the wrestler known as Van Hammer, but those that do remember him for being a blatant ripoff of the musician known as Eddie Van Halen. The wrestler made it clear whenever he stepped on stage just how influenced his gimmick was to the rock legend.
8 3 Count - Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC
3 Count was a stable formed in WCW during 1999 and consisted of three talented staples of WCW's Cruiserweight Division. They were Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, and Evan Karagias. The trio's gimmick evoked the spirit of such pop boy bands that dominated the late 90s music scene like Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC. In fact, in their theme song (sung by 3 Count themselves), they name dropped both bands, therefore WCW wasn't even hiding the fact they were ripping said bands off.
7 Johnny B. Badd - Little Richard
When people hear the name Johnny B. Badd, whether they're a wrestling fan or not, most minds remember the song "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry, but in the wrestling world, Johnny B. Badd evoked the essence of a different musical performer in Little Richard.
6 Honky Tonk Man - Elvis
It can be argued that The Honky Tonk Man is the most successful wrestler to ever rip off the persona of a famous musician. From the hair-do to the sparkly get-up, there was no denying that Honky was meant to carry himself as a certain familiar face from Graceland.
5 The Flying Elvis' - Elvis
The Honky Tonk Man was certainly a gimmick of its era. Only in the 80s, where it was the norm for the wrestling world to be riddled with character gimmicks, could a gimmick blatantly ripping off Elvis could become as successful as it did.
4 The Velveteen Dream - Prince
Given just how charismatic and globally loved that the artist himself was, Prince seems to be a common influence for gimmicks in the history of wrestling, more common than any of us would think. The most recent addition to the list of Prince wrestling gimmicks is The Velveteen Dream.
3 Nakamura - Michael Jackson
An interesting part of the new school mind set in the world of wrestling is taking inspiration from other forms outside of pro wrestling such as film and music. Kenny Omega himself made the claim that a big part of his character's allure is all because of film. Omega is a big student of film and he uses the mannerisms to enhance his character distinctly from others. Nakamura took a similar page as he identifies his persona closely with Michael Jackson. Not only did Shinsuke admit Michael's a huge inspiration but you can also see examples through his act. Whether it's the mannerisms or similar red attire, it isn't hard to spot the similarities.
2 Michael Saxon - Michael Jackson
In the classic days of WWE, for whatever reason, Vince McMahon thought it would be a bright idea to bring a character onto his roster who blatantly ripped off Michael Jackson. Yet, he did not want this guy to be too similar to Michael Jackson as Vince often clarified on commentary that the man in the ring was Michael Saxon, not the man in the mirror Michael Jackson, man was wrestling in a weird place.
1 John Cena - Vanilla Ice
Fans who love and praise John Cena's old rapper gimmick tend to forget that the gimmick was legitimately a Vanilla Ice ripoff. By the fall of 2002, Cena had only recently turned heel and still lacked a real gimmick. The first time he showed any character was for the Halloween episode of SmackDown that year when he showed up dressed up as Vanilla Ice, even going as far as to freestyle.
The segment went over so well with backstage management that they convinced Cena to continue using the gimmick for the long haul. Starting the following week, Cena started acting like a rapper full time and began calling himself "The Doctor of Thugonomics". Over the next couple years, Cena used the gimmick to launch himself into superstardom and eventually become the face of the WWE.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!