We live in a time where very few ideas are original ones. Most things are an improvement or simply a rehash of something that has come before. That relates to the business of professional wrestling as much as it does any other walk of life. There really are only so many ideas out there. These days, seeing something original in or out of the ring is pretty rare. Superstars steal all sorts of aspects from pro wrestling's past. Their look, their demeanor, parts of their move set. Whoever their mimicking can either consider it a compliment or I'm sure some may swing the other way and get quite offended by stars using moves they made famous.
Not all the flack can be aimed towards the young men and women performing as of right now. As you'll see from this upcoming list, stealing from your former peers is something that has been happening in pro wrestling for almost as long the business itself has been around. It may have become harder to be original in the present day and thus seems to happen more often, but even some of the greatest performers of all time are guilty of building up their own persona by using parts from other people.
At times, stealing a fellow star's gimmick simply doesn't work as some of the following examples will demonstrate, but on the contrary, if done correctly, forcing history to repeat itself can shoot you straight to the top of the pile.
15 Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has finally arrived on Raw after years of tirelessly working the independent circuits. Giving his all in TNA and Ring of Honor and of course NXT, The Samoan Submission Machine is now deservedly at professional wrestling's top table. Since his arrival in NXT, I've naturally been exposed to Samoa Joe more than I ever had been before.
When Joe first arrived in NXT, after a few appearances, it started to hit me that his look and his demeanor reminded of something, or more accurately someone. Since he arrived on Raw, I've realized who that someone is, Taz. The look and the mannerism Joe portrays are very similar to that of the Human Suplex Machine and it's even something Taz has touched on during his daily show, in a complimentary way. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.
14 The Ascension
In NXT, The Ascension were a very big deal. Extremely popular and the longest reigning NXT Tag Team champions in the brand's short history. For one reason or another, since their arrival on Raw and SmackDown Live, things just haven't gone their way. That may be partially down to the fact that the main roster fans are less sympathetic to the fact that Konnor and Viktor are very obviously a rehash of The Road Warriors.
Yes, Animal and Hawk may have been one of the most beloved tag teams of all time, but that doesn't mean you can mimic their gimmick 25 years later and get the same response. The entrance, the look, the in-ring work. It all harks back to the days of The Road Warriors and it simply won't take off unless they drastically change up what they do and how they do it.
13 Ultimate Warrior
One of the most iconic figures in the history of WWE is the Ultimate Warrior. A unique individual who won over the hearts of thousands, if not millions, of young wrestling fans across the globe. Surely he didn't copy his gimmick from somebody else, right? Well, it may not have been identical, but there are certainly aspects of what made the Warrior great that were coincidentally similar to a superstar in another company at the exact same time...Sting in WCW.
Before Sting became the black and white Crow inspired Superstar we came to know and love he was surfer Sting. He had blonde hair and colorful trunks and painted his face in colors that were most certainly not black and white. It was clearly working for WCW and WWE wanted their own piece of the action.
12 Jack Swagger
WWE recently parted ways with an All-American in the form of Jack Swagger. Despite holding the World Heavyweight Championship at one point during his WWE tenure, Swagger never really took off while at the company. Surprising really considering where the inspiration came from for Swagger's character. Jack clearly took a lot of aspects of who he was in WWE from the soon to be Hall of Famer Kurt Angle.
The singlet, the America love, the shoot wrestling background, hell Swagger even went as far as using one of Kurt's finishing manoeuvres. Jack regularly made his opponents tap to his Patriot Lock which of course was a mirror image of Angle's ankle lock. Sadly for Jack, he had far less success with it than the man he was paying homage to.
There was a time in WWE where it looked like Ryback might very well be a big deal. For one reason or another, that didn't pan out, and after having a slight taste of the big time, slipping back down the card didn't sit well with The Big Guy. Because of that, Ryback has since parted ways with WWE and the relationship between himself and the company isn't great.
While he was under Vince McMahon's watch though, it was plain to see where the inspiration for the Ryback character came from. A muscle bound bald guy going on a tear through the entire roster. Does it remind you of a certain WCW star that went 173-0 during the late 1990s by any chance? On some level, WWE were trying to recreate the magic that was Goldberg at the height of WCW's popularity. Not going to happen. Once they realized that, he fell out of favor and eventually out of WWE altogether.
10 Ric Flair
That's right, even a man widely renowned as perhaps the greatest performer in the history of the business had to get inspiration from somewhere. Following a plane crash early in Ric Flair's career, The Nature Boy had to drastically alter his in-ring style if he wanted to return to action, and that he did.
It was his return from what should have been a career ending injury that brought the Nature Boy persona that we all know and love, as Flair began the incredible path that he ended up on. The thing is there had already been a Nature Boy in the pro wrestling business, the famous Buddy Rogers. Ric openly admits that he took aspects of Buddy for his own character and it's safe to say that the 16-time World champion did a lot more with it than Buddy had managed to do.
9 American Alpha
Jack Swagger is not the only competitor to take inspiration from Kurt Angle. The former SmackDown Live Tag Team champions, American Alpha, have quite clearly taken a lot of aspects of what made the Olympic Hero such a big deal. Well, to be more specific Jason Jordan and Chad Gable may be paying homage to the two men that fell under Angle's tutelage, Team Angle.
With Kurt returning to the WWE fold as of late, there are even calls for him to repeat what he did with Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, by taking Jordan and Gable under his wing in an attempt to create Team Angle 2.0. American Alpha haven't exactly taken off since arriving on SmackDown so maybe having Kurt in their corner wouldn't be such a bad idea.
8 Hulk Hogan
If Ric Flair's inclusion on this list surprised you, then Hulk Hogan's appearance may render you practically unconscious. Yes, even The Immortal Hulk Hogan delved into professional wrestling's past in order to create his famous persona and start running wild along with Hulkamania. Hogan took inspiration for the Hulk character straight from a man known as Superstar Billy Graham. A big deal himself Graham was WWE champion in the late 1970s and is now a deserved WWE Hall of Famer.
You need only look at a photo of Superstar and it's clear to see that Billy Graham was definitely in mind when it came to putting together Hulk Hogan. Much like Flair, Hogan obviously did a lot more with the gimmick than the man he took it from, but both men unquestionably gave so much to the business of pro wrestling.
During the Ruthless Aggression Era a member of the famous Colon family was signed to WWE. Carlito Caribbean Cool. Carlito portrayed a slick bad boy from the Caribbean and after a while of being exposed to him, it started to become clear that he reminded us of somebody. That somebody was Razor Ramon. The demeanor with which he spoke. The cocky manner and even the way he walked.
Carlito would have been entrenched in pro wrestling from an early age due to his background and his family. The Bad Guy clearly had an influence on him as a youngster. One unwanted thing Carlito shared with Razor was the fact that despite prolonged stays in WWE for both men, neither of them managed to win a WWE championship.
6 Razor Ramon
Carlito neatly brings us on to the man he was paying homage to, Razor Ramon. While Carlito took inspiration from Razor, Ramon got the idea for his on-screen character from a very different place. Razor was a Cuban gentleman, despite Scott Hall himself having no Cuban descent whatsoever, and sprung from an idea Hall had while watching Scarface.
Scott famously went to Vince McMahon with the idea and had to describe what he meant due to the fact that the chairman had not actually seen Scarface. Needless to say, Vince loved the idea, and quite rightly so as the Razor Ramon character went on to be a huge hit. In fact, The Bad Guy was deservedly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame just a few years ago.
The only men to make two appearances on this list, The Road Warriors. Pretty impressive and it just goes to show how popular the duo were that so many teams have attempted to replicate the magic that Hawk and Animal created . Demolition had a lot more luck than The Ascension did with the gimmick mimicking. Why that is exactly is unclear but we can hazard a guess.
For starters, Demolition came around a lot sooner than The Ascension did. When Demolition were at their height, the hype of the Road Warriors was still very much alive and well. The Ascension, on the other hand, coming so many years later have fallen flat on their faces as they're simply taking advantage of the nostalgia left behind by Hawk and Animal.
4 Dolph Ziggler
At some point in the past, it really did appear that Dolph Ziggler was going to be a really big deal. The fans loved him and were behind him. He was a World Heavyweight champion. WWE and Ziggler somehow managed to miss the boat. Part of the reasoning behind that may have been when we the fans started to realize exactly what Dolph Ziggler was and still is.
A mishmash of other wrestlers styles and personalities. The two that stand out the most are Shawn Michaels and Billy Gunn. Ziggler looks like a combination of the two and shamelessly utilizes their move sets. Maybe if The Showoff had been a little more original he'd have had a longer stay at the top.
Ziggler has had a successful career, winning multiple titles and big matches. However, he simply hasn't fully reached his potential to be a top star.
3 Rob Van Dam
When Rob Van Dam came to WWE in 2001, I had little to no idea who he was as an 11-year old. I had never watched ECW as a kid so was never exposed to him. I genuinely believed he was related to action star Jean Claude Van Damme, even though their names were spelled differently and Jean Claude is from Belgium. I know, I'm an idiot.
But in my defense, they do also look kind of similar. Anyway, it turns out that they are of course not related at all. The real story behind it is much simpler. Rob Van Dam simply drew inspiration from the movie star that he made his namesake. He took his surname and his martial arts style of combat and adapted it so that it could successfully survive in the world of professional wrestling. Oh, and yes, the two have actually met in person.
2 The Miz
The Miz is currently swept up in a fierce rivalry with John Cena. During the feud, both men have toed the line between storyline and real life. One thing Cena did bring up while cutting one of his heated promos about The Miz was that The Awesome One has based the majority of his career around copying other superstars who have been successful.
The most notable one that Cena pointed out was Chris Jericho. It may not have been obvious to see previously but it was after Cena shone a spotlight on it. Cena isn't the only man Miz is winding up at the moment either. The feud between him and Daniel Bryan rages on and the former WWE champion continues to provoke Bryan by also stealing aspects of the SmackDown GM's gimmick.
1 D-Generation X
Nothing was more key to the success of WCW during the Monday Night War than the introduction of the nWo. Nash, Hall and Hogan got eyes on the product like WCW had never experienced before. Naturally, WWE needed a retort. Something to level the playing field. Enter D-Generation X. It really was no coincidence that WWE introduced a no-nonsense, troublemaking faction shortly after WCW and nWo began to move the needle over on TNT.
It's strange as well that the original members of DX were the other members of the infamous Kliq group, Nash and Hall of the nWo were also a part of that group. Fans and even members of the opposing factions still argue to this day which of the two groups was the better and more influential. That may be in doubt but one thing that isn't is the fact that DX probably wouldn't have even come about if the New World Order hadn't have forced WWE's hand.