As the WWE is in a new era, they still seem to look for old formulas to succeed. They still tend to fall into old habits. They still bring back former stars in hopes of giving ratings a boost and they still look for old ideas/gimmicks that worked in the past and try to apply it today. Take Jinder Mahal for example; how many times are we going to get a foreign heel that speaks ill of America in promos and then somebody steps up to defend the honor of the country?
It's a little baffling to believe that in 2017, WWE can't seem to find new ideas that would lead to feuds that feel fresher. In that same vein, there are also plenty of other wrestlers on the roster whom you can find many similarities between them and previous stars. There are some fans that to this day are clamoring for the next Stone Cold Steve Austin to emerge in WWE, but there's never going to be another Stone Cold. There's never going to be another Hulk Hogan, Undertaker or The Rock.
Now, let's look at some wrestlers today and the former star they remind us of from the past.
15 Dean Ambrose / Roddy Piper
Dean Ambrose has been compared to a few former WWE superstars such as Brian Pillman and Mick Foley. He's not as unpredictably volatile as Pillman and isn't putting his body recklessly on the line like Foley, but comparing him to the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper fits the bill very well.
Piper was a master of the microphone, able to dazzle his opponents with wild flurries of accusations and questions that left them reeling, and Dean is able to do the same. He has outclassed John Cena to his face and few would argue that when he has the microphone in hand there are few who can even keep up enough to challenge him. Similar to Roddy between the ropes as well, Dean is happy to brawl and throw flurries of wild punches to overwhelm the opposition.
Piper was never able to capture the major gold in WWE, however, and in that regard, Dean has eclipsed him. The Lunatic Fringe recently gained the final championship he needed to join the rarest club in WWE, as someone who has achieved the Grand Slam, winning every title he's been eligible for. However, you'll never hear someone argue Ambrose has eclipsed Piper as a performer.
14 Enzo Amore / Santino Marella
A big mouth, backstage problems, limited ring-skills but exceptionally funny? Enzo may call himself an original but he is much closer to his comedic predecessor Santino Marella than he might like to admit.
Enzo broke onto Raw with Cass at his side searching for tag team gold, but since the breakup and going solo he has developed into a viable midcard antagonist much like Santino did a decade ago. They both captured championships despite being 'undeserving' and used that platform to have entertaining segments weekly. After Santino's 'Milan Miracle', he quickly found that comedy and mic work was his true forte in WWE, and so far Enzo has stuck with what he knows which is very similar, flowing on the mic and helping the cruiserweight division to increased notoriety.
Both aren't hugely proficient between the ropes, with Santino being limited by neck injuries and Enzo concussing himself twice already, but sometimes in WWE a silver tongue can make up for physical limitations and these two are peas in a pod in that regard.
13 Jinder Mahal / Muhammad Hassan
Jinder Mahal is fortunate enough to be able to re-use a character that never saw it's full potential. It may not be as nuanced or ripe with social fodder as Muhammad Hassan's character was, but it's working well enough that Jinder Mahal has been able to ride it to perhaps the unlikeliest of WWE Championship reigns of all time.
Jinder has accused the WWE fans of being xenophobic, closed-minded bigots who can't stand to see a foreigner succeed in their world. Twelve years ago Muhammad Hassan did very much the same thing, just substituting Arab-Americans for Indians, both men being from North America notwithstanding. Add on top of that the small offsiders each brought to the ring, Jinder's Singh Brothers to Hassan's Daivari (older brother of current cruiserweight Ariya Daivari), the cultural headpieces and the style of speech they employed and it's easy to see the likeness between the two.
In the ring, both men have employed the Camel Clutch and used a brawling beatdown style with heavy impact offense often utilizing their knee. Hassan's career may have been cut short due to circumstance, but more than a decade later WWE is using those crib notes in the main event of Smackdown Live to make Jinder Mahal credible.
12 Big Cass / Test
Big Cass has a lot of the things WWE loves to see in their potential superstars. He's tall (an unteachable trait), has long blond hair, has some catchphrases and can get it done with fire in the ring. If he comes back from his recent injury with a more chiseled physique he'll be an almost identical presence to the late Andrew Martin, better known as Test.
Test had a moment where he was almost on the cusp of breaking into the main event when he was scheduled to marry Stephanie McMahon onscreen. Instead, Triple H swooped in, stole his thunder and Test was never the same again. Big Cass might have had a similar moment this year when he was supposed to finally put Enzo in his rearview mirror for good, but instead, injury struck and now Cass is the one trying to recover.
Whether or not the 7-footer comes back with a vengeance or is a blip on the radar, his skillset and appearance are a match for the former Intercontinental Champion.
11 The Revival / The Brainbusters
The Revival is named as such because of their throwback nature, embodying the best of the old school and using it to defeat the new school of WWE Raw tag teams. Their most obvious comparison from WWE's past is the Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard team, The Brainbusters.
Synonymous with smash-mouth, no-nonsense technical skill, The Brainbusters short run in WWE showed off their brutal style, and The Revival has taken that to the next level. They utilize the classic tag team tactics of quick tags, double-team moves, and cutting off the ring so their opponents can't make tags of their own. They even look somewhat like their inspirations, with gruff beards and hair cropped short or bald.
Currently out injured because of Scott Dawson's arm, it's only a matter of time before the team formerly known as The Mechanics comes back to finally revive their Raw tag team championship aspirations.
10 The Brian Kendrick / Chris Jericho (Circa 2008)
Both Brian Kendrick and Chris Jericho have come and gone from WWE a few times over the years, although Kendrick's departures were a shade less voluntary than Jericho's. Nevertheless, The Brian Kendrick's latest incarnation is eerily reminiscent of Chris Jericho's 2008 'self-righteous honest man' persona during his excellent feud with Shawn Michaels.
Angry, scowling, and endeavoring to teach his opponents the value of being ruthless, Kendrick is employing this strategy to try to corrupt his fellow cruiserweights and has succeeded in the case of Jack Gallagher. Also similar is that both are former lightning-fast, high-flyers who have transferred over to being ground-based technical submission practitioners.
Kendrick now also gives lengthy speeches on the values he admires, much like Jericho did. He's a shorter haircut, simpler outfit and wrapping his flag around himself as a scarf away from essentially cosplaying as the legend, albeit in an updated cruiserweight package.
9 Tyler Breeze / 'The Model' Rick Martel
Obsessed with fashion, preening every second the camera is on them, and occasionally using an aerosol spray to blind opponents, Tyler Breeze is a modern update of an established classic gimmick. The narcissistic pretty boy veneer suits him well, and the older version of those he parallels the most is 'The Model' Rick Martel.
Tyler's grandiose presentation through NXT and his early main roster tenure was taking all the classic model tropes and modernizing them. He used a smartphone camera instead of a mirror. He covered his face to avoid damage to his 'money-maker'. He had a mean streak that came out the moment his appearance was mocked or ridiculed. He was utterly obsessed with himself but unlike other narcissists like Rick Rude who wanted adulation from the females in attendance, Breeze and The Model wanted nothing to do with the common folk, being completely above them in every way.
Now teamed up with Fandango, Breeze has the chance to model his career further after Martel, who was able to capture several tag team championships over the course of a near decade-long run in WWE.
8 Dolph Ziggler / Billy Gunn
No doubt Dolph would prefer this comparison to be with either Shawn Michaels or Mr. Perfect, but when it comes to someone having so many of the tools and yet somehow always bumping his head against an upper ceiling, Billy Gunn is the better comparison.
Visually Ziggler and Gunn are very close, the blond locks that go frizzy after a long fought match, the impressive physiques and natural athletic talent mark them as being cut from the same cloth. Billy Gunn was also revered for his selling in matches, Jim Ross routinely calling him out as "the best pure athlete in WWE" even when his gimmick didn't allow him to show it. Dolph has shown himself to also be among the best, making offense and defense look devastating like few others can.
Unfortunately, some unfavorable comparisons round out this example. Dolph and Billy have both suffered highly embarrassing gimmicks in WWE, the Spirit Squad and Rockabilly respectively. Both were at some point earmarked for big things but were soon shunted back to the middle of the pack. Both were often outshone by people they associated with, Gunn among DX and Dolph when with AJ Lee, Vickie Guerrero and others. Overall Dolph may be the bigger missed opportunity though, and the bigger shame for what could have been had he been able to bring all his attributes together to break through.
7 Bobby Roode / Triple H
A less obvious one, but delve a little deeper and the similarities begin to pile up. Big spinebusters, knee drops, and an impaler type impact finisher. Huge, grandiose entrances with slow ponderous walks to the ring. Cued movements in time with their music, much more natural as heels and yet often for some reason positioned as mildly dickish faces. If Bobby Roode ended up in a storyline where he was revealed as Triple H's half-brother it would make more sense than not.
Both men began their careers with gimmicks centered around their cultural superiority and wealth, and have gone on to be designated ass-kickers whose bread and butter is methodical offense and intensity on the mic. Bobby Roode's 'Glorious' persona may not jive with Triple H's DX version, but Evolution Triple H and Bobby Roode speak the same language. It's all about owning the ring and being unassailably dominant.
When Triple H shaved his head it became vividly apparent that the two men are cut from the same cloth not only in style but in appearance as well. Now that they are both in the same company and by all reports Roode is one of Triple H's preferred projects, it's not inconceivable that the two may end up mirroring each other from across the ring at some point.
6 The Ascension / Demolition
The Ascension came onto the main roster and we're instantly accused of trying to ape The Road Warriors, otherwise known as The Legion Of Doom, Animal and Hawk. While that comparison was legitimate, the real connection is between the other Road Warrior pretenders, Demolition.
The Ascension, believe it or not, were world beaters before graduating to the Raw roster, but ever since coming up and ending up on SmackDown Live, they've been comedy fodder at best and unfunny jokes of the division at worst. Nevertheless, they resemble the Demolition duo of Ax and Smash enough that they could fit in three decades earlier with ease.
They've got a bigger bruiser type and a more technically sound grappler. They yell and roar and make a big commotion the whole way to and from the ring. Like Demolition who until recently were the longest reigning tag champs ever, The Ascension was the longest reigning NXT tag champs. Both teams were solid for a while, but over time became little more than afterthoughts, and The Ascension don't appear likely to buck the trend set by their forebearers.
5 Tony Nese / Chris Masters
All flexing, pecs and impressive physiques, Tony Nese is so strikingly similar to Chris Masters as he makes his entrance that it's a wonder they haven't brought Masters back to form a tag team. If Nese were to ever shave his beard, we're not convinced he isn't The Masterpiece passing himself off as a cruiserweight.
While looking very similar, the in-ring aspects are very far apart, Nese being true to his 'Premier Athlete' moniker and able to have exciting, high-flying matches far beyond the capabilities of Masters. But the two come back together when you begin analyzing their characters in WWE.
Masters was little more than a preening advertisement for going to the gym, his personality able to be summed up as 'enjoys-self' and Nese doesn't fall far from that tree. When Nese counts out his eight-pack each night it is exactly in line with Chris Masters repertoire, and just solidifies the resemblance.
4 Chad Gable / Daniel Bryan
He's a bit nerdy, a bit goofy, but undeniably intense and can throw wrestlers twice his size around with great technical proficiency. It may be too early to heap such praise on Chad Gable, but so far he is showing a great upside that could see the WWE Universe finding themselves behind him in much the same way as they do for Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan.
Physically comparable in size, Gable has that indefinable quality where you simply get behind him as he wrestles his opponents. Something about the way he throws himself into the fight regardless of the size echoes Daniel Bryan's entire appeal, their similarities becoming more evident the more we see of Gable. He recently on Smackdown had a sinister glower on his face that would've made 'I'm not the weak link' phase Bryan proud.
Gable already has the longish hair, so if he had a breakdown that caused him to grow a lumberjack beard we'd essentially have the Daniel Bryan Expy that could fill the American Dragon sized hole in wrestling fan's hearts.
3 Alexa Bliss / Trish Stratus
This one is a total compliment to Bliss since Trish was the previous generations best women's wrestler and if Bliss can finish her career in similarly high regard then a Hall Of Fame ring is certain.
It doesn't take a magnifying glass to see the striking likeness the two share, Trish's blonde bombshell look and body matched by Alexa Bliss. Trish was exceptional on the mic and commanded attention with both her risque attire and her ability to be either sympathetic and plucky, or an outright callous harlot depending on the storyline, and although we've only seen the dark side of Alexa so far on the main roster, her initial persona on NXT indicates that given the need she can get people behind her when the time comes.
Alexa has already racked up an impressive trophy case on both Raw and Smackdown, and if she continues in this vein she could be the one who eclipses Trish's seven championship reigns en route to her being the one the next generation of female talent aspire to be.
2 Cena / Rock
Uncanny isn't it?
For all the good to great matches Cena has managed to put on in the last few years, there's one person who he is perpetually in the shadow of and copying and that's his former Wrestlemania opponent, The Rock.
Both men have been reviled and loved by the WWE Universe, have had the fans turn on them in a WrestleMania blockbuster, and are primarily known for their mouths rather than their wrestling. Both have questionable looking submission holds, both litter their merch with catchphrase after catchphrase, and the similarities between The People's Elbow and The Five-Knuckle Shuffle are clear as day.
Even now Cena is following The Rock into being a part-timer who has aspirations of Hollywood megastardom. At this point, it would be more surprising if Cena did something The Rock hasn't done.
1 Kalisto / Rey Mysterio
The easiest inclusion on this list, if anyone is considered the current model of a classic, it's Kalisto. He recently captured the Cruiserweight Championship, much like his predecessor did years back, and WWE seems hell-bent on having his masks fly off the shelves as their resident luchador like Rey Mysterio was.
Neither man is known for their skill on the mic (Kalisto's "good lucha thing" promo being a prime example) but between the ropes, they have an almost anti-gravity ability to float and fly about like few others. Both men dedicated championship wins to Eddie Guerrero, both spent time mixing it up with heavyweights despite their natural cruiserweight body types, and both have been called giant/monster slayers.
Whether Kalisto can be as successful as Rey was is up to time and opportunity, but even now his two United States Championship reigns put him well above the other cruiserweights in the WWE and potentially able to follow Rey's figuratively large footsteps.