In the world of professional wrestling, careers can be made or destroyed based on the character or gimmick that a wrestler portrays. A gimmick like “The Ringmaster” can destroy a career, while portraying “Stone Cold” Steve Austin can make a wrestler into a Superstar. Sometimes, no matter how long a certain wrestler has portrayed a particular gimmick, and no matter how familiar that gimmick is with the fans, it is necessary for certain wrestlers to push the reset button on their careers and to take a shot a stardom with a new gimmick.
Many wrestling stars have realized that whatever it is that they are doing is not working, and they have reinvented themselves and achieved stardom. Husky Harris was floundering, but when he became Bray Wyatt, he became one of the top stars in professional wrestling and a World Champion. That is not to say that any new gimmick will produce a World Title, but anything has to be better than floundering in a gimmick that is not getting over with the fans or with the decision makers.
Therefore, here are WWE talents who are in desperate need of new gimmicks in order to possibly turn their careers around.
17 The Shining Stars
Eddie Colón (Primo) and Tito Colón (Epico) began teaming in November of 2011, and by January of 2012, they were Tag Team champions. Their gimmick at the time was two Caribbean wrestlers and cousins. Primo’s father is the legendary Puerto Rican wrestler Carlos Colón, and Epico is Primo’s cousin, so these two men are second-generation wrestlers who were trained by one of the best ever. As a second-generation tag team, the Colóns were a quality duo, but after losing the tag titles, they took on a manager and a valet, they became heels, matadors, and now they sell time shares, but unfortunately, they do not win matches or get over with fans.
The Colóns need to be repackaged, but with something simpler. They need to be allowed to get over as themselves, not as bullfighters or salesmen. They are talented wrestlers and, after the brand split, each show’s tag team division is weak and is crying out for a team to step forward and become the stars of the division. These guys can do it if they can be taken seriously.
16 T.J. Perkins
When T.J. Perkins wrestled as the Suicide character in TNA, his gimmick was that of a video game character come to life, and in that character, Perkins won the TNA X-Division Title. In WWE, performing under his own name, his gimmick is that of a video game come to life. In WWE’s newly revamped Cruiserweight division, Perkins became the company’s first Cruiserweight champion, but his character simply doesn’t resonate with the fans, and seems to be holding Perkins back from being the star that he could possibly be.
Many successful professional wrestlers state that the best gimmicks are extensions of the wrestler’s personality “with the volume turned up”. The problem with Perkins is that no one truly knows what his personality is. He spent much of his career under a mask, but Perkins needs to find a gimmick that is more like T.J. Perkins so that he can become an even bigger star.
Outside of WWE, Ron “The Truth” Killings was a two-time NWA World Champion and a three-time tag team champion, twice as a member of the 3Live Kru with B.G. James and Konnan. In WWE, Killings has been a talent who seems more interested in performing his self-penned rap song than in becoming the star that he was in TNA. Killings has spent much of his career in WWE as a comedy act who has never been taken seriously as a performer, even when he teamed with The Miz.
At age 45, it is unlikely that Killings will ever be one of the top stars in wrestling, especially in WWE, even though at the same age, Christopher Daniels is the ROH World Champion. However, Killings is in need of a gimmick change, one that takes him away from playing the clown. He needs to be taken seriously as a performer, both in and out of the ring and possibly, he could be in the same position as Christopher Daniels.
14 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox is not a very good wrestler, but that is something that is correctable with proper training and time. However, even though she is not a good wrestler today, she has been through a few bad gimmicks, and currently, she is being used as the prize in a storyline between Cruiserweights Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander. Unfortunately, this storyline follows Fox’ stint as a member of Team Bella, and a tantrum gimmick where she would throw a fit after losing matches.
Not every woman on the roster needs to be in the ring, and if being a wrestler is not something that Fox is suited for, she needs a new gimmick that showcases other talents that she might have. Fox needs something that will allow her to not be overlooked on the roster, either as a wrestler or as a manager, valet or performer in some other area. That way, she can make better use of her talents.
13 Titus O’Neil
Outside of WWE, Titus O’Neil is hailed for his charity work and for being an excellent spokesman for the company. In 2015, Titus was named Celebrity Dad of the Year for being a stellar father to his two sons. Within WWE, Titus is a strong and talented performer whose career has been filled with failed tag teams, and a gimmick where he begs to be a member of The New Day group.
Titus needs to be featured as the good guy that he is away from the ring. He needs to be put into a situation where his mic skills can be utilized, and his natural physical gifts can be displayed. Titus could be a star if pushed properly, but it is possible that he will never recover from the incident during the Daniel Bryan retirement. He was already punished for it, but he might never truly get out of the doghouse.
12 Darren Young
Darren Young entered WWE as a member of the original Nexus group, and from there, he was morphed into a tag team with the aforementioned Titus O’Neil. Once the team split up for good, Darren embarked on a crusade, piloted by Bob Backlund, to “Make Darren Young Great Again”, which seemed oxymoronic because Young was never great previously. Through all of this, Young was a supporting player; first to Wade Barrett in the Nexus, then to Titus in their tag team, and finally to Bob Backlund, who seemed to be the central figure in the “Make DY Great” storyline.
Darren needs a gimmick that will allow him to shine as the central figure. He is a better than average in-ring performer, but his mic skill are lacking. He is one of the WWE talents who could desperately use a manager, but managers are no longer employed in professional wrestling, at least where WWE is concerned. Without the manager, he needs to work on his interview skills, and then be placed in a situation where his problems were solved in the ring, where he excels.
11 The Ascension
Many tag teams seemed to have based their gimmicks on the legendary Road Warriors, and the Ascension team of Konnor and Viktor appeared to be just another Legion of Doom tribute band. Their introduction to the WWE audience saw them acknowledging their similarities to Demolition and LOD, while at the same time disparaging those teams. Unfortunately for the Ascension, they lost many of their matches, and any credibility that they brought with them from NXT, where they were the longest reigning champions in the brand’s history.
The company needs to either split up the team, giving each man the opportunity to sink or swim on their own, or they need to repackage the team into something that does not resemble the Road Warriors. With the Tag Team division in WWE being in as poor a state as it is, especially on the SmackDown side, staying a team seems to be the best option, but the team needs a different look.
10 Eva Marie
For months, Eva Marie has been introduced in vignettes, and even given several ring entrances, only to beg off of her matches before actually competing. Throughout her entire WWE stint, Eva Marie’s gimmick has been that she has a unique look, and that she can match her clothes to her hair. She has never been talked about as an above average wrestler, so she is basically a personality, and her new gimmick needs to accentuate that.
As discussed with Summer Rae, Eva Marie needs a gimmick that allows her to be used in a non-wrestling capacity. The company has recently hired a number of backstage interviewers, and it was possible that the company could have used the women who were not talented wrestlers in those roles, like Eva Marie. WWE just needs to help Eva Marie to find her place in the Universe, but that place cannot be in the ring, because she truly has no business there.
9 Sin Cara
The individual who currently portrays Sin Cara is the second individual under that mask in WWE, because the original was released due to wellness violations. The wrestler currently portraying Sin Cara is Jorge Arias, the man who portrayed Hunico when the two Sin Cara's were feuding. Currently, as Sin Cara, Arias went from being a member of the Lucha Dragons, to just another member of WWE’s Cruiserweight division. Arias could use a gimmick makeover, more likely, without the mask.
As Hunico, Arias was a compelling character with a dimension that did not exist in WWE. As Sin Cara, he is a faceless luchador who never speaks and seldom wins. With a new gimmick, Arias might have the chance to show some personality and to set himself apart from the other Cruiserweights in the company. As it stands now, many of the Cruiserweights are forgettable characters, but a gimmick change here could be just the shot in the arm that the division needs.
8 Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins returned to WWE with a gimmick similar to the Chuck Norris ad campaigns. Prior to that, he was everything from a member of Edge’s posse to a tag team wrestler with an assortment of partners. Curt Hawkins never actually hit his stride in WWE, but outside of the company, he was a champion several times over. His return incited more groans than cheers from the WWE Universe, and a gimmick change here would be a welcome change to a character that has not and perhaps will never get over with the fans.
WWE has a number of performers whose gimmicks are played for laughs; and the presence of Curt Hawkins just adds another clown to the WWE circus. A gimmick change might give him the opportunity to be taken seriously, as many others need to be in the company. There is no real need for clowns in a professional wrestling company, so guys like Hawkins and Killings need to be treated as serious athletes.
7 Summer Rae
After the end of the storyline where Summer Rae found herself involved in the love triangle between Rusev, Lana and Dolph Ziggler, the fans realized that Summer had gone from Fandango to Dolph Ziggler to Rusev, back to Ziggler and then to Tyler Breeze. Unfortunately, the fans also realized that this was the extent of Summer Rae’s talent because she is a below average wrestler and has little to no microphone skill. Summer Rae needs a new gimmick, but no one has any idea what her current gimmick is.
Whatever WWE does with Summer Rae, the writers need to make sure that Summer does not end up in another love triangle, or love square, or whatever polygon the company might have been thinking about. If Summer is neither a talented wrestler nor interview, her next gimmick might also have to include a change of assignment. There are other ways to utilize her, and the company just has to figure out which one would work best for her.
6 Heath Slater
From being a member of a Three-Man Band, to being a social outcast to be a guy with a trailer-load of kids who is fighting for his job and the ability to feed his family, Heath Slater has already gone through a number of less-than-stellar gimmicks, and that is not including his time with the Nexus. Slater is currently a tag team wrestler whose team was the inaugural SmackDown Tag Champs, but is currently irrelevant.
Many of Slater’s gimmicks have played upon his southern upbringing, and that might be part of the problem. Slater, as he had when he was with the Nexus, might need a gimmick that has nothing to do with him being from the South, just as Roman Reign’s gimmick never mentions that he is Samoan. Slater needs to be viewed just as a wrestler, not as a wrestler from the South whose most bankable trait is the fact that he is from the South.
5 Dolph Ziggler
“The Showoff” is a former multi-time World Champion, and he has faced every top star in WWE during his time with the company. Seemingly, there would be no need for a talent like that to change his or her gimmick, but sadly, Ziggler seems to have overstayed his welcome, and not only is he not being pushed much by the company; he seems to have lost the appeal of the fans. Usually when that happens, a gimmick change seems to be the only answer to the problem.
Ziggler needs to become a new person. Being “The Showoff” indicates that he is talented in the ring, but when his matches start, the fans will realize that without having to be told. Ziggler needs a gimmick that speaks more to his own personality, and his ring work will be an addition to his overall package. “The Showoff” just isn’t working for the fans anymore, and Ziggler badly needs a change.
4 Jinder Mahal
When Jinder Mahal’s initial storyline with the Great Khali ended, so did Mahal’s relevance. Mahal has been nothing more than enhancement talent since that point, and even during his recent work with Rusev, it was difficult to take Mahal seriously. Mahal is a decent talker, but he is one of the many WWE talents who could use a manager. A manager could start the interview, as Heenan used to for Rick Rude or Mr. Perfect, and then Mahal could finish.
If WWE does not wish to use a manager, then Mahal needs a gimmick that takes advantage of his in-ring ability, and something that ignores his nationality. More than anything, Mahal’s gimmick needs to be something that displays him as a winner, because no matter what he has done in WWE so far, it has included him losing more matches than he has won, and winning needs to be the priority for his character.
3 Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan started out as the third member of the Wyatt Family, left for a brief spell, and after a face turn and singles run, he returned to the Wyatt Family before suffering an injury. While he was out, Braun Strowman was drafted to Raw, and Bray Wyatt was sent to SmackDown with Luke Harper. Strowman became a force on Raw; Harper left the family and made a face turn, and Wyatt became the World Champion on SmackDown. When Rowan returns, he needs to find his place in the WWE Universe.
At his size, Rowan needs a gimmick that recognizes that he is an athletic big man, and maybe gives him an opportunity to develop some personality as Strowman did. Each member of the Wyatt Family has in-ring ability, and Strowman has shown that he can become a decent talker. Rowan needs to do the same; maximize his in-ring ability and improve his mic skills.