Wrestling is known for its plethora of colourful characters. During their careers, wrestlers will go through a number of personas, angles and storylines that are good, great or awful. In some instances these gimmicks were effective because they made sense at a particular point, but in the case of others it was a poor career choice and could have been the only shot a performer had of achieving success in professional wrestling.
While today there are promotions all over the world, historically in WWE, TNA or WCW there have been innumerable instances of wrestlers being given poor gimmicks. However, ultimately, they were forced to work on these characters in order to get them over. For a number of those on this list who at one time were stuck with weak gimmicks, these were thankfully not what defined who they are or what they would become. In a number of these cases, the wrestler managed to overcome a bad gimmick to emerge into successful characters. Who made our list of forgotten gimmicks for current wrestlers? Here are 17 gimmicks you probably forgot.
He has earned multiple TNA world championships, and has come from essentially nowhere to establish himself as one of the most important men in TNA. Carter has faced the likes of Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy and Bobby Lashley, and earned more and more respect. He came into the company as Dixie Carter’s nephew, simply seen as the guy that had his aunt’s money and resources to support him. But he has proved that he is so much more than that. After spilling blood and becoming a face, Carter isn’t the same man that stepped into the company a few years ago.
What fans may not necessarily know is that before he sported the well combed short hair, Carter had long curly hair that would make him almost unrecognizable. Before his time in TNA, EC3 was Derrick Bateman in WWE, on their NXT program, before being released. WWE’s loss without question became TNA’s gain.
13 Naomi as a Funkadactyl
Naomi has the most colourful entrance of anyone in wrestling today. During her time in the company, she has undergone a great deal of change, has been a face, and a dastardly heel that was part of Team Beautiful and Dangerous alongside Sasha Banks and Tamina. Currently, she is once again a face as part of the Smackdown Live roster. It appears that her value and worth isn't simply isolated to her work in the ring, as she has been a part of the Total Divas program on the E Network.
But when she first arrived, somebody must have called her momma, to tell her that her daughter was a cheerleader. Alongside Cameron, she was a 'Funkadactyl, and gyrated and danced as she accompanied Brodus Clay, the 'Funkasaurus,' to the ring. Eventually, this cheerleader was given the opportunity to show her true value.
12 Dolph Ziggler as Nicky from The Spirit Squad
He may be known now for being the Show Off and a former World and Intercontinental champion, but Dolph Ziggler has had to scratch and claw in order to earn any semblance of respect in the ring. One of WWE's best workers has had to endure his share of the bad before he could even dream of getting the respect he receives today. At one time, Ziggler was simply known as Nicky, and managed to annoy fans all the world over as one fifth of the faction the Spirit Squad.
For those that are unaware, the Spirit Squad was a collection of male cheerleaders, an overly exuberant group of wrestlers that were incredibly annoying. They were remarkably disliked during their time together. If Ziggler deserves anything, it's credit for being able to overcome such awful booking early in his career to achieve the success that he has achieved.
11 Kane as Isaac Yankem and Fake Diesel
When you are known for being one character for the majority of your career, it's hard for anyone to see you as anything but that character. And so we have Kane, who has been surrounded by hellfire and brimstone for nearly twenty years in the WWE. While the character has at times appeared to have run its course, he has also reinvented himself on multiple occasions. Whether he has had ‘relationships', been completely covered to hide burns he suffered as a child, or has been a corporate flunky, Kane has managed to continue to be an effective part of the WWE roster.
However, before the emergence of Kane, he wrestled under the alias of Isaac Yankem, DDS, who was Jerry ‘the King' Lawler's dentist. Though he sometimes wore a mask, it was just a surgical one. This character had a brief feud with Bret ‘Hitman' Hart before being thankfully extracted. He was also Fake Diesel when Kevin Nash left the company for WCW.
10 Goldust as Black Reign
We were once told that we would never forget the name of Goldust, and for the better part of two decades fans have not. In this role, Dustin Runnels has undergone several changes, in order to stay fresh and relevant. While the character pushed the envelope initially with its rather androgynous nature, he has gone to places that are not only bizarre and eccentric, but also quite comical, one that families could enjoy. He has without question seen some unique variations in the character.
What fans outside the WWE may not know is that at one time, while he was competing for TNA, he wrestled under a different name, though he still wore makeup and dressed in a fashion that mirrored Goldust. He was Black Reign, and sported silver and black face paint and ring attire. It was easily forgettable, and the character remains a blip in Runnels' career.
9 Luke Gallows as Festus
The last name Gallows has been a part of this particular wrestler's career for years. During his previous stint in WWE he competed under the name Luke Gallows, a character not unlike what we see today, with a shaved head, goatee and tattoos. He did have somewhat of an edgier look, sporting a skull cap and leather vest. Although he competed for TNA under the name D.O.C., Director of Chaos, he still remained much like his WWE character. He then merged the Gallows name from WWE with Doc when he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling.
What isn't mentioned very often, if at all, is that prior to being Luke Gallows he was Festus in his early days in WWE. He was a somewhat challenged individual that would become unhinged when he heard the time keeper's bell ring.
8 Sami Zayn as El Generico
Ever since he has been a part of WWE, Sami Zayn has been the underdog from the underground. His infectious energy while on-screen certainly brings that same energy to the WWE's fanbase, both large and small. He first joined WWE's NXT brand in January of 2013, and since then has been presented as someone that scratched and clawed to not only earn success, but the respect of his peers. His rivalry with Cesaro was when fans really took notice of what he could do. Zayn captured the NXT championship and had a rivalry with Neville, along with Cesaro. However, his longest standing feud was against Kevin Owens.
While Zayn has become quite popular during his time in WWE, what fans may not know is that at one time he wrestled under a mask, under the alias El Generico. As El Generico, he achieved success in promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Ring of Honor.
7 Sin Cara as Hunico
He is currently a part of the WWE's Cruiserweight division, and before that was one half of the Lucha Dragons alongside Kalisto. However, prior to that, Sin Cara earned a name for himself flying solo in the ring. One of the most notable things to mention is that the Sin Cara character hasn't always been played by the same person.
Fans may be aware that, years ago, when Sin Cara came to the WWE, he was played by the Mexican luchador Mistico, who left the company not long after arriving. The character was said to be the brainchild of Triple H, and rather than ditching the character, the name and mask was given to another latino wrestler. The wrestler who took up the mantle previously performed without a mask, with a thuggish character, under the name Hunico.
6 The Shining Stars as Los Matadores
They may now call themselves the Shining Stars of the Caribbean, but Primo and Epico at one time weren't selling time shares in exchange for the chance to compete in higher profile matches. And although now they boast about smelling the sweet scent of the eucalyptus flower, they weren't always meant to be so over the top annoying. The cousins Colon actually used their real first names previously, and competed without a gimmick a number of years ago, managed by Rosa Mendes.
Fans may not realize that not too long ago they competed under masks while under the employ of WWE. They used the names Fernando and Diego, two masked men that were accompanied by a mascot named El Torito, and the team was called Los Matadores. Their characters were quite simple: they were essentially supposed to be Mexican bullfighters, despite their Puerto Rican roots.
After 25 years in the WWE, The Undertaker has pretty much done it all. He has been the first to compete in buried alive, inferno and Hell in a Cell matches. His legacy has been cemented by his matches, his championships, and his feuds. He has faced the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. One of the most notable streaks in pro wrestling was his incredible twenty one and zero undefeated streak at WrestleMania that only came to an end a couple of years ago.
For all The Undertaker has achieved, his career prior to being the Dead Man has been largely forgotten. Before he made WWE his home, he competed for World Championship Wrestling and was known simply by his real name, Mark Calaway. He was known simply as ‘Mean’ Mark Calaway, and also ‘Mean’ Mark Callous, though he still had the opportunity to demonstrate his agility and strength.
5 Triple H as Terra Ryzing
He is The Game, the Cerebral Assassin and the current Chief Operating Officer of WWE. When Triple H first came to WWE he was the Greenwich blueblood, a typical snobbish heel. Fans may recall the man that would bow each time he was in the ring and garner jeers from those in attendance. He has truly come a long way since that time, going from simply being the sidekick of Shawn Michaels to being the leader of Degeneration X. He feuded with Steve Austin, The Rock and Chris Jericho. He has even had the opportunity to compete against the icon Sting.
What is remarkable about Triple H is, his ability to reinvent himself. Prior to his time in WWE, fans may recall the clean cut and long haired gentleman who competed in World Championship Wrestling as Terra Ryzing. During that time, he certainly terrorized his competition.
He has been Long Island Ice Z for the better part of the last five years, and during that time he had built a following. Ryder is a talented in ring performer with a move set that completely works for him. Fans may recall his run at the ‘Internet’ and United States champion. They were even more astonished by his win at WrestleMania in the Intercontinental championship ladder match.
As part of the Hype Bros, Ryder is in the role of mentor as much as he is leader of his tag team alongside Mojo Rawley. He has certainly undergone a growth and progression since he first arrived on the main roster. When Ryder first debuted, he was simply a part of ‘Edge’s Army,’ an ‘Edgehead.’ He had long hair and appeared to be an Edge clone right down to his tights.
4 Fandango as Johnny Curtis
He is currently one half of the fashion police alongside Tyler Breeze, but Fandango has certainly seen his share of changes. Fans know him as a gyrating salsa dancer that is supposed to make the ladies swoon and the men hate him. Thankfully, he has finished his run as a singles wrestler, and is better suited for his current partnership with Breeze.
WWE fans only know of the Fandango persona. However, those who saw him during his time in Deep South Wrestling, FCW and NXT knew him as simply Johnny Curtis. There wasn't anything that stood out about him, other than the fact that he transitioned from competing in the fourth season of NXT to becoming a heel known as Jonathan Curtis. The rather generic nature of the character was a starting point for him, and an opportunity to get his feet wet while developing both his character and his work inside the ring.
3 4. Mark Henry as Sexual Chocolate
He is the world's strongest man and the king of the hall of pain, but since his debut many years ago, Mark Henry has gone through a number of character changes. Initially, the focus was on his weight lifting background and participation in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. He was a member of the Nation of Domination, led by Farooq and later The Rock. And at one time, Henry was presented as a love starved sex machine. It was without question a storyline that reflected the cutting-edge nature of WWE's Attitude era.
What fans witnessed was the birth of 'Sexual Chocolate'. The play on the colour of his skin and the 14A rated content really worked for Henry at the time. Whether it was his relationship with Chyna, or his relationship with Mae Young, Mark Henry's love machine persona was certainly a hit with the fans, but one some fans may have forgotten about today.
2 Chavo Guerrero as Kerwin White
For as long as fans have known him, Chavo Guerreo Jr has always remained true to himself and his family's name. He was first seen by fans in North America competing for WCW as part of the Cruiserweight division, closely tied to his uncle Eddie either as an ally or an adversary. When both Guerreros joined WWE they were again joined at the hip. They were a tandem that captured the WWE tag team championships on multiple occasions, and truly appeared to be having a great time with one another in the process.
However, after some time Chavo and Eddie split, and a feud ensued between the two. Afterwards, in need of reinvention, Chavo discarded the Guerrero name and became Kerwin White, a ‘white man' that would drive a golf cart and state ‘if it's not White, it's not right'. After Eddie passed away, Chavo reverted back to embracing the Guerrero name.
He is the eater of worlds and the leader of the Wyatt Family. When Bray Wyatt first emerged in FCW, and soon after NXT, he was a character that was all things dark. What is interesting to note, is that the Bray Wyatt we see today is nothing like the character he played years ago. For instance, when he first debuted in developmental, he acknowledged his relationship to his actual brother, Bo Dallas, but as time progressed he had to find his own identity.
During CM Punk's run as leader of the Nexus, a number of talented men were a part of the faction that may have otherwise been considered afterthoughts. Men such as Health Slater and David Otunga have maintained their same name, though their characters have changed over time. One member whose name and personality later changed was Husky Harris. Harris disappeared shortly after returning to developmental, and Bray Wyatt emerged. It is remarkable how the follower became the consummate leader.
1 TJ Perkins as Suicide
He is a former WWE Cruiserweight champion, and since his debut in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic he has been heralded for his incredible resume. Although he recently lost the title to Brian Kendrick, there is no shame in losing to someone the pedigree and background as Kendrick.
What fans may not necessarily know about Perkins is that the man we see in a WWE ring has had to endure some rather interesting booking in the past. While the bright colours capture our attention now, what is forgotten is that Perkins, once performed under a mask. As part of TNA, Perkins competed as the same wrestler with two different names. He first competed under the moniker of Suicide, a character that originated as part of the TNA video game, and then had his name changed to Manik as the name Suicide didn't suggest PG content.
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