The major reason for the booming success of the WWE and professional wrestling in general over the years is because how larger than life the characters really are, helping to make the product so appealing to the fans. While wrestlers have to have a certain level of skill in the ring, they also have to have a good wrestling gimmick and show personality which will make them stand out from the rest and appeal to the audience as a face or a heel.
There have been many legendary gimmicks which made wrestlers into superstars during their time and also helped to make the product more entertaining, as these wrestlers luckily found the character which led them to the top of the ladder in the wrestling world. While many of the memorable gimmicks are very original and meant for only that particular wrestler portraying it, there have been many cases of gimmicks being stolen from other wrestlers or from pop culture. A few wrestlers stole a wrestling gimmick which wasn't that popular and turned themselves into stars with it, while fans might not have had a clue that these gimmicks were being ripped off.
20 Damien Sandow - Lanny "The Genius" Poffo Ripoff
Damien Sandow made many admirers when he initially arrived in the WWE as his "Intellectual Savior of the Masses" gimmick was absolutely fascinating and very unique as well. The arrogant Sandow would slam the audience and try to "educate" them every week and he wrote on this success by winning the Tag Team titles and the Money in the Bank Briefcase as well. But while many fans thought this was very original, it actually wasn't as this sort of a gimmick was portrayed by Lanny Poffo back in the 80s. Poffo portrayed "The Genius" gimmick as he enacted an arrogant heel who tried to showcase himself as "better" than the audience. Now Sandow portrayed the gimmick immensely well, but he probably got influenced by Lanny's under-rated work in the 80s and Sandow stealing off "The Genius" gimmick is something not everyone would know.
19 The Ascension - The Road Warrior Clones
The Ascension was a team to look out for when they were in NXT, where they dominated for quite a long time as these two brutes who bulldozed their way past every other tag team in their time. They looked very promising during their NXT days but it all came tumbling down for them once they were promoted to the main roster, where they had a change of gimmick and look as well. They started to wear face-paint and costumes which resembled a lot like The Road Warriors, one of the greatest tag teams of all time. This also saw a lot of criticism for how they stole their gimmick and the Ascension crumbled under the pressure of the main roster and quickly turned into jobbers. They are yet to recover from that, as a change of gimmick into something original is required to save their careers.
18 Glacier - Complete Ripoff Of Sub-Zero
WCW created quite a lot of impeccable gimmicks during its prime in the 90s, but it also created some very silly stuff which they initially made to look very good due to the hype and build-up. Glacier was one of those, as this wrestler from a "different realm" wore some heavy blue armor to the ring and was masked as well. He had some unique pyros go off during his entrance and was hyped up highly by WCW, who seemingly created something unique. But what many in those days didn't know is that his character was actually a complete rip-off of Mortal Kombat's Sub-Zero. Many people who played that epic game have to know how cool Sub-Zero really is and WCW shamelessly robbed that character and put it on their show through Glacier, who quickly became a complete bust.
17 Abyss - A Bulkier Version Of Mankind
Abyss has been a terrifying figure in TNA for a long, long time now as he is the real hardcore legend for the promotion and has been doing some great work eve since being hired in 2002. While he may be donning a weird gimmick right now, everyone will remember Abyss as the original, masked monster who plowed through much of his competition and also took some heavy spots with the thumbtacks and other objects in extreme matches. His gimmick isn't really that original, as he stole it from Mankind who was the actual Hardcore Legend back in the 90s. Mankind was somebody who also became popular due to death-defying spots and Abyss is just a heavier and heel version of Mankind as TNA ripped off from WWE on this gimmick but much to Abyss' credit, he made it work spectacularly.
16 Bray Wyatt - Ripped Off Waylon Mercy
Bray Wyatt has to be one of the most fascinating characters the WWE has produced in a long time as this mystical, supernatural character has been terrorizing people ever since debuting a few years ago. After he failed to make an impact as "Husky Harris", Windham Rotunda was turned into Bray Wyatt with his own "Wyatt Family" with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Wyatt may have seemed like an impeccable, original character but he actually wasn't, as a similar character had been portrayed in the 90s through Waylon Mercy. He was mystical and creepy like Wyatt and ironically, Mercy was also a rip-off of Cape Fear's antagonist Max Cady. Wyatt has himself admitted having taken Mercy's blessing in portraying his character and is doing a darn good job at it as well.
15 The Renegade - A Wannabe Ultimate Warrior
The Renegade came as a surprise to many wrestling fans in the 90s when Hulk Hogan hyped up the debut of an "Ultimate Surprise" before his match at Uncensored against Vader and while everyone thought it's the Ultimate Warrior, it turned out to be The Renegade. He quickly got Jimmy Hart as his manager as he went through many heels where he started to resemble the Ultimate Warrior in absolutely everything. He was a bad copy of the Warrior who had seemingly retired from wrestling and the fans got very angry when they had to see this cheap rip-off trying to become the Warrior each and every week. The Renegade later had to give up the gimmick he stole and became a jobber as this idea backfired very badly and ended The Renegade's career before it could even properly begin.
14 John Morrison - Wannabe Jim Morrison
John Morrison was quite the talented guy when he came to the WWE and also saw a lot of success initially as part of MNM with Joey Mercury and Melina. He was known as Johnny Nitro back then and won the Tag Team belts with Nitro and later with The Miz as well, before he got repackaged by the WWE. His name was changed to "John Morrison" who came out looking like a rockstar with a cool, guitar played theme and was charismatic as ever. But the problem is that this wasn't really original, as he actually stole the gimmick from a certain legendary musician, Jim Morrison. John resembled Jim on many aspects in the gimmick and even seemed to pay homage to the guitar bit during his theme and even though his gimmick was stolen, one can applaud on who he took it from.
13 Alberto Del Rio - A Mexican Version Of JBL
Alberto Del Rio was heralded as quite the top talent when he was initially signed by the WWE who decided to make him a big star right from the get-go. He was "Mexico's Greatest Export" for the WWE at the time and was given the gimmick of a rich man who had his own chauffeur and came out in expensive cars every time. He portrayed the gimmick of an arrogant, rich heel but that wasn't really original as it had been portrayed before. John Bradshaw Layfield portrayed the gimmick of a rich, arrogant heel back in the day when he came out on his own limo and bought out people to his advantage. Del Rio was pushed pretty hard which saw him become WWE Champion as well, but his gimmick was anything but original because of fans knowing a similar one being portrayed by a certain JBL.
12 Chris Masters - A Modern Day Lex Luger
"The Masterpiece" Chris Masters was quite the sensation when he debuted in WWE as he had an admirable physique and his "Masterlock Challenge" and wrestlers inability to get out of his submission hold made him quite the star for the company. Masters had quite the amazing physique because of which he was pushed, but his gimmick wasn't really that original at all. Masters portrayed a gimmick which had previously been portrayed by Lex Luger in the 90s as he also had quite the buffed up figure in his WWE days and Masters gimmick had an uncanny resemblance to him. WWE probably saw the potential to make Masters the next Luger and gave him this gimmick, but it backfired badly as the audience lost interest on him quickly and Masters had to become a jobber to the stars afterward.
11 Razor Ramon - Based On Scarface
Razor Ramon was one of the coolest characters in wrestling when he debuted for the WWE as this Cuban-American bully who called himself the "Bad Guy". He became very popular despite being a heel during the time because of how cool his character really was and it escalated him into becoming a top star despite not winning the WWE Title. But he did make the Intercontinental Championship more prestigious through some amazing matches as this gimmick was what made him. But the gimmick wasn't really original as it was created from the characters of the hit film "Scarface", Tony Montana and Many Ribera. Ramon's mannerisms were also stolen from the characters as this gimmick may have been a rip-off from the legendary film, but Ramon didn't let anyone notice the similarities because of how well he portrayed The Bad Guy.
10 Judas Mesias - A Poor Man's Undertaker
Judas Mesias was actually a prominent wrestler in the Mexican Wrestling circuit before he arrived at TNA, as he was this high-flying risk-taker who loved to entertain fans. But things completely changed for him once he joined TNA, where he was given the gimmick of an unhinged man who had no fear and did some supernatural stuff as well. Judas was the literal copy of The Undertaker as TNA tried to take a gamble and create their own "Deadman" in Judas but completely failed at it. To make things worse, Mesias' debut in TNA was when he emerged from under the ring and attacking Abyss in his match against Kurt Angle. This obvious rip-off of someone legendary like the Undertaker wasn't taken nicely by fans at all and Mesias' TNA career would end because of it as well.
9 Alexa Bliss - Inspired By Harley Quinn
Alexa Bliss has stormed into the top of the WWE like a blistering wind as her transformation from an "Angel" face on NXT to a wicked heel on the main roster has been quite stunning. The Wicked Witch of WWE used a lot of tricks to make herself even eviler as she started to don different costumes and hairstyles to make herself look evil yet hot at the same time. The RAW Women's Champion may be one of the most interesting characters right now, but her gimmick is an obvious rip-off of famous comic-book character Harley Quinn, who was portrayed by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad last year. Bliss ripped off the hairstyle and costumes of Quinn and actually managed to pull it off really well in a PG WWE, as she's gaining the rewards of her hard-work now.
8 Dolph Ziggler - Wannabe Shawn Michaels
Dolph Ziggler didn't really have the most prominent of beginnings in the WWE as he was actually put in "Spirit Squad" as Nicky during her initial run with the WWE, but things started to get better once he was repackaged. Ziggler was the "Show-off" who resembled Billy Gunn, but his gimmick was actually which seemed to everyone like that which a younger Shawn Michaels would portray. He was the heart-throb of ladies like Michaels and loved to show-off like HBK himself and to make things even more obvious of him ripping-off Michaels, WWE also introduced Big E as his bodyguard during his World Title Run(much like HBK had Nash). Ziggler never really received that big push to the top because of his lack of originality as many saw him being a wannabe Shawn Michaels and this has hampered his WWE career very badly over the years.
7 Booker T - Emulating The Great One
Booker T was one of the more entertaining and talented superstars in WCW when he started to gain popularity when he was tagging with his brother Stevie Ray as part of "Harlem Heat". Booker had the charisma and the in-ring skills but needed a better gimmick for WCW to push him forward, as he started to wear "cooler stuff" like goggles and t-shirts in segments to win over fans. He continued this when he went to WWE and fans couldn't help but notice how his gimmick resembled that of The Rock. Booker had indeed stolen The Rock's gimmick and tried to make it his own while the Great One was still in the WWE and this didn't bode well for him once he jumped ships, as he lost his "main-event" reputation and would be a mid-carder for many years before becoming King Booker.
6 Paul Burchill - A Poor Take On Jack Sparrow
Paul Burchill was a promising talent when he arrived at the WWE and spent many years in developmental before he was given the main roster call, but his initial gimmick was just not good enough to make him popular. So Vince McMahon decided to repackage him by giving him the gimmick of a pirate who slid in the ring on ropes and acted "piratey" to provide a unique character in WWE. But what McMahon didn't know that he had actually ripped off the character of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Burchill's enactment made the similarity even more obvious. The gimmick was scrapped a few months after Burchill started portraying it, but this terrible stolen gimmick was enough for fans to turn on him and it destroyed his WWE career then and there.
5 Ryback - A Failed Goldberg Clone
"The Big Guy" Ryback was quite the sensation when he was repackaged from his NXT days to the monster who squashed through much of his opposition. Ryback was pushed heavily in his early days when he squashed all the jobbers and lower-talent and was undefeated for many months as he has the looks and gimmick which resembled that off Goldberg. Like Goldberg, Ryback was also bulky and powerful and McMahon tried to steal his gimmick and give it to the Big Guy. But when things started to go tough when he was pushed into the main-event, Ryback crumbled and McMahon made him lose matches and later become a mid-carder. Despite having the resemblance, Ryback failed to become another Goldberg for the WWE and that disappointment kept him out of the main-event till the rest of his WWE career.
4 Sting - Stolen From The Crow
"The Icon" Sting was definitely one of the most interesting characters in WCW during its peak as he was the lovable wrestler who painted his face up for matches but things started to take a turn for him once the NWO invaded WCW. The company needed a "protector" from NWO's menace and Sting had to change himself up for that, as he opted to paint his face black and white as well as carrying a baseball bat with him. This character absolutely mesmerized wrestling fans but what many didn't know that the gimmick was actually robbed by Sting. He got the idea for the gimmick from the movie "The Crow" where the protagonist has a face paint like that and Sting started to portray that character on screen and going by how much of an amazing job he did with the character, not many really complained about it.
3 Ric Flair - A Buddy Rodgers Admirer
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair has to be regarded as one of the greatest of all time not just because of his stunning wrestling skills but also because of his charismatic character which took him to the top of the wrestling industry. His "Nature Boy" gimmick was irresistible for everyone as he reaped up many titles and fame with that, but as it goes, Flair's gimmick is not original at all. Flair had actually taken the gimmick from Buddy Rodgers, who was a legend himself in wrestling during the 50s and 60s. Rodgers was known as "The Nature Boy" well before Flair become a star and had the figure-four headlock as his finisher as Ric copied not only his gimmick but his attitude and finisher as well. At least to his credit, Flair paid homage to Rogers by perfectly portraying the gimmick and making it one of the best wrestling gimmicks of all time!
2 D-Generation X - WWE's Version Of The nWo
When WCW was running away with the ratings battle in the late 90s, WWE needed to up their game and introduce some stunning characters who could help to shift things into their favor. They created a unique character in Stone Cold Steve Austin, but needed more and went onto creating one of the most entertaining stables of all time in D-Generation X. Led by Shawn Michaels and Triple H, it also had the likes of Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and Chyna and the five was an absolute menace. But something which fans caught onto later on was that DX was actually a rip-off version of the New World Order, which was the best thing about wrestling back then. WWE tried to win the ratings battle with their own version of nWo and while they did overtrump WCW later on, DX's idea was definitely stolen from nWo.
1 Hulk Hogan - Superstar Billy Graham Clone, Brother
Hulk Hogan is quite possibly the solo reason why professional wrestling and the WWE attained mainstream attention in the 80s, as The Hulkster had a lot of popularity during the time and helped take professional wrestling to another level. He was this American hero who loved to flex and show off his muscles and won every match for his country as his gimmick remains as one of the best of all time. But Hogan had stolen his gimmick from Billy Graham, who was his mentor and allowed it to happen. Graham was a professional body-builder who attained success in wrestling in the 70s and guided Hulk to greatness. Hogan even used the word "brother" in his promos which was started by Graham and ripping off Graham's gimmick turned out to be a brilliant move on Hogan's part as that gimmick helped him become the top guy in wrestling.