There's a saying out there that goes, there is no such thing as a new idea — that really all ideas are just the expansion or improvement of an old idea. In the wrestling industry, stealing ideas is like taking a bump because everybody does it.
Wrestling promotions will steal ideas from each other and wrestlers will steal ideas from one another. Even the WWE steals ideas from itself if an old idea worked really well or a hired talent wasn't able to see that original idea through to its end.
What's interesting about the whole stealing of ideas bit is that wrestling promotions don't just steal good ideas, they steal total flops. Maybe they feel like the first version of the gimmick wasn't placed on the right talent and that there's hope someone else can do it better. Or, maybe writers are just lazy. But, that someone would steal the gimmick of a wrestler who was dry, vanilla and boring seem ridiculous. It doesn't seem to stop anyone from trying.
Below are 25 wrestlers who are complete wannabes of a former wrestler or idea. While there might be subtle differences to avoid copyright infringement or being sued over intellectual property rights, the similarities are uncanny.
Can you think of any other wrestlers or ideas we might have missed? Feel free to comment and share and let us know who's not on the list but should be. Even better, maybe there are former gimmicks you think the WWE should copy now. If you could pick any wrestler with a character that should be rebooted, who would it be?
26 Bobby Roode to Rick Rude
Bobby Roode is glorious. He's the current NXT Champion, he could be a big star when he gets his call-up to the main roster and he's a veteran of the wrestling industry for many many years. But, his new character is not terribly original. He's a mashup of many stars who came before him, taking pieces of familiar gimmicks. From Ric Flair to Mr. Wonderful, he's using the trinkets of each to mold his profile. But, if you were going to pick one wrestler he's perhaps most similar to, it would be Rick Rude, who was one of the most respected wrestlers in the world.
Ravishing Rick Rude used to come to the ring with his glowing robe, his lengthy entrance and he'd have people act in awe of his presence. While Bobby came in with the last name Roode already established, I'm sure the WWE was happy enough to let people make the association. The only part Bobby Roode didn't add to his personality is the sexual nature of the Rick Rude character.
25 Booker T to The Rock
No disrespect to Booker T, who turned into a very special player in the wrestling industry, but there was a time at the end of his tenure in WCW and the start of his tenure in the WWE where he was very much like The Rock. He wore fancy shirts, often referred to himself in the third person and tried to think up wacky catch phrases. He even had a ridiculous move like the people's elbow which he called the spin-a-roonie and he went so far as to steal The Rock's finisher and called it the "Book End," which was basically "The Rock Bottom."
Fortunately, Booker moved onto to other gimmick ideas (not new ones of course) including being King Booker and he had a great career not always using The Rock as his source of material.
24 Fake Razor and Fake Diesel to Razor Ramon and Diesel
There's no denying that the fake Razor Ramon and the fake Diesel were blatant rip-offs of the original Razor and Diesel played by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash — they were meant to be. The idea was that the WWE owned the rights to the characters and that they didn't need the original guys to reproduce the gimmicks for two of their biggest stars. The WWE was wrong.
Fans hated the fact that the company tried to recycle old characters and the company thought they might actually enjoy watching them. Fortunately, the Diesel character was able to salvage a career out of the debacle as he later went on to become Kane. Most of the people on this list are knock-offs but these two were so badly copied that it was laughable.
23 Damien Sandow to the Genius
Damien Sandow first appeared in the WWE in 2012. When he arrived, he was condescending, snobbish and spoke to the WWE Universe using vocabulary he knew most wouldn't understand. He considered himself smarter than everyone and looked down upon others who couldn't match his intellect and charm. It was an awful lot like The Genius who was played by Lanny Poffo in the 1980's.
The Genius came to the ring in a graduation gown and cap, recited self-written poetry to the crowd and used words few could understand.
Both men wrestled rather flamboyantly and pranced or cartwheeled around the ring more than they actually wrestled and the idea was to hate them based on their style. Neither wrestler lasted very long and this is one of those cases where the original got a much better push than the copycat.
22 Apollo Crews to Bobby Lashley
If you wanted to make a tag team of two guys who you could pass off as twins, even though they aren't, you could make an argument that Bobby Lashley and Apollo Crews would be the perfect candidates. It's not so much that either intentionally stole the others gimmicks, but they are so similar in appearance, it's almost impossible not to make the connection.
Both were extremely agile for big men, both had that clean cut, baby face look and both weren't good talkers but got over because they were in fantastic shape and by appearance alone looked like they should be huge stars. Coincidentally, both didn't and aren't really faring well because they are too easy to overlook because they were boring. They had the total package on the surface, but dig a little deeper and both were missing a key ingredient — a personality.
21 Lex Luger to Hulk Hogan
When Hulk Hogan left for WCW, Vince McMahon and the WWE were in need of a star. Someone they could repackage and sell as the icon kids could look up to. They didn't choose Bret Hart, they chose to take Lex Luger, who was playing the Narcissist character and make him the company's biggest good guy.
He was promoted as completely pro-America, traveled around in a bus named the Lex Express and he recruited fans to get on his side, told everyone to do their best, even tried to win the hearts of the fans by bodyslamming Yokozuna (much like Hogan had done with Andre the Giant). It didn't catch on nearly as well and Luger bolted for WCW too. The one thing that was similar is that neither Hogan nor Luger were known as great wrestlers.
20 Blue World Order to the NWO
The Blue World Order was only a copycat or wannabe because ECW was trying to spoof the NWO. It was right in the middle of the time when ECW was challenging everything and everyone on their programming. In an effort to poke fun and piggyback off the success of the WWE and WCW, ECW created story lines that resembled successes in the larger companies and Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards and Nova created one of the best when they created the Blue World Order.
The group became extremely popular and while it was clear it was a ripoff of the NWO, no one could do anything because it was classified as a parody, which meant it could copy all the moves and mannerisms of the group and not get in trouble. It was a very creative move by Paul Heyman and ECW. It got the company a lot of positive attention.
19 Renegade to The Ultimate Warrior
There have been plenty of characters trying to piggyback off the success of The Ultimate Warrior character. Perhaps it's why Jim Helwig legally changed his name to Warrior in an attempt to ensure people understood he was the one and true original. There's the One Warrior Nation who toiled around the independents but was a terrible version of the gimmick (out of shape and old) and then there was the Renegade.
Because the Renegade made it to WCW television and WCW tried to fool fans into thinking they'd signed the real Ultimate Warrior, he got more notoriety, but he was still a very lame and obvious attempt to try and recreate the Warrior's magic. It was never going to work. He wound up jobbing to most of the WCW stars and was eventually released. Over the fact that his wrestling career was a pretty large flop, he actually ended his own life with a gunshot wound to the head.
18 Liv Morgan to Carmella
Carmella isn't really hip hop, but most fans will make the connection. Instead, she acts glam with the volume turned up. Liv Morgan acts Jersey to the core. Carmella wants to be known as FABULOUS and does the moonwalk dance. Liv comes out to a hip hop beat with hip hop gear, jeans, leather, the snap back turned around and a hoodie dancing. The same, but different.
Their accents aren't identical, but they're both pronounced. Carmella acts and talks like a stuck up princess using phrases like 'most fabulous chick in nxt', 'badda bing', or 'the hottest chick in the ring'. Liv talks hood while over-pronouncing her words, slang, hand gestures, and stuff she does.
There are slight differences, but likely too many similarities to have them both on the same show if Liv gets called up to the main roster. I guess they aren't totally the same. One is from Staten Island and the other is from Jersey.
17 Chris Masters to Lex Luger
Before Lex Luger was the American Hero with the Lex Express, he was the Narcissist Lex Luger. Perhaps the WWE felt they abandoned that gimmick too soon because when they brought in Chris Masters, he was a carbon copy of that character.
He was known as the Masterpiece and used to take out his opponents with a full nelson in his Masterlock Challenge. He was all about his appearance and used to pose for the fans demanding they admire his physique. Luger used to do the same, only he'd have Bobby Heenan demand fans take awe in his appearance so Luger didn't have to. The idea of this type of character isn't new and one the WWE is sure to reproduce again when they find the right talent with the muscle build to pull it off.
16 Ariya Daivari to Muhammad Hassan
The Arab-American or Iranian-American character who feels mistreated is definitely not new to the WWE. They've used similar character origins before and even characters like Rusev or Jinder Mahal, who hail from different areas, have some unique qualities. In this particular case, Daivari actually doesn't play up the anti-American card but he has a lot of other similarities.
Ariya Daivari is actually the real life brother of Shawn Daivari who used to manage Muhammad Hassan in the WWE. When Hassan left the WWE, it was because the company went too far and staged a terrorist storyline that saw Vince McMahon get in hot water with cable company who threatened to pull WWE from their schedule. This experience is probably the main reason Ariya Daivari doesn't go anti-America but you'd have to assume if the WWE thought they could get away with it, they'd probably try.
15 Bray Wyatt to Waylon Mercy
Sometimes repeating a gimmick is a good idea. When Dan Spivey brought the Waylon Mercy character to life in the WWE back in the 90's, it was a very cool idea that never got to see its full potential thanks to injuries that shortened Spivey's career. It was very much a what could have been scenario.
So, when Bray Wyatt needed to re-invent himself after failing with his Husky Harris character, he reached out to Spivey and asked if he could bring new life to a similar idea. A southern, backwoods kind of character he talked about all things evil and tried to creep out the WWE Universe. Spivey said yes and Wyatt took the character to places the Waylon Mercy character could have only dreamed to go.
14 Alberto Del Rio to JBL
Inside and outside of the ring, these two seem to be more similar than anyone could have ever imagined. Both were known as characters who made their living coming to the ring in lavish limos and fancy cars, had more money than everyone else, were smarter and were wrestling legends (at least self-proclaimed ones). Amazingly, Del Rio has also likely overtaken JBL in the real life total jerk/bully department.
Really, the only difference between the two on camera was that one of them was from Texas (JBL) and the other a Latino. Both acted the same and both were near identical characters on paper. JBL kept the gimmick into his transition to announcing. Del Rio kept the gimmick of being a pompous jerk in real life. Two peas in a pod these two were.
13 Funkasaurus to Flash Funk
A logical person would have watched how poorly the WWE Universe reacted to turning Too Cold Scorpio into Flash Funk and said no to repeating that mistake. Instead, the company decided to take a monster in Brodus Clay (fresh off making a horror movie for WWE Films) and turn him into a goofy, cuddly, disco dancing funk-master in Funkasaurus Rex and thought it would work.
The only thing good about the new version was his theme music. "Somebody Call My Momma" was actually catchy and it almost won the WWE Universe over. That is until they realized how silly the gimmick was. Not to be outdone, however, the WWE added Tensai to the group and made them a funky tag team. It was a poor choice in both instances.
12 American Alpha to the World's Greatest Tag Team
We'll never really know how much American Alpha was going to seem like The World's Greatest Tag Team because American Alpha just recently broke up. It wasn't even so much a break up as it was Jason Jordan moving to Raw to be with his "father" Kurt Angle (who coincidentally was connected to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin).
Both teams wore their pro-American singlets, they had a team member who was a gifted wrestler and one who was a more a must-see, high-octane type character. One was more muscular and one was more technical. It will be interesting to see if, after their split, the similarities continue. Shelton Benjamin was much more successful. Who will break out from this duo?
11 The Revival to The Brain Busters
If you're going to build a tag team that is a throwback to the old tag teams who personified classic tag team wrestling, there is no better team to pay homage to than The Brain Busters. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were tag team specialists before being tag team specialists were cool. They sectioned off the ring, kept their opponents in their corner and often cheated, even when they didn't need to. They had a simple look with the classic single-colored trunks and boots and were a no nonsense team who didn't do anything flashy. They just won matches.
This sounds a lot like The Revival who's slogan is 'No Flips, Just Fists." This team is so much like the Brain Busters it will bust your brain trying to not think of them together once you've made the connection.
10 Kalisto to Rey Mysterio Jr.
There are rumors that the WWE is talking to Rey Mysterio about a return to the company. If they are, it could be because they're feeling fans just aren't connecting to Kalisto who the WWE wanted to be their next Rey Mysterio.
Both Kalisto and Mysterio are high-flying cruiserweight sized wrestlers who were competing with the main roster talent and representing a number of Mexican-American and luchador fans. The WWE badly wanted both to be the main face behind their international marketing campaigns because it means big money in other markets. Both wear masks (not exclusively a unique trait) but both also had a flare for more elaborate outfits.
9 Ahmed Johnson to Ezekiel Jackson to Titus O'Neil
There is a cookie cutter mold that the WWE likes to use for a number of characters. We've already shown that wrestlers like Chris Masters copied Lex Luger and will show how Rusev copied Vladimir Kozlov. But, there is another look the WWE likes to hype often, even when the actual wrestling is terrible. It's guys like Ahmed Johnson or Ezekiel Jackson. And now, an argument can be made the WWE also tried to do the same with a guy like Titus O'Neil.
All are huge guys. All were muscular. All were bald and African-American and wore red tights (Titus didn't always wear red). Ironically, all wrestlers wound up being major disappointments and their time in the WWE ended sooner than expected thanks to injuries or just a lack of fan reaction. Titus is still trying to make a go of it, but it's not looking so good.
8 The Ascension to Demolition/LOD
When even your announcers are making fun of you as a team because you're too much like the Legion of Doom or Demolition, you know you have a problem. When you're jobbed out to former tag teams like The New Age Outlaws, APA or the NWO, and within a month of your debut, you know you're doomed.
The Ascension was a team that had the makings in NXT to be a big deal. Then they got called up to the main roster, labeled and never recovered. Even though they're still trying to make it, everyone seems to compare them to a poorly recycled and dated gimmick. If they have any hope of finding their groove, they'll likely have to ditch the face paint and crazy outfits.
7 Nia Jax to Awesome Kong/Kharma
Nia Jax is the one female in the WWE Women's Division who is a monster. She easily outweighs the other women in the division by a large margin, out powers them by a huge percentage and is unstoppable one-on-one. It's not unlike an old WWE alumni in Awesome Kong/Kharma.
Kharma used to just roll over everyone. The only problem was, her time in the WWE was short lived. She never reached her full potential and Jax has an opportunity to take her character type and reach far greater heights. There is even some slight and subtle references to Nia Jax not fitting in with the rest of the women. That was a signature of Kharma's WWE tenure.
6 Sanity to Decay
Sometimes promotions copy good ideas from each other. TNA Impact wasn't always known to come up with the best gimmicks. They often took former WWE wrestlers and tried to sell their marketability to their audience. It meant just giving them a name similar to the WWE one or calling them by their real names. Sometimes though, TNA would hit a home run.
When TNA came up with Decay, the faction was a huge hit. The WWE will never admit it, but you'd be a fool not to see the similarities between Sanity (NXT's newest group) and this TNA original. Both groups are eerie, creepy, not quite sane and even their music is meant to make you wonder where they come from. There are some real differences, but it appears the influences are there for sure.
5 Rusev to Vladimir Kozlov
The evil Russian (or any international country for that matter) who comes to the WWE and takes on the main babyface is not a new phenomenon. In fact, Vince McMahon has gone to this well and number of times and tried to repeat the idea over and over. It usually works too. It's pretty easy to hate someone who comes out and publicly bashes the country you love and destroys the wrestlers who represent that country. However, of all the instances the WWE used this technique, Rusev to Vladimir Kozlov seems the most obvious reproduction.
The biggest difference is Lana, who for the longest time went everywhere with the Bulgarian Brute. The other difference appears to be that the WWE gave up on Rusev too soon. Unlike most of the anti-American monsters that came before him, Rusev actually had the goods.
4 Asya to Chyna
Chyna took the WWE by storm. She was not just dominant for a female wrestler, she competed with the men and in some cases won easily. She made fans and other wrestlers view women's wrestling in a whole new way and she became a household name. With her success, it only made sense that WCW would try to emulate it.
If WWE could have Chyna, WCW was going to one-up them with Asya. She was arguably bigger and stronger, but she was not the same and didn't surpass the original hype created by Joanie Lauer (Chyna) and Chyna's involvement with DX. Chyna was in the WWE at the right time with the right group. Asya was just a bad knock-off. It was the kind of bad ideas WCW was known for having in their final years.
3 Dolph Ziggler to Shawn Michaels
Dolph Ziggler is quickly losing momentum. He's been on the losing end of a number of recent feuds, he hasn't been on WWE programming and he's claiming he's the best while talking a big game and not backing it up. So, I guess, comparing him to Shawn Michaels isn't fair. Michaels was none of these things.
Michaels picked up steam as he created the "Sexy Boy" character, he won more matches and multiple titles and he was actually considered the best ever to wrestle in a WWE ring. The only thing that might be similar between these two is the amount of backstage action or attention from the ladies both wrestlers got in their prime. Both were known for hooking up with the female talent. Still, Ziggler wishes he could say he was half as successful as Michaels became.
2 Charlotte Flair to Ric Flair
Of all the entries on this list, this entry makes the most sense. It's also ironic that Ric Flair didn't necessarily come up with the whole "Nature Boy" style gimmick on his own. He borrowed a lot from Buddy Rogers. But, to his credit, Flair did make it famous and now that he's done as an in-ring talent and his daughter is in the game, the passing of the torch seems like a logical next step.
Charlotte is taking full advantage. While still carving her own path, she's got the signature robes, the strut, the "WOOO!" and sometimes even takes a bump like her father. It feels less forced being passed from father to daughter than it would father to son so the WWE and Charlotte should milk this for all they can. Ric won't mind. He loves being remembered.
1 Ryback to Goldberg
Ryback hates the fact that people compared him to Goldberg. Goldberg probably hates the fact people compared Ryback to him. But, when the company (WWE) comes out and pushes your character as a huge good guy who wins squash matches, has the catch phrase "Feed Me More" instead of "Who's Next?" and wrestles about as poorly, the comparisons are bound to happen. When the chants started and Goldberg 2.0 decided to challenge the original Goldberg to a match, you knew Ryback was going to get typecast for the rest of his career.
Ryback will never be in the same league as Goldberg, so the comparisons stop short. Basically, everyone knew the WWE was trying to replicate the Goldberg phenomenon but the fans didn't buy into it for a second. Who could blame them? Ryback felt forced from day one. Goldberg was natural and just sort of turned into a superstar for WCW.
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