There are a few things anyone that steps foot in one of WWE's wrestling rings has to have. They have to have a certain athleticism, charisma, ability to speak, and of course a character to play, or a gimmick, which might be the most important aspect any performer needs.
A gimmick can make or break a performer in the wrestling business. A good gimmick can make an average performer better than most and a good performer great. But, vice versa, a bad gimmick can put an above average wrestler near the bottom of anyone's list. It all really comes down to the performer though, because how many people could have made an Undertaker one of the all-time great gimmicks?
In this list, we take a look at the best and worst gimmicks in the WWE in today's New Era. In a list like this, you have to take the person that utilizes the gimmick into account. If someone like Santino Marella had been given the gimmick of "The Beast," there is very little chance it would have gotten over to the acclaim Brock Lesnar has.
You also have too look at how someone is booked versus the actual reactions they get. Someone like Roman Reigns is supposed to be a supreme babyface, but more often than not, he gets boo'ed out of the arena. So does that mean his gimmick has failed and is one of the worst in the WWE today? Here's a look at the eight best and seven worst gimmicks of the WWE's New Era.
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15 Best: The New Day
Awwwwwww readers, don't you dare be sour. The New Day is easily one of the best acts in WWE over the last year and a half. When Xavier Woods convinced Big E and Kofi Kingston to form a group, there were high hopes. Then they debuted on SmackDown and almost instantly everyone thought the group would be a flop. Since then, the stable has become two-time Tag Team Champions and are currently the second longest reigning champions ever with a reign of over 400 days.
What makes them so successful is the amount of fun they have in the ring and the ability to spread that to the viewers. They have constantly been able to evolve, turning heel soon after their debut when no one wanted to see them. It was so bad, they would have been in contention for the worst gimmick at the time. But now, as babyfaces, they rule the tag team division, mostly due to the characters they have created for themselves. I guess it was just the power of positivity that has gotten the New Day where they are today.
14 Worst: Apollo Crews
The smiling, just happy to be here guy of the WWE is Apollo Crews. That lack of character puts him on this list. Crews has an incredible amount of potential because of how athletic he is, but he's missing something big. Why is he always so happy? Why doesn't he seem to want more out of his career? He is largely in the same boat The New Day was in when they first debuted. They were just smiling and glad to be there.
Crews has all of the potential in the world. He can do some incredible things in the ring. His promos are lacking, mostly because he doesn't have any character motivation to drive them. Extra time in NXT would have done him good. Debuting at TakeOver: Brooklyn, Crews was brought up to the main roster the night after WrestleMania 32. More time in NXT could have given him a character and developed it and he would be in a better position than he is now.
13 Best: The Usos
Sometimes a character change can revitalize a career. The Usos had become a stale tag team that had at one point been the kings of the WWE tag team division. But with a new era came new characters for the happy-go-lucky Usos.
Soon after the Brand Extension, The Usos attacked Chad Gable, turning heel, after they were defeated by American Alpha in the semifinals for the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship Tournament. At Backlash, they debuted their new characters, and brought a new, aggressive style with them. Since then, Jimmy and Jey have become one of the most entertaining tag teams in the WWE. Their new look, attitude, and direction have proven to be an entertaining switch. The future once again looks bright for The Usos.
12 Worst: The Vaudevillians
In NXT, Aiden English and Simon Gotch were one of the most over tag teams on the roster. When they debuted the night after WrestleMania 32, they were quickly ushered into a feud with The New Day for the Tag Team championship. Since then however, The Vaudevillians have done virtually nothing of note.
Now, the tag team can barely get on Pay-Per-View pre-shows. When they wrestle, they don't even get an entrance on TV anymore. When they were most over in NXT, they were babyfaces. If the WWE are intent on these two being heels, a character switch might be in order. The Vaudevillians are a young team and there remains hope for their future. However, this comes down to WWE and how much they are willing to invest in this tag team.
11 Best: Charlotte
The Queen of the WWE is also the only woman on this list. Around WrestleMania, a lot of people were complaining about Charlotte basically being the female version of Ric Flair. Well when Ric Flair is one of the best gimmicks of all-time, there's nothing wrong with that. Over the last few months, Charlotte has really found her own as The Queen and is one of the most entertaining parts of Raw.
She has taken everything good about The Nature Boy gimmick, turned it into the female version, and really cranked it up to fit her. She seems incredibly comfortable with everything she does now, especially her character. It has hit a point where she doesn't seem to be playing a character anymore and is really just being a bigger version of herself.
10 Worst: Curt Hawkins
It's time for Curt Hawkins to face the facts. This gimmick doesn't seem to be going anywhere. When I heard Curt Hawkins was returning, I was excited. The vignettes were funny and entertaining. He seems to be a good heel, but I'm just really confused what his character actually is.
Does Curt Hawkins want us to think he's the best? Does he think he really can do all of the facts he lists? Or does he really just think Chuck Norris jokes are funny? In time this gimmick will fade into obscurity as Hawkins will once again (much like the first time) become a forgotten figure in WWE. There was certainly hope for Hawkins but this gimmick siply will not catch on with the audience.
9 Best: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho just made the list. One of Jericho's best assets as a performer has been his ability to evolve and get anything over with the crowd. A few of the things he's been able to get over since he came back in January: a scarf, a potted plant, a list, the word "it," and the phrase "stupid idiot."
His pompous attitude and his ability to make even the most absurd thing sound threatening has made Jericho an absolute asset to WWE as they transition into a New Era. Chris Jericho simplys knows how to connect with the fans. This has been a proven fact since he first arrived in WWE way back in 1999. Over the years Y2J has managed to always stay relevant to the product.
8 Worst: Dolph Ziggler
The Show Off hasn't really done a lot of showing off recently. Dolph Ziggler has always been a solid worker that specialized in selling. Over the last year or so, Ziggler has been losing a lot more than he won. Sure, he recently had a promo that was full of passion where he put his career on the line. And then he went out and won the Intercontinental Championship. But this gimmick just isn't working for Ziggler anymore. When he put his career on the line would have been a great way to write him off TV and Ziggler could have come back with a different character. At this point in his career, that's really the only thing that can save him. We will see what comes next for Ziggler.
7 Best: Finn Balor
It really is too bad fans only got to see Finn Balor a few times after the draft before he got hurt. The Demon King really is an incredible character with a deep backstory, something that's lost in a lot of characters today. Even without all of the glitz and glamour that come with being The Demon King, Balor is a great character. This is incredible, considering a lot of people can't get one character over, let alone two.
It's this that makes everything work so well as a gimmick. When he has to turn it on and reach down to that place inside, Balor can really turn it on. But everyone got to see his debut night when he won the right to face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship. This character could easily be a heel as well as a babyface, a true sign of a great gimmick.
When Balor makes his return from his shoulder surgery, it will be a real treat to see what new developments he has put toward The Demon King character, as well as the developments toward himself as Finn Balor.
6 Worst: The Ascension
The Road Warriors were one of the best teams ever. Demolition is right up there too. The Ascension morphed those two gimmicks together and got a gimmick that is anything but one of the greatest tag team gimmicks today, let alone of all-time.
In NXT, the Ascension were the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in the brand's history. On the main roster, they are treated as a joke and were almost instantly made to look bad. Konner and Viktor should cut their losses. The Ascension will simply never make it in the New Era. This term will serve as a prime example of something working down in NXT may not always work out on the main roster up in WWE. Oh well, at least they had some success in the minor leagues.
5 Best: Enzo and Cass
How you doin'? It might have taken a long journey through NXT and developmental, but Enzo and Cass are one of the hottest acts in professional wrestling today. They have been able to connect with audiences worldwide. They have good matches that seem to entertain all audiences. And in a day where different gimmicks don't seem to get over as well, the tandem have been able to hone their craft in NXT long enough to make it work on the main roster.
It is said the best gimmicks are someone's real personality turned up to 11. Seeing Enzo and Cass on screen seems like they are really just being themselves. And you can't teach that. Here's hoping these two will someday soon find themselves involved in the Raw Tag Team Championship picture.
4 Worst: Titus O'Neil
The Titus Brand is an interesting idea for a gimmick. In a day where professional athletes are everywhere and clips of press conferences are shown all of SportsCenter and any other sports show, Titus O'Neil might have something. But right now, it comes across as somebody trying way too hard to get people to hate him.
The WWE doesn't do O'Neil any favors either, being one of the most used promotional wrestlers on the roster. When he is shown with breast cancer survivors one segment and as a jerk athlete trying to make a name for himself in the next hour, this gimmick stands no chance. Speaking of chances: there is no chance Titus for O'Neil and the Universal Championship. None. Titus will never reach higher than the mid-card in WWE.
3 Best: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens made it very clear when he debuted. He is a professional wrestler to win championships to provide for his family. He doesn't care who he has to take out, who he upsets or what he has to do. He is a prizefighter. Now he has the ultimate prize, currently in his first reign as Universal Champion.
It's strange that Owens has been able to get over as a top heel considering interviews he's done where he seems like a genuinely good person. But he just talks some trash and he's able to get people to hate him again. That is a true sign of a successful gimmick. Kevin Owens earned his spot at the top of the Raw roster and hopefully the company will continue to push him in the proper direction.
2 Worst: The Shining Stars
There is a time and a place for travel agents. The middle of a wrestling show is not one of them. Primo and Epico have been saddled with some truly awful gimmicks in their careers. First as Los Matadores and now as The Shining Stars. Yes, we get it. They're Latin.
It's funny that when Primo was a tag team partner with Carlito, they were able to pull off a Spanish based gimmick without it being shoved down your throat. I don't know who it is that's obsessed with making sure everyone knows these two are from Puerto Rico, but they have been able to successfully put them with the worst gimmick of the New Era. Primo and Epico may need ANOTHER repackage to at least stand a chance on the current Raw Roster.
1 Best: AJ Styles
When he debuted at the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles was already known worldwide from his work in TNA, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and other independent organizations. But his work as The Phenomenal One since coming to WWE has been incredible. He was able to get over as a face in no time despite previously being a top heel around the world in the Bullet Club. Then he turned heel against John Cena and has gone on to have one of the best heel runs in recent memory.
Today, he's the WWE World Champion. He doesn't bash it over everyone's head that he's The Phenomenal One. Sure, the announcers say it, even he says it from time to time. But it never really seems forced. Styles is probably a really good guy in real life. But he's able to get over this cocky heel, that he's better than everyone. That truly is phenomenal.
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