In sports entertainment, it pays dividends for your character to feel fresh and new. A fresh gimmick change, a character evolution, or even just new theme music is sometimes all it takes to turn a stale wrestler into a potential new main event star.
Too often it seems, WWE will stick with a character and/or gimmick for so long that fans simply lose interest no matter how talented the performer is. Take Randy Orton for example. Few doubt that Orton is one of the most talented wrestlers on the roster today but he has been in WWE for so long that fans have simply grown to take him for granted.
Chris Jericho is an example of a wrestler who has consistently updated his character over time. This may explain in part why Jericho has been wrestling successfully in major promotions now for over two decades. The Chris Jericho who first appeared in ECW and WCW in the 1990s is a far cry from the Chris Jericho who competes for WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling at the moment. It's the same guy, the same character more or less, it's just that he has evolved so much overtime.
In this article, we break down 15 wrestlers who are in need of a gimmick change and we suggest the gimmicks they could adopt.
15 Ladies Man Dolph Ziggler
Nobody in wrestling has dated more female wrestlers than Dolph Ziggler so why not turn that into his gimmick? He has dated Nikki Bella, Dana Brooke and even the original WWE Diva, Sunny.
There's nobody who could use a gimmick change more than Dolph either.
Ziggler's on-screen gimmick should simply be the same as his backstage personality in real- life. Suggested names could include "Ladies Man" Dolph Ziggler or just "Debonair Dolph". He could be a modern day "Ravishing" Rick Rude, if you will.
Naturally, we feel this would lead to a big storyline with John Cena as Cena has just broken up with Ziggler's former love interest, Nikki Bella. We can see the two of them conspiring together to feud with the 16-time World Champion.
In his WWE career, Dolph Ziggler has portrayed Chavo Guerrero's golf caddy, a male cheerleader, and just as a generic underused wrestler. It's doubtful this is the WWE career he had envisioned for himself. There are few other wrestlers active today who could use a gimmick change more than Ziggler does. Fortunately for him, however, he's got a built-in gimmick just ready to be tapped into. Much like many wrestling gimmicks, this one is based on his real-life and real persona.
14 Luchadora Bayley
Despite how successful her gimmick was in NXT, it has become apparent that Bayley is in drastic need of a gimmick change. When she first appeared on WWE programming, it seemed as though Bayley was destined to be the next big star in the women's divisions. Somehow, it slipped away from her and now the character feels flat and stagnant. Some might say giving up on the hugger gimmick is a waste but it's hard to see WWE getting the character back on track now after her spending so much time near the bottom of the card.
We are suggesting Bayley return to the gimmick which had originally been planned for her in WWE developmental.
Bayley was to portray a masked Luchador wrestler and even made a couple of appearances under the gimmick. In interviews she would give years later, Bayley said she was excited about the gimmick and even started designing her own mask. She said she was taken off guard a bit when WWE suggested changing course to the hug-loving Bayley character we know her as today.
We think Bayley as a luchador would work out fantastic on the main roster. Sometimes it feels as though WWE's women's divisions doesn't have enough characters that stand out from the rest. A masked character is perhaps just what women's wrestling needs at the moment.
13 "Bollywood" Jinder Mahal
Former WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal, had trouble getting over as a big-time foreign menace. We think part of the reason he had trouble getting over as a dastardly heel is because fans have never been given a reason to dislike India. It's not as though he is from Russia or another country with a historic rivalry with WWE's base audience in the United States.
Our belief is that WWE fans would be more likely to celebrate a wrestler with the Indian heritage than boo one. That's why we think the Jinder Mahal character should change from an entitled, arrogant heel to a fun-loving Bollywood style dancer!
He might not be able to pull it off but it would be fun to watch him try. Mahal's two cronies, the Singh brothers, were known as the Bollywood boys on the independent circuit before arriving in WWE. Wouldn't it be more fun to watch Jinder Mahal dancing and singing around to Bollywood style music than it would be to listen to him give rehearsed, two-dimensional, bad guy promos?
One of the most well-reviewed parts of Mahal's WWE Championship run was the Bollywood style celebration he had on SmackDown after winning the title. Not only would this version of Jinder get over better than the heel version, we think he would be far more likely to become popular in India if he was portrayed as a babyface on WWE television rather than a heel.
12 Viktor and Konnor as Demolition 2.0
The Ascension are the longest running Tag Team Champions in NXT history. Once they got to the main roster, however, they couldn't win a match to save their lives. While they were the perennial champions in WWE's developmental territory, they have spent most of their main roster careers losing matches on Main Event and live events. They don't even make it onto the main shows most weeks.
When WWE brought the Ascension up from NXT, the idea was for them to be a tag team similar to the Road Warriors. Back in the 1980s and early 90s, tag tag teams featuring muscled wrestlers with facepaint were something of a genre duo. The Ascension was supposed to follow this trend.
We think WWE should double-down their bets on creating a new version of the Road Warriors and create Demolition 2.0 out of the Ascension. Slap on the old Axe and Smash face paint to the pair and see how fans respond.
To those who are too young to remember the former Mr. Fuji led team, The Ascension will simply remain no more or less the team they were before. For other fans however, every time The Ascension is on their screen they can relive the glory days of tag team wrestling. At the very least, it would be a semi-funny joke which would repeat each week. It still beats their current gimmick.
11 Jason Jordan as Jason Dudley
Last year, WWE ran an unfortunate storyline where Jason Jordan was revealed as Kurt Angle's long-lost son. Fans had trouble buying the angle in the same way fans have had trouble buying fictional family relations in wrestling previously. In fact, it's rare for unrelated wrestlers to get over an angle in which they portray each other's relatives. One of the most famous examples where this worked is with the Dudley Boyz.
The fictional Dudley family is the only way to save Jason Jordan's career after the fiasco that was his last storyline. Nobody bought Jason Jordan was really Kurt Angle's son, so how does WWE backtrack on that angle without it coming off really poorly? The answer is, simply film a segment where Jason Jordan re-checks Ancestry.com and determines his real father is not Kurt Angle but rather Big D*** Dudley, the patriarch of ECW's Dudley family.
The only way to make WWE fans forget that Jason Jordan had been a part of an unbelievable fictional family dynamic is to have him play a part in an even more absurd fictional family dynamic. Just package Jason Jordan up in camouflage and taped-together glasses and have him get the tables. It beats what he has been doing, anyway.
10 "Stay At Home Dad" Mike Kanellis
Mike Bennett changed his name to Mike Kanellis (his wife's last name) upon debuting in WWE last summer. Maria and Mike are married in real-life and debuted at the Money In The Bank PPV last summer. Their gimmick is that Maria is controlling of Mike and is able to get him to do things such as take her last name or attack wrestlers she feels has disrespected them.
Earlier this year, the couple welcomed their first child together. Maria is currently on maternity leave looking after the child but we think it makes far more sense for Mike Kanellis to play this role. We are suggesting that Mike Kanellis becomes "Stay at Home Dad" Mike Kanellis.
His gimmick can include a pot belly, making bad jokes and possibly even going through a midlife crisis.
WWE could run an angle where Kanellis is scheduled to wrestle for the Intercontinental Championship. When it comes time for the match however, Kanellis would show up 20 minutes late complaining that he had to pick up his child from daycare while his wife was getting her hair done. Okay, so it wouldn't be the greatest gimmick of all time but it would still beat what he's doing now, which is nothing.
9 "The New Shockmaster" Titus O'Neil
Why fight it? Just give Titus O'Neil the storm trooper helmet and have him run straight through a wall. He's the new Shockmaster. Recently at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia, Titus O'Neil pulled off one of the greatest moves in WWE history. As he was running down to the ring, O'Neil tripped and flew headfirst under the ring. Cory Graves has never been the same since.
Mick Foley brought up how Titus O'Neil's big flop was similar to that of the Shockmaster's in WCW. For those unaware, Fred Ottman portrayed the role of the Shockmaster and had previously been known as either Typhoon or Tugboat in WWE. He was supposed to debut as a top-tier babyface in WCW but after he fell while bursting through a wall in the famous backstage segment, he ended up becoming the butt of wrestling jokes for decades instead.
Ottman is probably hoping that his days of being made fun of are over thanks to Titus O'Neil and the Royal Rumble entrance felt around the world. Some may feel sorry for O'Neil that after all that charity and public relations work he has done for the company that he would be known for a blunder like this. Still, O'Neil strikes us as someone who will take this in stride and have a good sense of humor about it.
8 Mandy Rose as Time-Travelling Trish Stratus
Even Trish Stratus can't tell the difference between Mandy Rose and herself. That's how much the two look alike. When a promotional photo of Mandy Rose hit social media last year, it made many fans remark how similar she looks to Trish Stratus. It also caused Stratus herself to chime in and claim that when she first looked at the photograph she also thought it was her. She said she was wondering when she had worn that outfit before realizing the picture wasn't of her.
We think a perfect gimmick for Mandy Rose is as a time-traveling version of Trish Stratus. This would require Matt Hardy and his ability to travel through space and time in order for it to make sense. Hardy and Bray Wyatt would need to travel back in time to the Attitude Era and bring Trish Stratus from that time back with them to the current day. Mandy Rose would then play the time-traveling version of Attitude Era Trish Stratus.
As of this writing, Mandy Rose has recently been drafted to SmackDown. The Absolution faction of which she was a member along with Paige and Sonya Deville has disbanded. Despite this, the future still looks bright for Mandy Rose. We just think it would look even brighter if she became the time-traveling Trish Stratus.
7 Batista as Drax the Destroyer
Batista has been telling people he would like to return to WWE but for reasons not altogether clear, the company has been hesitant to bring him back. According to an interview he would give earlier this year, WWE wanted to induct Batista into their Hall of Fame this year but he turned them down. Batista told the company he still wants to wrestle and doesn't consider his career finished.
Perhaps the reason WWE has been hesitant to bring Batista back is how things went the last time they did. Batista was supposed to be a babyface when he won the 2014 Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan and the fans turned on him. That's why we think if Batista returns to WWE under a new gimmick it would go far better.
We are recommending that Batista return to WWE but under his character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Drax the Destroyer. Granted, this would require Batista to spend hours in the makeup chair before every performance but we think it'd be worth it.
Batista's character in the movies is said to have superhuman strength and stamina, which is pretty much consistent with his wrestling persona was as well. Drax can also communicate telepathically, which means he would match up well against Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.
6 Roman Reigns as The 3rd Uso
Naturally, the number one person in WWE currently we believe is in need of a gimmick change is Roman Reigns. These last two months have been hard to watch in terms of his storylines. He lost at WrestleMania 34, he lost that the Greatest Royal Rumble and he gets booed every time he's out there. Fans boo Roman because he is the guy the company is clearly behind. His is in a difficult position to book in the modern era.
We think a perfect solution to the Roman Reigns problem is to put him in a trio along with Jimmy and Jey Uso, his real-life cousins. WWE fans couldn't help but cheer for The Usos when they adopted their new heel personas, so why not pair up that dynamic with Roman's and see what happens?
If The Usos cut such great heel promos that fans can't help but cheer them and Roman is supposed to be cheered but fans want to boo him, why not put them together? The Usos cutting heel promos on behalf of Roman would help the Roman-hating fans enjoy the show more. For Roman fans, he would remain a babyface while his cousins would be the bad guys. This would be a compromise for the sake of both the Roman Reigns-haters and his fans.
5 "Balding" Baron Corbin
Corbin is someone in dire need of a new gimmick and a new direction. The new gimmick for Baron Corbin should involve his receding hairline. To put things in perspective, 60% of men will experience a receding hairline in their life. Normally, this is nothing to make fun of. Since WWE has taken the time to photo-shop more hair on top of Corbin's head in promotional shots, however, that makes his pending baldness fair game for insults.
In order to give each Baron Corbin match a feeling of purpose, it could be established that for every win he gets Corbin grows back a little bit of hair. For every loss however, he loses just a little bit more. Finally, the Mona Lisa of Baron Corbin's wrestling career could take place at a WrestleMania with the stipulation being he's either fully shaved bald or given hair plugs to cover up his bald spot if he wins.
He is believed to have made a jerk out of himself during a WWE talent meeting on the long-term impact of concussions. Corbin let it be known he's part of a class action lawsuit involving NFL players suing the league for failing to disclose pertinent information regarding the risks of concussions. This could explain his start and stop push over the last year.
4 "The Drifter" Mickie James
Vince McMahon is said to be very high on Elias' gimmick of a traveling song-smith. The thing is, nobody on WWE's roster is more qualified to do such a gimmick than Mickie James. James really is a professional country music star. Why WWE hasn't involved this much in their storylines is anyone's guess. Perhaps, Vince McMahon felt that Jeff Jarrett ruined country music for all professional wrestling fans.
In fact, James was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame. Unlike with other wrestlers/musicians, it actually appears that James has some real talent musically. No offense to either Jeff Jarrett or the Road Dogg, of course.
Another option for Mickie James would be to play off her Native American heritage. She has done this with her wardrobe on several occasions in WWE but for whatever reason, the promotion seems hesitant to even mention James' roots. James is someone celebrated by her community for her success in both music and pro wrestling. WWE should find more opportunities to promote this fact about her.
James might be known nowadays for being Alexa Bliss' run-in buddy but older fans know just how impactful her feud with Trish Stratus was back in the day. The feud culminated in James winning the WWE Women's Championship from Stratus at WrestleMania 22.
3 Naomi Turns Into Glow...
The amount of flashing colors and pounding beats creates a rave-like atmosphere as Naomi feels the Glow on her way to the ring. Naomi doesn't necessarily need a gimmick change at the moment but she will in a little bit. She's already won the Women's Championship at WrestleMania under her Feel the Glow character, which means she'll have to evolve the character in the next few years to keep fans rooting for her.
We think that slowly over time, Naomi should become more Glow than Woman. Eventually, Naomi will cease to be a human altogether and what we know of Naomi will be a series of flashing lights and pounding beats. Somehow, the essence of Naomi will be found in this series of colors and beats.
In terms of how her new essence would impact her matches, her opponents would be left dumbfounded on how to pin their opponent seeing as she no longer has physical shoulders. As the lights go out and the house beats pound, her opponents would receive a Glow bath similar to how the Brood used to give their opponent's blood baths. The lights would come up and her opponent would be on the ground covered in a rainbow of colors. Then the ref would simply pin her opponent's shoulders to the mat and declare Naomi the winner.
2 Apologetic Hulk Hogan
Arguably the most popular wrestler of all-time, Hulk Hogan, experienced a fall from grace years ago after leaked audio conversations exposed him using charged and insensitive language.
This situation led to some inner-turmoil for Hogan fans all over the world. Many of his fans refused to believe Hogan could be a person with such disturbing beliefs. The problem is the words he used on those audiotapes are indicative of someone who has deep issues.
Once accepting what happened, most Hogan fans then hope for a rehabilitation and redeeming process which he can go through. We think that process should involve Mark Henry, who has insinuated he is a part of a delegation of African-American wrestlers who have at least on some occasions discussed what would have to happen for Hogan to return to wrestling. Mark Henry seems like a really smart guy and we trust he knows the best way to handle this situation not only for the wrestling business but for society as a whole. This despite the fact he once fathered a plastic hand with Mae Young.
One thing is for sure, if Hulk Hogan ever does return to WWE, it needs to be acknowledged what happened, what led to him saying what he did, why it won't happen again and how everyone in the wrestling business can learn from the situation as a whole. This is more than a gimmick and something that needs to be done.
1 Angry Nikki Bella
"Hell hath no fury like Nikki Bella!"
Imagine Corey Graves reciting the above line as Nikki walks with purpose to the ring area. Nikki thought she had it all. She was marrying arguably the most well-known wrestler in history. Aside from marrying a McMahon, Nikki must have thought she had done all she could do to ensure her family name was forever associated with WWE. Instead, she's now 34, single and has a neck so badly injured it may prevent her from ever returning to the ring. She's got a right to feel as though Cena promised her the world and then took it away from her last minute. We think WWE should use this in story.
As we mentioned in a previous entry, she could team up with her old flame, Dolph Ziggler, and together they could try and take out John Cena.
Let us not forget that both Daniel Bryan and John Laurinaitis have married into the Bella family in recent years as well. Either of them along with Brie could also be added to the coalition to end John Cena. While we're at it, even the rumored Carmella can play a role in this story.