One of the great axioms of professional wrestling is that the best gimmicks are an aspect of their true personality turned up to 11. Well, these ones are more like the times the gimmick handle got wrenched around to about 15, then the nob fell off, rolled under the Gimmick-O-Matic 5000 and got covered in spiderwebs. These gimmicks are wild, nutty, some with a hint of fruit, and completely didn't work for their bearers. But, that's not to say they couldn't have worked for somebody else. Sometimes, a greatly weird gimmick comes along and you look at it with a bit of a squinty cowboy eye and you can kinda make out how it could be awesome if only the person inside it was specifically somebody else. That's what's on the menu here, the gimmicks that could have worked, but were saddled on the wrong horse (no, YOU'VE been playing too much RDR2!).
We've dug around in the vast sea of weird that is pro wrestling and dredged up some truly terrible seeming ideas that were equally wild, dusted them off and transplanted them onto someone else and Voila! Oh, what could have been. You're going to see some combos you could never imagine here, some that you have to let marinate in your brain a bit to see the potential, and one or three that you'll just read the name and you'll be astounded WWE didn't come up with it themselves. Don't forget though, these were seen as some bad ideas, but hopefully, by the end of this list, you'll see that each of them was more a miss with the wrestler rather than the idea itself.
20 All Red - Eva Marie
No amount of training, or 'she looks too good to fail' bamboozlery could make up for the fact that Eva Marie was nothing but eye-candy, and didn't belong in a WWE ring. WWE evidently couldn't accept that, so they got Eva to hang around and so they tried gimmick after gimmick to see if she could make something of it.
When they finally struck gold (struck red?) with this All Red Everything persona, she copped a wellness violation and left the company. By any measure, she is one of the biggest signing failures the company has ever had, but right at the end the ridiculously over the top All Red Everything idea had legs and deserved a new home.
19 Should've Gotten It: Maria Kanellis
Returning to WWE not long after Eva Marie left, Maria Kanellis was and still is the perfect candidate to take up the mantle. In her time away from WWE she proved she had excellent mic skills on top of her ditzy persona from her first time in the company, as well as a delightfully heelish turn that would've fit right into the All Red Everything aesthetic.
Her refusing to wrestle, or more likely, refusing to let her husband Mike Kanellis wrestle, would've brought big-time heat to his introduction into the main roster. Maria and he are now on 205 Live, but if she ever graces the main rosters again, perhaps picking up some clients to manage in 'Maria's Menagerie' (because we all adore alliteration) she could still make some headway.
18 Ladies Man - Dean Malenko
WWE loves putting notoriously stoic competitors into outlandish gimmicks to see if they can squeeze some personality out of them. Lance Storm became 'Dancin' Lance', Steve Blackman became a Cheese Head, and Dean 'Ice Man' Malenko became Dean 'Ladies Man/007 Ripoff' Malenko. Complete with admittedly excellent theme music, ladies on each arm, and a push as the Light-Heavyweight Champion, Malenko nevertheless managed to look as doofy as possible regardless.
He had always seemed immune to stupid stuff in WCW, and now with WWE forcing it upon him, he looked Double-00ut-of-place. Sorry. But anyway, the gimmick was actually solid and just needed the right vessel, and I think there's one right now in WWE.
17 Should've Gotten It: Cesar007
Okay, I'll stop with the puns. But the point stands that Cesaro could pull off the suave international sophisticate with deadly skills because that's kinda just true of the guy. Not only that, his former theme music was actually a derivative of Malenko's theme, he still sometimes comes out to the rolling cross-hair Bond-style intro titantron, he had that period where he walked out as a 'Professional' in a tear away suit, and he can speak multiple languages where surely one of them can sound kinda 'ladies man-esque'.
It's like WWE has been circling this possibility for his entire main roster existence but they're scared to pull the trigger, which is ironic considering the gimmick.
He's more remembered for his turn on WWECW as Kevin Thorn, but Kevin Fertig also briefly appeared on Smackdown as this religious zealot clad in pure white. No one can deny that the look was intriguing, bordering on cool. Similarly, nobody can deny that it was a raw and brazen gimmick brought to the show to collide with The Undertaker. It had a spooky, otherworldly element built in, a huge encompassing cloak, some sort of cool staff thingy, it ticked all the boxes.
For whatever reason though, he lasted barely more than a month and had one PPV match against Scotty Too Hotty of all people before disappearing. Clearly, WWE felt he wasn't the right man for this gimmick. That's where this next guy comes in.
15 Should've Gotten It: Christopher Daniels
This goes a lot further than just the perfect nickname of The Fallen Angel. Christopher Daniels was still in his prime while this gimmick was happening, executing BME's and Angel's Wings all over Impact Wrestling. He has the experience with deep and psychologically invasive gimmicks (like Curry Man) and was a world-traveled veteran who could have gotten his shot in WWE through this pretty high profile gimmick.
The highest factor in this though is that Christopher Daniels is very much in the mold of Shawn Michaels in that he's a smaller guy who can nevertheless have brilliant matches with guys the size of The Undertaker. If that was indeed the end goal we never got to see, Christopher Daniels was the best option.
14 The Boogeyman
While it's difficult to imagine this far out gimmick without Marty Wright, the truth of the matter is that his wrestling was absolutely unwatchable and he had no business in a WWE ring. No amount of gesticulating, spasming or worm-eating can make up for the fact that he was one of the most awkward, non-athletic wrestlers to ever last so long, let alone remain under a 'legends contract' as he does today.
Fans may look back on this gimmick as a complete flop, but it's endured as long as it has purely on the presentation, outlandishness, and sheer craziness DESPITE the guy under the face paint, and so it deserves a 're-Wright', as it were. Someone able to maintain the intimidation but deliver in the ring. Now stay with me here...
13 Should've Gotten It: Samoa Joe
Hold on! Let me paint a picture here before you call the nuthouse. In 2005 when this gimmick arrived, Samoa Joe had just debuted in Impact Wrestling, so the timelines match. Second, where The Boogeyman was wacky and goofy, Samoa Joe could have brought real sinister dread and intimidation to the role. We see that in his current WWE run where he bellows like Braun Strowman and then speaks softly like Jake The Snake, either way sounding like a legitimate terror.
Thirdly, this proper makeup gimmick would've been a thousand times better than the phallic 'warpaint' he tried for his Nation of Violence stint. Fourthly, and most importantly, this would've given us peak prime Samoa Joe in WWE a decade earlier. I rest my case.
12 The Ascension
They're still kicking around in the dregs of Raw these days, but they've ascended about as much as Big Show has qualified for 205 Live. These guys have been the definition of placeholders in the Raw tag team division. Losing since just about their debut, they have been a mere shadow of the team that swept through the NXT tag scene for a year as unstoppable forces.
Even their cool look isn't half of what it originally was, being boiled down to Demolition/Mad Max leather cosplay just comes off bizarre. I'm not saying that neither of these guys had potential, but I am saying that a better pairing would've persisted as a much better version of this formerly excellent gimmick.
11 Should've Gotten It: Bram/Kenneth Cameron & Adam Rose/Leo Kruger
Those two men were the pre-Adam Rose Leo Kruger, and the original Ascension member, Kenneth Cameron, later Bram in Impact Wrestling. The moment Cameron appeared in this gimmick he should've been a massive star. He had a mix of the 'Sean O'Haire; Devil's Advocate' suave swagger as well as a distinctly cool look.
To go alongside him, Leo Kruger was toiling with his man-hunter gimmick around that time and that would've fit this much better. If you remove the silly hair-fiddling that Kruger was a bit too fond of, this pair could've decimated as a half eloquent, half-insane force the likes of which the WWE tag team scene hasn't had ever before.
Kenneth and Kruger even fit the 'hard-K' naming gimmick, and that's the true secret to any pro wrestling success.
10 'Glorious' Bobby Roode
Name one thing besides his theme music that has worked since his WWE main roster debut and I'll be over here aging into dust. Bobby Roode has by any reasonable measure been an utter disappointment in WWE, with his entire existence predicated on the great theme music that was getting reactions before he even debuted in NXT. A robe and a song do not a successful WWE wrestler make though.
You have to have the substance behind it, the quality matches to back it up, and I'd argue that even his lauded NXT run is nowhere near as good as you remember it now that the musical shine has worn off. Cue the man who should have had this presentation all along..
9 Should've Gotten It: Austin Aries
..and that man is the self-proclaimed Greatest Man That Ever Lived, or is that 'Most Glorious Man Who Ever Lived'? Remove Bobby Roode from the equation and Austin Aries not only fits the music just as well or better, but he would also've provided better NXT Championship matches and feuds, as well as had the endless charisma to transfer that to the main roster where Roode has so far choked.
Austin Aries proved in his short WWE run that he could do it all on commentary, on the mic, and in the ring, and this gimmick going to him instead could've secured him a better spot that he wouldn't so easily have walked away from.
8 Jason Jordan: Kurt Angle's Kid
Everyone's been saying it, and I'm just repeating it. That doesn't make it any less true, however. Jason Jordan was simply standing next to the guy who should've gotten the nod for this incredible opportunity. Jordan was going nowhere in NXT for the longest time, showed decent ring-progression in a tag team but nothing spectacular in singles matches once he reached the main roster, and crucially seemed devoid of charisma outside of the occasional hot-tag.
The guy then went down with a sadly debilitating neck condition that curtailed all the plans set in motion over months, rendering the entire exercise an abject failure. The right option was front and center all along, and it bears repeating here.
7 Should've Gotten It: Chad Gable
Not only was Chad Gable single-handedly responsible for taking perennial NXT non-starter Jason Jordan from nowhere to the main roster thanks to their outstanding tag team, but he was also the charismatic glue of the pair, as well as the more engaging wrestler to boot. When this storyline opportunity came along he should have naturally fallen into the role given his similarities to Kurt Angle both in personality, pedigree, and wrestling acumen.
Those two are such peas in a pod that when you hear the main reason Jason Jordan got the nod was that WWE thought he was 'hot', you just shake your head for the critical misfire that resulted. Here's hoping that Kurt Angle's current storyline somehow links up with Gable's and WWE corrects course.
6 Devil's Advocate: Sean O'Haire
I mentioned Sean O'Haire earlier because the guy was a freakish athlete for his size in a 'before his time' kind of way and when he came over with WCW there were definitely elements there to work with. WWE unearthed something when they gave him some suggestive, 'evil conscience' leanings in what was dubbed his 'Devil's Advocate' character. He gave self-serving advice that was enticing on the surface but misleading at its core, which was great.
What wasn't so great was that O'Haire reportedly couldn't execute the gimmick in front of live crowds, only on pre-tape. That's an issue, and a crippling one in the end. What this idea needed was someone capable, sophisticated sounding, and devoid of conscience. Well, there's some good news..
5 Should've Gotten It: Wade Barrett
You can absolutely imagine this character working with Barrett due to his 'Bad News' phase. Wade Barrett went through such a series of gimmicks in WWE that circled around his excellent mic skills without ever really capturing the sinister, main event level heel aura that he needed to get over the hump, but this gimmick would've fit right in. It's basically a cousin of the Bad News schtick he got in trouble for being too good at, so we can almost pencil it in that he would've knocked this out of the park as well. Barrett giving bad advice to stir up trouble all over SmackDown or Raw as he manipulated himself into better positions writes itself, even if he returned today. It even kinda rhymes!
4 Sister Abigail: Bray Wyatt
We only got a glimpse of this idiotic idea last year, but it deserves mentioning because in a matter of minutes WWE managed to make Bray look and sound completely silly and stupid like they were trying to be efficient at it. Bray wearing a veil and having his voice auto-tuned to a high goofy sound is nobody's idea of a cool way to introduce Sister Abigail. She's been hinted at for so long, her origin played with during Bray's sermons so freely, that her turning out to be a possessing force inside him should be a billion times cooler than what they tried here. Sister Abigail could and should be a whirlwind coming through WWE guiding Bray's hand, and there's one girl right now who is made for this role.
3 Should've Gotten It: Rosemary
Impact Wrestling's Rosemary has practically been auditioning for this role for the last few years. She is right at home doing the weird, spooky, silly stuff WWE would no doubt demand of her. Not only will she do it, but she'll do it in a way that will actually work in a wrestling sense to the point she'd be able to split off from Wyatt if needs be. Wyatt currently is either on hiatus or about to return (hopefully much improved) and Rosemary could be the essential ingredient to that return having enough new elements to re-invest WWE fans in the backwoods preacher gimmick. Rosemary herself could also bring the other-worldly elements to the women's division that they need too. Bonus!
2 Max Moon
This was an idea that by all accounts Vince McMahon was super into, investing personal time, big money (The suit was reportedly $13,000 in 1992 money) and airtime. The man initially beneath the mask was none other than future WCW multi-time titleholder and current LAX leader in Impact Wrestling, Konnan. The problem with this idea was that Konnan grew to hate the getup despite coming up with it, hating having to lug it around to shows. Then he began making big money south of the border and figured it simply wasn't worth all the trouble and passed the gimmick onto Paul Diamond who couldn't do the Lucha style that was supposed to be the gimmicks hallmark, thus it died hard.
1 Should've Gotten It: Scott Steiner
I don't know if he could've fit into the suit, and I don't know if he would have wanted to, but 1992 Scott Steiner, with his freakish athletic ability and innovative hybrid style could've blown this gimmick into legendary status. Rename the top-rope Frankensteiner the Moon Crash or Maximum Impact, or Maximum Moon Crash-pact and the silliness of the suit is immediately offset and made awesome by association.
If on the debut episode of Monday Night Raw back in 1993, Max Moon had suplexed the soul out of someone and finished him with the 'Crescent-Moon CrushSteiner', he'd have never looked back. And imagine the evolution years later when he began incorporating chainmail and unhinged mathematical promos about Sackerfice! Yeah, you know you want it.