While many fans of professional wrestling might critique some of the characters, storylines and other creative aspects of the product, it certainly can be one of the most challenging creative jobs in the world. Rather than create a gimmick that is meant for a movie or television show, a wrestler is someone who is portrayed almost all year round through television shows, live events and several special appearances.
It’s not easy to think of something that the fans will embrace like they have with Hulk Hogan in the 1980s, or superstars like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Sometimes, there is a lot of brainstorming that goes into developing a persona – between both the wrestlers and the creative team at a company’s headquarters. Some ideas are instant hits and others don’t even make it out of the writer’s office.
Sometimes, the perfect idea just comes from an unexpected source or by complete accident. Maybe a special talent is discovered when they were backstage or on the tour bus. Sometimes, the best ideas just show up during regular conversations over a cup of tea - seriously. The following are the top 15 weird ways wrestlers and writers have come up with gimmicks.
15 Terry Taylor As The Red Rooster
Terry Taylor was brought into the WWE from 1988 to 1990 after having found some success with the National Wrestling Alliance and the Universal Wrestling Federation. But sometimes, personalities and actions behind the scenes can lead to not-so-favorable gimmick changes. Taylor had developed backstage heat because he often told the top WWE officials about what others were doing.
14 Damien Sandow’s Impersonation Gimmick
There are a number of wrestlers who got a gimmick because of one segment that was considered a success. Damien Sandow was one of those talents for whom the creative team had nothing. The one-time “Savior of the Masses” was actually put into a Magneto costume as part of a segment involving guest star Hugh Jackman – aimed to promote an upcoming Wolverine movie.
13 Konnan As Max Moon
Konnan is usually remembered for his time in WCW as one of the top Latin American wrestling superstars during the Monday Night War. He was also able to translate that into a nice run in TNA Wrestling as a part of 3Live Kru. However, there are a lot of wrestling fans who don’t know about his brief stint in WWE during the early 1990s as Max Moon.
12 Perry Saturn In A Dress
Perry Saturn can be considered an underrated technical star in the wrestling world. He was part of some good matches between WCW and WWE, but he has a history of being paired with some silly gimmicks that really shouldn’t have worked. This is the same guy who fell in love with a mop and also had weird sayings like “Monkeys learn sign language to tell dolphins they love them.”
11 Ryback’s “Feed Me More”
Ryback certainly was someone who lived life big, both in the ring and behind the scenes. The powerhouse was certainly being booked to run over the local competitors (also known as jobbers) and lower-tier talents like he would go through a rack of ribs. Ryback said during an interview that he was in a meeting with several WWE officials and writers when he voiced his desire to face bigger names.
Gangrel was one of the more interesting and unique characters of the WWE’s Attitude Era. It was a brief stint on television, but Gangrel certainly made an impact by coming through the floor of the stage, surrounded by a ring of fire, and carrying a goblet of what looked like blood. However, Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly sold on the idea, but head writer Vince Russo certainly pushed it.
9 Brodus Clay Becomes The Funkasaurus
Brodus Clay was worthy of being on WWE television. The former bodyguard was an intimidating 6-foot-7 and 375 pounds. However, he came across as a bland character. There were vignettes being shown on WWE television about the monstrous Clay, who was set to return to the RAW roster during the original brand split, but the debut kept getting delayed.
8 Goldberg’s “Who’s Next?” Line
Sometimes, simplicity is really what’s best for business. Bill Goldberg was a talented athlete who made a big splash when he debuted on WCW television back in 1997. It worked as he was an unstoppable force that went on an undefeated streak of 173 matches. However, before he would appear on television, he needed to come up with a catchphrase that would put the gimmick over the top.
7 Santino Marella’s Cobra finisher
Santino Marella is definitely a unique character. He was initially an underdog story as a fan who was selected to face Umaga, winning the Intercontinental Championship in the process. Since then, he’s become better known for a variety of comedic gimmicks that include – but are not limited to – tea time with Sheamus and pretending to be his own sister to win the Miss WrestleMania battle royal. Considering Marella to be one of the most entertaining superstars in the last 15 years is an understatement.
6 Darren Drozdov Becomes “Puke”
Wrestling fans who have watched the documentary Beyond The Mat will recall this moment almost verbatim. Darren Drozdov was hoping to find work after working with ECW for a brief period of time. There was a lot of potential, considering that he used to play for the New York Jets and Denver Broncos of the National Football League. He was given the nickname “Puke” because of vomiting live on Monday Night Football in 1993.
5 Blue World Order
Extreme Championship Wrestling definitely was a unique product to watch. While it was the home of hardcore wrestling and obscure characters, there was definitely room for some parody gimmicks played out on ECW television. There was a goofy super-hero Super Nova, who was almost like Adam West’s Batman, but the comedy continued when he was paired with The Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards as Raven’s Flock.
4 John Cena’s Rapping Skills
John Cena was certainly making a quick impact when he made his debut on that 2002 episode of SmackDown, accepting Kurt Angle’s open challenge. It was the start of the Ruthless Aggression Era in the WWE and Cena looked like he could have a chance to be that breakout star. Still, during his rookie year, he was essentially a talented athlete who was still trying to find a way to connect with the fans.
3 The Shockmaster
Wrestling fans are surely aware that Fred Ottman’s Shockmaster character was one of the biggest botches in professional wrestling history, but the trip that sent Ottman – formerly known as Tugboat and Typhoon – crashing through the wall and his helmet rolling on the floor wasn’t the only mistake. Apparently, the original Shockmaster costume was meant to be closer to Vader’s mask and costume, but it wasn’t ready in time for his scheduled television debut.
2 Scott Hall Pitches Razor Ramon
If you thought that your impression of Tony Montana from the Scarface movie was good, you should see if it can land you a job. That’s what Scott Hall was able to do when he was about to be brought into the company. Apparently, McMahon had never even heard of Scarface and when he heard Scott Hall talk with the "Cuban" accent, he loved it. Vince McMahon was a big fan of the “bad guy” persona and was willing to hire Hall after hearing the concept of the character. McMahon invited Hall to a meeting where they brainstormed names.
1 “Stone Cold” Cup Of Tea?
Steve Austin certainly had a share of bland gimmicks. “Stunning” Steve Austin was okay in WCW, but never anything impressive. Therefore, it was imperative that his next gimmick was a good one so that he'd have the opportunity to be a breakout star in the world of professional wrestling. He wanted the concept of his character to be a cold-blooded individual. Unfortunately, the creative team was coming up with some pretty bad temperature-based names, like Fang McFrost and Chilly McFreeze.
Austin was sitting with his ex-wife Jeanie Clarke over a cup of tea, with the Texas Rattlesnake worried about what his future ring name would be. His wife then told him he should drink his tea before it got “stone cold,” and that was the inspiration for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. To think, Austin was almost given the name Fang McFrost. Not sure “McFrost 3:16” would have the same ring to it.
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