It is a key element in WWE, being able to add something new to your character every time you return, it allows fans to have a new reason to like or hate you. If you don't change, fans get bored and quickly turn away. It has happened over the years, fans booed Hogan once the red and yellow became tired and worn out.
The fans always want to see something fresh and exciting, this list goes through some major reinventions, from Farooq to The Rock, to Randy Orton. All the superstars on this list made an effort over their careers to keep adding to their character and keep coming up with new ways to present themselves. It gave them all longevity in their careers, and some are still going today due to consistent reinvention. Sometimes it's not always necessary to outright change your gimmick. Sometimes you can have the right gimmick, but after a while you just have to add a new dimension to it. People have often accused John Cena of not doing anything to reinvent his character over the last 10 years, which is why many have grown sick of him.
This list goes through 15 superstars who were able to successfully reinvent themselves in order to save their career and prolong it. Some of them used subtle changes, others made complete 180 degree changes, either way, change is good in wrestling.
The 9th Wonder of the World, The Amazon, The Bodyguard of Triple H and DX. She made a very big mark on wrestling. A core member of DX, and a trailblazer for women in wrestling, Chyna started as the massive bodyguard, and then after a broken jaw, she had surgery and returned, a more attractive but still dangerous bodyguard and finally after competing in the 1999 Royal Rumble, Chyna entered the men's world, and won the Intercontinental Title and became Mamacita with Eddie Guerrero.
There is no doubt, Chyna reinvented her character, and it did not take any dramatic changes, it was all subtle, but it worked well. Changing her appearance was due to injury, but adding to her personality, finally talking and being involved in love storylines with Kane and Mark Henry added layers to Chyna, making her more than just 'the heavy' for DX.
14 Scott Hall
The Bad Guy, The Lone Wolf. A member of The Kliq, nWo and The Wolfpack. The man known as Scott Hall, although he was never World Champion in any promotion, he certainly made an impression. He started as The Diamond Studd in AWA, and then Razor Ramon was born, and finally Scott Hall in WCW. One of the smartest men in wrestling, Scott knows how to make a gimmick work, and he knows how to make it a success. Many have said that when he had his head on straight, he was one of the sharpest minds in the wrestling business.
13 Chris Jericho
He started in WCW as a generic baby face, not much to him. This was during the nWo period, so it came across as just a very cheesy character. It was not until he was allowed to turn heel that Jericho recreated himself as an arrogant jerk, claiming he was a victim of conspiracy. Since the days of WCW, Jericho continues to find new ways to reintroduce himself to WWE fans, he is certainly a master of the big reveal.
When Jericho made his return to the WWE after a two-year hiatus in 2007, he soon realized that his Y2J character was outdated, so he altered his character to a more cold calculated individual, inspired by the Anton Chigurh character from No Country for Old Men. Jericho would have arguably the best run of his career from there, going on an acclaimed feud with Shawn Michaels, and several others later on.
12 Kevin Nash
The man known as Diesel for a long time, but with a slight change in demeanor and personality he was simply known as Kevin Nash, part of the nWo. Nash has been called many things by many people, but he did manage to successfully add a new twist to his persona when he left WWE and became Kevin Nash. Everyone knew him as Deisel, but when you saw Kevin Nash, you got to see a different side of this giant. His mic work was a lot better when he was able to essentially be an exaggerated version of himself.
11 Jeff Jarrett
That's J-E-Double-F ... Once a country music star, Jarrett made his name in WCW, against the WWE. Smashing guitars and winning championships. Jarrett was always the perfect heel, the superstar that was easy to hate. Everything he did had purpose and made you dislike him even more than seconds earlier. The switch from a country music star using wrestling as a platform, to a superstar claiming to be The Chosen One in wrestling, it's quite a flip. He still kept the guitar, but his entire attitude and character changed.
10 Randy Orton
He started as a generic third generation star, with blue and yellow tights, generic music, nothing special. The moment he was put in Evolution, The Legend Killer was born, and the reinvention of Orton began. From there his character took on new traits, sometimes he was a good guy, most of the time people hated him, but from the generic guy in blue and yellow, to The Legend Killer to The Viper, Orton's changes have been a success.
9 Ron Simmons
One of my favorite stories in wrestling, he was the first African American World Champion in WCW. He joins WWE as Farooq Asad, a gladiator in a blue and silver outfit, seeming like a strange fit for him. Then he becomes Farooq, the leader of The Nation of Domination, a group largely inspired by The Nation of Islam. Talk about a complete 180 degree turn. Finally, Farooq would join Bradshaw to form the Acolytes, only for the pair to evolve into the APA, a protection agency, who would offer protection to any wrestler who paid them handsomely and spent their down time drinking and playing cards. To quote Ron Simmons ... DAMN!
8 Charles Wright
Papa Shango, a voodoo shaman, it was not the best gimmick ever, but it was the early 90s. He then returned as Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, a WWE take on Ultimate Fighting. He then returned as just Kama. Then he joined The Nation of Domination as Kama Mustafa ... and finally he became The Godfather, probably his most popular gimmick, the leader of The Ho Train. Apparently, of all Charles Wright's characters, this was by far the closest to his real personality. Don't worry, he's not actually a pimp.
7 Triple H
His impact on wrestling as a whole is massive. He became the sidekick of Shawn Michaels in DX, when HBK went down, Triple H went on to take over and create the DX Army. But long before that he was Terra Ryzing in WCW, and then Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a blue blood snob, a character Vince McMahon was very happy with, but it was not what would make this man a legend .... that happened when he became known as Triple H, but it really never mattered what his name was, you knew Triple H was destined for greatness.
The brother of The Undertaker, younger brother, but he was more massive than Taker. A scary debut at Badd Blood, ripping the door off the Hell in a Cell and costing Undertaker his match. This superstar has had a very strange journey to the Big Red Machine, he started as an evil dentist, Issac Yankem DDS, and then he was The Fake Diesel , and finally Kane. He has reinvented himself as Kane and kept this character fresh for a long time. Kane was mostly a mute for several years, but eventually Kane started showing more personality. Eventually he unmasked, greatly extending his promo time and becoming more evil than ever.
5 The Undertaker
The Undertaker is the most iconic star in wrestling, as his character was reinvented every time we saw him return. The best part of this one is, he made both subtle changes and one major one back in 2000. Changing his attire, or his facial hair, or removing the long hair, or getting a new coat. The leader of The Ministry was the same Undertaker that made his debut with Brother Love, he just evolved and reinvented himself, adding a layer of evil and sinisterness that was not seen in wrestling.
Finally, he returned as the American Badass and as a result, made his character fresh for a few years before returning to the classic Deadman gimmick. Still, he always kept tweaking the character, helping it last all these years.
Silence is golden. Sting set out to eliminate the nWo and did so with his actions, saying very few words. His mark was made during this time, although he had achieved great success early in his career. The days of bright colors and Bart Simpson hair were gone, and a completely new Sting emerged, donning black and white, as he went into mourning for WCW.
Perhaps a great example of reinvention, Sting, from bright colors and blonde hair, to dark and mysterious, almost similar to Batman from DC comics, the dark avenger. Sting made a choice, based on his surroundings, it was bold and it worked.
3 Hulk Hogan
The man who once wore red and yellow and told everyone to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. Things can change so dramatically, as Hogan turned heel, and become the ruler of the nWo ...the most notorious faction in wrestling. Hogan shocked the world when he turned his back, but it was the new life his character needed at the time. When he turned heel, you saw a new side to him, he seemed like more of a jerk. This was the reinvention Hogan needed, and it added longevity to his career.
2 The Rock
The nose knows. That's why millions and millions smelled what The Rock was cookin'. He became a household name through The Nation of Domination, a group he joined, but he quickly outgrew them. He went from Rocky Maivia to the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. Even in his run as The Rock, he would make little tweaks to his character, going from the flashy, $800 shirts to a simpler look of a t-shirt and track pants, being more relateable to the crowd as the People's Champion. When the crowd soured on him for pursuing an acting career, The Rock pulled off an amazing heel run as the Hollywood sellout, which was an amazing, but shortlived gimmick, as once again he left for Hollywood and he was just too entertaining to hate.
The Rock is a prime example of how to properly use the audience reaction and turn it into success, his reinvention deserves the #2 spot.
1 Steve Austin
It had to be him, of course. The man whose entrance theme alone was epic, the glass shattered and all hell broke loose. The bald head, the goatee, black boots, black trunks ... Stone Cold redefined being a 'baddass' in WWE. For a guy who began as The Ringmaster. His journey as Stone Cold did not start smoothly, when he pitched a character based on The Iceman Richard Kuklinski, WWE creative offered him names like Ice Dagger, Fang McFrost and Otto Von Ruthless. Regardless, the transformation from The Ringmaster to Stone Cold was easily the best for WWE, and deserves to be no.1.
Austin's heel run in 2001 was a failure from a standpoint of trying to make the crowd hate him, but it was successful in the sense that it allowed him to try new things, as his character became a little more humorous.