It’s been said that there aren’t any original ideas left. Probably, that isn’t true. But unoriginal ideas are, in some ways, preferable to new ones. Thinking of new stuff is hard. It's way easier to lift a good idea someone else already came up with.
Wrestling has recycled plenty of ideas over the years, but that doesn’t make it different from any other entertainment medium. Hollywood has kept itself afloat over the last few decades with reboots, sequels, and big budget movies based on 50-year-old superhero origin stories that were, let us not forget, originally intended as children’s entertainment. Although it gets lucky and accidentally creates a glorious mutant like Miley Cyrus every now and again, what’s left of the music industry cranks out new versions of the same ol’ milquetoast pop stars every few years. Chuck Palahniuk cranked out different versions of the same novel for 20 years before he went back to the well and wrote the Fight Club 2 comic book. Can you remember the last time you ate something truly original for lunch? Not just, let’s say, a turkey sandwich instead of your usual chicken, or a sesame bagel instead of a poppy seed, but something entirely new? I sure can’t. Even national politics got lazy enough to plan a sequel to Clinton vs. Bush in 2016, until they realized that wouldn't keep us interested, and brought in a horrifying reality show host to infuse some excitement.
In this list of 15 wrestlers who stole - er, maybe we should say “borrowed” - their gimmicks, you’ll see reproducing aspects of previously existing characters has worked out bonkers well for a few noted sports entertainers. Not so much for others. Goes to show that just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done again, and a lack of originality isn’t always a deal killer.
12 “Razor Ramon” and “Diesel”
Legend has it that Sting did away with his longtime rainbow-and-sparkle-adorned beach bum persona in favor of a "Goth Mime In A Trench Coat" routine at the suggestion of Scott Hall. It's entirely possible Hall had just rented “The Crow” - a certifiable cult classic based on James O’Barr’s graphic novel, which stars a goth mime in a trench coat - from Blockbuster. Renting movies at Blockbuster was a thing people could do in 1996.
10 Razor Ramon
We’re not certain whether Scott Hall has any legitimate Cuban ancestry. While he may have sold an eight ball or two over the years, we’re completely sure he has never been the head honcho of an international cocaine shipping syndicate. Clearly, his wrestling schedule wouldn’t have left him with enough spare time to command a criminal empire.
A quarter-century after the fact, it’s more-or-less public knowledge that WWE designed Ax and Smash (later, Ax, Smash, and Crush) to ape Hawk and Animal, a wildly popular NWA/WCW tag team in the '80s. When asked directly if Demolition was a Road Warriors ripoff, Bill Eadie does not confirm or deny the counterfeit nature of his career’s most recognizable character.
7 The Renegade
5 Glacier, Mortis, and Wrath
Full disclosure: During a recent visit to the gym, a match featuring Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian played on one of the little TVs hanging from the ceiling to distract us from the self-inflicted misery that is voluntary exercise. I thought I was watching Impact Wrestling, until I found out that all the cool Impact/TNA wrestlers are in Ring of Honor as of about a year-and-a-half ago.
4 Mankind and Al Snow
One of the most lopsided, co-dependent real life bromances in wrestling history also just so happened to spawn two of its most beloved inanimate-object-oriented gimmicks. According to Mick Foley’s biography, “Have a Nice Day,” when Foley needed to add a touch of additional “oomph” to a skit in which he failed to entertain a hospitalized Vince McMahon, Al Snow suggested using a sock puppet, latter to be christened “Mr. Socko.”
Appropriately, and not surprisingly, it was Foley who cooked up the idea of giving Al Snow head. After he finished, Foley told Snow that he could probably get more famous if he pretended to talk to a mannequin head during interviews and while he made his ring entrance.
3 Zack Ryder and Robbie E
Asya was a female wrestler with a bodybuilding physique in WCW during its downward spiral into non-existence. Asya is pronounced “Asia,” which is the continent that contains China. Chyna, who had been quite established as a star in WWE at that time, pronounces her name “China,” like the country. So the not-very-subtle implication here is that Asya is bigger than, and therefore superior to, Chyna. Isn’t that clever? Isn’t it amazing how Vince Russo went his entire career as a pro wrestling writer without having a single bad idea?
Some would call it blasphemy to suggest Ric Flair is anything less than one of the, if not the one and only, greatest wrestler in history. But I think an individual’s opinion of Flair hinges on when they were born. For instance, those whose lives began in the mid-’80s weren’t old enough to watch TV until the early ‘90s. By that point, Flair was arguably already past his prime. Meanwhile, if you were born in the ‘20s, it might’ve irked you that Flair stole his nickname, the figure four, the strut, and his bag of dirty tricks, all from one of that era's greats, Buddy Rogers.
Considering that Rogers jobbed the “Nature Boy” monicker to Flair in the late ‘70s, it’s possible that he willingly passed the torch and was pleased to see his legacy carried on by the much-lauded Flair. Still, it makes you wonder - if Ric Flair is so great, why couldn’t he come up with his own gimmick?
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