Of all the elements that are incorporated within the professional wrestling industry, a wrestler's appearance has to be one of the most important. The purpose of designating an individual wrestler to a particular "gimmick" or look, is a key cog in the wheel that increases revenue. Certain performers over the years have greatly benefited from their appearance, and have become a bigger draw purely on their aesthetics.
On the other hand, if the appearance is sub-par, and doesn't get over with the crowd, it can make for decreased revenue, and some of the most cringe-worthy moments in the sport. We've seen our fair share of bad gimmicks over the years, some of them being just as memorable as the ones that did what they intended. It's always good for a laugh, and is always a potent showcase of the times at hand.
Yet, there are other instances in which a wrestler had originally had substantial success, and then a visual change sparked a downturn in their career. Sometimes, this was compounded with reaching the end of their prime, or a change in promotion. Regardless, it's hard to argue that any one of them were better off altering their appearance that had brought them their initial success. After they did so, in many cases their drawing power took a major hit, and it was too late to salvage their career.
Sometimes it is a necessary risk to take, but in terms of the names ranked below it almost certainly didn't pay off, either in the short, or long term. Listed below are the top 15 wrestler who changed their appearance and then fell off the map.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
15 Barry Darsow
Darsow had great success in the late 1980s as the Smash character, one half of the Demolition tag team in WWE. Many pay-per-views highlighted the duo, and while some figured them to be a ripoff of the Road Warriors tag team, the gimmick definitely went over well with the promotion's fanbase at the time. All that changed when Darsow was given the Repo Man gimmick in 1991, which featured a corny mask, and silver ring attire. While he was a sufficient in-ring talent, Darsow never overcame the detriments of his new character, and left WWE in early 1993.
14 Billy Gunn
After Gunn was a member of two powerhouse tag teams in the form of the Smoking Gunns and the New Age Outlaws, he played an assumed homosexual in a tag team with Chuck Palumbo, collectively known as "Billy and Chuck". The team formed in 2001, and tag team wrestling was beginning to lose popularity. The duo couldn't hold a candle to Gunn's previous endeavors, and the gimmick was more than a little ridiculous in the way it was presented. Ultimately, Gunn would be out of WWE just several years later, after making a brief return to singles competition.
13 Dolph Ziggler - Brunette?
In an attempt to push Dolph Ziggler up the card, the WWE decided to change his look. Instead, what they did was essentially take away what made Ziggler stand out from the rest. Instead of his flashy blonde hair that encapsulated his 'showoff' persona, they cut his hair and dyed it brown, making him look like just another wrestler. Was this supposed to be a more 'serious' Dolph Ziggler? Anyhow, the WWE quickly realized their error and Ziggler was back to his blonde hair within a month.
12 Coach Buzz Stern
A mid-card staple in late 1990s WCW, Glacier was one of the more consistent wrestlers on the roster. Employing a power style, he always served as a competent filler for TV or pay-per-views, and an argument could have been made that he should have had some sort of a title run along the way. In 1999, his gimmick was changed as he made his debut as Coach Buzz Stern, a manager for sub-par independent wrestler Luther Biggs, and it fell flat. In total, the character lasted less than a year, and Biggs lost more matches than he won. It remains as another failure for WCW in their dying days.
When Matt Bloom was set to return to WWE in 2011, many probably assumed that he would simply return as Albert in some capacity. He had made a good name for himself in Japan and instead returned to WWE as Lord Tensai. It was never explained why he had returned with such a Japanese influenced persona, other than that he had wrestled in Japan. Fans were never really given a clear explanation though. Despite victories over Cena and CM Punk, Tensai never clicked with the fans. He would eventually team up with Brodus Clay where he became a dancing Tensai. Overall, a total failure of a repackaging.
After several years successfully spent in WWE as Earthquake, employing both heel and face tendencies, John Tenta made the move to WCW in the mid 1990s, and changed his gimmick to The Shark. He feuded with Hulk Hogan as a part of the Dungeon Of Doom faction, but other than that, he never reached the heights of his earlier career. His new character just didn't leave much room to growth in the quickly evolving WCW, and he left the company in 1997. Unfortunately, Tenta passed away in 2006.
9 Big Daddy V
Nelson Frazier Jr. played the character of Viscera in WWE's Attitude Era, and was a part of the Ministry of Darkness stable, which was a hallmark of the late 1990s image for the company. After initially leaving in 2000, he returned in 2004, maintaining the Viscera gimmick.
The failure came in 2007, when he was re-packaged as Big Daddy V, a generic super-heavyweight character that had no upside, and was destined for the lower mid-card ranks. What was worse than anything though was his look. Just what were those tights?
He left the company soon after, to work the independent circuit for a few years. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014.
While Fred Ottman never quite made it as Tugboat, his WCW gimmick of The Shockmaster was even worse. After his move to WCW, he was set to team with Sting, British Bulldog and Dustin Rhodes to take on Harlem Heat, Vader and Sid. The face team promised a shocking surprise. We then got The Shockmaster, who after an explosion, stumbled over the wall. The look of a husky guy in a glittered Storm Trooper helmet was completely ridiculous and needless to say, Ottman never recovered in WCW.
7 Reverend D'Von
The Dudley Boyz were split up following the WWE's brand split in 2002. While Bubba Ray essentially kept the same gimmick, with Spike now at his side, D'Von was moved to SmackDown and repackaged as Reverend D'Von, a crooked minister who served as Mr. McMahon's 'spiritual advisor.' While D'Von actually did a good job with the gimmick, there was only so far he could go with it. Ultimately, the crowd didn't want to see one of the best tag teams ever split up. The Dudleys would be reunited six months after their split and Reverend D'Von was no more.
6 The Ringmaster
Consider this one a "could have been" failure. Before becoming "Stone Cold", Austin was part of the Hollywood Blonds along with Brian Pillman in WCW, where they won the tag titles. When he debuted in WWE in 1995, management made him carry the "The Ringmaster" gimmick, with Ted DiBiase as his manager. He had cut his hair and was given the most bland gimmick possible.
Needless to say, this was hardly as effective as the reckless, rebellious character he employed as "Stone Cold". It was something that would have been stashed away in the mid-cards, had Austin not won the 1996 King of The Ring, and delivered the renowned promo that would launch him into super-stardom.
5 G.I. Bro
Booker T was finally starting to make a name for himself as a singles wrestler in WCW. So of course, the company stuck the G.I. Bro gimmick on him, joining him up with the Misfits in Action. This was actually a revival of his old gimmick back when Booker was wrestling in the WWA. Needless to say, Booker didn't get anywhere as G.I. Bro and soon returned to his Booker T persona, where he would go on to win five, count that, five, WCW Championships.
4 Tito Santana, El Matador
For over 10 years, Santana was one of the most notable stars in WWE, succeeding in both the tag team and singles ranks, maintaining himself as a consistent fan favorite. In 1991, he was repackaged into his El Matador gimmick, but was quickly falling out of favor in exchange for new stars such as The Undertaker and Bret Hart, who were ushering in a new era for the company. Still, Santana remained solidified in the mid-card game, before leaving in 1993.
His gimmick change hardly ruined, his career, as he is still one of the most revered stars in the history of the promotion, but it is significant nonetheless.
Virgil's career can be summed up easily into halves between his time spent with Ted DiBiase, and his time as a solo wrestler after that. Serving as his tuxedo-clad manager and occasional tag team partner, Virgil was a recognizable face in the upper-tier of the company for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before trying a solo career, which ultimately fell flat. He never had the personality to succeed without DiBiase, and a similar trend continued when he went to WCW several years later.
2 Matt Hardy Version 1
Hardy is another figure who was always best served in the tag team division, and especially as part of the duo he formed with his brother Jeff Hardy in the heart of the Attitude Era. The high-flying tandem was one of the most popular teams in WWE history, and was the height of both of their careers. When Matt Hardy went solo with his Matt Hardy: Version 1 gimmick, it turned the tides of his career into a perpetual mid-carder instead of an upper-tier tag champion. Overall, it was a pretty lame gimmick, and just never resonated with anyone enough to reap and rewards.
1 Kerwin White
With Eddie Guerrero having so much success in WWE, the company was looking for a way to make Chavo stand out. Their solution was to have Chavo denounce his Mexican heritage and go by the All-American name of Kerwin White. He would come out on golf carts, saying he was living the American dream. He would then start to make suggestive remarks towards minorities on the roster, spouting "if it ain't white, it ain't right!"
The gimmick was scrapped following the death of Eddie and Chavo reverted back to his real name to carry on the Guerrero name.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!