The inspiration for wrestling characters can be found in many places, with movies serving as just one of them. Wrestlers, bookers and everyone in between hopes to come up with a great character that will get them over with the crowd. Each performer is loved or hated for their portrayal of this persona.
Quite a few memorable characters would arise thanks to the inspiration of a film. Many beloved wrestlers from the past and present developed fan bases without the fans even realizing that this 'gimmick' wasn't such a gimmick after all! Today, we will look at the stories of ten wrestling characters that were inspired by movies.
10 Sting (The Crow)
WCW would never see Sting leave, from the rise of his star power in the 80s until the company closed in 2001. This required Sting to take a few chances, changing his character to continue providing an appeal to the audience.
Sting started sporting a new look, portraying a loner character due to the New World Order manipulating WCW wrestlers and fans to doubt his loyalty. It was inspired from the controversial film The Crow, featuring a lead character much like Sting. This helped him become the hottest character in WCW during the 1996-1997 run.
9 Tyler Breeze (Zoolander)
The character of an arrogant male model helped Tyler Breeze break out as one of the most impressive heels in NXT. Breeze’s WWE main roster run was a disappointment, but he is once again back in NXT portraying the character, now as a face.
This act was inspired by Ben Stiller’s performance in Zoolander. The movie features the main character Derek Zoolander, who has a similar persona to Breeze that makes him hard to deal with. Breeze utilized this idea when struggling to get attention in NXT and it provided great results.
8 Jerry Lynn (The Wrestler)
Ring of Honor took a few risks when pushing Jerry Lynn to the top of the company. Many diehard fans were unhappy with Lynn becoming a world title contender after his prime over the likes of Daniel Bryan, Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries and Seth Rollins.
Lynn’s push coincided with the aftermath of the successful movie The Wrestler. The look and age of Lynn helped him to become ROH’s version of Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Lynn defeated McGuinness to win the title and have a short run as the ROH Champion, getting a happier ending than The Wrestler.
7 The Brood (Blade)
The trio of Edge, Christian and Gangrel found success together in The Brood. There were a few different motivations for the gimmick of them playing vampires. Gangrel was running with the gimmick before and after the WWE run.
WWE, however, found the act more appealing after the release of Blade. The hit movie with Wesley Snipes featured a memorable opening scene of vampires at a night club indulging in a bloodbath. This became the calling card of The Brood in WWE to get the better of their opponents.
6 Paul Burchill (Pirates of the Caribbean)
The WWE career of Paul Burchill featured a few different embarrassing gimmicks. One of them came when WWE wanted to find success off the back of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Burchill received a pirate gimmick meant to mimic the character of Jack Sparrow played by Johnny Depp.
Fans viewed it as a joke right away, since Burchill came off cartoonish. Wrestlers need to have a connection with their character that will help it get over, but it is quite hard to play a convincing pirate. The comedic segments didn’t help, and Burchill was taken off television shortly after.
5 Bray Wyatt (Cape Fear)
Bray Wyatt mixes a few different inspirations into his character. The rebranding of Wyatt from Husky Harris helped him become a relevant player on the WWE roster after the poor start. Wyatt’s unique character presented a lot of mysterious elements to leave the fan base wondering.
One of the motivations for the gimmick came from the character Max Cady in the film Cape Fear. Legendary actor Robert De Niro played the character in the moviet. Wyatt’s unique promos and the way he dresses each parallel the presentation of Cady in Cape Fear.
4 Kazuchika Okada (The Green Hornet)
An embarrassing instance of a wrestling character inspired by a movie featured Kazuchika Okada’s worst moments in TNA. Okada was in the company as part of the working relationship with New Japan. The hope was that Okada would learn a new wrestling style before returning to Japan for a huge push.
TNA barely used him until Vince Russo came up with the character of Okato, based on the character Kato in The Green Hornet. This timing coincided with the movie release featuring Seth Rogen’s take on the character. Okada saw his potential wasted in TNA and NJPW still refuses to do business with them due to it.
3 Razor Ramon (Scarface)
Scott Hall joined WWE in the early 90s with a great idea for a new character. The legendary movie Scarface features Al Pacino delivering an impressive performance as gangster Tony Montana. Hall decided to commit to the character.
Razor Ramon was introduced as a heel and found instant success with this gimmick. Fans didn’t even care it was ripping off Scarface, since the entertainment value made it worth watching. Razor eventually turned face, since fans fell in love with the character quickly.
2 Alexa Bliss (Suicide Squad)
The 2016 release of Suicide Squad was bashed by critics, but the film did find success in the box office. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of DC Comics character Harley Quinn was a bright spot for the movie. WWE star Alexa Bliss was such a fan that she designed gear for a show based on it.
Bliss’ Harley Quinn cosplay helped her stand out, and eventually led to a bigger push early into her call-up on the main roster. WWE started allowing Bliss to play a ruthless heel character based on the Quinn anti-hero. Alexa would become one of the most successful female stars in company history after the change.
1 Kane (Halloween)
Wrestling fans can see shades of many different horror characters in the early years of Kane. WWE introduced him as the mysterious brother of Undertaker with a mask to cover his burns from a fire he'd fallen victim to in his childhood. Kane was set on tormenting Undertaker and anyone in his way.
The original intent of the character came from Michael Myers in the Halloween franchise. Given the Halloween story of Myers playing an evil brother, Kane was meant to be WWE’s version of it. Many of his mannerisms and the mask would be inspired by the Myers character.