Only so many professional wrestlers ever portray one or two gimmicks from start to finish. Of course, some all-time greats are only remembered for one specific character throughout their careers.
But some of our favorite superstars were forced to portray very strange and cheesy characters that only lasted for a short period of time. That said, these legends are inspirations in showing that it's not about your start in professional wrestling, but how you finish.
10 Edge: Damon Striker
Edge worked for multiple promotions around North America - along with real-life friend Christian - before landing a brief gig in WCW. The Rated-R Superstar competed as "Damon Striker" in a match against Meng in Feb. 1996.
Afterwards, Edge landed with WWE in 1996 - and he began to slowly work his way up the ladder. He and Christian would reunite as a tag team - bringing an intense hardcore style along with The Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz. And the rest is history.
9 Batista: Deacon Batista
Batista had an unsuccessful tryout in WCW, so he joined WWE's Ohio Valley Wrestling territory in 2000. In May 2002, he debuted on the main roster and became the right-hand man for Reverend D'Von (the latter had split from long-time tag team partner Bubba Ray Dudley), going by "Deacon Batista."
Well, the Deacon Batista gimmick didn't last long. He split from D'Von in a short time and would join Triple H's Evolution stable in early 2003 - along with Randy Orton and Ric Flair. Batista would emerge as a main eventer after defeating Triple H at WrestleMania 21.
Who could have predicted that Batista would go from a tough Deacon to a World Champion? Life is a full circle, alright.
8 Kevin Nash: Oz
Kevin Nash's wrestling career began in 1990 with WCW, where he portrayed various characters - including Master Blaster Steel and Vinnie Vegas. But Nash's cheesiest gimmick was that of "Oz." Yes, he was simply portraying the Wizard of Oz from the legendary L. Frank Baum novel.
Nash continued this gimmick throughout 1991 before he was repacked as the aforementioned Vinnie Vegas. Of course, his real break came when he debuted for WWE in 1993 as the "Diesel character." That's what put Nash on the path to becoming the Hall of Famer that we know and love today.
7 Kane: Isaac Yankem, DDS
After working in multiple promotions around the United States, Kane finally got his chance when Vince McMahon hired him in 1995. The first gimmick assigned to him was "Mike Unabomb," but he was repackaged as an evil, torturous dentist named Isaac Yankem, DDS several months later.
The ironic part was that Yankem, being a dentist and all, didn't have very nice teeth. Isaac would perform painful produces on his patients, and his entrance music was the sound of a dentist drill. How charming.
Following his run as Isaac Yankem, Kane was rebuilt as "Fake Diesel," replacing Kevin Nash's aforementioned gimmick after he had left for WCW. Give Kane credit for willingly portraying all of these characters before finally becoming the Big Red Machine.
6 Randy Savage: The Spider
The 'Macho Man' was a star baseball player and played in the St. Louis Cardinals organization - later making stops in Cincinnati and Chicago as well. Savage never turned pro, however, and he decided to try out a career in the squared circle.
Savage first portrayed a character named "The Spider," which was an obvious parody of Spider-Man. Coincidentally enough, Savage made an appearance in the 2002 Spider-Man film, portraying a wrestler named Bonesaw McGraw.
The Spider gimmick didn't last long; Savage later changed to the Macho Man gimmick that made him a main event star in WWE - and later WCW.
5 John Cena: The Protoype
After finishing school at Springfield College, Cena entered Ultimate Pro Wrestling, where he portrayed a robot-like character named "The Prototype." Cena even continued this gimmick when he joined the WWE in 2001 - in some appearances on SmackDown Live and in Ohio Valley Wrestling.
Cena underwent a character change when he confronted Kurt Angle in a memorable segment during the June 27, 2002 episode of SmackDown. Cena later became "The Doctor of Thuganomics." He continued this gimmick up until his main event run in 2005 - when he defeated John Bradshaw Layfield at WrestleMania 21 to become the new WWE Champion.
4 The Undertaker: "Mean" Mark Callous
Before he became a legend in the WWE, The Undertaker performed in WCW for one year from 1989 to '90, where he went by the ring name "Mean Mark" Callous. In fact, he went up against Sting during a 1990 WCW event - so the dream match with The Vigilante technically happened!
Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard took note of The Undertaker, and he agreed to join the company in 1990. Here we are almost 30 years later, and The Phenom remains one of the top money draws in the WWE. What a ride it has been, and it's obviously far from done.
3 Triple H: Jean-Paul Levesque
The Monday Night Wars could have gone a lot differently if WCW gave Triple H a) more time and b) more opportunities. They signed him in 1994, and Triple H was told to perform a French aristocrat character named Jean-Paul Levesque.
There wasn't a whole lot for Triple H to work off of. He performed a very unconvincing French accent and didn't receive much of a push. Levesque left the company after just one year, and he signed with WWE in 1995.
The legendary and beloved "Triple H" gimmick finally came together when the D-Generation X stable was formed. And he hasn't looked back.
2 The Rock: Rocky Maivia
The Rock joined WWE in 1996 as "Rocky Maivia," which combined the names of his father (Rocky Johnson) and grandfather (Peter Maivia). But he struggled to get over with the fans and received a very cold reception from the crowd.
But over time, Maivia began to call himself "The Rock," and his character slowly morphed into the "People's Champion" that eventually stepped into the main event spotlight. He started to receive much stronger reactions from the crowd, and in short time, The Rock was finally over as a main event talent.
1 Steve Austin: Stunning Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake joined WCW in 1991, where he went by "Stunning" Steve Austin. Later on, he and the late Brian Pillman formed The Hollywood Blonds duo, winning the World Tag Team Championships on one occasion.
But Eric Bischoff fired Austin in 1995, believing he didn't have the ability to be a true main event star. Well, WCW's loss became WWE's gain. He signed up with Vince's promotion in 1995, and by the time the Attitude Era rolled around, Austin had been established as the new face of WWE.
Without Austin, WWE may not have survived the Monday Night Wars against WCW. You can only wonder how different things would have been if Bischoff kept Austin around a little longer.