Pro wrestling is filled with bad gimmicks and ring names. We’ve covered several on this blog alone. What we’ve yet to explore are the bad ones or seemingly bad ones and still succeeded. Why did they succeed? Simple, the wrestlers under the gimmicks embraced the name or character and made it their own. Whether it was purely by talent or hard work or both.
The first one that comes to mind is none other than Daniel Bryan. When it was revealed what Bryan Danielson’s WWE ring name was going to be…people shuddered. Why couldn’t Bryan Danielson just be Bryan Danielson?!? The name was not only unimaginative and uninspired…they gave him goofy “Sports entertainment” like qualities. For instance, they had him dance in the ring with the Bella twins. Totally negating the impact he had carved out for himself on the independent scene.
It was through his talent and hard work that now he has become accepted as Daniel Bryan and became one of the most popular wrestlers on the WWE roster.
Dolph Ziggler was a name that was initially a head scratcher. It was initially met with sighs and groans. The name as I understand it was a play on Dirk Diggler. The character was a porn star played by Mark Wahlberg in the movie Boogie Nights. Whether or not Dolph was suppose to be a modern take on the classic Val Venis character…it worked. Nick Nemeth injected an arrogance and bravado to the Ziggler gimmick that fans slowly, but surely took to.
One of the things the WWF/WWE was compared to in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s was a 3 ring circus. So when the idea of a wrestling clown came to mind, it was not really a shock…just kind of what you expected from Vince McMahon. When Doink the Clown made his debut, he looked like what we expected…but the wrestler portraying Doink added so much more.
Matt Borne watched several episodes of the TV series ‘Batman” and read comic books that included Batman’s arch nemesis…The Joker. Borne incorporated many of the Joker’s evil, twisted and sadistic qualities to the gimmick. He transformed what would be just another silly, redundant cartoon gimmick and gave it life. In turn, in my opinion, one of the greatest gimmicks in the company’s history.
When word got out that the son of ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes….Dustin Runnels was going to be transformed into an androgynous, gold face painted weirdo named Goldust….some critics snarled at the idea. After all, Dustin was just starting to come into his own in WCW. Dustin transformed the movie quoting, living Oscar statue into a complex character with bizarre tendencies. Dustin became Goldust….or Goldust became Dustin? Either way, the character has stood the test of time.
The thought of a porn star that wrestles wouldn’t seem like a winning gimmick. Granted, the attitude era was in full swing…but the gimmick didn’t seem like it would be successful. A few creatively done vignettes and Sean Morley putting in the “hard” work and Val Venis for at least a brief period of time….worked! Val Venis was an extremely popular character for a spell during that era.
It took a while for him to debut…but when Fandano finally arrived…he danced into fans conscious. For a brief amount of time…people from all walks of life and from around the world were “Fandangoing.” (Dancing and humming his theme music) Fandango a dancing wrestler…became a huge deal for the WWE for a short amount of time.