Top Five Wrestling Gimmicks That Would Not Work Today

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Padraic Toolan, Lowlife Louie Ramos and Brian Damage

What top five wrestling gimmicks that were once used and got over, could never be done again on a mainstream wrestling organization in today’s day and age?

Padraic

5. Mr. Fuji
I think they were determined to see how many Japanese stereotypes they could cram into a 5’10 space. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that he wasn’t actually from Japan. Then again, neither were Yokozuna, Pat Tanaka, or Paul Diamond. Let’s just add that Paul Diamond, who was Croatian, was a “Japanese” wrestler in the Orient Express with Pat Tanaka, a Hawaiian wrestler. Oh yeah, back to Mr. Fuji. That shit’s racist.

4. The West Hollywood Blondes
Admittedly, I still find this gimmick both hilarious and extremely cringy, mostly because of how over-the-top it was. Society has thankfully come a long way in how it views LGBTQ people, so much like Mr. Fuji, these stereotypes would never fly today.

3. Muhammad Hassan
This gimmick couldn’t be done when it was done, let alone be done today. What a shitty position to put a performer in.

2. The Godfather
A pimp who brings out his hos and openly makes drug references. Do I need to say anything else about why this one was retired?

1. Akeem the African Dream.
Noooooooooo. No no no. No. Let’s let Wikipedia handle this one:

“On September 1988, One Man Gang’s manager, Slick, announced that Gang was actually African and planned to re-embrace his roots. An episode of WWF Superstars, which aired on September 24, 1988, featured a vignette with Gene Okerlund on-location in an American ghetto that was dubbed “The Deepest Darkest Parts Of Africa,” where dancers dressed as tribal Africans danced and chanted around a fire; Slick then announced that Gang would be known by his new name, “Akeem, the African Dream”, though Okerlund immediately called him out as the One Man Gang. This vignette received some criticism, as the Caucasian “Akeem” delivered a promo in which he spoke with an extremely stereotypical “jive” black accent and danced in the style of Dusty Rhodes while an African ritual took place in the background.”

I’m just gonna let that seep in. Enjoy it (or don’t) while it lasted, because that will NEVER happen again.


Louie

Ah Gimmicks..often filled with terrible stereotypes and nonsense that was sometimes too far fetched even for the squared circle.

An honorable mention to one of my favorite tag teams ever…the Gangstas…who’s hate filled promos incited riots with the crowds..their personas would be severely toned down..and their promos scripted and cleaned up for the national audience..

5) The Undertaker
This one may make some people scratch their heads. But let’s remember the origin of the Undertaker goes back to 1990. You know around the same time as Akeem, Saba Simba, Red Rooster and other ridiculous over the top characters.
While the gimmick and the man who portrayed it stood the test of time, for a gimmick like that would be very hard to get off the ground now. In today’s reality driven, guys using their real names and characters based on real life..a dead mortician would have a hard time capturing the crowds attention.

4) Billy and Chuck
With all the empowerment movements going on throughout the world I dont think this one would get off the ground. Not because it was offensive, but because of the way the whole marriage angle went. In the day of same sex marriage..it just would not fly.

3) Akeem
Like mentioned before ,Akeem would be very controversial. In 2020. In 1988 for some reason it was allowed to get off the ground. And while Akeem never poked fun at the African american community ,the fact that a caucasian man was parading around in traditional African garb and jive talking would be enough to get him vetoed in this day and age..

2) Fritz von Erich
Most people may remember him as the patriarch of the famed Von Erich clan. But at the beginning of his career , Von Erich was a German sympathizer, almost Nazi like. Any gimmick like this would be vetoed in this day and age for its racially charged rhetoric and its probably leading to violence and riots.

1) Abdullah the butcher/ Original Sheik
Ahhh. The forefathers. Blood and violence for the sake of blood and violence. Forks, pencils, fireballs. These 2 men showed no regard for rules or skill, rather a violent brawling streak and propensity for bloodshed. With the way national TV wrestling has been cleaned up and sanitized, it would be impossible for a gimmick like this to get off the ground. You are still able to see this kind of madness in some independent shows but never again will this be seen in the mainstream.


Brian

5. The Nazi Sympathizer Gimmick (The Von Brauners, Waldo and Fritz Von Erich, Hans Schmidt, Baron Von Raschke etc) – Sure, the whole Nazi gimmick was a way more popular and common gimmick during and a bit after the World War II era. Believe it or not, the gimmick lasted well into the 60’s and 70’s. It even had some variations into the 80’s as well. The Nazi gimmick was a guaranteed way to garner “cheap heat.” While the gimmick might seem passe in today’s day and age, there are still some wrestlers on independent circuits still doing variations of it. Heck, Seth Rollins ex girlfriend Zahra Schreiber was fired by WWE for posting Nazi-esque material. It is something that will never be used again in a major promotion.

4. The Wild Samoans – Afa and Sika may be WWE Hall of Famers and deservedly so, but their gimmick of wild, island savages may be put into moth balls for eternity. Samoans are now more reality based and not interpreted as cannibals and monsters who don’t speak, only growl.

3. Val Venis – A porn star who wrestles and could sleep with any woman he wanted. It got over pretty big during the whole Attitude Era, but in today’s landscape…I just don’t see it working. I think the wrestler who is the closest to a Val Venis type is Joey Ryan who currently works for Impact Wrestling. While Ryan is famously known for his “bionic dick flip” on the independent circuit…he has been somewhat toned down and changed a bit on the national level.

2. The Flamboyant Gay Heel Gimmick (Adrian Adonis, Adrian Street, Billy and Chuck etc…) – The days of using homosexuality to get heat as a heel are done. While there are many wrestlers who are legitimately gay….you will never see a major promoter use it to disparage them and get fans to hate them.

1. Colonel DeBeers – Falling in line with the Nazi gimmick that I posted earlier….a wrestler like Col. DeBeers will simply not work in today’s day and age. DeBeers was notoriously known as a racist South African who refused to wrestle anyone of a different race than he. The gimmick gave him mega heat in places like the AWA, but seeing it happen again in kayfabe is not likely.


You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.


5 thoughts on “Top Five Wrestling Gimmicks That Would Not Work Today

  1. Aw, I like these gimmicks. Especially Mr. Fuji whom I loved so dearly and how can anyone not hate on Akeem the African Dream and that song? Wow…

    Of course it wouldn’t work today because too many people get offended over everything nowadays and yet they accept the bullshit that is happening right now on WWE.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not sure I agree 100% with this comment about Hassan: “This gimmick couldn’t be done when it was done, let alone be done today”

    The gimmick itself was going well, he was building up to be a top heel, they just got unlucky when they had a staged terrorist attack which (I think?) was pre-recorded, then an actual terrorist attack happened prior to it airing.

    If this gimmick wasn’t working 100%, he wouldn’t have got to be dealt with by Hulk Hogan at a WrestleMania – something that was almost the equivalent of a title match at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Undertaker was an interesting choice. And yes, as it originally stood, it might not even fly past creative today. A potentially undead Puritan who might have powers of the supernatural?

    Like

  4. Not so much a gimmick but his promos: Ernie Ladd. Drunken Indians, not-too-smart polish americans, sending Tony Atlas back to Africa…would not fly nowadays.

    Like

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