Padraic Toolan, Brian Damage and Lowlife Louie Ramos
This week’s Mount Rushmore is the top four greatest gimmicks or characters of all time. Who had or pulled off a gimmick and made it absolutely great?
Certainly there are wrestling personalities like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and then there are characters and gimmicks, which it seems like have mostly gone by the wayside these days. I love me a good gimmick, so this one is a lot of fun. The runners up on my Mount Rushless: Honky Tonk Man, Doink the Clown, Val Venis, and The Godfather. For the cream of the crop, the Mount Rushmore:
A wrestling undertaker character has lasted for 30 years. It makes you wonder if anyone but Mark Calaway could have made it work. He was so committed to protecting the character, and no matter how much kayfabe was lost over the years, we always got lost back in it when The Undertaker appeared.
The Million Dollar Man
We totally believed that Ted DiBiase could buy anything he wanted. He showed us by buying personal time at the public swimming pool! HE BOUGHT THE WWF CHAMPIONSHIP! This character was so much fun to hate. WWF did everything they could to make this gimmick look real, and they did an incredible job.
I’ve said it so many times on here before: Kane scared the hell out of me. His backstory might be the best one in wrestling history. He was the baddest creature in all of wrestling, but unfortunately he’s gone back and forth from monster to comedy to boring corporate stooge in recent years. Still, the original character and his storyline with The Undertaker is one of the best gimmicks and storylines ever.
The original Goldust character was something that made everyone uncomfortable. There was not a lot of tolerance for LGBTQ+ people at the time, and especially among wrestling fans, he was certainly not cheered. However, the character continued to push the boundaries and eventually got over with a crowd that didn’t know how to react to him at first. The character evolved into a beloved comedy act, which to me definitely enhanced his legacy, but the original incarnation is what puts him up on my Mount Rushmore.
Doink the Clown
Initially, when I saw this character on WWF TV…I thought that it was utterly stupid and would fail. I mean wrestling purists were calling WWF a circus anyway, so I guess Vince McMahon just added to it. What I didn’t realize is that Matt Borne, the man behind the clown make up was an absolute genius on how to portray Doink the Clown. On the surface, he looked like your average goofy clown…but Borne added so many layers to it. He was a psychopath and played it beautifully. One of the truly great gimmick wrestlers of all time.
Gorgeous George is the granddaddy of all gimmicked wrestlers. The man who introduced wrestling fans to a new breed of wrestler. He brought style, flashiness and was must see whether at the arena or on television. Gorgeous George had the bleached blonde hair, the sequined robes, the valet, the perfume and the music. He inspired countless wrestlers to bring the flash and substance to the ring. A true legend.
‘The Loose Cannon’ Brian Pillman
You know you have a great gimmick when you can work fellow wrestlers, bookers and the fans into believing you are as crazy in real life as the character you portray. Pillman played up the gimmick to the absolute hilt and made himself into the hottest wrestler in the business for a brief period of time. Pillman transformed himself into this psychotic, uncontrollable individual who was extremely over in WCW, ECW and the WWF.
I simply cannot ignore perhaps the greatest gimmick of them all. The Undertaker gimmick made Mark Calaway into a bonafide legend in pro wrestling/sports entertainment. Think about it, would Mark Calaway be as big a star if he was ‘Mean’ Mark Callous or anything else? Maybe…but most likely not. He breathed life into the Dead Man and made it iconic.
A gimmick can make or break a wrestler.
Some gimmicks though, stand the test of time…
Honorable mention..The Million Dollar Man, The Nature Boy. The Road Warriors, The Ultimate Warrior, Kane, The Missing Link, Hulk Hogan, Yokozuna, the Original Sheik..Gorgeous George ( the father of the gimmick)
…A maniacal human being from Truth or Consequence New Mexico, Cactus became famous by leaving pieces of himself all over the world. Flesh, bone, teeth and an ear It seemed there were no limits to how far he would go…Cactus went from the independents to WCW to ECW to a fabled run in Japan, which crowned him the 1st king of the death match…to even having a world title program in the WWF ,where he would retire vs Triple H…Cactus would go on to leave his mark.
Rowdy Roddy Piper
…..Brash, arrogant, obnoxious and a penchant for the ear splitting chimes from a badly played bagpipe made Piper the most hated man in wrestling, when at the time the eyes of a nation where on the business. He attacked musicians, destroyed managers, harass little people, made fun of fan favorites and pushed crowds to the edge..The Rowdy Scot…1 for the ages.
Abdullah the Butcher
…probably the longest running gimmick of all time, spanning over 6 decades . The madman from the Sudan..The insane 400 pounder who maimed opponents with the trademark fork, and who was also maimed by many to the point of having slot sized scars on his head.. Abdullah found success everywhere he went. He achieved god like status in Japan..and while not well known by the casual fan..totally regarded as a legend by hardcore fans the world over. A true inspiration to me and one of my heroes.
…if Abby would have been more well know he would get the front of.the mountain..but this character tops all. Starting out as the dead man..the Undertaker gimmick found success for almost 4 decades…world renowned for its longevity, it underwent many changes through the years..remaining fresh and relevant to generations of fans..the character would go from near dead to dead to supernatural..to human during its time in the national spotlight. I don’t think another gimmick will ever, ever resonate like this one…
5 thoughts on “Mount Rushmore of Wrestling: Great Gimmicks”
That’s easy… the Undertaker, Loose Cannon Brian Pillman, Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, and Abdullah the Butcher. I would put Piper, Gorgeous George, Kane, Goldust, and any of the 3 faces of Mick Foley in Dude Love, Mankind, or Cactus Jack in the list of honorable mentions. I would also have “Broken” Matt Hardy in the list of honorable mentions.
*Paul Bearer (being a real life mortician certainly gave the persona some authenticity)
*”Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman
*Kamala, The Ugandan Giant
*Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness days (at that time, the public thought he was legitimately Satanist)
Exotic Adrian Street. The Sheik.
Only two come to mind.
The rich man gimmick: Ted DiBiase, VKM
“Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning. Certainly the two gimmicks that most wrestlers would like to have.
And two other favorites of mine. The shooter/MMA gimmick and the World’s Strongest Man gimmick since I have dabbled in both sports.
Doink and Goldust were and are embarassments that should never have happened.
Million Dollar Man was overall well done I especially appreciate that, unlike many other gimmicks, they kept his real life name too and kept mentioning and using it, making Million Dollar Man just a nickname instead of the only thing he was billed as. The ONLY thing I would have changed about it is to explain where he got his money. Because DiBiase was a star before he came into the WWF. I get that WWF had that annoying policy of ignoring pre-WWF history of incoming talent, but it would still have helped to say that he was an up-and-coming wrestler who got his money by (fill in the blank .. unexpected inheritance, lottery windfall, shady business dealings).
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