Top Five Wrestlers You Personally Never Thought Would Be Successful But Were

Eric Adamz, Brian Damage and Amerigo Diehl

This week’s top five is the opposite from a previous week. It is all about wrestlers we personally thought wouldn’t become as successful as they did. Whether it was their look, a dumb gimmick or wrestling skill set…these were wrestlers we totally got wrong and went on to have great careers.


5. Diamond Dallas Page

I remember first seeing DDP as a manager, great mic work but I always thought he would be a 2nd or 3rd tier manager. When he first started wrestling in WCW he seemed like a very run of the mill wrestler doing a top rope elbow drop finish. Figured he would be the mid card wrestler. Little did I know he would dedicate himself to his craft and become one of the top WCW talent out of all time. In a time where NWO was the most over act, he was the last babyface standing.

4. The Mountie

A tremendous tag team wrestler when I first saw this gimmick, I thought this was a doomed character but do to his hard work and commitment to the character he actually became a great heel character embroiled in a memorable feud between him Piper and Bret Hart and who can forget the Summerslam loser goes to jail match?

3. Goldust

Dustin Rhodes has always been a hard working tremendous talent that I have enjoyed in the ring and still do to this day. With that said when I first saw the Goldust character to say the least I was confused and turned off by it. But after all these years to me he is the up there with Terry Funk as some of the greatest 2nd generation wrestlers to do something completely different and original from their namesake.

2. Mankind

Although I was a fan of this character I never in a million years thought because of Mick Foley’s look and character I would ever see him with the WWE title. But not only did he but he gave us some of the most memorable content ever

1. Roadkill

Never in a million years I would ever think an Amish character would become one of the most over characters in the most violent American wrestling company at the time. A very athletic big guy Roadkill prove to be a tremendous talent, but being an Amish person who just says “chickens” I thought it was dead end. But himself and Danny Doring absolutely became a loved and respected tag team in ECW.


5. Rikishi

When he first debuted in the WWF, Rikishi was basically the poor man’s version of Yokozuna. I actually think Vince McMahon tried to recreate that successful sumo gimmick and it failed miserably. That is until they let the real Rikishi shine and be himself. The dancing, the stink face maneuver and all the bells and whistles Rikishi came with worked and had a very solid career at a perfect time.

4. Doink

Okay. I’ll admit it…when I first saw the WWF debut a wrestling clown…I was convinced that this was the icing on the cake for the company. I mean after all, critics were already calling the WWF a circus…so why not add a clown to the mix. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Matt Borne would transform a rather ordinary cartoon gimmick and breathe life into it the way he did. Doink the clown became one of the greatest characters of that era.

3. John Cena

While John Cena certainly had the look of a WWE superstar…he just didn’t seem to have the “it factor” when he first debuted. Who would’ve imagined that Cena would become the face of the company in more ways than one a couple of years later. I sure didn’t.

2. Rocky Maivia/The Rock

Here was this guy with an absolutely horrible look and seemingly a very plain vanilla personality. When I saw Rocky debut I figured he would be another Vince project that would flop big. Then he turned heel and let Rock become this completely new persona and he took off to become the most electrifying man in Sports Entertainment. I never saw that coming initially.

  1. The Honky Tonk Man

An Elvis impersonator who wrestled and wrestled initially as a babyface. The dead silence from the crowd when he was first introduced seemed like this gimmick was dead on arrival. When the Honky Tonk Man turned heel and came out of his shell, he became one of the lead heels in the WWF during the 1980’s. He also became one of my all time favorite characters. A credit to The Honky Tonk Man and WWF for sticking with a failed gimmick and actually getting it to work.


5. Eddie Gilbert-
Good looking young wrestler when I first saw him in the then WWF in 1983. His skill set was very solid but he looked like a mid carder at best. Even with a push from Bob Backlund after his car accident. (Side note I was in attendance at a house show where Gilbert was supposed to wrestle when they announced that he would not be there because of a bad car accident). It was only after he left the WWF that he really took off and proved himself as a very charismatic wrestler and a great booker. 
4. Shawn Michaels-
Again, like Gilbert his skill set was never really in question for me. Instead to me in both the AWA and WWF he looked like a solid tag team wrestler but not someone who would reach main event status as a singles competitor. Hat’s off to those in creative control realizing that his potential was way better as a singles competitor. 
3. Glenn Jacobs-
In this case, it was bad gimmicks, one after another. Yankem, Fake Diesel?? I shudder to think what might have happened to his career had the attitude era not arrived when it did, and McMahon was still in his early 90’s mindset that everyone had to have a day job. Once Jacobs was given the Kane gimmick his stock took off and he never looked back. 
2. HHH-
Boring in WCW, and even more boring as Hunter Hearst Helmsley in his early WWF days. What was up with that outfit, was he going out on a fox hunt after the match, or was he heading to a reenactment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?  Once he was allowed to become himself, i.e. the GAME, it was a game changer. 
1. Curt Hennig-
Going back even further than Eddie Gilbert, I am referencing Hennig’s initial run in the WWF (late 82-early 83). Here Hennig was showing his great technical skills, but mostly as a jobber to the main heels in the business. He had an amazing match against Playboy Buddy Rose where he almost pinned Rose numerous times. After leaving and making his way to the AWA he got a much stronger push, then upon returning as Mr. Perfect he really blossomed. Had you asked me in 1983 if I ever thought he would be an upper tier wrestler I would have said no way, not in my lifetime. I am glad I was wrong.  

You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.

2 thoughts on “Top Five Wrestlers You Personally Never Thought Would Be Successful But Were

  1. Mine would be Leon White/Big Van Vader. When I first saw him, rookie year in the AWA, I saw what I took to be a very generic big man. I figured “Well he will be lost in the shuffle, nothing really stands out.” next thing I know he is hanging and banging with Otto Wanz, Antonio Inoki, and the holder (all at one time) of titles in Austria, Japan, and Mexico. Shows you what I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Edge and Christian. They were never bad, mind you, but when they first came on the scene as 2/3 of The Brood, They seemed like a decently solid tag team with kind of a one-note gimmick, and no mic skills. I think they were aware of their shortcomings, and, from what I’ve read on this site, not in to the party scene; they just cared about their work, and worked hard to improve. While The Brood was cool, splitting them from Gangrel was an excellent decision, and they were much more entertaining as a duo, and both became great, main event caliber performers.

    Brock Lesnar: He’s a big, scary-looking guy, so I’m not surprised he had a degree of success, but I didn’t think he’d have bring-me-back-occasionally-for-a-big-event-with-a-huge-paycheck success. Pairing him with Paul Heyman was a great idea, but he’s never really had much of a character, or mic skills. Where Edge and Christian worked hard to earn their success, I think Lesnar is a bit overrated.

    Liked by 1 person

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