Amerigo Diehl and Brian Damage
Vince McMahon has gotten some heat (and deservedly so) for tinkering with wrestlers looks, name and gimmicks throughout the years. What are your top five WWF/WWE changes that actually paid off well for the company?
Top 5 Tinkered
5 Glenn Jacobs– Doomsday, Unabomb, boring mc boring etc, and any other go nowhere gimmicks that you could possibly think of. Although Vince did not work his magic immediately, Jacobs makes this list because of what he eventually became. Once we got past the dentist and the Diesel impersonator we ended up with Kane, and what might very well have been a career saving gimmick for Glenn Jacobs.
4. Kevin Nash– Yes, I know Diesel was the lowest drawing/grossing WWE champion up to that time, however Vince did have enough faith in both Nash, and the character to give him the ultimate prize. If you could go back to WCW circa ’91-92 and tell someone that in a couple of years OZ and or Vinnie Vegas will become the WWF champion, then go on to form the faction that started the Monday night wars, people would have asked you if you were hallucinating.
3. Dustin Rhodes- Rhodes was fine, his in-ring work was solid, and hey, he’s the son of the American Dream. However, in WCW he wasn’t getting any attention and sadly just blended in with the crowd. I personally found the Goldust character somewhat annoying and over the top, kind of a throwback to Vince’s early 90’s cartoon like gimmicks. I however am not the sole buying audience and this is one time I have to admit I was way off on a gimmick that I thought would certainly fail.
2. Undertaker– Again, see above, solid worker check, talented, check, going to lead a promotion for the next 30 years, well… no. Mark Calloway did fine as Mean Mark Callous, as well as some other personas in the dying days of the territories. Jim Ross explains nicely in his first book that then booker Ole Anderson was pretty dismissive about Calloway saying that he would never draw a dime and he had no interest in resigning him. Taking Ross’s advice Calloway took an offer from McMahon and well we know what happened next.
1. Steve Austin– Work ethic and athleticism was never in question, but again like so many others there is a fine line between mid card and headliner. Up until his signing with the WWE, he had shown just glimpses of his potential with his now famous ECW promos. There was that little road bump of the ringmaster but once Vince let Steve Williams be himself he turned in to the biggest draw the company has ever seen.
I really like Amerigo’s choices for successfully tinkered gimmicks. I am going to try and something a bit more difficult and see if I can just focus on mid card wrestlers that Vince tinkered with and worked out very well.
5 The Mountie
Jacques Rougeau had a decent run with his brother Raymond as a heel tag team. When he had his run as a singles competitor, WWF gave him the gimmick of a Canadian Mounted Policeman. Goofy…Yes, but it did work out pretty well for Rougeau who had a run with the Intercontinental title.
4 The Bushwhackers
I know many old school wrestling fans will disagree with this choice and that is understandable. Butch and Luke were once an extremely feared, blood thirsty tag team called the Sheepherders. When they went to the WWF, their name and gimmick was completely changed. The Bushwhackers were lovable and comedic and while they never won WWF tag team gold…they made a lot of money with the company. Butch would go as far to saying that they made more money in the WWF than anywhere else they ever worked. Money might not be everything, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
3. The Genius Lanny Poffo
Lanny Poffo was really nothing more than enhancement talent in the WWF. When Vince gave him the gimmick of the Genius and started managing Mr. Perfect and the Beverly Brothers his career really seemed to take off. He even got a count out victory of the WWF champion Hulk Hogan.
2. The Big Bossman
Ray Traylor came to the WWF after a successful run as Big Bubba Rogers in the NWA and UWF. He was given a prison guard gimmick which was something he was very familiar with in real life. He really was a former prison guard. The gimmick was successful and he even had a great run of matches with Hulk Hogan for the WWF title.
1 Doink the Clown
I have said it a million times and I still say the greatest gimmick in WWF history aside from The Undertaker is Doink. From ‘Maniac’ Matt Borne to an evil, psychotic clown was fantastic. He should have had a bigger run as good as the gimmick was. I can’t fault Vince McMahon or the WWF for that, as Borne was mainly responsible for the collapse of this great character….as mentioned here.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.
One thought on “Top Five Successful WWE Tinkered Gimmicks”
Whether it was Mark Callaway himself, or WWF/E creative, Undertaker was kept fresh for years. From the undead Puritan, to coming out in the long black coat/robe like one of the cenobites, to corporate, to American Bad Ass, to the combination of all. It all worked and kept him on top. While I always preffered the Sheepherders to the Bushwhackers, I never had issue with them jumping ship and taking the easier road. By that time they had over 20 years of hardcore, bloody, panful brawls and stories of having to escape (sometimes barely) murderous fans. I can’t blame them.
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