In the world of professional wrestling there are a few things you need to make it in the business: In ring ability, good mic skills and a strong look are all important assets, but a good gimmick is the one that can make the difference between a mid-card jobber and a bonafide superstar…of course with all rules, there are usually a few exceptions…
5. Glacier, WCW
In the early to mid 90’s there was a pop culture phenomenon developing in the world of video games. Mortal Kombat, with its brutal gameplay and gruesome finishers, was taking the gaming world by storm and by the late 90’s had cemented its place as one of the most popular video games of all time. WCW not being ones to let a good idea pass them by decided they wanted in on the deal. Based on the character “Subzero,” a supernatural ninja with ice based powers, they came up with Glacier and put it on a relatively unknown martial artist come wrestler by the name of ray Lloyd.
The look was great and Glacier’s move set was not to be sniffed at either, combining lots of martial arts style kicks and showboating with some decent technical work. The problems for glacier started before he even set foot in the ring. WCW spent 5 MONTHS building the hype for Glacier’s debut with weekly vignettes. By the time his debut finally came around, people were already sick of the character and the Mortal Kombat train had left the station, not to mention that the back stage politics at WCW at the time made it difficult to get over anyway. What remained was a gimmick that seemed out dated before it had even happened. Had WCW gone ahead with the debut 4 months earlier I have no doubt it would have gotten over a hell of a lot better.
4. Adam Rose, WWE
As Leo Kruger in WWE’s developmental division, NXT, Rose had a great run putting on some great matches with his aggressive bounty hunter gimmick. With his move to the main roster, came a total change of gimmick. Accompanied to the ring by his ‘rosebuds’ and of course, the bunny, the gimmick is a simple one which at first was well over with the fans. I mean what’s not to like? A walking, talking, 24 hour party animal who, no matter the opponent or situation, just wants to have fun. But bad booking, being buried hard by the announce team, repeated promos and some injury troubles all but stopped Rose’s climb in its tracks.
With a complete 180° gimmick switch, Rose is no longer the life of the party as he has become the party pooper. As a somewhat wasted talent I for one hope the change works for him, although early signs still aren’t good.
3. Willow, TNA
This may be a controversial choice due to the pretty much universal hatred of the gimmick and to be honest, it was the last nail in the coffin of my following of TNA or IMPACT or whatever they’re calling it this week, but hear me out.
Willow is a great gimmick done wrong. The black and white striped mask, creepy high pitched voice and all around strange persona all made the character an interesting watch, however, it was the alter-ego of the charismatic enigma Jeff Hardy, one of the most extreme wrestlers of all time. So when we were told by the announce team that this was Hardy’s even more extreme personality something already seemed amiss. Because right from the first teaser vignettes we were told it was Hardy (and even if we weren’t, many smart fans will remember Willow from Hardy’s early days in he and Matt’s home grown OMEGA promotion) which broke the mystique of the character before it got off the ground. We were told this was a more brutal face of Hardy with a more aggressive move set…which turned out to be exactly the same as normal Jeff Hardy. Combine this all with rambling promos about not much, some bad booking and confusing storyies attached to the character and this one quickly disappeared.
I think this gimmick on an unknown wrestler with an out of the norm move set could have really gotten over, especially in a promotion like TNA which is desparate for something different to break up its sea of trunks ‘n’ boots ‘muscle guy’ wrestlers the flagging promotion currently has.
2. Paul Burchill, WWE
Oh poor Paul Burchill. A talented British wrestler who was making a good run in the WWE in the early to mid 2000’s. After a small break from TV, he reappeared as his pirate alter ego. Although he played the character well and it was relatively over for a short time, the gimmick just didn’t have any legs.
Playing off of the popularity of the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, Burchill’s swash buckling persona was a pretty blatant rip off of Jack Sparrow. However, the issue was with his backstory. In a world where we all allow for an undead zombie, Undertaker to (repeatedly) rise from the grave and allow for guys like Bray Wyatt to have supernatural powers, WWE for some reason decided Burchill needed to have a realistic backstory. He had traced his ancestry and found he had a tenuous link to the legendary pirate Blackbeard and thus decided to start doing pirate shenanigans. He was billed as residing in the Virgin Islands and swung to the ring on a rope, cutlass and all. Problem was his character was literally a dude pretending to be a pirate, not someone who somehow believed he actually was. Couple this with the lackluster reception of the second pirates movie and the gimmick soon fizzled and died, a shame since Burchill was a talented wrestler.
1. The Ascension, WWE
Connor and Viktor were excellent in NXT, let’s not have that be in doubt. Ruthless, aggressive, brawling heels who would dominate opponents. They held the NXT Tag Team title for a record 364 days before dropping the belts to the Lucha Dragons and moving up to the main roster….and that’s where things went wrong…
Although they have only been on the main roster a short time, their gimmick had fallen flat faster than the Shock Master on an ice rink. Appearing with an updated version of their ring attire, which made them look like an S & M version of the road warriors. I like the wastelander type of gimmick and although it’s been used a number of times, most notably by the road warriors, I still think it’s a good gimmick. Bad ring gear aside, for some reason they just couldn’t get over at all. Maybe it’s the pressure of the main roster, the subtle changes to the attire or the pretty terrible “we are the Ascention and we will rise” promos, I don’t know. They don’t seem to know quite what the gimmick is. Too clean to be post-apocalyptic, too dark to be Utopian future dwellers. What I do know is with the tag division being its strongest in years there are two great brawlers there that are at risk of being ‘future endeavored’ if things don’t pick up soon.
So there’s my top 5. What do you guys think? Who did I miss? Feel free to tweet me and let me know @taccbrown on Twitter or drop a comment below.