WWE Opinion: Steve Austin, Rocky Maivia and 10 Big Stars with Bad Gimmicks
Pro wrestling is such a "win-now" business that being saddled with a questionable gimmick usually spells doom for the unlucky fraternity of talent entrusted to make the most of a bad situation.
Many talented stars have failed to overcome bad gimmicks due to reasons ranging from booking to the character simply not being comfortable in his or her role.
However, it is a shear testament to one's perseverance when they are able to not only recover from uninspiring gimmicks, but become big stars as a result.
Some of the biggest stars in wrestling came not only from humble beginnings, but humbling beginnings, as they portrayed outrageous characters and fought through boring gimmicks to rise to prominence.
"The Ringmaster" Steve Austin
Boring. Uninteresting. Lackluster. You name it, as "the Ringmaster" was the antithesis of everything Steve Austin would become under his "Stone Cold" moniker that ascended to the top of the WWE.
Despite having WWE Hall-of-famer Ted DiBiase as his manager and the novelty of the Million Dollar Championship, Austin struggled to connect with fans under his Ringmaster gimmick. Ironically enough, his career was basically saved only when DiBiase left for WCW, leaving Austin free to run wild with a character more true his real-life persona.
Kevin Nash as "Oz"
Before he was Diesel, and even himself, Kevin Nash was Oz, a character based on the Wizard of Oz movie. Despite receiving an early push, Oz was just too ridiculous to be taken seriously, mirroring one of the litany of over-the-top characters the WWE would showcase in the 80's.
Nash would go onto struggle with another gimmick while floundering in WCW before landing in the WWE as Shawn Michael's bodyguard, Diesel.
Diesel would go onto become the longest reigning WWE Champion of the 90's and was instrumental in almost putting the WWE out of business in his role as a charter member of WCW's NWO stable.
"The Real Man" Steven Regal
If ever there was a gimmick that didn't suit someone's personality, it was the "Real Man" gimmick portrayed by Steven Regal. Not because Regal—one of the toughest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots—wasn't a real man, but because the theme of his gimmick was far too American for the wily English vet.
Perhaps that's why the WWE thought that the gimmick could be such a novelty, but it really ended up being a nuisance more than anything, as one of the more underrated wrestlers in history was being severely misused.
Barry Windham as "the Stalker"
In a key example of the WWE's insistence upon making their "own" stars as opposed to letting superstars dance with what brung them, soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Barry Windham starred in a series of vignettes as "the Stalker," the promotion's resident predator who vowed to prey upon some of WWE's top stars.
When he finally made his debut, he did little else, as Windham quickly fizzled out under his Stalker namesake, only to become an endangered species.
The Deacon Batista
Dave Batista's big splash in the WWE came alongside Brother Devon in a similarly unsuccessful gimmick as a crooked preacher.
Batista acted as Devon's 300-pound Deacon, entrusted with carrying around a tray and bullying money out of fans.
It wasn't too long before the two were broken up and Batista was repackaged as an upstart member of the wildly successful Evolution stable. There, Batista would evolve into a multiple-time world champion and one of the biggest WWE stars of all-time.
Terry Funk as "Chainsaw Charlie"
Terry Funk is one of the all-time great pro wrestlers in history and even managed to make the WWE Hall of Fame despite most of his accolades being non-WWE related.
However, during the height of the famed Attitude Era, Funk portrayed Chainsaw Charlie, a hardcore wildman known for carrying a chainsaw to the ring.
Chainsaw Charlie teamed with Mick Foley as the two battled both with and against each other in a series of hardcore matches.
Booker T as "G.I. Bro"
Booker T was a bona-fide star in both WCW and the WWE. But during the dying days of WCW, the struggling promotion decided to repackage one of their biggest stars as a member of the short-lived Misfits in Action stable.
Booker T floundered as G.I. Bro, and the company would soon follow suit.
Dolph Ziggler as Nicky of the Spirit Squad
Ziggler is a star on the rise in the WWE and is technically a former world champion. Prior to becoming Dolph Ziggler, one of Nick Nemeth's early gimmicks saw him don a male cheerleader outfit as a member of the Spirit Squad.
The Spirit Squad's days were numbered once they were booked in a feud with a reformed Degeneration X, as the group would eventually rid the WWE of the spirited stable.
Kane as Isaac Yankem D.D.S.
Prior to making his debut as Kane by attacking the Undertaker in the main event of Badd Blood in 1997, Glenn Jacobs struggled with multiple gimmicks before hitting his stride as the Big Red Monster.
One of them was as Isaac Yankem D.D.S., a mean-looking dentist with bad teeth. Yankem quickly became a glorified jobber under the ironic gimmick, and would soon be repackaged as the fake Diesel prior to putting on the red mask and forging a successful career as Kane.
The Rock is arguably the biggest star in WWE history, but he had a rough go of things upon making his debut with the company as a highly-touted "blue-chipper" whose wrestling lineage dated back to his father Rocky Johnson and grandfather Peter Maivia—hence the moniker of Rocky Maivia.
Things didn't quite work out the way the WWE expected, as fans simply didn't care about a cookie-cutter babyface in an age where the anti-hero was becoming en vogue.
Adjustments were made to Rocky's character, as he would turn heel and come to be known as "the Rock." The rest, as they say, is history.
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