A WWE Superstar's success typically has a lot to do with his abilities as a performer, but his character often plays just as big a role.
It’s a simple philosophy, really: If you have a quality character, you succeed. If you don’t, well, you don’t.
For many WWE Superstars, characters either help them move forward or hold them back. A guy like Daniel Bryan succeeds because his character works, while someone like Brodus Clay stalls because his doesn’t.
In order for some very talented Superstars to get out of the ruts they’re in, they are going to need some character tweaks that could transform them from boring and stale to exciting and fresh.
So, which WWE stars badly need gimmick overhauls? Let’s break it down.
Here are five Superstars in desperate need of character shifts.
Note: John Cena will not be included on this list. That topic has been done to death, so there’s no need to analyze it any further.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Cody Rhodes was making a huge impact in the WWE, and he did so in large part because of his great character development.
He’s gone through a number of different characters over the years, from his time with Legacy to his “Dashing” gimmick to his demented gimmick that followed. It’s really not surprising that those were the times he had the most success.
But now? It’s genuinely difficult to even describe what Rhodes’ character is. Quite frankly, he doesn’t really have one.
After having very identifiable gimmicks for the first several years of his career, he is now sort of just Cody Rhodes. Even when he’s teaming with Damien Sandow as part of Team Rhodes Scholars, he doesn’t have much of a gimmick. He essentially just piggybacks off of Sandow.
That’s a problem that definitely needs fixing.
Rhodes is a tremendous talent who’s still very young, so he has plenty of time to creep his way back up the card. But the bottom line is that won’t happen unless he adopts a new character that allows him to do so.
Luckily for Rhodes, he was the shining star of the World Heavyweight Championship contract Money in the Bank ladder match, and he was oh so close to winning the briefcase.
It looks like a face turn could be in the works for Rhodes, and that might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
There aren’t many bad things you can say about Kofi Kingston.
He’s charismatic. He can wrestle. He’s over. He’s reliable. He’s a fantastic babyface.
In fact, Kingston could probably stay in his current midcard babyface role forever and still have a ton of success. The issue, however, is that he’s had almost zero character development over the course of his career.
Other than his late 2009 feud with Randy Orton, he’s been essentially the exact same guy since he first appeared in the WWE in 2008. Though he’s won a ton of titles and solidified himself as a go-to babyface, he’s never been able to break through that glass ceiling.
That’s obviously because he hasn’t changed since day one. At all.
Even though Kingston will likely have a spot in the WWE as long as he wants it, his spot isn’t going to change until his character changes.
Yeah, he’ll be a reliable midcard babyface who wins a secondary title here and there and who continues to put on great matches on a consistent basis.
But if he ever wants to be more than that, he’s going to have to change his character—whether that’s turning heel or just making some minor tweaks—in order to rise up the WWE ladder.
Formerly known as Vince McMahon’s “Chosen One,” Drew McIntyre is now relegated to a comedic role as a wannabe rock star who plays air guitar alongside Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal.
That just about says it all, doesn’t it?
Once someone who was seen as one of the WWE’s rising stars and a future world champion, McIntyre now finds himself at the very bottom of the barrel in a role that suits him terribly and is an incredible waste of his great talent.
There is no chance whatsoever McIntyre will ever have true success as a member of 3MB, so virtually any character change would be a positive one. After all, he can’t really drop any further down the card, considering he’s hardly ever even on TV anymore.
It really has been shocking to see his tremendous fall from grace. It was once thought he’d have won a world title or two by now, but at this point, it’d be surprising to see him even remain with the company for more than another couple of years.
For whatever reason, the WWE has completely abandoned the McIntyre ship, and his “rock star” gimmick is a clear sign of that.
If there’s ever going to be even a remote chance of McIntyre moving on to bigger and better things, he’s going to have to start with a total gimmick makeover that rids him of anything even slightly related to 3MB.
The creative team has royally screwed Ryback.
Here’s a guy who, just a year ago, was quickly rising through the ranks on his way to becoming one of the WWE’s most popular stars. Now, he’s nothing short of a joke.
As if losing every major match he’s been in over the last year wasn’t bad enough, Ryback now finds himself as a whiny heel who actually walked away from a match against, of all people, The Miz.
Ryback has already been terribly miscast as a heel (he was way better as a babyface), but his heel run is only being worsened by the fact that the creative team has turned him into a total pansy.
It’s going to take a minor miracle to right the Ryback ship, and perhaps a good start would be his looming partnership with Vickie Guerrero, which should help him do what he’s been unable to do so far: get over as a heel.
Truth be told, however, Ryback should probably turn face again if he’s ever going to be a legitimate main eventer. Regardless, something absolutely must change.
His whiny complainer gimmick is going to do absolutely no good for him.
At the very least, creative must drop that aspect of Ryback’s character. In a perfect world, though, he’d get a new one altogether.
Just a year ago, the Internet was filled with articles begging for The Miz to turn babyface and claiming he’d perform well in that role.
So much for that.
The Miz’s babyface run has been totally botched thus far, and it’s gone on for so long now that it probably won’t ever get back on track, which is rather unfortunate.
The Miz could have succeeded as a babyface had the creative team gone about things differently and/or had The Miz been able to adapt and tweak his character.
Sadly, neither of those things has happened.
The creative team has forced The Miz into a weird midcard role that feels like a never-ending cycle of bad MizTV segments and intercontinental title feuds. Meanwhile, The Miz is equally as annoying (or perhaps more so) as he was as a heel.
The WWE has done virtually nothing to differentiate face Miz from heel Miz, and even though he’s proven to be a very good in-ring performer as a face, that hasn’t mattered.
The Miz’s character sucks, and until the creative team either turns him heel again or alters his babyface shtick, he’s not going anywhere as a good guy—well, at least not anywhere good.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!