Dolph Ziggler and 5 WWE Stars Who Have Tried the Parody Gimmick
Dolph Ziggler is having a midlife crisis before our eyes and calling it a gimmick, as the once-promising world championship contender has appropriated several popular gimmicks for an attempt at satire.
Ziggler's antics have hardly endeared him to pro wrestling fans and media, but he's far from the first WWE Superstar whose shtick is parodying other gimmicks.
And if Ziggler wants his "everyman" routine to be what thrusts him back into relevance on SmackDown Live, he has his work cut out. The track record for WWE Superstars doing this exact persona is sketchy.
Once Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, Team Angle, were split up, it was Benjamin who was given a far more significant push on Raw while Haas found some success on SmackDown Live as a tag team performer. Haas would eventually find his way back to the Raw roster in 2008, when he began parodying WWE Superstars, ranging from Bret Hart to Jim Ross to Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Haas would often incorporate his own name to make a pun (e.g. Bret "The Hitman" Haas) before losing in quick fashion to WWE Superstars who were higher on the pecking order.
He got considerable mileage out of his weekly parodies from an entertainment standpoint, but it was impossible to take him seriously again. The otherwise talented in-ring performer was released from his contract in 2010.
The Big Show
Perhaps the only WWE Superstar who could recover from the parade of gimmicks, because of his immense size and talents, was The Big Show.
Show started out hot in WWE, winning the WWE Championship in his first year at Survivor Series 1999. He immediately became a main event fixture, but as is the case with big men in WWE, it was only a matter of time before he was pigeonholed as a comedic giant.
Just one year after shaping up as a perennial contender for the WWE Championship, Big Show turned babyface and began portraying characters like The Showster (Hulk Hogan) and Showkishi (Rikishi).
Thankfully, Shane McMahon intervened, expressing his disapproval in Show's desire to goof around. With the services of McMahon, the 7-footer became a factor in the main event picture again almost overnight.
Damien Sandow's gimmick parade may have damaged him in terms of being a WWE Superstar who could have long-term success, but if there were a pound-for-pound championship pertaining to the parody routine, he would have a shot.
Sandow's almost thespian-like commitment to every character he played, whether it was a lumberjack, an interpretive dancer or Vince McMahon, did not go unnoticed by a WWE's increasingly ironic fanbase.
"Let's go Sandow" chants filled arenas as he performed surprisingly nimble interpretive dances and continued to give every character depiction his all.
When Sandow was paired with The Miz as Mizdow in what was basically supposed to be a one-off, per a Sandow interview with Justin Barrasso of SI.com, fans ate it up. The dynamic of the lovable Mizdow and the detestable Miz created one of the most unique tag teams of the modern era, and Mizdow's pantomiming of The Miz's matches quickly became entertainment gold.
Sadly, Mizdow didn't last too long after his run alongside Miz was over, and he was controversially released in 2016.
Goldust's gimmick was risque enough before the Attitude Era, but once WWE threw all caution to the wind, he found new and uncomfortable ways to shock an audience.
Characters like Hunterdust, Flashdust and Marilyn Mansondust were departures from his androgynous nature in addition to being more extreme versions of it.
After standing out as the edgiest character on television during the late '90s, Goldust had to try—almost too hard—to one-up himself as everybody became edgy.
Comparatively speaking, Goldust managed to have quite the career as a midcarder following his antics, but not before an odyssey that took him through unforgettable runs in WCW and TNA.
Dolph Ziggler is bombing.
The pro wrestler-turned-political commentator-turned stand-up comedian seems to be doing a kayfabe version of his real-life chameleon act.
As a whiny heel who feels gimmicks are what the people want to see, Ziggler has the right idea of an antagonist with a misleading opinion that rubs people the wrong way. But the execution has been awful and poorly received by critics.
Jake Barnett of ProWrestling.net said: "I can't say that I'm thrilled with Ziggler's act."
Wade Keller of PWTorch became uncomfortably angry with a pretend gimmick, noting: "This infantile self-indulgent temper tantrum is boring and pointless, from a booking standpoint and a character standpoint within the narrative WWE presents."
Pro wrestling media opinions tend to be pretty homogeneous, so you get it: They all pretty much hate Ziggler.
For once, I'm going to have to somewhat agree with the consensus, as I can't say I find this gimmick all too entertaining. I like the idea and concept behind his frustration, but Ziggler is not a dynamic enough performer to pull such off such an ambitious character.