WWE: John Cena and 15 Other Wrestling Fruity Pebbles

Cec Van Galini@@MJA_GalbraithAnalyst IIIMarch 16, 2011

WWE: John Cena and 15 Other Wrestling Fruity Pebbles

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    Wrestling has always used colour to demonstrate popularity. Hulk Hogan was red and yellow. Randy Savage was multi-coloured. John Cena has been orange and purple. Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio change their outfits almost every week.

    The Attitude Era did it slightly differently, insomuch as Stone Cold Steve Austin wore simply black trunks and black boots. But that was the time; that was the style.

    Wrestling in its PG form can be described as cartoonish, a return to the days of the early 1990s, when wrestlers were big and loud characters, sometimes unbelievable, sometimes bizarre, but always colourful.

    This slideshow will highlight 16 examples of what the Rock might called "fruity pebbles"...the colour of wrestling.

    Hope you enjoy!

Kofi Kingston

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    The Smiling Wrestler. Kofi Kingston has been a strong fan favourite since he debuted in WWE in 2007. His Jamaican gimmick relied on colour to present him as a reggae-loving, laid-back superstar.

    His use of bright yellow and green helped sell this angle, despite the fact that he was from Ghana, West Africa.

    When this angle was dropped and Kofi suddenly became African with a strong American accent, the use of colour did not disappear. 

    Since then he has represented the rainbow and has been seen in a wide range of colours from red, blue, green, yellow again, purple and black.

    The use of colour here makes Kofi friendly and instantly recognisable to fans, especially younger fans. The association of fun colours makes it easy to know that Kofi is a face.

    I wonder, just wonder though, if wrestling is to take a more PG-13 stance, whether Kofi could either be a victim of a post-WrestleMania sacking, or a new image were he relies not on colourful attire, but his aggression to survive?

    Imagine Kofi simply coming to the ring in black trunks and relying on that "controlled frenzy."

John Cena

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    The Rock said it best, there was the bright orange shirt and then the bright purple shirt. And it is in WWE tradition that its biggest and more recognisable star, has brand awareness.

    Hogan was yellow, so Cena was Orange.

    It again falls into the category of bright colours equate to popularity. It is a fun concept to wear bright clothing and it instantly sets a face aside from a miserable-looking heel who relies on black boots and tights.

    Cena is the unchallenged King of the PG era. His merchandise is hugely popular and it remains one of the most visible in worldwide stadia. Look around at your next live event, and you will instantly see who is a Cena fan by the presence of orange and purple shirts.

    Few other superstars can measure their popularity without a sound test.

    Call him a fruity pebble, but also recognise that those bright shirts are part of wrestling tradition.

Bret Hart

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    Pink. Wrestling? Divas? No.......Bret Hart.

    It remains of the strangest choices for a wrestler's attire but Bret Hart and his foundation made it work.

    Like so many others in this slideshow, Bret has an instantly recognisable look. Few wrestlers in history have used pink as their choice of colour.

    I must confess I still have no idea as why Bret chose to wear pink, maybe an informed Bleacher might know, but it has helped created a look that is iconic.

    The "Harts" of today, David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd and Natalya continue this legacy today, and its a nice reminder of a wrestling legend.

Goldust

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    Except for possible WWE returnee Shelton Benjamin, few wrestlers in their pursuit of the gold have chosen to wear gold.

    And when he debuted in 1995, it made an instant statement. Goldust, the eccentric Hollywood fanatic, was instantly noticeable.

    Together with Marlena, Goldust had and still has an iconic look. The gold bodysuit creates a character that Dustin Rhodes made his own.

    For part of his career, he tried to avoid the character and yet it remains one of the most popular WWE creations.

    Often overlooked in terms of world titles, Goldust with his bright and bold look can never be physically overlooked. He remains of the most accomplished superstars on the roster today.

Rey Mysterio

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    Ultimate Underdog, King of the 619, Rey Mysterio remains one of the most popular superstars in wrestling history. And true to form, as with his many faces, his attire has been varied and bright.

    I'm not sure exactly how WWE manages to continually find new ways of dressing Rey so that his attire is different and yet every week he seemingly arrives with something new.

    Always themed in a certain way, each of Rey's outfits present him as being friendly and a fan favourite.

    The mask alone is a reflection of colour and tradition. Why WCW did not see the marketing capabilities remains to be seen, but they had Steve Austin too before they let him go.

Randy Savage

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    Randy Savage was for a long time the second biggest name in wrestling. Whereas people had heard of Hulk Hogan, so too they had heard of Randy Savage. Even now, years after retirement, he is still a recognisable name in pro-wrestling.

    He is also remembered for his outlandish outfits including tassels. The brightness of his costumes, together with its manic use of colour, made Savage an instantly recognisable superstar and in sharp contrast to the heels of the day.

    Together with Hulk Hogan, who will also appear on this list, the colour sold the notion of two popular superstars who had come to save the day.

Hulk Hogan

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    No time like the present, Hulk Hogan is a legend. Forget the WCW and TNA issues for a moment, he is wrestling. The No. 1 name in wrestling, well before Steve Austin, Rock or John Cena. Everything about Hogan was loud.

    Patriotism, moustache, hair, promos and attire. He created an image that is now largely recognised as being a generic wrestler. He is wrestling.

    In the days of old, his use of red and yellow was marketing genius and it created a product that was sold throughout the world.

    Just as Cena has his orange and purple, so too Hogan has his yellow and red. It makes a statement and is visibly bright in any arena around the world.

Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannety: The Rockers

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    Back in a time when tag-team wrestling was about recognised teams, a young Shawn Michaels was cutting his teeth in the wrestling business.

    Together with Marty Jannetty, they formed a popular team that characterised the late 1980s. They had attires and hairdos that embodied the changing times as wrestling entered the 1990s.

    In contrast to the likes of Demolition, their form of attire made them instantly recognisable faces. They too relied on tassels and bright colours to present them as friendly.

    This team along with the Hart Foundation, Legion of Doom and others, helped created a distinctive division that was a proud part of the old WWF.

Del Wilkes: The Patriot

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    Perhaps no more obvious face attire than that of Del Wilkes, the Patriot. Largely underused by WWE, his attempt at being the second coming of Hulk Hogan ultimately did not work.

    Usually an American flag, and a strong patriotic word, is enough to win massive support and yet unlike Hogan and future Hall of Famer, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Del Wilkes just did not manage to win over the fans.

    In the Attitude Era, people were not interested in patriots or doing your duty, instead they preferred outlaws and bad guys.

    Wilkes was certainly marketed against this and its one reason why he perhaps failed to win over the WWE Universe. More often than not, he was a jobber in the Bret Hart/Canada storyline.

    Bright, Loud, Patriotic, Del Wilkes used his attire to win support, and while he may have had some fans, the colour of the flag just did not produce the monumental results expected.

Sting

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    Long before he was the Crow, Steve Borden was the colourful face of WCW. In the words of Bobby Heenan, he had a colourful face and a "Bart Simpson haircut." He was the embodiment of what a face was expected to be. Bright, friendly and appealing.

    The colour of his attire created an image that made him not only recognisable but hugely popular. Alongside Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, he was part of a face triumvirate in WCW that had massive support. What happened next was Attitude. The public ceased to enjoy clean faces and with it, an entire generation of wrestlers lost their colour.

    Hogan turned heel, Savage followed suit, Rocky Maivia became the Rock, Stunning Steve Austin became Stone Cold and Sting became the Crow.

    So many of these turns were hugely popular, and it is testament to Sting that he maintains this popularity today, whereas others have either retired or lost their lustre. Current TNA Champion Sting remains a huge fan favourite.

Yoshi Tatsu

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    Why, oh why, does this guy not have more mainstream attention? Some point to his lack of English, or maybe its just doesn't have enough muscle, but Yoshi is King of Superstars, and that's about it.

    If he survives the post-WrestleMania cull, and that remains to be seen, he will be retained because of the WWE's Asian network. Khali is India, just as Yoshi is Japan. Its no surprise that his only main event appearance in the last year, came in Japan, despite having no other mainstream success.

    He is a colourful and potentially popular superstar, but he just seems to lack that bit of luck that could see him gain success in WWE.

Sheamus

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    Perhaps not so much renowned for his colour, as his distinctive lack of it, Sheamus nonetheless has been marketed using colour. His pale white skin and dyed red hair and beard, creates the image of an Irish warrior.

    It must be part of his contract that Sheamus, in America for at least two years, is asked not to sunbathe. Since his debut, the only time he has looked even slightly reddish is after a Ric Flair-style chop.

    And yet the use of this colour has created something distinctive, someone who the fans instantly recognise. It may not necessarily aid his heel status, but it is a taunting point for fans who have likened him to mayonnaise.

    If John Cena is purple, and Hulk Hogan is yellow, the Sheamus represents white.

Kane

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    Again another heel, again the use of one colour to demonstrate a point. Kane is red. He is stop. He is warning.

    The use of red is traditionally used to represent danger and in Kane that was the original intent. The use of red lights, red suit and in the beginning a red and black mask, created an instantly recognisable image for wrestling fans.

    Kane has lost much of that original colour but the red lights remain. We already know what he represents, so we do not need the reminder quite as much.

    But for those first few years, Kane was red.

New World Order

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    Not quite a fruity pebble but the use of colour and more particularly, light, created something unique in WCW. As the colour drained away from wrestling as it moved into the Attitude Era, the nWo created the sense of an invasion by simply flickering the lights.

    This was a simple effect but it made the nWo look as if controlled everything, right down to pyro, theme music and video effects. Wrestling was under attack from a new heel group and the t-shirts that accompanied this new phenomenon remains one of the most iconic.

    Nothing in life is black or white, but yet the nWo used these colours to great effect.   

Ultimate Warrior

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    Personal problems aside, the Warrior should have been the long term successor to Hulk Hogan. They both represented strength and power.

    They both were massive faces and both colourful. Indeed as attires went, Ultimate Warrior was literally colourful, employing a multi-coloured Randy Savage style wardrobe.

    The 1980s was a time of colour and faces, and it was easy to understand that when that amazing generic rock anthem struck, that we were in for something special.

    The face paint, the attire and the energy made the Warrior a great hero to many.

    We know of course the disputes that littered his career but when he was in WWE, he was a colourful and well-loved superstar.

Rocky Maivia

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    Note, Rocky Maivia and not the Rock. He too began life as a fruity pebble.

    Just prior to the Attitude Era, the faces were still fresh faced and reliant on clean living.

    Dwayne Johnson is perhaps the last of the colourful faces prior to the revolution. Indeed many wrestling fans initially opposed him because he was deemed weak and insignificant compared with the likes of Steve Austin and DX.

    When he made his debut at the Survivor Series, the Rock was the epitome of youth and energy. He came dressed in an attire that had inspiration from his grandfather, the Great Peter Maivia.

    There were tassels and colour just to re-inforce the notion that this new kid was playing for the good guys.

    History tells us what happened next. The colour disappeared, the tassels went, the colour went, and the eyebrow appeared.

    The Rock was born.

And So....

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    Colour is a commonly used device in wrestling to portray simple concepts. Colourful usually means face, black usually means heel. Red is a sign of danger, green is Irish, yellow is Hogan, and pink usually means divas (Except Bret which made it cool).

    The Attitude Era brought on by the collapse of traditional wrestling images brought with it many changes. The steroid trials of the 1990s obliterated the idea that wrestlers were holier than holy heroes and so wrestling either needed to revolutionise or die.

    As a result, Hulk Hogan who asked for you to take your vitamins and say your prayers was now Hollywood Hogan and in it for himself. Shawn Michaels, went from a boyhood dream to a degenerate and even Bret Hart turned heel.

    Wrestling no longer relied on simply face/heel relationships. Colour that was used to demonstrate who someone was disappeared and in its place was attitude. Literally. Wrestlers turned up in jeans and black boots to wrestle, the line between face and heel blurred.

    And yet the collapse of WCW and the excesses of the WWE, has brought us full circle. Public outcry over a series of events, not least, the deaths of over a hundred wrestlers, has made wrestling seek a much more friendlier place.

    The action has lost its edge, wrestlers are softer with even the heels more cartoonish.

    Some remnants remain but to a large degree, wrestling is back with its colour. Faces wear colourful attires whilst the heels were black. Its not unlike that old traditional Hollywood where the good wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black.

    Colour as a tool of a wrestler's construct is once again at play, and even before we have seen a single move, we can tell who is the good and who is the bad. We see an aura around them that says who they are, what they represent and whether they will win.

    Wrestling is full of fruity pebbles, they tell us who is who.