“All my songs were solo voices. Just me singing. In fact, that was the gimmick—no gimmick. Just singing straight with not too much background.” — Bobby Vinton.
Never have I personally seen one WWE Superstar who could captivate the audience without any catch phrases, witty jokes, or taunts. Many of us in the IWC saw Punk’s potential from his ROH days, but never would any of us thought his legacy would soon materialize in the matter it did.
We crave realism in wrestling and Punk is the closest thing to it. Welcome to the “Reality Era.”
When we look over “gimmick-less” wrestlers over time, we find some who had success but didn’t get as big of a push as other. Superstars like Trent Barreta, Shelton Benjamin, Elijah Burke (WWE), Shannon Moore (WWE), Ken Shamrock, and others.
But when given gimmicks (The Pope for example), some are more successful. But we look at guys like RVD and CM Punk and see gimmicks can only hurt their potential. We have also seen wrestlers with generally no gimmicks like Bret Hart, Arn Anderson, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and others.
But do most wrestlers actually need gimmicks? I’m borderline with this one.
The WWE isn’t lacking gimmicks right now, but more creative gimmicks would help. Please note, when I say creative gimmicks, I’m not talking about gimmicks that are over the top that usually come out of nowhere. Take Orton’s “Viper” character for example. Orton is NOT the best on the mic, but his Viper character suits him well.
Though many young Superstars are given gimmicks, they usually evolve into a different character. In my opinion, the WWE could find more success if the level of realism in characters was turned up a notch.
Sure the typical “arrogant, cocky, sophisticated” heels draw in viewership, but who can argue with Punk’s infamous “shoot-promo.” But I also believe the entertainment value of professional wrestling will suffer if gimmicks are “watered-down.” So that leads me to this, there is only one wrestler currently that can be the face of a professional wrestling brand WITHOUT a gimmick, and that’s CM Punk.
Daniel Bryan can also emerge pretty soon, but I believe he needs a push and seasoning.
The success of the “reality-era” of the WWE will be based on the WWE Universe's bond with characters relevant to real life, not gimmicks. Many will argue that having no gimmick is CM Punk’s gimmick.
Gimmick or not, he doesn’t need one.