We have already reviewed some of the worst persona changes in wrestling history (look through my archive), and now we delve into analyzing some of the most successful persona changes in pro wrestling history.
Most of these guys were only slightly successful before they found that perfect gimmick. Some of these wrestlers were already respected pros that became super famous after they morphed into their career defining personas.
P.S. Some guys never had to change into a persona and never really had one. Flair was Flair and Race was Race and Sammartino was Sammartino. Hulk had a few changes early, but he's not on this list.
These are the top 15 most successful personas of the old school era:
In my last story, this was listed as unsuccessful, but after further analyzation at the urge of B/R readers, I take my pick back.
I attributed Razor Ramon with destroying Scott Hall's life. Then I realized Ramon made him ultra-famous and that Hall messed up his own life.
Scott Charles Bigelow would have been just another huge wrestler if he had not taken on the persona of Bam Bam. Bam Bam was mean and yet, exceptionally skilled and athletic. His outfits were the topping on the ice cream.
Richard Erwin Rood would have been successful anyway because he was in amazing shape and he had charisma, confidence and a great wrestling game which included technical skills and speed, but by becoming Ravishing Rick Rude, he hit the extreme jackpot. The Ravishing One is easily one of the most famous wrestlers ever, and he was never even a world champ.
Óscar Gutiérrez should have never been one of the most famous wrestlers in US history if you go by heritage and size alone. Before you hate, I am Hispanic too, but he was barely 5'5", and yet with his mask on, he was seemingly invincible. Even in Mexico, he was somewhat small for a wrestler, but to make it so big in the US and across the world is amazing.
Curt Hennig was already a huge wrestling success and AWA world champ before he came to the WWF, but when he picked up the persona of Mr. Perfect, it was...well...perfect.
His attitude change and technically amazing skills easily make him one of the absolute greatest wrestlers of all time.
Lawrence Robert "Larry" Shreve would have been just another quiet Canadian guy if he hadn't gone with the awesome name Abdullah the Butcher. He definitely lived up to the persona in the ring, but out of it, he was actually a quiet Canadian guy.
The transformation from out to in the ring for this guy was drastic, and it worked to a T.
Who is Sylvester Ritter? He is the man known by wrestling fans as Junk Yard Dog. Was he a great wrestler? Hardly, but his name was probably the greatest nickname ever, and it made his career something worth noting.
Robert Remus is known worldwide as one of the most successful wrestlers of all-time. He was a world champion, a brawler, a controversial yet loved figure and he battled with the biggest names of all-time while never giving the spotlight fully over to the other guy. Sgt. Slaughter? Perfect name for a pro wrestler.
Ted Dibiase is simply one of the best wrestlers ever. He was not muscular, but he knew how to wrestle, punch, execute multitudes of moves and to win.
He also knew how to capitalize on his skills by going with the Million Dollar Man moniker. It seems like EVERYONE has heard of him.
Without the scary outfits and the mask, I do not know if Leon Allen White would have made it. After all, he wasn't a truly great wrestler. He did have size, but he had a baby face. The mask did it.
Mark William Calaway went by a few names before the Undertaker name stuck. The rest is history.
I must admit I never, ever liked Stone Cold, but he scared me anyway. Steve Austin (Steven James Anderson) was also known as the Ringmaster and many other names, but Stone Cold shot him off the map. I'm still scared of him. He reminds me of a Nazi...Stone Cold, not Anderson...I hope.
The name Steve James Borden would not have worked, but Sting worked just fine. He held 24 different titles during his career.
Shawn Michaels was already successful, famous and good looking before he was ever known as HBK, and we all know that. The Rockers were so cool, but Marty Jannetty obviously wasn't going to be as good as Shawn.
When he turned heel and became HBK, Michaels' career skyrocketed. Not only that....he is one of the best technical wrestlers of all time. Amazing fighter.
Randy Poffo was a great athlete who once played pro baseball. Macho Man is one of the five most famous wrestlers ever. Savage would have been a star anyway, because he had an amazing personality, a great physique and mad mad mad wrestling skills. In short, he's the greatest persona EVER!