Probably the most unpredictable aspect of wrestling is determining who gets over with the fans and who gets booed every week, not because they generate any real heat, but because the fans just don't like you.
When Steve Austin was fired from WCW, who knew that he would become the face of the Attitude Era after signing on with Vince McMahon? Who knew that the third-generation superstar who once garnered "Die Rocky Die" chants would go on to become one of the most beloved stars in the history of wrestling?
To be "over," the fans have to buy into what you are selling them. Some wrestlers get over and some don't.
There are many factors that play a part in which wrestler gets over and which wrestler fails to connect with the crowd. Some performers can get over just by having an unprecedented amount of charisma, good wrestling ability, or by scoring a pinfall over a main eventer. Others need a combination of these factors to get over with the crowd.
There are certain ingredients that must go into the pot in order for someone to get over. Some wrestlers only need one ingredient, while others could use a whole casserole. A look at the ingredients that go into the big pot of getting over, or improving your popularity, is in order.
Every wrestler has a unique arsenal. Wrestlers have some grapples that they prefer to use over others, submission maneuvers to make their opponents submit, and a gameplan; whether it is to utilize a high flying offense, focus on a specific body part of an opponent, or to cheat. Depending on what you do with your moveset, the fans can warm up to you, or they can ignore you all together.
Case in point, performers like Snitzky and Mike Knox. They are not very marketable to begin with, and their movesets do not help them one bit. They use the same boring moves match after match on wrestlers half their size. You will seldom see anything innovative from guys like Snitzky and Mike Knox.
On the other hand, Evan Bourne would be nowhere if it wasn't for his moveset. He's not talented on the mic and he's not one of the bigger guys in the locker room, but ECW fans immediately fell in love with Bourne after seeing what he can do in the ring.
We've all seen the shooting star press numerous times from Billy Kidman, but somehow, the move became exciting again when Bourne brought it back to the WWE. Who else can get that high on the shooting star?
An extension on the moveset category. This however, is a separate ingredient because a wrestler can have a nice finishing move but a terrible moveset (or vice-versa) and still get over.
In the 1980s, a simple move such as the DDT could signal the end of the match and excite the crowd. In today's wrestling, this is not the case. Sure wrestlers such as Edge use a variation of a DDT as a finisher, but the fans expect to see more out of a finishing move, and your finisher can help in getting you over quicker, or make the road that much longer.
Petey Williams wouldn't be as well known as he is without the Canadian Destroyer as a finisher. He is a good wrestler, but he doesn't have the greatest moveset, and many fans would agree that it is a waste of time to sit and watch a match where Petey wins via a move other than the Destroyer.
Charisma and Microphone Skill
Few wrestlers can make it without a decent amount of charisma and at least some talent on the microphone. If the wrestler can't entertain the fans, then he is in the wrong business.
Time and again there, there have been wrestlers who could have made it, but just couldn't entertain the fans.
The recently released Kenny Dykstra was decent in the ring, and really had a future ahead of him. However, after the male cheerleader gimmick, he became really stale. At this stage in his career, Kenny can't cut a promo to save his life.
He was definitely brought onto the big time a little too soon, and could have done with more OVW training. Maybe once Kenny has developed a little more in the ring, as well as on the mic, and is able to make fans truly care about him, he can have another run in the WWE.
When it comes to charisma and microphone skills, no one is quite on the level of The Rock. When he smiled and waved to the fans as he made his way to the ring, fans booed him mercilessly.
Then one day, Rocky decided to insult other wrestlers as well as the fans. Instead of garnering heel heat, The Rock became one of the most beloved wrestlers ever to step foot in a WWE ring. Fans began to cheer him. The Rock's millions and millions of haters soon became his millions and millions of fans.
Starting a newcomer off on a winning streak is a good way to get him over with the fans. Anyone who wins over and over again should be taken seriously, This is not always the case, however.
Umaga won many matches before finally losing his first match in WWE, and yet he is not completely over with the fans. Umaga gets booed because fans are tired of him and his inability to say a sentence in English, not because he is a good heel.
Goldberg, on the other hand, won 157 straight matches before finally falling to Kevin Nash at Starrcade. The fans actually bought into Goldberg's win streak, and he became a leading player in WCW between 1998-2001.
Sometimes connections in the back will help get you over. If Vince takes a liking to you, then chances are you have a better chance of getting over than most others in the back.
Triple H is a great performer, and is over without Stephanie McMahon's help, but do you think he would have as many championships if he wasn't married to Stephanie? He would be a champion regardless, but having Stephanie ensures that he is always in the title picture, or close to it.
Sometimes a wrestler just happens to be a part of a good storyline to get over.
Fans didn't really begin to warm up to Batista until he won the Royal Rumble. This lead to the two remaining Evolution members, Triple H and Ric Flair, turning on Batista, and Batista has gone on to become one of the most popular wrestlers today.
The same situation happened in Evolution when Batista, Flair, and Triple H turned on Randy Orton once he became champion. Randy is also immensely popular today.
Being involved in storyline with Triple H is one of the more successful ways to get over. If a competitor can hold his own against "the Game," then he will be over with the fans in no time.
Seldom does a wrestler go back into obscurity after beating Triple H (with the exception of Shelton Benjamin who seems to have fallen off a bit).
If you don't have a gimmick, character, or edge about yourself, then you are wasting your time. Fans will warm up to a unique and credible gimmick in no time.
Kevin Thorn got no fan reaction during his time in ECW because everyone had already seen the vampire gimmick with Gangrel, the Undertaker gimmick, and even Thorn's previous Mordecai gimmick. The supernatural gimmick in wrestling nowadays is somewhat stale, with the exception of the Undertaker.
Kane debuted in 1997 as the brother of the Undertaker. He no-sold his opponents, and was given the nickname of "the Big Red Machine/Monster". Glen Jacobs, who had failed on many previous gimmicks before, was finally over with the WWE crowd. Although he remains in the WWE to this day, he was a major player in the late 1990s.
There are many other ways to get over as a wrestler. This is by no means a complete list of all of the many ways to get over. It is a small sample of the factors that go in to making or breaking your career as a professional wrestler.