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WWE’s Best And Worst Gimmicks: Hits And Misses

1 weeks ago By Jhon Woug

Though professional wrestling had to do much with the character and storyline as much as it had to do with athletic prowess, the connection with the crowd was limited. Throughout the years of wrestling entertainment, WWE has brought out a lot of gimmicks, which involve character personas and storylines designed to entertain and engage the mark audience. Amongst these gimmicks, some have turned into iconic ones. In contrast, others have simply bombed and are only recalled as an absurdity or for an attempt at generally missing connection with the audience. In this paper, the best and worst gimmicks by WWE are elaborated on, showing reasons for their success or failure and their long-lasting effect on the wrestling world.

The Best Gimmicks

  1. The Undertaker
    Probably the most recognized gimmick in WWE history is The Undertaker. He debuted in the year 1990. Mark Calaway, the man, became a supernatural being, and his presence sent chills down the fans’ spines. The greatness of The Undertaker’s gimmick is that it mixes mystique and horror along with entering the ring for the kill. He kept audiences glued for over thirty years with his entrance music, dark attire, and finishing move, the Tombstone Piledriver.

The length of time that The Undertaker’s character lived—from the Deadman to the American Badass—simply speaks of its versatility and deepness. The mysterious enigma of a dark man developed into an icon of the WWE, featuring in several memorable matches and storylines in wrestling history. But, beyond anything else, the streak at WrestleMania and his ability to surf through the waves of the different eras of wrestling lock him in a place befitting his legendary status.

  1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
    The first step toward the proclaimed “Attitude Era” finally took place when Steve Austin assumed the character of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the middle of the 1990s. This proximity in time allowed WWE to frame an edgy and adult-oriented kind of atmosphere. With his beer-drinking, anti-authority gimmick, Austin caught a lot of fan support in a big way through the late 1990s. His recurring feuds with Vince McMahon himself gained legendary status and mirrored just about everything that was happening then.

Stone Cold’s gimmick worked because it was real and very relatable. Austin’s various catchphrases like “Austin 3:16” or “That is the bottom line since Stone Cold said so” have been embedded into the cultural lexicon. His persona blurred into reality, hence fiction, making him one of the highest chartbusters in popularity.

  1. The Rock
    Let’s put an example: Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson in WWE has come to prove that charisma and some excellent mic skills can make all the difference. Initially entering as the Blue-Chipper Rocky Maivia, it was not a character with great productive results with fans. Still, it being him a natural charismatic self and rectifies the gimmick into what people now known as The Rock—the ace of the sleeve.

The “People’s Champion” was a gimmick of flashes of quick wit, possessing electrifying promos and an innate plain ordinary presence. His catchphrases—”If you smell what The Rock is cooking” and “Know your role and shut your mouth”—have been etched in history. Being able to engage an audience like that, matched with his in-ring ability, made The Rock a crossover star who would eventually conquer Hollywood.

  1. The New Day
    When Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods came together in 2014 to form The New Day, no faith was held in the initial gimmick of overly optimistic preachers. Still, it only took a short time before the infectious energy, great comedic timing, and the traffic passing between the three to win over hearts. The Insufferably Oversized Trio, as they indeed are, did not just accept that these characters were absurdists. They ran with it, adding unicorn horns, cereal (Booty-O’s), and the power of positivity to their act.

But, what worked for the gimmick of New Day was entertaining in nature and their ability to be very adaptable to the various kinds of scenarios they wanted to stage. They could switch from almost comical or idiotic attitudes that reeled audiences into taking them seriously and branded one of the most decorated Tag Team members in WWE history just because they connected with audiences and killed it with character development.

  1. Kane
    Kane, who debuted in 1997 as the brother of The Undertaker, was a prodigy of multimillion-dollar writing on the part of WWE. Wearing his pyrotechnic red and black mask of destruction, Kane became an iconic character from the moment he entered. His tragic backstory involving a fire and complex relationship with The Undertaker involved the character quite well.

The success of Kane’s gimmick has been supported by consistency and the change his character has gone through. From a mute, monstrous figure to an even further humanized, less monstrous persona, Kane always seemed to be a force within the WWE. His longevity and the ability to reinvent himself in many eras only show the strength of his character.

Worst Gimmicks

  1. Gobbledy Gooker
    One of the most infamous gimmicks of the WWE debuted at Survivor Series 1990. For weeks, the WWE pushed the appearance of a mystery giant egg. The egg finally hatched, and out came the Gobbledy Gooker, a man in a turkey costume. Needless to say, the response was overwhelmingly negative, and the character was thus very short-lived.
    The Gobbledy Gooker bombed because it wasn’t kept any way near serious in anything to do specifically with the wrestling aspect—it was just stupid and darn lame. It’s a reminder of the risks WWE is taking with over-the-top characters and the fine line that separates creative genius and disaster.
  2. The Shockmaster
    Before joining WWE, Fred Ottman became infamous for one of the worst gimmick failures in wrestling history by screwing up his appearance as The Shockmaster during his time with WCW. He smashed through the wall and tripped over it, ultimately losing his glittery stormtrooper helmet to reveal his face and botch the introduction.
    The debut of The Shockmaster was something in which no one could stop laughing or making fun, thus leading to the character’s instant redo during that night. The unmitigated flop shown was perhaps no more excellent evidence for execution and presentation than The Shockmaster gimmick.
  3. Isaac Yankem,
    Long before he became the legendary Kane, Glenn Jacobs debuted for WWE as Isaac Yankem, DDS, a villainous dentist dubiously aligned with Jerry “The King” Lawler. The character was as ridiculous as one imagines; there was Jacobs, dressed up as an evil dentist, designing pain in the ring on his opponents.
    The Isaac Yankem, DDS, concept was way over the top, but the gimmick did not resonate with the audience. In effect, it handicapped Jacobs’s potential as a wrestler until at least he was repackaged as Kane. Now, this gimmick acts as a fitting example of how even talented wrestlers can get butchered by a character concept that is poor in its scope.
  4. The Red Rooster
    The talented wrestler Terry Taylor was saddled in the late 1980s with the gimmick of The Red Rooster. Taylor was to be forced to strut and crow like a rooster as The Red Rooster– and he wore a mohawk in his then-trademark color of red to illustrate the character. This character was supposed to be an underdog comedy, but it really did nothing to help Taylor’s career.
    The Red Rooster character flopped because it was degrading, and the personality had nothing to do with wrestling or any of Taylor’s prowess as a wrestler. This is one of the clearest examples of poor gimmicks that severely held a talented performer back in ways unforgettable, a reminder and an example of why characters ought to respect their talents.
  5. The Bogey
    In 2005, The Boogeyman made his WWE debut as a worm-munching supernatural character, as WWE creative probably spent half of a workday booking him until 2012. While this act enjoyed some initial shock value, it quickly grew redundant and cartoonish before his arrival. The Boogeyman was an active eater of live worms who loved playing sports while performing all kinds of other prankish antics. It grew tedious, with McMahon indeed growing angry at anyone bored by this uninspired nonsense.
    In the end, the Boogeyman gimmick flopped because it had very little substance behind the shock tactics. It was considerably tough at that point to take the character seriously. Besides, although it gave some memorable moments, it was not as lasting as some of the more successful gimmicks.

Elements for Successful Gimmicks

Gimmicks of successful WWE superstars have many factors in common, including the following:

  1. Authenticity
    The most successful often reflects some of the performer’s real in-ring personae. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s anti-authority persona reflected some genuine angst. Can you imagine The Rock without the charisma and confidence of Dwayne Johnson? 2. Evolution

With time, gimmicks usually change, and with many, even then, they can last longer, given that, say, the American Bad-Ass changed a gimmick over his cart that moved from the supernatural Deadman to a hero. These transitions are endemic to all shifts in wrestling and are essential because they stay current with their older, initially faint changes that made them precious to the fans.

  1. Engagement
    Characters that can engage, whether through their emotional tribulations—plagued by inner demons—or wacky antics, naturally tend to take a remarkable place in people’s hearts. With its capabilities to connect an audience through humor effectively and just general optimism, The New Day was able to stick around for a while.
  2. In-Ring
    A good gimmick should be supplemented by talent in the ring. Somebody with the wrestling acumen of AJ Styles or Finn Bálor can get away with anything. And that is when you have a complete package with a character and athletic prowess, which, in turn, connects instantly to the audience.
  3. Integration into Story
    Essentially, successful gimmicks are quite heavily strategized in the storylines in which that particular character is to shine. Kane’s debut and subsequent wars with The Undertaker were part of a bigger narrative that went with the character for added depth and, in turn, fan investment.

Reasons Behind Botched Gimmicks
On the other hand, failed gimmicks often have a few key critical issues that are the downfall of the plan:

  1. Lack of Believability
    It is those that are the furthest over the top that do not even reach the audience. The Gobbledy Gooker and The Boogeyman are examples of two of these that have this glaring credibility problem because the fans are laughing, not taking them all that seriously.
  2. Poor Execution
    Even something that has the potential to be a good gimmick will flop if it is executed poorly. The poor entrance of Shockmaster indeed squashed his credibility from day one.
  3. Misalignment with greater talent
    Gimmicks unsuitable to the nature or capability of a performer can harm succeeding. In the case of Terry Taylor, he was given the Red Rooster gimmick to make it play toward his strengths at the time, and it harmed his potential and hurt his credibility.

4.One-Dimensional Characters
Gimmicks that concentrate on something repetitious usually show through and very quickly lose an audience. With the Boogeyman relying on some shock tactics – namely, the worm eating – it became so depthless and predictable that it garnered no interest.

  1. Poor Support of the Story
    Even the most excellent character concept will have problems thriving if nothing in regard to solid storylines assists in carrying it. Gimmicks require compelling storylines before an audience can invest in a character by providing a context showing why they do what they do. What kept Isaac Yankem, DDS, from connecting was the same lack of meaningful storylines that would elevate the character from his initial concept.

Conclusion
The annals of WWE have been littered with a million gimmicks—from the truly iconic to the genuinely infamous. The best, like The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin, go hand in hand with being indicative of WWE’s legacy, catching the audience’s gaze in ways that speak to the very core of what will either build or ruin most characters: authenticity, an ability to evolve over time, an engaging quality, in-ring skill, and strong storyline integration. On the other hand, bad gimmicks like The Gobbledy Gooker and The Shockmaster are things people can learn from; there are lessons in the pitfalls of bad execution, believability issues, talent mismatches, one-dimensionality, and inadequate storyline support. These serve to point out how difficult it can be to build appealing characters in professional wrestling. Ultimately, though, a wrestler’s gimmick can fall or succeed on whether it works or fails as part of a more giant puzzle. That becomes a base of excellent storytelling in WWE, and, by extension, the ability to dramatically shape groundbreaking characters becomes one of the cornerstones on which they stand. One can only assume that this would continue to shape the future of sports entertainment towards the very best possible conclusions. As WWE itself evolves, there’s no question that the creation of new, vibrant characters most certainly stands on the shoulders of everything the company has done in terms of both hits and misses that create fascinating characters to continue wowing audiences for generations to come.

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