In the “anything goes” world of professional wrestling, there are times when wrestlers sometimes need a gimmick makeover to succeed. And so without further delay, let’s dissect several nobodys-turned-legends:
Before becoming “The People’s Champion,” eight-time WWE Champion Dwayne Johnson was Rocky Maivia, a Pacific Islander-themed wrestler who bore a lot of resemblance to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Unfortunately, the Rocky Maivia gimmick never clicked with the WWE Universe and so in 1998, he was rechristened “The Rock” and the rest as they say is history.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Steve Austin entered the pro wrestling scene in 1991 when he joined WCW as “Stunning” Steve Austin, a narcissistic and soft-spoken bleached blond guy who was a throwback to “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Problem was that the self-centered good-looker was done countless times by the likes of Paul Orndorff to Lex Luger to Curt Hennig.
Fast forward to 1996: at that year’s King Of The Ring pay-per-view, Austin would cut a controversial promo that would help him become a six-time WWE Champion and helped usher in one of the most famous eras in WWE history, the Attitude Era.
Ziggler made his WWE debut in 2005 as Chavo Guerrero’s golfing caddy before becoming a member of the heel stable “The Spirit Squad” as Nicky a year later. After spending two years in developmental, he was renamed Dolph Ziggler and has become one of WWE’s most popular upper mid-carders, winning the World Heavyweight Championship at the RAW after WrestleMania 29.
John “Bradshaw” Layfield made his WWE debut in 1996 as one-half of the New Blackjacks with Barry Windham, who were a pair of beer-drinking poker players before finding his niche as a Texan millionaire made famous by Larry “J.R. Ewing” Hagman in the popular TV show, Dallas, becoming a WWE Champion along the way. Today, he works as an announcer on WWE TV as well as co-hosting the popular YouTube series, The JBL and Cole Show.
Fandango made his WWE TV as Johnny Curtis on season four of WWE NXT back then when it was a reality show and not WWE’s developmental territory. After months of competing on WWE Superstars, Curtis was given a gimmick of a ballroom dancer named Fandango. Even though he hasn’t won a title yet, Fandango has proven himself to be a top mid-card act.
Like Fandango, Bray Wyatt also made his WWE TV debut on WWE NXT as Husky Harris in the second season. Despite being a member of the Nexus, Harris languished in the lower-tier ranks until being demoted back to developmental in 2011. It was in developmental that Harris would become Bray Wyatt, a backwoods cult leader who would brainwash the WWE Universe with his epic promos. Even though he may have been in the WWE for a short time, he’s already feuded with the likes of Kane, Daniel Bryan, and John Cena.
And now, let’s dissect Cody Rhodes’ new gimmick, Stardust. Prior to his new gimmick, Rhodes was just another young man wearing trunks just like Randy Orton, The Miz, Curtis Axel, Cesaro, and others. Now as Stardust, expect Rhodes to get noticed in the weeks to come. Will it be a success? Only time will tell.