A good gimmick can make or break the career of a WWE Superstar.
Anti-corporate redneck, Olympic hero, white rapper; these are all gimmicks that have helped define three of the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time. A good gimmick can get a wrestler over with the fans, either as a face or a heel, and can pave the way for huge success in the company.
However, there have been plenty of wrestlers who have gone from a great gimmick to a terrible one. Promising stars have all-too-often fallen foul of a terrible gimmick that has either slowed their momentum or completely killed it. In some cases, a bad gimmick has been the death of a WWE career.
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For these reasons, it always makes me worry when a great wrestler is lumbered with an awful gimmick nowadays, even more so when the gimmick they used to have was so good.
These five superstars have all suffered a horrible case of gimmick-loss and, in my opinion, it would be best for everyone if they went back to their old ways.
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We may as well start with the most obvious one. I have no issues with the Stardust gimmick; I think Cody Rhodes has a clear idea of where the character is going and he still puts on good matches. It’s the booking of the character I’ve had an issue with.
Firstly, why did the WWE give up on Goldust vs Stardust as a feud? When Goldust came back from injury, the time was right for the two to get straight back into their rivalry.
However, Stardust has been involved in a few minor feuds with the likes of Neville, Titus O’Neil and Arrow actor, Stephen Amell. The SummerSlam encounter with Amell may have garnered some press for Stardust, but that quickly faded following the pay-per-view.
Cody Rhodes may not have had a set gimmick, but he was a figure the fans could really get behind and plenty of them pine for a return to the Cody character. For me, the Stardust character only really worked when he was either teamed with or feuding with Goldust, as the two were so closely linked.
The character has run its course and Cody is suffering as a result. He’s a great performer and I think his best move is to ditch the makeup and go back to being just plain Cody.
Rusev & Alberto Del Rio
I’ve decided to group these two League of Nations members together because they both need to go back to their old ways. We’ll start with Rusev. The former Russian monster (ok, maybe he wasn’t actually Russian but he did a pretty good job convincing us all that he was) went unpinned and unsubmitted for nearly a year in WWE. He clinched the US title and finished runner-up in the 2015 Royal Rumble; Rusev was undoubtedly on a huge roll as we headed into WrestleMania 31.
Then he hit a wall. A wall named John Cena. Cena beat Rusev at Mania, ending his title reign and undefeated run in typical John Cena style. After losing to Cena on the next two PPVs, Rusev would find himself in the now infamous love tri..quad..whatever story it was with Dolph Ziggler, Lana and Summer Rae.
The WWE have no real monsters left and Rusev running riot through the roster was something refreshing and exciting.
Del Rio’s former gimmick of an entitled, snobbish Mexican aristocrat was a great idea. The arrogance, rich character has been done to death, but Alberto made it different, particularly by including his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. Del Rio’s gimmick got him big heat from the fans and his impressive mixed martial arts background meant he could back it up in the ring. Since being released from the company in mid-2014 and returning at Hell in a Cell 2015, Del Rio has lost all traces of this gimmick and, like
Del Rio’s gimmick got him big heat from the fans and his impressive mixed martial arts background meant he could back it up in the ring. Since being released from the company in mid-2014 and returning at Hell in a Cell 2015, Del Rio has lost all traces of this gimmick and, like Rusev, is now a bland, characterless member of the dull League of Nations stable. That group needs to break up soon, and when it does, these two former top stars need to make a return to their former gimmicks.
This was a man whose former gimmick got him to the top of the WWE. Jack Swagger debuted in WWE'S ECW brand in 2008 as a brash, arrogant, jock type heel character who went on an impressive undefeated streak. Swagger won the Money in the Bank contract in 2010 and then cashed it in to become World Heavyweight Champion that same year. Upon this, we saw the end of Swagger's showboating side as he became more serious as champion.
Swagger would make a huge change to his gimmick in 2013 when he became a part of The Real Americans with Cesaro. He would take on a patriotic anti-immigration stance, until, in 2014, he turned face for the first time ever. His “We The People” shtick is getting old now; it’s the same as ever
His “We The People” shtick is getting old now; it’s the same as ever other patriot gimmick there’s ever been and the fans know it. Swagger was most successful as a heel because that’s just how he works best. A fantastic wrestler with a lacklustre gimmick, it’s a real shame that Swagger’s career has taken this route. He needs to change back, and quickly.
A fantastic wrestler with a directionless gimmick, it’s a real shame that Swagger’s career has taken this route. He needs to change back, and quickly. And while he's at it, bring back his old entrance music - that was awesome.
Adam Rose (Leo Kruger)
Before you ask, no I don’t mean the party animal gimmick. No, I’m talking about the gimmick before that.
Adam Rose is currently a member of The Social Outcasts, a group of jobbers, and before that he was the annoying leader of the exotic express, the pinnacle of which saw him team up, or attack, a guy in a rabbit suit.
However, before this, Rose had a very different gimmick indeed. Wrestling under the name Leo Kruger in WWE’s old developmental system, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), Rose’s character was very different indeed. Portraying a South African - where he's actually from, if his accent didn't give it away - mercenary/hunter with maniacal tendencies, Rose was extremely over in NXT and he even challenged for the NXT championship in mid-2013.
The Kruger character was interesting, new, something we hadn’t seen a million times before and Rose played it to perfection. Why the decision was made to turn Rose into the character he is today baffles me.
If I were in charge, I’d strongly recommend that Leo Kruger makes a comeback and allow Adam Rose to show just how talented he really is.