In the world of wrestling you have be a star to make it big, and in order to become a star, you need a great gimmick. Fans enjoy watching wrestling for the hard hitting action, but at the end of the day, it’s the larger than life character that draw people in.
Finding the right gimmick is hard, and some wrestlers go their whole careers without ever finding a gimmick that connects with the audience. Others find the perfect gimmick and stick with it forever.
It’s difficult to find a gimmick that can speak to people, but it’s not impossible, and some wrestlers have managed to find success with multiple gimmicks. Today we’re going to take a look at 10 wrestlers with multiple gimmicks, who managed to transform themselves into something completely different, and make it work. Let’s get started.
#10 – JBL
When JBL first debuted with WWE he was a tough looking cowboy that you didn’t want to mess with. As time went on Bradshaw evolved, and when he joined up with Farooq that’s when his career really started to get going.
As one half of the APA, Bradshaw won the WWE Tag Team Titles, and he also established himself as a no nonsense brawler who loved to drink beer, smoke cigars, and gamble backstage. People loved the APA’s antics and it seemed that Bradshaw had found the perfect role in WWE.
After a while the APA went their separate ways, and Bradshaw started to transform into the JBL character. At his peak JBL was an American business tycoon who knew his way around Wall Street, and had a serious problem with illegal immigrants.
The JBL character catapulted Layfield’s career to heights that he had never before reached, and he even scored and impressive run with the WWE Championship.
Nowadays Layfield plays a toned down version of the JBL character at the commentary booth on SmackDown, but people still speak fondly of Bradshaw’s time in the APA.
#9 – Booker T
Booker T has had quite the career, and he’s one of the most decorated wrestlers of all time. Booker T has held many titles over the years, and he’s also used multiple gimmicks.
Booker T was a top star in WCW, and he managed to stay on top when the company was bought out by WWE. When he joined WWE, Booker T was involved in several high profile feuds, and he won several titles during his run with the company. But he reached new levels of success, and took over the top spot on SmackDown when he decided to take on a new gimmick.
After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Booker T adopted a king gimmick. This sort of thing seems to happen a lot when wrestlers win King of the Ring, but unlike other unsuccessful attempts, Booker T’s king gimmick actually worked.
Somehow Booker managed to walk that very thin line between obnoxious and tolerable, and he turned King Booker into a heel we all loved to hate. The gimmick catapulted Booker to the top of the blue brand, and he reigned supreme as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for several months.
#8 – Sting
Sting made a name for himself in WCW as a high energy surfer who loved to wear face paint. He was seen as the ultimate good guy, someone kids could look up to, and he became the ultimate role model in WCW.
Sting’s good guy persona helped him get to the top, but after a while Sting decided to make a change.
As the nWo started to take over WCW, the company required a new kind of hero. Sting adopted a new look, and he returned as a dark defender, wearing dark tights, a trench coat and face paint similar to The Crow.
The new look helped to turn the already successful Sting into a hero for a new generation, and his Crow look is now the look that’s most commonly associated with his name.
#7 – Charles Wright
From Papa Shango to a pimp, Charles Wright had his work cut out for him when it came to gimmicks. Getting over with multiple gimmicks isn’t easy, but he made it happen.
Wright made a name for himself as the mysterious voodoo character Papa Shango, and to this day many fans still talk about the gimmick today, for better or worse.
However, Papa Shango is far from the only character Wright played in WWE. He later adopted the persona of a shoot fighter and went by the name Kama, later renamed Kama Mustafa. As Kama Mustafa he joined up with the Nation of Domination, and then later he adopted The Godfather gimmick.
The Godfather was without a doubt Wright’s most successful gimmick in the WWE, but there’s something to be said for the fact that people still remember Papa Shango to this day.
#6 – Kane
For years fans knew Kane as the Big Red Machine, and when he first debuted he was terrifying. There’s no denying that Kane was nightmare fuel during the first few years of his career, but after a while he became a friendlier demon.
When Kane first arrived we were told that his body was covered in burns, and he couldn’t talk because his vocal chords were scorched. But after a while he started to show more skin, revealing that he wasn’t actually burned, and then he started to talk, and eventually he removed his mask.
Kane went through several transformations over the years, but his freakiest transformation came in 2013, when he put on a suit and become Corporate Kane. Corporate Kane joined up with The Authority, and he became the Director of Operations, which is really just a fancy way to say he was The Authority’s lackey.
Corporate Kane was a far cry from the Kane who once haunted our dreams, but the character had a good amount of comedic value, and he could still throw down when he needed to.
Nowadays Kane is wearing the mask again, but he pulled off Corporate Kane well enough that he could easily jump back and forth as needed.
#5 – Jeff Hardy
Matt Hardy is currently getting a lot of attention for his Broken Matt Hardy character, but we can’t forget that Jeff has been rocking the multiple gimmicks gimmick for years.
Willow is a character that’s been with Jeff Hardy since his early days, and a few years ago he brought it to a bigger stage when he started playing Willow on TNA Impact. Some fans loved it, other fans weren’t all that into it, but one way or another Jeff committed to it, and he got people talking.
Of course Willow isn’t the only alternate gimmick Jeff has adopted over the years. He’s currently working as Brother Nero following the epic Final Deletion saga, and we also saw him make an appearance as Itchweed during The Great War at Bound For Glory.
Although the jury is still out on Itchweed, there’s no denying that he knocked it out of the park with Willow and Brother Nero.
#4 – Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes made his WWE debut back in 2007 and as Cody Rhodes he went through many changes over the course of his WWE career.
As Cody developed we were introduced to several different personas. There was the ruthless Cody Rhodes we saw in Legacy, there was “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, there was that phase started wearing a mask as he adopted a demented persona, and of course we can’t forget the Cody’s mustache era.
Throughout his WWE career Cody always found new ways to keep his character fresh, but in 2014 he introduced an entirely new character.
Cody debuted as Stardust, a character similar to Goldust, but not quite the same. After jumping into the gimmick, Cody tried his best to incorporate campy comic book villain mannerisms, and he’s cited Jim Carrey’s Riddler as an inspiration for Stardust.
At first the gimmick was fun and refreshing, but eventually it ran its course. The fans started to get tired of Stardust, and Cody did too. The only problem was that WWE didn’t have any plans for him to drop the gimmick, so he parted ways with the company.
Although Cody has made it clear that he didn’t want to be playing Stardust toward the end of his WWE run, you would never know if you were watching him, as he successfully juggled multiple gimmicks. Cody still gave it his all each and every time he put on the paint, and he managed to be a believable character as both Cody Rhodes and Stardust.
#3 – Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy worked hard to establish himself in the world of tag team wrestling, and as one half of The Hardy Boyz, Matt is considered to be a tag team legend. He’s also had success on his own, as he’s held titles such as the TNA World Championship, ECW World Championship, United States Championship, European Championship and Hardcore Championship.
Matt’s career has been impressive without a doubt, and recently he’s experienced an incredible career resurgence that no one saw coming. Hardy introduced his Broken Matt character to the world earlier this year, and it quickly took off.
Matt Hardy is broken, and his mind has been exposed to knowledge from the year 3000, and wisdom from the Seven Deities. He has reached a new plane of existence, and he now has an obsession with deleting people.
The character has been a joy to watch because just about everything he does is entertaining. Broken Matt Hardy has become a big hit in the wrestling world thanks to the fact that Matt has completely blurred the line between kayfabe and reality.
Hardy could have easily coasted for the rest of his career on his past achievements, but he took a chance, and now the Broken Matt Hardy character is one of the most popular things in all of wrestling.
#2 – The Undertaker
The Undertaker is known for being the Deadman. His creepy, undead look has become iconic, and it has turned the man himself into a living legend.
Taker will always be known for his Deadman look, but back in 2000 he shocked wrestling fans when he returned to the WWE with a whole new gimmick. Instead of the classic Undertaker, fans were introduced to the American Bad Ass Undertaker.
The American Bad Ass Undertaker was unlike anything fans had ever seen before. Instead of walking slowly to the ring, he rode his motorcycle down the ramp. Instead of coming out to creepy, ominous music, he entered to Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. He also changed up his mic style, and instead of cutting slow cryptic promos, he became more aggressive and talked a lot about his yard.
Testing out multiple gimmicks could have been career suicide for The Undertaker, but he took a chance and it paid off big time. Although the American Bad Ass isn’t nearly as beloved as classic Undertaker, fans still enjoyed his run as Big Evil and he added more than a few memorable matches to his resume while working under his new gimmick.
#1 – Mick Foley
When it comes to pulling off multiple gimmicks, Mick Foley could probably write a college course on the subject.
Nowadays we refer Mick Foley as simply Mick Foley, but he spent years winning audiences over with charismatic characters such as Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind. The three faces of Foley all had a little something in common, but they were all unique.
Dude Love just wanted to love and be loved, Cactus Jack just wanted to hurt people, and Mankind was like some sort of demented mixture of the two that wanted to hurt people and love them.
Fans fell in love with all of Mick Foley’s different faces, and it’s safe to say that each of Foley’s gimmicks are legendary in their own special way.