Hello, and welcome to part one of a three-part series. Last week we looked at failed gimmicks, for the next few weeks we’ll look at wrestlers who had too many gimmicks. After all, sometimes a wrestler can go through his entire career and have the same gimmick. Brock Lesnar has always been Brock. Rey Misterio has always been Rey.
Some wrestlers however change their gimmick so frequently that it’s a miracle THEY know who they are anymore. Here in part one we’ll look at wrestlers who started with bad gimmicks but eventually found success.
Jabobs’ Kane is so much a part of the WWE that’s it’s hard to remember when he wasn’t the “Big Red Machine.” Jacobs, however, had to go through a lot of gimmicks to get there. In 6 years (1992-1997) Jacobs went through 7 different gimmicks some that are remembered as the worst in wrestling history.
Jacobs started wrestling in St. Louis for the indies as Angus King. What was the character? No one seems to know. He wore a black shirt and black eyeliner, and that WAS Angus King’s character.
Next he went to the USWA where he was the dreaded Doomsday. Did Doomsday wear a Doomsday Clock or a Nuclear Missile? No, he was big and beat up guys that were smaller. That was the gimmick.
Next, well this deserves some explanation. The bookers in the USWA were of a mind to use anything as a gimmick. Dog Catchers? Sure. A doctor who hit people with a bedpan? Why not. Well out of this environment someone thought it would be a good idea to have a wrestling Christmas Tree thus the Christmas Creature. I’m not kidding google it, or better yet YouTube poor Jacobs having to wrestle as a giant Christmas tree.
Anyone remember the Unabomber? No? Well, he was a bad guy who mailed bombs to people. Somehow, people thought this will make a great wrestling gimmick. Now the most famous thing about the Unabomber was that he wore a hoodie and sunglasses so naturally when Jacobs took the name, he wore NONE of that.
He wore gloves with orange skulls. They also couldn’t decide if he was Unabomber, UniBomber, Unabom, Unabomb. or Mike Unabomb. He used all these names during this period interchangeably and as the same character.
You might remember from my last article that the WWE loved job gimmicks in the 90’s. Garbagemen, baseball players, hockey goons, and plumbers all wrestled during this period. So when Jerry Lawler needed his dentist to wrestle, for some reason, Jacobs became the punny Dr. Isaac Yankem MD.
Things were looking up for Jacobs though at least he got to come to the ring actually dressed like a dentist but, as you would imagine, the evil dentist did not get over, and Jacobs changed again.
In 1996, two of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers, Razor Ramone and Diesel, left for WCW. Vince McMahon however still owned the name and thought it’d be a good idea to just recast the gimmicks. With Jim Ross as his manager, Jacobs had to play the doomed gimmick of Fake Diesel. He had to use all of Diesel’s moves and act just like another person’s character. By early 1997 Fake Diesel was really dead.
Finally in 1997, Jacobs became Kane, and yes he’s gone through unmaskings and being corporate, but Kane has been a long lasting gimmick that lives to this day.
Remember how we talked about the USWA in the last “chapter?” Well, they thought a supernatural gimmick would be great for Wright, the tattooed wrestler. He wrestled as a proto Undertaker type character called The Soultaker, and he did; fine. He won the USWA title so; fine.
Wright wrestled in Japan for awhile under his own name, and when he came back, his good friend The Undertaker got him a job in the WWE. He started as Sir Charles. It was supposed to be a riff on Sir Charles Barkley but didn’t last long enough to be developed.
The WWE was looking for another supernatural character as the Undertaker had done so well and Wright was repackaged as Papa Shango. His wrestling was okay, but his gimmick was magical.
Yes, I know, the Undertaker pulled it off, but Shango could make his opponents vomit and shake for no reason. It was such a bad gimmick that he would use it, for another two-years. Back in the USWA and on a European tour. Wrestling is weird.
The UFC was getting bigger, and the WWE wanted their own ultimate fighter, so Wright became Kama, The Supreme Fighting Machine. Just as the gimmick was dying the WWE formed The Nation of Domination and Kama went from an ultimate fighter to Kama Mustafa, an angry black man. The gimmick wasn’t much better.
A wrestling pimp does not sound like a recipe for success, but Wright made it work as the Godfather. Aside from a heel turn as The Good Father, part of RTC, a.k.a Right To Censor, Wright still occasionally makes appearances as the Godfather most recently on Raw’s 25th-anniversary show.
Things turned out fine for Jacobs and Wright sure they started out with bad gimmicks but ended with good ones. Next week, we’ll look at 2 wrestlers who did just the opposite.