The Gimmicks Remain the Same

Last week, we talked about Barry Darsow and Ed Leslie, two wrestlers who started out with great success but eventually ended up with gimmicks that ended their career.Some wrestlers have gimmicks so similar you wonder why they didn’t just stick to one.

Bill Eadie:

Eadie isn’t a household name but he has had a stellar career almost everywhere he’s gone, but almost always under face paint or a mask.

Eadie started his career, under a mask, (as you will see this will be a trend) as one-half of the Para-Medics.But his real success didn’t start until moving to WWWF (WWE today) as Bolo Mongol. With his partner Geeto he quickly won championships in the WWWF and the IWA.

In 1981 Eadie started wrestling for the NWA in one of the greatest gimmicks of all time, The Masked Superstar.Don’t let the dumb name fool you Superstar was two great gimmicks in one. First he had a 10,000 dollar challenge for anyone who could break his cobra clutch. This invariably had a face just about to break it when Superstar would cheat to keep his money. The next gimmick was his mask. A mysterious wrestler always had appeal but The Superstar took it a step farther claiming to be a famous athlete under the mask.

If he were in Pittsburgh, he’d hint he was a Steeler, in Cincinnati a Bengal and so on. On television he’d claim to be one of the most famous olympic athletes of all time. Every match Superstar had the crowd hoped that this would be the night he was unmasked. Eadie sold out arena after arena with his killer gimmick. From 1981-1986 Eadie used this gimmick in every NWA territory and the WWF.

1986 started a strange time for Eadie. There was a gimmick in Japan called the Machines. Usually some combination of Super Machine and Big Machine. The WWE decided to copy it and Eadie spent most of 1986 as Super Machine. He was joined by Giant Machine (Andre the Giant). Big Machine (Blackjack Mulligan) and even Hulk Machine (Hulk Hogan).

Later in 1986, Eadie went to Florida defeating Lex Luger for the Southern title as the Masked Superstar. It was clear however that the promotions were dying and the WWE was where success was going to be. In 1987 Eadie returned to the WWE as ½ of Demolition. He was Ax to Randy Colley’s Smash. As I recounted in the last article Colley still looked too much like Moondog Rex and was replaced by Barry Darsow. Demolition would win 3 WWF tag titles and would emerge as one of the most successful tag teams in history. By the end of the run a third Demolition member Crush joined the group. Crush and Smash defended the titles as Eadie acted as a manager.

From 1991-1997 Eadie never stopped being Ax.  He teamed with the Canadian Giant who called himself Hux and Carmine Azzato as Blast. Eadie finished 1997 wrestling in the indys as the Masked Superstar once again. Eadie is semi-retired but wrestles as Ax, Axis and The Masked Superstar to this day. Eadie’s gimmicks were all so successful that to this day he can’t decide which to use.

John Layfield:

John Layfield is well known even by his own name and although his gimmicks were similar all were successful. Layfield debuted in the GWF in 1992 as John Hawk, an all american cowboy. With his partner, Bobby Duncun Jr.,they formed the Texas Mustangs capturing the tag team titles twice.

1993-1995 was the strangest time in Layfield’s career.  Layfield wrestled all over Japan and Europe using names like Vampiro Americano and Death Mask.Even so, Layfield would often come to the ring in a Cowboy hat not so different from the gimmick he just left.

In 1995, Layfield was signed to a WWE contract as Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw famously wearing a cowboy hat to the ring and branding his opponents with “JB” in ink. In 1997 the WWE teamed Layfield with his “cousin” Barry Windham as the New BlackJacks. The gimmick was almost exactly the same only he now had black hair and a handlebar moustache.

In 1998, Layfield shaved off his moustache and kept his dark hair teaming with Faarooq as the Acolytes. Even though they were supposed to be evil devil worshippers he and Faarooq played the gimmick as two American bad-asses. By 1999, the Acolytes had morphed into the face team of the APA (Acolyte Protection Agency). Neither of them changed their characters one bit playing two tough guys who beat people up for money.

In 2002, Layfield was separated from Faarooq by the brand extension and portrayed Bradshaw.There wasn’t much new to this character except instead of a brand he carried a cowbell. In 2003 Bradshaw reformed the APA teaming with Faarooq for another year before the team split. After the team split Layfield finally found the most lasting name for this gimmick.

From 2004-2010, Layfield became John Bradshaw Layfield or JBL. He was still a tough cowboy, but now he was rich and merged his cowboy gimmick with a rich bully gimmick. JBL’s style stayed pretty much the same although he found the most success during this period winning a number of singles titles.

If you asked Layfield or Eadie to play their most successful gimmicks it isn’t clear which they’d choose but whatever they’d choose it would be successful.



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