This is Just My Opinion
I Could Be Wrong
But I’m Not
To Gimmick or Not to Gimmick
December 2012 Edition
The new WWE 13′ game is out and I couldn’t help but notice two things. First, Goddamn this game is good! Glad to see WWE finally making good games again, now if only TNA can pull it together we can have some real fun. Second, I couldn’t help but love all the personalities and old gimmicks in the game.
I know it’s considered pandering to kids but there are a lot more gimmicks in the current wrestling scene than in recent history. And the wrestling community is better for it. Most noticeably, gimmicks help add and highlight diversity to the roster and make it easier for guys to stand out.
Now, just so I can be clear on what I mean by gimmick…
I mean over enhanced characteristics or character traits that define a wrestling character. For some, it’s obvious to point out. For guys like Santino, Zach Ryder & Tensai, it’s obvious. They can be catchphrases or sayings played to the hilt.
What? You disagree? You say, No…No…No…Well to that I say, Yes…Yes…Yes…
A lot of “wrestling purists” will preach that gimmicks lend nothing and guys can’t really get ahead with gimmicks. To that, I have one name for you: John Cena.
John Cena started as a straightforward guy who was just scrapping for a spot on the card. A few free style raps later, we have the “Doctor of Thuganomics” who took WWE by storm and defeated JBL at WrestleMania 21 for his WWE Championship. This is why we are stuck with the current monstrosity that is the WWE Title, but I will save that for another time.
Many will try to argue that John’s true success didn’t happen until he stopped the free styling. Though that has some truth to it, I see that as more of an evolution of character. When you are on top for the ridiculous amount of time someone like Cena, has you have to change to keep people interested.
Another great example of that is The Undertaker. When he started in WCW, no one cared. He was a big guy with no personality. He hits the WWE with one of the most out outrageous gimmicks ever. Even more so, he plays it to the hilt even walking and moving like a living dead.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s and he comes out as the American Badass only to go back a few years later as a reincarnated version. By the way, he only happens to be arguably the greatest star ever in the history of wrestling.
The list of long staying gimmicks goes on from guys like Santino Marella, Kane, Shark Boy, Abyss, Raven, any of the faces of Foley, and the current Best in the World, CM Punk.
My only issue when it comes to gimmicks is when the audience is ignored. It’s real simple. Listen to the audience. Current case in point Zack Ryder…Woo Woo Woo, you know it!
Now, it’s no secret that WWE management is bi-polar in their attitudes towards gimmicks. For instance, they love their gimmicks and all the mega ton of revenue they produce. Just check with WWE.com’s highest sellers. Guys like Hornswoggle and Santino Marella regularly outsell Randy Orton and Wade Barrett.
Santino can be argued as the best handled gimmick character ever. Especially when you look at his length of time as a Raw mainstay, but then you have guys like Zack Ryder. Hell, if it weren’t for YouTube, Zack Ryder would be working for TNA at this point as Zack Rider jobbing to RVD and Ken Anderson.
Ryder, much like Santino, took a very bad character on paper and evolved it to something wrestling fans can get behind. But it seems like WWE is afraid to pull the trigger, despite thousands upon thousands chanting “We Want Ryder” on a nightly basis, and even support for the one and only John Cena.
How much more does WWE need?
And if you want to bring up the money or drawing issue, I simply point to the fact that WWE.com often has back orders for Zack Ryder merchandise. Unfortunately, WWE seems gun shy on the L.I.Z. I can only be hopeful that one day they will wake up, put on some “Are you Serious Bro?” radio and fist pump and give the people what they truly want.
Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of bad gimmicks out there that have buried many a talented superstar. We all remember Eugene. But without those initial pushes, a lot of guys will never get a chance to show what they got. Just keep in mind, it wasn’t too long ago when Cody Rhodes had a mask, or our current “Goat Faced No Raiser” was clean-shaven vegan.
Even the “Best in the World” wouldn’t have broken out of the middle of the pack without reminding us that he is straight edge which makes him better then you.
People evolve and change their characters. Some wrestlers happen to do this in more outlandish ways than others. Gimmicks help add variety and keep things entertaining, thus letting the serious stuff stand-alone a little more. Then again, I could be wrong…but I’m not.