Good Gimmick/Bad Gimmick..

by Darryl Craven

What is it that determines a good gimmick or a bad gimmick, is it crowd appreciation, is it the workers enthusiasm or is it the simple fact that it's either cheesy or it's imaginative. Over the years wrestling has been filled with guys wearing masks, there's been a clown, a plumber, a barber, and a garbage man. Yes, Vince went insane for gimmicks in the mid 90's and it was very rarely successful.

There have been the exceptions and there's been the good workers who have made sucky gimmicks work such as Matt Bourne with Doink and Mike Rotundo with IRS. But these are rare exceptions to the rest of the field.

In particular, there are characters that Vince and his booking team have tried and tested, and failed miserably on and then there are there characters which have been tried tested and have been surprisingly good. Goldust was a brilliant example of this.

Dustin Runnels had a lot to live up to, his father Dusty Rhodes was a wrestling legend, yeah he wore stupid yellow pokadot tights and a stupid looking headband but never the less he was a legend. Goldust had to compete with this all his career and Vince gave him the chance to get away from his past and his fathers shadow, and lo and behold - Goldust was born. A homosexual man, a movie starlet, whatever he described himself as, and there were many things, his gimmick was new and interesting.

We first came across Goldust in a series of vignettes filmed in various places such as movie theatres, expressing himself in an unusual and camp fashion, no need to say just HOW scary these were. We live in a homophobic society, not one I or OWW even pretend to condone but we do, Goldust was unique in style, unique in appearance and unique in the ring.

The gimmick could have caused a lot of heat, not in the usual heel way either, but in a twisted way, Runnels himself loved it. He had a new and unique gimmick, one we had seen before in Adrian Adonis, but it was very dissimilar to the one Adonis played. Adonis played a camp gay man and Goldust purveyed a dangerous unusual drag queen with sinister intentions where as Adonis was out for fun but Goldust seemed to have another agenda.
When Goldust finally debuted on Raw his wrestling skills were obvious for all to see, it was a new and unique style, and Runnels made the gimmick work. When watching Goldust you get the feeling that if played by anyone else the gimmick wouldn't have worked and that is testament to the way Runnels was.

Unfortunately Vince lost it, he lost the gimmick, he and his writing staff decided to change him, make him insane and he became The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust, needless to say it was not good. Runnels again saw a gimmick change, a born again Christian. When he and his manager, and real life spouse Terri, underwent divorce proceedings the WWF used this in the storylines and put Terri in a storyline with Val Venis as Lovers, we saw the return of Goldust to a huge ovation.

IRS - Irwin R. Shyster
IRS is another great example of the worker making a gimmick work. IRS was a bad idea but never considered bad because of Mike Rotundo, one half of the former US Express. An obnoxious tax man Irwin R. Shyster. Rotundo was great in this role, he worked hard he got over with the fans and caused major heat when he was in the ring and generally was very successful despite the gimmick.

The American Bad Ass - The Undertaker
The Undertaker, a legend in professional wrestling in his own right, decided he didn't want to be the dead man anymore and wanted to be himself. Judgement Day 2000 saw the return of The Undertaker in his new gimmick, one we never expected, a biker. When Mark Calloway was Injured he gave Vince an ultimatum either he let him be more himself or he was going to walk out and leave Vince high and dry. Calloway was by no means indispensable to the company but he played a huge part in the back rooms of the WWF. A true and consummate professional Calloway had done it all in the WWF. He had jobbed; he had put people over and made the worst wrestlers look ok. Vince needed Calloways experience and his professionalism on the roster.

So at Judgement Day 2000 we saw the birth of The American Bad Ass, a mean biker who would no longer walk around in a zombie like state, would no longer sit up or be impervious to pain but a human being, Himself. Unfortunately this gimmick has had a mixed response, whether it be The Undertaker no longer getting over, or the fact that this is not really the Undertaker any more, he seems to have reverted back to his Mean Mark Callous gimmick which is what he really should be called.

Many feel this is Calloways final year in the ring and many people want to see the dead man one last time, personally, I do.
The WWF had the notion that every wrestler needed to have a character, which they seem to have gotten out of now thankfully. We have seen some of the greatest stars shoved into these crap gimmicks such as Stone Cold Steve Austin as The Ringmaster which he quickly realised was not the way to go and look at him now he has become the wrestling revolution of the 1990's.

Do we need gimmicks, yes we do, do want gimmicks, well that's your decision but no matter what we think Vince is always going to have gimmicks, good or, the usual case, bad. Personally I like gimmicks, I love them infact, wrestling would simply not be the same without them, we need the Doinks, we need the Bastion Boogers I mean come on who else would we make fun of, who else would make wrestling so entertaining and who else would make us cry with laughter.

by Darryl Craven

LukardRa wrote:
I have to agree with Darryl .... A performer must make a gimmick work, I mean could any body else "be" The Million Dollar Man? I don't think so. Nowadays it seems like gimmicks are chosen by drawing names out of a hat or something. But in the 80's.... the gimmicks were great, the wrestler made you believe he was that person. I can remember really hating the likes of Rick Rude, Ted DiBiase, and Mr. Perfect. It was because they played those people so well. The gimmicks of today might not be so memorable... but only time will tell. '
Mary Anne CLancy wrote:
I think almost every gimmick WWE comes up with is STUPID! The only gimmick right now that I think is interesting is that of Melina&Johnny Nitro. They play the hollywood type good (and should seeing as they were both born is Southern California and lived there for most of their lives)....prety much every other gimmick ever created by Vince and his goons SUCKS! A lot of wrestlers these days kind of go without gimmicks and are basically themselves which I like.(i.e. Ashley Massaro, Trish, etc) Thankyou for allowing me to speak on this!

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