Return of the Real Gimmick at the Expense of Reality"
May 26, 2006 by Jeff Knott

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Hi all. I am a long time reader, first time columnist to OWW, so any comments on style are gratefully received. I'm 21, live in the UK, but am currently studying at University in Australia.

This article started out as a response to Rag Morton's excellent article "Return of the Real Gimmick"", but kind of ballooned, so I elected to respond in the form of an article so I could get what I want to say across easier without having to worry about length. If you haven't read Rag's article, I suggest you do! It's a very well written piece (should be really as he writes for a sports newspaper!) championing the return of the "real gimmick" to the WWE. A very interesting article which got me thinking, but I have to disagree with his basic sentiment.

Personally, I would say the recent trend for more "gimmicky" wrestlers detracts from the product. True there are exceptions to every rule - I guess in this case most notably the Undertaker - but in my view, if too much emphasis is placed on the wrestler's gimmick it can seriously detract from their in-ring work and therefore their ability to be successful, both in terms of getting over with the crowd and drawing money.

One of the examples sited in Rag's article is Eugene. Now Nick Dinsmore has clearly enjoyed some success with this gimmick, most notably in his period of interaction with HHH and Evolution, but I believe his gimmick is now holding him back. There comes a point where so much emphasis is placed on the gimmick that the viability of the individual as a fighter is compromised. Eugene is stuck in the lower mid-card and I would suggest until he loses the Eugene moniker, comes out as Nick Dinsmore and belittles the fans for buying into it him being "special", that is where he will stay.

Continuing this theme, looking at the examples sited in Rag's article, not one of the wrestlers mentioned has achieved any amount of success and even looking at older examples (of which I openly admit I have limited knowledge) I can't think of any truly gimmicky wrestlers that have made it to the top until well back into the1980s. In the Attitude Era, successful wrestlers may have had gimmicks such as being "Stone Cold" or "The People's Champion", but these were subtexts to their ability to beat the snot out of people in the ring and/or make them look stupid outside of it and were not "real gimmicks" in the way Rag uses the term.

Just off the top of my head, think about the wrestlers at the top of the game today; the likes of HHH, Shawn Michaels, John Cena and Edge on RAW - Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry, JBL on Smackdown! Looking even more closely, you have Christian Cage, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett and Monty Brown on TNA (again I can see Abyss is an exception along the lines of 'Taker). Pretty much all of the top stars in any brand either have an almost indefinable gimmick or a gimmick based simply around them being stronger or better than anyone else.

In conclusion, in my view, overplaying of a gimmick or a gimmick which is the main focus of a character detracts from that wrestler's ability to be successful in the long term. It may help a new star become established in the lower and mid-card, but if the "real gimmick", as Rag refers to it, is not discarded it can subsequently inhibit their chances of success in the upper card.

Mind you, I only really got into wrestling in the Attitude era, so I guess this could be personal preference! What does everyone think" Are "real gimmicks" going to make a comeback in modern wrestling, or does the post-Attitude era (incidentally, we really need to come up with a decent name for the modern era!) demand a level of realism that overly-gimmicky characters cannot deliver"

by Jeff Knott ..

Chris B. wrote:
I've got to say I agree with you completely Jeff, the gimmicks have to go, like you said they may establish someone at first but they argueably constrain them after a certain point. And continuing with your point about 'Stonecold' and 'the people's chamion' such men as 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair and 'Big Poppa Pump' Scott Steiner can be grouped into thisame category, those were just nicknames that in no way held their in ring abilities back. But in rebuttal to my previous statement Chris Masters falls into a different category, because Masterpiece is not so much a nickname as a pure gimmick, c'mon look at the masterlock challenge, thats very gimmicky. Thanks for the article it was well put.
John wrote:
I really enjoyed your column as it made me think strongly about the future of wrestling. Will there be gimmicks in order to get over, or will your wrestling talent get you over" An example is Lance Storm. He never had a gimmick in WWE, but he never got over. Conversely, Boogeyman doesn't even know what a turnbuckle is, yet he was extremely over with his gimmick. Personally, I think gimmicks are going to make a comeback in a huge way for the WWE, but hardly any comeback in TNA. Great Column.
T.J. Thomas wrote:
Hey, for a name for the modern era, how 'bout we call it The New Era" Sounds corny, I know, but wrestlers are using new moves never seen before (like Shane-O-Mac's backbreaker). I think The New Era started at WrestleMania XXII. It's like the new season of a TV show, with people coming back (Goldust, Tatanka, Fit Finlay), people leaving (Chavo Guerrero, Melina Perez, Johnny Nitro, Orlando Jordan), and people arriving (Spirit Squad, Umaga, Brent Albright).


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