We see a gimmick, we analyze a gimmick, and we hate or love a gimmick. But what exactly is a wrestler’s gimmick? I took time off this week from my usual column to give some light to the term “gimmick” and why we love or hate them. I also want to give light to the reasoning for some of them and what I would have used if I were a wrestler. A wrestler’s gimmick is defined as “a character or personality portrayed by a wrestler which may be close to the performer’s actual personality or outrageous and outlandish”. Through the years, we have seen thousands of gimmicks which were ridiculous and bizarre; such as the early days of wrestling with the flamboyant style of Gorgeous George and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis, the bizarre looks and actions of George “The Animal” Steele and The Missing Link, to the hero and fan favorite appeal of Hulk Hogan and now John Cena. Gimmicks are either created by the writers, promotions or bookers or developed by the wrestler’s themselves in hopes of the approval or dislike from fans. Gimmicks are the essence of what will make or break a wrestler’s career. There are those who have been through a multiple array of gimmicks in their careers and either he or she is able to strike gold or the gimmick fades away. It often said by the professionals that the skill and execution of the wrestler in the ring is the reason the fans WANT to watch them, but the gimmick is WHY there is a reason stick around.
Individuals in the position of creating the gimmick have often said “if the person in the gimmick does not commit or believe in the persona given, then the fans won’t believe in the gimmick”. Some gimmicks such as The Red Rooster, The Yeti, The Shockmaster, Bastion Booger and Mantaur were hard pills to swallow, but the performer did their best to make the persona work. Some wrestlers were given a gimmick where, deep in their heart, they knew it was not going to be the right “feel” and possibly kill their career. For example, one wrestler entered the WWF with the premise that he was going to be known as “The Mutilator”. This particular wrestler had to quickly come up with a gimmick that wasn’t going to be cheesy and possibly destroy his career. In his meeting with Vince McMahon, this wrestler entertained the idea of changing the mask he was going to be given and came up with the name Mankind. The same can be said for another wrestler who was going to be given a cold-hearted gimmick with a ridiculous name until his wife at the time gave him a cup of coffee and told him to drink it before it becomes “stone cold”. The genius of a gimmick is not how to execute the personality given, but to accept it as a part of yourself and pushing it to the limits. Take it from “Mean” Mark Callous, the moment that his new persona’s name was shaved down and the dark sense of his gimmick was not only scary but also charismatic, The Undertaker was born, and is to this day one of the most popular gimmicks in the field, whether he was a motorcycle riding bad ass or the coffin dragging soul savior.
Playing video games such as WWE ’13 has given me the opportunity to create the gimmick I would have wanted to be if I ever had the nerve to step into the ring. My gimmick would be an inner city brawler from Brooklyn who fights with construction boots, blue jeans, a Punisher-style shirt, and enters the ring with underground hip hop blazing in the arena. And please, I will not be a watered down ridiculous mocker such as Cryme Tyme. My attitude will be geared to not caring about titles, just going into the ring, busting skulls open, and walking out without shedding a drip of sweat or smile. My promos would be short and to the point and I will climb the ranks into the main event card quietly but aggressively. I wouldn’t mind working in a tag team or a stable, but only because I like to deliver punishment in groups as well as on my own. The only thing I would like to see in the video game is to see the popularity or heat a created gimmick can get in a game. In the real world of wrestling, gimmicks can be made and killed the moment the performer walks through the curtain. Regardless of heat or pop the gimmick must stay memorable and must live on even after the performer’s career is over.
So, if you were given the opportunity, what would be your gimmick? Would you be able to put on makeup and hair gel like Johnny B. Badd? Would wear trunks or long stretch pants? If asked, would you shave your head bald and walk through fire? Could you handle the “boos” and nasty remarks or would you want to be cheered and loved? The gimmick is what will make you a jobber or a World Heavyweight Champion. The gimmick will bring you the big bucks or the legion of fans who will know you from gyms to backyards. Regardless if you love them or hate them, it is that personality, that catchphrase, that hand gesture, that will signify your gimmick.