10 Worst WWE Gimmick Changes (Since 2000)

WWE hasn't got a particularly strong history with gimmicks. A lot of performers are rendered dead on arrival thanks to the character they're lumbered with (looking at you, Boogeyman, Mantaur, all but one member of the Spirit Squad), and some aren't necessarily terrible gimmicks, but the talent they're given to often struggle to immerse themselves in the role to make them easy to invest in.

Sometimes, though, WWE outdoes itself. Sometimes, WWE takes a successful wrestler (or at least a solid one) and, for whatever reason, changes their gimmick entirely. There are a LOT of times it's happened and the repackaged superstar hasn't quite recaptured the magic they had before, but every once in a while the change is so ridiculous, so out of this world absurd, so immediately doomed to fail that they deserve a hall of fame (shame?) mention.

This is one such hall of fame/shame. We're going to focus on modern-day WWE (from the turn of the millennium), or we'd be here all bloody day. Here are 10 of the worst gimmick changes WWE has concocted since 2000.


10. Bludgeon Brother Harper (formerly Luke Harper)

(image credit PopCulture)

Luke Harper is well known as an indie darling, and as one of the best wrestlers WWE has to offer today. Upon introduction to the company with the Wyatt family, he found himself inserted into one of the most acclaimed stables (at the time, at least) in years. Once the Family went their seperate ways, fans were clamouring for Harper to receive a main event push. It didn't happen, he rejoined the Wyatts, they broke up again, he went solo again, the fans demanded a main event push again. Surely WWE would listen, right?

Nah. Instead, they just put Harper back with Erick Rowan (for the sixteen thousandth time) and repackaged them at The Bludgeon Brothers. The entire gimmick seems to just be the pair of them shouting scary things like "PAIN" or "DESOLATION" a lot, breaking things with ludicrously oversized hammers and looking like they're wearing outfits Kane rejected. This is probably fine for Erick Rowan; he's solid but unspectacular and has a fairly low ceiling as a singles competitor. But for one as talented and beloved as Luke Harper, it's really, really weak. Luke deserves better than this drivel.

9. Wrestler Lana (formerly Manager Lana)

(image credit WWE)

Okay I know Lana didn't TECHNICALLY undergo a gimmick change as such here, but it was ridiculous and deserves inclusion. Lana, as Rusev's manager, was absolute gold. She had an incredible presence, she commanded your attention, she controlled Rusev like a puppeteer. It was brilliant. Then it all started to go downhill when WWE started putting her into hokey love triangle angles with Rusev and Dolph f*cking Ziggler. That, however, was not the worst part. The worst part of Lana's "reinvention" was undoubtedly when the company decided to use Lana as an active in-ring performer.

Whoever signed off on Lana for main roster in-ring competition wants shooting. It's clearly not her fault, she was evidently trying hard during the short matches she had, and was still somewhat over with the crowds. The problem was that Lana was an absolutely god awful wrestler. She was clearly in way over her head; if Lana were to become an active wrestler she needed a lot more time at the Performance Center, or at the very least in NXT, to allow her to cut her teeth in the developmental division. Instead, not only was she thrown straight onto the main roster but she was thrown into repeated title matches against Naomi, then comprehensively buried as a performer once WWE realised she was nowhere near up to scratch yet.

Lana is currently found back in a managerial role, working with Tamina. Not a great gig, but assuming Lana is at the Performance Center outside of shows it's a much better idea to have her as a manager again until she's actually ready to wrestle in the big leagues.

8. Lord Tensai (formerly Albert)

(image credit WWE)

Let's get this out of the way early doors; Albert was never great in WWE to begin with. I know it, you know it, the sweet old couple next door knows it. He never had much luck with tag partners, and his singles runs were average and largely forgettable. That isn't the issue.

The issue, is that when Matt Bloom left WWE in 2005, he became a HUGE star in Japan. He was a legitimately big deal now; wrestling under the name Giant Bernard, he fought in IWGP Heavyweight Championship matches, and later became a record setting Tag Team champion as half of Bad Intentions alongside Karl Anderson (wonder what he's up to these days?). This prompted Vince McMahon to whip out his enormous chequebook (wash your mind out if you thought that was going somewhere else), bringing Bloom back to WWE in 2012. When he came back, he came back with a brand new shiny name and gimmick; Lord Tensai. The gimmick, consisting of Tensai coming to the ring in Japanese-style clothing and accompanied to the ring by Kazma Sakamoto, was EXTREMELY culturally appropriative; the crowd saw right through it the second Tensai's mask was removed for the first time, quickly starting to chant "ALBERT" at Bloom during matches. It was inappropriate, it was rubbish and it was doomed from the start.

A year later, Bloom was in a tag team with Brodus Clay. He was a wrestling superstar two years prior.

7. The Shining Stars (formerly Los Matadores)

(image credit WWE)

Los Matadores was an absolutely RUBBISH gimmick. The Colón brothers have been treated with little more than thinly veiled contempt by WWE from the start; their first run simply as Primo & Epico was solid, yet mostly uneventful. Then they were given Los Matadores; a gimmick of Spanish bullfighters, complete with their own bull! That sounds awesome, right? Yeah, except the bull was Mascarita Dorada, under the name El Torito, or "The Little Bull". Get it? Because he's 4"5'? It was garbage, it was demeaning to Dorada, and it was simply uninteresting. So thank the lord in 2016, when WWE got rid of the Los Matadores gimmick. Everything was right with the world.

Except, somehow, the new idea the Colóns were given was also absolute rubbish! What are the odds? They were repackaged as The Shining Stars, and the entire gimmick was based around the two of them trying to sell timeshares for a resort in Puerto Rico. Timeshare salesmen. That was the character idea they were given. For professional wrestlers. The crowd weren't even remotely bothered about this repackaging, and quickly enough the brothers were, entirely predictably, at the bottom of the card again.

The Shining Stars barely lasted a year before the gimmick was dropped and the Colón brothers began to simply go by their surname, a solid character idea that fans could actually feasibly get invested in. Until Primo got injured and the team was put on hiatus. They've been thoroughly ignored by WWE since his return. Unlucky lads.

6. Reverend D'Von (formerly D-Von Dudley)

(image credit WWE)

Who doesn't love The Dudley Boyz? They're the most decorated tag team in WWE history, as commentary would talk about incessantly upon their 2015 return to the company. They put people through tables (a lot), they go "WAZZAAAP" and headbutt people in the nuts (a lot) and they dress in all camouflage. They're a pice of bizarre and beloved wrestling history.

There were times when the Dudleys would go their separate ways, however. Bubba Ray found significant singles success in TNA (lol) as Bully Ray. D-Von... not so much. Upon the tag team's first breakup, he was repackaged as Reverend D'Von, a heel reverend serving as Vince McMahon's spiritual advisor. It was absolutely RUBBISH. Reverend D'Von's most high profile win was beating Triple H on Smackdown!, after Triple H was hit by Chris Jericho... with D'Von's collection box. Seriously. It was absurd. D'Von did as much as he could with the role, but it was a doomed character idea from the start.

He was later partnered with Deacon Batista, with Batista serving as the enforcer to Reverend D'Von. It was a terrible gimmick all round, D-Von ended up back in the Dudley Boyz fairly quickly, and Deacon Batista was never heard from again in any capacity, the end. You shut up.

5. Corporate Kane (formerly Kane)

(image credit WWE)

When WWE (then WWF) debuted the Kane character in 1997, it was absolutely phenomenal. An absolute badass, face covered by a hard mask to hide the scars left by The Undertaker as children, Kane was hellbent on destruction and revenge. Then they ruined it considerably by eventually having Kane remove his mask (at the performer Glenn Jacobs' request, in fairness), and saying that the scars he was hiding were all mental ones. Cheap way out.  Kane continued to wrestle, still hard as f*ck but less so as time went by. And how time went by; Kane is still an active performer in 2018, just about.

No matter how much of the badass aura was gone, the decision to repackage Jacobs in 2013 as Corporate Kane was god awful. Corporate Kane was Director of Operations under the rule of The Authority, and although it let Jacobs display decent comedic chops occasionally, the entire schtick was overdrawn, and simply not that interesting in the first place. Kane "relinquished" his mask to The Authority at one point, finally making the transition from badass to meek corporate stooge complete. You know, until he just decided "sod it" and turned into a secret babyface, attacking WWE Champion Seth Rollins while maintaining his corporate image for a while, before just going back to the masked persona completely.

It did provide a few funny moments, but for the most part the entire Corporate Kane gimmick was a waste of time that almost nobody enjoyed. Standard for WWE then.

4. Naked Mideon (formerly Mideon)

(image credit 4chan)

The name really is a fairly big giveaway, isn't it? Dennis Knight was doing alright in the old WWF; signing as Phineas as part of the Godwinns tag team, he enjoyed moderate success before injury to his tag team partner saw Knight join The Ministry of Darkness, a satanic heel group with The Undertaker in charge, and along with the new stable came a new gimmick; Mideon. There are much worse gigs in wrestling than being affiliated with The Undertaker. This carried on until 1999, when Undertaker got injured and the Ministry gimmick slowly just fizzled out. Knight was taken off screen for an extended period of time, cropping up briefly as a Mankind imitator for some reason.

Then, the turn of the millennium happened, and Vince McMahon had one of the worst ideas in his entire god damn life. Mideon came back, but with an ever so slight and subtle tweak to the gimmick. Mideon was now running around wearing absolutely f*ck all squared apart from boots, a thong and a fanny pack. And so the Naked Mideon character was born, much to the initial disbelief and very quick disdain of absolutely everyone in human history. Naked Mideon got a European Championship match against William Regal. I wonder if Regal tells aspiring NXT superstars about that match on their first day at the Performance Center. Jesus christ.

Vince McMahon's childish idea of humour (HAHAHAHA LOOK HE'S NAKED AND NOT CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE!!!!) has never been one to translate well on screen. After the Naked Mideon debacle, which lasted just over a year, Dennis Knight was never seen on WWE/F television again.

3. King Barrett (formerly Bad News Barrett)

(image credit WWE)

Stu Bennett must wonder how in the name of f*ck he didn't become a bonafide permanent main event star in WWE. I know I do. He should have been under his first main roster gimmick; Wade Barrett, leader of The Nexus, a rogue group of NXT 'rookies' that attacked the main roster and took over completely. It was awesome. The Nexus were unstoppable. And what happens when an unstoppable new wrestler or faction hits main event level in 2010 WWE? Why it's our old friend CENAWINSLOL of course. John Cena singlehandedly ruined The Nexus' momentum in late 2010, and Barrett's as part of it.

Once he was removed from the heel faction and replaced by CM Punk, Barrett stayed fairly gimmickless for a while before debuting Bad News Barrett. The character was genius; a throwback to the days of heels generating real heat from every crowd, a killer catchphrase, a brilliant look, a hashtag for the Twitter generation. Bad News Barrett took off and was over as all hell. So, naturally, WWE forced Bennett to knock the gimmick on the head, literally for being too popular. NO ONE GETS POPULAR WITHOUT MY SAY SO, DAMMIT.

Barrett won the 2015 King of the Ring tournament; a tournament brought back from the dead for the SOLE PURPOSE of taking the Bad News gimmick away. In it's place was King Barrett, which was basically the gimmickless Barrett from a while back, just with a cape and crown for his entrance. The King of the Ring gimmick can be done really well (hi King Booker) but this was obviously only done to stunt Barrett's momentum, and he never hit the same heights in WWE again. A shame for someone who should have been a real megastar.

2. Stardust (formerly Cody Rhodes)

(image credit WWE)

Jesus wept, if this isn't The One That Got Away, I don't know what is. Cody Rhodes was always one step away from breaking into the main event elite in WWE. One of the most consistently over wrestlers the company had (be that as a face or heel; he was good at generating heel heat too) Rhodes was a valuable superstar who was continuously overlooked and ignored by Creative. Regardless of the gimmicks he portrayed, Rhodes went about his business with the utmost professionalism, and be it "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, part of The Legacy or part of Rhodes Scholars, he remained popular and beloved by the crowd... but never given a chance to hit that level by the company themselves.

In 2014, WWE overthrew Rhodes' character completely, aligning him with his real life half-brother and long time storyline adversary Goldust, now repackaged as Stardust. The character was pretty similar to Goldust; the facepaint and bodysuit were very much alike (although Stardust did change colours), and the mannerisms were similar too, if exaggerated a fair amount by Stardust. And, in all fairness, to begin with it was a nice change of pace. The problem was that WWE let the Stardust character run far past its expiry date; the fans got tired of it fairly quickly, and so did the man playing it. Although far too much of a professional to ever put any less than 110% into the character, Rhodes grew tired and resentful, begging WWE on multiple occasions to let him revert to his old name. He was refused time and time again, until he eventually snapped and, in 2016, requested his release from WWE.

Since leaving WWE, Cody Rhodes has become a former Ring of Honor World Champion, and has forged a highly successful career in both ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he plies his trade as "The American Nightmare" Cody, and is one of the biggest names in the Bullet Club. Let's take a look at what you could've had, eh WWE?

1. Kerwin White (formerly Chavo Guerrero)

(image credit WWE)

Salvadore Guerrero was always going to have a hard time breaking out as a star in WWE. As the nephew of Eddie Guerrero (whom you may remember as one of the single most popular performers in WWE history), Salvadore was good under his ring name, Chavo Guerrero... but not quite Eddie. That would stick with him throughout his first few years in the company; an issue made even more obvious by the fact that not too long after his debut, he was put in a tag team with Eddie, combining to wrestle as the team Los Guerreros. Although Chavo did get fairly over by proxy of Eddie's popularity during their time as a tag team, it was always painfully obvious that one of them (not Chavo) was a true superstar, and the other (yes Chavo) wasn't as good and wasn't as popular.

After Los Guerreros split up, Guerrero drifted aimlessly for a while, before being named as a last minute trade in the 2005 Draft, sending him from Smackdown! to Raw. Along with this change of scenery came a swift full repackaging; Guerrero had denounced his Hispanic heritage and, a couple of weeks later, was now Kerwin White. Kerwin White was a stereotypical conservative, middle class, white American, complete with midlife crisis peroxide blonde hair dye and driving a gold cart down to the ring. So far, so absolutely god damn awful. It quickly got worse, though; White would start to make "suggestive" remarks to any performer that wasn't also white, and started to use the catchphrase (jesus christ) "if it ain't White, it ain't right". Let that sink in for a moment. It was the most ridiculous, despicable, god damn racist gimmick you've ever seen in your life.

Unfortunately, there isn't a happy reasoning as to why this painful nonsense was scrapped. In November 2005, Salvadore Guerrero found his uncle Eddie dead in a hotel. The Kerwin White gimmick was dropped in the immediate aftermath, and he started wrestling under his real name. RIP Eddie Guerrero.