Gimmick (professional wrestling)

From Academic Kids

In professional wrestling, a gimmick is slang that refers to a wrestler's on-screen personality.

The nature and plausibility of gimmicks vary widely. In recent years, the emphasis has been on more 'realistic' gimmicks where the wrestler is portrayed as being an actual person, albeit with exaggerated personality traits, as opposed to previous years where gimmicks could be best described as 'cartoonish' (most of the WWF product in the 1980s and early 1990s fits this category).

Note that gimmicks can be described as heel or face. A "face gimmick" is one that can be described as being designed to be popular with crowds, often through adopting babyface mannerisms. A "heel gimmick" is one that is designed to be hated by crowds, usually to make the face look more popular in any angle they may be both involved in (for example, pretending to betray a trusting face). A tweener gimmick falls between the two extremes.

Over a wrestler's career, they may be expected to portray many gimmicks, most of which may be implausible and inconsistent (see kayfabe). It is not uncommon to see a wrestler to undergo a complete on-screen personality change from one week to the next.

Promotions will often recycle past gimmicks, giving them to newer wrestlers. Typically, a promotion will wait several years before trying to recycle a gimmick in order to allow fans' memories to fade. This is especially easy for WWE to do, because it owns its wrestlers' gimmicks and stage names.

Examples of gimmicks

  • Mick Foley, who was most recently portrayed as a wrestling legend and all-round good guy; previous gimmicks include Cactus Jack (a crazy-tough guy), Mankind (who was crazy to the point of mental illness), and Dude Love (a cartoonish 1970s figure representing everyman's desire to be a superhero).
  • The Undertaker, an undead wrestling zombie turned minister of darkness turned cowboy/biker, complete with thick purple gloves and occult powers.
  • The Dudley Family of Extreme Championship Wrestling, all of whom were half-brothers in ECW storylines, despite varying wildly in physical characteristics and race.
  • Doink the Clown, an evil circus clown.
  • Eddie Guerrero, who is a stereotypical Mexican, and lies, cheats and steals to win matches.
  • Rico, a suspiciously camp hairdresser who is surprisingly vicious when wrestling.
  • Irwin R. Schyster, an I.R.S. tax collector who for some inexplicable reason is also a professional wrestler.
  • Repo Man, a wrestling repossession expert.
  • The Hurricane, an outlandish superhero in the vein of the Batman TV show; this gimmick developed to the point where he was given a sidekick "Super Hero In Training (S.H.I.T.)", Rosey.
  • John Cena, a white rapper, complete with a large metal chain around his neck and a throwback sports jersey connected to the city where he is appearing.
  • René Duprée, a Frenchman who lives the fine life.
  • Mark Jindrak, a narcissist, who enters the arena looking at himself in a mirror. This is an example of a recycled gimmick, as Lex Luger used it in the early 1990s when he was in the then-WWF.
  • Eugene, a mentally-challenged man with the mind of an eight-year-old, who turns into a wrestling savant inside the ring.
  • Kane, a sadistic, uncaring "monster" who appears to suffer from schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, and Munchausen syndrome, among other mental illnesses.
  • John Bradshaw Layfield, a rich Texan living in New York City, who is also a racist.
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley ("Triple H"), a multi-millionaire who has been "married" at times to Vince McMahon's daughter (and now actually is) and whose character name seemingly derives from William Randolph Hearst and Leona Helmsley.
  • William Regal, a British snob using a lot of British terms.
  • Val Venis, an adult film star from Las Vegas.
  • Charles Wright's stint as "The Godfather," a wrestling pimp who would come to the ring accompanied by several of his "hos," or prostitutes (despite pimping being a sex crime in many American jurisdictions). Wright had competed several years earlier as "Papa Shango," a voodoo expert who carried a smoking skull to the ring and caused opponents to mysteriously vomit, go into convulsions, etc.
  • Brian Kendrick, a kid who will do absolutely anything to make it in wrestling.
  • Red Rooster. Talented, southern, traditional chain rasslin' Terry Taylor was brought to the WWF to look and occasionally act like a rooster in the ring, complete with a streak of red hair that stood on top of his head.
  • The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, who had wrestled all over the world, returned to the WWF after the Vince McMahon jr expansion accompanied by a heavyset valet and wearing a polka dot bodysuit. Some believe McMahon was poking fun at Dusty, who had previously been released from rival Jim Crockett Promotions where he was the booker. To Dusty's credit, he managed to get over with the gimmick and was not buried in the midcard as some would have expected.

See also: professional wrestling slang


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