In the early days of professional wrestling, wrestlers toured with travelling carnivals as part of the athletic (or at) show. The carnies, impresarios and con artists that ran these shows (this was long before the terms booker or promoter entered the lexicon of the wrestling biz) figured that people would be more inclined to pay money to see their wrestlers if they had imaginative backstories, costumes and gimmicks. So, one guy could be a freak of nature whod been living in a cave and subsisting on stolen livestock until he was 25, whilst his opponent for the night might be a lion tamer or a reformed pirate. Why not? Its all showbiz in the end, after all... When wrestling first appeared on TV in the 1950s, such outlandish, larger-than-life characters became even more important to the business. Early TV stars like Killer Kowlaski or Dick The Bruiser defended their characters in public and worked their gimmicks both in and outside the ring. For Polish Power Ivan Putski, this meant adopting a thicker, more pronounced accent when he met with wrestling fan Bob Dylan, for Johnny Walker, AKA Mr. Wrestling II, it meant having his wife pretend that shed never actually seen her husband without his signature mask and for Tonga Fifita, AKA Haku/Meng, it meant tearing the flesh away from a mans back with his teeth. Still, there are only so many gimmicks in the world and a great many wrestling characters have strained credulity to breaking point over the decades. So, here are ten gimmicks that, despite being absolutely bizarre and wildly implausible, actually generated money and sold tickets.
I am a professional author and lifelong comic books/pro wrestling fan. I also work as a journalist as well as writing comic books (I also draw), screenplays, stage plays, songs and prose fiction.
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