WWE: 8 Wrestlers Whose Gimmicks Were Totally Ripped Off From Movies
Oscar Wilde once said that "Life imitating art is far more common than art imitating life". But what about art imitating art?
Oscar Wilde once said that “Life imitating art is far more common than art imitating life”. And by kicking off an online article with an Oscar Wilde quote, my Pretentious-Internet bonus points just hit 9000, and I now have enough hipster tokens to get that t-shirt of a cat wearing thick-rimmed glasses and a big moustache. Now that I’m suitably clad, on with the show!
In all seriousness, wrestlers and gimmicks go back to the dawn of the industry. Some of them were obvious, like Sgt Slaughter, who was American and therefore good, the Iron Sheik, who was Arabic and therefore bad, and Andre the Giant, who was a giant (the clue’s in the name) Then there was the more subtle gimmick, which was no less effective at drawing crowds. One example is Abdullah the Butcher, who would always be searched for foreign objects before a match because every man and his dog KNEW that he had a fork hidden somewhere. Gimmicks have ranged from good to ludicrously bad to downright offensive (*coughEUGENEcoughcough*) but sometimes a little “inspiration” is required and wrestlers have turned to the wonderful world of Hollywood.
Here are some examples that wrestlers turned to when the idea bucket ran dry…
8. Rob Van Dam – A Martial Arts Expert With A Belgian Surname
Alright, so technically this is ripping your gimmick off from movie stars rather than the actual movies, but the influence here is blatant. When 20 year old Robert Szatkowski was attempting to break into the business, some bright spark Floridian wrestling promoter named Ron Slinker realised that a name like “Szatkowski” wasn’t going to look good on the billing of Madison Square Garden anytime soon. But looking at Rob’s martial arts moves, he realised why he had had a niggling sense of deja vu for the past hour: he reminded Slinker of action star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Today, Jean-Claude is best known as that guy with the mullet who tries to sell you Coors Light, but in the early ’90s he was a BIG deal, having starred in Bloodsport and Kickboxer in the 3 years preceding. So they capitalised on Rob’s resemblance to him, twiddled the spelling a bit so it didn’t look quite so French, and Rob Van Dam was born. And while Van Damme made the spinning kicks and the split-legged stretch between two chairs popular, no one lands a Five Star Frog Splash or points their thumbs at themselves quite like Mr Monday Night, RVD.
Interestingly, Jean-Claude wasn’t born with the name Van Damme either. He was born Jean-Claude Camille Francois Van Varenberg. So if you ever wish your name sounded a bit tougher, you can change your surname to Van Dam. Just make sure you’ve got a decent roundhouse kick.