10 Rip Off Wrestling Gimmicks (That Messed Up What They Copied)

Pro wrestling does a fine line in crappy versions of successful gimmicks.

Ultimate Warrior Renegade

In a world of constant development and creativity, how important is originality? Often cited as vital to the success or failure of a character, it is difficult to shake the feeling that it is somewhat overrated. All stories have been told, of course, and all we're doing is interpreting them in different ways. Originality is overrated because it doesn't really exist.

That doesn't make it okay for Prince Iaukea to become The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea.

Pro wrestling history is littered with characters and gimmicks that took inspiration from those that came before, of performers who cherry-picked things that worked and ramped them up to 11. Furthermore, the more inventive wrestlers have never been afraid to dip their toes into the wider world of art in search of stimulus. If it works in literature or cinema, there's a good chance that it might work in the squared circle.

This being professional wrestling, there have been as many missteps as there have been success stories, as many head-scratchers as there were triumphs. More often than not the blunders have come from missing what made the original so invigorating and exciting, by taking only the bells and whistles and failing to understand anything about the characters at all. Many lessons have gone unlearnt.

The main one being 'don't have a charisma vacuum portray the most charismatic musician of a generation'.

10. 'Woken' Matt Hardy

Ultimate Warrior Renegade
Impact Wrestling/WWE

Did anyone really expect this to work? Sure, immediately feuding with Bray Wyatt at his least relevant wasn't exactly the hottest start, but you'd have to be a major supporter of WWE to say that there was hope for 'Woken' Matt Hardy. The tentative noise surrounding the character's arrival alone was an indictment of WWE creativity. If ever there was an example of the lack of faith that fans have in the world's largest wrestling promotion, this was it.

Still, there was the faint hope that WWE might get this right. All the company needed to do was allow Matt Hardy to go whole hog on the gimmick, utilising that massive budget in the process, right? Come to think of it, just what was Matt Hardy capable of with a blank cheque?

We never got to find out, because WWE was and is incapable of fathoming the subtlety required to make such gimmicks work. 'Broken' Matt Hardy was fantastic for a number of reasons, not least Hardy's commitment to the wackiness of it all, but it was the unspoken words that spoke the loudest. 'Broken' Matt Hardy didn't need to explain every reference to you, the viewer. 'Woken' Matt Hardy fell into the same trap that all WWE characters tend to; an obsession with WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE, and a total inability to leave some things left unsaid.


Born in the middle of Wales in the middle of the 1980's, John can't quite remember when he started watching wrestling but he has a terrible feeling that Dino Bravo was involved. Now living in Prague, John spends most of his time trying to work out how Tomohiro Ishii still stands upright. His favourite wrestler of all time is Dean Malenko, but really it is Repo Man. He is the author of 'An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery', the best book about the Slavic people that you haven't yet read. You can get that and others from www.poshlostbooks.com.