The real secret to wrestling stardom is talent and determination. Oh, and not being signed by WWE in the last five years.
You can get ahead by not being good, sure, because nepotism is also a thing. But a connection isn't enough, even if it gets you on telly. From Ed Leslie to Nia Jax - Brutus Beefcake was at least over in one role - the beneficiary never becomes anything else.
And even if you're good, you have to adapt.
This is also key; even Steve Austin became a bit boring, by late 2000, by playing the same indiscriminate, held-down ass-kicker. Vince McMahon probably shouldn't have turned him heel when he needed a quintessential WWF Guy to hold off the invading WCW, but still: disastrous as the decision was, it wasn't quite rooted in Vince Russo anti-logic.
Chris Jericho plays up his ability to reinvent himself, and he should. It's great marketing that puts over a career that puts itself over all the more in retrospect. But by early 2016, he felt positively ancient. The act was as rooty tooty booty as the patter. He had to disassociate entirely to earn critical acclaim once again.
There's no weird secret - just don't be sh*t or self-unaware - unless...
10. Orange Cassidy - Playing An Oxymoron Of A Character
The Orange Cassidy character is such a fantastically inspired punchline in itself because it is so absurd.
He is a combat athlete. His chosen profession requires immense dedication. But he can't really be a*sed, as articulated by his look, apathetic kicks and the fact that, in the old world anyway, he couldn't even hold his wrist upright to properly greet the fans at ringside.
It makes sense that the character got over on an independent circuit that has long embraced the avant garde. It was hysterical, when received in the intended spirit; by rolling around apathetically on the canvas, as a bemused opponent "leapt" over him, Cassidy mocked the response to his act more than he ever mocked "the business" itself. He lovingly exposed the inherent artifice that existed well before he was even born.
But on national television?
Cassidy used his intelligence to refine the act, using a much-loved independent match opposite David Starr (sigh) as the template: he was an irreverent slacker clever enough to enrage the competition and lull them into rash mistakes.
In a hellscape of a world that pulses with constant anxiety, Cassidy got over - he was a top seller on ProWrestlingTees in 2020, and didn't get the spot because AEW VP Chris Harrington doesn't know his numbers - because he was aspirational.