As many fans know, success in professional wrestling requires more than just in-ring skills. Most of the all-time greats of the sport were not only complete performers, but also had incredible tricks. It has been proven many times over the years that the right or wrong trick can make or break a career.
However, not all cheats are created equal. For every great trick, there are at least five terrible ones. Whether good or bad, some pro wrestling gimmicks have interesting origins. Some have their roots in the supernatural, while others are created by chance. Either way, the stories behind some of these tricks are quite fascinating.
10 paul bearer It’s kind of hard to believe, but we now exist in a world of professional wrestling that doesn’t feature The Undertaker as an active competitor. Younger wrestling fans may not even be familiar with the first part of The Undertaker. WWE career. However, at first, The Undertaker was not Directed by Paul Bearerbut rather, by Brother Love.
Whether it was coincidence or fate, Bill Moody would take over the role of Paul Bearer in early 1991. Moody happened to be a licensed undertaker and mortician. To say that he was the perfect man to be next to The Undertaker would be an understatement. Sometimes life has a strange way of working out.
9 HumanityMick Foley is one of the most talented performers in professional wrestling history. Anyone who needs proof of that need look no further than Foley’s ability to create three distinctive, yet wildly successful characters. What some fans may not know is that Foley’s Mankind persona almost didn’t happen.
Jim Ross has gone on record several times that Vince McMahon did not want to hire Foley. McMahon was not a fan of Foley’s Cactus Jack persona. After reluctantly agreeing to cast Foley, McMahon came up with the Mankind character, but he had little faith that Foley would pull it off. The wrestling world came very close to missing out on a great character and most fans don’t even realize it.
8 OzPro wrestling characters modeled after TV or movie characters are nothing new in the wrestling business. When Sting went through his character change in 1996, he was heavily inspired by the movie. The Raven. However, Sting never claimed to be the same character in the movie.
In 1991, WCW fans witnessed something completely different with Kevin Nash’s Oz character. The trick was not inspired by The Wizard of Oz, It was more of a reinvention of the character. At the time, WCW owner Ted Turner also owned the rights to the classic film. This inspired the WCW management to bring the character of Oz to life. Fortunately, and as expected, the character did not catch on and was dropped in 1992.
7 maximum moon One thing about Vince McMahon that isn’t talked about enough is that he can be quite impressionable at times. Various artists over the years have he had McMahon’s ear. However, not everyone knew how to charm the boss into doing what they wanted. Surprisingly, Luch Libre legend Konnan had a brief attraction to McMahon in the early ’90s.
Konnan, who was a huge star in Mexico, introduced McMahon to the futuristic character of Max Moon. For a while, Konnan and Max Moon held much of McMahon’s attention. Unfortunately, Konnan would abruptly decide to ditch the character and return to his lucrative career in Mexico. The trick would then be passed to Paul Diamond. Without Konnan, however, Max Moon didn’t spend much time in the world of wrestling.
6 toxic turtles It’s been said before that Vince McMahon had an affinity for the comic book hero, Mighty Mouse. McMahon always wanted to find the perfect actor to play a similar role. Apparently, Mighty Mouse wasn’t the only cartoon superhero McMahon had a soft spot for. In 1993, McMahon greenlit a one-off appearance for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-offs.
Duane Gill and Barry Hardy would dress up as “The Toxic Turtles” and work in front of an audience. The story behind this is that Gill donned the suit one day backstage in the locker room area and caught McMahon’s eye. On a whim, McMahon decided to try the turtle trick. He opted not to try again, but the fact that he gave them just one chance is amazing.
5 vampireSome artists are so in tune with their gimmicks and personalities that it eventually becomes hard to tell the difference between them. Vampire is a great example of this. Vampire was so good at bringing his character to life that many fans can’t imagine it without him. Oddly enough, the cheat was given to Vampire by chance.
When Vampiro arrived in Mexico, CMLL bookers Antonio Peña and Paco Alonso didn’t know what to make of such a unique artist. Because of his alternative look, Vampiro was dubbed “The Canadian Vampire”. Thus a legend was born. Vampire would go on to accomplish more with the vampire trick than anyone could have imagined. However, without his unique appearance, he might never have gotten that trick in the first place.
4 Pentagon Jr.Today, Penta El 0 Fear is one of the most popular and recognizable Luchadores on the planet. His weather in Fight Underground and his regular exposure on AEW programming has endeared him to the American wrestling audience. Ironically, this huge superstar started out as an afterthought or a supporting character. In the past, AAA featured a great rivalry between artists Octagon and Pentagon.
In 2012, AAA revived that rivalry. Octagon Jr., who was played by future WWE wrestler Kalisto would first be introduced as Octagon’s protégé. Soon after, AAA would introduce his archenemy, Pentagón Jr. From there, Penta’s career would gradually progress and he is now one of the biggest Mexican stars on the planet. It’s worth wondering what would have happened if Octagon Jr. had never been introduced.
3 SuicideSometimes professional wrestlers perform moves that look like they’re straight out of a video game. Well, in 2008, TNA decided to experiment a bit and introduced a character that legitimately came out of a video game, Suicide. The character was designed and licensed by Midway Games for use in the TNA impact! videogame. Eventually though, TNA would bring the character to life.
Over the years, various TNA wrestlers would take on the role of Suicide. This included Frankie Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Kiyoshi, Austin Aires, and TJ Perkins. In 2013, Suicide was unmasked and revealed to be Perkins. TNA would later change the gimmick to “Manik”, who Perkins portrayed without a mask. The Suicide character still makes sporadic returns to Impact Wrestling.
2 great van vaderPro wrestling gimmicks have been inspired by many things throughout the year. Perhaps the most unique inspiration for a wrestling character was the great van vader character in NJPW. The trick had its roots in Japanese folklore. According to legend, to settle disputes, Japanese warriors from different villages would go to an island to fight.
Big Van Vader was considered “The Emperor’s Warrior”. Antonio Inoki already had the character in mind before Leon White took over the role. To say that this character was a huge success would not do him justice. He still ranks among the best gimmicks in Japanese wrestling history.
1 tiger maskLike Oz and Suicide, the inspiration for the Japanese wrestling character, Tiger Mask, came from pop culture. The character was inspired by the japanese manga which went by the same name. In 1982, NJPW decided to bring the character to life. The first Tiger Mask was played by the legendary Saturo Syama.
Since then, six other Japanese wrestlers have taken on the role of Tiger Mask. This includes the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa, Koji Kanemoto, and Kota Ibushi. The character has never had any major championships, but has spanned over four decades. Not bad for a manga character that was originally introduced in 1968.