What were they thinking?
Gimmicks are as much a part of the WWE as wrestling skill. In fact, some gimmicks are so popular that they take a superstar to new, unprecedented heights. Hunter Hearst Helmsley becoming Triple H, Rocky Maivia transitioning to The Rock and Husky Harris giving way to Bray Wyatt are only a few examples of what a good gimmick change can do for a superstar's career.
On the other hand, there are some gimmick changes that are just baffling. There are plenty of examples of bad gimmicks killing any buzz a superstar might have. Whether it's Red Rooster or Moppy, some gimmicks just have us questioning 'what were they thinking?'.
Today, we're counting down 4 gimmick changes that have not only baffled us but have also contributed to successfully pushing superstars further away from stardom.
#4 Cody Rhodes to Stardust
This one is at least understandable. When WWE transitioned Cody Rhodes to Stardust, his career was already at a stalemate of sorts. His character wasn't really going anywhere, so a gimmick change wasn't that out of the left field. Cody Rhodes even managed to pull it off with some brilliant acting chops.
All that being said, it was never really a well thought out character and ended up floundering once the Goldust-Stardust partnership ran its course. This character felt more like it was meant to create a matching set with Goldust rather than have any success in the long run.
#3 Bad News Barrett to King Barrett
Now King Barrett wasn't a bad persona. But the problem was, why switch gimmicks when Bad News Barrett was a relatively over with the WWE Universe? The explanation from Barrett made no sense either.
"... I was kinda told by the powers that be that I had to knock it on the head for a while, as too many people were joining in and cheering me for it so maybe we will bring it back after Wrestlemania but for now I have to be a bit quieter".
So basically his persona was changed for being too popular? If the WWE didn't want the fans cheering for a heel, they could have tweaked the gimmick, but to throw it out of the window completely, just for the crime of being too popular, seems like a rash decision.
As expected, the King Barrett gimmick didn't really hold a candle to Bad News Barrett. After a few lukewarm storylines consisting of a rivalry with R-Truth and a brief tag team with Stardust as "The Lords of Darkness", King Barrett fizzled out and Wade Barrett got an early release from his contract as WWE really had no idea what to do with him.
#2 Damien Mizdow to Damien Sandow
The sad part about this entry is that no matter how lame a gimmick Sandow was given, he always made it work. He always had the natural charisma and the talent to pull it off. While he may not have been a main event player yet, he was definitely a strong contender for a mid-card title role. Each one of his gimmicks had a strong chance of succeeding but were never quite given the proper booking and even changed randomly.
The 'Intellectual Savior' was actually a pretty decent gimmick and it got him good heel response, but, all of his storylines were short lived and abruptly discontinued. The angle with DX could have helped; his run with the Miz wasn't supposed to be anything above average but surprisingly turned out to be quite entertaining. Ultimately though, no matter how good you are, talent can only take you so far if the management has absolutely no faith in you.
This one takes the cake on baffling gimmick changes. When Lana debuted in WWE as Rusev's manager, she was portrayed as a strong, dominant female who was the only one that could control Rusev. Her aggressive, take-control "Rusev, Crush" was part of what made Rusev and Lana such good heels.
The fans supported her, chanted her name every time she appeared but for some reason WWE decided to make Lana softer and started a romantic storyline with Rusev. Yes, this was partially due to Total Divas as Rusev and Lana were getting married and WWE wanted to cash in on that storyline but this effectively killed Lana's buzz as a devious heel.
After some inept rivalries with Roman Reigns and Enzo Amore, a stale storyline of tension between the couple, and Dolph Ziggler stepping in as a romantic interest, even WWE decided that there wasn't much to be achieved by keeping Rusev and Lana together. So, WWE decided to launch Lana as a solo competitor.
This wouldn't have been such a bad idea, if Lana hadn't adapted a Summer Rae gimmick of being sexy, sultry but not a very good wrestler. All in all, WWE rushed to hype Lana, not giving her enough time to train to be a better wrestler and eradicating the only thing that was getting her over with the fans, her gimmick as a compelling, authoritative, unsubmissive heel.