Analyze this: Importance of Gimmicks - Wrestling Forum : WWE, TNA, Debate League, Wrestling Videos, Women of Wrestling Forums
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Old 10-28-2012, 01:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Analyze this: Importance of Gimmicks

Ever since pro-wrestling started to approach towards entertainment industry leaving the sports culture since the advent of promotions aiming to attract the audience towards themselves, gimmicks has been the mainstay.

The gimmicks were rich during the wrestling boom and in attitude era; both the most successful phase for WWE. Esp during the AE in which I started, the gimmicks ran deep and defined the characters starting from lower mid card to main events making an altogether entertaining show giving the audience someone to love and hate and each level of the show. We had Undertaker/Kane/Mankind/Goldust/Val Venis/Godfather/RTC/DX among others during this period transcending cards. Based on what I came across, it was the same case in wrestling boom period.

What is the importance of gimmicks in pro-wrestling's entertainment factor and when were the gimmicks in it's peak?
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analyze this: Importance of Gimmicks

I feel it is highly important in getting a particular wrestler over in the past. Lance Storm comes to mind. When he first hit big in America, he was easily one of the best in the ring, always brought his A game. However, in those times, he wasn't really over because fans weren't easily hooked by the actual wrestling aspect of the business. They wanted to see characters and wacky gimmicks, which made it harder for a guy like Lance to get the recognition he deserved. I feel had he broke in within the past 5 years, he would have been over greatly, despite not ever having a gimmick.

Gimmicks were originally in their peak in the Golden Era, despite many being a flop. IMO, thats when WWE went character crazy. However, in the New Generation Era, thats when those type of characters sorta lost all value, as WWE begin getting lazy and relying on those same cartoonish characters they did in the previous 10 years.

In a time where ECW broke through having gimmicks that everyday people can relate to, Vince went that route and it became the best decision he ever made. Wrestlers actually matched the real life personas of some and the characters actually became human again. No more watching a fat white guy being hailed from Africa or an Italian being portrayed as an Indian. Now it was about realistic gimmicks that the average fan can become interested in, while not completely ignoring the character & scripted aspect of the business.

So, based on the times, I think it truly hit it's peak in the AE, when wrestling was larger than ever and ushering in a new generation of fans. So, mid to late 90s.
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Old 10-28-2012, 05:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analyze this: Importance of Gimmicks

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Originally Posted by El Chapo View Post
I feel it is highly important in getting a particular wrestler over in the past. Lance Storm comes to mind. When he first hit big in America, he was easily one of the best in the ring, always brought his A game. However, in those times, he wasn't really over because fans weren't easily hooked by the actual wrestling aspect of the business. They wanted to see characters and wacky gimmicks, which made it harder for a guy like Lance to get the recognition he deserved. I feel had he broke in within the past 5 years, he would have been over greatly, despite not ever having a gimmick.

Gimmicks were originally in their peak in the Golden Era, despite many being a flop. IMO, thats when WWE went character crazy. However, in the New Generation Era, thats when those type of characters sorta lost all value, as WWE begin getting lazy and relying on those same cartoonish characters they did in the previous 10 years.

In a time where ECW broke through having gimmicks that everyday people can relate to, Vince went that route and it became the best decision he ever made. Wrestlers actually matched the real life personas of some and the characters actually became human again. No more watching a fat white guy being hailed from Africa or an Italian being portrayed as an Indian. Now it was about realistic gimmicks that the average fan can become interested in, while not completely ignoring the character & scripted aspect of the business.

So, based on the times, I think it truly hit it's peak in the AE, when wrestling was larger than ever and ushering in a new generation of fans. So, mid to late 90s.
Lance Storm there was a good call. In a period where gimmick did not matter, he could have been bigger. He was caught in a period when gimmick was everything and Austin buried him for good with Boring, calling him for what he was during that period.
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Old 10-28-2012, 11:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analyze this: Importance of Gimmicks

To me gimmicks have always been valuable in a sport that relies so heavily on the entertainment aspect.

Over the history of the sport there has been this "action then reaction" thing going on. Just as it is in culture. Balance is the key. Too many times in the history of the sport something comes along that is fresh and different, like Georgeous George, Superstar Graham's physique, The Road Warriors face paint and street tough attitude, masked men, monsters, etc...But then promoters go all nuts and fall over themselves to copy, and mass produce gimmicks. This leads to era's like the late 80's WWF where virtually every wreslter even the jobbers had gimmicks. The reaction to that? An era with far too few gimmicks.

Every once in a while a company strikes a balance. For example wreslters used to at least have a nickname and mythical place of origin. Goldberg was obviously not the first to use his real name but he was over huge. So what happened? Virtually every new star was introduced under a "normal" name, and gimmicks were pushed to the back.

I thought the ECW did a great job here with like El Chapo said relatable gimmicks. These gimmicks were themselves a balance (save a few like the Dudley's or Roadkill) and helped the company retain its level of "superheros" yet not making them wrestling plumbers or wrestling hockey players.

Persoanlly I miss the lack of great gimmicks. I long for another Masked Superstar, Baron Von Rashcke, or the next Undertaker.

To answer your question, gimmicks are what suspend reality. They take us to this mythical land where our heros do battle not against ordinary men but against mythical characters. It is the base of the mythos of wrestling. Kimala was not just a truck driver discovered in Memphis by Jerry Lawler he was a monster as Kimala and that made it so much better when the hero defeated him. Our heros can also have gimmicks and we can cheer superheroes like the Undertaker or Mr Wrestling 2.

Gimmicks were at their peak as far as balance to me in the the late 70's but at their peek in quantity (saturation) in the mid to late 80's. Promoters in every territory witnessed the success the WWF was having with their cartoon wrestling and fell all over themselves trying to repeat that success. Virtually every promotion began filling their rosters with gimmicked up stars. Heck Memphis went so far to have Freddy, a Ninga Turtle, Surfer dudes, wreslters from the future, and aliens all at the same time. It was overkill.

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