Fred Ottman first rose to national prominence in the early 1990s under the gimmick Tugboat, a friendly but huge sailor who aided the likes of Hulk Hogan. By mid-1991, Tugboat hung up the sailor stripes to become the heelish Typhoon, and two years later, he went to WCW as the infamous Shockmaster.
It's an adage as old as professional wrestling itself: a wrestler enters a new promotion (and in some cases, returns to the same promotion), but something is decidedly different.
Perhaps they have a new outfit or ring gear. Perhaps they're talking differently or have a new name. Perhaps all of that stays the same, even their name is the same.... but their character has a completely different purpose than the gimmick they were known for previously.
So if this happens so frequently (in fact, there are only a few dozen mainstream wrestlers that competed after the mid-1980s where that HASN'T happened) -- how can you judge the very best? For every major gimmick transformation, there are people like Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) or Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens) who are still similar enough when their names or costumes undergo a change.
In counting down the Top 50 Gimmick Transformations, Canadian Bulldog's World considered the following criteria:
How radical was the transformation?
Was there even a fleeting moment where fans weren't sure who the wrestler previously competed as?
How successful were they at one or more of the gimmicks on a national or global level?
Were they well known by both sets of gimmicks?
One note: to avoid confusion, we've listed most wrestlers here by their birth names, rather than (one of) their gimmick names.
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
George Gray first rose to prominence in the UWF in the mid-1980s, appearing as the mohawked 450-pound One Man Gang. Gray took the persona to the WWF, but by 1988, his manager Slick revealed that Gang had African heritage and was rechristened as the gimmick known as Akeem, The African Dream.