5 WWE Hall of Famers who overcame terrible gimmicks


Being inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame is an achievement most superstars want to earn throughout their careers.

Some wrestlers look set to make it into the prestigious group early on, becoming huge stars for the company immediately and remaining that way for the majority of their career. Others only earn their place after overcoming some really disastrous and disappointing characters they’ve been saddled with.

Not every WWE Superstar burst onto the scene as a clear future star like Randy Orton. Some had to suffer with lackluster characters that should have lowered their stock. Yet somehow they came through the other side and went on to have Hall of Fame worthy careers.

On that note, here are five WWE Hall of Famers who overcame terrible gimmicks.


#5. The Godfather overcame terrible gimmicks like Papa Shango

The Godfather managed to have a great career, despite his time as Papa Shango
The Godfather managed to have a great career, despite his time as Papa Shango

The Godfather was one of the most popular WWE Superstars in the Attitude Era. His persona was hilarious and he was regularly involved in some of the most entertaining segments in the company during the Monday Night Wars.

He more than earned his spot in the Hall of Fame, but things were very different when he first appeared as the spooky Voodoo doctor, Papa Shango.

The character, which initially held promise, was a major disappointment, and his wacky antics fell flat with audiences. It’s hard to see The Godfather ever making it into the Hall of Fame if he had never moved on from the spooky Papa Shango.

He would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship during his time as The Godfather, and it was his popularity in the role that undoubtedly played a huge part in his eventual Hall of Fame induction.


#4. Rikishi was a star in the Attitude Era despite his time as The Sultan

Despite a poor run as The Sultan, Rikishi became a huge star
Despite a poor run as The Sultan, Rikishi became a huge star

The Sultan was a one-note character who failed to pick up any steam whatsoever in his two-year run in WWE. The gimmick made very little impression on fans, and when it disappeared in 1998, it did so having made no impact whatsoever.

There’s no way he would have made it into the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t moved on from the character and re-invented himself as Rikishi. Rikishi was a wildly entertaining character that quickly got over with fans and he became one of the most popular stars of the Attitude Era.

The now 56-year-old had his greatest success in this role, and the gimmick helped carve out the Hall of Fame-worthy career he went on to have. It’s something no one would have seen coming during his disastrous run as The Sultan.


#3. Jeff Jarrett had an impressive WWE career despite starting off as a country western singer

August 22 1999 double J Jeff Jarrett becomes WWE European and intercontinental champion on same day https://t.co/r9uSWAWrqb

While he’s mostly remembered for his work outside the company, Jeff Jarrett actually had an incredible run in WWE during the 1990s.

Double J won the Intercontinental Championship a staggering six times during two stints with WWE. He was a solid upper mid-card guy and felt like a significant presence during the Monday Night Wars.

This is all the more impressive considering the TNA founder debuted in WWE as a country western singer. The gimmick was laughably bad and it was hard for fans to take him seriously at all.

The persona and attire Jarrett wore for it was cheesy and had a very short shelf life. Ditching the character after moving to WCW and revamping himself in his return did wonders for Double J’s career. It also played a huge role in his eventual Hall of Fame induction.


#2. JBL had a legendary career, but started off as the terrible Justin Hawk Bradshaw

JBL became WWE Champion and a Hall of Famer despite starting off as Justin Hawk Bradshaw
JBL became WWE Champion and a Hall of Famer despite starting off as Justin Hawk Bradshaw

John Bradshaw Layfield had one heck of a transformation in 2004, when he morphed from the beer-drinking Bradshaw of The APA into the Texan businessman JBL.

The revamp led to Layfield winning the WWE Championship, but his time as Bradshaw was still hugely popular with audiences. Both of these facts are remarkable considering his initial debut in the company was terrible.

Justin Hawk Bradshaw, a Texas cowboy, looked out of place in the 1990s. It was hard to take the character seriously and JBL had a very low ceiling with it. There was only so far he could go in the gimmick and it was certainly not going to get him into the Hall of Fame.

On that note, his two transformations, first into Bradshaw and finally JBL, paved the way for his induction into the Hall of Fame and likely saved his career.


#1. Kane went through several terrible gimmicks before he hit gold

Considering how legendary Kane’s character became in WWE, it’s crazy to think about the terrible gimmicks Glenn Jacobs had to go through before he eventually landed the role as the Big Red Machine.

Kane had to suffer through not just one, but two terrible characters to start his career in the company. First as the evil dentist, Isaac Yankem DDS, and then as the Fake Diesel.

Both characters were doomed to fail from the get-go and Kane had absolutely no chance of success with either. Yankem was far too cartoonish and fans couldn’t get behind it at all. Fake Diesel was nothing more than a petty dig at the departing Kevin Nash, and it immediately drew backlash from audiences.

Luckily, the now 55-year-old wasn’t forced to portray either character for long before he eventually emerged as Kane. It was as the Devil’s Favorite Demon that he went on to have great success, winning numerous World Championships and achieving many other impressive accolades.

There weren’t many more deserving Hall of Fame inductions than Kane when he was given the honor in 2021, something no one expected to say when he was saddled with two terrible gimmicks to start his career.


Find out who Bret Hart patched up with after 2 decades right here.





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