In a world of wrestling gimmicks, some work, some don't, by Andrea Adelson | Sentinel Staff Writer - 25th March 2008
Take a few athletes, maybe some animals, a set of hair clippers and a dollop of celebrity and you have the makings of a WrestleMania gimmick. The formula seems pretty simple when it comes down to some of the most farcical and fantastical story lines to play out at professional wrestling's biggest annual event.
What is old is new again seems to be a running theme. Last year, Vince McMahon and Donald Trump faced off in the "Battle of the Billionaires" -- where each man chose a wrestler to represent them and the loser had his hair shaved. Sound creative? The idea had been done at two previous WrestleManias.
Having a celebrity involved wasn't new, either. In fact, celebrities have been a part of WrestleMania since the first one in 1985 at Madison Square Garden, where Liberace performed with the Rockettes, and Cyndi Lauper got in the ring to help Wendi Richter beat Leilani Kai.
So it should come as little surprise that one of the big events at WrestleMania 24 on Sunday at the Citrus Bowl features boxer Floyd Mayweather. Mike Tyson was involved in perhaps one of the most memorable gimmicks when he punched out Shawn Michaels after acting as the special ringside enforcer between the Heartbreak Kid and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in the main event at WrestleMania 14 in Boston.
That WrestleMania actually had a healthy helping of gimmick work. Pete Rose served as a guest ring announcer before getting the Tombstone from Kane. Gennifer Flowers, best known for her alleged affair with Bill Clinton, was a guest interviewer and ring announcer.
Her interview with The Rock marked the first time he said his famous catch phrase, "If you smell what The Rock is cookin'."
There are plenty of other gimmicks that have been done over the years. Here is a quick look at some of the best, and some that deserve to be tossed out of the ring for good.
Even though it had been done before, there was something cool about having Trump involved in the war of words with McMahon at WrestleMania last year. The look on McMahon's face after his head was shaved is one that many wrestling fans will never forget because his character is so despised.
The first instance of head shaving came at WrestleMania 3, when "Rowdy" Roddy Piper used the sleeper hold on "Adorable" Adrian Adonis. While Adonis was asleep, Piper and Brutus Beefcake shaved his head. This happened again at WrestleMania 20, when Molly Holly lost the Women's Championship to Victoria.
Any time William "Refrigerator" Perry is involved in anything, it is worth watching. His gimmick in WrestleMania 2 set the stage for future sports athletes and NFL players to take part in WrestleMania. A battle royal took place between wrestlers and NFL players, including Perry, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Harvey Martin and Ernie Holmes.
Andre the Giant ended up winning the match, but Perry had his own bit of fun. After Big John Studd eliminated him, Perry asked for a handshake. Instead, he pulled Studd over the rope and eliminated the wrestler.
The Giant was also involved in another hilarious moment, when he was being interviewed by Bob Uecker during WrestleMania 4. Andre the Giant had his hand on Uecker's shoulders when the longtime baseball broadcaster said, "Get your foot off my shoulder." The Giant took Uecker by the neck and started shaking him back and forth.
There were some interesting moments with animals. At WrestleMania 9, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan rode to the ring, dressed in a toga, riding a camel. That WrestleMania was known as the world's largest toga party because it was held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
At WrestleMania 3, another rocker, Alice Cooper, teamed with Jake "The Snake" Roberts in a match against Honky Tonk Man. Though Honky Tonk Man won, Cooper and Roberts ended up putting Roberts' boa constrictor on Honky Tonk Man's manager, Jimmy Hart.
Rose saw his share of face time at WrestleMania, but the point of a gimmick is to do it once. He ended up getting on three straight WrestleManias, though in 1999, he showed up dressed as the San Diego Chicken. His first appearance should have been his last.
Generally, fans always love to see their favorites return to glory but sometimes that isn't the case in wrestling, where many guys end up looking fat and old. At least we know why the powers-that-be got a bunch of former stars together at WrestleMania 17. They named their match the "Gimmick Battle Royal."
The Iron Sheik won in his first WrestleMania appearance in 15 years. He ended up beating guys like Hillbilly Jim, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Nikolai Volkoff and Brother Love, among others. Not sure this gimmick worked out real well. It is not even listed in the WWE's top 50 moments in WrestleMania history.
Toss 'em out
There is a reason WrestleMania 11 in 1995 isn't regarded as one of the better years -- the main event featured former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor against Bam Bam Bigelow. It is one thing to have athletes featured on the WrestleMania card, mostly as featured guests. It is quite another to have them star in the main event.
Taylor brought along Ken Norton Jr., Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, Reggie Parks and Steve McMichael and won the match. The loss led Bigelow to get kicked out of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Corporation. As if losing to a football player wasn't bad enough.
Then there are the many tasteless moments that should have never been done. Going into WrestleMania 6 in 1990, Bad News Brown accused "Rowdy" Roddy Piper of being racist. So Piper showed up for their big WrestleMania match painted half black to show it didn't matter if Brown was black or white. Not so classy.
Andrea Adelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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