Ahh, the attitude era. So rich with color, personality and talent. However, who can forget the attitude era’s crowning quality… all it’s memorable gimmicks! So, grab your goblet of blood, blonde wig, and your ‘hoes’, as we take a look back at this special time in wrestling history.
These, of course, are in no particular order.
Perhaps the greatest character gimmick of all time, the Undertaker really shined during the attitude era. Along with his Ministry of Darkness and Paul Bearer, Undertaker reigned upon the WWF with truly evil intentions. His unforgettable ring entrances, promos and matches really make the Undertaker stand out within the time period. Whether he was burning crosses on Mr. McMahon’s lawn, having an inferno match with Kane, or leading the weak-mined to do his bidding, with the Undertaker; you knew you were in for one hell of a show.
You never knew what you were going to get with Mankind, that (along with his loose grip on reality and high tolerance for pain) is what makes him one of the most memorable gimmicks of the attitude era. In between his often rants and hair-pulling, Mankind put on some classic matches and legendary segments, most notably, his hand in boiler room brawls and hell in a cells. Along with Mr. Socko and his iconic leather mask, Mankind never disappointed. He is what a great gimmick is all about!
No, no. This isn’t a Shattered Dreams Production. This is Goldust, who was another great gimmick character of the attitude era. The cross-dressing, wig-wearing sun-of-a-gun who made it hard for you not to find him somewhat entertaining each time he appeared on WWF programming. His comedic quality and bizarre presence was worth it’s weight in gold and hardly any can argue. His classic entrance included an over-the-top gold robe (often with fringe, fur, or feathers) and a platinum blonde wig. He pulled off a great weirdo and that’s why his gimmick worked so well. (A bit too well sometimes! Yikes…)
Speaking of weirdos, who can forget Gangrel? Most known for his pounding music, fire entrance, blood spitting, and an impaler DDT; Gangrel was always a scene. Being the face of the Brood, alongside Edge and Christian, definitely made the whole picture that much better… And how about the post-match blood baths! The Brood was Edge and Christian’s big break and was the defining moment that solidified Gangrel’s place in wrestling gimmick history. Believe it or not, his vampire gimmick is one I still hear about today. “Hey, remember that vampire guy?” -I think we all do.
Odds are, if you were talking about intimidating during the attitude era days, you were talking about Kane. After a shocking debut and even more surprising back-story, Kane was seen as major wrecking force among the WWF. With his towering, looming presence, Kane proved to be of the best long-term gimmicks ever imagined. His iconic mask and ring attire set him apart from the crowd and really drove the fear home with the TV and live audiences. In all honesty, I don’t think I can recall a single time Jerry Lawler didn’t shriek in fear when Kane’s pyro hit in a darkened arena.
If there is one thing that The Godfather taught us, it would be that “pimpin’ ‘ain’t easy”. Likewise, leaving your mark in attitude era was quite a task for some, but not the Godfather. Being accompanied to the ring by his “HOOOOO TRAAIINNN” (had to do it) and his flashy jewelry and cane, The Godfather know how to accessorize. His gimmick is yet another people tend not to forget. Seriously, the feather in his fedora, priceless.
Two words: “HELLOOO LADIIIESSSS”. When the towel-toting Val Venis first “Penetrated” the WWF he was an instant crowd-pleaser. He could work in the ring and deliver funny segments outside of it. The man’s raunchy gimmick had him giving away his bath towels to women in the front row and gyrating his hips every chance he got. The sexual innuendo wrapped around the Val Venis gimmick is enough to make even your mother blush… Just re-watch his entrance tron sometime, you’ll see what I mean. I’m willing to bet my house on much of Val Venis’ material never seeing the PG-era!
That’s right, IT’S TIME. IT’S TIME. IT’S. VADER. TIME. The freakish Vader was know for two things: his nearly unmatched power and his remarkable ring presence. If a 450-pound man with a mask on performing a ‘Vadersault’ (Moonsault off the top rope) isn’t memorable, I don’t know what is. The guy had skill and his mastodon-like gimmick fit him like a glove. With classic feuds against the likes of Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart, Vader’s mark on the attitude era was struck.
“The World’s Most Dangerous Man” was as real as gimmicks get. In a way, he wasn’t a gimmick at all, he was all business. Shamrock was high intensity and his patented ankle lock was deadly. His theme is one of the most recognizable themes of the era because, when it hit, you knew it was on. He was a force never seen before and his uniqueness and deadliness have yet to be seen again. Now quick, let’s get out of this Lion’s Den.
“The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman also had himself quite the gimmick. He falls in the different category, which is why he is remembered so well. Blackman, who as penned as a martial arts master, even made his signature entrance swinging glow-in-the-dark Eskrima sticks on his way to the ring. Eventually, Blackman would ditch the sticks and just start carrying a Kendo stick and a gym bag full of weapons with him. Whether it was pairing up with Shane McMahon, Tagging with Al Snow, or fighting Ken Shamrock in a Lion’s Den Match, I guess you could say the memory of this guy’s gimmick was beaten into you.
Well that is it for my list.
**Honorable mentions include: Al Snow, Dude Love, Cactus Jack, And Chainsaw Charlie **
Is your list a bit different? Let me know.
Either way, I hope you guys enjoyed the short trip down gimmick lane, I know I did!
I'm a twenty-seven year old lover of the professional wrestling of yesteryear, writer extraordinaire, and bigtime James Bond film/novel enthusiast... Welcome to the party, my dear.