If this feels like déjà vu, it’s because I pulled a serious case of article-ception on myself by ripping-off my own idea of an article full of wrestling rip-offs, and created another copycat list based on that same concept. Only difference is this one has a totally different list of wrestling superstars. Does that make any sense? It doesn’t matter because much like this article, the wrestlers in this list pretty much took the blueprint off someone else’s gimmick – be it another wrestler or famous pop culture icon – and made it their own. Whether or not all of them succeeded is something you’ll have to read to find out. Drawing inspiration and paying homage is commonplace in wrestling, and sometimes, so is taking someone else’s gimmick and using it for yourself.
As fun as it is, wrestling exists in a bubble and sometimes that bubble assumes that the people in it aren’t aware of the blatant rip-off that’s happening right in front of them. Surprise surprise, we do, and while I admit it works spectacularly at times… other times it falls flat on its face.
Check out Part One of this article here, and then scroll down to read the sequel. Were you able to spot the similarities between these cases of gimmick infringement?
15 EUGENE / DAVE “EVAD” SULLIVAN
Remember Eugene? Sure you do. Eugene’s character was blatantly straightforward; he was billed as the nephew of then Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, he was a major Triple H fanboy, and he was also mentally challenged (kayfabe).
The thing is, Eugene isn’t exactly an original character. Back when WCW was still a thing, another (kayfabe) mentally handicapped wrestler by the name of Evad Sullivan made his debut as the brother of evil Kevin Sullivan. His name wasn’t Evad of course, it was Dave, but apparently Dave’s dyslexia made him spell it as “Evad.” And for some reason, he also pronounced it that way, which makes no sense because that’s not how dyslexia works. Also, I don’t think wrestling as a whole understands what dyslexia is because they portrayed Evad Sullivan as someone who had like five different mental conditions wrapped into one character. Oh, and Evad was also a major Hulk Hogan fan. Do you see the similarities? Mentally handicapped wrestler who has an authoritarian relative in the company and is a major fan of one of the top (heel) superstars. I could have just described either Eugene or Evad and I’d be right either way. Sadly, neither company used these characters well, which is a shame because Nick “Eugene” Dinsmore is actually a good wrestler.
14 MORDECAI / THE UNDERTAKER
Back in 2004, WWE attempted another round of “Who’s Your Next Undertaker” and in the process, created a character called Mordecai. It’s a cool name, and the wrestler playing the role would later become ECW vampire Kevin Thorn. But that’s another story. You see, Mordecai was supposed to be a big deal in WWE. They hyped his arrival for weeks with promos that were strikingly reminiscent of everything Undertaker. Mordecai had everything from the creepy candles to the hooded robes to the cult-like symbolism down pat! Even his entrance music was similar to Undertaker’s to a cringy degree. Apart from the fact that he wore all white and preached some weird spiel about sin and judgment and whatnot, Mordecai was essentially an alternate version of “Ministry era” Undertaker. And I guess WWE sensed it too, because after an extremely short run, the character of Mordecai was scrapped and Kevin Fertig was sent back to the drawing board.
To be fair, Mordecai’s matches were pretty good. He was intense, he was able to believably dominate his opponents, and he sold the gimmick well. But at the end of the day, he was just another Undertaker rip-off who WWE was trying to shove into everyone’s faces.
13 JUVENTUD “THE JUICE” GUERRERA / THE ROCK
Ever watched a “die hard superfan” try to imitate their favorite WWE superstar and fail spectacularly as you cringe hard and wish you didn’t have to see that? That’s essentially Juventud Guerrera’s whole gimmick. Look up any Juventud Guerrera video outside of WWE, and you’ll probably see him cutting a promo with each and every one of The Rock’s catchphrases in it.
What’s confusing is, Juventud had no good reason for copying The Rock. Some could argue that The Rock started this… I want to say “feud” but really, who are we kidding here? Back when Chris Jericho made his WWE debut, The Rock cut a promo saying, "You think you impress The Rock? Why? Because a couple of months ago you were down South beating some jabroni named Juventud?" Ouch! I guess “The Juice,” as Juventud often refers to himself, got all fired-up and started to do impressions of The Rock as… retaliation? Yeah, that’ll show Dwayne who’s boss. Juventud made everything from “Finally…” to “If You Smellll…” his regular shtick, and rumors started to swirl that he honestly believed he deserved to be “The Rock of Mexico.” Surprisingly, Juventud was hired by WWE and was made a core member of a team called The Mexicools. Not surprisingly, that barely lasted a second and before you could raise an eyebrow, The Juice wasn’t hired by WWE anymore.
12 ASYA / CHYNA
During the Monday Night War, WCW’s whole idea of a gameplan was to either copy the gimmicks of WWE’s biggest stars and use them for their own superstars, or just steal some of WWE’s biggest superstars themselves. The latter worked wonders in their favor, with giants like Hulk Hogan jumping ship and turning heel… it was gold! But WCW, not content with being good content creators, were bent on regularly reminding people that they were also cheap and desperate and would do anything to replicate some of WWE’s best ideas.
Cue Asya. By no fault of her own, Asya was WCW’s weak attempt at giving fans their version of Chyna. Case in point… Chyna sounds like "China" but is spelled like a 5-year-old would, and Asya sounds like "Asia" but is spelled like someone in WCW creative would. Also, if you’re going to rip someone off, at least know that China is a country and Asia is a continent. Get your gimmick infringement sh*t in order, WCW! That being said, Christi Wolf (Asya) is actually a damn good athlete. Her matches were on point. Sadly, being WCW’s answer to Chyna never got her signed by WWE, and Asya’s tenure in WCW didn’t get her very far either.
11 SANGRIENTO / SIN CARA
As if it wasn’t bad enough that we had to deal with two different Sin Caras in WWE, Impact Wrestling decided to pull this plagiarism sh*t on us as well. Although WWE wanted us to believe nothing had changed and it was the same person under the Sin Cara mask, they couldn’t fool us for a second! Everyone could tell once the blatant botches stopped that it was someone else in there. Good on you, Hunico!
If WCW was the great rival copycat who at one time stole all of WWE’s biggest names and left them with a roster full of newbies, TNA Wrestling (or Impact Wrestling) is WCW’s underachieving cousin who poorly attempts to copy WWE gimmicks and storylines because they can’t afford to actually steal anyone for themselves. Such is the case with Sangriento, a luchador who looked like Sin Cara, made his debut like Sin Cara, and pretty much pretended to be an alternate Sin Cara. And yes, he even had that annoying mood lighting that plagued all of Sin Cara’s matches. Want to know why Sin Cara botched so much? It’s because he couldn’t see his own match! By the way, Sangriento was actually Amazing Red, who is himself a fantastic wrestler, which makes this whole Sangriento stunt even more confusing.
10 VAN HAMMER / VAN HALEN
How do you take a world-famous rock sensation like Van Halen, mesh him with a jacked rasslin’ type physique, but expect fans not to see the similarities? It’s simple! You change your name to Van Hammer and hope that no one notices. Or, they do and no one cares. Okay in all seriousness, WCW never attempted to have any subtlety in Van Hammer’s gimmick and I’d like to think that they wanted Hammer to be a blatant, obvious, slightly tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the heavy metal scene. Heck, he even had a whole song called “Heavy Metal” and it doesn’t get any more blatant than that!
Sadly, everything wrong with Van Hammer boiled down to timing, and it wasn’t even WCW or Hammer’s fault. Immediately after Van Hammer’s debut, three weeks to be exact, Nirvana released Nevermind, an album that would change the music landscape overnight and officially declare the 90s as an era of grunge. Suddenly, rock and metal were not in anymore, and people like Van Hammer started to look like parodies of the industry instead of homages. Two, Hammer was too green to be given such a strong gimmick, and he played the part instead of fully embodying it.
9 BRODUS CLAY / FLASH FUNK / ERNEST “THE CAT” MILLER
Let me be the first to admit that I liked the Funkasaurus gimmick. In fact, the way WWE executed that twist return of Brodus Clay after weeks of building him up as a monster heel was perfect. The last thing we needed at the time was another big man trying to dominate the scene by having a row of squash matches against local wrestlers, before being dragged through a bevy of meaningless feuds. However, Brodus Clay was channeling not one, but two gimmicks as The Funkasaurus. His Somebody Call My Mama theme song actually belongs to Ernest “The Cat” Miller, who had a short stint in WWE. Ernest would often say “Somebody better call my momma because I’m about to hurt somebody!” which is why it didn’t make sense when Brodus started using a song… that was based on someone else’s catchphrase.
Moving along, was it ever a question that Brodus Clay was channeling Flash Funk as the Funkasaurus? Not only was his name very similar, he even had the Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron, yo!) in the ring with him during his famous dance routines. All of that was pretty much Flash Funk’s gig. As if those weren’t telltales enough, the Funkadactyls pretty much did some of the same moves as Flash Funk’s dancers as well.
8 JESSE “THE BODY” VENTURA / “SUPERSTAR” BILLY GRAHAM
Here’s a copycat job that Jesse “The Body” Ventura has happily admitted to time and time again. Or rather, it’s more like him showing gratitude to "Superstar" Billy Graham for paving the way for wrestlers like himself and Hulk Hogan back in the day. When Stone Cold Steve Austin had Jesse Ventura on as a guest on the Stone Cold Podcast, Ventura basically said “All I did was steal Billy’s gimmick.”
In Jesse Ventura’s case, timing was everything. “Superstar” Billy Graham had recently left AWA (American Wrestling Association) when Jesse Ventura joined the company, and head honcho Verne Gagne literally asked Jesse if he could “do Billy Graham,” to which Venture replied “I can do it better than he can!” And the rest is history. Everything from the look to the costumes to the way Billy Graham spoke became Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s gimmick. For better or worse, it just so happened that Hulk Hogan could also do “Superstar” Billy Graham better than anyone could, and thus, Hulkamania was born. It all worked out though. Hogan took wrestling to new heights and Ventura did well for himself in politics, outside of wrestling. “Superstar” Billy Graham even likes telling the story of how Jesse Ventura followed in his footsteps.
7 EZEKIEL JACKSON / AHMED JOHNSON
Ahmed Johnson never struck me as a character that WWE would want to recreate once his tenure in the company was done, but that’s exactly what they tried to do with Ezekiel Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, Johnson was a good athlete and an imposing figure in the ring, but he didn’t have much of a gimmick other than being the token “strong, dominant force to be reckoned with in the ring” type. Everything from Ezekiel’s ring gear to the way he wrestled mirrored Ahmed Johnson.
In all fairness, WWE did try to add depth to Ezekiel’s character by giving him some biblical influence, but it never really amounted to much. Ezekiel’s WWE character was perpetually confined to the mid-card and after years of sporadic semi-pushes, Ezekiel and WWE parted ways. The good news is, Ezekiel Jackson found his footing in Lucha Underground as a character named Big Ryck. The bad news is in less than a year, Big Ryck left the company due to traveling conflicts, and the character Big Ryck was killed-off, off screen! No as in literally, they said his character was killed by a rival faction. That’s one way to write someone off your show, I guess.
6 “NATURE BOY” BUDDY LANDELL / RIC FLAIR / BUDDY ROGERS
Everyone knows that “Nature Boy” Ric Flair drew inspiration – to put it lightly – from his icon, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers back in the day. But Ric Flair isn’t the only other “Nature Boy” out there. Buddy Rogers was an extremely popular figure in the 70s, so it makes sense that his style and character influenced a lot of the younger talent at the time.
One of those talents was a man who went by the name of Buddy Landel. And just like Ric Flair, Buddy Landel latched on to the “Nature Boy” moniker and made it his own. Buddy called himself the true “Nature Boy” during his feuds with Ric Flair; the two even had a match during their NWA stint called Battle Of The Nature Boys. YouTube any video of Buddy Landel and you’ll see all the striking resemblances to Ric Flair. Landel sported the same shiny robes, the same tailor-made suits, the shades, and even had that signature wavy, white hair. Heck, he even Whooo-ed and used the Figure Four Leg Lock as his finisher! I bet it was an interesting time to be a wrestling fan. In fact, I can’t recall the last time so many people shared not only the same nickname, but also the exact same character and gimmick!
5 STING / THE JOKER
Steve Borden is one of wrestling’s elite, there’s just no other way around it. He’s an absolute legend. For someone who abstained from a WWE contract for the longest time, you have to give props to the kind of popularity Sting garnered for himself over the years. While in WCW, Sting was able to take the dark persona of another famous pop culture figure and make it his own. It worked, and now the face paint and trenchcoat are synonymous with the name Sting. The same can’t be said for his (embarrassing) stint in TNA Wrestling as The Joker.
I’ll never understand why anyone, including Sting, decided that this was a good idea. Granted, good ideas aren’t exactly Impact Wrestling’s forte, but this gimmick switch was cringe-worthy. To make matters worse, the extent of the rip-off stopped at the face paint. Sting’s character was comical and more reminiscent of Cesar Romero’s Joker from the 60s, and it showed Sting as more of a buffoonish prankster than a force to be reckoned with. If you’re going to rip-off a gimmick, why not at least do it justice? Luckily none of that nonsense made it into WWE (they pretty much decided to ignore Sting’s TNA tenure altogether), and The Joker Sting was relegated to (deliberately) forgotten wrestling history.
4 ERIC YOUNG / DANIEL BRYAN
The feud between Daniel Bryan and The Authority circa 2013-2014 is considered by many as the last great WWE rivalry. It stretched out for months but never lost steam, and it finally culminated at WrestleMania 30 with Bryan winning the WWE Championship and celebrating with a ruckus crowd in New Orleans, 70,000 strong! Of course, Impact Wrestling had to try to do the same… minus the 70,000 strong, obviously. Cue Eric Young, a long-time fan favorite who had been constantly robbed of opportunities because he was considered a “B+ player.” What better way to show originality than by smacking an epic beard on Young, pitting him against authoritarian figure Dixie Carter, and fast-tracking his championship win just to stay on par with WWE. Heck, Eric Young even came out to very familiar “you deserve it!” chants on the following show.
The truth is, Eric Young did deserve it. He’s a damn good storyteller and wrestler. But Impact executed his feud to mirror WWE’s Bryan-Authority rivalry with half the creativity and none of the patience. In the end, Young’s victory felt rushed and tacky. To make matters infinitely worse, Dixie Carter cut an awkward promo about beards being her “intellectual property” the next night. Good news is Eric Young is doing great on NXT now and is a part of something relatively original.
3 GLACIER / SUB ZERO
Glacier was essentially Sub Zero from Mortal Kombat. He wore the cheap cosplay version of the mask and armor – shoulder pads and all – and even sported weird contact lenses from time to time. The reason? Eric Bischoff and the brilliant minds at WCW wanted to create a fleet of arcade-style characters that would do battle in the ring. The logic? Who the f*ck knows, really?
In truth, watching WCW’s attempt at creating a live-action video game by ripping off actual video games was entertaining in a hokey kind of way. Sadly, WCW didn’t share the same sense of humor and tried to push these characters as serious business. Glacier lasted an impressive three years in WCW before leaving wrestling altogether. The man behind the mask, Ray Lloyd, is a real-life martial artist and holds a master’s degree in education. It was his background in karate that, for better or worse, landed him the gimmick of Glacier. Lloyd cited wrestling legend Lou Thesz as his mentor and wanted to blend karate with wrestling. WCW took the idea, twisted it to an unrecognizable degree, and gave us Glacier. Fortunately, Lloyd is happy teaching again and admits that it was hard portraying Glacier with a straight face, but I guess entertaining millions on live TV for a few years isn’t such a bad deal if you really think about it.
2 KID KASH / KID ROCK
David Tyler Cash used to wrestle for ECW under the name David Tyler Morton Jericho (glad he kept it short) before being sidelined due to injury in 1998. Then in 1999, David returned as Kid Kash, apparently because he bore an uncanny resemblance to Kid Rock. I don’t see it, but I’ll give Kash the benefit of the doubt here. Kid Kash would come out wearing Kid Rock’s distinctive red garb from the album Devil Without A Cause. Heck, ECW even paid for the rights to use one of Kid Rock’s songs as Kash’s entrance theme. And as if that wasn’t blatant enough, Kid Kash’s finisher was named after the first single off Devil Without A Cause, "Bawitaba."
I’m not going to fault anyone for molding themselves after their icons, but there’s a difference between paying homage (Bailey doing the Frog Splash) and “copy-pasting” someone’s gimmick as your own. Kid Kash’s case is the latter. To be fair though, Kash is a tough sonffabitch and found fame with his new gimmick. During an injury that dislocated both sides of his jaw, Kash returned to the ring within 24 hours of the surgery and put on a show, jaw wired shut and all. If that doesn’t scream EC-f*cking-W, I don’t know what does!
1 DEMOLITION / POWERS OF PAIN / ROAD WARRIORS
Copycat jobs can either end up being goofy and embarrassing for everyone involved, or they can pay-off and evolve into its own signature identity. This story is about not one, but two cases of gimmick infringement that totally paid off. The Powers Of Pain – Warlord and Barbarian – were created to be imposters of the Road Warriors. This is a case of deliberate plagiarism that was part of the actual storyline. The Powers Of Pain sported everything from the spikey armor to the face paint and even followed the same “Something Of Something” naming format.
Demolition, however, were WWE’s answer to the Road Warriors around the same time. WWE was going through a darker, gothic phase at the time which is why they abandoned the signature shoulder pads and spikes and instead, fitted Ax and Smash with leather vests and iron studs. The face paint stayed though. What’s interesting is that all three teams garnered enough popularity to be considered legends in the wrestling business. Heck, Demolition were actually a lot of fun to watch. I guess the Road Warriors had so much charisma and character that they inadvertently spawned not one, but two alternate versions of themselves. WHAAAAAAAAT A RUSH!!