The transformations that some of the more well-known professional wrestlers in the business have been varied, and they have been absolutely incredible to behold. In some cases the switches have involved athletes either dropping weight or putting on the pounds in order to acquire looks that are often desired by promoters and by the people who pay the bills at promotions. In other instances, the transformations have more so involved a performer making an extreme change to his character in order to tell a new storyline and also to get over with fans who watch via television broadcasts and inside of studios.
Two of the biggest names to ever appear inside of World Wrestling Entertainment rings have, over the decades, gone through such transformations that helped them extend their careers and also make tons of money for themselves and for the companies where they worked. One of them is a man who is now, at this point of his career, barely a part-timer, as he only appears and wrestles one day a year. That fact that does harm his popularity, nor does it keep fans from being interested in his match each time that he steps out from behind the curtain and makes a menacing walk to the ring.
The other man, meanwhile, helped shape the face of North American professional wrestling on multiple occasions and in multiple decades. The first time he did so was when he was the most over babyface on the planet, a man featured in movie roles and on television shows because of his massive popularity. Then came the middle of the 1990s, when he shocked wrestling fans by making the transformation into the ultimate bad guy, one who was, in storyline, out to destroy World Championship Wrestling. Oddly enough, he and his friends managed to pull that task off in real life.
10. Bull Nakano drops weight, becomes golfer
Bull Nakano was pushed as a monster heel during her run in North American professional wrestling, working for both the WCW and the World Wrestling Federation during that time. She then lost quite a bit of weight after retiring from in-ring action, so much so that she felt like she had to bulk up for an official retirement match. Perhaps the most interesting part of Nakano’s transformation was that it included the former wrestling champion turning into a professional golfer, one who eventually qualified for the LPGA. Nakano is one of the true success stories in the pro wrestling world, as she effortlessly adjusted to life outside of the squared circle.
9. NXT becomes ROH
The days of NXT being a developmental territory where wrestlers would learn how to work the WWE style have been replaced by that division turning into its own version of Ring of Honor, one that includes former ROH wrestlers and also features ROH storylines. Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens is just one feud that was literally ripped right from ROH in what very much so appears to be the WWE attempting to establish NXT as the best overall “independent” company in the world. Don’t look now, everybody, but the company is achieving that goal, and some would say that NXT is the best thing the WWE has going for it at the moment.
8. The Rock gets huge
Go back and look at The Rock when he made his WWE television debut, and then look at pictures of the actor as he was filming his parts for Furious 7. It is almost as if they are two different people. The Rock has, for certain roles, bulked up in muscle mass since leaving the active WWE roster, looking more like a real-life superhero than a person who used to win wrestling championships. The Rock did appear to have slimmed down when he made his appearance at WrestleMania 31, which is probably for the best for his health when you consider how big he had gotten.
7. Triple H over the years
Triple H has always been in fantastic shape ever since making his pro wrestling debut, but it was not until he made his return from a torn quadriceps muscle in January of 2002 that he bulked up and put on a noticeable amount of muscle mass. He kept that physique up through his days in the Evolution faction, during which he had times when he looked, to steal a word from the WWE, “unwell.” He would eventually drop that excess weight and become leaner, and Triple H has done well to remain in shape and ready to perform in the occasional one-off matches as he did at WrestleMania 31 when he faced off against Sting.
6. John Cena Dr. of Thuganomics to Leader of the Cenation
John Cena has actually gone through multiple transformations since making his WWE television debut in a match versus Kurt Angle. Cena was originally just a guy before making a rap gimmick that could have been a joke into one that made him the most over character in the company. Those running WWE who had dollar signs in their eyes had Cena make the complete flip to superhero baby face, and that made him the biggest draw in the business and also the most polarizing performer in all of the company. Not everybody is a fan of the current character, but Cena has made the WWE millions of dollars since making the switch.
5. Sting goes dark
Sting was a surfer-esque babyface in 1996 when The Outsiders and Hulk Hogan joined forces to create the new World order. When his friends refused to believe that he had not joined the heel group, Sting began to hang in the rafters while dressed like “The Crow,” keeping silent for months and leaving fans wondering what side of the war he was on. This transformation added new life to a character that had gotten stale, and his feud with the nWo, one that WWE apparently forgot about at WrestleMania 31, was one of the best storylines in all of wrestling at the time.
4. Undertaker Part I
Wrestling fans often frown upon the era when Undertaker went from being the Deadman to a biker who was more human than a supernatural figure. Those people ignore the fact that the run of ‘Taker having all-time classic matches began during his biker gimmick years. His match against Triple H at WrestleMania 17 was an instant classic, and his brawl versus Brock Lesnar when the WWE Championship was on the line remains the best Hell in a Cell match that the company has ever had. This portion of Undertaker’s career should be celebrated and remembered with fondness by fans of the character.
3. Undertaker Part II
The gimmick of Undertaker playing the biker had run its course leading up to WrestleMania 20, and fans around the world were ready to see the return of the Deadman. Undertaker did not completely turn back the clock upon making the transformation back to his original WWF character, instead blending different parts of his actual personality into his wrestling performances. This has, over the years, included ‘Taker utilizing moves one would see in a mixed martial arts fight during matches, to the point that he actually managed to get a different finishing maneuver, his “Hell’s Gate,” over among fans.
2. Vince becomes Mr. McMahon
Vince McMahon was, to the majority of casual fans, known as an announcer and not much else when the “Montreal Screwjob” occurred in the fall of 1997. It was after that when McMahon completed the transformation into the “Mr. McMahon” character, the heel boss of the company and one who helped make “Stone Cold” Steve Austin the top draw in the history of the WWE. Had McMahon never taken up that role, it is possible that the WWE never would have closed the gap with WCW and that wrestling fans in North America would be watching a much different product right now.
1. Hulk Hogan turns heel
It has been roughly two decades since Hulk Hogan broke the hearts of youngsters and helped create the new World order, and no wrestling transformation before it or since has matched what Hogan and The Outsiders did on that night at the 1996 edition of Bash at the Beach. The nWo helped push WCW past the WWF in the Monday Night Wars, and it was Hogan who became the top man in the invasion angle that saw him play a heel character as if he was born to do so. Some would argue that, while it was not his most successful run, his days as Hollywood Hogan were his most entertaining while in the wrestling world.
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