Change happens constantly all around us – we don’t always see it, but it’s always there. The WWE is no different. Superstars are annually requiring large doses of re-imagination, creativity, and flair. There won’t be a single performer out there who hasn’t experienced some sort of character change. Heel and face turns are a popular feature of modern professional wrestling for an ever-changing market that demands unpredictability.
There have been many character changes for most wrestlers. Its very hard to find wrestlers that haven’t been affected by this. Lets take a look at the seven individuals who have undergone the most prosperous and largest character changes in the company’s history so far.
7. Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows made his debut as an imposter version of the ‘Big Red Machine’ on Raw in 2006. Gallows choke-slammed his identical superior, Kane, during a match against Shelton Benjamin. Gallows soon returned as part of the tag team ‘Jesse and Festus’, who made their official televised in-ring debut on the October 5, 2007 edition of SmackDown where they defeated Mike Tolar and Chad Collyer. Hilariously, his gimmick involved acting as an absent-minded, mentally-inept, and sluggish heavyweight until the bell rang. This sound sent him into a destructive rampage. As Festus, he was relatively successful in the ring. Gallows didn’t lose in singles competition until April of 2008, losing to The Undertaker.
After the Festus story-line lost momentum, Gallows traveled the world with a variety of promotions including TNA, NJPW, and as part of the Straight Edge Society with the WWE. His presence in the wrestling world grew as a result. His increasing popularity prompted a steep rise in demand and the inevitable return to WWE. This time he brought AJ Styles and Karl Anderson along for the ride. Gallows has found a comfortable role as part of The Club. Of course, this term was derived from his previous work in NJPW and ROH with the Bullet Club.
Since his return to the company, Gallows was involved with AJ Styles in his major feud with John Cena. He is the current RAW Tag Team Champion alongside Anderson.
From a mentally-disabled, underwhelming character to a technical heavyweight tag-team member, Gallows needed some reinvention to ensure long-term success in the WWE. While it seems the company has always failed to hit the right note with him, his chemistry with Anderson in The Club makes for entertaining viewing. He finally looks to have gained a solid spot within the roster.
From checking your teeth as ‘Dr Isaac Yankem’, to knocking them out as the ‘Devil’s Favorite Demon’, Kane underwent a significant change to become one of the most widely recognized faces of fear that the WWE has ever had.
Jacobs began his tenure as Isaac Yankem in a vignette on the June 26, 1995 episode of Raw. His character was an evil, private dentist for Jerry Lawler. Due to his physical stature, he was presented as the enforcer for Jerry Lawler. Jacobs’ task was to take down his enemy, Bret Hart. He never managed to beat Hart and their series of matches ended often in disqualifications or count-outs.
Before Kane came along, there was also another gimmick attributed to Glenn Jacobs. After the departure of former superstars Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, he came out introduced as “Diesel”. This was a highly criticized story line that mocked the two. Fake Diesel last appeared on our screens at the 1997 Royal Rumble, an event which Kane would later hold the record for most eliminations. Thankfully this gimmick was phased out quickly.
Jacobs re-emerged as Kane in the first ever Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. He used the Tombstone Piledriver to ignite a rivalry between the two ‘brothers’. Paul Bearer had been teasing for weeks. Kane sported a black and red leather costume, with a mask and gloves which created a frightening, mesmerizing monster. While the character may be growing tiresome with various WWE fans in modern times, the introduction of Kane was a landmark draw for fans. Fans would tune in every week to see how the rivalry between him and the Undertaker would unfold.