Pro wrestling is driven by fascinating stories and compelling characters. Heels and faces set the story for wrestling fans to enjoy. Villains and heroes are crucial to the longevity of their as well as the promotion’s success, and WWE has had a lot of them. Almost every WWE superstar has been a heel/face at one point in their career. That being said, here are five Attitude Era stars who switched gimmicks and succeeded.
Bradshaw came off as a bully who would take your head off with a clothesline just for fun. Bradshaw found initial success as a competitor for WWE’s infamous “Brawl for All,” a shoot fight concept, the sole purpose of which was to put over “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.
Bradshaw retained the “tough as nails” babyface gimmick throughout the Attitude Era and during the initial years of the Ruthless Aggression Era. He dropped the brawler act and became a much more tactical, and at times violent, version of himself – known to wrestling fans as John “Bradshaw” Layfield.
Before he was “Devil’s favorite demon,” Kane was a dentist. The gimmick sounds like it came straight out of a medical horror film. As Dr. Isaac Yankem, Kane was mostly featured on the lower midcard. Vince McMahon even turned him into Fake Diesel at one point in his career.
The advent of the Attitude Era proved to be a turning point in his career as WWE repackaged him to be The Undertaker’s younger brother. Kane debuted in convincing fashion at the Badd Blood PPV event in 1997. The rest, as they say, is history.
The name “Hunter Hearst Helmsley” doesn’t sound threatening at all. This blue blood from Connecticut who would later become one of the greatest to ever step foot inside the squared circle joined WWE after not being pushed enough in WCW.
Triple H joined WWE at a time when the product had started to move away from the kid’s friendly entertainment show that was the Golden Era. Hunter dropped the blue blood gimmick in its entirety and became the second-biggest heel of the Attitude Era.
He’s known by many names and “Rocky Maivia” is one of them. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made his WWE debut at the 1996 Survivor Series PPV event. He even won the tournament for his team. Maivia had little success until the fans grew tired of him.
This was when WWE came up with his first heel turn. Maivia aligned himself with the Nation of Domination. The growth was organic and fans started to dig his character. He dropped Maivia from his name and began referring to himself simply as “The Rock.” You know the rest!
“Stunning” Steve. You might’ve heard the name on WCW. That was one of Austin’s earliest gimmicks on national television. He became The Ringmaster after he joined Vince McMahon and Co. in 1996. Austin was managed by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase at the time.
Came King of the Ring and Austin started to show his true self. The Texas Rattlesnake defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the tournament finals and capped off his victory with the iconic “3:16” speech. And that’s the bottom line cuz Stone Cold said so!!!