Top 8 Wrestling Gimmick Ripoffs That Failed And 7 That Succeeded


And now we have the age old philosophical question: was The Honky Tonk Man a rip off of Elvis, or an Elvis impersonator? The “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is probably the most impersonated human ever, so it’s only natural he should have a pro wrestler impersonator. And that person was Wayne Farris. Farris had been a moderately successful journeyman wrestler before he entered the WWE in 1986. There, his gimmick was completely changed and he was rechristened “The Honky Tonk Man”. For younger fans, the idea of an Elvis impersonator might sound lame, but it worked great in the gimmicky 1980s wrestling scene.

After a bit of a dispute between Intercontinental Champion Ricky Steamboat and Vince McMahon over paternity leave, Honky Tonk man was chosen, perhaps somewhat randomly (perhaps at the suggestion of Farris’s good friend, Hulk Hogan) to be the new champion. The Honky Tonk Man would go on to become the longest reigning IC champion in WWE history.


Asya was WCW’s answer to Chyna. And like pretty much all of WCW’s answers for WWE characters, Asya failed miserably. While her name was definitely a parody of Chyna’s, Asya didn’t really mimic any of Chyna’s mannerisms, so it’s more appropriate to consider her a ripoff than a parody. Asya had been a character on WCW television for a few months in 1999, before she joined the Revolution stable and was re-named “Asya” (because Asia is bigger than China; hilarious, right?). Asya was a former bodybuilder, but she was never a wrestler. Chyna was not exactly The Fabulous Moolah in the ring, but she was still streets ahead of Asya, which should tell you just how bad Asya was. A horrible idea for a horrible wrestler.


The purveyors of the hottest selling t-shirt in wrestling today, the Bullet Club began in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 2013 with founding members Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Prince Devitt (who would become Finn Balor in the WWE). Now, the Bullet Club includes many more members, including Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks. They also have a presence in Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and have a spinoff in the WWE, “the Club”, with AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows. So, it’s been an extremely successful stable. And right from the beginning, they never tried to hide what they were: a blatant ripoff of the nWo. The black t-shirts, the invading stable of wrestlers, and of course, the “too sweet” hand gestures. These were just a group of foreigners who loved to imitate the wrestlers they grew up watching. And the whole thing has come full circle, because Eric Bischoff first got the idea for the nWo from watching the UWFi invasion of NJPW angle.


Is there any failed gimmick more beloved than Dan Spivey’s Waylon Mercy? Spivey was a journeyman wrestler who achieved his greatest success as part of the Skyscrapers with Sid Vicious in WCW in 1989-90. He re-joined the WWE in 1995 as “Waylon Mercy”, a character clearly inspired by Robert De Niro’s Max Cady from Cape Fear. Mercy’s unsettling southern gentleman demeanor changed into a violent madman once the bell rang. But the gimmick never got over and lasted less than a year. However, many think it could have worked under the right circumstances. The child-friendly, cartoonish WWE product at the time was quite restrictive on such a character. Had Mercy been allowed to be truly evil and sinister, it could have been better. Many people see echoes of the character today in Bray Wyatt.


Razor Ramon was Al Pacino’s Tony Montana from Scarface. That’s it. It was just Scott Hall’s Tony Montana impression. Despite Scott Hall not being Cuban and the utter shamelessness of the ripoff, it worked out very well. Kids, who were the target audience at the time, had no idea who Tony Montana was, and so Razor Ramon was just a tough, accented, bad guy. And parents of kids who did know Scarface, got a kick out of it. Hall was so successful as Razor Ramon that he had to turn babyface about a year into his run. It’s interesting to note that, when he left for WCW in 1996, Scott Hall left the Razor name behind, but kept the accent and many of the same mannerisms.

This led the WWE to take legal action against WCW for unlawful use of their intellectual property. The end result was that Hall had to ditch the toothpick, as that was seen as belonging to the Razor Ramon character. And the less said of Rick Bognar’s turn as “the fake” Razor Ramon, the better.