QOTD #44: CEO of WWE

Today’s Question: Let’s say that hypothetically speaking, of course, that Vince McMahon were to hire you to run WWE, with one mission: fix what’s wrong with the company, and turn things around. He would (again, hypothetically) give you complete autonomy over RAW, SmackDown, WWE Network, etc. with one caveat: You cannot turn John Cena heel. What would be the first 3 things you would do as the new head of WWE?
Yesterday’s Question: I’ll keep it pretty simple. What do you as a wrestling fan consider to be the greatest gimmick/character in the history of Wrestling?
Some of the answers for this one were fairly across the board, bit the first post set the tone….
Chris B: Basically its the Undertaker so everyone is going to argue about second place. That would be, IMO, “Mr. McMahon.”
Marv Cresto: Raven, duh. People are mentioning lots of cool gimmicks but almost all of them were just the guy “turned up to 11” as Austin would always say. The character Raven and the person Scott Levy couldn’t be more polar opposites. Though Taker’s a great choice too, hard to really argue that one. 
A few people said Raven – this would be Paul Heyman’s greatest creation, and I’m not all that sure Raven and Scott Levy are polar opposites. I find the Raven character fascinating to this day.
The Lurker: He gets a lot of praise and a lot of grief, but the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes is a great character. The son of a plumber came from nothing to achieve his American Dream and take on the forces of EEE-vil in the form of the Horsemen. One of the best things about the character is he didn’t always win like hogan/cena . . he won just often enough.
Dusty didn’t always win????? I think we were watching 2 different things in the 80s?
Wow: John Cena. He rises above hate, beats the odds and of course because Cena wins.
Wow indeed
X-Man: The Road Warriors. Turned a couple of average wrestlers with awesome physiques into one of the most decorated tag teams of all-time. Drew money everywhere they went, whether as heels or faces… influenced UW, Sting, Powers Of Pain, Demolition, and more.. and yes I know that the movie inspired them, but the gimmick’s success inspired those wrestlers.
Kind of surprising The Road Warriors didn’t get more responses. The look. The face paint. I think as far as ring attire, the spiked shoulderpads have to be the most awesome visual anybody had ever seen up to that point (and probably since).
Sweet Lee: Mr. Perfect and Stone Cold. Such simple ideas, really – and nobody could have pulled them off but the guys that played them. At least that’s how it feels to me.
Paul Meekin: Mean Gene Okerland. It takes a strong personality to take all the insanity of pro wrestling as seriously as he did. He felt like a ‘real’ broadcaster interviewing ‘real’ competitors, and was always stuck in the middle of the insane happenings, which he always played off with a strange gravitas. I remember staying up late as a kid just to watch WWE Confidental to get some good ‘drama’ tips from the guy as it pertains to reacting realistically to unrealistic situation.
Starscream Live: Kamala the Ugandan giant! A vicious svage who is in the ring not to win a match, but to destroy his opponent. He made his rounds through all the territories and drew money in most of them.
These were the type of responses I was hoping I would get. By the way, to hear Lawler describe how he came up with the idea a few weeks ago on Stone Cold podcast: genius.
Jeremy Rineheart:  Stone Cold Steve Austin. The character was a huge breath of fresh air in the stale WWF. Off topic, but has anyone noticed how butthurt fans of The Rock get if you don’t say he’s the greatest of a time?
Bobby: That’s an easy one: Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Mike_N: Stone Cold Steve Austin. Does what he wants when he wants to whomever he wants. Either that or Battle Kat.
Battle Kat huh? Yeah this was pretty much a two-horse race. Stone Cold or The Undertaker
Jeremy Rinehart: Vince Russo because he booked a huge retirement for QOTD only to bring it back days later.
Kind of like you did with your answer earlier in the blog?????
Brian Nielsen: Million Dollar Man. Bought his own belt and everything. Stone Cold is bad-ass, but he never KICKED A BASKETBALL AWAY FROM A KID to save $100
The Fuj: CM Punk comes to mind as well. As a heel, he is drug free so that makes him better than you. As a face, he channels that straight-edge discipline into being the best in the world. It never is a stretch for him. Plus it works that he is so damn good on the mic to convey his messages. Because he could just be Bret Hart as a face, but it means so much more.
As a heel he could be generic heel #580584, but his real lifestyle gives him so much character depth.
Well said. It resonates because most of us know somebody like that – who lived the straight-edge goody-two-shoes lifestyle, and acted all “I’m better than you” in High School. In a similar sense, it’s what got Kurt Angle over with his 3 I’s all those years ago – albeit in a different manner. Plus, it’s pretty easy to dislike a smartass. 
BooBoo1782: As Scott noted – in the King Lear Rant, right? – there’s a fundamental difference between gimmicks and characters: Gimmicks sell T-shirts, characters sell tickets. So, it makes sense to divide the answer into gimmicks and characters.
Best gimmick: Hulk Hogan, “Hulkamania” era. As a character, let’s be honest, there was never much to Hogan: he loves his country and he’s really bad at keeping friends. But the gimmick…well, he certainly fit the bill in the t-shirt sales department, and the whole shirt-ripping, Hulking-up thing fit perfectly into the over-the-top 80s zeitgeist.
Best character: Stone Cold is a great choice here, but I’m going to go with the Three Faces of Foley from Mick’s main WWE run (1996-2000). From the “deranged Mankind” who was able to take Undertaker to places he really hadn’t been before in terms of both match quality and character work, to the self-deprecating fun of Dude Love, to the “human Muppet” Mankind of 1999 and the 2000 return of Cactus Jack on a mission to destroy HHH, finishing up with the “role model for nerds” Commissioner Foley, Mick did great character work for five years, working with a wide range of partners and opponents and really getting the best out of just about all of them.
LeeLeePhoenix: Legend Killer, Randy Orton. That’s a gimmick you basically can’t screw up. The negative is that you can only use it very sporadically, so you must choose wisely. And Randy wasn’t a wise choice (to most of us).
Petrock: Bikertaker. That was a license. To. Print. Money.
Lenny Vowels: For gimmick commitment overall, I’m going with pre-2000 Undertaker, no question.
Mike Mears: Maybe I’m being too cute with the answer but I think I’d have to say Undertaker, if for nothing else but efficiency’s sake. So little to that gimmick, and just about any tall wrestler could’ve pulled it off because he really had very little- almost nothing, really- in the way of match quality until the second decade of his career. Maybe I’m being too dismissive of Mark Calloway’s talents in saying any tall dude could’ve done it- he did nail it, after all, and started having near-annual MOTYCs in his fucking mid-40’s- but think about how little he actually had to do for such a long time. And he was a main eventer for 20 years with that character, with only a three-year interlude doing anything remotely different, without any drop at all in popularity from 1990 to 2014. Perhaps he never was a singular draw the way Hogan/Austin/Rock/etc. were, but he wasn’t…not a draw either, if that double negative makes sense. Also, as we know most of the best “gimmicks” are extensions of a performer’s real-life personality. That’s why wrestling is so great, because it blurs the line intentionally. Punk, Bryan, Stone Cold, Bret, HHH, Flair, and so on…we know we’re seeing a lot of who the real person is in those fictional characters. But Undertaker was a straight-up cartoon character that remained insanely over through Hulkamania, the New Generation, the Attitude Era, the post-AE doldrums, all the way into the “Reality Era” of today. He was over as fuck all the way from Hulk to Punk.
The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a really obvious answer.
I would have to agree with the consensus of the blog that The Undertaker’s gimmick is the greatest ever. What’s the worst thing you can do to another man? Kill him? So What if he is already dead? The intimidation factor is through the roof. To basically piggyback off what Mike Mears said, the gimmick can’t be too far from what his personality. Over the years, Mark Calaway and The Undertaker have become essentially the same entity.
I’m working out the kinks here, during a classic day of BS-ing here at work (and don’t act like I’m the only one) but I’ll be back with the new blog tomorrow.
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