NXT is dead. Long live NXT 2.0.
So this list is being written after the first episode of the brand new, rebranded NXT has hit our screens and it was fine and worrying and ok, and alright but oh lord, talk about looking at a wheel and thinking, you know what this could use some CORNERS.
The dark and brooding NXT has been replaced with a family-friendly arts and crafts show, sponsored by Crayola and wedding planners and whomever it is that decides how many Ks go in someone’s name.
We hope for the best for the future of WWE’s development brand, but let’s talk about rebrands, shall we.
There’ve been some excellent character reboots in wrestling’s past, from dopey haunted house and worms enthusiast Bray Wyatt to The Fiend, from dopey surfer Sting to The Crow, from Bradshaw to JBL and Scott Steiner’s journey from bland varsity wrassler to insane sex knight, arm lunatic and mathmatician Big Poppa Pump.
However, where’s the fun in that, let’s talk about the times when wrestling companies had a pretty good thing on their hands, and decided to explode their credibility with a rebrand that plummeted their stock like it was the Great Depression.
I’m Adam hailing from partsFUNknown and these are the 10 Worst Rebrands in Wrestling History.
Honorable Mention – Retribution
Because obviously, Dominic Dijakovic and Mia Yim used to be actual things, not budget sex thugs, backup dancing in an off-broadway musical called Bad Choices.
Retribution is talked about loads though, so we’ll give you 10 others, just … yeah… whenever there’s a worst in the title of these lists, just assuming Retribution is on there, lurking in the dark. Weeping.
10. Mike Awesome to the Fat Chick Thrilla
First of all, rest in peace Mike Awesome, you did not deserve this. Second of all, back in 2000, Mike Awesome was a pretty big deal.
He started the year as ECW Champion, famed for being part of some of the most eye-wateringly brutal matches in the promotion’s history, as well as executing the kind of ludicrously dangerous high spots that made Joey Styles go ‘oh my goodness gracious me’ or something similar.
In April 2000, he crossed over to WCW and made a big splash by laying out Big Daddy Cool, and a month later executing a Mike Awesome special by hurling Kanyon off the triple cage at Slamboree, marking himself out with a gimmick as the Career Killer.
That is a cool gimmick! Way to go WCW, hope you don’t do something silly with it.
However, hoping for that is like hoping for the tide to not come in as, two months later he was rebranded as … drumroll… The Fat Chick Thrilla, a man with a penchant for BBWs and while good for you, Mike Awesome, body positivity FTW, but also oh no, Mike Awesome.
The gimmick sank hard, and two months later WCW tried again, branding him as the 70s guys and yeah it’s broken, sorry Mike.
9. Paul Burchill: Pirate to Paul Burchill: Family Man
Don’t let my introduction fool you, in wrestling silly and fun are not dirty words. The Hurricane, Evil Doink, Luchasaurus, Toru Yano, silliness in wrestling can be a good thing!
That goes double for Pirate Paul Burchill, a nakedly obvious Jack Sparrow ripoff who had a bloody great finisher and a bloody great entrance, look at him go WHEEEE.
Despite fun matches, and a super fun feud with saucy wench William Regal, Vince was unhappy with the character, believing it wouldn’t get him over as a fan favorite, so took him off TV and brought him back in 2008 with the gimmick of… drumroll… man who f**ks his sister.
You’re right, Vince, that’ll get him over like a f**king ladder. He turned up on Raw with his sister Katie, strongly insinuated that they boned down, and boy howdy does Vince like an incest gimmick.
Beaver Cleavage, the fact that he once pitched for Shane to be the father of Steph’s kid.
What Thanksgivings the McMahons must have. Any way the company turned PG shortly after, and Paul Burchill who could have made serious booty in the PG era as a jolly roger instead was scuttled by wanting to give his sister’s booty a jolly rogering and oh god I hate it so much I’m so sorry moving on.
8. Kane to Corporate Kane
Maybe this isn’t something the younger fans will care about, but damn this felt like a personal betrayal.
When I was but a nipper, Kane was one of my favorite wrestlers ever ever ever. Properly scary, the hellfire and brimstone was endlessly cool, the mask legit gave me nightmares, what a gimmick.
Over time Kane saw his mystique crumble, first they yoinked his mask, then they made him silly with Daniel Bryan, and hey look, at least it was silly because Kane was still a monster in a fish out of water situation.
I can get on board with that, what I cannot get on board with is slacks and slip-ons, AGM hosting, profit-margin-eyeing, boring-ass corporate Kane.
That was the final straw, the last vestige of the monster gone forever, reducing one of the most effective gimmicks of all time to a purposefully generic corporate yes man, just a man in bad trousers and bad shoes, a libertarian mayor where a monster once stood.
Kane is still great, and will never not be a legend, but rewatching the 2015 Royal Rumble, what a f**king fall from grace, or I guess… the opposite when you really think about it.