2020 has been a pretty shocking year for many reasons, and the world of pro-wrestling has been no different.
But instead of going on about the widescale impact that 2020 has had on the industry, let’s focus on some specific examples of wrestlers who underwent dramatic changes throughout the year.
Gimmicks are very important, and they can make or break a wrestler’s career. This past year has seen plenty of transformations, some for the better, and some definitely for the worse.
Here are the most shocking gimmick changes of 2020.
Ever since he joined WWE in 2016 for the Cruiserweight Classic, Akira Tozawa had been presented as exactly what he is – a plucky underdog who always puts up a fight. He’s very talented in the ring, so despite his size, he makes up for it.
He also happens to be Japanese. That’s fine. That is allowed. People are allowed to be Japanese and still be that plucky underdog that the fans can get behind.
Except if WWE management has anything to say about it, in which case, you get turned into a ninja, because Japan.
It was at Backlash in June that Tozawa and his ‘gaggle of ninjas’ showed up on motorcycles during the brawl between the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders, who fought them off, ran away, and continued with whatever on earth it was they were doing.
People with a more positive outlook on life maybe thought ‘well at least Tozawa has some kind of character so it might benefit him, even if it is a bit ridiculous’.
Well, unless chasing R-Truth and the 24/7 Title around every single week counts, that has not happened.
Believe it or not, one of the ninjas who accompanied Tozawa has actually ended up in a more prominent position than him nowadays, that being…
Oh Omos, you large human being.
When WWE started holding shows in the Performance Center and using NXT trainees in the crowd, people started getting worried that Vince was going to see a physically impressive specimen and bring him onto the main roster before he was ready.
There was an element of humour to it, but as we’ve all come to learn by now, Vince is gonna Vince, and, as it turned out, they were right.
The 7’3″ former basketball player Jordan Omogbehin was by Tozawa’s side at Backlash, and in the few weeks that followed, became known as “Big Ninja”, who was, well… a big ninja.
He disappeared for a while though, and ended up coming back in a new role, this time as the bouncer for Raw Underground. His role was a very complicated one in which he stood in front of a door looking all big and scary.
As we know, Raw Underground ended up coming to a halt due to concerns about spreading COVID-19 – it only took them until the middle of October to realise that – so, again, management found another new role for him.
That same month he began accompanying AJ Styles to the ring, creating a great dynamic whereby Styles could provoke whoever he felt like because he had the giant, who would become known as Omos, to protect him.
Speaking of Raw Underground, one man who’s voiced his displeasure about the concept is EC3, who was released by WWE in April along with 17 million other people.
After joining NXT in 2018, EC3 continued with the pompous character that he’d popularised during his time in IMPACT Wrestling in the few years prior. He didn’t really get anywhere in NXT despite being popular, and was called up to the main roster in early 2019.
We don’t need to go into detail about how much of an absolute disaster that ended up being, and since his release, it seems he’s tried to really distance himself from the bad taste it had left.
He became a lot more deranged and aggressive, and adopted the catchphrase ‘Control Your Narrative’. He released a trailer as soon as his non-compete clause had ended, showing him brawling in a dingy garage setting, which was similar to the say the least to what WWE did with Raw Underground, hence his problem with it.
He returned to IMPACT at Slammiversary and lost to Moose in a pre-recorded match at Bound For Glory, before then working for Ring of Honor.