On last Friday’s Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling show, I pointed out how while Jessie Kaye seemed to have some potential, she was hindering herself with a name which she selected which was too close to Jessie McKay, and also used the theme music which is synonymous with Madison Eagles. It got me to thinking about other wrestlers who have been repackaged with new gimmicks to increase their marketability. Five of them are after the jump.
Now keep in mind that these are mostly wrestlers who personally made the choice to alter themselves, though some were done by the companies they wrestled for at the time. One which didn’t make it was Victoria the ho to Victoria, the crazy enemy of Trish Stratus as there was a two year gap in-between one gimmick ending and other starting. The ones listed here are more sudden switches.
PJ Tyler to Courtney Rush
When we spoke to Courtney Rush in 2011 for the Women Of Wrestling Podcast, she explained to us the reasoning behind the name and gimmick change from PJ Tyler. She equated the former character to being more of the groupie to her current rockstar mentality, and that can be seen in her appearance. Out went the blonde hair and double denim with a bandana, and in came the more tailored gear and brunette mane. She carried herself more like a star instead of a hanger-on, and people grew more attached to her as a result. Undoubtedly, it was a successful decision for the Manitoba native, and has seen her gain more recognition – and titles – across the world. For example, could you have ever seen PJ Tyler wrestling in Japan…?
Jamilia Craft to Jenny Rose
Speaking of Japan, this gimmick change came about because of Jamilia Craft‘s move there. The SHIMMER Academy graduate had enjoyed moderate success under the mask, but you could tell under that blue barrier that there was an expressive face waiting to emerge – and emerge it did, as following her move to Japan in mid-2011 to wrestle for Diana, the mask and black bodysuit was ditched in favour of dresses. Jenny Rose was born, and under the new gimmick, the 21-year old has stood across the ring from the likes of Hailey Hatred, Kyoko Inoue and Manami Toyota. Wiping the slate clean was a bold yet successful move for her.
“American Angel” Sara Del Rey to “Death Rey” Sara Del Rey
No name change, but a big change in attitude here. After Sara Del Rey dropped the SHIMMER Championship to MsChif in April 2008, she returned in the summer with a completely new look and wrestling style. The bright outfits were gone and replaced by all-black singlets. The nicely cut hair was changed to a rougher style, and big black second eyebrows were painted on. Coupled with an offence which was more kick-based and an obsession with regaining the title, Del Rey became a monster. The gimmick softened over the years to become the Queen of Wrestling instead, but the drastic heel turn and gimmick change certainly gave Del Rey more character – something which was strangely absent when she was a babyface. She discussed the gimmick change with us on an old WOW Podcast too…
“Voodoo Queen” Roxxi Laveaux to “Hardcore Knockout” Roxxi
Better known on the indie circuit as Nikki Roxx, she debuted for TNA in July 2007 as Roxxi Laveaux, a Voodoo Queen from New Orleans who was the valet of the Voodoo Kin Mafia, but then started wrestling more matches, earning a reputation in her own right. However, when she had her head shaved at Sacrifice in May 2008, there was the unpleasant image of her being scalped while covered in blood. From there, the transition was made via a series of vignettes to the tough talking Hardcore Knockout Roxxi, which saw her gain a push to the Knockouts Title, though she never captured it.
Jazzy Bi to Alpha Female
Before becoming the hard-hitting, imposing monster we know as Alpha Female, she was Jazzy Bi – a happy, smiling, fun-loving character who seemed to flirt with women and would do moves like flying headscissors. It seems to alien to imagine her doing those types of moves when you look at her style now, but there you go. The Jazzy Bi gimmick lasted for a good six years before the transition was made in July 2007 to Alpha Female, and the rest is history. No more smiling or headscissors – instead we get growling, snarling and lots of clubbering. No doubt, it was a wise move – Jazzy Bi would never have been World Of Stardom Champion.
So there are five examples – do you have any others to suggest? Let us know you favourite gimmick repackages in the comments.
– Lee Burton