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Complete Character Overhaul - Johnny Polo to Raven


Dirty Eddie

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In 1995 Scott Levy decided that he'd spent long enough playing similar (very generic) wrestling characters, across GWF, WCW and (sort of) in the WWF.

 

Sure, the name changed a bit here and there, Scotty The Body, Scotty Flamingo, then later he was Johnny Polo in the WWF, a manager primarily, but ultimately the same smug, grinning jerk he'd always played. None of the name changes or wacky shirt choices had made him anything more than a lower/mid-card act.

 

He didn't really have "The Body" to be Scotty The Body, and he wasn't really good looking enough to be the Shawn Michaels type pretty-boy antagonist. It seemed he was destined to be one of those average, middle-of-the-road guys who just plodded along in the lower/mid-card for a few years, like Tom Zenk, Scotty Riggs, Brad Armstrong, Terry Taylor etc... he (like them) was certainly talented, but without anything original or 'special' about them he was unlikely to move up the card.

 

After flirting with the idea of moving into a backstage job (Levy worked as a producer on early RAW shows, while also being on screen talent as Johnny Polo), he decided that his in-ring career wasn't going to get much of a chance in the WWF. He'd been used almost exclusively as a manager and he wanted more!

 

So in January 1995, Johnny Polo/Scotty The body was laid to rest and from the flames came the Raven.....

 

From this...

482428-johnny_polo.jpg

 

to this...

raven_37263.JPG

 

Raven emerged in ECW, with a drastic new look and character. Raven took inspiration from the hugely popular Grunge scene of the 90s and created a completely new character. He looked about a thousand times cooler, entirely in-touch with the current pop-culture and he entirely re-invented his career. Gone was the cheesy grin, replaced by a detached, emotionless gaze. Out went the wrestling "bad guy" cliche, in came a completely unique and bizarre promo style, quoting poems and talking in riddles.

 

The Raven character was a huge success becoming one of the iconic characters in ECW. He moved to WCW a few years later and (with his Flock) was one of the best mid-card acts at WCW's creative peak. Raven became hugely popular and if WCW had been sensible they would have tried to move him further up the card. Raven (like many others) eventually became frustrated with the WCW politics and decided to leave, but that shouldn't discount how much of a success he was in WCW. Not only was he super over, but the flock lead to Kidman and Saturn also breaking out as Stars. That lead to a second WWF stint (where his past ultimately caught up with him and backstage enemies kept him towards the bottom of the card). Regardless though, Scott Levy completely turned his career around and created one of the most memorable wrestling characters of the 1990s.

 

 

It was a brave move for Scotty to ditch his old characters and try something completely new. It could have flopped on it's arse completely.

 

These days whenever someone leaves WWE, they simply use a (non-copywrite infringing) version of whatever they did in WWE. Rikiski becomes Kishi, Eugene becomes U-Gene etc...

 

You can understand why, obviously, they want to cash in on the fame they found while on TV. "Former WWE Star" helps pull in fans, but ultimately that will only last so long (unless you were a true Megastar). Would these guys be more likely to get another shot at the big time by working the same old gimmick they've been doing for years, or would a clever new character have a better chance of getting them another go around?

 

It's not quite the same, because a) TNA isn't really an Indie, and b) they totally fucked it up, but The Pope D-Angelo Deniro is the best example of this recently. He forgot all about his name and character (what there was of it) from WWE and instead came up with a completely new look and persona. It worked a fucking treat and he got super over, until TNA balls'd it all up.

 

Burke went from this...

Elijah_Burke.jpg

 

to this...

pope1.jpg

 

So I guess what i am asking is, why don't we see more of this? Do you thing wrestlers should try to be more creative and come up with something new, or is playing it safe and collecting that pay-day more important?

 

Would it lead to more Pope's and Raven's or would we get loads of shitty "Angelic Diablo" Matt Hardy's?

 

Who out there could do with a character change now?

 

Should Chris Masters drop the generic "Muscle Guy" gimmick and re-create himself as a character from "The Warriors" instead?

 

Would Giant Bernard be more likely to get another run with WWE (or TNA) if he took on a crazy new gimmick?

 

You get the idea. Feel free to discuss (or ignore)....

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That's right, I recall that now.

 

Didn't he start answering questions with things like "Your black Pope says..." towards the end of his WWE run too? Not on TV or anything, I'm thinking on a website or something.

 

 

 

 

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Moofasa -

 

I'm not really on about company enforced changes (WWF came up with the Undertaker and picked someone for the role), more cases where a talent had done it off their own back as a way of re-inventing themselves. otherwise this thread would just be about Vince signing WCW guys and changing their names/looks, which he did to loads of guys.

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Buh Buh Ray Dudley's original character looks like a career ender if you look at it these days. It says a lot about him how he could turn a stupid grinning, stuttering, dancing fat boy character into someone who had people jumping the guardrails to try and smash his face in. And he did it with three difference promotions. WWE could do with someone like him. He's been absolutely brilliant at working the crowd in the last year. He gets heat from the Impact Zone. Who else could do that?

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Austin going from Stunning to Stone Cold and Bradshaw becoming JBL were certainly big changes, but not exactly what I'm talking about.

 

The Raven example was given because he left the WWF, then came up with a completely new character (rather than trade off his WWF 'fame') and he took that character onto far greater success than he ever had as Johnny Polo/Scotty The Body.

 

I appreciate there are very few examples, which is why I asked who else might benefit from it, and if people think it's a good idea in general.

 

That Johnny Stamboli bloke had a go at it. After he was cut from WWE he came up with the masked "Redrum" character in Japan (I think) which then got picked up by TNA and renamed Rellik. Didn't last long mind-you, so that's an example of it not really working, though he did get a run with TNA that probably wouldn't have happened playing his old generic Italian bloke gimmick.

 

Personally, I'd love to see some of the guys that get cut by WWE go on to think outside the box and come up with something clever and new.

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Al Snow is a great example. The fact he was on a continued WWF contract is rather irreverent, as he'd died on his arse a few times already in the WWF and it was his vacation to ECW (combined with going mental and finding a head) that gave him a second lease of life.

 

I can't see any way that he would have lasted as long as he did in the WWF without that spell in ECW where he completely changed his persona.

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