Then. Now. Forever.WWE
, short for World Wrestling Entertainment note
, is a "global entertainment"
juggernaut specializing in professional wrestling
. It was formerly known as the Capital Wrestling Corporation, World Wide Wrestling Federation and World Wrestling Federation.
The company was founded in 1952/1953
by Roderick "Jess" McMahon (1882-1954) and Raymond "Toots" Mondt (1894-1976) to promote wrestling matches in the New York City
area. Vincent J. McMahon (1914-1984) took over in 1954, following the death of his father. Vincent expanded the company to cover the entire northeastern United States from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh to Maine. Run by Vincent K. McMahon
(1945-), the then-WWF revolutionized — and monopolized — the pro wrestling world in the 1980s
, using a series of closed-circuit broadcast events, colorful characters, and clever cross-promotion with MTV to transform wrestling from a regionalized industry with a series of small players in a loose confederation into its own private Idaho, and transforming themselves into a multi-billion-dollar global entertainment conglomerate.
WWE currently has five different television shows that they produce weekly: Raw
, which between 2002 and circa 2011/2012 acted as two separate brands with little interaction between the two shows except during PPVs, and are considered the A Shows, although SmackDown
could these days be considered a B show. Main Event
are C level shows, with NXT
as the show for their developmental talent.
They hold twelve PPVs a year. Currently; Royal Rumble
, Fast Lane, WrestleMania
, Extreme Rules, Payback, Money in the Bank
, Battleground, SummerSlam
, Night of Champions, Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series
and TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
Three magazines about WWE (WWE Magazine
, WWE Kids
, and WWE Presents
) are also published.
WWE launched its own subscription 24/7 web-stream and on-demand service, the WWE Network, on February 24, 2014, which carries WWE's pay-per-views and B-shows, as well as NXT, a number of original documentary/reality programs, and selections from the WWE/WCW/ECW/World Class tape vaults.
WWE currently has five championships that they recognize:
Tropes associated with WWE:
- Aborted Arc: Happens not infrequently, owing to many storylines only being developed as they go along rather than pre-planned in their entirety; plus they are played out in a volatile live environment where participants can get injured mid-arc or otherwise fall from favour. Plots can be dropped abruptly due to an unfavourable initial response from higher-ups (like Vince McMahon), a change of writers, or unexpected audience reactions sending the wrestlers involved onto a different path or even through the Heel-Face Revolving Door.
- Action Girl: About half of the Divas qualify. For the other half, hope they are not being pushed as wrestlers.
- Affably Evil: Mick Foley, especially in his early years as a psychotic wrestler with multiple personas.
- All American Face:
- Alliterative Name: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, Kofi Kingston, Michelle McCool, Hulk Hogan, Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, The Big Bossman, Carlito Carribean Cool, Razor Ramon, Jeff Jarrett...
- Ambiguously Gay/Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: Billy & Chuck, until October 2002 when Chuck proposed to Billy and it was revealed a week later to just be a publicity stunt, giving Billy a CMOF when the reveal came.
Billy: I'm not gay, and even if I was, I wouldn't marry Chuck.
- And That's Terrible: If the Heels and the announcers didn't tell you who the heels were, most people wouldn't know who to boo.
- The Artifact:
- Several finishers and hometowns no longer fit with their gimmicks. Most notable being Triple H, who started in the WWE as an upper-class blueblood, but since that is no longer his gimmick, his finisher (The Pedigree), his hometown (Greenwich, Connecticut), and even his ring name ("Triple H" refers to the initials of his original WWE ring name, Hunter Hearst Helmsley) don't fit. Though he really does live in Greenwich (but contrary to his original gimmick, wasn't born there, actually hailing from Nashua, NH).
- Even more glaring is The Undertaker, who, in what is currently portrayed as an at-least-semi-realistic combat sports league, is Death himself.
- Believe it or not, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was once a Gorgeous George type with blonde hair. The name of his finishing move - the "Stunner" - is an oblique reference to this.
- Ghanaian wrestler Kofi Kingston was initially billed as Jamaican, and his character's surname is the capital of Jamaica. It's now acknowledged that he's from Ghana, but the name has stuck as the character remains a Jamaican culture enthusiast. In his case it helps that there are actual Ghanaians with the name Kingston.
- Before he changed its name to the Lighter and Softer "Attitude Adjustment", John Cena's finishing move, the "FU", was this when Brock Lesnar was off the roster, because it was named for its similarity to Lesnar's finishing move, the "F5" (both start from the fireman's carry position). His submission move is also the STF, originally the STFU.
- Ass Kicks You: Any wrestler who would use a butt-drop as a move, including Yokozuna, Earthquake, Doink the Clown, and Rikishi. Goldust would use a jumping butt attack (a butt-butt, the name is most associated with 1980s great "Iceman" King Parsons.)
- Ass Shove:
- The JR colonoscopy skits.
- "The Rock is going to take (some object, usually his boot but other times whistles, a camera, the Smoking Skull championship belt, Curtis Hughes, et al), shine it up nice and pretty, turn that sumbitch sideways and stick it straight up your candy ass!"
- Rikishi would use this to attack his opponents after knocking them down in the ring turnbuckles, shoving his own ass in their faces in a move dubbed "The Stink Face."
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin did this to Vince McMahon with a catheter when he was in the hospital.
- Attack of the Political Ad: In 2004, Mick Foley thought the big giant screens seen at political conventions resembled the Titantron, and since politics was, in his eyes, an imitation of WWE, he figured maybe WWE could imitate politics. This resulted in a pitch to Vince McMahon for an angle where Randy Orton would do political attack ads against Mick Foley. "Mick Foley claims to be a hardcore legend, but is he really?" McMahon laughed and approved the idea for storyline in early 2004.
- Author Appeal:
- It's no secret Vince seems to think tall, very muscular men make the ideal wrestler, so it's no surprise those types are often the champion. Just ask Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Triple H, to name a few.
- Also applies to people under Vince. Triple H often has the same mindset as Vince but also has called for "Ring of Honor-types", John Laurinaitis hired bikini models (such as Kelly Kelly) and people with interest in Japanese wrestling (MVP), Jim Ross brought in fitness models (think Trish Stratus) and along with Jerry Brisco likes bringing in college athletes (Brock Lesnar, The World's Greatest Tag Team).
- Author Avatar: The McMahon family (and to an extent, Triple H, who married into the family)
- Bad Boss:
- Vince McMahon. In fact it's the entire premise for his onscreen persona.
- Eric Bischoff, as RAW general manager, certainly fit this trope, as did Paul Heyman as both SmackDown general manager and ECW chairman. Longtime SmackDown general manager Teddy Long, however, is an inversion: He tolerates no disrespect or Loophole Abuse by the heels. The anonymous RAW general manager was a bit of a mixed bag, as was Triple H. John Laurinaitis, also fits the trope.
- Badass: WWE's resident go-to Badass is Mark Calaway, better known as The Undertaker (see his Crowning Moment Of Awesome entry). Come Hellfire or Vince McMahon, this man lives for the fans, and he's respected for it.
- Badass Beard:
- Badass Family: The Guerreros, the McMahons, The Samoans, the Harts/Neidharts, The Wyatt Family
- Badass Grandpa: Ric Flair, Undertaker, Batista (in Real Life, no less, despite still being in his mid-40s), occasionally Mr. McMahon.
- Badass Longcoat: Undertaker, Edge
- Badass Boast: If you don't boast about something, there is something wrong.
. "Now either fight me, or sit around and bleed!"note
- Bald of Awesome: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Goldberg, Wrestling/Erick Rowan.
- Bad Mood as an Excuse: Used in excess by heel characters. Face characters aren't immune to this either. In general, it's dangerous to your well being to be around a wrestler when they're frustrated.
- Battle Strip: Many wrestlers take off their shirts and coats before a match, some actually ripping it off.
- Big Bad: Vince McMahon, nearly constantly. In the year 2006, he took this Up to Eleven by paying off a bewilderingly diverse Carnival of Killers (Shelton Benjamin, the Spirit Squad, Chris Masters, and Umaga just to name a few) to either convert to McMahonism, rid WWE of D-Generation X, or both. In fact, practically every heel on RAW (and even some from SmackDown! and ECW) were either on the take or pressed into working for Mr. McMahon.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Sometimes people such as Rey Mysterio Jr or Maryse will cut part of a promo in their native language, or sometimes the whole thing.
- Inadvertently inverted by Maryse on the 09.27.2010 edition of RAW: she and Ted DiBiase received a piece of paper with "next week, you will be mine" written on it. Maryse read it in French first, saying: "la semaine dernière, tu étais à moi", which translates as "last week, you were mine", which is not what was written, and probably made many French-speaking fans weep.
- Black and Gray Morality: Admittedly, pretty much every character in WWE has been a heel at some point during his or her career. Very few even come close to being full-time heroes like Tito Santana and Rey Mysterio.
- Black and White Morality: Doesn't stop most feuds from being presented as this, though. The '80s/Hulkamania era is probably where this was played the straightest, with all the faces essentially being portrayed as real life superheroes and all the heels being played like real life supervillains, with very little room for ambiguity. Black and Grey Morality really took off in the Nineties, when anti-heroes and the Heel-Face Revolving Door started to become much more common.
- Blessed with Suck: Anyone who wins the Money in the Bank briefcase will, without fail, start to go on a losing streak. This has been averted by some though. And in a sense, the current title holder(s), as it puts a giant bullseye on their back as they want it for their own.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- It's extremely rare that they actually do this, rather than just Leaning on the Fourth Wall, but it finally happened (pretty much) in NXT season 3. During Goldust and Aksana's wedding, Michael Cole wondered aloud why Goldust was getting along with his brother after seemingly hating him previously, and Josh Matthews responded with "You know this is fake, right?" After a few seconds of mock-disbelief, they went right back into taking the ceremony pseudo-seriously. NXT in general has increasingly begun to break or lean on the fourth wall, whether it's through commentary or someone like Dolph Ziggler mockingly accusing a challenge of being rigged and Matt Striker simply answering with "Ya think?" The pros at their seats are also generally not in character and so it's not uncommon to see the various heels and faces chatting or otherwise doing something unrelated to the show.
- During his now-iconic worked shoot promo in 2011, CM Punk briefly made reference to the fourth wall, even going so far as to waving directly to the camera. Since then, his character has given him the freedom to escape the confines of the show's premise anytime he wants.
CM Punk: Woops, I'm breakin' the fourth wall!
- Most Worked Shoot angles are this by default, since they hinge on acknowledging that wrestling is scripted and the people involved are playing characters and are booked to win/lose/play the character they play. A lot of this happened before and during the ECW One Night Stand PPV in 2005, particularly from Joey Styles and Paul Heyman, where they pretended to shoot on the WWE.
- Break the Cutie: Done very, very cruelly with Mickie James. There's a reason that more than one wrestling publication called that angle pretty much a humiliation for the industry.
- Breakup Breakout:
- The WWWF was the first major wrestling company to break ties with the NWA and declare its own world champion. Flash-forward to today and the WWE is a billion-dollar industry while the NWA barely exists.
- Anytime a tag team break up and one of the wrestlers does better than the other. The most prominent example is Shawn Michaels after the break up of The Rockers. Marty Jannetty was the former Trope Namer for this reason.
- The Wyatt Family and the Shield are perfect examples. The former had all three split individually, while the latter did so with each member going on to great singles success.
- Brick Joke:
- During the 900th episode of Raw, Edge referred to Sheamus as Beaker. On the Halloween 2011 episode of Raw, when the Muppets guest hosted Raw to promote their new movie, Sheamus came face to face with Beaker. Turns out they're cousins.
- Oh, gosh. Over a decade and a half ago, there was a storyline involving Mark Henry, Mae Young, and the latter giving birth to a hand. About 16 years later on RAW 1000, the "hand baby" actually reappears. note
- Brother Chuck: A case where it happened to a championship title. The WWF Light Heavyweight Title was infamous for not only disappearing frequently, but also for its champions to disappear once they'd lost the belt. Towards the end of his second reign, Dean Malenko didn't even bother carrying the belt to the ring with him. When the title was finally deactivated for good, X-Pac who was at the height of the trope he named was champion and got injured, taking the title out of the company. Presumably, he still has the belt to this day.
- Butt Monkey:
- Santino Marella, after his initial baby face run failed to get over in Italy. Chavo Guerrero Jr. Because there's nothing more humiliating than jobbing to Hornswoggle over and over and over again. Or doing it while wearing an eagle costume. When his uncle Eddie Guerrero (who was only three years older, and like an older brother to him) died, and the company engaged in about a year of what fans derisively refer to as "Eddiesploitation", it was Rey Mysterio who got the big push as Eddie's successor. Despite the fact that Mysterio and Eddie had little connection beyond both being Hispanic and having feuded several times in the past. It's been said that Chavo was offered the big push before Rey, but turned it down.
- Two words: Michael Cole. Two more words: Jillian Hall.
- Card-Carrying Villain:
- Catch Phrase: And how! Check out the Character Page for examples.
- The Chew Toy: The Spanish Announcers Table, which seems to exist solely so wrestlers can take bumps through it.
- Chickification: WWE has more examples on the trope's page itself than any other published series. Going from the long running Fabulous Moolah, the huge draw that was Wendi Richter and the jeered villainy of Sherri Martel to the career damaging run of Bertha Faye and pay per view pillow fights between diva search contestants, the company's whole women's division started strong in 1956 but has been afflicted with this trope since 1995.
- The Women's Championship itself was Chickified in 2010 when they retired the Women's Championship and replaced it with a garish pink and silver butterfly shaped belt called the Divas' Championship, for some reason. No prior history carries over to the belt, either, which some fans consider disrespectful. Even JBL made an on air comment about AJ being the longest reigning Divas champion of all time (which technically she is) by snarkily bringing up the Fabulous Moolah, who had the single longest reign with any championship ever.
- Cool Mask: Kane, Rey Mysterio, Mankind, Sin Cara.
- Cool Shades: Edge, John Morrison, Bret Hart.
- Continuity Cavalcade: Kane gives a delightful speech about his past while in an anger management class on the August 27, 2012 edition of Raw. Hilarity Ensues.
"I grew up locked in a basement, suffering severe psychological and emotional scarring when my brother
set my parents on fire. From there, I shifted around among a series of mental institutions until I was grown, at which point I buried my brother alive... twice. Since then, I've set a couple of people on fire and abducted various co-workers. Oh, and I, uh, once electrocuted a man's testicles
. Years ago, I had a girlfriend named Katie
but let's just say that didn't turn out too well
My real father is a guy named Paul Bearer
, who I recently trapped in a meat locker. I've been married
, divorced, broke up my ex-wife's wedding
and tombstoned the priest. And, for reasons never quite explained, I have an unhealthy obsession with torturing Pete Rose.note
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Too many to count, but most obvious were Vince and Shane McMahon.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Happens from time-to-time. Usually, between an incoming Big Bad and a Jobber.
- Occasionally subverted too. Drew McIntyre made his debut like a standard jobber (starting in the ring with no entrance)... only to end up squashing the superstar he was facing and declaring himself the Chosen One.
- This was taken Up to Eleven in the Rey Mysterio vs JBL match at WrestleMania 25. Rey Rey won the match in a matter of seconds.
- Ultimate Warrior made a career out of them.
- Any match with a budding superstar or tag team is this.
- Darker and Edgier: The Attitude Era, the period in the late 1990s and early 2000s where the product was loaded with ultra-violence and sex appeal.
- Dark Is Not Evil:
- The Undertaker, if he's a face.
- 'Taker is often rivaled in this department by Randy Orton. Despite being known as "The Viper" and hardly ever smiling, he gets enormous cheers from the fans. It must have been a Draco in Leather Pants transition.
- A popular theory about Orton's popularity is that he reminds fans of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He dresses in similar clothing (black boots and trunks), has a snake-like nickname (The Viper compared to Austin's Texas Rattlesnake), works a slow, deliberate "no-frills" style similar to Austin's and his finisher, the RKO bears a passing similarity to Austin's Stone Cold Stunner. Orton, coincidentally (or perhaps deliberately) has since shaved his head and begun using the Lou Thesz Press.
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin fits as well. He's a Type V Antihero (hero in name only) who dresses in dark colors, drinks beer, attacks people unprovoked (sometimes even Divas, civilians and the elderly) and is generally loathsome... He then turned that dial up to 11 and exacerbated this behavior as part of a Face-Heel Turn; despite the announcers screaming how reprehensible these actions were, and the other wrestlers condemning him, fans continued to cheer him simply because he was Stone Cold Steve Austin. As a result, his turn never quite took and he was turned back relatively quickly.
- A Day in the Limelight: Everyone - and I mean everyone - gets one in WWE. Don't believe me? Just ask Hornswoggle.
- Deep South:
- Demoted to Extra:
- This happens whenever a wrestler who usually who is in the midcard, and his/hers storyline and feud ends, he/she all but disappears, but might show up just to have one off match against someone, as there is a another feud that is starting up. Can also happen in the top card and said wrestler get dropped to mid card (or lower). It can be due to they are not over enough, or someone got hurt and they just get dropped as a result.
- Since the 2010s, many prominent mid-carders such as Kofi Kingston, Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, and Wade Barrett have been pushed aside by the likes of such part-time talent like The Rock and Brock Lesnar for one simple reason: part-timers sell, most of the mid-card do not.
- Designated Villain: Some of the heels who get the most negative reactions from audiences are really more annoying or misguided than truly evil. Jillian Hall (whose only real crime is having an atrocious singing voice and not realizing it) is a perfect example. If such a heel is booked to be part of an important or semi-important storyline, the writers will usually have him or her quickly kick dogs.
- Discontinuity Nod:
- CM Punk also took shots at Katie Vick in an episode of Raw.
Just look it up on YouTube
, and it'll drive you to drink, and then you can come to me and I'll save you!
- Kane's anger management speech on a 2012 episode of Raw also referred to the Katie Vick storyline. See Continuity Cavalcade above.
- Amidst the bizarrely entertaining hodgepodge of half-intentional comedy that is NXT season 3, there have been at least a few of these; for example, during the Goldust/Aksana wedding, Michael Cole said of the minister "Is that Al Wilson?" (See Out with a Bang below.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: Very popular with heels, and often a starting point for a feud. Faces aren't exactly innocent of using this either.
- The Dragon: Shane O'Mac to his father Vince when both are heels. Alternatively (or perhaps at the same time), Vince will use a top heel wrestler as this. The best example is The Rock when he was the "Corporate Champion".
- Dragon Ascendant: The Rock in The Nation Of Domination and Triple H in D-Generation X.
- Dumb Muscle:
- Often played straight, with a cocky heel accompanied by large, silent, not-especially-bright Mooks – but sometimes subverted: some very muscular wrestlers like Batista, Bobby Lashley or Triple H, although not being geniuses, aren't stupid either.
- One of Triple H's Red Barons is even "The Cerebral Assassin".
- Enemy Mine:
- Virtually a given in any Triple Threat Match. Is especially funny in the Royal Rumble Match, particularly in 2005 when Muhammad Hassan tried to participate. He didn't last too long.
- The build up to Team WWE vs. The Nexus at Summerslam 2010 involved John Cena and Bret Hart forging a fragile alliance with Edge and Chris Jericho. In a matter of weeks, Edge and Jericho would join the team, quit the team, and rejoin six days before the match. The only thing that kept the team together was mutual hate for Nexus, and it only lasted until Edge and Jericho's eliminations from the team.
- Even the Girls Want Her: Kelly Kelly. There was more than a little Les Yay evident when Candice Michelle enthusiastically accepted Kelly's invitation to join her in an ECW dance performance. Before that, Trish Stratus and TORRIE WILSON, though they were not happy about it.
- Even the Guys Want Him: John Morrison and Shawn Michaels, notably.
- Evil Is Petty: Often used to gain heel heat, especially if said heel isn't getting the right kind of audience reaction. Kurt Angle once tried every offense tactic in the book in one promo "and these people still cheer for him"!
- Evil Laugh: Ted DiBiase Sr., DOINK THE CLOWN, THE BOOGEYMAN, Vickie Guerrero...many.
- Face-Heel Turn: A standard procedure. Often used to start a new storyline or to advance an old one.
- Heel-Face Turn: This is pretty common among the main-eventers, as fans start to want to cheer for a fascinating heel but don't want to feel "dirty" doing it.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Happens when a wrestler turns within months of previous turn. Kane and The Big Show are prone to this, and most Divas switch between the two without much notice or setup.
- The Miz in 2013 pulled this off several times.
- Chyna was notorious for switching sides multiple times on the same show.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: The Rock's The People's/Corporate Eyebrow
- Fat Bastard:
- Five Moves of Doom: Trope Namer is Bret Hart, though the Trope Codifier is John Cena and an Ur-Example is Hulk Hogan.
- Foreign Wrestling Heel:
- Played straight with The Iron Sheik, Kamala, Vladimir Kozlov, William Regal, the Great Khali, practically every Canadian heel ever, and Finlay when he was heel. Averted by the likes of Kofi Kingston, Yoshi Tatsu and Finlay as a face, but played so straight with practically everyone of foreign extraction ever seen in WWF/E at some point in their careers, it's become one of Vinnie Mac's defining tropes - not that it's ever been confined to WWE, of course. Even applied to wrestlers who are not actually foreign or even of the same racial background as the character portrayed, providing they don't need to speak a lot - e.g. Jimmy Yang, a Korean-American, played Tajiri's Mook 'Akio' in a Japanese stable (some time before he subverted this trope by becoming 'Jimmy Wang Yang', a 'foreign'-looking chap who happens to act like he's a cowboy, which is therefore amusing), or Yokozuna, a quasi-'Japanese' Polynesian wrestler played by Rodney Anoai of the great Samoan wrestling dynasty. Many of this family have been presented as semi-savages when their ethnic background is recognized, from the Wild Samoans to Umaga. The Canadian Bret Hart got massive heel heat in America by proclaiming his home country's superiority, yet simultaneously retained a fanatically loyal Canadian fanbase that kept the Hitman face north of the border – which presumably made his opponents Evil Foreigners from a Canadian perspective. Years later, the various incarnations of La Resistance were always Evil Foreigners (whether billed as from France or Quebec, except for one delirious babyface night in Montreal), which led to the absurd commentary habit of referring to them as first "French sympathizers" and subsequently "Quebec sympathizers" – prompting some mystification amongst those who had missed the exact point at which the USA or indeed WWE had declared war on France and Quebec...
- WWE had always been rather supportive of the armed forces (witness Tribute to the Troops). That might explain it.
- Subverted when WWE did the "Kerwin White" gimmick with Chavo Guerrero, showing him pretending to want to be a stereotypical preppy white dude. After his Uncle Eddie's death, the gimmick died with him. (It should be noted that both Eddie and Chavo were/are American.)
- As of 2010, WWE has toned down their usage of this trope - WWE now has a plethora of foreigners (such as Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Justin Gabriel), and while many of them are heels, none of them are evil because they are foreign - each has a full-on heel gimmick to get heat.
- And as of 2012, an equal number of foreigners who are face. As with the heels, they're the good guys with their own characters rather than using their foreigner status as their sole defining feature.
- Revived by Rusev and Lana in 2014 (previously using the gimmick in NXT as well) despite generally being thought of as a Dead Horse Trope, and it's been surprisingly successful at garnering heat considering Cesaro got almost no heat at all while he did his anti-American United States Champion run just a few years earlier.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Gangrel. (He never really got the stardom to be a face or a heel.)
- Fun with Acronyms: Let's see: Irwin R. Shyster, the wrestling taxman...Henry O. Godwin and Phineas I. Godwin, wrestling swine-farmers, Montel Vontavious Porter, the Captain Ersatz for Terrell Owens, Rosey the Super Hero In Training...
- Genre Shift: NXT went from being a show of finding the next breakout star, full of challenges and the like, to become sort of a third brand in 2012 after they had abandoned the challenges some months prior, to then becoming a show for their developmental talent. It was broadcasted on WWE.com up until the end of season 5, then it was moved to Hulu, so not many were aware of this. It's now part of the WWE Network, and are being talked about more, so the awareness factor has increased.
- Geodesic Cast: The Brand Extension to Raw and Smackdown (and briefly ECW).
- The Giant: André the Giant, Kevin "Diesel" Nash, The Big Show and The Great Khali, and to a lesser extent, Kane, and The Undertaker.
- Gimmick Matches: Hell in a Cell, the Royal Rumble, the Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank, etc.
- Hammerspace: Under the ring is pretty much this. In addition to the fact that pretty much anything can be found underneath it, Hornswoggle lives under it in kayfabe. And DX once had to go under it as part of a storyline where Hornswoggle sued them, discovering an entire building under the ring populated by people of Hornswoggle's size. This was previously mentioned by JBL, but no one believed him...
- Hijacked by Ganon:
- I Ate WHAT?: Al Snow's "Pepper steak" and the infamous gassy burrito given to Big Show by Eddie Gurrerro.
- I Have Many Names: Most of the wrestlers have had more than one name (or at least more than one gimmick) during their runs. The company itself has gone through this. From Capitol Wrestling Corporation to World Wide Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment to WWE, Inc. (World Wrestling Entertainment is still the legal name of the company.)
- Subverted by Mark Calaway, AKA "The Undertaker". While the gimmick has changed during his run 20+ year run, he's been The Undertaker through pretty much his entire run. He's only wrestled under a different name, Kane the Undertaker, at the very beginning of his WWE career, and only for the first couple of weeks.
- Idiot Ball: The most frequently-occurring case is when a wrestler completely switches focus from the opponent they have lying on the mat to yell at someone (either the ref, or whomever came to the aid of their opponent) in the opposite direction or outside the ring. 9 times out of 10, this results in them turning and walking straight into the opponent's finisher; the remaining 1 is a successful roll-up. This can happen merely when an interloper's entrance music is played.
- Informed Ability: NXT rookie Michael Tarver never knocked anyone out in '1.9 seconds' on screen. That is, until the NXT riot. His first victim? John Cena.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Professional wrestling soon gave way to "Sports Entertainment" and, as of 2010, "Live Entertainment."
- As mentioned by Joey Styles, WWE's insistence upon calling the wrestlers "Superstars" (Which, to be fair, they have done since the 80s)
- Likewise, female wrestlers are referred to as "Divas", despite the negative connotations the word carries about a woman being egotistical, flighty, and overbearing and/or with a large sense of entitlement. It sort of made sense in the attitude era but at best comes off as really 1990s when used with no sense of irony in any era since. This even carries over to the WWE women's singles title being the "Divas championship", choosing to eliminate the Women's championship that had been in WWE for over fifty years.
- WWE doesn't have bookers, it has "writers". They don't work angles, they run story lines. The "superstars" don't have gimmicks, but "characters", superstars don't operate in the locker room but "backstage". This started to become true to an extent, as WWE began favoring Soap Opera and Hollywood writers over pro wrestling bookers, resulting in WWE programming becoming more heavily scripted. "Superstars" are often told what to say word for word and sometimes have their matches planned out hold to hold in advance. For better or worse, WWE has effectively distanced itself from a lot of what makes pro wrestling is, with some "superstars" prioritizing acting classes over tapes or training. Because of WWE's size and wide distribution, occasionally workers from other companies talk about "characters" or "writers" even if nothing of the sort is present just because WWE is so pervasive.
- Taken to the next level when TV Week wrote a press release about Drew Carey being inducted into the "Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame" and the WWE demanded the headline be changed because it included the words "Pro Wrestling". Read more about it here. To be fair, the WWE Hall of Fame does not represent the industry as whole so there were likely more reasons beyond simply the terminology. There is an actual independently-run Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as well.
- The WWE does not have "fans". Rather, they have the collective "WWE Universe".
- Championship belts are almost never referred to as objects in the modern era. Instead, they are referred to as the "championship" the belt represents, rather than as a "belt"; ex: "John Cena is holding up the WWE championship!", as opposed to "He is holding up the championship belt!" note
- Personal pronouns, while not forbidden on commentary, are unusually rare. It's very common to hear a wrestler referred to by name and then referred to by name again in the very next sentence, even after it's been clearly established who the announcers are referring to and a pronoun (he, she, them, etc.) would be perfectly acceptable.
- Invincible Hero:
- Hulk Hogan for most of his career, Triple H and John Cena at times.
- The Ultimate Warrior was arguably the worst offender. How many times did you EVER see the Ultimate Warrior put someone over clean? Answer for most fans: zero times.
- Jobber: In the 1990s, it was Barry Horowitz. Also, Al Snow and the "J.O.B. Squad". Steve Lombardi, the Brooklyn Brawler, was the traditional "virgin-slayer" in the 80s and 90s, just about everyone who wasn't jobbing got their first win over him. In 2008 Colin Delaney lost so often, losing actually became his gimmick.
- Juxtaposed Halves Shot: They have a strange love of them. The posters for the WWE Invasion PPV had half Vince McMahon and half Shane McMahon, since the invading force was the WCW/ECW contingent led by Shane. WWE Superstars always opened with a montage of them.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Hulk Hogan, Rey Mysterio Jr and John Cena, Jeff Hardy to a lesser extent.
- Kids Prefer Boxes: This Christmas promo for WWEshop.com and the Elimination Chamber playset. CMOF for Shawn Michaels.
- Lame Comeback: Very often, a face and a heel will converse and the face will mock and insult the heel. And virtually every single time, the heel will either respond with spluttering outrage or by saying some variation of "You think you're pretty funny, huh?"
- Lampshade Hanging: WWE.com posted this job opening◊ for the RAW General Manager position when it was vacant in-universe in late 2011.
- Large Ham:
- Laxative Prank: Eddie Guerrero did this to The Big Show using a bagful of spiked burritos.
- Le Parkour: John Morrison practices this both in-ring and outside.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Many, many instances. Triple H, especially, loves this one.
- During most of the backstage segments that aren't direct promos or interviews, most superstars don't acknowledge that there is a camera crew right there in the room with them. They'll sometimes openly discuss secret plans as if they were the only ones in the room and the people who's backs they're sneaking behind couldn't just watch the show later on DVR. Kane is a notable exception; towards the end of most backstage skits he's in, he'll give an evil stare directly into the camera.
- NXT season 3. The show was due to be "cancelled" mid-season in order to bring Smackdown to the SyFy network, and WWE apparently took this as an opportunity to launch into full-blown self-referential insanity, especially at the commentary table. Michael Cole constantly derided the show as being terrible and "quit" at one point. He was briefly replaced by CM Punk, which resulted in an episode where the commentary (aside from seeing a substantial increase in quality) reached a nearly Mystery Science Theater 3000 level of mocking, and it stayed right around that level ever since. In addition to just trashing the show in general, the commentary frequently danced around kayfabe.
- Lighter and Softer:
- Since WWE's free shows became rated TV-PG, starting in 2009. The pay-per-views were rated TV-14, until the Hell in a Cell PPV, which was rated TV-PG.
- The addition of little-person wrestler Hornswoggle and his inclusion in many storylines seemed to come at the very beginning of this new phase of the WWE's existence. Needless to say, many fans don't seem to like the overly cartoony matches he's involved in very much.
- Saturday Morning Slam on The CW's Vortexx Saturday morning block is even more lighter & softer than its other programming, being rated TV-G as opposed to TV-PG. The show places more of an emphasis on colorful characters to appeal to a younger audience, and matches featured on the show tend to focus on the athletic aspects of pro wrestling, with WWE higher-ups even forbidding moves that target the head.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There is a reason we have Raw and Smackdown. And if one where to check out their Alumni page on Wikipedia you see how many have been employed at one point or another.
- Loads and Loads of Roles:
- Mick Foley's four wrestling personas - Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind and himself - are all completely separate characters. Unlike Isaac Yankem DDS and Kane, say, who were played by the same person but are totally separated characters, it is openly acknowledged that Foley is one guy in 4 roles. It was even lampshaded when he once entered a Royal Rumble match three times (he wasn't working under his own name at the time), once for each persona. Also lampshaded at the 2005 Taboo Tuesday PPV, when fans voted online whether Foley would face Carlito as Mankind, Cactus Jack, or Dude Love. Mankind won the online vote and also the match.
- Long Runners: Raw and Smackdown which have been on the air since 1993 and 1999 respectively. WWE itself is a long runner, being founded in 1952 as Capitol Wrestling Corporation, before their namechange to World Wide Wrestling Federation after leaving the National Wrestling Alliance in 1963.
- Loser Leaves Town: The Career Threatening Match forces a wrestler to leave the company if he loses said match. Comes in numerous variants, including the Exactly What It Says on the Tin 'Loser Gets Fired' match. When the Brand Extension was in full force and you didn't move between Raw or Smackdown unless there was a Draft, you had the Loser Leave Raw/Smackdown, and had to move over to the other brand.
- Loud Gulp: Vince McMahon has turned this into an art.
- MacGuffin Melee:
- For a while the Hardcore Title was defended on the "24/7 rule." Anybody could challenge for the belt at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter what the champ was doing, as long as they had a WWF ref to call the match. Frequently the new champ would then be attacked by one of his friends, who would win the belt only to be challenged in turn, and so on.
- Manipulative Bastard: Edge and Triple H, and sometimes Mr. McMahon.
- Manipulative Editing: Used in-universe for a John Laurinaitis "People Power" video package for Over The Limit 2012 in the style of a business commercial. John Laurinaitis, the heel authority figure who is routinely booed, is made to look like a well-loved politician as the praises of People Power are sung by the charts and voiceover.
- Market-Based Title: In Germany, the Elimination Chamber PPV is promoted as No Way Out because the Elimination Chamber name has connotations that tie it to the gas chambers in Nazi extermination camps. Elimination Chamber was introduced in 2010 by WWE as its replacement for the No Way Out PPV, which was brought back in 2012. Interestingly, for this one, No Way Out was promoted in Germany as No Escape.
- Mêlée à Trois: Triple Threat Matches and Fatal x-Ways, usually. Upped to "always" when a title's on the line.
- Misplaced Accent: Kofi Kingston is from Ghana (West Africa) but was initially billed as 'Jamaican' and used an accent approximately more like he's from Jamaica.
- Shelton Benjamin's music has been modified several times because of this.
- Sheamus's theme song is a wealth of humorous Mondegreens. On some forums, he has gotten the nickname "Lobster Head" due to his red hair and the lyric "lost your head," and the line "Too many lies!" has been Mondegreen'd as "Too many limes!"" They can still be seen on signs in the "WWE Universe" occasionally. He also has a few mondegreens in some of his lines, thanks to his Irish accent: "Fact is"/"fuck this" and "in front of"/"and fucked" for starters.
- Matt Hardy's song is another popular source for them. The opening line, "I can slam a tornado, I can fly over seas" has had many, many unflattering Mondegreens (example: "I can slap a tomato, I can make BLTs.")
- Whenever Motorhead plays Triple H's theme live (they've done it several times at WrestleMania), Lemmy can never get the lyrics right. Does that count?
- Mooks: If Vince McMahon is a heel, pretty much every heel can be considered this, since he can summon them whenever he wants. To a lesser extent, a lower-level heel authority figure or even main heel wrestlers can use lower card heels this way, especially if they have a Power Stable that's larger than a Five-Bad Band.
- Named by Democracy: The fans were asked to name every program on the WWE Network. Also how Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston) and Team Hell No got their names.
- Never Heard That One Before:
- Yes, we DO know that it's fake, thank you. You can stop informing us.
- One fan at WrestleMania XXVI held a sign that stated, "It's still real to me, dammit!"
- Yes, we heard that Triple H monopolizes creative control. So did Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle . . . Shawn Michaels, Dusty Rhodes, Jeff Jarrett, uh everybody who's ever had creative control has done that.
- Never My Fault: Commonplace. A heel can never accept they lost a match legitimately, they will accuse their opponent of using illegitimate tactics or manipulating a weakness. Can often lead into another feud arc if they blame their loss on an ally involved (and usually try beat that point into them).
- Nineties Anti-Hero: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin pretty much codified the trope for Professional Wrestling, let alone WWE. He was followed by Bikertaker, The Rock (as a face) and Triple H's non-DX face character.
- Not Using the W Word:
- WWE is notorious for frequent attempts to distance itself from the concept of wrestling; instances include (but are not limited to) billing itself as "Sports Entertainment" rather than 'professional wrestling', press releases to magazines playing the trope straight, exclusively referring to wrestlers as "Superstars" rather than 'wrestlers', referring to Fans as "the WWE Universe"; and, most lately, discarding its own name (World Wrestling Entertainment) – 'WWE' is now officially not an acronym; although the company's legal name is still World Wrestling Entertainment, it does business exclusively as WWE.
- Zigzagged now; the word "wrestler" is part of WWE Champ CM Punk's Insistent Terminology, and WWE has relented somewhat on the policy, reportedly due to falling ratings.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Sheamus' justification for helping John Cena against The Nexus, on an episode of Raw.
- Out with a Bang: Al Wilson, in what's probably an angle most people have repressed.
- Overly Long Gag: Admit it - the fans shouting out "WHAT!?" grates on the nerves, seeing as Stone Cold (who started it up) has long been largely out of the picture, and it was only 'relevant' during his brief heel run a decade ago.
- Parts Unknown:
- The Ultimate Warrior, of course
- Luna Vachon, from "The Other Side of Darkness"
- Damien Demento, from "The Outer Reaches of Your Mind"
- The Boogeyman, from "The Bottomless Pit"
- Shawn Stasiak, from "Planet Stasiak"
- Who (Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart), from "Who Knows Where"
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Invoked by John Laurinaitis with "People Power".
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Rey Mysterio Jr may be short, but he's also noticeably quicker than the vast majority of the guys he wrestles against. He's held his own against more than his share of big guys.
- Playing with Fire: Kane; the Inferno Match; occasionally the wrestlers' pyros.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Inverted by Muhammad Hassan. Thuggin' and Buggin' Enterprises was a straight example. Kerwin White was the most extreme. Zeb Colter takes this Up to Eleven.
- Poke the Poodle: One storyline had Tyson Kidd feuding with Yoshi Tatsu. Tyson's claim to villain/big heel act to get Yoshi angry? He broke Yoshi's action figure.
- Power Stable: Some examples:
- Prejudiced For Pecs: WWE is behind the inflated size expectations of wrestlers in USA, though WCW shares the blame. Before the WWF got a national TV deal, a 180 lbs man was considered on the small side but still a valid heavyweight. In WWF and WCW 220 lbs was considered too small for a heavyweight. On the women's side WWE deflated size expectations. A 130 lbs woman used to be considered on the small side but still a valid heavyweight (which is itself a deflation, as the 138 Fabulous Moolah was initially considered too small to be a heavyweight and got the Women's championship by virtue of the NWA deciding to not put a weight limit on the belt). By 2003 or so, 120 lbs was considered standard for WWE "divas". Thus watching WWE shows can be a pretty jarring experience for fans of US independent or foreign shows when they see wrestlers normally considered "towering" (Claudio Castagnoli) or "tiny" (Jacqueline) suddenly look pretty average. WWE occasionally does go against the grain, such as with 190 lbs Daniel Bryan or 180 lbs Chyna but they tend to be exceptions that prove the rule. Bryan's first World Championship reign was presented as him comically fleeing from Big Show and Mark Henry while Chyna was more famous for fighting men as none of the other woman gave her any real challenge-Lita got credit for simply not being squashed by her.
- Put on a Bus: Whenever someone is out due to injury, gets suspended or leaves the company. They usually come back after after a while. For some it takes longer than others.
- Real Men Wear Pink: At least if it's Cancer Awareness Month, something WWE has every year in October. The Harts always wear pink.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Any face GM. Mick Foley and Booker T comes to mind.
- Recognizable By Sound: Regularly employed in WWE productions, where a wrestler's entrance music indicates he is on his way to the ring, often to the detriment of the wrestler already in the ring.
Wrestler A: I throw out an open challenge to anyone backstage!
- Religion of Evil:
- Ring Oldies:
- Finlay is 52 years old. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are 48. Kane is 46, and Triple H is 44. Hulk Hogan is nearly 60. However, special mention goes to Ric Flair who (after "retiring" at 59) wrestled until 63, finally retiring from in-ring work shortly after Jerry Lawler (born in the same year as Flair) suffered his near-fatal heart attack on Raw.
- None of them can hold a candle to The Fabulous Moolah, who won a match on her 80th birthday.
- Or Mae Young who took a table bump (to clarify for non-fans, that means getting smashed through a table) from the Dudleys in her 80s... and who claimed to have a standing invitation to wrestle Vince McMahon's (currently preschooler) granddaughter, Aurora Levesque, on Mae's 100th birthday. Young would have turned 100 in the year 2023, at which point young Aurora will be sixteen plus change. Unfortunately, she died in 2014, so that won't happen.
- Running Gag: Whenever Raw or Smackdown comes to Corpus Christi, it's become a tradition that something - or someone - will get tossed into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: While not in the typical sense, the WWE loves to take a wrestlers' real names and change it around to get their ring name. Bryan Danielson became Daniel Bryan, and Curtis Jonathan Hussey became Johnny Curtis.
- Still The Leader: Faarooq, after The Rock took over leadership of the Nation.
- Suplex Finisher: Somewhat surprisingly, very few wrestlers use a suplex as an actual finishing move. The most notable examples are probably Mr. Perfect's Perfectplex and the T-Bone Suplex of Shelton Benjamin. There are also, to some extent, Goldust's Final Cut, Goldberg's Jackhammer and Al Snow's Snowplow brainbuster. Notable examples where a variety is used as the direct set-up for a finisher include Eddie Guerrero's Three Amigos twisting snap suplexes (for the Frog Splash), and the trifecta of German suplexes often used by Chris Benoit (for the Diving Headbutt) and Kurt Angle.
- Tag Team: Including many Tag Team Twins such as the Killer Bees, Jimmy and Jey Uso and the Bella Twins, the Blu Twins and Gymini.
- Talk Show with Fists: Just to name a few, Piper's Pit, The Cutting Edge, The Peep Show, The Highlight Reel, MizTV, Carlito's Cabana, MVP's VIP Lounge, The Brother Love Show, Paul Bearer's Funeral Parlor, The Abraham Washington Show...
- Take That:
- During the Monday Night Wars, and against those who left the WWE on bad terms.
- The Moral Guardians, the Right To Censor, is a Take That towards the Parents' Television Council.
- Tears of Joy: Whenever someone wins their first championship.
- Third-Person Person: The Rock says that The Rock hasn't been mentioned yet!
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Jeff Hardy, full stop. When he and his brother Matt debuted in the company in the late 1990s, they lost every single one of their matches for a while. Ten years later, Jeff won the WWE Championship. Matt is a good example as well
- The Miz transformed over time from a clownish Dirty Coward to a legitimately threatening heel. When he became WWE Champion in November 2010, it's a bit surprising that the entire universe didn't explode as a result.
- Stacy Keibler - After more than three years of mostly being used as eye candy, Stacy finally got a push of sorts in October of 2004 when she pinned Molly Holly to become Number One Contender to Trish Stratus's Women's Championship. Although she didn't win her one-on-one with Stratus, Keibler got a second opportunity soon afterward when she entered a seven-woman Battle Royal at Taboo Tuesday and made it two-thirds of the way through before getting eliminated by Holly.
- Candice Michelle - She will go down in history as the first Diva Search contestant (2004) to win the Women's Championship. She accomplished this in June 2007, when she pinned then-champion Melina at the first-ever Night Of Champions. She held the title for nearly four months, finally losing it to Beth Phoenix.
- Maria Kanellis - Another 2004 Diva Search contestant, she started out as a "dim-witted" backstage interviewer for comic relief on Monday Night Raw. She made occasional forays into the ring over the next few years, finally becoming more or less a full-time wrestler in 2008. That's when she became the first Diva to pin Beth Phoenix since Phoenix had won the Women's Championship (though the match was non-title, and Kanellis needed some help from Candice Michelle to score the win). Kanellis and Phoenix met again at WrestleMania XXIV in a tag-team match that also included Ashley Massaro and Melina Perez, and Kanellis almost certainly would have pinned Phoenix clean if it hadn't been for interference by Santino Marella.
- Kelly Kelly - She joined the relaunched ECW on SyFy in June of 2006 as an exotic dancer ("exhibitionist," to use her term) with practically no wrestling skills. After just over a year of training, she began to appear in the ring sporadically and then full-time after being drafted to Monday Night Raw in 2008. She appeared in back-to-back (2008 and 2009) Divas' Elimination Matches at Survivor Series, eliminating two Divas between them. Finally, she won the Divas' Championship from Brie Bella on June 20, 2011, after being voted Number One Contender by the fans.
- Trish Stratus - Seven time Women's Champion, who started out as a valet for T&A and eye candy for Vince McMahon, and who was initially so bad in the ring that she could botch a catfight. In fact, much like how WWE saw its tag team division more so as a Breakup Breakout factory than anything else over time ever since Shawn Michaels went from one of the Rockers to one of the greatest of all time, WWE's insistence on turning models into wrestlers is largely due to this trope working so well for Trish.
- John Cena went from a comic-relief white-boy rapper to possibly the biggest face in the federation. Key moments in the transition included marking his return from injury by lifting Rikishi above his head, and slapping Vince in the face.
- Trash The TitanTron:
- Happens each time when the WWE upgrades its TitanTron. For example, on an episode of Raw in 2007, Triple H throws his sledgehammer at the TitanTron to make way for the current TitanTron HD set used on Raw, SmackDown, ECW, and Superstars.
- The NXT rookies took this one pretty literally on the 6/7/10 Raw, when they took out everyone at ringside (down to the bell-ringer and medical personnel) and gave a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to John Cena.
- Chris Benoit, though he is still mentioned in WWE's official title histories, match results, etc., as well as 2009's WWE Encyclopedia. It doesn't even mention that he's dead!
- Vince McMahon tried to invoke this with CM Punk after he left the company after winning at the Money in the Bank PPV, and taking the WWE Championship with him. Off course this only lasted one or two weeks, as he came back after they had held a tournament to crown a new winner. Has unfortunately come true with his 2014 walkout.
- Unrelated Brothers:
- Long-time childhood friends Edge and Christian. Whose being kayfabe brothers in the past is no longer acknowledged.
- Kane and The Undertaker.
- Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins was for a short while in WWE listed as the Major Brothers, before their name change.
- Vince's 2000-inch Titantron, the obscenely expensive Jeritron 5000
- Wham Episode: 4/11/11. Edge retiring. June 7th 2010, The Nexus wrecks havoc on Raw. And a bunch of other memorable moments.
- Wild Samoan: The Wild Samoans, Umaga, Haku, Jimmy Snuka, and Rikishi. Averted by Yokozuna (who was Samoan but played a Japanese-style sumo wrestler), Manu, Rosey, The Usos, Tamina, and Roman Reigns. Oh, and The Rock. There were also The Headshrinkers and The Islanders (though Haku was a Tongan).
- World's Strongest Man: Nickname used by several wrestlers including Mark Henry, Ted Arcidi, Ken Patera, and Dino Bravo.
- Wrestling Doesn't Pay: Especially egregious in the late '80s and early '90s. Later examples include Simon Dean, The Boogeyman, and Fandango.
- Wrestling Monster: Vader, The Undertaker, Papa Shango, Kane, Bill Goldberg, The Boogeyman, Kharma...
- Yes-Man: The general attitude of Vince McMahon to some people is that he refuses to take "no" for an answer. Pretty much a job description for anybody on the writing team not related to the McMahons, according to virtually everyone.
- You Keep Using That Word: Strangely, WWE has recently started picking an episode of Raw and Smackdown sometime in mid-August note and billing them as the "season premiere," despite that fact that both shows run year round, meaning there's never really a new season to premiere any more than there is for the also-year-round morning news. It's also strange considering WWE somewhat operates on a Wrestlemania to Wrestlemania schedule, when story-lines culminate on camera (with loose ends often being tied up at the next PPV,) and there seems to be some house cleaning (read: lower-card firings) and starting fresh behind the scenes, as well, meaning that if WWE really wanted to do a true "season premiere," it should actually be sometime in April.
- You Look Familiar:
- Occasionally a wrestler will disappear and return with a new name and gimmick so radically different, many fans won't recognize him. Jamal to Umaga for example.
- Sometimes the WWE marketing actually helps this along, pretending that an earlier character played by a current athlete-actor never existed. R-Truth (a.k.a. Ron Killings) is actually K-Kwik from back in the day; he even won a title as K-Kwik, but WWE has apparently handwaved that out of existence.
- Similarly, when Dolph Ziggler won the WWE Intercontinental Championship in 2010, the announcers claimed that it was his first title, conveniently forgetting that the same wrestler was part of the Spirit Squad which won the World Tag Team Championship in 2006. Later on they do acknowledge his status a triple crown champion though.
- Festus became one of CM Punk's underlings but is actually a subversion as he's acknowledged to be the same person; the story is that he was "saved" by CM Punk and his teachings. He was also the fake Kane, so he's subverted it and played it straight.
- Speaking of Kane, the real one previously played Fake Diesel when Kevin Nash left for WCW; earlier still, he was 'wrestling dentist' Isaac Yankem, before he was retooled (unacknowledged) under a mask into The Undertaker's psychopathic half-brother.
- Charles Wright, who played Papa Shango, Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, and The Godfather. While Kama sort of evolved into The Godfather, they never once acknowledged that he was ever Papa Shango. It sort of helps that Shango wore face paint all the time, and that the time between Wright's stints as Shango and Kama was a fairly long interval.
- Tyler Reks was a short lived surfer dude who then showed up as Tyler Reks, dreadlocked demolition man.
- (Lord) Tensai was Prince Albert/A-Train after gaining some respect on the Japanese circuit. Which they actually admit, albeit in a half-assed manner (never mentioning his actual former names aside from WWE.com).
- Johnny Curtis disappeared off TV after he debuted on Smackdown, and reappeared months later as Fandango. It helps that he was barely on TV, and the TV time he got was on WWE NXT.