For a wrestler to survive and thrive in the WWE, keeping the character interesting requires constant reinvention and a gradual change to suit with fan’s needs. In some cases, WWE wrestlers completely change their persona, reinvent themselves and become more popular than before.
Looking back at the biggest transformations in WWE history, some of the ring’s most popular stars have transformed and became more popular than they were in the first place.
John Cena the Rapper to John Cena the Solider
When John Cena started out as a heel, he rapped on opponents, dressed in hip-hop gear, and even released his own rap CD. After a few years of rapping success, Cena’s star rose and he was in his first movie “The Marine.”
The role of the ex-Marine solider did not quite fit the rapper mold, so Cena’ transformed his on-screen character. He got rid of the chains and pumps, wore a military style cap to the ring, and saluted the crowd instead of performing a rap.
It was a risky move, but the transformation helped fans take him more seriously as a main event wrestler and one of the best in the WWE.
Hunter Hearst-Helmsley to Triple H
The names are technically still the same, but the drastic transformation from the pompous arrogant wrestler to the multi-time WWE champion is one of the biggest in WWE history.
When Triple H started, he was a snob, who wore dress clothes to the ring, treated his managers like trash and thought he was the greatest thing to come to the WWE.
A few years later, Triple H acquired Chyna to be his new manager and the attitude transformed. He joined forces with Shawn Michaels, created Degeneration X and the rest is history. He went from tasteful ring entrances to playing strip poker outside the ring on an episode of WWE Raw.
Papa Shango to the Godfather
The Voodoo loving Papa Shango would scare off wrestlers like the Ultimate Warrior, make black ooze come out of skin, and perform creepy voodoo dances around the ring.
After Papa Shango mysteriously disappeared, the Attitude Era came along and fans saw the birth of The Godfather, WWE’s first pimp/wrestler.
Little did fans know that The Godfather was actually the same portrayer as Shango and these two characters could not be more different than each other. Instead of the black ooze, we got the “Ho Train.”
Mankind to Dude Love to Cactus Jack
No wrestling personas are more infamous than the three faces of Foley. Mankind was his first WWE persona and he was a deranged wrestler who ripped his hair out, cuddled himself in the ring, and spoke of deranged memories.
Dude Love was the disco-loving tie-dye wearing wrestler straight out of Foley’s childhood. With lava lamps, bean bags, and a groovy attitude, Dude Love was one of the most upbeat of Foley’s personas, especially when teamed with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Cactus Jack was more like Mankind, a hardcore loving wrestler who would gladly damage himself to injure an opponent. Cactus Jack fought in some of Foley’s most violent matches and several memorable tag team matches with Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk).
Earthquake’s mysterious transformation into the odd Golga was a weird transformation. One Man Gang’s gangster themed character was transformed into the dancing Akeem. The Undertaker went from the dark side to the motorcycle side in a short-lived transformation that ended in 2004.