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One of the reasons WWE is such a complex, unpredictable, yet always entertaining product is because of the extravagant characters that battle it out in the squared circle every week. From former Olympians and models to prison guards and shamans, you can expect to find the widest and oddest range of characters when it comes to professional wrestling. Given the fast pace of the WWE landscape, many superstars are forced to adapt their characters to stay relevant, or change them completely, and for some, an alter ego is the best way to do that.
Legendary superstars of the past like WWE Hall of Famers Ron Simmons and JBL went through a successful evolution of characters, leaving behind their APA security gimmick and moving toward their modern-day personas. Today’s WWE is no different with some superstars such as Finn Bálor having a seemingly dual personality to keep opponents guessing. With the recent returns of Elias and Bray Wyatt, it got us and the rest of the WWE Universe wondering: Which stars in WWE history had the best alter egos? Let’s dig in.
Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love
What would this list be without the prime example of wrestling alter egos kicking things off? Mick Foley, the man behind three extremely different personalities, is probably the most iconic example of split personas in wrestling. He began his career in the early '90s in WCW as Cactus Jack and made a name for himself as one of the most violent and hardcore performers in the world. The idea of Cactus Jack was simply an ultra-physical brawler who enjoyed violence, but when he signed with WWE, he debuted as Mankind.
Mankind was similar to Hannibal Lector, an insane masochist who somehow found his way into WWE. Just a year later, he reemerged as Dude Love, a happy-go-lucky wrestling hippy. What was so impressive about the so-called “Three Faces of Foley” was how different each gimmick was and how he could convincingly pull them off without a hitch. Most famously, he entered the 1998 Royal Rumble as all three of his characters! All three personas enjoyed a great deal of success in WWE and he was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 - as Mick Foley.
Ezekiel and Elias
Hey, wait a minute! I thought Ezekiel and Elias were two different people!
Well, with Ezekiel’s wrestling career seemingly over after a devastating injury at the hands of Kevin Owens, I think it’s safe to finally admit that we knew all along that Ezekiel and Elias were the same person. The poor photoshop didn’t fool the WWE Universe, or Kevin Owens, even though we all went with it! All jokes aside, Elias took this opportunity and ran with it while other performers would have been scared away.
In July of 2021, WWE aired eerie promos of Elias burning his guitar, suggesting that the musical career of The Drifter was over. Nine months later, a man who bore a striking resemblance to Elias, but was clean-shaven, emerged on RAW and called himself Ezekiel. It was Kevin Owens who confronted him about really being Elias, but Ezekiel always denied it, saying he was Elias' younger brother. While the gimmick took a minute to get off the ground, the WWE Universe embraced it with open arms and it ended up being one of the funniest storylines in recent memory. Elias, or Ezekiel – whatever you want to call him – hit his short-lived opportunity out of the park and the WWE Universe is already missing the laughs given to us by Zeke.
Finn Bálor and The Demon
When Finn Bálor breaks out his Demon gimmick, two things usually happen: His opponent starts shaking in their boots (rightfully so) and a big match is about to start. Bálor has a 13-1 record in WWE as The Demon, capturing both the NXT Title and the Universal Title in his war paint. Even before WWE, however, Bálor used this full-body paint before his biggest matches to get into the zone and emulate his favorite characters, such as Venom and The Joker. The Demon represents a more aggressive and animalistic Bálor and allows him to access parts of himself that he otherwise couldn’t reach.
WWE has done an incredible job keeping Bálor’s alter ego feeling special as well. As stated above, The Demon has only made 14 appearances in WWE although he’s been with the company for nearly a decade. For fans, Balor’s alter ego is the ultimate visual display and we can’t wait to see the three-hour painting process resurrect The Demon again.
Hulk Hogan and Mr. America
At WrestleMania XIX, Hulk Hogan defeated his longtime boss Vince McMahon. Vince, bitter over the fact that he couldn’t defeat his company’s biggest star, simply fired Hogan in an act of revenge. A few weeks later, Stephanie McMahon revealed that she had signed a new superstar to SmackDown, a masked man named Mr. America who patriotically represented the country in an American Luchadore mask.
WWE aired vignettes showing iconic moments in American history such as the 1969 moon landing before the words “Mr. America is Coming” would flash on screen. In May of 2003, Mr. America debuted on Piper’s Pit, but it was no secret that the man behind the mask was Hulk Hogan. Mr. America didn’t even try to hide it as he struck the same poses as Hogan and talked the same way. Mr. McMahon didn’t take too kindly to Hogan’s not-so-secret return, but similarly to the Ezekiel and Elias storyline, Mr. America denied any relation to Hogan. The WWE Universe began to play along and McMahon even made Mr. America take a polygraph test to ensure he wasn’t really Hogan.
Bray Wyatt and The Fiend
Bray Wyatt has adapted his personality more times than almost any superstar in WWE history. Starting his WWE career in FCW as Husky Harris, he eventually debuted on the main roster in the Nexus faction before moving back to NXT and becoming Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds eventually debuted on the main roster again and enjoyed moderate success in WWE before returning once again from hiatus as the most indestructible and dark version of himself yet – The Fiend. From an evil cult leader to a man with borderline personality disorder who could switch between a child-friendly Wyatt and a literal monster, the range needed to play these characters can’t be understated.
The Fiend is one of the most complicated but successful alter egos in WWE history because of how convincingly Wyatt plays the role. The character is multi-faceted and hosts segments inside the Firefly Funhouse with various other creepy characters to add to the effect. Wyatt has mastered the art, and The Fiend’s repackaging is a success story that fans can’t wait to see unfold.
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