In the case of most professional wrestlers, charisma is something you either have or you don’t. If you don’t have it, chances are you will never ‘learn’ it.
The ability to convince fans with actions, verbal skills, facial expressions, in-ring ability or a combination of all four is arguably the most vital trait for wrestlers seeking a successful career.
It’s no coincidence that most of the legendary names in all of pro wrestling in the past 20 years oozed charisma. In some cases, their ability to talk and physically portray their emotions made up for their shortcomings inside the squared circle, creating memorable title reigns in the process.
However, a lack of charisma isn’t a prerequisite for winning a major WWE championship, and the WWE history books feature a host of names who struggled to confidently portray their character.
It takes more than just facial expressions and looking tough to be charismatic – it has to be believed. In the cases of these 10 WWE Champions, they lacked the ‘it’ factor required to become memorable outside of their physical performances.
So there’s no confusion, this list will only include holders of the major WWE championships featured on WWE programming in the last 20 years (including all name variants): the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship.
For the sake of this entry, let’s view Kane as two entirely separate characters: Masked Kane and Unmasked Kane. Masked Kane was truly terrifying, intimidating, versatile and at times surprisingly humorous. Unmasked Kane was dull and downright unbelievable.
Don’t get me wrong, Kane was – and still somewhat is – a cool character. Glenn Jacobs’ portrayal of the original Kane was some of the most enjoyable stuff WWE has ever produced. However, there’s a clear reason why Kane’s career has never been able to reach the peaks of his earlier days since his unmasking.
A lot of Kane’s character revolved around being a mysterious masked burns victim who had a genuine reason to be so spiteful. By the time he won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2010, the factors that allowed Kane to be so charismatic – the lack of speech, facial expressions and mechanical movement – had been replaced by over-the-top displays of aggression to make him appear threatening.
They didn’t work.
Unlike when he devastated the WWE locker room in the late 1990s or entertained fans with some comedic relief in the early 2000s, Unmasked Kane was a generic monster that failed to click with the WWE Universe.
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