#5 – JBL
Bradshaw’s early days in WWE were a bit chaotic from a character standpoint. He started out as your standard wrestling cowboy but morphed into an occult acolyte. Eventually he came to the natural happy medium: a wrestling cowboy who merely called himself an acolyte. Sounds a little weird on paper but it helped him find solid ground and become a midcard staple for several years.
However, late in his career, he was at an impasse. His long time tag team partner Farooq was about to hang up the boots. This left Bradshaw on his own in WWE for what might as well have been the first time. They opted to have him turn heel on his partner as WWE is wont to do, but I doubt anyone expected what came next.
The hard drinking Texan tough guy donned a suit and started calling himself John Bradshaw Layfield. Now a rich stockbroking city slicker residing in New York City, the JR Ewing inspired character ended up becoming WWE Champion in a matter of months. And even more shockingly, he went on to hold the gold for 280 days! A wild outcome for a guy that, before that, hadn’t held a singles title more prestigious than the European Championship. And THAT was an 8 day reign!