The WWE is a festival of showmanship and pomp that can either engage and captivate audiences or utterly repel them. Not every WWE Superstar can be over like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold or The Rock. The power of good storytelling has made wrestling one of the most lasting forms of entertainment and with the longest running episodic television series in history, it's difficult to question the (ahem) "Authority" (all puns intended) of the WWE's decision-making ability.
There is little doubt that the creative energy of Vincent Kennedy McMahon is the thing of pure genius. No one doubts that McMahon can turn out quality and enduring characters that are able to penetrate popular culture far outside of the realm of wrestling. However, any true innovator and creator has at least a hundred failed ideas for every great one and that is certainly the case with the WWE. There are some truly annoying concepts that have come out over the years and rarely one to admit failure, Vince seems to almost enjoy trolling the audience by pushing and pushing, long after a character is rejected.
Here we examine the fifteen finest examples of the absolutely worst and most annoying ideas that the WWE just couldn't help pushing on the fans. We celebrate the more obnoxious of the modern to the classic, from James Ellsworth to Giant Gonzalez.
15 Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is a star of both MMA and the WWE. We know that Vince loves the big guys that are jacked to the nine and Lashley was certainly that. He had an impressive build, but once a microphone got in his hands, time seemed to stand still and a forced and awkward promo was about to be delivered. He wasn't big on in-ring skill either. Despite this fact, the WWE kept giving him win after win, billing him as a destroyer.
His title match with John Cena at the 2007 Great American Bash is still regarded by many amongst the worst matches of all time, and for good reason. The two awkwardly stumbled around the ring with clumsy pins. The whole display simply proved to the fans that Lashley was just a body. This would serve as his last pay-per-view match and he was released in 2008.
The WWE can't resist a gimmick, so when "Dancing with the Stars" became a wildly popular reality television show, it was inevitable that Vince would do something to capitalize on the craze. Fandango's debut was well-hyped and utterly ridiculous. His major personality point, other than dancing, was getting worked-up about people pronouncing his name incorrectly. The WWE was so determined to get him over that they debuted him at WrestleMania, a practice that isn't terribly common in today's era. To top it all off they had Chris Jericho put him over with a win at 'The Grandest Stage of Them All!
You can't really get more momentum than that, but alas Fandango's gimmick grew tired very quickly. His theme song and the silly dance to go with it ended up being more over than Fandango and he was soon stuck in mid-card hell. Despite his lack of popularity, the WWE continues to try and re-package him still today, currently featuring him in a tag-team with Tyler Breeze as fashion police.
13 The Great Khali
The Great Khali had a very impressive run when he first debuted. He was a giant man, so large that when he first appeared in SmackDown in 2006, he towered over The Undertaker, one of the largest "big-men" in the business. The announce team tried to build him as a monster with enormous size that could manhandle even Taker. The only problem was Khali couldn't do a promo, you couldn't understand a word he said, so when a big guy like that is brought in it's best utilized for a year or so in some major program.
Fast forward several years later and Khali is still in the WWE. Not one to let go, the WWE saddled him with a gimmick that had such little direction that by 2012 he was being billed as the "Punjabi playboy", a ladies man that would do an awkward little dance in the ring with Natalya.
12 Big Dick Johnson
The not so subtle sexual euphemism aside, Big Dick Johnson was all about overkill. Firstly, he wasn't a wrestler, plain and simple. The character was portrayed by WWE creative member Chris DeJoseph. The entire gimmick was an overweight guy dancing around in a thong...and that's pretty much it. He was introduced by D-Generation X as an out of shape dancer in a weak attempt at the outrageous humor that they excelled so highly at during the Attitude Era.
Unfortunately, this attempt fell very flat. This idea would have been bad enough once or twice, but it didn't end there. The WWE gave this guy his own entrance video and music and we would go on to see him far too much. DeJoseph now works as a writer for Lucha Underground. Let's hope he keeps his clothes on.
11 James Ellsworth
There are many fans that will argue that SmackDown Live! is the stronger of the two shows in terms of action and story, but one of the major flaws in the show remains the ongoing saga of underdog darling James Ellsworth. Why he's a darling, no one seems to know. He lacks charisma, talent or acting ability.
They brought James in for a one-off squash match with Braun Strowman and now he has a t-shirt, contract and a few wins over the legendary veteran A.J. Styles under his belt. The viewers just can't seem to get rid of him, no matter how unpleasant he is on camera. The WWE has made it clear that they're very serious about charity over the years, but this is just downright ridiculous.
The WWE is knee-deep in a family friendly PG-era, but there was a time when things were, shall we say less sensitive. The Attitude Era pulled out all the stops and pushed all the boundaries that it possibly could and the company was still toying with inappropriate concepts in 2004 when wrestler Nick Dinsmore began portraying the on-screen special needs character Eugene.
The learning disabled Eugene character was written as a black sheep relative of Eric Bischoff. The initial idea of Eugene was offensive at best, but the audience took to him for a short time. The novelty soon melted away and the booing began. Stubborn until the end, the WWE kept on utilizing the character for three long years, despite the loss of acceptance from the WWE Universe.
9 Rocky Maivia
The Rock is easily one of the most beloved men in show business. He's got charisma, looks, heart and talent. This wasn't always the case, because Dwayne Johnson debuted in the WWE with a very different character than the one that became near and dear to the hearts of wrestling fans. No, Rocky Maivia was a different beast entirely and in a Roman Reigns style bout of stubbornness, McMahon continued to push Rocky as the babyface that was the next big thing in the company.
It made sense, he had the physique and the heritage, but he just wasn't connecting with audiences. Booing and echoes of "Rocky Sucks" and "Die Rocky Die" would fill the arenas where he appeared. It wasn't until the creative freedom of the Attitude Era that The Rock would be born to win over the WWE Universe.
8 Michael Cole
Regular Michael Cole is bad enough, but a heel version of Michael Cole that gets far too much screen time is a whole other level of awful. When it comes down to it, Cole is an on-air talent, but only as an announcer. It must have been a dark time on the roster, because the WWE forced a heel Cole down our throats for literally years. He began fighting in the ring, which was just awful, but he was in there with names like Jerry Lawler, Stone Cold, Jack Swagger and John Cena. It would have been painful enough as a one-off idea, but it was high profile match after match at huge pay-per-view events like WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble.
He remained a heel announcer and far too frequent of an in-ring talent until Lawler had his on-air heart attack. Cole then became a babyface announcer and has thankfully stayed out of the ring.
7 Doink The Clown
Doink was the 1990s gimmick that just wouldn't go away. He was first portrayed by Matt Osbourne in 1993, but after Osbourne was forced to leave the WWE for repeated drug testing fail, the wicked clown was portrayed by a whopping five other wrestlers. The idea of a nasty clown wasn't the worst one that the WWE had during that difficult era, but there was something about seeing a fully done-up clown in the ring that just sent home the disconnect that the WWE had with their audience at the time.
Doink was used for far too long over the two years that he was on the card, feuding with the likes of Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Triple H. The WWE had some sort of belief in the clown gimmick, so much so that they kept reviving it long after it had lost its appeal. Fans did get some retribution when he made a 1997 Slammy Awards appearance just to get beat up by Stone Cold.
6 The Miz
The Miz is a vexing kind of character that has defied all of the conventions that usually come with professional wrestling. Mike "The Miz" Miznin came into the WWE as an import from a reality show and he basically straight-up stole Chris Jericho's gimmick. The WWE took this poor man's Jericho and has continued to push him week after week since his 2004 debut. He has main evented WrestleMania and continues to be a major player in the upper-mid card story arcs, despite his generic look and even more generic in-ring style.
He's a solid mid-card worker, but how many of those last in the company for 13 years? There are others that have come and gone with more talent and drive, but the WWE continues to back The Miz. When they don't use him in the ring, The Miz is the default star for the WWE direct to DVD movies. Mick Foley had a very telling joke on his comedy tour..."How many Miz fans does it take to screw-in a light bulb? Both of them!"
5 Eva Marie
Oh, Eva Marie, how we love to hate thee. The WWE brought Eva Marie in during an era when the Divas division was still going strong and looks were a far bigger deal than in-ring talent. Today, we have the WWE Women's division and the Divas Revolution that left that idea in the dust. Now, you need to have actual talent in the ring in order to survive with the talented roster that they have in both WWE and NXT. Eva Marie, despite having plenty of looks, has struggled to learn the business in reverse order. To her credit, she has been training and making effort, but still struggles to find footing on camera.
The WWE is so confident in her look that they won't let her go and keep launching and re-launching her to no avail. Her recent "All Red Everything" heel gimmick on SmackDown Live was almost interesting, but that also quickly failed. They have opted to put her in their direct to DVD films for the time being instead of a ring. Despite lack of fan interest and lack of apparent talent, stubborn ol' Vince McMahon seems to have some vision for Eva Marie that he won't let go of.
4 Roman Reigns
It all started so well. Roman Reigns was the enforcer of the hottest new faction to ascend upon the WWE in a long time, The Shield. During his time with the Shield Roman didn't really smile or talk. It probably should have stayed that way, because as soon as he was given a microphone that smirk set in and his profound deficit, as well as lack of actual likability were quickly apparent. Vince is determined to make Roman "The Guy" and once the boss gets an idea in his head he won't let it go.
Roman got major boos when he won the 2015 Royal Rumble instead of the fan favorite Daniel Bryan and it's only grown from there. You would think by the time the Rumble rolled around again that the WWE would have changed their angle, but alas the big #30 entrant in 2017 was none other than Roman Reigns, to the dismay of fans everywhere. Way to troll us WWE.
3 The Spirit Squad
The year was 2006 and a new faction was about to descend on the WWE. This would normally cause a lot of buzz and excitement, but any hopes that the audience had would be squashed faster than an indie worker in a Braun Strowman match when The Spirit Squad, a group of male cheerleaders, made their debut. Despite the obvious idiocy of this idea, the group would continue to dominate far too much air time for much of that year.
There are times when the WWE will try out an idea and quickly let it go when it's obvious garbage. Unfortunately, they decided to ride out the year with The Spirit Squad concept. The faction disbanded by the end of 2006, despite holding the tag-team titles for a time. The only remnant of the awful idea was Nicky, you know him today as Dolph Ziggler.
2 Giant Gonzalez
The Great Khali was a giant with no direction, but his coming was foretold by the saga of Giant Gonzalez. He spent time in WCW early in his career, but when Jorge Gonzalez debuted in the WWE in 1993, he was dubbed Giant Gonzalez. The 7' 7" mountain of a man had an imposing physique that was instantly made ridiculous by the weird furry, airbrushed muscle suit that he wore in the ring. Gonzalez was brought in to feud with the Undertaker.
He debuted at the Royal Rumble and despite his size, it was quickly clear that he had absolutely zero ability in the ring. Determined to push and push their ideas down the audience's throats, Giant and Taker engaged in a program that went to WrestleMania and SummerSlam that year, making history with matches so bad that they only serve as a blemish on the resume of The Undertaker.
The WWE enjoys exploiting any angle that they can find for a good gimmick. Dylan Postl originally debuted as a leprechaun character dubbed "Little Bastard" (yeah, it was pre-PG era). This gimmick would've been cute for a few months perhaps, but before long it gets tired. That was 2006...he would remain with the WWE for another decade before finally being released. Wrestling under the name Hornswoggle, he would engage in story arcs with Mr. McMahon, Chavo Guererro Jr., D-Generation X and other high level Superstars.
The WWE even made him the Anonymous RAW general manager, a story arc that had a ton of potential until that huge letdown reveal. He would soon degenerate from high profile matches to being a little person novelty act, appearing to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or to dance in the ring with Brodus Clay. It doesn't matter how little audiences cared about Hornswoggle, he just kept popping up and getting a treatment far higher than his in-ring ability dictated.