Over the past few decades the WWE has given us some of the greatest and most memorable, yet oddly beautiful gimmicks. It is a shock that many of these even made it onto national TV. We all know Vince McMahon loves a character change, and he has definitely created some memorable ones here.
However the following list that I’ve compiled will definitely bring back some childhood memories, recall some of the gimmicks that maybe most of you have forgotten or even reminisce about all the following character changes that you enjoyed growing up. The company has developed a reputation for pushing some amazing gimmicks onto the WWE Universe, but this list is not about them.
This list is all about the gimmick changes that none of the WWE crowd can remember, the ones that literally crashed and burned in front of the WWE audience. Of course, characters are one of the biggest and best parts of being a wrestler and so far the longest running gimmick in the history of the business is that of The Undertaker, who was unveiled as a Deadman more than 25 years ago.
This shows the longevity of a gimmick if it is given to a wrestler who knows what to do with it. Sadly, this list doesn’t contain those kinds of wrestlers. This list is all about the ones you laughed about in the playground and may have forgotten over the past few years. So take a trip down memory lane and take a look back at all the gimmicks over the past few decades that no one truly remembers.
15 Man Mountain Rock
Darryl Peterson AKA Man Mountain Rock was a high school American footballer, but due to a clash in personalities with his football coach Peterson decided to pursue amateur wrestling. Following his release from World Championship Wrestling he was contacted by current WWE wrestler "Ravishing" Rick Rude who personally convinced WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to give a contract to Peterson. Unfortunately his time in the WWE didn’t last very long. Peterson suffered a burst hernia which put him out for a while. Peterson also suffered from pain medication addiction. Peterson retired from wrestling in 2004 and these days he acts in low budget films. It’s a shame the Man Mountain Rock character didn’t work in WWE because personally I was a big fan of the tye dye shirt and rock guitar.
14 Kwang the Ninja
Juan Rivera AKA Kwang the Ninja. Many fans will not remember that this mist spitting, mysterious character was in fact none other than fan favourite Savio Vega. Kwang the Ninja was your typical oriental wrestler. Based on Rivera’s martial arts background this was the perfect gimmick for Rivera to cut his teeth in front of the WWE fans. Kwang’s biggest match that was televised was in the King of the Ring qualifying match were he lost to Scott Hall AKA Razor Ramon. In January 1995, he was at ringside for the main event when wrestling announcer Howard Finkel wrestled and won in a very unique Tuxedo match against Kwang’s then manager Harvey Wippleman on Saturday Night's Main Event. Kwang gradually faded off WWE programming, losing his final match to Japanese sensation Hakushi in 1995 on WWE Superstars. Let’s just say that as Savio Vega, Rivera was far more successful as a singles competitor. With Kwang the gimmick never suited Vega which is why he was repackaged and evidently it worked out much better.
Harry Del Rios AKA Phantasio. This gimmick actually lasted four years from 1993-1997. However, Del Rios was a part time wrestler not under contract with the company because back then independent guys could work for other companies and when the WWE needed them for television they’d just turn up. The idea for this gimmick was rather simple: a wrestling magician who performed a magic trick before and during his match. Del Rios made one WWE TV appearance on the July 16, 1995 on Wrestling Challenge. He was given the character Phantasio. Phantasio wore a black and white mime mask, then after he took the mask off and handing it to a fan in the crowd, he revealed under the mask was matching face paint. He defeated a local competitor by sneaking up behind him and amazingly pulling out his boxer shorts allowing him to go get victory. After the match, he sensationally removed the boxer shorts from former WWE referee, now current TNA Earl Hebner. Though he never again appeared on TV, in an era of weird and wonderful wrestlers unfortunately Phantasio was not one to become a main eventer.
Nicholas Cvjetkovich AKA Sinn Bodhi AKA Kizarny was a circus gimmick that reminded the WWE fans of Doink the Clown but Kizarny was much more sinister. Kizarny debuted in 2008 on SmackDown. Well put together vignettes promoted the debut of Cvjetkovich, now given the ring name Kizarny. Bodhi described his character as being a lovechild of legendary Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts and former WWE Superstar Doink the Clown. During Kizarny’s weird vignettes, he spoke in carny which is a language used by the old school wrestlers of years past. This along with numerous more vignettes aired over the next few weeks. After weeks of strange and crazy vignettes Kizarny made his long awaited in-ring TV WWE debut on the January 2, 2009 on an episode of SmackDown, amazingly defeated MVP. Kizarny participated in a WWE Elimination Chamber qualifying Battle Royal but didn’t last very long at as he was eliminated early in the match. In March 2009, WWE announced that Kizarny had been released from his WWE contract. Let’s just remember the one and only clown in the WWE and that was Doink. Kizarny was given massive shoes to fill and unfortunately didn’t succeed.
11 Max Moon
Carlos Santiago Espada Moises AKA Max Moon AKA Konnan. Yes, Mexican Superstar Konnan was WWE Superstar Max Moon. A little over a few months after signing with WWE, Konnan received the gimmick that he would become known for, Max Moon. Now originally they called Konnan The Comet Kid for maybe a handful of house shows, and no one seems to know why the gimmick was changed either. The Max Moon gimmick was supposed to be a futuristic cyborg from outer space. Now here comes the best bit. Shortly after Konnan’s release, the WWE brought in independent wrestler Paul Diamond to revise the character of Max Moon. In January 1993, the new revived Max Moon gimmick wrestled and lost to WWE Hall of Famer 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels on the very first Monday Night Raw and get this, it was for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. After losing to Michaels the push ended for the Max Moon gimmick and he began losing to other WWE Superstars such as Skinner and 'The Model' Rick Martel. Max Moon appeared on one Pay-Per-View as he participated in the 30-Man over the top rope Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble 93. Moon was in the ring less than 180 seconds. In 1993 WWE released Diamond from the company as his contract was not renewed. Max Moon although from the future didn’t make it as the character wore off on a lot of fans.
10 Dink the Clown
Claude Giroux AKA Dink the Clown. Yes, Doink had a little buddy called Dink. Giroux debuted on WWE Superstars in November of 1993. Dink then accompanied Doink to the ring and took part in the clown pranks played on Doink’s opponents. Giroux wrestled as Dink, two times on Pay-Per-View. Dink’s first PPV appearance was at WrestleMania X at MSG teaming up with Doink the Clown to face the late Bam Bam Bigelow and the late Luna Vachon. However, Dink was on the losing team. Dink’s second PPV match was at Survivor Series in 1994 where he was joined by other little wrestlers: Clowns Pink and Wink to make form the team of Clowns’R’Us alongside Doink the Clown to face Jerry "The King" Lawler and his Royal Family which included Sleazy, Cheesy, and Queasy. After losing the match, all six wrestlers attacked Jerry Lawler and decided to chase him from the ringside area to the backstage area. Giroux left the WWE in 1995.
9 Waylon Mercy
Dan Spivey AKA Waylon Mercy. Spivey re-joined the WWE in June 1995. Now according to Spivey the name Waylon Mercy was a character which apparently was based on Hollywood superstar Robert De Niro's interpretation of Max Cady in the film Cape Fear. Mercy wore a large unfitted Hawaiian t-shirt much like the Bray Wyatt gimmick we see today and had many strange tattoos all over his body. The most disturbing being a dagger which was central on his forehead. Mercy was a heel, even though his character was acting like a peaceful guy on his way to the ring. Waylon would shake the hands of fans, then he would shake the hand of his opponent and even shake the hand of the referee before his match had even started. Mercy's finishing was a sleeper hold. I remember while he had this locked in, he would look wide-eyed like he was insane. Once the bell rang, he would return to his peaceful side. Waylon Mercy's only Pay-Per-View appearance came at In Your House 3, where he lost to one Savio Vega. Mercy retired in October 1995 as a result of built-up injuries over the years as a professional wrestler. If you look closely at the Mercy character you can see Bray Wyatt all over. Maybe if Spivey had brought this character to the modern day era I believe it would have gotten over massively. This guy in my opinion was ahead of his time.
8 Dean Douglas
Now we all remember Shane Douglas in 1995, made his return to the WWE with a version of a college dean gimmick known to us all as Dean Douglas. To portray the character, Douglas filmed vignettes in a classroom or backstage area with a chalkboard, where he would lecture wrestlers and fans on the way they should act. He was shown on TV during matches and taking notes of his opponents. He carried a paddle called the Board of Education with him to ringside. He was scheduled to wrestle Shawn Michaels for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at In Your House 4 but unfortunately Shawn Michaels had to relinquish the Intercontinental title due to injuries suffered by the hands of some U.S. Marines when Michaels was beaten up outside a nightclub in Syracuse, New York. However, Douglas immediately put the Intercontinental Championship on the line against Scott Hall AKA Razor Ramon. Razor Ramon would go on to defeat Dean Douglas, ending Douglas’s very short reign at only eleven minutes. His last WWE match was at In Your House in December 1995. After this Douglas wasn’t seen again on WWE TV. I think had WWE taken a gamble on the Shane Douglas character like in ECW he would have been a main event guy. Douglas had the tools in his locker but could also hold his own on the microphone.
7 Rad Radford
Louis Mucciolo Jr. AKA Rad Radford. In April 1995, the WWE repackaged Louis as Rad Radford, a grunge type character with the clothes to match. He would also do a little grunge dance in his entrance, and claimed to be the boyfriend of pop star Courtney Love. He worked many angles with The Bodydonnas who were Sunny, Skip, and Zip. Radford was wanting to join the group and despite his poorly toned body he was eventually given the chance as a Bodydonna-in-training. However, this lasted up until the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View, when he was thrown out of the group because he was not good enough to be a Bodydonna. Louis achieved very little success as Rad Radford, rarely getting victories over local competitors. In 1996, Louis was found unconscious by a neighbour after he overdosed on Soma and suffered a seizure. He was in intensive care for several days before making a full recovery. The WWE released him on the condition that he would not work for the rival WCW promotion for a year. This gimmick could have worked but unfortunately due to personal demons this didn’t last long and unfortunately was never seen again on WWE TV.
Brain Lee AKA Chainz AKA The Fake Undertaker. Believe it or not Lee is the real life cousin of The Undertaker. After Lee’s brief stint working alongside Ted Dibiase as the Fake Undertaker, Lee left the company until a new gimmick was found for him. Now we all remember The Disciples of Apocalypse? Crush, Skull, 8-Ball (formerly Jacob and Eli Blu) and yep you’ve guessed it Chainz. Now this was the WWE’s version of a biker group long before TNA’s version of the Aces and Eights led by Bully Ray and D-Von Dudley. All dressed in leather, the four Superstars would make their way to the ring on Harley Davidson motorcycles and intimidate the hell out of their opponents. The foursome feuded with Los Boricuas, The Nation of Domination, and the Truth Commission during the WWE's "Gang Warz" storyline. Lee was in the WWE until July 1998 when he was released again. If the WWE had waited a few more years then a possible DOA vs. Aces and Eights match would have been real big money. Unfortunately at the time it wasn’t a massive gimmick for the fans to get behind.
John Tenta AKA Golga. Were do I begin with this one? Well we all know Tenta was Earthquake and Avalanche but did any of you know he was Golga from the stable The Oddities? On a May 1998 episode of Raw is War, Tenta returned to the WWE after a stint in WCW under the name Golga. He wrestled under a mask, wore a white t-shirt with caramel pants and black boots. As one of The Oddities the character Golga had a distinct fascination with none other than Eric Cartman from the TV show South Park and carried an Eric Cartman doll with him everywhere he went. The gimmick was given to Tenta because he lost a huge amount of weight, so much so that the WWE thought it wouldn't be believable for Tenta to continue as the Earthquake gimmick. This gimmick was fun while it lasted but wasn’t a believable character to get behind and push to a main spot in the WWE
4 Just Joe
Joseph Edward "Joe" Hitchen AKA Just Joe. After a few years on the independent scene and after a few try-out matches, Joe got signed in early 2000 to the WWE off the back of the Attitude Era. He made his WWE national TV debut in July 2000 on an episode of WWE Heat. The gimmick he was given was Just Joe. This character basically was a gossip. His backstage segments and skits saw him explaining things to other wrestlers the things he’d overheard people say about said wrestler. This gimmick lasted just over 14 months and unfortunately for Just Joe he was released from his contract in March 2001. The gimmick never really worked as the only result of his gossiping put over the guys he was talking smack about. So unfortunately this was doomed from the beginning, Nowadays Joe lives in Europe and travels all over the world wrestling and taking seminars.
3 The Goon
Barney William Irwin AKA The Goon. This character was basically a hockey player playing the role of the enforcer of a fantasy ice hockey team in WWE. The gimmick was all set up with hockey jersey, pants, gloves, and stick. Irwin even went as far to get wrestling boots made to look like ice skates, This was Irwin showing full commitment to the character. The story behind the character was that he was kicked out of every professional ice hockey league he ever participated in. He made his WWE TV debut on a July 1996 episode of WWE Superstars. The gimmick did not last long, as he left a few months after making his debut in WWE. In 2001, The Goon made a shocking return to WWE for a Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven. Unfortunately for Irwin he lasted only 120 seconds when he was eliminated by Repo Man.
Kevin Wacholz AKA Nailz. Wacholz formerly known as Kevin Kelly received a few try out matches at first but was not signed to a contract. He did sign with the WWE in 1992, and Wacholz debuted in the WWE as Nailz, who was an ex-convict. Through many of his promos he alleged that he was abused by former prison guard and WWE Superstar The Big Boss Man during his time inside the pen. In May 1992 on an episode of WWE Superstars, Nailz came down to the ring dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit with his convict numbers on the back and attacked The Big Boss Man. Nailz continued his feud with Boss Man and it finally came to its conclusion in a Nightstick match at Survivor Series. However, Wacholz was released from his WWE contract in December 1992, after an altercation with Vince McMahon. This was a great little gimmick for what was needed but after the feud ended with The Big Boss Man there was really nothing left for Nailz to do in the WWE.
1 The Berzerker
John Nord AKA The Berzerker. This has got to be one of my most favourite gimmicks of all time. A fully-fledged Nordic Warrior in the WWE. In 1991, John Nord signed with WWE. He was managed by Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji of all choices. He wore the old school Nordic helmet and clothing to match alongside some massive fury boots. During his short run in WWE, his method of choice for winning matches was by throwing his opponents over the top rope for a count out. This worked extremely well due to the size of the Nord as his opponents were always half his size so it made sense. He wrestled as part of a four-man team in an original elimination match at the 1991 Survivor Series Pay-Per-View event. He was the last man eliminated causing his team to lose the match. In July 1992, Nord won a massive 40-man over the top rope Battle Royal on WWE Prime Time Wrestling which featured talents like Owen Hart, Texas Tornado, and the British Bulldog to name but a few. After that he challenged Hall of Famer Bret Hart for the WWE Championship that November. Berzerker's final appearance with WWE came during a Battle Royal on Monday Night Raw. For the two years that this gimmick lasted it was great and one I’ll always remember it as a child watching wrestling.