Having the right gimmick can make or break a wrestler’s career. The Undertaker is the perfect example of a wrestler who received a great gimmick as he had had a career lasting more than 27 years. Of course, a wrestler has to be able to pull off a gimmick to get it over, and Mark Calaway has done just that with The Undertaker gimmick. But what happens when a wrestler has been given an outrageous gimmick for an incredibly ridiculous reason?
It may sound strange to wrestling fans, but some gimmicks aren’t given out with the best intentions. Moreover, bad gimmicks have killed plenty of good wrestler’s careers. Terry Taylor is the first name to come to mind as a wrestler whose career never recovered after one bad gimmick. Cock-a-doodle-o! The top brass of any wrestling promotion can be very underhanded in their approach to punishment. Sometimes a gimmick was put out not because it would work, but specifically because it would fail. This would embarrass the wrestler they were trying to punish.
The WWE’s creative department and writers have been known to come up with bad gimmicks. But Vince McMahon and others have also created many gimmicks through ridiculous means. Whether it was from a lack of creativity or a desire to run a wrestler out of the business, these 15 wrestlers received their gimmick in a ridiculous way.
15. Jim Hellwig: The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior is one of the most legendary wrestling figures of the last 30 years. The Warrior has been labeled as a polarizing figure, and WWE legends like Ted DiBiase have not held their tongue when speaking about The Warrior. In Texas, Hellwig had gone by the name The Dingo Warrior. It wasn’t a name Vince McMahon or his right-hand men liked. According to Bruce Prichard on his Something to Wrestle with podcast, McMahon and company shot around new names for Hellwig until someone stumbled upon The Ultimate Warrior. There were a number of wrestlers using the name warrior: The Road Warriors and “The Modern-Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich were two, so McMahon decided Hellwig would be The Ultimate Warrior. In McMahon’s mind, no other wrestler could beat someone named The Ultimate Warrior.
14. Glen Jacobs: Isaac Yankem D.D.S.
For over 20 years, Glen Jacobs has been a member of the WWE as Kane. The half-brother of The Undertaker, Kane has become synonymous with the company since his debut in October 1997. Modern fans may not know it, but Jacobs used to be a wrestling dentist. At least that is the gimmick McMahon created for him. In the summer of 1995, Jacobs was given the gimmick of Jerry Lawler’s evil dentist. The creation enabled Lawler to have another foil for Bret Hart as the two continued their feud. McMahon’s decision to give Jacobs the gimmick came due to having a toothache, and feeling that there is no one scarier than a dentist. The gimmick lasted about a year before Yankem was yanked from being on television and house shows.
13. Paul Diamond: Max Moon
The WWE was looking for a new way to capture the imagination of children as HulkaMania waned. The early 1990s were all about colourful clothes. So, the idea of Max Moon, a wrestler from outer space that shot pyrotechnics and streamers from his wrist, came into being. The original Max Moon gimmick was created by Mexican wrestling legend Konnan and he was expected to fulfil the role. Due to problems with WWE executives, however, Konnan decided against working as Max Moon. Konnan’s decision against pursuing Max Moon was easy thanks to his popularity in Mexico as both a wrestler and TV soap opera star. The company had spent thousands of dollars to build the costume for Max Moon, however. So, the WWE threw veteran performer Paul Diamond into the suit. However, Diamond couldn’t save the fate of Max Moon.
12. Matt Bourne: Doink
Matt Bourne joined the WWE in 1993 after a stint in WCW as a Pacific Northwest lumberjack. It was a gimmick that drew on Bourne’s roots wrestling in Oregon. His gimmick, Big Josh, was ridiculous and never truly fit in early 1990s WCW. When Bourne arrived in WWE, his life was a mess. He had substance abuse problems. His appearance and the way he took care of his gear inspired the Doink gimmick. Wrestling folklore has it that Road Warrior Hawk was so disgusted by Bourne’s appearance in the locker room that he began calling him Krusty the Clown. Thanks to Hawk’s ribbing the evil clown Doink was born, and one of the best wrestling heels of the 1990s came to be. Unfortunately, Bourne wouldn’t last long due to his problems, and other wrestlers would portray the Doink gimmick.
11. Dirty White Boy: TL Hopper
Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony was a bad ass southern wrestling heel. His 1988 feud with Dr. Tom Prichard in Continental Championship Wrestling was one of the best of the decade. At one point, Anthony tied a noose around Prichard’s neck and hanged him in the ring. Prichard has stated in interviews that the angle nearly went too far as the noose nearly choked him out. Anthony would go on to work for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling as one of the top attractions. Following the promotion’s demise, Anthony turned up in the WWE. However, Vince McMahon didn’t see the tough, brawling heel with excellent mic skills that Anthony had been. McMahon saw a chance for a joke character and created TL Hopper, the wrestling plumber. Inspired by Anthony’s shoot job outside of the ring, he was given the gimmick to portray inside the squared circle.
10. Scott Hall: Razor Ramon
Scott Hall is most famous for being one-third of the original N.W.O. alongside Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. But by the time the 1980s ended, “Big” Scott Hall wasn’t cutting it, and the grappler has stated in interviews that he was ready to hang up his boots and get a 9 to 5 job. Fate intervened and Hall hooked up with Diamond Dallas Page. The Diamond Stud was born, and a year later, Hall parlayed his new look into The Scarface-inspired Razor Ramon. While Razor Ramon has gone down in history as a WWE great, the gimmick probably wouldn’t have got over if Hall had used the original names that were thought up. Dead Bolt and Shrug Shadow were names thrown around until Hall ran into Tito Santana in the men’s room. The American-Mexican wrestler gave him the name Ramon, and the rest is history.
9. Al Snow: Avatar
Most ECW and WWE Attitude Era fans remember Al Snow for carrying around a mannequin’s head. Some may even remember him going by the name Leif Cassidy as Marty Jannety’s partner in the New Rockers. But before those gimmicks, Snow was Avatar, a masked wrestler created by the WWE. This forgotten gimmick was the company’s attempt at a Mortal Kombat-esque character, and Avatar arrived nearly a full year before WCW unveiled the over-hyped Glacier. Match reports indicate Snow had fewer than a dozen matches as Avatar before the idea was stopped. He was repackaged as Shinobi, a black ninja tasked with taking out Shawn Michaels. Snow quickly transitioned into Cassidy after that and the rest his history.
8. Kevin Nash: Master Blaster Steel/Oz
In 1990 as WCW marched out silly gimmick after silly gimmick, Kevin Nash debuted as one half of the tag team the Master Blasters. Known as Steel, Nash wore face paint and an orange mohawk as the team was a watered-down Road Warriors. Seriously watered-down. Despite a winning streak, and Nash splitting off as a singles wrestler known simply as the Master Blaster, the gimmick was going nowhere. So, WCW’s head honchos decided the 6ft 10in Nash should be repackaged as a Wizard of Oz inspired character. The gimmick saw Nash carry around the Oz gear from city to city as he hated every minute of working in the company. It was like a rib to get the giant Nash to quit the business. Before leaving, however, Nash would also undergo another gimmick makeover. He finished his first WCW run as Vinnie Vegas.
7. Ray Lloyd: Glacier
Many wrestling fans of mid-90s WCW will remember the hype and excitement that surrounded the debut of the Mortal Kombat-inspired Glacier. The man behind the gimmick, Ray Lloyd, had been working in wrestling since 1987. Lloyd had worked in WCW as a jobber before moving to Japan to work in the shoot-style UWFi promotion. As word got back to Eric Bischoff about Lloyd in 1996, the idea of a man to fulfil WCW’s idea of a Sub-Zero knockoff came into fruition. The buildup to Glacier’s debut was intense and when he debuted, Glacier had one of the biggest entrances of anyone on the WCW roster. Jealousy was ripe in the locker room. The in-ring product wasn’t worth the buildup, and many fans railed against Bischoff’s ninja creation.
6. Ron Reis: The Yeti
WCW in 1995 was absolutely ridiculous. Despite the praise heaped on to Kevin Sullivan for his great booking mind, it cannot be denied that he created some of the stupidest gimmicks in WCW during the mid-90s. The Shark, The Zodiac, Loch Ness and more were members of Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom. The faction’s main goal was to rid WCW of Hulk Hogan, and to do so, the group turned to The Yeti in October 1995. Thawed from a frozen block of ice, The Yeti looked more like a mummy than something frozen in ice for a long period. According to Ron Reis, the man who portrayed the gimmick, The Yeti gimmick was born out of Giant Gonzalez being injured. For some reason, The Yeti was no longer a mummy for his third appearance at WW3. By then he was a giant ninja!
5. P.J. Polaco: Aldo Montoya
Most wrestling fans today will know P.J. Polaco as Justin Credible. But in 1993, Polaco was doing jobs on WWE television to the company’s established stars. It enabled him to establish great in-ring mechanics. While working in the WWE and living in the northeast, Polaco was invited to train Brian Lee as the fake Undertaker ahead of SummerSlam 1994. During one of the training sessions, McMahon and Pat Patterson got to talking with Polaco and found out about his Portuguese heritage and ability to speak the language. The WWE had been working on the Aldo Montoya gimmick – which ridiculously isn’t a Portuguese name – and was looking for someone to portray it. According to interviews, Polaco stated the WWE was going into Portuguese speaking markets and wanted a wrestler to sell to the fans. Montoya was mostly used as a jobber.
4. Terry Taylor: Red Rooster
There are two camps when it comes to Terry Taylor. The first camp is made up of those wrestling fans and historians that believe he was a good wrestler that was ruined by what is believed to be the worst gimmick of all-time. However, the second camp is filled with people who think Taylor was marginal at best, and overachieved in the ring prior to debuting in the WWE. But on the larger scale of the WWE, and later WCW, he just didn’t translate. Upon meeting Taylor, McMahon felt that the grappler exuded a cocky persona. Bruce Prichard has described McMahon feeling as though Taylor strutted around like a rooster in a chicken pen. Hence McMahon’s decision to give Taylor the Red Rooster gimmick. According to Prichard, Taylor didn’t truly embrace the gimmick. But in the wrestler’s defense, it isn’t easy to get over such a stupid name and persona.
3. Sean Waltman: 1-2-3 Kid
Sean Waltman started his wrestling career in 1989. For the time, Waltman was much different than the wrestlers on the WWE or WCW television. Waltman debuted as a lean, clean cut grappler at the tender age of 17. His quick kick attack offence was heavily influenced by Japanese wrestling; and his aerial manoeuvres helped to usher in a new era in American wrestling. WWE hired Waltman following a tryout. His arrival put the wheels in motion for a Razor Ramon babyface turn, but first Waltman had to beat him. Using various names such as the Cannonball Kid, Lightning Kid, Kamikaze Kid and The Kid Waltman had a losing streak in the WWE until his shock win over Ramon on Monday Night Raw. Without consulting Waltman, the WWE renamed him the 1-2-3 Kid after the victory. According to Waltman, he hated it.
2. Mike Shaw: Bastion Booger
Mike Shaw had developed a reputation as a great wrestler during his time in Stampede Pro Wrestling, WCW and the Global Wrestling Federation. He originally debuted in the WWE in 1993 as Friar Ferguson. Used on commentary on Monday Night Raw, Shaw’s character was highly criticized by the Catholic church. It resulted in the WWE shelving the gimmick. By the time Shaw’s time as Friar Ferguson the wrestling monk ended, he was out of shape and well over weight. His appearance convinced Vince McMahon to create Bastion Booger. A slovenly gimmick that featured the hefty grappler in a beige, sometimes gray singlet. It has been said McMahon’s decision to create the gimmick was due to Shaw letting himself go. It was a way McMahon could shame the wrestler for being overweight. Booger is considered one of the worst gimmicks of all-time.
1. Jim Evans & Richard Sartin: The Ding Dongs
The Ding Dongs were a late 1980s WCW tag team that only those who lived through it truly remember. According to results from 1989, the Ding Dongs wrestled just seven times before the plug was pulled. The idea for the Ding Dongs came from Jim Herd who embellished his resume to get the job as WCW’s head honcho. Herd knew nothing about wrestling and wanted to emulate the WWE’s kid-friendly approach. After seeing the kid-friendly Bushwhackers, Herd had a eureka moment. His idea was to create the Ding Dongs, a tag team with little bells sewn onto their ring gear. The duo even had a bell in their corner to ring during matches. The gimmick flopped, and Jim Evans and Richard Sartin went their separate ways after its demise. Herd is still considered as the man that set WCW back years behind the WWE as the 1990s dawned.
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