Professional Wrestling is known for its over the top characters, gimmicks and storylines. In many ways a gimmick can turn an ordinary, boring wrestler into a colorful, exciting superstar. Some of the most well-known superstars have turned from unknowns to legends by the virtue of a popular gimmick. No one cared about “Mean” Mark Callous until he had a gimmick change and became the most iconic superstars ever, The Undertaker. No one cared about “Stunning” Steve Austin, but a change to “Stone Cold” and you have the most popular superstar of the Attitude Era, if not of all time. The benefits of gimmicks are seen even today turning a boring “Husky Harris” into the captivating cult leader, Bray Wyatt, or an ordinary Bobby Roode into something “Glorious”.
Over the years, WWE has seen the positive effects that gimmicks can offer to superstars and turn the mundane into must see characters. Not only have these results been noticeable to WWE, but in WCW and TNA as well. Even now, because of the positive track record for many superstars like The Undertaker, Million Dollar Man, "The Demon" Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt, WWE attempts to hand out gimmicks to all their superstars. Unfortunately, not always do the gimmicks have a positive effect. In an attempt to get wrestlers over, characters that are poorly conceived have saddled superstars with some of the worst gimmicks ever, ruining the careers of extremely talented wrestlers. This list includes 15 talented wrestlers that were ruined by terrible gimmicks over the years.
15 Chavo Guerrero - Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero comes from a proud Hispanic family of wrestlers. Nephew of the legendary Eddie Guerrero and son of Chavo Sr, Chavo Guerrero Jr. had a moderately successful career in WCW’s cruiserweight division. He feuded with his uncle and even wrestled Ric Flair for the WCW United States Champion. Later Chavo would go to WWE and form a tag team with his uncle known as Los Guerreros and feud for the Cruiserweight Title in WWE.
However, as part of a storyline, Chavo was drafted to Raw and would adopt one of the most racist gimmicks in WWE history. Chavo disavowed his Hispanic heritage and created a stereotypical middle class, white guy persona, dyeing his hair blonde and driving a golf cart to the ring. In the aftermath of Eddie Guerrero’s death, this gimmick was dropped. Despite of the Guerrero name and his tremendous talent, Chavo could never shake the damage of the gimmick and was never given the legitimate opportunities he deserved.
14 Perry Saturn - Wearing a Dress, Moppy
Saturn came over to WCW as a member of Raven’s Flock, a powerful mid card stable. Saturn was extremely talented in the ring and had an effective submission finisher, The Rings of Saturn. Unfortunately, Saturn was plagued with terrible gimmicks. Saturn would become a popular fan favorite once turning on Raven and went on to feud with the legendary Chris Jericho. Unfortunately, Jericho would win a match in which the loser had to wear a dress for 90 days. Of course, Saturn lost and was forced to wear a dress even during matches. Saturn would then adopt a bizarre gimmick change to go along with the stipulation and turn into a gothic, Marilyn Manson type character, with yellow contacts, black lip stick and sporting a chest high leather dress. Saturn was never taken seriously after that and eventually left for WWE where they took him even less seriously by making him fall in love with a mop. Ouch.
13 Mike Awesome - That 70s Guy, Fat Chick Thrilla
Mike Awesome was one of the best big men in the business. His size and power made him a force to be reckoned with in ECW, winning the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice. He would leave ECW for WCW where he was taken seriously for a short time, getting involved in matches with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page. Then, the terrible gimmicks started. Awesome started a gimmick in which he became infatuated with larger women dubbing himself the “Fat Chick Thriller.” He would later adopt a new gimmick called “That 70s Guy” sporting shades, tye dye shirts and riding in a 70s stylized bus. Awesome would never be taken seriously despite his agility and power in the ring which alone should have made him a top guy in the company.
12 Raven - Exposed As A Spoiled Brat
Raven, the nihilistic leader of “The Nest” and “The Flock,” was an awesome character throughout wrestling. His dark character started in ECW, and with his hardcore wrestling style, Raven became an instant hit. Raven would move to WCW and introduce his character to a much wider audience. With his followers known as “The Flock,” Raven would successfully win the United States Championship and well as the WCW Tag Team Titles.
However, Raven’s career in WCW took a turn for the worse after The Flock disbanded. Instead of pushing the Raven character to the moon, hilariously bad vignettes killed the Raven character by showing him to be a spoiled brat all along. The clips revealed the Raven character to be a fraud, with Raven living an upper class life, going on a shopping spree and living at home with his mom. Despite his amazing talent in the ring and mesmerizing, sociopathic promos, the “behind the scenes” footage killed the mystique of the Raven character, and he was never taken seriously in WCW after that.
11 Nick Dinsmore - Eugene
In what is considered by many to be the most offensive gimmick in wrestling history, Eugene debuted and killed any serious career Nick Dinsmore (his real name) could ever have in wrestling. Debuting as Eric Bishoff’s “special” nephew, Eugene actually caught on with fans. Eugene feuded with Jonathan Coachman and even Triple H and Evolution. In his matches, Eugene was depicted as a formidable opponent and has wins against legends such as Triple H and a victory over Kurt Angle in which Angle’s gold medal was on the line. The gimmick seemed to get over, and Eugene proved to be excellent in the ring. Still, his character hindered him from breaking through “the glass ceiling.” Dinsmore would be forever marked as “Eugene,” even outside the WWE, nullifying any hope of producing a serious character.
10 Jillian Hall - Hideous Growth On Face, Singing Gimmick
Jillian Hall wrestled in the Independent circuit for a number of years before joining WWE’s “developmental system” at the time, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). She proved to be a competitor in the ring and was finally brought up to WWE’s SmackDown brand. Right off the bat, Jillian debuted as a manager for MNM and for JBL as a public relations consultant with a hideous mole on the side of her face. The mole was actually bitten off by The Boogeyman in what should have been career suicide there. illian rebounded and with the mole gimmick gone her career reset.
However, Jillian would suffer through another terrible gimmick in which she became jealous of ring announcer, Lilian Garcia. Jillian then debuted her horrible singing voice gimmick. Jillian’s gimmick generated cheap heat, butchering hit songs, but her career never went anywhere. Despite being able to execute a 450 splash finisher, Jillian was never taken seriously, her gimmick was a joke, and Jillian spent a majority of her career jobbing.
9 Paul Burchill - Pirate
Paul Burchill is another excellent talent that came from OVW and made a splash on Smackdown. Burchill had a lot of upside. He had a good look and tremendous in-ring abilities. In a 2006 storyline, Paul Burchill debuted a pirate gimmick after uncovering ancestry leading back to the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. As ridiculous as the premise and gimmick were, Burchill changed to babyface and won the fans over. Then, despite being a face, the chants of “Pirates suck” started, and the gimmick lost all steam. Afterwards, Burchill’s role in the company became almost nonexistent. Even with the amazing talent and explosive C-4 finisher, the pirate gimmick launched Burchill nowhere, making him a complete joke and eventually lead to the release from his contract.
8 Matt Morgan - Stuttering
Matt Morgan had everything the WWE was looking for, a seven foot, talented “hoss.” At a time in WWE when the company needed new stars, Matt Morgan had the look and had the in-ring skills to be a huge player in the company. Instead of letting Morgan’s size speak for itself, WWE provided Morgan with a ridiculous gimmick. Morgan started using a stutter during his promos. His character would stammer through promos and destroy anyone perceived to be making fun of him. The gimmick did not get over, and Matt Morgan became a joke instead. Rather than pushing Morgan as a monster, like they did with Brock Lesnar, Morgan’s gimmick killed any credibility his character could ever have. With nowhere for his character to go, Morgan was released from his contract a short time later.
7 Rico Constantino - Flamboyant Stylist
Believe it or not, Rico Constantino was a contestant on the hit television show American Gladiators before moving on to the WWE. He trained in OVW and was a charismatic, naturally gifted athlete by all accounts. Rico finally made it to the SmackDown roster managing the most offensive and outrageous tag team ever, Billy and Chuck, as their homosexual hair dresser. Rico managed Billy and Chuck to two Tag Team Title wins before moving to Raw managing 3 Minute Warning. Amazingly, Rico has singles victories over a young Daniel Bryan and even “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair himself.
Despite his over the top, homoerotic gimmick getting over, there seemed to be nowhere for Rico to climb the ladder. His flamboyant character prevented fans from considering him a credible opponent, and he was abruptly released from the WWE.
6 Kenny Dykstra - Male Cheerleader
Kenny was another promising talent that rose up to the main roster from Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). On the main Raw roster, he became a member of the over the top group of male cheerleaders known as the Spirt Squad. As the defacto leader of the stable, Kenny and the Spirit Squad feuded right out of the gate with the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. The feud eventually included Triple H with Triple H and HBK reforming D-Generation X.
Kenny, with fellow member Mikey, would successfully win the Tag Team Championship making Kenny the second youngest wrestler ever to capture a title in the WWE. Once the Spirit Squad disbanded, Kenny would later earn THREE straight victories over Ric Flair. Unfortunately, despite the accolades and being the most talented member of the Spirit Squad, Kenny couldn’t shake the stigma of the male cheerleader gimmick and failed to get over as a gimmick free, Kenny Dykstra.
5 Lance Storm - Looking For A Personality
Lance Storm was arguably the most gifted talent during his time in ECW. Lance Storm’s technical, in-ring expertise would take him to WCW, where he would win every belt except the World Heavyweight Championship. Lance Storm’s Team Canada gimmick in WCW and UnAmerican stable in WWE played off of Bret Hart’s anti American, pro Canada gimmick and successfully got Lance Storm over as a heel in both companies. Despite winning multiple titles in both major companies, Lance never received a push higher than the Intercontinental Title. Instead, Stone Cold Steve Austin would interrupt Storm, mid match, chanting “Boring” at him. Austin encouraged the fans to chant with him for every Storm match, likely expressing management's actual opinions of Storm. The result was Storm's storyline to find a personality which flopped horribly. What should have went down as a successful career will sadly be remembered only by Austin's disrespectful interruption, killing off the “serious” gimmick which had won Storm multiple titles previously.
4 Bill DeMott - Hugh Morrus
Hugh Morrus was known mostly for his work in WCW. He was one of the best big men in the company at the time, able to pull off a perfect "No Laughing Matter" top rope moonsault. Morrus had a good look, great ring skills and use a psychotic and abrupt laugh to support his crazed, laughing man gimmick. Morrus remained part of the WCW even during the chaotic Vince Russo years when WCW tried to be more edgy. Somehow managing to slip through the censors, Hugh Morrus' name was unbelievably changed to "General Hugh G. Rection" and would lead the stable, Misfits in Action. From this change, Hugh Morrus lost his clever laughing gimmick for another more goofy military gimmick. Once the stable disbanded, Hugh Morrus tried to make a return back to his old gimmick but the damage was done. Any possibility of a credible push became M.I.A. after General Rection.
3 Diamond Dallas Page - Stalker, Life Guru
When WWF bought WCW, many of the major players of WCW made shocking debuts to the WWF during the Invasion Angle. One of these surprises was Diamond Dallas Page revealing himself to be a stalker of The Undertaker’s wife. DDP, despite being a former WCW World Heavyweight Champion, was never taken seriously in the WWE. It became clear the higher-ups were only interested in burying the talent of their rival company. The cool, loner, no nonsense gimmick that DDP had won fans over with in WCW was buried. Instead, Page would debut a new gimmick based off his real life motivational speaking. His gimmick showed him smiling with an annoying amount of optimism, a sharp contrast to his more serious “People’s Champ” character in WCW. The Positively Page gimmick neutered DDP even further, squashing every dream match available in the WWF at the time.
2 Nova - Simon Dean
Most wrestling fans only know Simon Dean through his short time in WWE. However, Simon Dean had produced excellent work during his time in ECW as Nova. He is credited for creating the Blue World Order, a parody of the New World Order, and innovating moves never before seen. Eventually, Nova would debut on the Raw roster presenting himself as a fitness instructor, riding a Segway to the ring, under the name Simon Dean.
While the gimmick was hilarious, Simon Dean’s goofy character made little impact in the company and kept him from reaching his full potential as a serious competitor. As Simon Dean, his gimmick was a far cry from his more serious Nova character which actually earned him the OVW Heavyweight Title with a win over a young John Cena known back then as “The Prototype.”
1 Cody Rhodes - Stardust
Cody Rhodes, the son of Hall of Famer, Dusty Rhodes, was destined to be a top player in WWE. Rhodes had the bloodline, the in-ring talent and the mic skills to go far in WWE. He joined Randy Orton’s faction, The Legacy, won multiple the Tag Team Championships and Intercontinental Championships. However, for the WWE, being Dusty’s son wasn’t enough and management was determined to give Cody a gimmick. Cody spent time as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes before moving on to one of the most over the top characters ever, Stardust. Stardust was an eccentric, face painted character much like his brother’s character, Goldust. Stardust would talk gibberish about the "Cosmic Key” and hiss like a cat during promos. The character was ridiculous and rumored to be hated by Cody. Stardust was seemingly going nowhere, and Rhodes eventually asked for his release from the company, which was mercifully granted.