One of the most important aspects in turning a mere pro wrestler into a WWE superstar deals with the art form known as a professional wrestling gimmick. Regardless of how good a sports entertainer is in the ring, the way to catch the eye of Vince McMahon and his close confidants is for a wrestler to entertain an audience through their sheer presence. Nothing can make a superstar stand out quite like looking and acting unlike anybody else in the wrestling world, and the right gimmick can make a wrestler accomplish those goals the second they walk through Gorilla position and introduce themselves to their first live audience.
The flipside to this equation is that a bad gimmick can kill a career fresh out the gate just as easily as it can create one. Some gimmicks have actually been so horrendous, it took less than five minutes of screen time before McMahon and company decided to scrap the whole thing altogether and plenty of wrestlers have lost their jobs as a result. Perhaps there’s something to be said about playing things out and seeing where they go, but in rare instances, the regret kicked in the second a character debuted and putting a stop to things as soon as possible was the only merciful way to react. Keep reading to learn about 15 terrible WWE gimmicks so horrible they died in less than a week.
15 Hade Vansen
Maybe it isn’t fair to start off the list with Hade Vansen, as some people seem to think the gimmick had a great deal of potential. While WWE would never allow us to find out of that was true or not, it certainly seemed like they agreed with the idea at first, considering Vansen’s debut vignette saw him calling out none other than The Undertaker. Things fizzled out immediately, however, as The Undertaker would never respond. Vansen would in fact be released from his contract less than one month later, allegedly without ever receiving a reasonable explanation as to why the angle, or his career, was completely dropped. Speculation has revolved around the idea he was too small to feud with Undertaker, let alone the fact he wasn’t ready to do so given his lack of experience. Regardless, Vansen serves not only as a quickly dropped gimmick, but also as someone who’s career never recovered because of it.
14 Friar Ferguson
When Mike Shaw signed with WWE, he was fresh off a stint in WCW as sympathetic babyface Norman the Lunatic and, prior to that, he had spent several years in Stampede Wrestling as a dominant heel monster. It almost makes sense Vince McMahon would thus think to combine the two concepts with a dominant heel monk, although one would hope the WWE CEO would think twice before actually putting the result on national television. Not so, for Vince debuted Shaw as Friar Ferguson, the “mad monk” and instantly received pressure from various religious groups as almost anyone outside of the McMahon family could have easily predicted it would. Despite making one of the first episodes of Monday Night Raw, WWE quickly succumbed to the religious pressure and dropped the character. Unfortunately for Shaw, a transformation into the perhaps even worse character of Bastion Booger would soon follow.
13 Xanta Claus
The gimmicks on this list died quick and painful deaths, but you can be rest assured if somehow they connected with fans, they would’ve stuck around for a long time, regardless of how stupid and/or silly the were on first glance. The one exception to this rule is Xanta Claus, who was more than a mere wrestling Santa Claus, in that he was an evil wrestling Santa Claus. Xanta debuted at In Your House 5: Season’s Beatings and predictably made his exit before said season was over. Honestly, even if Xanta was a smash hit, we have a hard time picturing this one lasting past New Year’s. Xanta Claus was portrayed by future ECW chair swinging freak Balls Mahoney and in spite of how brief it would ultimately last, the character earned the distinction of being managed by WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase. Talented though Balls may have been, and regardless of his manager’s legendary status, there’s just no universe in which people care about Santa Claus once Christmas is over and that includes the WWE one.
12 Battle Kat
Wrestlers are making a risky choice by choosing to wear a mask, albeit one that often pays off with great dividends. If the masked superstar is a success, the mask itself can enter pop culture and be a huge selling piece of merchandise for the person wearing it. Of course, if the mask is outrageously stupid, it can destroy the wrestler before they can even pounce into action. Brady Boone teamed with Billy Jack Haynes in the late 80s primarily as jobbers and when Haynes left the company to feed his insane ego, Boone was repackaged as a man who liked cats so much he wanted to be one. It’s pretty funny when Charlie Kelly does it, but in WWE, it was so ridiculous Boone only wrestled one televised match as the character before receiving his release. Boone then attempted to find fame on the independent scene, although it would appear he didn’t learn his lesson, considering he did so wearing another adorable kitty mask and calling himself Fire Cat.
To a young fan watching pro wrestling for the first time, it might look like some of the superstars are performing outright magic with some of the moves they pull off, and we’re not talking about Kane or The Undertaker. We don’t mean the infamous WWE magician, either, although that is our segue to explain the fleeting saga of said supernatural superstar, Phantasio. Phantasio was part wrestler, part mime, part magician, as he would silently wow fans with illusions based on his opponent’s underwear en route to winning his few WWE matches. We’re not exaggerating in the slightest, either—Phantasio’s only televised WWE contest saw him defeat Tony DeVito by magically removing his boxers. Phantasio then performed the same trick to referee Earl Hebner, just for fun. The WWE Universe apparently wasn’t enjoying Phantasio’s magic as much as he was, though, because he only wrestled one match before performing his final trick: to disappear.
Nick Cvjetkovich, the wrestler responsible for the Kizarny gimmick, has described his creation as what would happen “if Jake The Snake Roberts and Doink the Clown had a lovechild.” Kizarny started strong, defeating MVP in his debut on January 2nd, 2009, but that would pretty much be it outside of dark matches until he was released in March of that year. Despite Kizarny entering WWE the same year Heath Ledger won an Oscar for portraying The Joker, Cvjetkovich’s evil clown wasn’t nearly as cool, causing the concept to bomb spectacularly. Granted, the Doink comparison was somewhat apt in that Kizarny was treated like a total joke during his stay with the company. The idea of an evil clown has persisted throughout popular culture for decades and the idea could potentially still work in WWE to this day. The problem with Kizarny was that he wasn’t an evil clown, but rather an evil carnival worker and pop culture doesn’t have nearly as many of those, for good reason.
Attitude Era fans could never forget the tragic fate suffered by Darren Drozdov, the wrestler paralyzed during a SmackDown taping in 1999. As terrible as what happened to Droz was, what people forget is that his career leading up to the incident was kind of a mess, so much so that the average fan probably doesn’t even remember when Droz introduced Key to his menagerie of freaks. Droz was already tagging with his piercer, Prince Albert, making Key an unnecessary addition from the very start. The group members were also presumed to be drug addicts, with Key being their key supplier (get it?). Bizarrely, Key’s tenure in the group coincided with a feud against The Godfather, apparently on the basis that pimps and drug addicts don’t get along. The whole episode may not have made any sense, but it was actually dropped for completely unrelated reasons, as The Godfather was injured shortly after Key arrived, leaving him with nothing to do but disappear.
8 "Unknown Rookie" Malia Hosaka
WWE fans will never forget the debut of Santino Marella, when Vince McMahon allegedly plucked the future Cobra from the crowd and improbably defeated Umaga for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. On the other hand, virtually every WWE fan has forgotten the 1999 debut of Malia Hosaka, which started off on an outrageously similar note. WWE Women’s Champion Ivory made an open challenge and the “unknown rookie” Hosaka jumped out of the crowd to answer. Hosaka’s success was first cut off by Ivory’s bodyguard Nicole Bass, but the real death knell for the gimmick was the fact Hosaka was far from the unknown rookie she was alleged to be. In actuality, Hosaka had spent the past six years wrestling for both ECW and WCW, meaning pretty much every wrestling fan alive at the time had a good idea who she was. Ultimately, Hosaka never even wrestled an actual match for WWE and disappeared entirely after an equally short-lived tenure as the valet of Taka Michinoku.
The point of this list is that these gimmicks generally couldn’t have survived more than the few weeks they did, regardless of the circumstances that lead to their ablation. Mordecai is probably a controversial pick for the list on these grounds, because many fans still look back on the character as a huge what if, perhaps rightly so. Mordecai was portrayed by Kevin Thorn and was presented as the antithesis of The Undertaker, decked out in white robes and flowing with religious imagery. Despite an off chance this could have turned into something great, we have to judge it based on what actually happened, which was…nothing. Mordecai talked about sinners in his vignettes, defeated the sinful (?) Scotty 2 Hotty in his debut and was almost never heard from again. Thorn later repackaged himself as the ECW Vampire, performing under his real name. That gimmick easily could’ve placed on this list as well, had it not somehow lasted well over a full year.
6 Nick Nemeth, Caddy
Kerwin White was one of the most racist and offensive gimmicks WWE has ever attempted and yet the character portrayed by Chavo Guerrero, Jr. lasted long enough to save himself from our list. Kerwin wasn’t alone, though, while it made sense he might have a caddy, it didn’t make sense why that caddy would be a wrestler (nor why Kerwin’s caddy would play along with the overt racism in 2005). Making matters even more ridiculous, the caddy was portrayed by the future Dolph Ziggler under his real name, Nick Nemeth. Nemeth naturally debuted in vignettes with Kerwin and made his in-ring debut on Sunday Night Heat teaming with Kerwin against Shelton Benjamin and Matt Striker. The truth is, although the gimmick was atrocious, Nick the Caddy had an even more horrible reason forcing him out of WWE rings so fast. WWE dropped the Kerwin White gimmick in November of 2005, primarily due to the death of Chavo’s uncle Eddie. Once Kerwin reverted to Chavo, he no longer needed a caddy and it would be a few years until Ziggler was back on TV…as a cheerleader.
5 Beaver Cleavage
WWE has always had a desperate need to feel current and they’ve used pop cultures references to an almost excessive extent in order to achieve their desired atmosphere. Shockingly, said pop culture references don’t show up on this list too much because the performers were almost always able to somehow make them work. The exception to the rule is Beaver Cleavage, a failed parody of Leave It To Beaver portrayed by the former Headbanger Mosh, who also was heavily implied to be having sex with his mother (who was two years older than he was). The gimmick earned several vignettes, but only barely made it to the ring before Beaver and Mrs. Cleavage derided the stupidity of the angle in a worked shoot. Mosh then transitioned into an even worse gimmick where he was assumed to be viciously beating his girlfriend, now identified as Marianna. Unfortunately, that gimmick lasted a bit longer than Cleavage, saving it from this list albeit further scarring the unlucky few who saw and remember it.
4 Braden Walker
Typically, the only thing saddling the wrestlers on this list with their horrible gimmicks was bad luck. However, Vince McMahon’s vindictive nature towards outside talent could play a minor role in the case of Braden Walker. Walker had achieved some fame in TNA as Chris Harris, one half of a very successful tag team with James Storm known as America’s Most Wanted. When he debuted in WWE, he became Braden Walker, a man known primarily for telling a very bad knock-knock joke. Although Walker would manage two wins on TV, he disappeared immediately after and never made anywhere near the impact in WWE that he did in TNA. In fairness to Vince, it may not have entirely been his trademark vengeance holding Walker down, but rather the fact Harris had also gained a fair amount of weight and was in much worse shape than he had been only a few years earlier that dragged this run down so far.
3 Steven Regal, Real Man's Man
This list should prove that wrestling gimmicks can come from pretty much anywhere and one of the most bizarre sources we’re aware of was a mascot for paper towels. Based on the Brawny Man, Steven (William) Regal’s “Real Man’s Man” was a lumberjack with a level of machismo that would make even Razor Ramon look feminine in comparison. Regal actually debuted in WWE practically as himself a few months before the Real Man’s Man was created, although few remember it because the Real Man’s Man would disappear just as quickly as Regal’s first moniker. Despite only having recently made his debut, Regal competed in the Deadly Games Tournament for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series 1998, only to lose his first round match against X-Pac via double count out. Regal’s infamous personal problems took over shortly thereafter, and it was back to the woods for the Real Man’s Man.
2 Faarooq Asad, Gladiator
WWE fans are well aware Vince McMahon was never quite kind to wrestlers who became stars outside of his sphere of influence and one of the worst examples of this was Ron Simmons (at first). Simmons is recognized as pro wrestling’s first African American World Heavyweight Champion and later was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame because of this fact. Despite their ability to recognize his contributions to the sport, when Simmons debuted in WWE, he did so as a weird gladiator named Faarooq Asad. In a case of the sum of two parts being far less than their individual powers, Asad was managed by Sunny, whose cheery happy-to-be there nature was against everything that made Simmons stand out. It doesn’t take much to turn garbage into gold, because all WWE had to do to fix this one was drop the last name and the gladiator get up, and before long Faarooq was a star all over again. Still, he never achieved the success in WWE that he did in WCW and it would be fair to think the failure of his first gimmick had a lot to do with that.
1 The Gobbledy Gooker
There’s really only one appropriate way to finish any list of the worst gimmicks in WWE history and that is with the absolute worst wrestling gimmick of all time. Terrible though the rest of the gimmicks on this list are, they all had two thing in common: they were particularly quirky pro wrestlers and they were human beings. The hit or miss nature of the first one is how a list like this is possible, but you would think the second one is an absolute necessity for a pro wrestler to such an extent it wouldn’t come up. Alas, The Gobbledy Gooker as a giant turkey and it didn’t even wrestle until years after it had become a punch line. Perhaps the worst thing about the Gooker is the fact Héctor Guerrero, Eddie’s brother and an incredibly talented wrestler himself, was the unfortunate soul in the bird suit. On the plus side, such is the nature of the wrestling business that the Gooker is the one gimmick on this list to have earned a WrestleMania moment, when Héctor wore a brand new bird suit 11 years after the original and competed in the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven.
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