Pro-wrestlers and tattoos go hand in hand. You have to have a certain level of toughness to put a needle to your skin and get something permanently drawn on your body. That toughness is not unlike the grit one needs to put their body through years and years of in-ring combat. Throughout the history of the sport, there have been many superstars with iconic ink. From CM Punk’s Pepsi logo to Bam Bam Bigelow’s flaming head, to the Undertaker’s full demonic sleeves, just seeing these images in ink alone can harken back images of these grapplers.
Certain tattoos can enhance a wrestler’s appearance. Rey Mysterio adding the wings from his mask to his clavicles brought his look to a whole other level. Heck, as terrible and dated as tribal tattooing is, Goldberg’s piece on his should is so synonymous with him that it actually looked awesome on the former WCW Champion.
However, not all tattoos make a wrestler look better. Certain tattoos, whether they are poorly drawn, don’t fit the wrestler, or are inexplicably awkward, can hinder a performer’s appearance. Some of these are relics to one’s past, an awful idea they had when they were younger. But others were added late in the game by wrestlers who should have known better. Either way, they’re permanent piece of art that these superstars should be totally embarrassed by. Here are 15 of the ugliest tattoos to ever grace the body of a wrestler.
Big Dave has a lot of tattoos to choose from. Frankly, a lot of them work for me. He’s got the Greek and Filipino flags on his arms to represent his heritage which is nice. He also has the giant dragon that takes up his entire back. A piece that really enhances his “Animal” persona. Heck, I’ll even give a pass to the tribals that run up and down his arms as being a sign of the times. No, we’re here to talk about his inexcusable bellybutton ink. In what might be the smallest tattoo on his body, the one surrounding his naval is without a shadow of a doubt, the most egresses. What bodybuilder in the right mind would get something like this done on purpose? It’s completely out of place. What’s even worse is that when Batista first started wrestling, not only did he have that tattoo, but he also wrestled with wearing a bellybutton ring. Bellybutton rings: good on Alexa Bliss, bad on Batista.
14 Enzo Amore
There is a lot to choose from when it comes to picking which tattoos Enzo Amore should be embarrassed of. Of course, I use the word “should” because Muscles Marinara seems to be a human being incapable of shame. If I wanted to, I could dedicate this entire list to ‘Zo’s body art. “Warrior” with the Wu-Tang Clan symbol is pretty awful. The leopard print sneaking up from his nether region is particularly trashy. But let’s focus on his Tupac knock-off “Life” tattoo that covers up half of his stomach. I’ve been trying to figure out if there is supposed to be a word before “Life” or not. Is it just supposed to invoke the idea of “Thug Life?” He already went as far to even replace the “I” in “Life” with a bullet like Pac. Is he scared that if he straight up rips off Makaveli’s ink that he will wind up the same way? It all just seems half-assed.
13 Alex Riley
Had Alex Riley come up through WWE’s developmental in the early 2000s along with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista, he would have been a huge star. He had a fantastic, clean-cut look that Vince was crazy about for his homegrown talent during that time. Unfortunately, A-Ry is a bit younger than the three men previously mentioned, all who went on to be world champion many times over. Another thing that might held Riley down is the terrible tattoo on his back. There’s way too much going on with the piece. It’s a huge, ornate, and for some reason wavy cross that is outlined multiple times over. Additionally, there’s a ton of text throughout it full of names, dates, and a bible verse to boot. To bring it all home, it uses his actual surname “Kiley,” which is one letter off from the name he wrestled under. I bet a fan or two thought this to be a giant, glaring typo on his back.
12 Brock Lesnar
I’m not here to take shots at the Beast Incarnate’s iconic back tattoo. Although, I’m not 100% sure what it’s supposed to be. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say it’s rejected concept art for the incredibly 1990’s Image Comic character The Maxx. Still, it’s pretty bad ass and fits Lesnar’s character (if we can even call it a character) extremely well. I’m not even going call him out for the brass knuckle sword that covers his chest. That thing’s actually rad. No, the piece of ink Lesnar should be embarrassed by can be summed up in three words, “Kill ‘em all.” Sure, it’s a phrase that suits The Next Big Thing well, as he’s known to not only kill deer up in Saskatchewan but also kill the competition with German suplexes in the ring. It’s the placement that’s bothersome. It’s a tramp stamp. It doesn’t matter what it says, a tramp stamp is still a tramp stamp.
11 The Sandman
The cool thing about getting a tattoo is that you can get literally get anything you want on your body. You can use your imagination to get whatever far out image etched onto your body. No matter how out of this world the idea, it can be done. Or, you can do what the Sandman did and get your own face tattooed on the side of your arm. This is hands down the most uninspired entry on this list. The art itself isn’t too bad, it’s just an extremely lazy choice. It shows Sandy bleeding from the forehead with a cigarette in his mouth. This makes total sense, during the 1990s that was, more often that not, how he could be seen on television. Granted, the former ECW Champion, who has been known to toss a few cold ones back, was most likely black out drunk when he got this number done and probably doesn’t remember it.
Tattoos require maintenance. The ink fades over time and requires a touch up every once and a while. It looks like Christian never got the memo. It is pretty difficult to even tell what the image is that he has on his arm. Upon further inspection, the blob appears to be a buff bulldog with a rose in it’s mouth. I looked all over the place to find out what the message behind the ark could be. When searching for “Christian Tattoo Meaning,” I was flooded with whether or not the Bible says its okay to get tattoos. Then, when I googled “Bulldog with Rose in Mouth,” I looked at adorable stock photos for an hour. Perhaps, if Captain Charisma were to get the bulldog touched up, it would breathe new life into the tattoo and actually be a good looking piece of art. Until then, he’s should just cover it up if he’s not going to take care of it.
9 The Harris Brothers
Whether you know them as Skull and 8-Ball, the Blu Brothers, Patrick and Gerald, or any other name the hulking twins went by throughout their nearly twenty year career as wrestlers, there is one thing that they always had: SS tattoos. Yeah, you know, like the symbol of Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary group. The fact that, with those tattoos so prominent, they were able to get work in all of the United States biggest wrestling companies is sickening. The two look like Braun Strowman split in two and got super racist. Ron and Don claim to have gotten the tattoos to play into their biker personas and (poorly) covered them up later in their careers, but there are cracks in that logic. When Ron worked for TNA, he proudly wore a shirt to the ring branching the SS emblem. During that time he was a member of Vince Russo’s Sports Entertainment Xtreme faction (I’ll give you a minute to figure out what the group was known as), a New World Order rip-off full of “cool” heels. Disgusting.
8 Matt Morgan
I’ve been waiting years for Matt Morgan to finish this tattoo. I remember watching him pop up in TNA with that thing and thinking to myself, “maybe it’ll look better when it’s finished.” Well, time came and went, and there was never any more work put into the monstrous, angry face residing on the Blueprint’s back. It’s just stayed the same, two giant red and black eyes, big, sharp teeth surrounding a huge, drooling mouth. For a guy who has spent a good portion of his career aping Brock Lesnar, this is actually the perfect tattoo. A inferior version of Lesnar’s own monster. Morgan claims that the face represents how he is in the ring. He meant that, like the face, he is a vicious monster capable of harming anyone who gets in his way. I took it as something mediocre but with a little bit of promise, that, over time, never progresses.
7 Braun Strowman
I let Batista off the hook for having some tribal, but I won’t do the same for Braun. Strowman is only 34 years old, which means he’s out of the age range for “acceptable tribal tatoo-age.” His main tattoo, showcased on his massive right bicep, also has the displeasure of being three tattoos in one. It’s a Superman symbol on top of a tribal design on top of hastily nailed sheet metal. It doesn’t appear to be a cover-up job either, it’s just three separate ideas that he thought would look well together. He’s wrong. It’s a mess. The Superman symbol also makes it very difficult when it comes to reproducing the “Monster Among Men’s” (did you know that’s what they call him?) likeness. Most toys leave the logo out totally, opting for a large blank spot smack dab in the middle of the whole thing, creating an even worse look.
Icarus might not be a household name to even the savviest of professional wrestling fans. But the “Winged Ring Warrior” has been wrestling for over 15 years. A mainstay of the Philadelphia-based Chikara wrestling promotion (a company near and dear to my heart), Icarus has also wrestled for Evolve and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. As you can tel from the image on the left, Icarus tends to wear a top while wrestling, and if you move your eyes ever so slightly to the right, you can see why. The image looks to represent a man torn between good and evil in the middle crashing waves in front of a cityscape. The only problem is…how do I put this nicely? Icarus has the absolute worst tattoos I have seen in my entire life. It looks like it was done by a toddler with a handful of Crayola markers and pen while Icarus was passed out. Only a few segments of the image are colored in, leaving for most of the piece to look like errant squiggles. I don’t know how much Chikara pays, but can we give Icarus a little pay bump so he can finish this travesty?
5 Lance Archer
If you are a current viewer of NJPW (and you seriously should be, Wrestle Kingdom 12 was incredible), then you recognize Lance Archer as one half of the Killer Elite Squad. Along side Davey Boy Smith Jr., Archer is a former IGWP Tag Champion, and one of the most brutal gaijin’s on the roster. Fans of mid-2000s TNA will remember him as Lance Hoyt or Lance Rock, the Guitar Hero controller-wielding mid-card big man. He looks very different from his days on Impact. He’s put on a lot of mass and now has long, braided hair. There is one thing that he’s maintained over the past decade: his unfortunate tramp stamp. Look at that thing. It definitely doesn’t belong on someone of his stature. It’s so delicate. It looks like two candlesticks meeting peacefully right above his rear. At least Lesnar’s was intimidating. Well, as intimidating as a tramp stamp can be.
4 James Ellsworth
If I was ten years old, I would think James Ellsworth has the best tattoos. Homeboy has not one, but two tattoos dedicated to the band The Offspring. That’s commitment. However, I am not ten years old, and The Offspring has not had a real hit in about twenty years. The craziest part about Ellsworth’s ink is that, besides the band’s classic flaming skull icon (not to be confused with a certain Rattlesnake’s Smoking Skull), ol’ Jimmy has the logo from their 2008 mediocre album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. You have to really love a band to get that imprinted permanently on your body. Neither tattoo makes for a good look on his scrawny arms. Even while wearing his flashiest of attires, I wouldn’t say he was Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). I had thought about saying, “Na na, why doesn’t he get a job,” but that would have been punching down, and I’m afraid to give Ellsworth a fighting chance.
3 Scott Steiner
Let the record show that Scott Steiner has lost his damn mind. Big Poppa Pump went over 40 years without any crazy tattoos. Then, one day, he shows up with a massive pierce covering his chest. Things quickly went off the rails, and the Genetic Freak hasn’t stopped adding abysmal art after abysmal art to his body. Is that the “B” from the Budweiser logo right around his collarbones? I guess it makes as much sense as anything else covering the Big Bad Booty Daddy. The dude has a pair of wings on his chest AND back. The front pair surrounding a cross necklace piercing a heart, and the back surrounding a rotting skeleton torso. That’s not the way wings were meant to function. Honestly, the only thing that I can understand is the University of Michigan “M” on his shoulder representing his alma mater. Unfortunately, its surrounded by a godawful amount of thick tribal patterns. No more tribal tattoos. When will people learn?
2 Baron Corbin
Personally, I think Baron Corbin is underrated. He’s a big dude who hits hard and has a surprising amount of speed. Also, as a man who started going bald in his early 20s, I can appreciate his attempt to hold on to each strain of hair as long as possible. One thing I refuse to make excuses for is his choice of tattoos. His body is full of birds, clocks, clouds, and other items that seem utterly disparate. I tried to find meaning to it all but quickly gave up out of boredom. I bet there is some poorly written LiveJournal poem that explains why his heart is caged but the birds are free. Then, there are the stars. They’re not quite nautical stars that you’d see on a rugged sailor. They’re pretty. According to my wife they, “feel like they belong on a girl who got drunk in college and got her first tattoo. Not exactly tough.”
1 The Rock
As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s exactly how I felt when I saw The Rock’s “new and improved” Brahma Bull tattoo. What was once one of the most recognizable inkings in all of pro-wrestling, is now a terrifying zombified behemoth of its former self. It’s just too much. Seriously, the classic bull was great. You knew exactly what you were looking at, and it got the point across. Now, there’s just so much to take in with the epic design. I guess the Great One was going for symmetry appeal. Now, he has approximately the same amount of ink on his right arm to match the intricate Samoan tribal he’s been rocking for years. Also, this new piece has to add so much time in the makeup chair for Dwayne. Certainly all of his characters won’t have the same horrifying creature on their bodies, and you KNOW he’s not about to cover up his muscles on screen.