These types of articles are always really unfortunate to write – it is difficult to call a wrestler “the worst” when all they are doing is trying to entertain us through the art of professional wrestling. However, even though I respect each and every man and woman who has ever entertained me in a wrestling ring, every now and then there comes a wrestler who makes it just a little bit easier to craft this list.
The entire decade of the 2000s were unfortunately very ripe with wrestlers like this, either because they were past their prime, out of shape or were fast-tracked into their role in the spotlight in WWE. Not every wrestler is created equal, and these wrestlers in the 2000s proved that – but we will also look at where these wrestlers came from before hitting it big in WWE, even if their time there was extremely short (which it was for many of them).
Everybody has to start somewhere in the wrestling business and sometimes that includes having to take up regular jobs to pay the bills before you're actually earning enough money from your wrestling career to survive. So here's where these old 'stars' were up to before WWE.
15 The Big Show
In order to put the rest of this list in perspective, This Big Show is the only active wrestler that is on this list. I am not sure if that puts the rest of the list into perspective for how poor of wrestlers they were, or if it makes us question the size of The Big Show’s contract. It is clear to everyone that The Big Show’s first years in WWE were very rough, which ultimately landed him the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Award for Worst Wrestler in 2001 and 2002 due to the quality of his matches.
What was he doing prior to this period in WWE? He was a part of the WCW roster known as The Giant, and billed as Andre the Giant’s son. Was this a better fit for him than his time in WWE? Not exactly – The Giant was quickly shoved into the main event scene, and looked out of his league working with wrestlers of much higher caliber.
Paul Wight had actually sent an audition tape to WWE first, but Pat Patterson didn't bother watching it, assuming Wight was actually Kurrgan. McMahon was reportedly livid when he saw The Giant debut in WCW, knowing WWE was his first choice.
14 Hardcore Holly
Quite possibly reported as one of the most surly and discourteous wrestlers, I have personally never been a fan of Bob “Hardcore” Holly in the ring. While professional wrestling has always been portrayed as a “tough guy” sport, I feel that you require the charisma as well as the hard-hitting style in order to be a well-rounded wrestler, but Hardcore Holly has only focused on the hard-hitting and ignored the charismatic portion, which is why he never reached above mid-card status. Holly has the reputation for being a bully backstage.
Before taking advantage of new wrestlers became Holly’s MO, he was already a long-time WWE worker, but he was not floating around in the mid-card – he was working in the under-card as a “jobber to the stars”. Holly was known as Bob “Spark Plug” Holly, and had the gimmick of a race car driver, but was more widely known for his low number of wins throughout the mid-1990s.
However prior to his wrestling career, Holly worked as a mechanic for Meineke (that would explain the Spark Plug gimmick) and supplemented his income by boxing in bars.
Wrestling history books can only crown one wrestler with the crown of “The Wrestler Who Just Could Not Get Over” – A-Train was a highly featured wrestler on the SmackDown roster who was pushed as a hired gun under Paul Heyman’s wing, who unsuccessfully challenged wrestlers such as Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle, and was constantly taunted by the audience with chants of “Shave of Your Back” due to his mass amounts of back hair. Unfortunately for A-Train, he did not connect with the audience during his time on the roster. Following a successful stint in Japan, he returned in 2011 as Tensai, but once again, fans weren't buying what he was selling.
Prior to his wrestling career, Matt Bloom (real name) attempted several other careers. He had a brief stint in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and he became a school teacher, teaching children with behavioral problems. He's now the head coach in NXT, so it looks like his teaching career came full circle.
12 Nathan Jones
From one lumbering brute to another – now it is time to talk about the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Award winning wrestler Nathan Jones. Unfortunately for Jones, his two awards are not very positive, as he won both the “Worst Wrestler” and “Most Embarrassing Wrestler” awards in 2003 during his only year spent on camera with WWE. Jones' appearances with WWE are very forgetful, which is probably a positive things for wrestling fans, as his clumsy skills in the ring were laughable, especially considering that he was placed directly into feuds including The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, who could easily wrestle circles around the massive Jones.
While he has crafted a fairly successful career in Hollywood films including Mad Max: Fury Road, Jones' career before WWE also included bodybuilding and mixed martial arts. As you could have guessed, there was very little professional wrestling experience prior to WWE, but that was plainly evident by his appearances.
11 Michael Cole
This may seem like a strange entry, but I could not help but include Michael Cole from his time in the early 2000s as a commentator. Believe it or not, the Michael Cole that we know now on WWE television is much more experienced in his role, and therefore is much more tolerable on commentary (not including his stint as “Heel-Cole”, which is very difficult to stomach) than he used to be when he was initially put on television. Originally used as a backstage interviewer before transitioning to on-air commentary, he was transitioned to the commentary table to be pulsed in during the expansion of SmackDown. Unfortunately for us all, Michael Cole needed a lot of time to come into his role, particularly evident by the fact that he won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for Worst Announcer in 2001.
Where was he before his WWE career? Well, Cole was actually a respected journalist, working for CBS Radio. He covered various events such as the 1988 Presidential Campaign, the Yugoslavian Civil War and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Let’s start off by making an obvious statement – The WWE vs The Alliance program in 2001 was not the most successful angle in the world. Unfortunately for many fans watching it transpire, one of the first matches that was booked featured the team of Brian Adams and Bryan Clark, collectively known as KroniK, wrestling against The Undertaker and Kane. Looking at this match it is clear to see why the Invasion program was so unsuccessful – instead of A+ wrestlers from WCW and ECW being featured, wrestlers like KroniK were the ones put on television, who were only given one match with WWE before being released.
Before forming the team, Brian Adams was known as Crush in WWE in the 1990s, and he of course had a very successful career in Japan and in WWE. Prior to his wrestling career, he has joined the Air Force and took up boxing for a while before finding his calling in wrestling.
As for Bryan Clark, well, we all remember the disaster he was as Adam Bomb in WWE back in the 90s.
9 Miss Jackie
The only female on this list, Jackie Gayda has the distinction of having a match named after her. While this may be considered an accolade, particularly when wrestlers like The Undertaker are synonymous with Hell in a Cell, or Jeff Hardy with ladder matches. In the case of Jackie, her match is titled as “That Jackie Gayda Match”. Why is the match named after her? Because this 2002 RAW match featuring Bradshaw and Trish Stratus vs Christopher Nowinski and Jackie Gayda is considered so terrible, that it needed a special name to refer to it .
After watching that, are you asking yourself how Jackie got hired to this company if that is the extent of her wrestling skills? Well, Jackie was one of the winners of Tough Enough Season Two. Is it more understandable now that you know Jackie came from a wrestling reality show? And her most memorable moment of that season was a 'hot tub hookup' with fellow contestant Pete.
8 Luther Reigns
On paper, Luther Reigns looks like a wrestler that Vince McMahon would push as WWE Champion during his rookie year – he had a mean, muscular look and wrestles like he is looking to decapitate his opponents. Unfortunately he was missing something that is required to be a main-event level wrestler – Luther Reigns has quite possibly the least amount of charisma possible for a human being. During his short stint on WWE in 2003, Reigns was used as a bodyguard for Kurt Angle during his time as Smackdown General Manager, and only competed in a handful of matches before being released.
Prior to entering WWE, Reigns had very little wrestling or acting experience, with the exception of a performance in the 2003 film The Girl Next Door where he appeared where he played an adult film star with an anger problem. Now, if he had entered WWE with that type of gimmick, he surely would have been a superstar!
7 Jonathan Coachman
Time for another commentator to join the ranks! Jonathan Coachman was a nine-year employee with the WWE, and in 2003 was heavily featured in a heel on-screen authority role, as well as occasionally wrestling during events, only to be beaten down by his opponents. Coachman’s time as a heel, much like Michael Cole’s mentioned earlier, was not received very positively – he was mainly a minion of Eric Bischoff’s and came across as annoying and extremely unpleasant, garnering him the wrong kind of “heat”. Ultimately, he was crowned as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Worst Announcer for 2003, which also carried over into his authority character, which was also a poor showing.
Prior to receiving this “honor”, Coachman had experience in sports journalism back in his native Kansas. He also starred in many instructional videos for technical education classrooms in middle schools and high schools. One set of videos has 'Coach' giving instructions on how to navigate airplanes and other airplane basics.
6 The Gymini
This entry is actually fairly misleading (and not just because there are two identical men in this tag team) because the Gymini tag team, also known as Jake and Jesse, or The Shane Twins, are actually very accomplished wrestlers outside of their WWE run, as they are former NWA World Tag Team Champions. Wait, did I forget to mention that they were known as The Johnsons during this time and were meant to resemble wrestling genitalia? Well, that puts a damper on things!
While the Shane Twins may have been considered accomplished wrestlers in the past, their combined TNA and WWE runs surely put a hindrance on their career as they were not able to achieve much success after this run on television. Usually a lot of exposure is a good thing for professional wrestlers when they return to the independent circuit, but certainly not in this case. It looks like the Simon System did not do wonders for the Gymini.
And now we have a gimmick that made every single Undertaker fan get extraordinarily excited for a match in the future, and a gimmick that had vignettes that made every wrestling fan look forward to seeing a new wrestler actually appear. Unfortunately, despite all of the hype, pomp and circumstance, when Kevin Fertig eventually debuted as the religious zealot character Mordecai in 2004, all of these people were let down. Mordecai was only on the Smackdown roster for less than three months until being sent back down to the developmental system, and any hopes of a “Light vs. Dark Match” with The Undertaker were lost.
How could a gimmick with so much promise get removed so quickly you ask? Well, like so many on this list, Fertig did not a lot of wrestling experience prior to signing with WWE. He got started in wrestling after training with Sid Vicious in Gold's Gym in Memphis, then briefly spent time in Memphis Championship Wrestling as Seven, a gimmick based on the seven deadly sins.
4 The Great Khali
Would a list like this really be complete with The Great Khali? Khali is the second World Champion on this list, but he also has some other accolades from his time in the WWE in the late 2000s. Such as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards for “Most Overrated” and “Worst Wrestler” in 2007 and 2008 respectively. In addition, I think that we can all agree that Khali’s finisher, which is a side-chop to the top of his opponent’s head, is quite possible the most underwhelming maneuver that has ever occurred in the wrestling ring. While he is obviously physically imposing, Khali’s inability to keep a pace faster than a tortoise in the ring means that it was always very difficult to watch him.
The question is, what did such an imposing specimen like The Great Khali do prior to entering WWE? Khali actually used to be a police officer in India before training to be a professional wrestler. Can you imagine being pulled over for speeding, and having an over seven-foot-tall officer come to check your license and registration?
3 Tyson Tomko
The problem solver? Not exactly. Tyson Tomko joined WWE in 2004, partnering with Christian as his “gun for hire” to aid him in his fight with Chris Jericho, and mainly had a non-speaking enforcer role with the company. How does this land Tomko a spot on this list? He has rightfully earned his spot because he had the uncanny ability to botch just about every spot that he was given while on television. Tomko may have looked the part of a mean enforcer, but unfortunately his professional wrestling skills needed a lot of work.
Before drinking a cup of coffee with the WWE, Tomko had the distinct pleasure of being a part of the Limp Bizkit “My Generation” music video, which is pretty much the definition of early 2000s music. While this is an interesting fact, it also appeared that Tomko had the same wrestling ability as Fred Durst, who once appeared as a character on a SmackDown video game.
2 Gene Snitsky
This is an unfortunate entry to write because Gene Snitsky had some great tools to become a solid character during his time in WWE – he had great size, a creepy type of charisma, and started off his career with a bang that got everyone talking. Unfortunately, Snitsky was missing one fundamental piece to becoming a good professional wrestler – he was not very good at the whole wrestling piece. Snitsky’s debut on Monday Night Raw against Kane resulted in him being responsible for Lita “miscarrying” Kane’s baby (I can’t believe I just wrote that), and sparked Snitsky’s catchphrase of “it wasn’t my fault”, and included him punting a doll to continue to garner heat from the crowd. This started off Snitsky on a great foot for a long career in WWE, but his wrestling ability could not keep up with the demands needed, and he ultimately phased out from WWE.
Prior to this, not much is known about Snitsky, other than that he had little wrestling experience prior to debuting in WWE, which seems to be a common theme on this list. His pre-wrestling career includes a football background and he made it as far as the practice roster in the CFL for the Birmingham Barracudas, back when the CFL had expanded into America.
1 Buff Bagwell
While we have already discussed the Invasion storyline earlier, I feel that it begs repeating again – The Invasion storyline was awful and not done very well. Want proof of this? Enter Marcus “Buff” Bagwell, whose wrestling ability during his first (and only) appearance on Monday Night Raw made everyone realize that many of the still-contracted WCW talent were not going to do very well in WWE. Bagwell can single-handedly say that he has changed the course of wrestling history due to his poor showing with the WWE, because up to the point of seeing him wrestler, WWE Management had planned to hold a WCW-only program, but quickly had second thoughts after watching Bagwell wrestle.
What was “Buff the Stuff” doing prior to this “historical” showing in WWE or even WCW? Well, he was a standout baseball player and worked for his family's lumber company. When the company went bankrupt, Bagwell briefly became a massage therapist, before deciding to pursue a career in wrestling.