Take a moment to think back and recall some of the best gimmicks in wrestling history. Think Hulk Hogan's musclebound superhero act, where he'd hit the Big Leg Drop on any and all manner of dastardly villains, and "Hulk Up" just when you think he's been vanquished by his evil foes. Think of Shawn Michaels' vain pretty boy shtick as the Heartbreak Kid – all the girls wanted him, while all the guys wanted to be him. Look back at how CM Punk was the "Voice of the Voiceless," relatable to anyone who's been kept down by whatever system there is. And recall how "Stone Cold" Steve Austin gave zero bleeps as a ticked-off Everyman with a beef against his boss. Or how about Sting's dark and brooding tribute to The Crow, or how polar opposites Bobby Roode and James Storm worked so well together as Beer Money? Yeah, we can't neglect WWE's past and present competition either.
Those are all great gimmicks we look back on fondly, but each of the three major North American promotions of the past three decades – WWE, WCW, and TNA – has had tons of gimmicks that were absolute stinkers. You've probably seen your share of lists that focuses on each company's worst gimmicks, but we're going to go the extra mile or two here, and present to you the 10 worst gimmicks in all three promotions' histories. You better believe that it wasn't easy making these choices, what with all the bad gimmicks in 35+ years of Vince McMahon Jr.-led WWE, 15 or so years of WCW, and 16 years of TNA/Impact Wrestling.
30 WWE: The Gobbledygooker
The esteemed WrestleCrap named its yearly award for the worst gimmick/angle/storyline of the year after this gimmick. That pretty much sums up The Gobbledygooker and what a bad gimmick it was, but let's be honest here – outside of that infamous debut at Survivor Series 1990 and a onetime return at WrestleMania X-Seven's Gimmick Battle Royal, the Gooker didn't do diddly squat in the WWE. That's why we've decided to rank him so low in this list of worst gimmicks. But to say it was a disservice to the talents of Hector Guerrero – Eddie's older brother – is a huge understatement.
The hype behind the Gooker's debut was tremendous, as WWE showed off a giant egg in the months before Survivor Series, with the announcers wondering what the heck could be inside such a large egg. Turns out it was a man in a turkey costume, who danced with Mean Gene Okerlund as "Turkey in the Straw" played in the background and fans made their displeasure obvious by booing loudly at the cheesy new character. WWE sure wanted to be kid-friendly back in the day, but this was pushing it too far.
Or, as Hector Guerrero remembered it in an interview with Mental Floss, WWE miscalculated his debut, as a large percentage of the Survivor Series crowd in 1990 was adult. Whatever the case was, Guerrero wasn't long for the WWE through no fault of his, but through the fault of his turkey of a gimmick.
29 WCW: Glacier
Remember Mortal Kombat? A lot of children and teens of the era (this writer included) gravitated toward this exciting, edgy video game, and whether we want to admit it or not, the best parts were the "Fatalities," where you could further humiliate your defeated opponent by brutally finishing them off with blood and gore. As for WCW's take on Mortal Kombat, theirs was begging for a booming male voice to say "Finish him!"
For months, WCW hyped up the arrival of Glacier, a man who supposedly trained in Japan to come up with a style involving deadly mix of martial arts and pro wrestling maneuvers. After a plethora of vignettes and a WCW Magazine feature, his much-ballyhooed debut took place in September 1996 (five months after the first vignettes – eat your heart out, Emmalina), as the Sub-Zero knockoff was given an extravagant entrance and a squash win over a jobber named after a Kenny Rogers song – The Gambler. Unfortunately, Glacier didn't quite know when to fold 'em.
After a 12-month undefeated streak (and a feud/alliance with fellow Mortal Kombat-themed characters Mortis, aka Chris Kanyon, and Wrath, aka Bryan Clark) did nothing for him, Glacier was demoted to lower-card duties, repackaged in 1999 as Coach Buzz Stern (uh, a stern guy with a buzzcut), then released from WCW. Amazingly, Raymond Lloyd still wrestles these days in the indies, and uses the Glacier gimmick, at age 53.
28 TNA: AJ Styles (The New Nature Boy)
Technically, professional wrestling recognizes only two Nature Boys – the original, Buddy Rogers, and the man whom he gave the blessing to when it came to using his gimmick, Ric Flair. That transition worked out pretty well, because fans from multiple generations recognize Flair as the definitive Nature Boy, and one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time. Too bad things didn't quite work out when it was Flair's turn to endorse a new Nature Boy – AJ Styles.
This all happened early in 2010, shortly after Styles, then the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, was assisted by Flair as he defended his title at the Genesis pay-per-view against Kurt Angle. With Styles billed as the "New Nature Boy," the Phenomenal One (as he should always be recognized these days) began wearing Flair's robes, posing, strutting, and acting like the Dirtiest Player in the Game as he basked in the older wrestler's support. It was as poor a fit as you could get for Styles, whose devout Christian faith and loyalty to his wife and family went against everything the Nature Boy gimmick, as popularized for modern fans by Flair, stood for.
Not counting the whole Claire Lynch brouhaha (don't worry, we haven't forgotten about her), Styles' "New Nature Boy" gimmick ranks as the least "phenomenal" thing he ever did when he was working for WWE's top North American competition.
27 WWE: Outback Jack
Back in the mid '80s, the world seemed to have an obsession with everything Australian. Paul Hogan and his Crocodile Dundee character and film franchise. Crowded House and their Billboard Top 10 hit, "Don't Dream, It's Over." Yahoo Serious (yes, that was his stage AND legal name), until everyone realized what a hot mess his film, Young Einstein was. Right in the middle of Dundee-mania and the Young Einstein debacle came Outback Jack, who was introduced to WWE fans toward the end of 1986 as a northern Australian bushman who won arm wrestling matches against local yahoos (not Mr. Serious) and drank beer (Foster's, we presume) with cows to celebrate, as Rolf Harris' 1960s classic "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" played in the background.
As one would expect, Jack (played by 300-pound Aussie wrestler Peter Stilsbury – at least he wasn't a "fake nationality" guy like so many others) had a bit of a winning streak to start him off strong, but his weaknesses soon became obvious – conditioning, charisma, and most of all, in-ring ability. By the spring of 1987, he was reduced to a jobber role, though he did have the distinction of teaming with a young Steve Blackman (well before his formal WWE debut as "The Lethal Weapon") and the future Battle Kat in a squash defeat against The Islanders and Sivi Afi.
Crocodile Dundee may have been a box-office smash, but Outback Jack – the man and his gimmick – was a bomb.
26 WCW: Brad Armstrong (Multiple Gimmicks)
The late Brad Armstrong is right behind Ed Leslie when it comes to bad WCW gimmicks. He may have been a talented worker, but WCW didn't seem to have any interest in pushing him beyond the lower mid-card, while also saddling him with some pretty embarrassing gimmicks, starting with The Candyman. As you may have expected, this was another one of former WCW EVP Jim Herd's silly kid-friendly ideas that made any one of WWE's occupational gimmick wrestlers look like CM Punk. Basically, Armstrong's thing here was that he wore red and white tights and handed out candy to the kids in the audience. Sorry, Sammy Davis Jr., but this particular Candyman can't, or should we say, couldn't.
Toward the end of 1991, Armstrong switched to a yellow-and-purple suit with spider webs, and was repackaged as Arachnaman, aka WCW's not-so-amazing answer to Spider-Man. Fortunately, the gimmick was dropped when Marvel threatened legal action against WCW, but the damage had already been done in terms of creating a second-rate ripoff of an iconic comic book character.
Hold on, though, because we're not yet done. With younger brother Road Dogg's New Age Outlaws among WWE's hottest acts in late 1999, Armstrong became Buzzkill, who wore similar (fake in this case) dreadlocks, entered to a similar theme, and tried to differentiate himself with some sort of weird hippie-like persona. Still, nothing worked, as Armstrong remained mired in the lower-card while working yet another awful gimmick.
25 TNA: Samuel Shaw
There's no condoning what any given serial killer has done in their life of crime, but somehow, the world is obsessed by these monsters, hence early-era Marilyn Manson's members combining the first names of popular female celebrity icons and the last names of serial killers, hence the many movies and TV shows about them, such like American Psycho and Dexter.
That was exactly the inspiration for Samuel Shaw's TNA gimmick from 2013-2014, which was essentially a mash-up of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman and Dexter's titular lead character, Dexter Morgan. The man, who was incidentally using his real name, had an obsessive crush on Christy Hemme, and was somehow able to get a few dates with her, despite his outright creepy and possessive behavior. Which included plastering his room with photos and other images of Hemme. You would think she would have called the cops on that weirdo, but in vintage TNA booking logic, she didn't.
Ultimately, Shaw threatened to "kill himself" by leaping off the top of a cage, was committed to a psychiatric hospital, briefly turned face and teamed up with Gunner, made another heel turn, and left TNA in June 2015. He's all the evidence you need to show that serial killer gimmicks are almost always likely to fail, especially when put in the wrong creative hands.
24 WWE: Billy And Chuck
One need not look too far for examples of why so many LGBT wrestlers find it hard to come out of the closet. Fortunately, today's climate of tolerance has helped the likes of Darren Young and Sonya Deville come out as openly gay wrestlers, but more than a decade prior, WWE was serving up bait-and-switch garbage courtesy of Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo.
WWE's idea of making these two directionless mid-carders interesting again was to make them act increasingly affectionate toward each other as a tag team, until it was obvious that they had become a gay couple, even if they never said it outright. Further ramping things up, they were given a flamboyant manager in Rico, and were booked for a "commitment ceremony" where they would formally become life partners. The latter was given the thumbs-up by none other than the folks at GLAAD.
Then came the big bait-and-switch, where Billy and Chuck announced that it was all a publicity stunt that had gone too far. Understandably, GLAAD was irate at having been lied to by WWE, but on a character standpoint, this mainly ranks as one of WWE's worst of all-time because the ostensibly gay couple was booked in the heel role before they admitted they were straight and turned babyface.
23 WCW: Asya
When WCW turned Brad Armstrong into Arachnaman (as seen elsewhere in this list), they were trying to slip one past Marvel Comics way before anyone had imagined superhero movies could make big bucks at the box office. But when they turned bodybuilder Christi Wolf into Asya, it was WWE whom they were trying to pull a fast one on. Of course, you know what Vince Russo and the rest of WCW were trying to reference here. If Chyna is such a big deal in WWE, why not rename this impressively built woman as Asya? You know, because Asia is a continent, and therefore bigger than China?
In this case, bigger did not turn out to be better. No, not by a long shot. Joanie Laurer may not have been a technical mat wizard as Chyna, but she was skilled at what she did, which was to dominate female competition with her size and strength, and even hold her own against male opponents. Asya was not only stiff and unskilled, but also without an iota of charisma. She barely accomplished anything of note in her one year or so working the gimmick, before she was cut loose by the dying WCW late in 2000.
If you come to think of it, however, Asya's run in WCW wasn't a complete waste, as that's where she met her husband, Dale "KISS Demon" Torborg, whom she married in October 2000.
22 TNA: The Rock N' Rave Infection
Before WWE jobbed Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre, and (future WWE Champion, sorry to rub it in) Jinder Mahal out to the tune of their nonexistent music as 3MB, TNA fans were introduced to the Rock N' Rave Infection.
The Rock N' Rave Infection was a pseudo-rock band that featured guitar-wielding wrestlers Lance Rock (formerly Hoyt) and Jimmy Rave, and manager Christy Hemme, who, believe it or not, has some decent chops as a female rock vocalist (listen to "Society Box," for instance), but instead sounded like Yoko Ono trying to do her worst Janis Joplin while introducing Messrs. Rock and Rave. (Still better than any given Jillian Hall performance, but you get the idea.)
Why were the Rock N' Rave Infection a pseudo-rock band, might you ask? Take a look at the "axes" Rock and Rave were wielding – they were freaking Guitar Hero guitars, for crying out loud! Yes, this was TNA's idea of giving a nod to whatever was hip at the time, and what fans got for that was a trio of wannabe rock stars who never won a tag team title, and was a waste of the talents of everyone involved – Rock/Hoyt as a promising big man, Rave as a top prospect from ROH, and Hemme as a legit rock singer who could have made a bigger career out of it, if not for wrestling.
21 WWE: Chaz
This is a case of two gimmicks in one entry, as we shall be taking a look back at the pair of post-Headbangers gimmicks used in 1999 by Chaz "Mosh" Warrington after his partner, Glenn "Thrasher" Ruth, went down with an injury.
The first of these gimmicks sought to sock it to the parents of teenage and young-adult Attitude Era fans who grew up in the '50s with the saccharine wholesomeness of Leave it to Beaver. With Warrington's hair having grown out a bit, he was transformed into a man-child called Beaver Cleavage, whose black-and-white vignettes featured him and his "mother" exchanging sexually suggestive conversation. As WWE realized that they may have crossed the line by creating an overly Oedipal (go look it up) gimmick, Chaz (as he was now known) shut it down in a worked-shoot promo, revealing that his "mother" was actually his girlfriend, Marianna.
Months into this gimmick change, things again went south for Chaz, as he got arrested in storyline for allegedly beating up Marianna. Yes, that's right – in the spirit of the Attitude Era, WWE tried to integrate domestic abuse into its storylines. But as it turned out, it was all a frame-up orchestrated by Marianna, as in stepped Thrasher to prove his fellow Headbanger's innocence, and reunite the skirt-wearing tag team until Thrasher got released in July 2000.
20 WCW: The Shockmaster
You may be surprised to see that The Shockmaster isn't as ranked as highly as usual as one of WCW's worst gimmicks. But stop and think about it for a moment – usually, the reason why people vote it as the worst is because Fred Ottman tripped while making what was supposed to be his grand entrance, causing his faux-Stormtrooper helmet to fall off, briefly exposing his face. Still, even if Ottman didn't embarrass himself on live television in an entrance that reigned unopposed in its infamy until Titus O'Neil's Greatest Royal Rumble botch from last month, we'd still be looking back on how bad this gimmick was.
The Shockmaster was supposed to be a conquering, heroic babyface revealed as Sting, Davey Boy Smith, and Dustin Rhodes' mystery partner for the War Games match at Fall Brawl 1993, but if you think of how cartoonish he was presented (again, without the tripping), we don't think this would have resulted in former WWE mid-carder Ottman getting a sustained main event push in WCW.
Instead, that botch happened, and WCW took advantage of it, turning The Shockmaster into a comedically clumsy character who always tripped. Of course, he needed to have a ring theme that matched – a '60s-style lick that sounded like a first-time guitar player stumbling (pun intended) his way through the Beatles' "Day Tripper."
19 TNA: The Governor
Having debuted in the latter years of WCW, Daffney was a unique individual in the world of women's wrestling, an "Anti-Diva" well before that became Paige's nickname in NXT, and later on in WWE. In the years that followed, she would continue to stand out in the indies as an antithesis to the stereotypical bra-and-panties-match mainstays who were popping up like mushrooms in the WWE. Then in 2008, she found her way to TNA and its Knockouts Division, where she lost to Awesome Kong in her debut match, then resurfaced a few months later as...
...The Governor. It was surreal and absurd to see wrestling's original Scream Queen transformed into a Sarah Palin impersonator, months after the former Alaska governor's unsuccessful run for Vice President as John McCain's Republican running mate. The idea behind this gimmick was to prove how mentally challenged The Beautiful People were, because at first, they thought she was the real thing. Ultimately, it was pointed out that she wasn't (duh), and that led to Daffney wrestling some matches under that gimmick, and winning the feud against her vapid, superficial rivals.
By March 2009, Daffney was back using her old, familiar gimmick, but it was too little, too late, as she was mostly a jobber to the Knockouts until her release in March 2011.
18 WWE: Akeem
Elsewhere on this list, you'll find an example of what happens when WWE has a non-Caucasian wrestler play the role of a stereotypical suburban white male – spoiler alert. This one represents the exact opposite – a white wrestler given the role of someone who has "rediscovered his African roots."
Originally hired by WWE in 1987 as the burly, mohawk-wearing biker The One Man Gang, George Gray was briefly taken off television after his original gimmick started to lose steam. Once he was ready for repackaging, manager Slick conducted an elaborate ceremony in "The Deepest Darkest Parts of Africa," where OMG would be reborn as Akeem, the African Dream. Great. A tribute to the Houston Rockets legend, we guess (before he added an "H" to his first name), and another rib on Dusty Rhodes, on top of Mike Jones working as Ted DiBiase's manservant, Virgil.
One Man Gang may have screamed "generic biker," but Akeem was both a crude jab at the guy who was head booker for the competition, and a way-too-stereotypical depiction of a white man trying to be black. For what it's worth, Akeem did have some success with the Big Boss Man as the Twin Towers, but toward the end of his run, he was jerking the curtains and ironically feuding with Tony Atlas' own tasteless depiction of African culture, Saba Simba. (Which was under consideration for this list, mind you.)
17 WCW: Van Hammer
Don't worry, Man Mountain Rock fans, there's (sort of) a separate entry on this list for the man who rocked out on a guitar shaped like the old WWF logo. At least that guy could shred a bit, even if he wasn't exactly Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen. Van Hammer, on the other hand, couldn't tell a Gibson Flying V from a Robert Gibson.
It was an odd choice of gimmick alright, but WCW must have thought it was better than giving the 6'6"-300 Mark Hildreth a generic muscle-head gimmick. Instead, they had this raw rookie pretend to play hot licks on his Flying V at a time when the minimalism of grunge was temporarily rendering guitar solos and hair metal passe. In other words, he couldn't wrestle much, couldn't play his gimmick right, and debuted as the wrong kind of kayfabe rock star for the era. Hell, at least the late Louie Spicolli fit the zeitgeist when he briefly competed in WWE as "The Grunge Rocker" Rad Radford!
Amazingly, Hammer had three separate runs in WCW, as he joined Raven's Flock in his second stint, and was repackaged in his third stint as Private/Major Stash in Booker T's awful military-themed stable, Misfits In Action.
16 TNA: The Flying Elvis Impersonators
One Elvis impersonator (Honky Tonk Man) was enough for WWE. Two (Greg Valentine, then Billy "Rockabilly" Gunn) was too much. Well, how about three Elvis impersonators? TNA's early days were chock full of cartoonish and/or juvenile gimmicks, and this is one of them – a stable simply known as The Flying Elvis Impersonators. Named as such because they were high-flyers...who dressed like the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
No doubt about it, this was quite a talented faction, as it featured lesser-known TNA Originals Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki, as well as the wrestler who would become Jimmy Wang Yang in WWE. This could have been a good gimmick if it was done at least a decade earlier, and if there was only one guy working it – see the aforementioned Honky Tonk Man, even if he was as far as you can get from a high-flyer – but in this case, there were three, and they were all too talented to be stuck in such a role.
The Flying Elvis Impersonators stuck around for a few months until they disbanded in October 2002, leaving Estrada as the only guy still wearing those glittery white jumpsuits. Shortly after, he debuted his new valet, and we won't give you prizes if you guessed her name was Priscilla, just like Elvis Presley's wife. Suffice to say, no one was getting "all shook up" by this hunka-hunka burnin' trash pile of a gimmick.
15 WWE: Bastion Booger
Mike Shaw was no stranger to working weird gimmicks when he joined the WWE in 1993. As such, it was a bit of a 360-degree turn, though bizarre nonetheless, when WWE debuted him as Friar Ferguson, a "mad monk" wrestler whose gimmick was deemed too offensive by the Catholic Church of New York. He was then quickly removed from TV, and re-debuted a few months later as the deliberately hideous-looking, disgusting Bastion Booger.
Judging by his appearance, and his burp-and-fart collage of a ring theme, Bastion Booger was a product of Vince McMahon's juvenile sense of humor – your average fifth-grader's caricature of the most disgusting human being alive. His body hair was meant to be unsightly, he was booked to eat like a total slob, and the less said about his singlet, the better. The highlight of Booger's run in the WWE was a heel vs. heel feud against Bam Bam Bigelow, where both men fought over the affections of Bam Bam's valet, Luna Vachon.
Booger was released by WWE in the summer of 1994, but that was not the last the WWE Universe saw of him, as he returned toward the end of 2007 for the Raw 15th anniversary special, with Triple H joking that he was the father of another hard-to-unsee, sophomoric character – Big Dick Johnson. (Whom we're not including in this list, because he never actually wrestled for WWE, or participated in major storylines. Phew!)
14 WCW: The Dynamic Dudes
Here's one piece of advice for anyone who wants to book a surfer/skateboarder gimmick – you better make sure the wrestlers actually know how to surf or skate. That was duly ignored by WCW's bookers in 1989, when they took two promising blonde youngsters, and based their gimmick on their physical appearance.
Those promising kids were none other than Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace, aka The Dynamic Dudes, and while they were booked as a cool, babyface tag team, fans couldn't, and wouldn't give them the time of day for the very reason that neither man knew how to skateboard. In other words, they were a pair of skate posers, and because of that, they just couldn't get over. That was despite Jim Cornette turning on them and favoring his established tag team, The Midnight Express – instead of feeling sympathy for the Dudes, the fans instead cheered on the Midnights, even if they were effectively turning heel!
If we are to have fun and hypothetically connect WCW and WWE canon with each other, then it could be said that the fun-loving Dynamic Dudes got jaded over time because of their negative experience with Cornette, as Douglas became a stern college dean, while Ace became a corrupt, gravel-voiced authority figure under his real name of John Laurinaitis. Makes a whole lot of sense, doesn't it?
13 TNA: Okato
There's a very good case to make for Kazuchika Okada as the world's most talented wrestler, pound-for-pound, regardless of promotion. Many fans fear that a talent like "The Rainmaker" would only be wasted if he was somehow hired by WWE, and while some may argue that these fears are unfounded because of how good Okada is, there's already a precedent, one that we got to see during his ill-fated TNA run.
That run lasted from 2010 to 2011, and it was obvious from the start (which would have been dark match losses to Alex Shelley and Jay Lethal) that TNA didn't know what to do with this young and promising standout from Japan. But it wasn't as bad as it was early in 2011, when Okada revamped his character and look, calling himself "Okato" and modeling his appearance after Kato from The Green Hornet series. That character helped Bruce Lee become a household name for American audiences. Okato, on the other hand, did nothing for Okada's TNA push, as he was back to using his real name after a few confusing, awkward months as an ersatz Kato helping Samoa Joe in his feud against "Pope" D'Angelo Dinero.
Somehow, it was TNA's insistence that Okada have a shtick that helped convince him to develop his "Rainmaker" persona in New Japan. But that doesn't make his lone stint in a major North American promotion any less disappointing.
12 WWE: Eugene
Perhaps we can't fault Nick Dinsmore for his heart being in the right place when he created the gimmick of Eugene, the "special needs" kayfabe nephew of Eric Bischoff who wasn't at all smart in the conventional sense, but was a savant in the ring who could easily master the old-school wrestling moves he grew up watching. But when WWE green-lit the idea, any hopes of seeing the company present a nuanced depiction of the mentally disabled had gone completely out the window.
As expected, Eugene was bullied and pushed around by Monday Night Raw's top heels, and he was ultimately booked to get his comeuppance against the bad guys. But his wins, more often than not, were fluke victories that did little to build him up as a character. Worse, there was even a point where WWE actually turned him heel, and used his "special needs" status to make him get away with a variety of villainous actions. but since fans couldn't get themselves to hate him, he was quickly turned back into a babyface.
Yes, we can get how Dinsmore will still be the first to put the Eugene gimmick over – it was idea, after all, and it was not without potential. But it could have been done much better, and might have even helped Dinsmore enjoy a better push in the WWE.
11 WCW: Ed Leslie (Multiple Gimmicks)
We've already featured Brad Armstrong, so why not feature WCW's primary man of a thousand bad gimmicks, Ed Leslie? Ironically, his WWE gimmick of Brutus Beefcake was one of those few occupational gimmicks that weren't half-bad – sure, good in-ring work was optional for "The Barber," but it was always fun to watch him shave the hair off of his opponents.
That all changed when Leslie followed his best friend (and, as of recent months, "frenemy") Hulk Hogan to WCW, upon which he was given a succession of questionable character changes. One of the most notorious was his run as The Zodiac, a face-painted character who knew how to say only two words, repeated ad nauseam – "Yes! No! Yes! No!" He was one of the many odd characters in the Dungeon of Doom who sought to end Hulkamania, but that wasn't the oddest gimmick Leslie ever worked in WCW.
Shortly after turning on the Dungeon of Doom, Leslie was repackaged as The Booty Man, and the gist of that gimmick was that he was a man obsessed with derriere, especially his. He was accompanied by Kimberly Page, then known as The Booty Babe and yet to be revealed as DDP's real-life wife, and his finisher was called the High Knee. Because of course, that man didn't take his Booty-O's, which were about two decades away from being invented! (And he probably wouldn't have taken then anyway – because after all, they make sure you ain't booty.)
10 TNA: Claire Lynch
Up to this day, the Claire Lynch storyline is a quintessential symbol of everything that was wrong with TNA in the early 2010s. She debuted in 2012 as a recovering drug addict whom AJ Styles had allegedly impregnated during a one-night stand, and as weeks passed, she became an increasingly overbearing presence on Impact Wrestling, glaring at Styles during his matches, screaming at him to "do the right thing" for herself and their "baby," and grating at the fans with her abrasive personality.
Before Lynch was presented as the woman Styles and Dixie Carter were trying to help, AJ's old Fortune stablemates Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels tried to make it appear as if married man Styles was having an affair with Carter, with Dixie's real-life husband, Serg Salinas, even hitting the ring to physically attack the Phenomenal One. As it turned out, Salinas had nothing to worry about, but TNA certainly did, when actress Julia Reilly, who played Lynch, abruptly left the company. (For those who don't remember, it was revealed that Lynch wasn't pregnant after all, shortly after Styles won a match for the right to get a paternity test on the "baby." That's TNA logic for you.)
Apparently, Reilly left after being cyber-bullied by wrestling fans who had "doxxed" her, finding out her real name, current place of work, and acting credentials. Yes, we know her Claire Lynch character was a pain to watch, but she didn't deserve to be persecuted by fans for doing her job.
9 WWE: Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero might not have had the talent and charisma his late uncle Eddie did, but he was certainly talented and charismatic enough to have at least a brief main event run in the WWE, or even in WCW. Instead, he went through a revolving door of bad gimmicks before, and in between stints alongside Eddie in Los Guerreros and Edge in La Familia. These included his Amway salesman gimmick in WCW, his masked stint as the Swagger Soaring Eagle (that's two Guerreros in bird costumes during their WWE runs, for those keeping count), and Kerwin White.
Ah, yes. This is truly a gimmick that everyone should be expecting in such a list. A proud Mexican-American, Chavo was asked to deny his Hispanic heritage and transform into the wannabe-suburban white guy named Kerwin, just because he'd had enough of being pushed around by The Mexicools. That included using a tasteless "if it's not white, it's not right" catchphrase, and mainly feuding against non-Caucasians like Tajiri and Shelton Benjamin. Chavo may have "left the building," but even a blind man could tell that he and Kerwin were one and the same.
Knowing the company's usual mindset, we seriously wouldn't have put it past WWE to keep the Kerwin White gimmick going, had it not been for Eddie Guerrero's untimely death in November 2005.
8 WCW: The Ding Dongs
Old-school WCW fans will undoubtedly recognize the name Jim Herd, who briefly served as the company's Executive Vice President, despite having little to no knowledge about the wrestling business. His specialty was pizza, as his most notable position prior to WCW was at Pizza Hut, where he worked as a regional manager. Too bad he wasn't exactly "making it great" over in the world of wrestling, where he proposed some ideas that were equivalent to heresy. Ideas such as asking Ric Flair to drop his Nature Boy persona in favor of a Roman gladiator gimmick where he'd be renamed Spartacus.
That idea, fortunately, never saw the light of day, but this one did – enhancement talents Jim Evans and Richard Sartain donning orange bodysuits and masks, and wearing tiny, jingling bells as The Ding Dongs. This was Herd's idea of a gimmick that would appeal to the young kids in the audience, but instead of getting applause, Ding and Dong were roundly booed by children and adults alike, as Jim Ross, then behind the WCW announce table, was barely able to hide his derision for the misguided gimmick.
Obviously, The Ding Dongs' failure to get over didn't stop Herd from coming up with more genius (sarcasm alert) ideas, including the aforementioned Spartacus gimmick, and a comedic cowboy gimmick that was so bad that Stan Hansen, whom the idea was pitched to, quit WCW and returned to New Japan in disgust.
7 TNA: Eric Young (World Heavyweight Champion)
There, we said it. Eric Young's most notable gimmick of 2014 was a complete ripoff of Daniel Bryan's WWE gimmick of being the underdog hero – the small guy without the traditional look and build of a WWE Superstar, and many would say without the faith of upper management, who somehow persevered to become the company's top champion. TNA thought they might as well have EY mirror the Yes! Man's success by making him a first-time World Heavyweight Champion in an upset victory over Magnus, mere days after Bryan made Batista tap to the Yes! Lock at WrestleMania XXX.
Alas, that was where the similarities ended. Young's big victory came on an episode of Impact Wrestling, and not at a major PPV. There was no buildup to his surprise main event push, nor were there any really memorable angles that followed the championship win. By early 2015, the title was long gone from EY's waist, and he was turned heel, well after TNA's attempt to book him a la D-Bry fell flat on its face.
This bad gimmick is not an indictment against Young by any means. He was, and still is, a more than capable in-ring hand, and also a nice guy behind the scenes. But his sudden main event push in 2014 was a classic example of TNA's desperation at the time – here's this bearded underdog silencing his doubters at WrestleMania, so why can't we have our own bearded underdog win our top belt?
6 WWE: Mantaur
Okay, you know the drill with this one – half-man, half-bull, all...you know what comes next. Back in 1995, Mike Halac was a green youngster weighing in at around 400 pounds, and since WWE had some weird ideas when it came to creating heels to spook out its young target audience, Halac was given the gimmick of Mantaur. And it was a completely ludicrous gimmick in an era where the biggest monster heel of them all (in terms of size) wore a bodysuit with painted-on muscles and hair patches.
While not exactly Giant Gonzalez in terms of being in "cannot unsee" territory, Mantaur's ring gear was as awful as you can imagine for a man who thinks he's a bull. We're serious as well about that last part – we could get it if he merely gored his opponents a la Rhyno, but instead of screaming or roaring after flattening his much smaller jobber victims, he mooed at them. Oh, and if you're wondering, he was a terrible worker, though once again, not as terrible as Giant Gonzalez was.
Halac's size allowed him to come back to the WWE a couple times after Mantaur, first as Goldust's unnamed bodyguard, then as a masked member of The Truth Commission. Neither run lasted as long as his run as Mantaur, which wasn't even that long to begin with.
5 WCW: The Yeti/Super Giant Ninja
It's basic mythology any college, or even high school-educated adult should be familiar with. The Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman, is a giant creature with human and ape-like features, believed to roam the Himalayas. At a legit 7'1" and billed an inch or two taller, former Santa Clara Broncos star center Ron Reis fit the billing perfectly. But WCW's idea of a yeti looked more like a child's Halloween mummy costume, worn by a full-grown, adult man who had just recently been playing college basketball.
Think about it this way – as a fan of all things garage rock, I recommend you look up videos of the Mummies, a Bay Area band known for deliberately sloppy music, and deliberately amateurish mummy costumes. The Yeti looked like an overgrown member of that band, but when it came to his ring work, his sloppiness and lack of technical ability definitely was not deliberate.
After Reis was done playing a misnamed mythological creature with the Dungeon of Doom, he was given a mask and the new ring name Super Giant Ninja, even if he didn't know a lick of martial arts. He then was given another gimmick makeover as Raven's Flock member Reese, and thankfully, that wasn't as bad as The Yeti/Super Giant Ninja, even if it didn't make him any less of a bad wrestler.
4 TNA: Black Reign
This next gimmick is proof that Dustin Runnels/Rhodes' Goldust gimmick, or its variants/evolutions, is only effective in the WWE, and not if creative talking heads from other companies are tweaking it.
Aside from his brief stopover in WCW as Seven, Goldust's many WWE runs were punctuated by two quick stints for the company that replaced WCW as WWE's number one domestic competition. We are, of course, referring to the Bizarre One's bizarre time in TNA, especially his second run, where he competed as Black Reign from 2007 to 2008. Black Reign was supposed to be Dustin Rhodes' evil alter-ego in a rather confusing split-personality storyline, and drew a lot of inspiration from the Goldust character, just without the nuance it was known for. And if you look a little closer, you'll see that it was being played by Rhodes during his darker days, at a time when he was well overweight, unmotivated, and still quietly battling a drug and alcohol problem.
Fortunately, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes' eldest son got out of TNA, cleaned himself up, and has spent the past five years or so back in WWE, where he mostly plays a lower-card role and serves as a mentor of sorts for the company's younger talents.
3 WWE: Various '90s Occupational Gimmicks
Who are the wrestlers in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hood? Remember that old Sesame Street song? That's the way things were in the WWE in the early-to-mid '90s, as Vince McMahon thought it would be nice to cater to the target children's demographic by giving a plethora of mid-carders and lower-carders day jobs.
Kids, say hello to garbageman Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. Plumber T.L. Hopper. Bullfighter El Matador, and don't call him Tito Santana. Dentist Isaac Yankem. Country singer Jeff Jarrett and his roadie, the Roadie. Stock car driver Thurman "Sparky" Plugg. From the worlds of baseball and hockey, here's Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz and The Goon. Prepare to bleed black, because voodoo priest Papa Shango will make sure of that. God bless you, Friar Ferguson, at least that's better than the other gimmick we listed for the guy who played you. Can we call Phantasio a magician by trade? Why the hell not. And regardless of what your mom, or educator Dean Douglas might say, rock 'n' roll guitarist IS a valid occupation. Right, Man Mountain Rock? Take note, we're leaving out the few ones that were actually good, like taxman Irwin R. Schyster and Rick "The Model" Martel.
You can argue that some of the occupational gimmicks of the '90s were so bad that they deserve separate entries. But why not bunch all of these moonlighters into one entry and look back at how dated they are for today's wrestling fans?
2 WCW: Oklahoma
By most accounts, Jim Ross seems to be one of the last guys you'd expect to have powerful "enemies" in the world of pro wrestling. You probably know how Vince McMahon often appears to have it out for Good Ol' J.R., may it be in the form of repeatedly firing and rehiring him, or tasteless skits like that "Dr. Hiney" mock colonoscopy. But the other prominent Vince in pro wrestling – Russo – apparently was no fan of Ross as well, as he and friend/fellow creative team writer Ed Ferrara made sure to stick it to the legendary announcer when they jumped ship to WCW.
That came in the form of Ferrara's Oklahoma gimmick, where, in the worst form of mockery possible, he mimicked J.R.'s attire, accent, announcing style, and worst of all, his Bell's palsy. While he started out as an on-air character by announcing, then by managing Ross' real-life friend, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, he would soon become an in-ring competitor, and even get to win the Cruiserweight Championship in a match against Madusa.
Try to process all that – a male non-wrestler by trade who weighs closer to 300 pounds than 200, defeating a woman for a championship that was supposed to be male-only, and for smaller wrestlers. Welcome to the dying years of WCW, where the only thing that made sense was nothing making sense.
1 TNA: The Johnsons
Can it really get as bad as it got early on in TNA's history with The Johnsons? We don't think so. Time and again, The Johnsons have topped "worst gimmicks" lists involving the company now known as Impact Wrestling, and even non-TNA/Impact fans are well aware of what a bad idea this gimmick was. But for those who aren't aware, here's the gist of it. A nerdy, evil genius (Mortimer Plumtree), once bullied in school by a pair of twins named Richard and Rod Johnson, takes revenge on his tormentors, having them do his bidding while covered from head to toe in flesh-colored, latex bodysuits.
If it wasn't obvious to you yet by looking at the above photo and thinking of a common old-timey nickname for Richard (and what "Rod" could also refer to), The Johnsons were supposed to be wrestling penises, plain and simple. This is indeed what TNA asked the Shane twins to do as part of the promotion's earliest rosters, and it wasn't surprising when they both left the company weeks after their debut.
There's no question about it. They may have been bland, and initially nameless henchmen for Simon Dean when they moved to the WWE, but being The Gymini was sure better than being a couple of wrestling penile jokes.
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