The right outfit can be important in wrestling. It used to be just trunks and the occasional shirt was okay. But times changed as WWE led the way to a more showy style and WCW followed suit. Since then, costumes have been important and also pushed in other ways. For example, masked wrestlers have promoted themselves well and taken off with those outfits. More than a few guys had lame acts but a makeover with a better change of clothing can help push them more. But at other times, an outfit can be horrible with the character. That was really true when both companies pushed guys based on occupations so you had people as dentists, garbage men and more. But some outfits are notable for just how terrible they are compared to the previous one.
Often, it’s when a guy jumps to a different company and forced into a new persona that comes off badly. But often, even when in the same company, he can be given a change that’s horrible. Usually, they’re with characters but other times, just a change of outfit takes place and looks bad. It makes you wonder what the designers were thinking or the promoters who believed this was a good way to push a guy on. Some are able to survive the changes but others suffer badly.
Here are 10 times WWE and WCW each gave a guy a horrible ring attire change and practically ruined them.
20 WWE: Akeem
WWE used to have a You Tube show called “Are You Serious?” where Josh Matthews and Road Dogg would skewer some of the nuttier bits in wrestling. They had a grand time with this bit as in 1988, Slick brought Gene Okerlund to an alley talking of finding a new star from “deepest, darkest Africa!” A burst of flame erupted and out came the man formerly known as the One Man Gang. A monster worker, he was known for looking like a huge motorcycle gang member with intimidating Mohawk and build.
He was clad in a huge blue suit with yellow trimmings, a large hat and what looked like a muumuu on him.
Replicating the reactions in 1988, Matthews and Dogg burst out in hysterical laughter. It was stupid even without his goofy “dancing” and ridiculous to change him up so much. Decades later and still a horrible change of outfits on many levels.
19 WCW: Rey Mysterio
A horrible idea on so many levels. Rey Mysterio had led the way to success for Cruiserweights in WCW, renowned for his high flying. He was a fantastic athlete and his masks were terrific, a clear seller and played on the legacy and tradition of Mexico. But in 1998, WCW decided to ignore all that and promote Rey differently. At SuperBrawl, Rey lost a match and was forced to unmask. WCW promised him a big push because of it but aside from a cheap win over Nash, nothing big happened.
Not helping was that without his mask, Rey looked like a teenager and was put in nutty street clothes with a “hip-hop” style to them. It lacked any flash at all and pushed him downward. When Rey returned in WWE in 2002, they had him masked and over the next decade, made a fortune off the sale of Mysterio masks to kids. Thus, not only was this a bad change in character but cost WCW in merchandising, showing their stupidity.
18 WWE: Stardust
Reportedly, this act is what drove Cody Rhodes out of WWE. And you can hardly blame him. For years, he’d gotten attention as a top worker, a great heel on the mic and runs as IC champion. There was so much potential but instead, WWE saddled him with brother Dustin and decided he should get dressed up too.
Enter Stardust in a lame gold and black outfit and a bizarre makeup job emphasizing a star on his face.
Speaking like a guy on a cartoonish high, Cody threw out his usual charisma and looked worse for it. Yes, he and Dustin had runs as tag team champions but it didn’t make up for how he was ruining his own career putting up with this act. Since leaving WWE, Cody has made himself into a big international star. He’s bad mouthed the company and it’s understandable given the man had to put up with this bad outfit.
17 WCW: GI... Booker T?
When Harlem Heat rose up as the best team in WCW, winning the tag titles several times, it was clear Booker T was the star. When Stevie Ray was injured, Booker got his shot in the singles ranks and did great, winning the TV title. He looked cool and driven with tights with a flame design to them and pushing him on. But in 2000, WCW decided to have him redo himself with an old act from his indie days.
GI Bro was Booker decked out in military garb, with green cap and khakis and even “jungle war paint.”
It looked totally stupid and unlike the street fighter he’d been pushed as before. Even WCW realized it and dropped it as Booker took back his old gimmick in time to win the World title. He brushes this aside in various biographies as an outfit that deserved to be labeled 4-F.
16 WWE: Owen Hart
From the start, Owen Hart showed he was a fantastic athlete, a technical marvel with stunning high-flying skills and showed fantastic drive. His first WWE run was saddled as the masked Blue Blazer and later runs not as good. It took his feud with Bret for Owen to take off as a huge star, a wonderful heel and pushed well as a tag team and IC champion. When the Screwjob happened and Bret left for WCW, most thought Owen would follow but he felt a loyalty to WWE and afraid of breaking his contract due to his family.
At first, a face, he decided a heel turn was better and joined the Nation of Domination. This transformed his outfit from the “hearts” motif to a darker color marked with yellow blocks and a “dangerous” marker. It just looked goofy and summed up when Jason Sensation impersonated Owen, wearing yellow crime tape and yelling “I look like a damn road sign!” Owen would wear it until taking back the Blazer gimmick.
15 WCW: Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea
A very promising young star, Prince Iaukea debuted in WCW in 1996, showing a good high-flying style. He was pushed as an “island” guy in tropical tights and bare feet as he took it to various cruiserweights. In early 1997, he upset Steve Regal for the TV title and did a good job but WCW lost interest fast. He was soon just a Cruiserweight jobber and vanishing until late 1999. Then, Vince Russo had the idea of repackaging him as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea,” an obvious take on the musical icon.
He came out in a long outfit with coat and hat, pushed as a “funky” type but clearly lacking the the charisma to back it up.
The whole thing was dropped fast (like a lot of Russo ideas) and the guy drifted to obscurity. It just shows that saddling someone with an outfit based on their name rarely ends well.
14 WWE: Repo Man
Barry Darsow had been a long-time journeyman in wrestling, usually in the jobber department. In 1987, WWE hired him as one half of Demolition, an act obviously meant to be a total rip-off of the Road Warriors. But amazingly, Ax and Smash actually caught on with fans, a great team that would dominate the next three years with a record run as tag team champions and two more reigns. Adding Crush shook it up but it’s still remarkable how they ruled at such a flush time of teams.
When Demolition finally ended in 1991, Darsow was remade into the Repo Man, a guy who enjoyed stealing people’s stuff for non-payment. The outfit was a dark grey singlet with long coat and a mask that made him look like the Hamburgler. To his credit, Darsow did his best by going so over the top with the act it won fans over. But it was still a horrible look although, amazingly, he would get even worse down the road…
13 WCW: Mike Awesome
Even by their own standards, the way WCW dropped the ball with Mike Awesome is astounding. The man was a monster in ECW, capable of jumping off the top rope, but his power bombs truly devastating to see, especially going through tables. He was champion when WCW hired him on and the heat for his final appearance was huge. So how did WCW capitalize on all that? Basically treating Awesome as nothing special after that debut. But that was nothing compared to how he was given the absolutely horrible gimmick of “That 70s Mike Awesome.”
He came out in a lame disco-styled outfit that Disco Inferno would have turned down with horrible hair.
He then did an interview segment of lame pick-up lines. It turned him into an absolute joke and dropped but then he was made “the Fat Chick Thriller.” Amazing how bad an outfit ruined what should have been a major winner.
12 WWE: Saba Simba
This went beyond just “embarrassing” to downright insulting. Tony Atlas had been one of the 417 guys in wrestling who went by the moniker of “The World’s Strongest Man.” He was a good specimen and strongman, feuding with a then-heel Hulk Hogan among others. He and Rocky Johnson also had a good run as tag team champions. Plans were for Atlas to get a good singles run but he suffered from drug problems, which derailed his career.
When he came back in 1990, Vince decided to punish him for what happened. Atlas was given the gimmick of Saba Simba, donning an outfit out of a 1930s Hollywood B-movie. He had jungle-colored pants, a huge “tribal” headdress and yes, a spear. His debut had Roddy Piper outing him as Atlas so Vince claimed he’d “found his roots” during a trip to Africa. It was horrible on many levels and Atlas didn’t deserve it.
11 WCW: Arachnaman
One of several sons of popular worker “Bullet Bob” Armstrong (another is better known as the Road Dogg), Brad had been a good worker for years in the South. That included part of the Lightning Express, a popular tag team who were UWF champions. In WCW, Armstrong was turned into “The Candy Man” with red and white striped trunks and handing candy to fans. Then came Arachnaman.
Out came Armstrong in a horrible blend of blue and yellow with fake “webbing” tossed at crowds and bouncing around the ropes. It was no surprise who this was supposed to be a take-off of and it was so blatantly obvious a rip-off that Marvel Comics threatened to sue so WCW dropped it fast. Armstrong later was given “Buzzkill,” a lame take on his brother’s gimmick that went nowhere. The guy was a good worker but kept getting saddled with some horrible outfits.
10 WWE: Kerwin White
One of the absolute worst character makeovers of all time. Chavo Guerrero had been a popular guy in WWE for a while, thanks to being Eddie’s nephew. The two were a fine tag team and Chavo a star in the Cruiserweight division as well. In 2005, WWE decided to remake him in a bizarre way.
They had him coming out as Kerwin White, his hair dyed blonde, dressed like an upscale suburban guy in slacks, polo shirt and sweater around his neck.
He talked of considering himself a white man, putting down his roots and the slogan “if it’s not white, it’s not right.” That WWE even tried it sounded totally insane and fans loathed every minute of it. It ended when Eddie died and Chavo pushed as himself but the outfit and the character just makes it even worse and a period Chavo wants to forget.
9 WCW: Stewart Pain
Yep, it’s Barry Darsow again. In WCW, he’d had a run as the Blacktop Bully in a red shirt and jeans, set up as a tough guy. He and Dustin Rhodes had the infamous fight on an 18-wheel truck during the horrific 1995 WCW Uncensored PPV. Both men bladed on camera and were thus fired. In 1997, Darsow returned to WCW where he was given the gimmick of…an evil golfer. He was named Stewart Pain (a play on golfing legend Payne Stewart), coming out in a classic golfing outfit, complete with cap and the nickname “Mr. Hole-In-One.”
He would have a gimmick of offering his opponent the win if he could make a putt in the ring then attacking them when they tried. The very idea of an “evil golfer” was something only WCW could try.
8 WWE: Jim Neidhart
While never as skilled as Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart was good in the ring as a powerhouse. He and Bret were terrific as The Hart Foundation, winning the tag titles a few times and a top team. Neidhart teased retirement in 1991 but instead stuck around as Bret went to a singles run. Bret’s brother Owen had been hired and he and Neidhart were put together as the New Foundation.
Their outfits just screamed out early '90s, huge balloon pants and multi-checkered and colored jackets with nutty sunglasses and even suspenders.
They may have had potential but the outfits made it almost impossible to take them seriously. The duo split up as Neidhart finally hung it up for a time in 1992 and showed how Bret was a lot better off and Neidhart not as skilled without him.
7 WCW: The Zodiac Man
Brutus Beefcake had been a decent worker in WWE, including a run as tag team champion with Greg Valentine. In 1987, he was repackaged as the Barber, cutting opponent’s hair and his friendship with Hulk Hogan led to pushes. He was going to win the IC title in 1990 but a deadly parasailing accident ruined his face and forced him out for a while. Later in WCW, Beefcake turned on Hogan to become “The Butcher” for a horrible Starrcade main event.
Then, he was packaged as the Zodiac Man, clad in dark white and black pants and a face covered in half-and-half makeup with a weird Mohawk.
Believe it or not, he actually got a worse outfit with “The Booty Man” with his buttocks covered in fishnet holes. Leave it to WCW to give the guy worse outfits every time.
6 WWE: Adrian Adonis
This is sad. For years, Adrian Adonis had been one of the toughest guys in all of wrestling. He was a great worker, he and Jesse Ventura a fantastic tag team in the AWA. Adonis headed to WWE, soon regarded as a tough guy and plans were underway for a bigger push. But then he got over binging due to some addictions and his weight ballooned to almost 300 pounds. There were also rumors he got on Vince’s bad side.
So Vince hit back by giving Adonis a makeover, forcing him to go around wearing dresses, makeup and bows in his hair. It was meant to push a flamboyant look, something still notable in the '80s. It just served to humiliate Adonis and his outfits among the reasons fans hated the act. He died in a car accident in 1988 and it’s sad his last few years were marked by this act and remembered better for it.
5 WCW: The Shark
John Tenta had been a successful big guy for a while. In 1990, he was boosted to fame in WWE as Earthquake, feuding with Hulk Hogan and others and a run as a tag team champion. He was part of the exodus of Hogan buddies heading to WCW in 1994 where he was renamed Avalanche and pushed. In 1995, he became part of the Dungeon of Doom, a totally idiotic stable taking on Hogan.
Tenta was renamed The Shark which included giving him a stupid outfit with a fin on his head and fake makeup.
Worse was having to change one of his own tattoos (at his own expense of course) into a shark to fit the act. It was horrible and just a few months later, the whole thing was dropped. Tenta openly did a bit on how he was a man, not a shark but never really recovered from an act that showed how dumb an animal motif can be in wrestling.
4 WWE: Dusty Rhodes
This has been talked about a lot in the DVDs on Dusty’s life. After years as a mainstay of the NWA and Jim Crockett, Dusty had a falling out with the WCW bosses and left in 1989. To the amazement of many, he finally dropped in on WWE and was pushed as a “common man” type with videos of him as a plumber, delivering pizza and more. When he finally started wrestling, everyone was baffled by the decision to have his trunks and shirts be covered with bright yellow polka dots.
On a WWE produced DVD, most guys agree this was a huge rib from Vince for the bad blood between him and Dusty over the years. Dusty himself didn’t care too much as he said he would get them over anyway. He actually did, fans enjoying it as a good run and while it looked stupid, somehow, Dusty managed to make it part of his legacy.
3 WCW: Shockmaster
Poor Fred Ottoman. He had a good run in WWE as Tugboat/Typhoon and when hired to WCW, he must have thought it would be good. But then he was saddled with the label of “The Shockmaster” and the now infamous moment of him bursting through a wall, tripping and falling over with his helmet flying off. Poor Fred never had a chance and any hopes of making Shockmaster a star.
Granted, the vest, jeans and Stormtrooper helmet weren’t that good already. But then WCW made it worse as the new Shockmaster outfit was a denim shirt, jeans and a white construction hat, no flair to it at all.
Needless to say, the Shockmaster was a total joke, crushed down fast and Ottoman never recovered from it. Everyone remembers that entrance but it was the second outfit making him more of a joke to be among the worst moments of WCW history.
2 WWE: Big Daddy V
Nelson Frazier was a decent guy but geez, did he get bad stuff. As Mabel, the huge worker was part of Men on a Mission, a rapper tag team that was okay. In 1995, WWE made the disastrous decision to turn Mabel into a monster heel, winning King of the Ring and challenging Diesel. The result was a horrible feud that killed business. After vanishing, Mabel returned, now called Viscera and clad in a huge leather coat and pants with fake contacts. It wasn’t that good either (especially when pushed as a ladies man) but that was nothing compared to his final persona.
As Big Daddy V, he came out in big pants and suspenders, an outfit designed to flaunt his flabby chest and be as gross as imaginable. It was a horrible bit and while the guy’s early passing is sad, his career wasn’t helped by choices in attire.
1 WCW: Goldust/Seven
Dustin Rhodes was a great talent from an early age. Indeed, in terms of ring work, he was better than his father although lacking the same charisma. His turns in WCW were good with several titles but somehow seemed lacking and in his dad’s shadow. He changed that in WWE, coming out as Goldust, transforming himself into a bizarre character that took off huge. He had a few weird turns with the character but in 1999 was lured to WCW.
The promo videos had him as Seven, a freaky guy in a black coat and white makeup who would bear into little kids’ windows.
Yeah, not really the best way to sell a new face. He made his debut levitating to the ring, floating down..and then getting on the mic to say this whole thing was stupid, killing weeks of build. He’d go around in his usual outfit but it shows how sadly Dustin just hasn’t found much success outside of his makeup personas.
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