The legacy of WCW is hit or miss depending on how you remember it. There are the fans that witnessed the highs and lows, but they took a memory to the better moments. WCW provided the rare thrill of competition in the wrestling business when they overtook WWE for a short time. Legends wrestled in the main event while incredible young talents made their names working for WCW as well. However, the writing of the shows would hurt WCW in the long run. It became clear they didn’t have the leadership to overtake WWE in the long haul with guys like Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash and Vince Russo putting together the shows.
Even before they tried to compete with the Monday Night Wars, WCW was known for thinking of some of the most ludicrous ideas possible. We will specifically look at the gimmicks that are viewed as embarrassing jokes looking back at it today. WCW created some characters that had no chance of getting over. Quite a few of these names would never see their careers rebound. This is the bad side of WCW that can paint their legacy in a horrible light. See how much awful wrestling you remember with the fifteen embarrassing WCW gimmicks you likely forgot about.
15 That 70s Guy
WCW signing Mike Awesome should have been a great move for the company. Awesome came to WCW after a successful stint as the ECW Champion and was one of the top rising stars in the industry. The talent and athleticism of Awesome made him a great performer given his size. WCW signed him and saddled him with some atrocious gimmicks that ruined his potential.
The gimmick of That 70s Guy was meant to parody the television success of sitcom That 70s Show at the time.
For whatever reason, WCW felt a 70s character would translate well enough to get over. Awesome dressed in 70s fashion and used the lingo of the time. He needed a time machine if he was going to achieve any success in WCW with this gimmick. The decision to sign with WCW eventually crushed the career of Awesome as it killed all his momentum.
14 Randy Hogan
A forgettable act in WCW featured a petty idea to form in the late 80s and early 90s. A wrestler known as Randy Hogan was an enhancement talent. Most of his matches saw him get destroyed by the wrestlers with superior talent. This was the rare case of an enhancement talent having an actual character. The character for Randy was meant to be a parody of Hulk Hogan.
Randy visually looked like a poor man’s Hulk Hogan and adopted the last name to throw shade at WWE and their cash cow.
WCW tried to make fun of Hulkamania with their own jobber being the answer to Hulkster. Randy’s career never went far and making fun of Hulk didn’t work to his favor. WWE eventually did a similar spoof with Gillberg imitating Goldberg to more success.
13 The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea will always be considered a terrible gimmick for how little thought was put into it. Legendary musical artist Prince changed his name to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince for a short time. This inspired WCW management to do the same to Prince Iaukea. The in-ring skills of Prince Iaukea were impressive but he lacked character.
WCW felt Prince Iaukea pretending to be Prince was the way to tap into his personality. The character dressed like Prince and acted like him in the confines of wrestling. Fans didn’t buy into it and it further exposed how poorly WCW was run. The era of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea is considered one of the worst times in WCW history as it reached the point of no return. This gimmick certainly didn’t help things.
WCW tried to rebuild towards the middle of 1999 when they were getting dominated in the Monday Night Wars. A few wrestlers on the show were given new characters in the hopes of pushing them as bigger stars. Alex Wright witnessed this as he first started in WCW as the dancing character. While comedic, he still had impressive matches when given the chance.
The role of Wright saw a ceiling on the lower mid-card leading to a drastic change. Wright changed his appearance for the new gimmick of Berlyn. Playing into his roots of his home country of Germany, the Berlyn name was chosen and he refused to talk in English to the American fans. This character just didn’t connect and his sidekick The Wall ended up passing him in the pecking order. Wright returned to his former gimmick dancing with the weird new look as the true sign of a gimmick gone wrong.
11 Misfits in Action
A forgotten stable to form during the Monday Night Wars in WCW saw the Misfits in Action become a heavily pushed group. Eric Bischoff fired Hugh Morrus, Chavo Guerrero, Booker T, Lash LeRoux and Van Hammer in storyline for not helping the New Blood takeover WCW from the Millionaire’s Club. These wrestlers returned as the Misfits in Action with Major Gunns as their manager.
WCW tried to make them the new version of D-Generation X by playing into the night DX invaded WCW dressed in camo while on a tank.
Unfortunately, it came off as minor league compared to the popular act of DX creating stars. This was the perfect act to describe how badly WCW was falling apart in the year before it died. Booker likely escaped this group and achieved success while the others treaded water until WCW ended.
10 The Shark
The late John Tenta achieved a lot of success in the 80s for WWE. His character Earthquake came during the era when big men were important for the company to draw fans. WCW signed him away in the mid-90s when Hulk Hogan was joining the company. It led to WCW bringing in many of Hogan’s friends to work with him at the top of the card.
Tenta was meant to be an opponent of Hogan after they worked together numerous times in WWE. However, WCW wanted him to have a gimmick known as The Shark. This outlandish character saw him join the bizarre Dungeon of Doom faction. Tenta even changed his LSU tiger tattoo into one of a shark thinking he would have this as a long-term gimmick. The character was forced to change in less than a year. Tenta was left with a tattoo to remember the horrible idea WCW had for him.
9 The KISS Demon
WCW made the decision to pay the band KISS about $500,000 to perform a few songs on Monday Nitro in 1999. It was done to try to create interest as the company was starting to fall apart, but the ratings tanked with KISS on the show.
To get the most value out of the legendary rock band being on the show, WCW introduced a character known as The Demon rocking the KISS face paint.
The Demon continued in WCW for months despite KISS no longer being around. WCW felt a wrestler being endorsed by KISS would be enough to get him over. Management was reportedly shocked at the time to witness how poorly things went for the character. The KISS Demon is a massive flop in the history of WCW that shows both how poorly they managed money and how weak the creative was.
8 The Maestro
Another silly gimmick from the final few years of WCW saw The Maestro become a character. It was a lower card act that featured wrestling veteran Robert Kellum receive his big break to become The Maestro for WCW.
This gimmick saw him appreciate classical music in a way that was meant to look down on the fans of the time for thinking little of such a genre.
Along with his Ryan Shamrock as his valet, The Maestro didn’t do anything of note. The biggest moment of his career featured a feud with Ernest Miller that saw James Brown dance with Miller after a match. No one took him seriously and the momentum never came. WCW removed him from television relatively quickly and The Maestro is a forgotten gimmick that helped prove why the company no longer exists today.
7 Disco Inferno
Disco Inferno should get a lot of credit for making a great living in WCW despite having a terrible gimmick with very little talent to match. The act was meant to annoy fans of the 90s with the character being loyal to disco music. Disco wrestled normally with a dance move or two being squeezed into the rotation.
WCW kept Inferno employed for most of the Monday Night Wars even though he was never over in a major way. Fans often enjoyed heckling him due to the silliness of the gimmick and he parlayed that into a long career. However, it was obvious Disco had no chance of ever being a relevant piece to WCW television. The long-term potential of the character was shown in the ridiculous name Disco Inferno. Naturally, he was forced out of wrestling after WCW ended due to lack of bookings.
6 Van Hammer
The WCW career of Van Hammer is easily forgettable since his gimmick was dead from the start. WCW had him play a silly character derived from the world of music.
Van Hammer was meant to play a rock star in wrestling with the long hair like most lead singers in the early 90s and a ridiculous physique on the wrestling side of things.
It didn’t reach much success since no one cared about such a lazy gimmick idea. Van Hammer resurfaced in WCW as a member of Raven’s Flock. The faction saw forgotten characters that either never achieved success at that point or were busts. Van Hammer was the latter and once again failed to move up the rankings. The original gimmick failed him from the beginning and he could never rebound.
The character of Glacier was viewed as a big project by Eric Bischoff to introduce new wrestlers to the company.
This idea was to develop a few mysterious gimmicks like the ones you would find in the Mortal Kombat video game series.
Glacier was the first one to represent this vision of Bischoff. The entrance of a laser show with fake snow falling reportedly cost WCW over half a million bucks. He received an undefeated start to his WCW career going unbeaten for many months. Fans didn’t react positively to it and Glacier was met with apathy most weeks. WCW gave up on him more and more as time went by. It turned out becoming a gimmick that is remembered for Bischoff being in over his head rather than any form of successful impact.
4 The Renegade
A blatant rip-off to take place in WCW featured them trying to create their own version of the Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage teased they had the “ultimate surprise” coming to join them. It was obviously an attempt to convince fans that Ultimate Warrior was joining the other two former WWE stars of the 80s.
Instead, fans were treated to a completely different wrestler playing The Renegade. WCW wrote the gimmick of The Renegade to be played by veteran Rick Wilson. His look was meant to mimic Warrior with the face paint, tassels and mannerisms. No one was fooled, and the character ended faster than anyone expected. WCW developed a reputation of being WWE lite that followed them until the New World Order finally gave them a unique hot act.
3 Booty Man
Ed Leslie came to WCW with a big contract thanks to being the best friend of Hulk Hogan. The career of Leslie essentially was getting paid as a favor to Hogan by wrestling companies wanting to appease the legend. WCW saw Leslie deliver some of the worst gimmicks of all time such as The Butcher, The Zodiac, The Disciple and The Man with No Name. However, the worst of them all was the Booty Man.
The idea was that Leslie loved his own backside and made it identity of his wrestling life.
Kimberly Page became his manager as the Booty Babe. Booty Man was a worse version of the future Mr. Ass gimmick used by Billy Gunn. It only lasted a couple of months due to no one caring about Leslie under any of his characters, let alone the worst of them.
Kevin Nash went on to become a World Champion for both WWE and WCW in route to a Hall of Fame career. However, he had his fair share of awful gimmicks before finding success. WCW dropped the ball with him in the early 90s as seen with the insane gimmick of Oz.
Nash played the Wizard of Oz based off the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to humorous results.
It was supposed to be spooky, but fans just laughed at Nash. One viewer that saw his potential was Shawn Michaels. Nash was pitched to Vince McMahon by Michaels as the big man to become his bodyguard on WWE television. The decision was made, Nash became a close friend of Michaels and a main event star faster than imagined. Michaels being impressed by his size and timing is the only good thing to come from Nash playing Oz in WCW.
1 V.K. Wallstreet
Mike Rotunda has been a respected man in the wrestling industry for many decades following runs in just about every major promotion throughout the 80s and 90s. The most memorable success of his career came when playing I.R.S. on WWE as the sidekick of Ted DiBiase. This character worked well to get strong heel heat before he eventually lost his spot as WWE wanted to build new stars.
Rotunda eventually moved back to WCW. They wanted him to keep a similar gimmick and renamed him Michael Wallstreet. Following just one week with the name, he started going by V.K. Wallstreet instead with the initials VK meant to be a rib on Vince McMahon. The cheap rip-off of his WWE character just made him look like a joke and the name just confused the fans since most didn’t care enough about insider jokes at the time.