Wrestling history is so rich with bad or forgettable ideas that even some of the greats and future greats of today's WWE have been hit with their unfair share. Whether the execution was bad, the idea had no legs, or they were unequivocally the wrong person to put into that position, they lived through dark times before emerging into the light. The most hardcore wrestling fans who can tell you the win-loss records from the mid-nineties may remember these janky episodes but for the majority of fans, these are forgotten myths and legends from a time where wrestling either couldn't avoid putting its foot in its wrestler's mouths, or simply asked them to do something better left to the annals of time. But that's what we're doing now, dredging up these quirky, weird, and even oddly noteworthy gimmicks that current WWE stars worked through that have been left by the wayside in most fans memories.
There is no safety for megastars here. If you are the highest drawing, Match Of The Year having, shining light of today, you almost certainly have an odd gimmick or stupid storyline in your past that warrants a reminder. Similarly, some of the lowest of the low have evolved into what they are today, changing their outlook perhaps from complete obscurity with these old gimmicks into the perennially pinned personas of today.
Easily the funniest entry on this list, Braun Strowman's blink-and-you-miss-it stint as a Rosebud (alongside a half dozen others you might recognize) definitely registers as a weird one considering where he's at today. The Monster Among Men was the happiest goofball in a parade of them, following the party-poser Adam Rose back during his early NXT days.
Somehow people barely noticed the monstrous presence among the human hamburgers and fairy people dancing in and around the ring.
That worked to his benefit because it would've been hard for WWE to dismiss thunderous 'Rosebud' chants if fans had remembered his more jovial existence prior to joining The Wyatt Family.
Being a 7-footer is still a golden ticket into most any wrestling organization, albeit with the caveat that you'll inevitably be used as a monster or something even weirder before too long. Such is the case with this early Kane escapade, becoming a tinsel-wrapped green monstrosity known as The Christmas Creature! He was wrapped in green and holiday lights, looked thoroughly silly beyond anything fans could reasonably expect, and lumbered about in an attempted 'menacing' lurch. Kane probably has the weirdest trajectory ever when it comes to gimmicks.
AJ Styles has rightly taken his spot in WWE as a perennial main event attraction, video game cover star, and reigning WWE Champion as of this writing. He has more than earned these accolades, specifically because he has stints like this in his past that fall in the 'paying your dues' category. AJ Styles was a literal Turkey in Impact Wrestling. They dressed him up, he had to dance about and play the part in a Thanksgiving pageant, and looked impossibly silly doing so. He fell into this absurd situation by losing a Thanksgiving-themed matchup where the loser had to don the costume, and it is almost the perfect illustration of some of the ways Impact didn't value there best ever homegrown talent.
In 2007, during the rebirth of ECW, a team of blond surfer-looking 'dudes' popped onto the scene with a surprise win and wild enthusiasm.
That was it, their entire schtick boiled down to the nuts and bolts, and that was all they were.
If they'd not had long hair they'd have been the most basic Create-A-Wrestler templates imaginable, but they avoided that as they spent a few months on the 3rd-Tier brand before being drafted to Smackdown. They only lasted a little longer over there as quote-unquote 'brothers' as they got the big chance to become Edge's doppelganger lackeys, changing their names to Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins which they still remain as to this day.
Before he rose to Raw as part of The Ascension, Konnor went by a slightly altered name and a completely different... Rattitude. Yes, Conor O'Brian's gimmick was entirely wrapped around the fact that he kinda had a 'ratty' face. WWE is never one to avoid the lowest common denominator, focusing everything into this one aspect of the man to the point his NXT Pro Alberto Del Rio and fans had no choice but to look down on him over it. He didn't do well in these competitions, and needed a complete overhaul which he thankfully got when The Ascension debuted as an almost Tag-Team Undertaker in NXT. It didn't last as anything that colossally huge, but he's still hanging around.
Everyone knows Dolph Ziggler spent an unfortunate tenure among the male cheerleading Spirit Squad, but he had another lesser-known debut that everyone needs a reminder of. When Chave Guerrero decided to drop his Latino heritage and embrace some sort of country club 'white guy' persona, he got himself golf clubs, a golf cart, and most importantly here, a golf caddy. Or is that a Dolph Caddy? Well, either way, the future 2-time Heavyweight Champion carried Chavo's clubs and acted as somewhat of a manager for a few months before Eddie Guerrero's passing gave Chavo an out and Dolph a chance to escape.
She's synonymous now with mean faces, verbal beatdowns and essentially being The Miz in female form, but before all of that Alexa Bliss was the bubbliest, sparkliest little fairy princess NXT ever did see. 'Glitter, Glitz, Sparkle' was her mantra and she had a blinding smile that could daze members of the Full Sail audience with its intensity.
Alexa was plucky but mostly harmless during this time, until her turn to the dark side aligning with Blake & Murphy.
There, she suddenly developed the blistering personality we see today. She stuck with the fairy gimmick for a good while trying to make it work, and it's so jarring to look back on it you could mistake her for being a different person entirely.
Cesaro came into WWE just before most talents spent time in NXT for a spell, and almost immediately was victorious in capturing the WWE United States Championship. Where he went sideways conceptually and in momentum was his brief few months where he began yodeling and singing his way to the ring as a matter of Swiss pride and confidence. It was another 'lowest common denominator' gimmick where the one thing Vince McMahon knows about Switzerland becomes the one thing everybody else has to know about it. For his part, Cesaro gave it gusto and effort, but it was simply too silly to last or do anything but embarrass.
Eric Young's Impact Wrestling run is one of the oddest, funniest sequences any wrestler has been on. Young has co-held the Knockouts Tag Team Titles, been a Canadian patriot, been scared of his own pyro, been a World Class Maniac, even a World Champion, but you need to remember Super Eric. Young would compete in matches as his regular, scaredy-cat self before abandoning the match, only to return clad in his superhero outfit and with a new brand of confidence and wrestling aptitude.
Fans loved that this goofy oddball could become a world-beating presence in his darkest moments, and for a good part of a year Young was one of the better low-card acts holding Impact Wrestling together.
Everyone remembers (or Miz won't let them forget) that he came from the world of Reality TV, that he's main evented WrestleMania, won every championship he's eligible for, among many other accomplishments.
His brief initial stint as a non-wrestling mouthpiece 'host' of SmackDown, remains something to behold on the WWE Network.
SmackDown would come on the air with Miz situated among the fans like an old MTV video host presenting a band's live set. Miz would bellow about upcoming matches, the excitement, and try to pump up the crowds by sheer force of will. It eventually led into his first run of matches where he showed the limited progress he'd made at the time, but he started about as low as you can get.
Most remember Randy Orton coming in as a super bland babyface with the same dumb leg-neckbreaker finisher that got passed around during the 2000s, but upon his getting hurt, we got something special. Randy Orton, who till then had shown next to no charisma, got to update his fans every now and again with RNN segments. These were funny little self-aggrandizing moments where Randy got to show off his more conceited side, thinking the audience cared deeply about the medical status of this kid who'd done next to nothing on WWE TV. This charismatic turn combined with his natural athletic talents got him his run in Evolution, but this deserves to be remembered for the good it did him prior to that.
Some fans may not even know that it's the same guy, but before he was Sin Cara he was the bicycle riding, Hunico. Before he got involved with the original Sin Cara fighting over the mask as the Sin Cara imposter, Hunico, backed by his off-sider Camacho (Tanga Loa in NJPW) was a low key cruiserweight powerhouse that didn't get half the recognition he deserved. He appeared infrequently despite his unique moveset and Chavo-esque demeanor that could've been parlayed into more, but as it was he toiled among the lowest competitors the entire run despite an obvious upside. He's getting his due from Sin Cara mask sales now, but the potential of his bicycle riding days remained untapped.
Before he was running a successful Youtube video game series and spouting the Powers Of Positivity, Xavier Woods had a stint in Impact Wrestling as the Apollo Creed homage Consequences Creed.
He was decked out in the Red, White, and Blue, still had his impressive afro, and juked and jived through his entrance shadowboxing and head-waggling to the point that D-Lo would be proud.
He was technically a couple of times tag team champion, but the most memorable thing from this forgotten run was the time he took a stiff Spike Hurricanrana and fountained vomit all over the canvas! He promptly disappeared soon after, perhaps as a direct result of this incident, but it shouldn't be forgotten because it's kinda too funny.
The first time a lot of fans got to see Becky Lynch in a WWE NXT ring is probably something she wishes nobody remembered, but here we go bringing it up again. WWE can't often resist the call of a stereotyping gimmick and so Becky came out that first night shuffling her feet at a million miles an hour and making everyone at Full Sail University groan collectively hard enough to stamp the moment in memory.
A river-dancing gimmick that took zero creativity to come up with went about as well as that sounds, but she put 105% effort into it and so it needs remembering just to show how far she's come. She was a clown then, but she's The Man now.
He goes by initials now in NXT, and we don't know if they'll ever reveal what they stand for now that they'd probably rather whitewash his Impact Wrestling history, but before he took off over there he was Derrick Bateman: NXT goofball. Alongside Johnny Curtis he was the longest tenured guy through NXT and NXT: Redemption, and they were hilarious most of the time. Derrick Bateman's best moments though were alongside his Pro Daniel Bryan, where they pursued The Bella Twins, performed goofy shenanigans, and best of all, broke the rules through the nonsense NXT challenges. By coming up with their answers before one of the challenges the DB's won handily in hilarious fashion. A Youtube-worthy search you can thank me for later.
It's hard to see through the dance and fashion obsessed Fandango of today, but for those who watched the 4th season of NXT's gameshow version, Johnny Curtis was a standout quirky babyface.
He went on to win that season, but that's where things got weird. Literally and figuratively.
Johnny Curtis went on an odd streak doing literal versions of common success sayings (stolen from Zack Ryder's Youtube show) and then became a weirdo who carried around foreign objects.
It was bizarre, funny, and confined to the tiny realm of NXT: Redemption where nothing was off limits and nobody was checking in to see if anything was off the wall. And here, Johnny Curtis 'Got Weird'. It too is worth a search on Youtube.
We've come to know the 'Glorious' version of Bobby Roode and there was the millionaire, Ric Flair knockoff before that in Impact Wrestling, but before either of those prominent personas, Bobby Roode was a Canadian warrior with an army and a cause. In Impact Wrestling as part of Team Canada, Roode was the muscle for the assemblage of talent that primarily included Eric Young, Petey Williams, and Johnny Devine. He collected a pair of tag team championships with future main event rival Eric Young and developed the seeds of his future money-centric gimmicks. Roode wasn't the obvious choice to succeed coming out of the group, but as of now he's enjoying a Raw stint and this gimmick was his first national exposure.
The son of the son of a plumber, Dustin Runnels, AKA Goldust has had so many forgotten turns to his appearance and mannerisms that it's easy to find more than one forgotten oddity in his past.
His turn on Impact Wrestling as Black Reign, his momentary stint in WCW as Seven, and lest we forget the Attitude Era run where he was The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust!
The man who could've relied on his legacy name to make his own definitively went through many a moniker before finally returning for good to the 'Living Oscar' that is Goldust. Even within that, he's been a legendary chameleon with a backlog of crazy worth remembering.
The name Triple H isn't anything that a regular baby would be called, so when researching the origins of the WWE COO's initials it can stun newer fans that it stands for his turn as Hunter Hearst Helmsley. A gimmick of wealth and snobbery basically conjured up because Triple H's nose fit the part, he curtsied, bowed and dismissed opponents with an air of superiority reserved only for the snootiest upper-crust elites. He battled pig farmers, oddballs like Goldust, and outcasts like Mankind. When he morphed into a degenerate alongside Shawn Michaels it not only helped his career evolve, but it was ironic as all hell considering his past snootery.
WWE's OVW class of 2002 is revered for the caliber of stars it produced, but it's undeniable that when they all first appeared on WWE TV they struggled in the short term. Batista's struggles involved being saddled with literally carrying Reverend D-Von's baggage in the form of a donation lockbox chained around his neck. From being a Leviathan monster in developmental to a religious bouncer of sorts did nothing for him and went nowhere to boot.
Batista didn't even spend a year in the role because it was dead on arrival, but it's still an incredibly odd thing to see the future Evolution member as a devoted sidekick to D-Von Dudley's church.