Throughout wrestling history, every company has had it's fair share of sub par gimmicks. Even some of the most successful competitors have gone through a series of character changes before settling on a winning formula. While WCW was at its peak during the mid 90s, they were dominant in the Monday night wars. One of the single biggest factors in this dominance was the creation of the cool heel faction the NWO. Their ability to win over talent from rival WWE spurred a continual increase in their TV ratings. However they did eventually lose the Monday night war to WWE and with good reason. Most of their shortcomings came down to insubordinate talent and incompetent management.
Despite some good booking decisions, the company made a series of terrible booking decisions that ultimately took them down. Some of these involved the general direction of their television broadcasts, while others were the absolutely ridiculous characters they created during that time. And as anyone who remembers WCW during the 90s can attest, the company had plenty of terrible characters. Some of them were simply uninspired knockoffs or parodies of WWE characters, while others were simply awful ideas that should have never made it onto TV. We'll take a look at some of the more ludicrous characters in the list below.
It is a commonly known fact that within the wrestling industry many performers take inspiration from other wrestlers and sometimes movie characters in Hollywood when creating their own character. Sometimes this can be in the form of a subtle homage, and in some cases the gimmick is just a blatant ripoff of a movie character.
Enter Glacier. From the moment Raymond M. Lloyd debuted the gimmick, it was clear as day that it was a cheap knockoff Sub-Zero from the Mortal Combat movies. Despite a flashy entrance with blue laser lights, Glacier never really excelled with the company and was mostly involved in undercard feuds. He failed to capture a single title during his 3 year run with the company.
During the Monday night wars, one thing that both WCW and WWE were guilty of was blatantly ripping off gimmicks from their fiercest rival. Whether it was fake Diesel and fake Razor Ramon in WWE or The Renegade in WCW, the characters rarely if ever got over and were viewed as nothing more than a cheap knockoff. Played by Richard Wilson, The Renegade was so much of a carbon copy of The Ultimate Warrior that the WCW fans despised him.
Having defeated Arn Anderson at The Great American Bash in 1995, Renegade did become a one time WCW television champion. He lost the belt a couple of months later to DDP and his manager Jimmy Hart turned on him. Due to his failing to get over with the crowd, he was relegated to jobber status and eventually released by the company in December of 1998.
Kevin Nash is one of the more accomplished wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. He had a lengthy run as WWE champion under the moniker of Diesel, and alongside Scott Hall was a founding member of the nWo. On top of that, his jump to WCW resulted in the first ever guaranteed contracts in wrestling, changing the business forever. He is also the guy who brought an end to Goldberg's streak.
His career wasn't all highs though, and at one point in WCW he wrestled under the name "Oz." The silver haired character clad in a green robe was based on the children's book the Wizard of Oz. Alongside manager The Great Wizard, he was pushed strongly out the gate before losing to Ron Simmons a month later at The Great American Bash. He then went on a losing streak, eventually dropping the gimmick and moving on to bigger and better things.
13 B.A BUZZKILL
Although he had a lengthy career in the wrestling industry, Brad Armstrong was never really anything more than an undercard talent. Arguable his biggest accomplishment in WCW came when he captured the WCW light heavyweight title for his first and only reign with the belt. In 1999 he adopted the character Buzzkill, which was clearly a ripoff of Road Dogg in WWE.
The strangest part about it was Road Dogg and Buzzkill are real life brothers. Road Dogg didn't seem to mind as his character was vastly more successful than his WCW counterpart. It probably didn't help that most fans didn't actually know that the two were brothers. The character came to an abrupt end in March of 2000 when Armstrong suffered a severe knee injury. It was to be the last time he would be seen on WCW television.
12 THE ZODIAC
Ed Leslie is best known for his time in WWE in the late 80's and early 90's wrestling as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. As part of The Dream Team, Beefcake and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine became WWE tag team champions, and he feuded on Pay-Per-View with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect and The British Bulldogs. His time in WCW was as successful, despite challenging Hulk Hogan for the WCW heavyweight championship at Starrcade.
From there , Leslie became another guy who fell victim to WCW's dubious creative decisions and seemingly endless stream of horrendous gimmicks. He joined up with Kevin Sullivan's new stable The Dungeon Of Doom, where he wrestled as The Zodiac, a wrestler who wore black and white face paint and only ever said "Yes, no, yes, no" over and over. The Zodiac left the group at the beginning of 96' and moved on to his next unfortunate gimmick.
11 THE BOOTY MAN
Having just finished up a run being stuck with the unfortunate gimmick of The Zodiac as part of Kevin Sullivan's group The Dungeon Of Doom, surely things were looking up for Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. A fresh, exciting new character is exactly what he needed. Unfortunately, what he got was anything but.
Next up, he portrayed The Booty Man, a character who was infatuated with his own rear end. Referred to as The Booty Babe, Kimberly Page became his valet and his signature was the high knee simply because it was a homonym of the word "hiney." His only major feud during this period of time was with DDP. To absolutely nobody's surprise, the gimmick didn't last very long. Shortly afterwards Beefcake unsuccessfully attempted to join the nWo and he left the company shortly afterwards.
10 THE SHARK
While wrestling in WWE under the name "The Earthquake", John Tenta had decent success and was a former WWE tag team champion with his partner Typhoon. Well over 400 lbs, the guy had a sizable build and an intimidating presence. He also had major feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jake "The Snake" Roberts during his tenure with the company.
When he made the switch to WCW he was originally named Avalanche until WWE threatened to sue over similarities to his gimmick during his time working for Vince McMahon, so they changed his name to "The Shark." He joined Kevin Sullivan's stable The Dungeon Of Doom in 1995 and engaged in various feuds but the gimmick really halted his momentum. In 1996, after leaving the stable he dropped the gimmick and started wrestling under his real name.
9 THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE IAUKEA
Michael Hayner had a decent career in WCW as a mid-card talent. He was originally named after King Curtis Iaukea and wrestled as Prince Iaukea, a name given to him by Kevin Sullivan. it was during this time in early 1997 that he captured the WCW television championship from Lord Steven Regal. He defended the belt on successfully for a few months before dropping it to Ultimo Dragon.
In 1998 he floated around the lower mid-card before returning in 1999 calling himself "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea." The character was one of the comedic variety and was clearly based on the singer Prince. He did go on to win the WCW cruiserweight championship on a couple of occasions, but only after his name was shortened to "The Artist," a necessary change which happened shortly after the character debuted.
During the Monday night wars, there was a lot of plagiarism on both sides between WCW and WWE. In some cases it was an attempt to piggyback on the success of a rivals character and in other cases, it was an attempt to ridicule a popular star on the opposition brand. In WWE, one of the most popular examples was a parody of Goldberg named Gillberg, while WCW opted to mock beloved commentator Jim Ross with a character named Oklahoma. The character, portrayed by Ed Ferrara was in really poor taste as he mocked JR for having Bell's Palsy. He did go on to win the WCW cruiserweight title on one occasion but had to vacate the title as he was well over the weight limit for the division. Thankfully the insensitive character was eventually dropped from WCW television.
7 THE SHOCKMASTER
When WWE and WCW weren't stealing ideas from one another, their creative departments spent a lot of their time stealing ideas from Hollywood. When Fred Ottman debuted as The Shockmaster, we was wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet covered in glitter. He was brought in to team with popular faces Sting, Dusty Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith. However, his debut went comically wrong to the point where it lives in infamy in wrestling folklore.
On Ric Flair's interview segment "A Flair for the gold," Sting announced how their teammate would "shock the world." The Shockmaster was meant to break through the set wall but he accidentally tripped causing his helmet to come off and his face was exposed. Wrestlers could be heard laughing in the background and due to the calamitous debut The Shockmaster character was scrapped and Ottman was repackaged as Klutz.
6 THE YETI
It appears that WCW just had a knack for wasting wrestlers with imposing physiques. At 7"2 and 365 pounds, Ronald Reis had the build of a guy who could be a huge success in the wrestling business. Unfortunately, he debuted at Halloween Havoc in 1995 as The Yeti, the insurance policy The Dungeon Of Doom member The Giant in his WCW title match against Hulk Hogan. The wrestler emerged from a block of ice covered in bandages like a mummy.
After Halloween Havoc, the appearance of the character changed to resemble a masked ninja. However, Reis would only make a handful more appearances under the moniker of The Yeti (including one appearance where his name was changed to The Super Giant Ninja) before being repackaged in 1996 as Big Ron Studd.
While the argument could be made that he was a talented enough all around performer to ever become a main event caliber competitor, it's fair to say that Brad Armstrong's case was not helped by the string of bad gimmicks which he was given during his time in WCW. One such gimmick which he had the unenviable task of trying to get over was Arachnaman. Not only was the masked superhero character underwhelming to begin with, but it was a blatant rip off of Spiderman. So much so that Marvel Comics actually threatened legal action against the company unless they discontinued the character. WCW ended up folding under the legal pressure and the character was scrapped a couple of months after its television debut. For Armstrong's sake it was probably for the best, as the character was dead on arrival.
4 THAT 70S GUY
One has to wonder what exactly Mike Awesome did to upset the WCW brass in order to be landed with a second atrocious gimmick in quick succession. Despite getting himself over in ECW and becoming their world champion, it seemed WCW were hell bent on misusing the talented superstar. Having just finished up performing as The Fat Chick Thrilla, Awesome must have been fairly excited by the prospect or receiving a new gimmick.
That is of course until he got saddled with his new character, "That 70's Guy." The character was based off of a television show that was fairly popular at the time, That 70's Show. He would dress in 70s clothing and hosted an on-screen interview segment known as the lava lamp lounge. The gimmick lasted just under 4 months.
3 THE FAT CHICK THRILLA
While all of the gimmicks on this list are fairly bad, a few of the ones in question could have worked if played right. That is certainly not the case with The Fat Chick Thrilla. Solely based off the name alone, there is no way that gimmick is ever getting over with the fans. The character was portrayed by Mike Awesome who himself actually had a fairly decent career as former WCW champion.
What is bizarre about this entry is he started portraying the character in WCW in mid 2000 after all of his success in ECW. A man who was obsessed with larger women, the gimmick was every bit as terrible as the name suggests. Unfortunately it wasn't the last horrible gimmick Mike Awesome had in the company as this is only his first entry on this list.
WCW has had some bizzare cameos in the past. Without a doubt, one of the most absurd of these appearances was the introduction of fictional movie character RoboCop to WCW television. What made the whole thing even more unusual was he was first introduced to the fans at Capital Combat in 1991, meaning he made his debut on Pay Per View. He showed up to come to the aid of Sting, in what was meant to be a promotional crossover due to the upcoming release of the second movie for the franchise, RoboCop 2.
Although it has never been officially confirmed, for years there have been stories in circulation that the guy in the costume was actually the actor who portrayed RoboCop in the movies, Peter Weller. Many have dubbed the moment where RoboCop saved Sting has one of the worst moments in WCW history and he was never seen on WCW television again.
1 THE DING DONGS
Originally wrestling as The Rock n' Roll Rebels, Greg Evans and Richard Sartain moved to WCW where they began wrestling as The Ding Dongs. The gimmick was so awful that it made them memorable to an extent, although it will go down as one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history. The team would wear masks and bells to the ring which they would ring throughout the match as WCW management thought it would be a popular gimmick for children.
The reaction they got during their debut match was so poor that their push was immediately stopped. It was clear that the older WCW fanbase would never accept the duo. They immediately went on a losing streak, getting squashed by many opposing teams in the process. A few short months later the gimmick was scrapped, and the Ding Dongs will forever be known as one of the worst gimmicks in the history of the business.