Even though many WWE fans and pundits like to view the product as real-life sports, it's important to remember that the "e" stands for "Entertainment."
That's a key reason why WWE has tried to introduce some silly, cheesy and humorous characters that are meant to "entertain us." Not every wrestler can be a world class performer and in-ring entertainer like The Undertaker, John Cena, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles or Shawn Michaels.
When Vince McMahon's business was on top of the wrestling world in the early '90s, he decided to add some more humorous elements to the show. That's when he began introducing people that were "characters," more so than "wrestlers." These weren't guys that were putting on main event matches. They weren't highlighting pay-per-views, and they didn't get many reigns with championship titles.
While Vince had guys like Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage steal the show, he filled up the mid-card with guys that played all sorts of different characters. Some of them portrayed your Average Joe working man, such as a garbageman or tax collector.
He had no choice but to scrap them when WCW began to gain serious momentum in the '90s, which fueled the bitter Monday Night Wars. But when WWE won the battle and bought out WCW in 2001? Vince McMahon saw the opportunity to introduce more ridiculous wrestling characters. And boy, did they not sit well with fans and pundits.
Here is a look at 10 terrible wrestling gimmicks from the '90s, and 10 from the '00s.
20 From The '90s: Doink the Clown
Since so many people have a fear of clowns (Coulrophobia), WWE introduced a character named 'Doink the Clown'. He was played by different wrestlers throughout the '90s, but it was the late Matt Osborne that made the character famous.
Now, let's not deny that Doink was always good for a few laughs. But as a wrestling character? He would have been better off working on a show for the Comedy channel. Doink often played silly pranks on his fans and opponents.
This included using toys to his advantage in matches, while even bringing aboard Doink lookalikes to distract the opponents. It made us laugh, sure, but it wasn't exactly entertaining from a wrestling fan's standpoint.
19 From The 2000s: Deuce N' Domino
Deuce Shade and Dice Domino were active in WWE from 2006-08, and managed by Cherry. WWE combined their two names and called the group "Deuce N' Domino," where they portrayed the stereotypical greasers from the '50s. If you saw Grease - which starred John Travolta - you probably had a total dislike for this gimmick. Hard to blame you.
With all due respect to the WWE era, greasers were peak movie and TV characters in the '50s, '60s and '70s. But for some reason, we were supposed to be totally on board with this silly tandem.
Though Deuce N'Domino enjoyed a run with the WWE Tag Team Championship, fans never took them seriously and refused to buy their gimmick. Both Superstars were out of WWE by 2008.
18 From The '90s: Skinner
It was in the early and mid '90s where WWE began introducing these characters with corny, not-to-be-taken seriously characters. One of the first wrestlers to carry such a gimmick was Steve Keirn, who went by "Skinner," when he joined WWE in 1991.
Skinner was an alligator hunter based out of Florida. Skinner chewed tobacco, spoke in the heavy Southern accent and even had a promo where he gradually arose out of the alligator-infested waters in Florida.
Skinner had a ripped-up hunting hat and carried both a knife and alligator claw around, which he liked using to his advantage. He left WWE two years later. It's amazing that the gimmick managed to last that long, really.
17 From The 2000s: Eugene
This was one of the most offensive gimmicks of all-time, and there's simply no way WWE would get away with running it today. Still, it's disturbing that WWE went with it for a long period of time anyway.
Eugene joined WWE in 2004 and was portrayed as the mentally challenged nephew of Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. They had Eugene interfere in big matches, including championship bouts involving Triple H. It was supposed to entertain the fans and make us laugh, but they failed on both ends.
Eugene stayed on with WWE until 2007 before getting released. He has made some occasional appearances since, but WWE has seemingly tried distancing themselves from his character however possible.
16 From The '90s: Gobbledy Gooker
Yes, I probably could put 'Gobbledy Gooker' higher on the list, but since his gimmick lasted a very short period, I decided to be nice and keep him away from the very top. He didn't appear on our televisions too often, after all.
Gobbledy Gooker first showed up at the 1990 Survivor Series pay-per-view. He "hatched" from a giant egg, which was left as a mystery for the crowd and fans on television beforehand.
Gooker - which was really just a giant turkey - then performed a dance with legendary announcer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund. Fans were supposed to laugh out of Gooker, but they instead booed him heavily and forced the character to be retired quickly.
15 From the 2000s: Simon Dean
Whether you like hitting up the gym or not, it's safe to say that many of us get tired of those TV and computer pop-up ads about "getting into shape," and "using this program that will change your life."
For WWE, it was the perfect gimmick for a young man named Mike Bucci. In 2004, they introduced him as "Simon Dean," an annoying fitness-obsessed guru who came out to hand out tips on getting in proper shape and eating healthy diets. He'd even go as far as to putting down some of his clients, which only helped him build up the heel character.
And come on, they had Simon Dean come out to the ring on a Segway! Wouldn't a real fitness expert want to burn the calories and walk or run down the squared circle?
14 From The '90s: Irwin R. Schyster
People simply don't like paying taxes, but people hate it when more when IRS workers warn them about being late on their payments. For WWE officials, the gimmick for Mike Rotunda was simple: Have him play an IRS agent whose name was "Irwin R. Schyster". Notice that his initials happened to be "I.R.S."?
Irwin came out to the crowd and threatened fans to pay their taxes. He'd even poke fun at the cities and states he was performing in. And because it was the perfect match, they had IRS join Ted DiBiase's Money Inc. faction.
Sure, people don't like receiving warnings from the IRS. But using the agency to build up a character that we were supposed to despise? That crosses the line a bit, considering that the real IRS workers are just doing their jobs.
13 From The 2000s: Heidenreich
Jon Heidenreich appeared on WWE briefly in 2003, but then the creative team began entertaining ideas for how to change him up. I'd rather not go into details, but one of them disturbed Vince McMahon so much that he had to leave a meeting, wondering what in the world just hit his ears.
Heidenreich then returned to WWE in 2004, as a merciless and ruthless enforcer. There was a very disturbing angle involving Michael Cole. There was having Heidenreich attack fans in the crowd. There was him finding strange ways to interfere in The Undertaker's matches.
The list went on and on and on. Heidenreich's gimmick never went over with fans and prognosticators. It was one of those "How in the world did this get the thumbs up from WWE officials" things. Moving on..
12 From The '90s: Repo Man
There's nothing corny like basing a wrestler off of an iconic television character. WWE introduced the Repo Man in 1991, a man who was a complete knock-off of Frank Gorshin's version of The Riddler in the '60s Batman show, starring Adam West.
Repo Man wore a similar mask and displayed the same qualities as The Riddler. He was sneaky in stealing things from his opponents. He enjoyed tying up his opponents by means of torture, and Repo Man also enjoyed stealing their cars.
Worse yet, this terrible gimmick lasted two years, whereas other ones on this list only lasted a few short months.
11 From The 2000s: The Spirit Squad
One of the five men in the photo above became a WWE veteran, with two World Heavyweight Championships and a boatload of other titles on his resume. Yes, that would be Dolph Ziggler, who can be seen on the far right. His name was "Nicky," when he performed for The Spirit Squad.
As for the other four Superstars? Mitch, Johnny, Kenny and Mikey. These five made up the infamous 'Spirit Squad' stable. Had they not entered a feud with D-Generation X (siding with the McMahons), this group would have been forgotten about long ago.
But we simply can't erase The Spirit Squad from our minds. The annoying entrance theme, their terrible cheers and the comedic gimmick. Yeesh. No wonder this group only stayed together for a short period.
10 From The '90s: The Mountie
Jacques Rougeau Jr., a Quebec native, had the misfortunes of playing a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer. He dressed up like a legitimate RCMP cop, from the big hat to the historic red jacket, complete with his own set of weapons.
The Mountie had a cheesy entrance theme that, may I confess, was also somewhat catchy. He'd handcuff his opponents and use the police weapons to his advantage. But when he performed in Canada, Rougeau faced so much heat for the offensive gimmick. Thus, he was barred from performing as 'The Mountie' while in Canada.
WWF would also warn fans during broadcasts that Rougeau had no association with the RCMP. Yes, it was so bad and poorly received to the point that WWE had to warn fans he wasn't a real cop.
9 From The 2000s: Deacon Batista
Future Hall of Famer Dave 'The Animal' Batista debuted as 'Deacon Batista' in May 2002. He was a sidekick to D'Von Dudley, who changed his character to "Reverend D'Von," after splitting from Bubba Ray via the WWE Draft.
Reverend D'Von provided spiritual services to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Batista served as his right hand man, carrying around a book with a giant chain necklace wrapped around him. Batista displayed a menacing look and provided the necessary protection for D'Von.
This gimmick only lasted a short time, as Batista later backstabbed his friend and embarked on a heel run. He would later join Evolution and rise to the top of the WWE card. But not before this forgettable run.
8 From The '90s: Duke "The Dumpster" Droese
When Duke Droese joined WWE in 1994, his gimmick was simple. What kind of nickname could possibly go well with the initials of "D.D."? Oh yeah, The Dumpster! How could I not have guessed earlier?
Droese dressed up as a garbageman and carried a trash can right to the ring. There were even vignettes of him slamming garbage can lids together to make music, all while singing "Taking out the trash." In fact, Droese became a skilled trick shot guy. There was a promo where he made phenomenal basketball trick shot, like only a skilled garbageman could.
What a character, both literally and figuratively.
7 From The 2000s: Paul Burchill
When I was in elementary school, Pirates of the Caribbean was the coolest film series ever. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow was the best thing in Hollywood. There were few movie characters that displayed, how do you say it? Oh yeah, awesomeness and the "I wish I was him" element.
But as cool as Jack Sparrow was, it was kind of silly when WWE introduced a pirate version of Paul Burchil. He swung from the ropes "pirate style" as part of his entrance and even brought out a sword once in a while! How cool is that?
But yeah, no. This gimmick just didn't cut it, even if you liked pirate movies like us kids who grew up in the '00s.
6 From The '90s: The Goon
WWE introduced The Goon in 1996, just as the Monday Night War with WCW were starting to heat up. The Goon took up wrestling because he was "kicked out of every hockey league" he joined, including the NHL.
When The Goon attacked his opponent, the commentators would use hockey terms such as "penalty," and "cross-checking." He wore a hockey jersey with gloves and boots that looked like skates. The Goon's entrance theme was also the catchy organ music they play at hockey games.
The Goon's gimmick only lasted a couple of months, before WWE realized it wasn't going anywhere and cancelled it for good. And so, one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history came to an end.
5 From The 2000s: Hornswoggle
Okay fine, I'll admit I always had a soft spot for "Finlay's Leprechaun," during his run with WWE. But if I were an adult watching Hornswoggle in WWE today, I'd probably be as bored as you old-timer fans.
Don't get me wrong, it's always fun having humorous characters like Hornswoggle out there. But having him play off as a sneaky little troublemaker for Finlay? Really? That's the best WWE could do with him?
And don't get me started with the "Mr. McMahon's Illegitimate Son" storyline. That was just downright embarrassing and hard to watch. I personally didn't mind his role as the anonymous GM of Raw, but I know everybody else hated it. It wasn't fun putting Hornswoggle on this list, but I have to cater to the naysayers. You're welcome.
4 From The '90s: Fake Diesel And Fake Razor Ramon
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall went by 'Diesel' and 'Razor Ramon', respectively, during their original runs in WWE. But when both Superstars left for WCW to earn more money in the mid-90s, Vince McMahon became desperate.
Just how would would he manage to replace two of his greatest talents? Especially a pair of world class heels that you could argue were, well, irreplaceable?
Vince had Kane (before he was the Big Red Machine), come in as "Fake Diesel," while Rick Bognar came in as "Fake Razor Ramon." All they did was dress up as the real Diesel and Ramon, and simply mock their gestures, facial expressions and habits.
It was just all-around terrible and ridiculous. And you wonder why WCW became the most watched wrestling program for a while?
3 From The 2000s: Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero Jr. is part of the famous wrestling family that included Eddie and Chavo Sr. He enjoyed some major success as a mid-card superstar, which included a run with the Cruiserweight Championship.
But after moving to the Raw brand via the 2005 WWE Draft, Guerrero became "Kerwin White." This character showed total disregard for his Hispanic background and portrayed a wealthy golfer. He drove down to the ring in a golf cart and even carried clubs on his way to the ring.
It was a silly, offensive and unfunny character that simply wasn't cut out for Chavo. To this day, we wonder how in the world the higher-ups gave the green light on this gimmick change.
2 From The '90s: Isaac Yankem, DDS
You kids may not know that Kane - the future Hall of Famer who forever changed the wrestling industry in the '90s and early '00s - had to portray one terrible gimmick early on in his WWE career.
Kane recently appeared on the Talk Is Jericho podcast and revealed that when he first met face-to-face with Vince McMahon, the WWE Chairman pitched the idea for him to play Isaac Yankem, DDS. Kane himself struggled to keep a straight face, but he agreed to go through with it.
And so, Dr. Yankem was an evil dentist for Jerry 'The King' Lawler who enjoyed torturing his patients by getting rough with the dental work. His entrance music was that of a loud, noisy dentist drill. What a charming sound to listen to!
Thankfully, WWE moved on from this terrible gimmick after a couple short of months.
1 From The 2000s: Mr. America
After WrestleMania XIX, Hulk Hogan ditched the signature red and yellow colors that made Hulkamania run wild. That gave birth to the masked 'Mr. America' character. Even though WWE "hid" his identity, every fan on the planet knew that it was Hogan behind the mask. How original.
Hogan wore the red, blue and white colors and portrayed the patriotic character. He continued a feud with Mr. McMahon before eventually leaving WWE in 2003, following a contract disagreement with the WWE Chairman.
Spoiler alert: WWE's choice to have the most recognized name in the history of professional wrestling try to conceal his identity led to a forgettable gimmick. Who could have predicted this?