Let’s face it, folks—professional wrestling isn’t always the most highbrow form of entertainment out there. With all due respect to the performers who put their bodies on the line for the crowd’s enjoyment, WWE in particular has been responsible for some outrageously stupid television over the years. There’s a temptation to blame this on the promoters or writers who come up with the most embarrassing gimmicks and angles, yet the wrestlers who willingly degrade themselves by living them are definitely complicit in one way or another.
All that said, we totally understand why an aspiring wrestler would do something stupid inside the ring, because believe it or not, sometimes being stupid can be a good thing. In the comedy world, it can even be a compliment, and WWE prides themselves on blending all genres into their unique style, so the ability to get laughs can be of great benefit to a grappler’s career. Other times a stupid gimmick isn’t necessarily funny, but the way a wrestler committed to it was strong enough to make it believable, at least in the context of sports entertainment. At the risk of giving Vince McMahon the idea that he should make more like them, keep reading to learn about the 15 dumbest WWE gimmicks that fans totally loved.
17 The Undertaker
Knowing how controversial it could be upon first glance, it felt necessary to get The Undertaker out of the way right from the start. No one would ever try and deny The Phenom is one of the greatest WWE superstars in history, and yet take away Mark Calaway’s incredible connection to the character, and you have a zombie cowboy with superpowers. Getting slightly more specific, said superpowers involve shooting lightning bolts out of his hands, which might even extend to controlling the weather in general. How a character with this ability would ever be allowed to compete in an athletic event is baffling, not to mention how strange it is he still loses despite his magic powers. And don’t even get us started on Undertaker’s fire controlling monster of a brother, Kane. Yet, regardless of it all, both Kane and The Undertaker are rightfully considered legends of the industry, and fans tend love them most of all when they work their literal magic.
16 The Honky Tonk Man
Elvis Presley was a cultural icon, and just about everybody has seen an impersonator or two dressed up like The King of Rock and Roll at a county fair or maybe a Vegas wedding. However, the thing that separates your run-of-the-mill Elvis impersonator from the Honky Tonk Man is that these other Elvises didn’t wrestle, mostly because the real Elvis obviously didn’t wrestle, either. Notwithstanding this incredible break from his character’s source material, Honky managed to become the self-proclaimed greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, holding the belt for a record 14 months. Far more than just a flash-in-the-pan who simply got lucky during the ‘80s wrestling boom, Honky’s success continued well after he lost the belt, still wrestling on the independent scene and both managing and providing commentary in WWE. Although fans infamously gave Honky a vote of no confidence, they always loved to boo him, and his legend is forever etched in WWE history.
What does everybody want? Well, maybe not everybody, but in the very least Al Snow loved carrying around his mannequin’s Head, talking to it and treating it like his best friend. Granted, when Al was in ECW, chances are fans just liked the pun of chanting that they wanted Head, and the Attitude Era WWE Universe really wasn’t that much different. Even beyond the easy sex jokes, though, Head was a wildly popular character directly responsible for making Al Snow a superstar, fleeting though his fame may have been. Popularity be damned, the idea of a crazy person talking to a mannequin is obviously, well, crazy. Exhibiting the risks involved in a stupid gimmick, Al eventually went too far with it and jumped the shark by introducing additional characters like Pierre the Moose and Pepper the Dog, gradually killing the joke and his push in the process.
14 The Blue World Order
On the one hand, the New World Order of professional wrestling was such an outrageously influential and important group that absolutely anyone with the brass to parody them was going to get over huge. On the other, all The Blue Meanie, Stevie Richards, and Nova did to connect their version to the original was slightly change their names and color the classic shirts blue. By the time the idea reached the WWE Universe it almost entirely stopped making sense, and yet there was definitely a certain portion of the audience who were overjoyed when the Meanie pinned JBL on SmackDown. When they were in ECW it was far more than some small portion of the crowd, as Big Stevie Cool and his gang were arguably the most popular wrestlers in the company for a brief period in 1997. Chances are that would have remained true wherever they were, as timing can be everything with intentionally stupid parodies.
13 Doink the Clown
Whether you’re talking about evil heel Doink the Clown or goofy babyface Doink the Clown, the character looks absolutely ridiculous on a purely aesthetic level. Taking his cues from the traditional auguste clown, Doink had green hair, painted his face white, and even dyed his nose red, taking his name more literally than most (but not all) wrestlers on this list. The problems with such a character should be immediately evident, in that a clown’s form of slapstick humor only cheapens the wrestling action. This is why Doink ultimately didn’t work as a face, but as a heel, he was creepy, manipulative, and at times downright scary, whether you suffer from coulrophobia or not. Even though his face run quickly fizzled out, it was still quite popular with children, who appreciated a nice wrestling clown in all the way an adult would be inclined to find the idea stupid.
12 Val Venis
The Attitude Era was most certainly a different time, and in fact the only time in wrestling history when a character like Val Venis could have become popular in WWE. Taking the idea of a wrestler with a side job to it’s furthest extreme, Venis was a wrestler/adult star, introduced to fans as a regular costar of Jenna Jameson. Naturally, due to his other profession, Venis primarily spoke in sex puns and his storylines were almost always adult in nature. It goes without saying that the more socially conservative wrestling fans wouldn’t be too happy about this character, but the more important issue is that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. There’s nothing about adult entertainment that makes people think the male performers would be good at sports, and Venis’s constant references to it were thus more distracting than relevant to his career. Once again, though, it worked, and crowds howled with joy whenever Venis said hello to the ladies.
Generally, the idea of people with dwarfism having their condition sensationalized for pro wrestling has gone from an omnipresent part of the wrestling industry to a highly controversial subject. There’s a reason WWE hasn’t employed many people with dwarfism on the long term, and that makes it all the more surprising and bizarre that a character like Hornswoggle worked so well. Presumably deciding that if they were going to be offensive they may as well go big or go home, the lone dwarf character to enjoy success in WWE over the past several decades was a literal Leprechaun. Granted, Hornswoggle evolved in many ways throughout his decade working for the McMahon family, and yet that evolution was always at least a little bit insulting to an already denigrated minority group. For as popular as Hornswoggle once was, he ultimately jumped the shark on a level so severe the Cruiserweight Championship was retired in the process.
10 The Cobra
Anyone denying this article’s opening thesis that stupid can be a great thing for comedy needs look no further than Santino Marella for our counterpoint. It’s a little hard to distil his character down to a few words, the best we can do being to say he was the living embodiment of a “comedy character.” While the majority of Santino’s jokes were pretty silly, his hand puppet/finishing move the Cobra was outright idiotic. Of course, that also meant it was one of the most popular gimmicks in the WWE Universe whenever Marella busted it out. In many respects, the Cobra was a spiritual successor to the equally brilliantly dumb Mankind creation Mr. Socko, and the crowd never loved the Cobra more than when it finally squared off with the Sock. Unfortunately, not everything Santino did was hilarious, i.e. his fake “sister” Santina.
8 Irwin R. Schyster
Much like with the governmental organization that shares his namesake, it probably isn’t accurate to say that wrestling fans loved Irwin R. Schyster, aka IRS. However, that same notoriety associated with the Internal Revenue Service is exactly why IRS has gone down as he best remembered character of journeyman grappler Mike Rotunda, who also experienced great success under his own name in both WWE and the NWA. Strapping on suspenders and taking a side job as a tax man is what really sent him over the edge, though, regardless of how ridiculous it looked to have an accountant chastising wrestlers about improper write offs. Real tax collectors may never go to the lengths Schyster did in the ring, but then again, anyone who’s experienced a serious tax problem might disagree with that statement. As usual, what really sold the character was Rotunda’s commitment to his character, adding just the right amount of sneer and sleaze when he reminded fans everybody had to pay.
7 Kai En Tai Get EEEEEEVIL
Going back to the idea that stupid is a great thing when it comes to comedy, Kai En Tai’s poor dubbing gimmick was a hardly original idea, having been a comedic trope used for decades before WWE ever had the idea. In fact, it had even been done in wrestling before, and recently—WCW beat them to the punch, albeit less successfully, with La Parka and Kaz Hayashi. What separates that strange makeshift team from the far better Kai En Tai was that WCW made it insulting to the men performing it, while WWE’s version was clearly a parody of Japanese film, in essence celebrating the wrestler’s incredible facial expressions. While it’s true Taka Michinoku and Funaki were never able to rise above their status as jobbers, fans nonetheless howled with laughter every time Taka gave a long diatribe and Funaki offered his one word response: INDEED.
5 The Boogeyman
Considering how successful characters like Kane and The Undertaker managed to become over the years, its almost surprising WWE hasn’t tried more ideas like The Boogeyman. The most outlandish WWE superstar in history by a country mile, Marty Wright portrayed a literal boogeyman who ate worms and generally freaked people the hell out. Despite looking like something that belonged in a horror flick more than a wrestling ring, the Boogeyman became so popular so quickly that he instantly started working with bona fide WWE legends. His very first feud saw him square off with former WWE Champion JBL, followed by a prolonged program with Booker T. Boogeyman felt right at home against these seasoned veterans despite his own lack of experience, and his commitment to the genuinely monstrous nom de guerre alone was more than enough to make that possible.
4 The Hurricane
Stand back, there’s a Hurricane coming through! In a manner of speaking, superheroes have been in professional wrestling from the day the sport was invented. Shane Helms wasn’t even the first person to try and make the idea literal, although he was definitely the most popular, due largely to his originality in creating an entirely unique character. Inspired by his own genuine love of comic books, Helms crafted The Hurricane as more of a nerd that wished he was a superhero than a real hero, which was the key ingredient in making it resonate so powerfully with the many wrestling fans who could perhaps describe themselves that way. Hurricane became so endearing he earned some main event worthy super villains like The Rock and equally powerful allies like Kane, and later even started to form his own entourage with his Superhero In Training Rosey and their mascot Super Stacy. Fans kept laughing throughout it all, even as Rosey was branded S.H.I.T., showing no joke is too low when stupid comedy is the whole point.
3 Ricki Starr
Everyone who watched WWE during the Attitude Era can remember hearing Jim Ross exclaim at one point or another that pro wrestling wasn’t ballet. Apparently, Good Old JR had never heard of legendary British wrestler Ricki Starr, who pranced to the ring in a leotard and ballet slippers and used his training as a dancer to mystify his opponents into defeat. While this wouldn’t be too out of place in the modern era, Starr was active back in the 1950s, and therefore stuck out in spectacular fashion—and the crowds loved him for it. Especially considering this was decades before Vince McMahon made it commonplace for a wrestler to have a side job, the last person anyone could picture getting in the ring was a ballet dancer, and the more his dancing came up, the sillier it would look. On the other hand, since there had never been anything like it before Starr introduced the idea, he became wildly popular with British audiences, recognition that extended to his few trips to the WWE Universe.
According to a popular rumor, Perry Saturn was initially given Moppy as punishment for roughing up a jobber on a 2001 episode of Jakked. If that’s the case, the disciplinary measure might have backfired, as Moppy would become such a popular and endearing character that it was referenced as recently as Extreme Rules 2016. For anyone who blocked it out of their memory, Moppy was a literal mop that Saturn drew a face on and fell in love with, going so far as to break up with Terri Runnels in favor of his cleaning device. There is absolutely no medium we’re aware of where a man falling in love with a mop can make him a beloved comedy figure himself, and yet that’s exactly what happened, with fans cheering Saturn louder than they ever had in WWE while he gleefully pranced around with his inanimate girlfriend.
Poor, poor Nick Dinsmore. Once considered a highly talented potential star, he’ll never be able to shake the reputation as WWE’s most offensive and disgusting creation, Eugene. To put it delicately, Eugene wasn’t quite all there mentally, getting overexcited at the opportunity to meet his opponents and preferring to mimic his old favorites than to craft a move set or identity of his own. It was brash, it was hurtful, it was insulting, mean, and just plain horrible, but damn it all, the WWE Universe loved them some Eugene. Offensive or not, fans resonated with the fact Eugene genuinely was the ultimate underdog, and then reveled in his excitement whenever he pulled off a victory. Eugene was popular enough to take his gimmick to the Tag Team Championships and a win over Triple H, not to mention a WrestleMania moment with Hulk Hogan. Had Dinsmore not suffered legitimate drug problems, there’s no telling how popular or successful Eugene could have became.
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