The business of professional wrestling attracts people from all walks of life -- people who are big, those who are small, people who use size to their advantage and people who use their athletic capabilities to wow the audience.
But wrestling isn’t just about being big; it’s about all-round on-screen presence, and that includes the ability to play up to the camera and the thousands in the arena, as well as having charm and charisma, athleticism and sheer physical presence all rolled into one.
Many wrestlers who have graced the ring have had one or the other, but very few have the whole package. It’s not uncommon to see a new wrestler on the scene, who turns out to be another flashy talent with all mouth but no substance. You look at some of these guys and you have to stifle a laugh. Really, you think, this guy’s a wrestler? Then you see their skill set in the ring and you realize the guy’s just a temporary gimmick, a flop, a guy that’s in there just to make up the numbers. But some do actually go on to have decent careers.
This list is all about those you’ve laughed at, secretly thought you could take, and wouldn’t intimidate you or I, let alone an established pro.
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15 Gene Snitsky
Gene did try, boy did he try. But he’s exactly the type of character described in the introduction – all mouth with no choice but to rely on ridiculous antics and gimmicks to get himself noticed. In a way, one could say he that is Vince McMahon’s perfect character. Vince tried to push him to the top, but it didn’t work. The fans saw that Gene didn’t have an ounce of star quality and he didn’t endear himself to them either. Think back to Gene’s five-year tenure in WWE and what do you remember?
Well if you can remember anything at all and can cast your mind back to the mid-2000s, you’re likely to remember Gene for his frequently used expression: “It wasn’t my fault” – a saying that was hardly likely to strike fear into the heart of opponents. Since that’s all we can really remember about Gene, it’s not surprising to say that the intimidation factor wasn’t really there; hence, he makes this list.
See Heidenreich snarling on camera and he might seem like a pretty intimidating guy. But watch him for any length of time and you’ll soon realize that he’s a bit of a pussycat. After making the transition from American Football to wrestling, Heidenreich didn’t really set the world alight – in fact he didn’t really do much in either sport. In his short-lived career, Heidenreich’s most notable achievement was winning the WWE Tag Team Championship, but he’ll be best remembered for his feud with The Undertaker – a feud that lasted pretty much for the duration of his time with WWE.
It’s not as if Heidenreich would have ever had The Undertaker shaking in his boots – there were far more intimidating guys on the WWE circuit at the time. Heidenreich entered with a gimmick and left a few short years later with his tail between his legs – needless to say that WWE recognized that Heidenreich didn’t look the part in the ring.
Now WWE is scripted, we all know that, but what makes it great, what make us tune in every week, is that it’s so realistic. Good acting is when you can’t tell it’s really acting, right? Well those of you who remember the 90s will be able to recall that wrestling shows resembled pantomimes. There was far too much over-the-top acting and many wrestlers – many, not all – played the part of cartoon characters. Nailz certainly played the lead, portraying a convict looking for payback, a gimmick that was getting rather tedious. There wasn’t much to speak of in terms of his wrestling ability – perhaps that’s why he tried to overcompensate by acting as the tough guy, getting into fights with the boss, Vince McMahon – not a smart move as the choke slam immediately got him fired. So was Nailz intimidating? Definitely not tough as nails - should have spent more time working on his skills against actual fighters, not the guy who paid his bills.
Kurrgan entered the WWE in the 90s, becoming part of The Truth Commission and The Oddities. At the time, he was marketed as the angry foreign wrestler, but this ploy certainly wasn’t successful. Those looking at Kurrgan – real name Robert Maillet – today may see him as an intimidating figure due to his macho roles in the worldwide hit movies, 300 and Hercules. He’s played numerous meaningful roles in films as the intimidating big man, puzzling because back in his WWE days, his persona couldn’t have been more different. In the ring, Kurgan portrayed an emotionless machine, a man-mountain – big but not really in any great shape – and he never spoke or played up to the camera or the crowd.
He was certainly just there to make up the numbers, but the WWE soon realized he did nothing to increase their ratings, and so his contract was terminated after just a short stint with the company.
11 Giant Gonzalez
Gonzalez may have been a giant – at eight feet tall, he was the tallest professional wrestler in history – but being a giant alone doesn’t make you intimidating; you’ve got to have the skills to back up that gigantic on-screen presence – something Gonzalez certainly didn’t have. Look at Gonzalez and you’d think tall, heavy, an utter beast of a man. If only, because most fighters would kill to have Gonzalez’s attributes. But Gonzalez didn’t make the most of his natural-born physical gifts; in fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that he was one of the worst wrestlers to have entered the ring. He was given a shot in WWE -and you can imagine why – but he made no impact whatsoever. Intimidating in terms of looks – sure – but take his wrestling into account, and it’s safe to say that Gonzalez wouldn’t have been giving too many wrestlers sleepless nights, or worrying you and I for that matter.
10 Ron Reis
Fighting under the ring names Reese and The Yeti -- one of the worst gimmicks in pro wrestling history I might add -- Reis really wasn’t an intimidating presence. It’s staggering that someone with the commercial prowess of Vince McMahon would think that The Yeti character would be anything other than an abject failure; but that’s what it was – embarrassing and something that should be banished from the wrestling archives. If you saw a figure dressed up in something resembling a kid’s Halloween costume, would you be shaking in your boots? That description is actually doing Halloween costumes a disservice. The Yeti – a mythical ape-like snowman creature – does not resemble a Mummy in any way, shape or form, but that’s what Reis’ character was – a man that had been badly wrapped up in toilet roll. So, intimidating? Nah! Ridiculous and cringeworthy? Absolutely! A waste of television time and what may have been a talented individual.
The fact that Mantaur lasted less than a year in the ring with WWE – then WWF – tells you a lot about his impact on the professional wrestling circuit. Mantaur, aka the Tank, was certainly that. He was average height at 6'1 – actually quite a lot smaller than the majority of professional wrestlers – and was big, weighing in at over 400lbs – obviously not 400lb of muscle. Unsurprisingly, Mantaur entered the ring in a number of ludicrous costumes to cover up all that blubber – costumes that made him look like a disfigured teddy bear, a bear made as a result of complications in the factory manufacturing processes. His short-lived career got off to something of a winning start, but just as quickly as it started it ended when Mantaur started losing to random, up-and-coming nobodies. His ring presence wasn’t intimidating in the slightest – just one of the reasons why had his contract with the company terminated.
8 The Shockmaster
The Shockmaster was another fat guy of average height, destined to set the world alight with his wrestling prowess, but instead ended up being a huge flop – one the biggest in history. This just goes to show that having the look of a wrestler – the look of a monster – doesn’t mean you’ll actually be one in the ring. Intimidating? Absolutely not. Clumsy, an embarrassment, foolish, other similar adjectives? Yes, certainly. Just think back to his WCW debut. In 1993, people tuned in to see the monster-like figure - the character of The Shockmaster- take off and develop into the next big thing. But in an effort to "shock" the fans, Shockmaster attempted to crash through a wall during his ring entrance, an attempt that failed miserably and made him into the laughing stock of WCW before even setting foot in the ring. The Shockmaster’s a goof, not intimidating in the slightest.
7 Sin Cara - Luis Urive
The wearing of a mask in wrestling is either to cloud a character in an air of mystery, or to enhance a character who otherwise wouldn’t seem the least bit intimidating. That’s because the Sin Cara character, portrayed by Luise Urive and regularly used by WWE, really didn’t have much else going on. If you’re going to use a character that only makes special appearances, the character needs to be just that: special. Luis Urvie didn’t really have any of that – there was no pizazz, no skills to rave about and in terms of his intimidation factor – well, you can rate his at zero.
Despite his lack of ability, Sin Cara has become somewhat of a cult figure in WWE, mainly due to Jorge Arias’s performances after he took over for Urive in 2013. He’s taken Sin Cara to new heights, but bump into him on the street and you certainly wouldn’t think he’s a wrestler.
6 Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder resembles something of a preppy schoolboy and looks like he should be donning a suit and tie rather than pummeling people in the ring. Despite winning championships during his time with WWE, he’s just not an intimidating guy – you don’t look at Ryder and think, "This guy’s a world-beater." The company didn’t think Ryder had it in him either, probably why he often found himself shoved to the back of the line and being underutilized for television appearances. Unsurprisingly, Ryder became dissatisfied with the WWE – a period which saw him return to lower-tier status with almost zero TV appearances. Ryder seemed to have “fallen from the face of the earth," as put by John Cena, but scrapped his way back onto the roster in 2014, ranked as a lower-tier babyface – the third lowest on the roster.
This fall from grace is a testimony to the fact that Ryder’s just there to make up the numbers and is neither the most menacing or most skilled character in WWE.
5 Evan Bourne
Bourne makes this list, obviously because he doesn’t have that intimidation factor. You hardly see Bourne with a scowl on his face, trash-talking his fellow competitors, or being the target of Vince McMahon’s wrath – a mighty accomplishment in today’s day and age. Intimidation is not his intent. Bourne is a wrestler because that’s what he loves to do, and it’s evident when you see that smile plastered across his face. He’s got skills as well, making him a pretty handy wrestler, but certainly not an intimidating one. Bourne partakes in wrestling for kicks, something to keep him occupied away from his day-to-day occupation as a sales and marketing vice president for a company in St. Louis.
Kudos to Bourne for living the dream and balancing an office job with the thrill of wrestling. It’s all worked out for him but has also perhaps hindered him from reaching his full potential in the ring.
Tajiri is a true Cruiserweight, but that’s not the only thing that gets this Japanese professional wrestler on this list. Watch Tajiri in the ring fighting against the +300 lb monsters, which has happened in some instances, and you can see just how vulnerable Tajiri seems. You can have all the flexibility in the world and can dance around the ring, but try and beat up the Big Show, for example, as has happened on a few occasions, and well, it’s just a total mismatch. But it’s just how Tajiri portrays himself – the polite, respectful Japanese fighter who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. This doesn’t make him bad, per se. It’s just his character and I’m not knocking him in any way, but it certainly doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of his opponents, nor does his ring entrance – possibly the least intimidating ring walk in WWE history.
Mordecai, a religious zealot played by Kevin Fertig, was perhaps the worst character to have ever been involved with WWE – no wonder it only lasted four months before the character was given the boot. Kevin Fertig as a wrestler wasn’t actually that bad – who knows what possessed the WWE to morph him into Mordecai - but I’m guessing he’d want to do anything to eradicate that period from his memory and destroy the wrestling archives from that time. Although short-lived, Mordecai became a running gag; it’s a wrestling show and here you have a guy with bleached blonde hair, dressed in white robes, standing in the middle of the ring attempting to rid the world of sin! And then he gets in the ring and fights! What was the company thinking? Granted, the Mordecai character was visually quite striking, but scary and intimidating? Nah. I’m not sure it was even meant to be – needless to say, Mordecai was an utter failure.
This 6'7" 380 pound monster, at first sight, certainly looked like an intimidating figure. His face paint and entire physical presence, combined with his backstory, was meant to resemble a figure of fear. Initially, the wild savage gimmick was successful, but as the fans began to learn more about the Ugandan giant, the fear and intimidation factor wore off. Kamala had a wild upbringing – in real life – and the WWE wanted to utilize this to make him into a savage. But all it accomplished was to humanize Kamala, endear him to the fans and in a way, make us feel sorry for him – feel sorry that the WWE was exploiting his situation to turn him into something he really wasn’t. He had been manipulated into playing something that was totally alien to his real personality, and stuck at it out of fear of being abandoned and having to return to his previous life.
1 Isaac Yankem D.D.S
It’s funny that this wacky cartoon-like character portrayed by the now legendary Glenn Thomas Jacobs would later be ditched in favor of one of the most menacing characters in wrestling history: Kane -- both played by the same guy. It’s a testimony to Jacob’s acting skills that he could play someone so ridiculous – a character that should have been on kid’s television, not on a mainstream wrestling show – and then go to the other end of the scale and play Kane. Isaac Yankem D.D.S was supposed to be an evil dentist, but it resulted in a toothless display by the WWE - it was comical rather than being the stuff of nightmares. Many of us dreaded having to go to the dentist, the thought of all those surgical implements being poked about in the mouth, but I doubt many of us would have sleepless nights before going to see Isaac Yankem D.D.S., except for maybe because of his incompetence, but nothing else.
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