The "monster heel" is a familiar character in wrestling. You know the type; big, mean, seemingly unstoppable and built-up to feud with a popular babyface."Usually, with vignettes signaling their arrival and/or a debut that has them destroying the first men who get in their way.
There have been some fantastic examples of monster heels over the years who have gone on to win the big titles - Yokozuna, Kane, Vader, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, for example - but many others start out looking unstoppable, before fading into mid-card obscurity, ending up in smaller wrestling promotions or disappearing from the wrestling industry entirely.
The best current example of a monster heel is Braun Strowman and, while he hasn't threatened to win any championships thus far, it remains to be seen exactly where his career will take him, so he certainly won't be included in this list. Rusev is another and, while he's not the unbeaten monster he was to begin with, he's already won two United States Titles and the sky is still the limit for him.
All of the wrestlers on this list - at least while they had their monster heel gimmick - started out as nigh-invincible beasts, but didn't end up living up to the initial hype they created. Some ended up as fairly credible mid-card wrestlers, others ended up disappearing from wrestling completely very quickly. While others fall somewhere in between those two extremes - but what they all have in common is that none of them ended up consistently winning the kind of titles that the babyfaces they were initially destroying were capable of winning. Here are 15 monster heels who were totally over-hyped...
15 The Executioner
The Executioner was the late Terry Gordy - a man who had wrestled for more than 20 years prior to being given the Executioner gimmick. His previous wrestling experience included a prior brief spell in the WWF - and he was most famous for being part of the iconic tag team known as the Fabulous Freebirds.
In 1996, he teamed up with Mankind and his manager Paul Bearer to feud with The Undertaker. He made his debut as the Executioner at the In Your House pay-per-view, Buried Alive. During the event, he interfered in The Undertaker's Buried Alive match with Mankind by hitting the Deadman with a shovel and burying him. The act immediately established him as a threat to one of the most dominant wrestlers of all-time. However, at the In Your House 12: It's Time pay-per-view just a couple of months later, he lost to The Undertaker and disappeared from the WWE - and indeed wrestling completely. He sadly passed away in 2001.
John Tenta was a fantastic and highly-respected wrestler with some decent runs in several companies around the world, but his most famous gimmick was undoubtedly that of Earthquake. Though the run was memorable, Tenta really never lived up to his initial billing while playing the character.
Earthquake was introduced as a plant on a 1989 edition of Superstars of Wrestling by Jimmy Hart and Dino Bravo. Tenta, posing as a large audience member, would be tasked with sitting on the backs of Bravo and the Ultimate Warrior in a push-up contest. However, revealing himself as a wrestler, Earthquake crushed the Warrior with a seated senton, and performed as an unstoppable monster heel for months after. Earthquake was even being presented as a legitimate threat to Hulk Hogan. However, he only went on to win only one title - the WWE Tag Team Championship, alongside Typhoon - and never really troubled the singles championship scene in the manner his introduction suggested he would. Tenta died tragically in 2006.
13 The Ultimate Solution
The Ultimate Solution was the late Robert "Jeep" Swenson - the man who portrayed Bane in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin - and he was introduced as that character in WCW at 1996's Uncensored pay-per-view. He performed as a member of the "Alliance to End Hulkamania" and was essentially presented as the man to finally put the nail in the coffin of the Hulk Hogan phenomenon. Originally he was actually called the Final Solution - the same name given to the Nazi plan to exterminate Jews - but following complaints from Jewish organizations to the Turner corporate offices, his character was renamed.
Hogan and Randy Savage defeated the team of the Ultimate Solution, Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Meng, The Barbarian, Lex Luger, The Taskmaster and Z-Gangsta in a Doomsday Cage match - and it was the Ultimate Solution's only appearance in WCW. Swenson sadly passed away in 1997.
12 King Kong Bundy
Now, there's no doubting that King Kong Bundy - real name Chris Pallies - is a legend in the wrestling industry, but there's also no doubting the fact that the gimmick didn't reach the heights that his early promise suggested it would.
He was introduced to the WWE as a monster heel character on a 1985 airing of 'WWF Championship Wrestling' - and he proceeded to squash most of his opponents in a matter of minutes (seconds in some cases). He competed in close matches with the likes of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan at his peak - but he never won a single title in the WWE. Additionally, Bundy only lasted a total of four years in the company over two spells.
His big moment came at WrestleMania II when he lost to Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match. He also lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XI - becoming part of the famous "streak" during his second spell with the WWE. In the end all Bundy was ever really used for was making the more popular wrestlers look good.
The late Eddie Fatu made his debut using the Umaga gimmick on a 2006 episode of RAW. The gimmick was that of a destructive and savage monster heel who could only be controlled by his manager Armando Alejandro Estrada. He waded through a bunch of jobbers like nobody's business and destroyed Ric Flair at the 2006 Backlash pay-per-view, before quickly establishing himself in the WWE Championship picture.
He never won the World Title, however, and the biggest title he did get his hands on was the Intercontinental Championship. When he was in title picture, he always seemed to come second in feuds to the more popular wrestlers - the likes of Triple H and CM Punk for example. Ultimately, he was released by the WWE for violating their wellness policy and his refusal to enter rehabilitation after the violations in question. Eddie Fatu tragically died in 2009.
10 Fake Undertaker
In 1994, The Undertaker disappeared after losing a casket match against Yokozuna at the Royal Rumble. Soon after that, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase claimed to have found him and convinced him to return using money. DiBiase was also claiming that the Undertaker's power was now derived from his millions, rather than the urn everyone was so familiar with. For several weeks this fake version of Undertaker wrestled using the name of the original.
However, the real Undertaker took umbrage to that and did actually return to face the imposter - who was, in fact, his real life cousin Brian Lee. The Undertaker defeated him at SummerSlam, took him away in a casket, and he was never seen again. When you're billed as being the new Undertaker, it's pretty anticlimactic when you disappear for good after a single match.
Back in 2004, a series of vignettes began airing on WWE's SmackDown show that signaled the imminent arrival of a religious Zealot-type character - that being Mordecai. Mordecai was a gimmick portrayed by Kevin Fertig - but it really didn't last very long at all.
During the numerous promos Mordecai performed after his arrival, he claimed to be on a crusade to rid the world of sin. He debuted at the Judgement Day pay-per-view, making extremely quick work of Scotty 2 Hotty and establishing himself as a monster heel. He condemned audiences for their sins and led them in prayer. He was all set for a feud with The Undertaker - but the feud didn't even happen! The Mordecai gimmick was dropped by the WWE entirely and Fertig was sent back to OVW for to undertake additional training.
In 2012, vignettes began airing on WWE's RAW show that featured a character by the name of Lord Tensai. The monster heel character made his debut soon after - always being accompanied to the ring by his follower Sakamoto. Tensai went on an early unbeaten run, squashing various jobbers, mid-carders. His early push even earned him wins against the likes of John Cena and CM Punk, which put him in the World Heavyweight Championship picture. His peak saw him losing a World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank to Dolph Ziggler - and he never really recovered from that.
He earned a few more notable victories, but he went on to lose to the likes of Tyson Kidd and Sin Cara, before having his character reduced to a dancing clown by the name of Sweet T. Being portrayed by Matt Bloom, unfortunately, audiences couldn't see past his former gimmick of Albert - something they chanted during his appearances in a demeaning fashion. The Lord Tensai gimmick was never going to work in a world where fans could look Albert up online.
We now come to the only female wrestler on this list - the woman formerly known as Awesome Kong, Kia Stevens, in the form of her Kharma gimmick. In 2012, creepy vignettes began airing on WWE television featuring a cackling woman dismembering dolls - it was Kharma. She made her debut at Extreme Rules, attacking Michelle McCool - something she continued to do on RAW and SmackDown in the subsequent weeks.
She went on to interrupt women's matches several times, beating down her victims with ease and establishing herself as a monster heel. But she broke down in tears after interrupting a tag team match on RAW, revealing that she had to leave WWE due to the fact she was pregnant. She briefly returned - entering the Royal Rumble and eliminating Hunico, no less, before Dolph Ziggler in turn eliminated her. This was her only WWE match, and it was later revealed that she was again released due to not having been fully ready for in-ring action upon her return.
6 Papa Shango
In 1992, Charles Wright - the man who would also be known as Kama Mustafa and The Godfather, amongst other names - made his debut on the WWE show Superstars. He debuted as a monster heel voodoo practitioner by the name of Papa Shango. He defeated enhancement talent Dale Wolfe in short order and was soon thrust into the main event spotlight, interrupting the Hulk Hogan versus Sid Justice main event at WrestleMania VIII. The Ultimate Warrior rushed to help Hogan against Shango and Sid, which resulted in a feud between Shango and Warrior.
Papa Shango would put curses on Warrior, resulting in the latter vomiting and bleeding inexplicably. Frankly, it was ridiculous, and the feud ended abruptly as a result. Shango was then mainly reduced to dark matches, before one last big match in which he lost his only WWE World Heavyweight Title match to Bret Hart on Saturday Night's Main Event. His final appearances saw him being eliminated from the 1993 Royal Rumble in just thirty seconds and losing to Jim Duggan in the King of the Ring Tournament. Papa Shango was voted as being the Worst Gimmick and the Most Embarrassing Wrestler in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards for 1992.
5 Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov made his WWE debut on a 2008 episode of SmackDown. He had the unique and ominous quirk of having no entrance music and no Titantron video. All his walk to the ring consisted of was complete darkness, except for a solitary spotlight following him to the ring. He beat Matt Bentley in his first match before going on a monster of an unbeaten run against a series of local competitors and the likes of Colin Delaney, Funaki, Nunzio and Jimmy Wang Yang.
He ended up in the WWE Championship scene, rivaling the likes of Triple H, Jeff Hardy and Edge for the title, which culminated in a match at Survivor Series that he didn't win. He also qualified for the No Way Out Elimination Chamber match in 2009, where he was pinned for the first time. His singles profile slowly deteriorated and he ended up in a tag team with Santino Marella, after having won no titles as a singles competitor. The pair won a single WWE Tag Team Championship, but he was released from his WWE contract in 2011 and is now retired from wrestling at the age of 37.
Having previously appeared on RAW in 2003, before being sent back to OVW for further training, Jon Heidenreich made his debut as the psychopathic Heidenreich on SmackDown as a monster heel under the management of Paul Heyman. He would run in during random matches, attack fans and recite hateful poetry, which he referred to as "Disasterpieces." Heidenreich was built up as nigh-unstoppable and first feuded with The Undertaker, costing The Deadman the WWE Championship and further shots at it by interfering in his matches. He kept losing to The Undertaker - including in a match at Survivor Series - and ended up as more of a mid-carder in the process.
His only title in the WWE came later, when he won the WWE Tag Team Championship along with Road Warrior Animal as part of the new Legion of Doom, but he was released from his contract in 2005, having never lived up to his early hype. He is now retired from wrestling.
3 Giant Gonzales
The Giant Gonzales was the late Jorge Gonzales - the man who was recognized as the largest professional wrestler in history back in 2014 - and he made a huge impact on the WWE back in 1993 when he made his debut. His first appearance was at the Royal Rumble and he eliminated The Undertaker from the match, in spite of the fact that he wasn't actually a participant in the rumble.
He then went on to feud with The Undertaker - becoming the closest man to defeating him on his famous WrestleMania "streak" (prior to Brock Lesnar actually doing so in 2014), by losing via disqualification after knocking him out with chloroform at WrestleMania IX. He then lost to The Undertaker at SummerSlam that same year and then the feud abruptly ended. He wrestled one more match - a 20-man battle royal match for the Intercontinental Championship on RAW. Ironically, he was eliminated from the match by a group of wrestlers before it even started. And that was that, as he left the company shortly after due to his contract expiring.
2 The Great Khali
The Great Khali is unique on this list in the sense that he did win a World Title while working under this gimmick - but it was a last-minute decision to have him win it, due to circumstances. At the time Edge had been forced to relinquish the title due to injury, and an impromptu 20-man battle royal was scheduled; Khali won. Khali only held the World Title for two months before losing it to Batista at 2007's Unforgiven. It would be the only title Khali won.
Considering he debuted in 2006 on SmackDown as a monster heel who took The Undertaker down (a feud he ultimately lost), that's a very anticlimactic wrestling career. Khali is more than seven feet tall and his potential was monstrous, but his lack of technical ability saw him quickly turned into a joke character. His gimmick became the "Punjabi Playboy" and he hosted a weekly "Kiss Cam" segment. From then on, he would lose matches to the likes of Ezekiel Jackson, Cody Rhodes and Bo Dallas - people who you never dreamed he'd lose to after the threat he initially presented to The Undertaker.
Without a doubt, the most monstrous of all the monster heels to debut with a bang, but then go on to be extremely anticlimactic, was Zeus. The character portrayed by Tom Lister Jr. came to the WWF to continue his feud from the big screen with Hulk Hogan, after starring opposite the superstar wrestler in 1989 movie No Holds Barred.
Zeus made his debut on WWE television on a 1989 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, assaulting a Hogan who was in his prime before his steel cage match against the Big Boss Man. This resulted in a feud between Zeus and Hogan, which also ultimately involved the likes of Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Demolition, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase and The Powers of Pain. The team of Hogan and Beefcake defeated Zeus and Savage at 1989's SummerSlam. Then the team of Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Demolition defeated Zeus, Ted DiBiase and The Powers of Pain at Survivor Series. The feud ended when Hogan and Beefcake again defeated Zeus and Savage at No Holds Barred in a steel cage match.
Essentially, Tom Lister Jr. didn't have the talent to carry a match as a singles wrestler, so he had a series of tag matches - all of which he lost. So much for his "Human Wrecking Machine" nickname!