Professional wrestling has always walked the tightrope in an effort to balance an intriguing product for the fans. Sometimes, they take a risk with what could be a controversial gimmick in effort to get more people to tune into the show. There are a lot of times where it ends up working.
Promotions like World Wrestling Entertainment might push the envelope just enough to create characters like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Mankind. Over the last decade or so, the WWE has toned it down a bit as part of the shift to a more PG-friendly audience. That doesn’t mean the WWE has not gone a little over the top during that time.
In fact, WWE history shows a number of offensive gimmicks that would never fly in today’s WWE. They barely survived during the times when WWE television shows were rated TV-14. The reasons some of these gimmicks were considered the most offensive had a number of different factors. They weren’t always lewd or grotesque. It had to do with the timing and sensitivity of the content. Events of the time and concerns of race and gender also led to some gimmicks receiving a lot of criticism – even in an Attitude Era where The Undertaker sacrificed people and Val Venis was almost castrated.
The following are the 15 most offensive gimmicks used in WWE television that fans still hate today.
In 2004, RAW general manager Eric Bischoff had a special task for William Regal. The former European Champion was asked to babysit his nephew, who turned out to be Eugene – a special needs character. The gimmick was obviously insensitive to use a mental disability as part of a wrestling character. Interestingly enough, it got over for a period of time as Eugene would turn out to be pretty good.
14 Hornswoggle Is Vince McMahon’s Bastard Child
There were a lot of things wrong with the idea that Vince McMahon had an illegitimate child. For several weeks in the fall of 2007, it was teased that it was someone on the WWE roster until fans learned that Hornswoggle was McMahon’s “little bastard.” McMahon would then put Hornswoggle in a gauntlet of matches to show him what he called “tough love,” but Finlay kept interfering in support of the little guy.
13 Kai En Tai’s (And Their Dubbed Promos)
Professional wrestling has seen a number of gimmicks based on stereotypes, like Finlay and Hornswoggle as two Irish brawlers who loved to fight. There was a period of time where Japanese wrestlers were often given comical gimmicks that made it hard to take their efforts extremely seriously.
12 Jillian Hall’s Facial Growth
Jillian Hall made her main roster debut on SmackDown in 2005 as a helper for MNM. She would also end up helping John “Bradshaw” Layfield. But her character was more known for having an extremely large growth on her face that she merely called a “blemish.” Hall was getting over as a heel in matches where she earned victories against Stacy Keibler and others, but having the growth on her face seemed unnecessary for someone who was actually quite stunning. Her character helped JBL win the United States Championship at WrestleMania 22.
11 Sgt. Slaughter Supports Iraq
This isn’t going to be the first time an international incident leads to a gimmick change in the WWE. While not necessarily the most controversial, Sgt. Slaughter turning heel to align himself with the General Adnan felt wrong on so many levels. Slaughter was a former drill instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps before going into wrestling. He felt like one of the most patriotic characters in WWE history.
10 Muhammed Hassan
Speaking of gimmicks based on real-life war and tension, Muhammed Hassan is a more recent example of a gimmick going wrong. The wrestler was able to get over as one of the biggest heels and was a likely candidate to eventually win the World Heavyweight Championship on SmackDown back in 2005. The gimmick was fueled by anti-Islamic beliefs as America was fighting a war on terror.
9 Jack Swagger And Zeb Colter As Heels
The most recent example of a patriotic gimmick viewed as offensive was when Zeb Colter debuted on WWE television as Jack Swagger’s new manager in early 2013. Swagger was never really a good speaker and Colter – also known as Dutch Mantel – was great on the mic. It got Swagger over as a championship contender with a lot of attention on their “We the People” movement.
8 Chris Kanyon As Boy George
Chris Kanyon may not have gotten the support he would have expected when he came back to the WWE in 2003. He was hoping that he could be the WWE’s first openly gay superstar. He was an established name during his years with WCW. Kanyon always hid that he was gay from everyone for so long, but he decided to come out publicly in 2001.
7 Everything Involving Kane, Lita And Snitsky
While his character would claim it wasn’t his fault, Gene Snitsky was part of one of the more offensive gimmicks during the Ruthless Aggression era. Granted, it did come as a surprise considering it looked as if he was a regular enhancement talent who accidentally knocked Kane into Lita, who was carrying the demon’s seed in her womb.
6 The Mexicools
The faction of Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis and Super Crazy lasted nearly a year in the WWE from 2005 to 2006. Three great luchadores were expected to do great things for both the Cruiserweight and WWE Tag Team Championship divisions. However, their gimmick was not what any fan would have expected or wanted. All three came into the WWE driving on a lawn mower and wearing matching coveralls.
5 Cryme Tyme
Speaking of negative stereotypes in the WWE, Cryme Tyme might have been one of the least subtle of them all. The WWE didn’t waste any time showing JTG and Shad Gaspard as two gentlemen who were up to no good before, during and after their matches. There were a number of vignettes and backstage segments that saw them robbing other superstars.
While there have been a number of racial stereotypes used in professional wrestling history, very few were as offensive as Virgil’s character. Debuting in 1987, he was viewed as a servant for the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Looking at it for what it was, the rich, white man hired an African-American to do a number of jobs for him. This included carrying DiBiase’s money in a suitcase and taking a beating for DiBiase.
Kamala actually had a lot of success in wrestling with this gimmick, as he main evented in several territories across the country. The Ugandan Giant would march around like a "savage" and while this may have gone over to some people in an earlier time, time has not been kind to this gimmick. While even fans back in the 80s could see the racist undertones of the gimmick, it's even easier to spot today.
2 Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero, Jr., has every right to hate the WWE. Despite being part of one of the best families in lucha libre, he was never able to earn the success that his uncle Eddie Guerrero did. In 2005, Chavo decided to renounce his Mexican heritage and join the white demographic. This led to a name change of Kerwin White that featured driving a golf cart to the ring and dying his hair blonde. He would make comments about how people that weren’t white weren’t right.
1 Akeem The African Dream
The WWE managed to offend multiple cultures with this gimmick and it didn't even seem like they did so out of malice, but rather utter ignorance and cluelessness. One Man Gang was a typical big-man wrestler but one day, he was given the new gimmick of Akeem The African Dream. It was said that he had "discovered his African roots".
Despite his appearance giving away the fact that, well, he wasn't African, he portrayed every stereotype associated with Africans, and even emulated his black manager Slick.
Akeem would be shown in vignettes doing tribal dances, but this was obviously a huge farce, seeing as how everyone knew he had no clue about the African culture. This is all on WWE for even thinking of such a ridiculous gimmick for a wrestler.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!