Professional wrestling fans haven’t always been satisfied with what they have watched on television. For example, many people have felt that the WWE wasn’t giving certain superstars a proper main event push. Maybe they felt that the storylines haven’t always been the best they could be. Maybe they felt some gimmicks were holding wrestlers back, like when The Rock was pushed as the blue chipper Rocky Maivia.
However, there have been much worse gimmicks that have been conceived behind the scenes. It actually isn’t too surprising since brainstorming sessions are usually a good way to weed out the truly terrible ideas from ever making it to television. However, while some of the worst possible concepts were never pitched, some have gotten through the cracks.
Wrestlers can often recall horror stories of what they were almost given for their television debuts. While some wrestlers might have been more willing to roll with what they were given, there are some gimmicks that are too bad for anyone to take. Granted, it shows that some of the best were able to think on their feet to avoid career-killing disasters.
The following are the top 15 worst gimmicks that were pitched to wrestlers. Some made it on television and some thankfully didn’t.
15 Mighty Neville
The WWE has done a great job with bringing in the best wrestlers from the independent circuit that have cult followings from around the world. PAC was one of those stars and was given the name Adrian Neville before debuting with the NXT development brand. His high-flying and technical abilities led to him becoming one of the best young talents that was going to get the call to the main roster.
However, the WWE almost gave him a poor gimmick to debut. There were talks of having him booked similar to the Mighty Mouse cartoon character, who was a powerful mouse despite being small in stature. It would have come across as a hokey gimmick that fans would have hated, thus hurting his WWE run. They still gave Neville a cape and called him a real-life comic book hero, which isn’t much better, but at least he didn’t have Mickey Mouse ears and the ugly yellow and red tights.
14 Scott Hall As G.I. Joe
Scott Hall was making quite a good name for himself during the 1980s while competing in the National Wrestling Alliance and the American Wrestling Association. After a small stop in WCW when it was under Jim Crockett Promotions, Hall was recruited to come to the WWE. Hall has often talked about the meeting with Vince McMahon that led to the Razor Ramon character.
But McMahon initially wanted Hall to have a G.I. Joe type character because Hall’s father was actually an officer in the U.S. Army. While Hall admitted that he would be willing to be the “best G.I. Joe I can be,” he would then break out a character similar to Tony Montana from Scarface. McMahon was sold and it wasn’t long until the WWE Universe said hello to the bad guy.
13 Kalisto As Rico 2.0
It seems like the WWE was not very good at giving good gimmicks to superstars who were getting the call up from NXT. Despite being a successful tag team in NXT, the WWE was actually thinking about breaking up the Lucha Dragons – Kalisto and Sin Cara. This would have led to Kalisto losing the mask and luchador character to become a gay hair stylist.
First of all, it feels like a second attempt at Rico’s character. Secondly, the WWE was in need of a big star for the Mexican audience to embrace. Thankfully, Kalisto was able to keep the mask when he came up to the main roster. The former Samuray Del Sol would find singles success by winning the United States Championship from Alberto Del Rio.
12 Mason The Mutilator
Mick Foley has gone by a number of different names throughout his long, blood-splattered road to wrestling stardom. Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mason the Mutilator? Well, the latter almost happened when he was first developing a character idea with Vince McMahon. Initially, McMahon had to be swayed by Jim Ross to sign Foley – but only if he would wear a mask.
There were talks about the character that McMahon wanted to originally name Mason the Mutilator. Foley admitted he was worried and was desperately trying to come up with another name. He was trying to think of another name that started with an M quickly. Good thing for him, and for WWE fans, Mankind was pitched and accepted. Mason would have likely killed the gimmick instantly.
11 Goldust Stalks Booker T
Dustin Rhodes has always been given some weird characters that came across as creepy. That’s because many wrestling officials have always felt that “plain ol’ Dustin” didn’t draw. Just look back to what he said when he was dressed as Seven in WCW during the 1990s. However, the WWE was actually considering having Goldust become a stalker.
Over a few weeks, Booker T was receiving mysterious messages that would say “I remember.” It was meant to lead to Goldust being revealed as his former tag team partner’s stalker. However, the messages quickly stopped in 2003 and were never mentioned again. This was because Rhodes didn’t re-sign with the WWE and left for other wrestling ventures. It was probably for the best, although Black Reign in TNA Wrestling wasn’t much better.
10 Fang McFrost 3:16
When the WWE was thinking about the different nicknames to give Steve Austin, there were some very questionable ideas being pitched by the creative team. The idea was inspired when Austin saw a television show called “The Iceman.” Austin said he was hopping to develop a character that was cold in his actions and words. This led to the creative team trying to come up with cold-themed names like Fang McFrost.
McFrost 3:16 sounds extremely lame, which is why Austin struggled to come up with something. Well, he thought it over a cup of tea with his ex-wife Jeanie Clark, who told him to drink his tea before it got “stone cold.” Weird to imagine Austin drinking tea, but great ideas don’t always come from places you expect.
9 More Than Brother-Sister
Paul Burchill never really received a good push from the WWE creative team during his time with the company. For example, the WWE dressed him up like a pirate and had him swing from a rope for his entrance to the ring. And yet, it wasn’t the worst gimmick he was pitched during his WWE career. He was initially booked in a romantic pairing with kayfabe sister Katie Lea.
The WWE was planning on having the Burchills as being more than just brother and sister. It would have been a parody of the movie Cruel Intentions, but the storyline was scrapped when the WWE decided to focus on becoming more family friendly a few weeks after they debuted. While it’s good the incest angle was dropped, it sort of hurt Burchill’s career since he was left on the roster without a creative direction.
8 Daivari Becomes George W. Bush
Shawn Daivari was definitely a talented manager and wrestler during his time in the WWE. However, there was a time when the company was trying to figure out what to do with him after they had to drop the Muhammad Hassan character he managed, due to the London train bombings in 2005. After having done a story that was considered “anti-American,” it looked like they wanted to Daivari to turn a full 180 degrees.
In a 2015 interview with Sports Illustrated, Daivari commented that Stephanie McMahon approached him about a character named George W. Bush – the same name as the 43rd U.S. President. This included wearing red, white and blue attire. Daivari said he immediately told her it was a terrible idea and he wanted to do his own thing. He would manage Kurt Angle and The Great Khali before leaving in 2007, which was still better than being booked as a Bush.
7 Edge As A Deaf Mute
Before becoming The Rated-R Superstar and The Ultimate Opportunist, Edge was a young superstar who some WWE officials viewed was not extremely talented on the microphone. This led head writer Vince Russo to look into a couple of different character ideas. The worst of them all was booking Edge as a deaf mute who wrote poetry. There were also some comparisons to The Doors’ Jim Morrison.
This gimmick was considered an attempt at punishment when Edge rejected the idea Russo had of putting Edge in a tag team with Val Venis to recreate the Midnight Express. Edge has even said it was like Russo must have wanted to mess with him. Thankfully for everyone, Edge didn’t get stuck with either and was able to become one of the top stars of the WWE’s Ruthless Aggression era.
6 “I’m Spartacus, WOOO!”
Jim Herd was known for his creative writing abilities, just not in a good way. The same man who came up with The Hunchbacks gimmick (which died quickly) thought it was a good idea to have Ric Flair become a Roman Soldier named Spartacus. It would have been a complete character change for the Nature Boy to have to cut his hair short and wear Roman attire to the ring.
This would have likely been a character that would have ruined his image to a point of no return. It also would have annoyed wrestling fans who heard the announcers try to pass Flair off as a brand new talent on the WCW roster. Obviously, Flair rejected the idea and would leave WCW months later. This was likely one of the big reasons why Herd’s days were numbered in WCW.
5 Undertaker As The Gobbledy Gooker?
Mark Calaway has been one of the most iconic wrestlers for nearly three decades as The Undertaker, but it almost didn’t happen that way as there were reports that he was initially planned to debut as the Gobbledy Gooker back in 1990. Imagine having a seven-foot-tall turkey coming out of that egg that was sitting off to the side at Survivor Series.
It would eventually be Hector Guererro who would wear the turkey costume. Guererro has also made comments that he didn’t think there was any truth to The Undertaker being given the character. Thankfully, they allowed Calaway to become The Deadman. If it wasn’t for The Undertaker character, there wouldn’t have been Kane, Paul Bearer and a number of memorable storylines from the Attitude Era.
4 Batista's Tragic Birth
Batista was certainly a large man who looked intimidating and angry at the world early in his WWE career in 2002. Before he was first seen on SmackDown as some extra muscle for the Reverend D-Von, the WWE creative team tried to think of a background story behind Batista’s anger. He explained in an interview on Talk is Jericho that they wanted to book him as a child born of rape.
The story would have been that Batista was mad at the world because of how he grew up never having had a father in his life and that his mother suffered greatly . This storyline would have likely failed then, even during a time when the WWE wasn’t worried about maintaining a TV-PG rating. Trying to mix wrestling with such a complex issue never seems to work out well.
3 Harlem Heat On Parole
Professional wrestling has been guilty of portraying insensitive racial stereotypes during the 1980s and 1990s. Both WCW and WWE were guilty of this with a variety of characters like Kamala, Virgil and Akeem, the African Dream. However, the one that truly takes the cake is when the WCW first brought Booker T and Stevie Ray to work as two men who were recently placed on parole.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they were going to have the two convicts go to Col. Robert Parker, who looked like he owned a southern plantation. There are so many things that were wrong with this gimmick, but WCW still tried it out at a few house shows – complete with jumpsuits and prison shackles. The idea didn’t last long and they became one of WCW’s top teams as Harlem Heat.
2 Melina As A Man?
Melina certainly had a reputation for having relations with a number of wrestlers behind the scenes. In 2006, they even had her seduce Batista in an effort to have him take the night off from a tag team championship match against Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury. Batista didn’t take the night off and he won the titles with Rey Mysterio that night. The creative team actually thought about having it revealed that Melina was transsexual.
Thankfully, Stephanie McMahon would speak up about concerns that it would have ruined Melina’s wrestling career. It also would have made a lot of male members of the WWE Universe extremely sad. Instead, they had Melina go on television claiming that Batista “forced himself” on her and filed sexual assault charges in the storyline. Still tasteless, but it could have been worse.
1 Baron Von Brava
Heidenreich was given some weird and not-so-popular gimmicks during his time in the WWE, but there was an idea for something that was a million times worse than Heidenreich reading creepy poetry to Michael Cole, or having him become a Road Warrior. Former writer Dan Madigan came up with the idea of Baron Von Brava – a Nazi Soldier from the 1940s who was cryogenically frozen.
Madigan also thought that his manager would have been Paul Heyman, a Jewish New Yorker, because irony always goes over with pro wrestling fans, right? Apparently, the idea didn’t go over well at all in creative meetings. Not that anyone would have wanted to see the Von Brava gimmick actually come to life anyway. Imagine a shocked Vince McMahon who felt the need to leave the room without saying a single word in response. When you've offended Vince McMahon, you know you've just come up with a terrible idea.