Ever since Gorgeous George came out in the fancy robes and curlers, wrestling has started to lean toward some unique outfits. It was low in the 1970s but began to erupt in the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to WWE’s more cartoon flavor and the NWA following suit. It was really insane in the early-90s as both those companies went all out in characters rather than real performers and the outfits could reflect that.
To be sure, there were some cool outfits around and are still used today. Rey Mysterio, for example, has helped WWE earn millions with his plentiful masks and it was great during the heyday of WCW’s cruiserweights to see their Mexican and Japanese performers in fantastic outfits that made the matches even more colorful and enjoyable. Even today, we see some cool stuff as The Undertaker and Kane have made their outfits great and The Shield top notch as well.
But there have been plenty of clunkers along the way. Outfits that make you wonder “what the hell?” Stuff that looks totally idiotic and ridiculous even before the guy gets into the ring and automatically works against him. Many have been for the cartoonish characters of the past but even some of the bigger names of WWE today have had to endure costumes that are a joke to look at. Here are just some of the many examples of the ridiculous ring gear wrestlers have gone with and marvel at what fevered dream they sprung from.
15 High Energy
On paper, Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware should have made a terrific tag team. They were both skilled, amazing with flying abilities and could be a good boost to the undercard. Sadly, they were saddled with outfits that showed how badly WWE misjudged the ‘90s fanbase. The bulky air pants were one thing but throwing in suspenders, polka dot and stripped jackets in outlandish colors and Koko’s pet parakeet and it was almost impossible to take them seriously. Owen would move on to better things but still a sign of how something so promising could be marred badly from the start.
The promos ran for months in 1995, promising a hot new wrestler with a truly cold edge. It looked impressive but then came his debut, walking out in ice and clad in a ninja outfit obviously meant to emulate Sub-Zero from the Mortal Kombat video games. And there’s a reason outfits like that don’t work well in real life. It just looked dumb as he took most of it off for the actual wrestling at which point fans realized just how bad he really was. Once again, if you’re going to try and base a character on a fad, at least make sure he can back it up before overwhelming with the outfit.
A great episode of the web show “Are You Serious” shows the infamous bit of Slick bringing Gene Okerlund to an alley to announce his new African sensation; Akeem aka the former One Man Gang. One look and Josh Matthews and Road Dogg burst out laughing, mimicking the feelings of fans watching back then. Seeing that bulky figure dressed in an “African tribal” yellow and blue coat and cap was totally hysterical, the former tough guy now doing some goofy dancing and just made him more of a joke. Just goes to show that trying to be too gimmicky can hurt in a lot of ways.
It’s one thing to try and copy a popular character for the wrestling ring, another to rip him off totally. WCW tried that with Brad Armstrong coming out in what was quite obviously a Spider-Man outfit with different colors and worse mask, even firing off streamers as “Webbing” for the crowds. Needless to say, Marvel Comics were not amused and slapped a lawsuit on WCW so they had to drop the act fast. Still one of the goofier elements of that era and one of the dumber costumes imaginable.
11 Rey Mysterio’s Wrestlemania Looks
There’s no denying the amazing skill and popularity of Rey Mysterio. And his masks have been one of WWE’s biggest selling pieces of merchandise. And you can understand that for the biggest show of the year, Rey would want to look extra special. But really…his outfits for several Wrestlemanias have been pretty damn nuts. Flash, Captain America, a wild Aztec headdress, the Joker (with green suspenders) and an Avatar-styled suit. The guy may be a fantastic athlete but some of his looks make him appear more a kid than anytime else.
Even without that infamous entrance, the gimmick was probably never going to work. Just look at it. A sleeveless leather coat, jeans and a helmet that’s quite obviously just a Stormtrooper helmet with silver glitter on it. That was meant to make fans believe this guy was going to be a serious contender to WCW champion Vader? Not to mention Ray Ottoman was hardly known for his star power. Of course, it was all moot as his infamous trip cost the gimmick any chance of developing but still wild to see what WCW thought “edgy” at the time.
9 Dustin Rhodes
There’s no denying the amazing impact of Goldust, a character truly ahead of his time. Sadly, Dustin Rhodes would be caught by it, seemingly unable to find true success as his own. And that led to some wild turns that just marred him further. First, in late 1997, he would shift Goldust to truly idiotic stuff like bondage gear amid other looks. He moved to WCW in 1999 and was set up as “Seven” which had him come down in white makeup, black coat and hat after promos setting him up looking into kids’ windows.
It ended with his big debut, floated out to the ring on wires then cutting a promo on how stupid he looked. Later in TNA came Black Reign with a black and white outfit and makeup that looked like a Roars arch test come to life. He’s back as Goldust now but just sad a man so talented feels the need to dress so dumb to get attention.
8 Aldo Montoya
Long before he reached fame in ECW, Justin Credible made his big break in WWE. And one look at his outfit makes you realize just why he went so extreme later on. He had a good push and a decent name after the Portuguese Man O War. But the mask….seriously, it just looked like someone took a random jock strap, dyed it and then just handed it to Aldo to use. All his high flying skills were nothing compared to the fan reaction to how dumb the mask looked and no doubt helped fuel Credible’s later extreme actions.
7 Kevin Nash - Oz
When you look at the gimmicks Kevin Nash had to put up with over the years, it’s much easier to understand why he fought so hard to keep to the top as long as he did. In 1991, WCW tried to work with Turner on a character based on some classic MGM movies, specifically “The Wizard of Oz.” This led to Nash coming out in green robes and a thick bushy beard complete with a green pointed cap and a midget running around for some reason. He would drop the robe and beard but have green hair as he wrestled, a sight few could forget…no matter how much they tried. No wonder Nash prefers the main event spotlight so much given what he had to work with once.
To be fair, WWE today doesn’t hold back citing this as an example of all that was wrong with the company in the 1990’s. His very first appearance had Vince McMahon on commentary going “what is this?” as out came this guy in a massive bull’s head that snorted smoke. He actually had Jim Cornette of all people as his manager but no one could get behind his act of bellowing in brown fur and charging and stands today as one of the bigger reasons you couldn’t take WWE seriously then.
5 Lazer Tron
There’s a major risk in trying to create a wrestler out of a fad. Such was the case when the NWA tried to cash in on the “laser tag” games that were popular in the late 1980s. Before he was the Gobbledy Gooker, Hector Guerrero was tagged to dress up as this character, holding the light heavyweight title despite a totally idiotic outfit. The bare arms, the “vest” top, the mask that blocked his sight and the topper, the laser sensor right on his chest. It came off like a kid’s Halloween costume and faded as quickly as the fad did to make little impact.
4 Max Moon
Paul Diamond was a very capable wrestler, a tag team specialist with Badd Company and the Orient Express. When he tried his singles run, he looked to have some promise. However, WWE would decide to hold him down by putting him in a costume that looked as if it had been designed by a color-blind art student. To be fair, it wasn’t meant for Diamond; the Moon character had been created for Konann but he left the WWE fast (no doubt after seeing the outfit) and since they’d spent so much on it, Diamond was selected as he was the right size. It was wild seeing him try to pull off actual moves inside that crazy thing with flying tassels and huge armlets, a literal cartoon character come to life and no surprise he failed to fly high with that on his back.
3 Triple H and John Cena at WrestleMania 22
HHH has been known for going all-out at Wrestlemania matches and Cena often matches him. But for their big encounter at WrestleMania 22, they both seemed out to top each other in terms of completely idiotic entrance outfits. First came HHH on a massive throne containing skulls, clad in fur armor and a cap, clearly modeled after Conan but just looked utterly ridiculous. That was topped as Cena tried to win over the Chicago crowd with a car of guys in gangster outfits (among them CM Punk) and Cena himself coming out in his own coat and hat to a chorus of boos, firing a Tommy gun in the air to little effect.
The match itself was good but both men were mocked by so many for the stupid outfits. Indeed, the very next night on RAW, Edge took a shot on how “I’m a main event guy, I just don’t feel the need to dress up like Conan the Barbarian.” It shows even the big guys can take on some pretty nutty outfits now and then.
2 Bastion Booger
Poor Mike Shaw. The veteran journeyman had to go through some dumb gimmicks before like “Friar Ferguson” but was finally being given a push in 1993. Sadly, it was in a totally horrible idea of a sloppy eater whose finisher was dropping onto guys like going to the toilet. That was bad enough but the outfit…It was little more than straps over a horrifically out of shape body, meant to enhance his disgusting appearance and just drove fans away. The whole thing was a bomb as no one wants to get behind a guy you can’t even stand to look at.
1 Giant Gonzalez
It makes sense that the man who’s arguably the worst wrestler of all time managed to have the worst outfit ever. He was imposing at over seven and a half feet tall but so without agility that he made the Great Khali look like a cruiserweight. It was bad enough but the outfit…a full bodysuit with painted muscles and fake fur was bad enough but did we need to see the guy’s crack? It was a terrible, terrible outfit that oddly fit considering who its subject was and sadly what he’s remembered for “best.”