There’s something to be said about someone who has the talent to make someone laugh, whether at a joke or a funny action one takes. While the premise of professional wrestling is meant to be a little more serious with world championships, feuds and other rivalries that carry the live events and pay-per-views, some of the greatest wrestlers of all time have been able to make us laugh in memorable ways.
Mick Foley would get a laugh with the three different characters he brought to television, Kurt Angle was good for some laughs and The Rock knew how to get the crowd to loudly erupt with a one-liner joke told at another’s expense. The thing is that all three of those are among the talented wrestlers who didn’t need the comedy to succeed in professional wrestling, but it helped add to their on-screen presence.
While there are always going to be a number of great talents, some struggle to get noticed for a main event push. Sometimes, they can’t get the crowd interested in their character with a serious gimmick, which can lead to a change to make a wrestler who can’t get over as a comedy act. The following are the top 15 wrestlers who only worked well as comedy acts in the ring.
While he was part of the Kaientai faction from 1998 and 2001 during the WWE’s Attitude Era, Funaki was never able to have a very serious character on WWE television. For one, him and Taka Michinoku would have dubbed promos as they walked to the ring that ended with an emphatic “INDEED!” from Funaki – comical for a team that wore T-shirts that claimed they were “evil.”
After the group concluded, he would later become “SmackDown’s Number One announcer” before winning the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in late 2004. For several years, Funaki would become a jobber on WWE television for a few years before he would finally being repackaged as “Kung Fu Naki” that came complete with a traditional karate gi; which came complete with D-movie type music. He would be released from the WWE in 2010, but would return occasionally – including a translator for Kenta during his arrival in WWE.
When you think of a professional wrestler standing at about six-foot-nine and weighs nearly 500 pounds would be best as a dominant force in the ring. The WWE tried to do that multiple times, but Viscera was at his best when he was doing sillier gimmicks like the “love machine” called Big Vis. That’s because fans found it entertaining seeing a man wearing what looks like the world’s largest pajamas and gyrating in the ring like an extra-large Val Venis.
While his success was questionable, Viscera was finding himself receiving consistent television time between 2005 and 2007 before making the shift to the ECW brand as a repackaged Big Daddy V. He was also still able to maintain some dominance while having a funny character. It’s unfortunate that he passed away in 2014, but it wasn’t a surprised that he was dealing with heart troubles considering how large he was.
13 Vladimir Kozlov
Before Rusev came out to be the Bulgarian Brute that was wearing Russia’s colors a few years ago, Vladimir Kozlov was a former WWE superstar born in the Soviet Union who looked to have a lengthy undefeated streak to begin his television career – somewhat like a number of powerhouses that the WWE seemed to be enamored with during the original brand split between 2002 and 2012. But Kozlov was better as a comedic act, by leaps and bounds.
It started during a ringside interview where he called it “Double Double E,” and was picked up when the WWE finally had Kozlov team up with Santino Marella in 2010 and 2011. This involved the infamous tea party with the two and Sheamus where Kozlov reminded everyone why Sheamus was mad at Marella in the first time. The two were a fan favorite among wrestling fans and Kozlov was a lot more over with the crowd as comic relief instead of the “Soviet Cyborg.”
Nick Dinsmore was pretty successful in his wrestling career early on with Ohio Valley Wrestling, but apparently the WWE wanted to use him with a different gimmick that seemed strange at the time. With the promise of Eric Bischoff’s nephew coming to visit and wanted to be a WWE superstar, we were introduced to Eugene – someone who came across as someone who was seemed special. Sure, it was somewhat making fun of people who were disabled.
At the same time, the WWE used Eugene as someone who was actually pretty good in the ring and had some success winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with William Regal and had a few shots at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The character would become stale as there was no real progress made and he would be released from the company in 2007. His status in the company was also likely hurt because of issues of Dinsmore being sent to rehabilitation over drug abuse concerns.
11 Big E
When he was being built up as a young, promising superstar from the NXT development system, Big E Langston debuted on the main roster in 2012 with an enforcer gimmick for both AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler. Big E was a strong and very talented athlete that was deserving of being a WWE superstar, but his first few years in the company showed him not being much more than some muscular guy. There were some moments when he showed personality, but he didn’t have a chance to flourish fully until joining the New Day.
It wasn’t until he came together with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston where he was able to be a little looser and bring out more of his natural charisma in a trio that has made fans laugh during their current run at the top of the WWE tag team division. Hopefully the faction doesn’t break up and we see more come from Big E in the future.
When the WWE was going up against World Championship Wrestling, they were also willing to make jokes about their opposing brand. In an effort to take a few jabs at the popularity of Goldberg by making someone the complete polar opposite of the man who went on an undefeated streak in WCW – a man who was not as intimidating looking and would start his run on television on a tremendous losing streak. He would even be part of the J.O.B. Squad of guys like Al Snow and Bob Holly.
While he was a former Light Heavyweight Champion in the WWE, he was usually billed to lose against top talents. The thing about the man behind this character is that he actually had a pretty decent career before coming to WWE in the 1990s with championships at multiple companies like Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation. But Duane Gill is best known as Gillberg, even naming his wrestling academy after the character.
9 Zack Ryder
The WWE wasn’t doing much with Zack Ryder, who was able to get himself over as one of the first social media superstars within the company. He even took it one step further with starting his own YouTube channel with his show called “Z! True Long Island Story,” which ended up becoming more of a variety show that featured himself, other WWE superstars (where’s Trent?) and some of his friends on the independent circuit. He’s also the WWE’s first and only Internet Champion.
Ryder hasn’t been able to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender – despite winning the United States and Intercontinental championships. But fans have enjoyed the character he’s portrayed as someone who shows he is a true fan who still collects action figures and isn’t afraid to sing karaoke with boy band music. Because of how he’s still getting love from live crowds, it’s doubtful the WWE is going to release him anytime soon.
8 Blue World Order
What started as a parody faction of the New World Order, the Blue World Order was formed in Extreme Championship Wrestling during the 1990s and was one of the cult favorites back in the day. The team of Nova, Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie were characters that mimicked the NOW in a more comical way with Nova imitating “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Richards being the ring leader and Meanie being the big guy wearing a pair of Daisy Duke shorts.
When they went their separate ways in the WWE, Blue Meanie maintained a silly gimmick as a member of the J.O.B. Squad and also as Bluedust. Nova tried to be more serious as a fitness enthusiast in Simon Dean and Richards tried to start “Right to Censor” before becoming a lower-tier jobber who would have a few reigns as the Hardcore Champion. But all of them had a right better run as the blue-hued trio.
7 Chuck Taylor
The WWE has recently brought in some of the best independent wrestlers from around the world to come into the company that is continuing to evolve and there may be some who are wondering whether or not Chuck Taylor is going to be among those soon to be brought into NXT. There’s no denying that with how he’s performed on the microphone and in the ring, he has shown that he can be entertaining in several different ways.
Taylor might not be able to scare children on WWE television, but his charisma has been what has attracted many wrestling fans to view his matches and highlights on YouTube. Comedy has been one of the things that has made Taylor so successful for promotions like Chikara and Pro Wrestling Guerilla. One would hope that he’s able to continue his gimmick if he is ever signed to the WWE in the near future.
6 Colt Cabana
It’s a shame that Colt Cabana wasn’t able to find success in the WWE as Scotty Goldman, but that might be more to do with how he was booked by the creative team. Cabana was someone who didn’t need to do much more than bring comedy to the ring to entertain fans and build his own empire as an entrepreneur in sports entertainment. Not only has he been funny in the ring, he’s also been able to entertain with his podcast the Art of Wrestling.
Cabana has also taken that comedy character to stand-up comedy and also with a number of comedy sketches and shows with Marty DeRosa and other writers. One of the best examples is “Creative Has Nothing for You,” which may or may not be inspired by his WWE release in 2009. Comedy has been not only been the act that has brought him success, it has been his career.
Rikishi is part of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family from Samoa, but the highlights of his career in the WWE usually involve wearing a man thong and placing his butt directly in his opponents’ faces. The 425-pound superstar was very impressive as a big man in the ring who could entertain the crowd with his dancing before and after matches with the members of Too Cool. One of his best moments was The Rock having Vince McMahon kiss Rikishi’s ass on a 2001 episode of SmackDown.
But there were times where his character had a more serious turn. In 2000, it was revealed that he was the man behind the wheel of running over Steve Austin and exclaimed that he did it for the Rock. There was also a brief stint in TNA Wrestling in 2007 that was cut short due to wanting more money in his contract. His sons have continued with their own careers and have established themselves as one of the top tag teams in the WWE.
Of course Dustin Rhodes had some success with Goldust pushing the limits of being a character based on homosexual tendencies back in the 1990s. Over the years, he’s been able to shift more towards a comedic role that has become a lot safer for family viewers. Being Goldust has brought him more success in the WWE than when he tried to wrestle under his family’s name – which includes his father, the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. As he mentioned in a WCW promo as Seven, he was told that “Dustin sucks.”
As Goldust, he’s been able to stay on WWE television for several years and has formed memorable tag teams with a variety of WWE superstars. His partnership with Booker T between 2002 and 2003 was one of the most memorable because of the comedy shown in various backstage segments that were some of the funniest seen in recent memory. The current team with R-Truth hasn’t met those standards, but it might get there soon.
Ron Killings has had some success in professional wrestling with several championships both in WWE, TNA and other promotions. However, he’s been the best on television as someone who seems like he has a few screws loose in his brain. As R-Truth, he made people laugh from various antics done. Whether he was a heel when he kept talking about how he didn’t care about all of the “Little Jimmies” or a face – or being a “good R-Truth” – who had an imaginary manager called “Little Jimmy.”
Being a funny heel gave him his first WWE Championship match against John Cena in 2011 with memorable moments where he came down to the ring dressed as a Confederate Soldier and also yelled at Cena that he wanted his son back as he fought against a huge conspiracy in the WWE. Currently, he’s gone back to that funny R-Truth who tried to use a tree branch as a selfie stick.
Fans of professional wrestling know that Gregory Helms was one of the most talented cruiserweights to compete in the WWE during the original brand split between 2002 and 2010. While he did wrestle under his real name and had some championship success, Helms found the most success in the WWE as the superhero Hurricane. While wrestlers are sometimes considered real life comic book characters brought to live entertainment, the Hurricane was someone who brought that into his character for one of the more entertaining superstars at the time.
It was in 2003 where he was able to get over with the fans by feuding with The Rock and exchanging words back and forth – questioning why the People’s Champion was acting the way he did (as a villain) and asking “What’s up with that?” It led to the Hurricane being able to pick up the biggest win of his career with a singles win over The Rock – showing that the WWE’s superhero was able to defeat the Scorpion King.
1 Santino Marella
While having won the Intercontinental and United States championships in the WWE as singles star, Santino Marella is likely only remembered for many of the hilarious moments he has had in his 2007 and 2014. There were the times he would dress up as other legends like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin with his ridiculous Italian accent, but other moments when he would host a tea party with Sheamus and his tag team partner Vladimir Kozlov.
There’s also that time where he dressed up as a woman, renamed himself “Santina” and won the inaugural (and the only) Miss WrestleMania. Even his finishing move was ridiculous with a snake sock to utilize the “Cobra” strike. It was one of the weakest finishing moves in wrestling history, but did bring a funny moment at the 2012 Royal Rumble where we had a showdown between the Cobra and Mick Foley’s Mr. Socko. While his career in the WWE ended due to an injury, it’s safe to consider him one of the funniest wrestlers to ever compete in the WWE.