Given that wrestling fans have been treated to wrestling zombies, wrestling repo men, wrestlers dressed like stormtroopers, boy bands, garbagemen, Yetis, and all manners of superheroes, you would think that every bad gimmick idea that has ever existed has eventually found its way into a wrestling ring. After all, if a major company once thought it was a good idea to put a tag team called The Dicks on television and have them throw baby oil in the eyes of their opponents, then surely there is no gimmick so awful that it was deemed too bad to actually be given a chance, right?
You might think that, but you would be wrong. Believe it or not, there are actually some wrestling gimmicks that never see the light of day. With very few exceptions, this is usually something to be thankful about if you are a wrestling fan as those gimmicks which are rejected are almost always the very worst of the worst. As amusing as it might be to talk about these gimmicks, when you actually start to think about how painful it would have been to watch them on TV, then you’ll surely agree that these are the top 15 wrestling gimmicks that thankfully never happened.
15 The Incredibly Intelligent Jimmy Uso and His Dumb Brother Jey
It may have taken the better part of their careers, but Jimmy and Jey Uso are finally starting to figure out this whole “professional wrestling” thing. While the two have always been capable in the ring, it wasn’t until their recent heel turn on SmackDown that they started to display a personality that goes beyond generic Samoan guys that sell face paint to kids. Of course, this wasn’t the first attempt by WWE writers to repackage The Usos.
According to a former WWE writing assistant, WWE once considered having Jimmy be really smart and having Jey be very stupid. Oddly enough, they weren't really designed to be a comedy act. As…err…interesting as that sounds, the idea was rejected. And now that we see how good they can be, we can only thank Vince McMahon for that.
14 Homosexual Hair Dresser Kalisto
When you first get hired by WWE, you can expect to go through a long process of trying to find the perfect character. While some wrestlers get lucky these days and WWE lets them keep the gimmick they got famous with, finding the right character for a new wrestler used to be a labor-intensive process. That’s the only way we can justify WWE’s idea to have Kalisto debut as a gay hair stylist.
According to backstage rumors, Kalisto really nailed the character during some mock interview tryouts to the point that some in creative thought they should just roll with the idea and carry it over to television. It’s unclear what actually happened to the gimmick, but, thankfully, it never actually made it to air. It's highly doubtful WWE would have found a way to turn it into a positive for Kalisto's career.
13 All-Irish Wrestling Hero Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan didn’t exactly take over the world when he joined WWWF in the late ‘70s (that would come later), but he still managed to make a name for himself early on in his career as a bruiser strongman capable of destroying babyfaces everywhere. Later on, of course, Vince McMahon Jr. realized that Hulk moved way more t-shirts as an American loving babyface. Vince McMahon Sr.’s vision of Hulk Hogan, however, was entirely different. He originally wanted Hulk Hogan to be an Irish-born wrestler who was a hero to his “home” country. He even gave Hulk bottles of red hair dye meant to complete the look. Hulk rejected the idea pretty much the moment he heard it, and wrestling history ended up being better off for the decision.
12 Sibling Lovers Paul Burchill and Katie Lea
There are some things that work in professional wrestling that wouldn’t work on any other TV show, and there are some things that work on other TV shows that just wouldn’t work in professional wrestling. For example, Game of Thrones managed to become a television hit despite the fact its first season featured several scenes depicting a controversial relationship between brother and sister. It’s almost impossible to imagine such a storyline becoming successful in professional wrestling, which makes it all the more shocking to think that it very nearly happened. Former WWE writers have mentioned that it was once in the works to have Paul Burchill and Katie Lea debut as a brother and sister duo with a strongly suggested intimate relationship. Thankfully, common sense won the day, and Paul Burchill became a pirate instead.
11 G.I. Scott Hall
To be fair, this next idea isn’t really awful if you look at it in the context of its time, but it would have been pretty bad in retrospect. As the story goes, when Scott Hall made his WWE debut, Vince McMahon and some of the other creative types were pretty excited about his potential. He was a good worker, he had a great look, and when Vince McMahon found out that Scott Hall came from a military family, he felt that Hall would be a natural for a soldier gimmick. Hall didn’t really see himself in that role and, somewhat jokingly, suggested he would rather play a Scarface-like character instead as it would be similar to his old WCW Diamond Studd gimmick. Eventually, that idea gained traction, and history was made.
10 Booker T and Stevie Ray As Slave Wrestlers
Sometimes, in life and in wrestling, you’ve really got to step away from one of your ideas and look at it from a fresh perspective to see if they work or not. Other times, you should just let common sense tell you to not do what you’re thinking of doing. For instance, someone in WCW thought that the debuting Booker T and Stevie Ray would be perfect as a team known as The Posse who would walk to the ring in prison garb (complete with chains) and be accompanied by the very southern Colonel Robert Parker. Sadly, this incredibly racist gimmick lasted long enough for the pair to make a brief appearance on WCW Saturday Night. When WCW executives looked at the footage and realized what they had done, they removed the segment from TV and came up with Harlem Heat instead.
9 The Deaf and Mute Edge
In retrospect, Edge debuted with one of the better initial gimmicks in wrestling history. His promo vignettes didn’t really tell you much about his character, but that was kind of the point. He was meant to be a mysterious outsider that was capable of anything. When he finally did make his debut, fans were excited to see exactly what this guy was all about. Of course, if Vince Russo had his way, Edge would have never stopped being the strong silent type because he would have lacked the ability to talk at all. Yes, Russo wanted Edge to debut as a deaf mute wrestler that was incapable of speaking. While a silent wrestler can work for a time, it’s hard to imagine that a wrestler that never talks would have stayed popular for long.
8 Melina The Secret Transvestite
Who can ever forget that famous Attitude Era storyline that saw Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry get paired with Sammi the transvestite? Yes, many speculated that WWE would be unable to properly implement a transvestite character into a storyline without it being really, really insulting, and this storyline proved those people right. Despite the fact the Sammi angle was a disaster, WWE apparently thought that there was still mileage in the comedy angle and considered taking another shot at it with Melina in the role of the transvestite. The idea was for Batista to get intimate with Melina at the end of their storyline together at which point he would have found out about her “big surprise.” Stephanie McMahon actually killed this idea before it could go any further.
7 Dave Batista: Troubled Child
Believe it or not, that 'Melina is a transvestite' angle is not the worst gimmick that Dave Batista was once involved with. According to Batista himself, that actually came around the time of his debut when he was introduced as the bodyguard of the reverend Devon Dudley. One of Batista’s trademark characteristics at this time was his short fuse and fondness for violent aggression. While most fans assumed that this just had something to do with the fact he was a big and angry dude, WWE actually intended to reveal that Dave Batista was the child of a raped mother and that he was angry because he didn’t know his father. Batista didn’t actually clarify why the angle was scrapped, but, then again, you can probably figure it out.
6 Cowboy Bret Hart
When you think about it, “Hitman” Bret Hart is a great gimmick because it’s not really a gimmick at all. Bret Hart never came to the ring with a rifle folded into a briefcase or anything like that, and instead was allowed to just be himself while occasionally working some assassin phrases into his promos and move names. After all, can you really picture Bret Hart working an over-the-top WWE gimmick? Well, apparently Vince McMahon could as his initial idea for Bret was to have him debut as a straight-up cowboy in order to play off his Stampede Wrestling past. Bret hated the idea, as you can probably imagine, and informed Vince that anyone who claims to be a cowboy back where he comes from had better actually be a cowboy.
5 The Hunchbacks
When Jim Herd took over as Executive Vice President of World Championship Wrestling in 1988, he immediately decided that WCW was going to beat WWE as the top wrestling company in America by doing exactly what they do, but better. For the most part, this meant that WCW wrestlers were going to be assigned over-the-top gimmicks just like WWE wrestlers had. Now, while many of Herd’s awful gimmick ideas actually made it to television, a few that were especially bad did not. Perhaps the most famous of his failed “original” character ideas was a tag-team called The Hunchbacks that actually had hunchbacks. What would be the point of that, you ask? Well, the joke was that they could never be pinned because their hunchbacks would keep their shoulders from touching the mat. Presumably, then, they would have been undefeated tag team champions for years.
4 JTG’s Split Personality Disorder (And His Puppet Friend)
There is a paper-thin line between awesome and stupid in the world of wrestling, and this next gimmick rides that line while leaning just far enough towards stupid to be worthy of acceptance on this list. The origins of this gimmick can be traced back to a promo class JTG participated in when he was getting ready for the main roster. During this promo class, JTG started to talk to himself as if he had a split personality. Vince McMahon heard about the performance and assigned JTG a split personality gimmick. JTG felt that the gimmick would be even better if he talked to a puppet called Self that only JTG and the audience could see. Vince McMahon apparently thought the puppet took the idea too far and made JTG a criminal instead.
3 Spartacus Ric Flair
Our good friend Jim Herd strikes again! As bad as most of Jim Herd’s gimmick ideas were, at least they were usually given to lower-tier talent that had not built a legacy for themselves as any other character. That’s not the case with the Spartacus gimmick he tried to give to Ric Flair. Yes, in his infinite wisdom, Jim Herd decided that the whole “Nature Boy” gimmick was too old-fashioned and thought that Ric Flair would be a lot more modern if he modeled himself after a gladiator of Rome. As such, he suggested that Flair cut his hair, wear an earring, and change his name to Spartacus.
Ric Flair left the company not too long after this gimmick was suggested, but Kevin Sullivan probably had the best response to the idea when he said: “While we’re doing this, why don’t we go to Yankee Stadium and change Babe Ruth’s number?”
2 The Unfrozen Nazi Baron Von Bava
For whatever reason, Vince McMahon loved director Dan Madigan’s work on the 2006 WWE film See No Evil. He not only thought that See No Evil was a legitimately great film, but that Madigan was a certified genius. In fact, Madigan was on the fast path to great things in WWE before one faithful writers meeting forever changed his career. According to Madigan himself, he used that meeting to pitch McMahon and the rest of the writers and idea that involved thawing out an ancient Nazi soldier named Baron von Bava who had been frozen in the Swiss Alps and having him goose-step to the ring while covered in Swastika tattoos. Apparently, Madigan even goose-stepped during the meeting to demonstrate how this would work. Oh and to top it all off, Madigan thought of Paul Heyman, a Jewish New Yorker, to be von Bava's manager.
How did Vince respond? Well, he slowly got up, grabbed his briefcase, and walked out of the building without saying a word.
1 Alex Riley: Fake Cancer Survivor
Every writer has had brainstorming ideas that they later come to regret. This is why most writers typically don’t want to show you what they’re working on until they’re close to being finished. Even still, some brainstorming ideas are so awful that you wonder how they even made it as far as being spoken aloud. According to a former WWE employee, one of the strangest ideas that anyone had ever suggested was to have Alex Riley fake having cancer in order to gain fan sympathy. Even worse, this was going to be a long-term storyline that would have played out over the course of weeks before the eventual reveal that he was lying. The idea was, rightfully, shot down immediately, but perhaps WWE should have taken measures to make sure nobody ever speaks of it again.