The WWE has been home to some of the most colorful characters to ever enter people’s homes through television sets. Some of have been so patently clean and so energetically positive that it’s like they came straight from a My Little Pony episode or a bottle of toothpaste.
What really separated WWE from the rest of the pack was their ability to produce characters that really tested the boundaries of what they were allowed to do on cable television. They were the pioneers of some new objectionable content that really got them over with crowds, especially during the Attitude Era. There were the loud mouths who cursed, made vile, detailed, and disturbing threats to their opponents, and caused general mayhem during a show. There were just the wrestlers who were just insane and did equally insane stuff to other wrestlers or personnel in the close vicinity. And then there were wrestlers whose entire gimmick were based off of an unfortunate stereotype. All of them extremely offensive, all of them…”entertaining” for one reason or another.
Because of their “innovative” ways of trying to make a splash in professional wrestling, most of the acts were allowed. Either a gimmick that was new and refreshing or a timeless classic, these wrestlers came into their limelight through terribly offensive means and that permeated itself to creating some freakishly strange, compelling, but sometimes distasteful television.
20. Brock Lesnar
The Beast Incarnate is here simply because he is one mean SOB. The biggest reason he is offensive is because of the destructive way he lays waste to people. He’s a stiff worker and what has made him even more offensive than most wrestlers on the roster is that he is legit. There was a section of time after he made his return to WWE in which he started locking people in the Kimura Arm Lock and “breaking” their shoulder. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Mark Henry, CM Punk, Jamie Noble, are all stars who have faced the Kimura Lock and promptly had their arm ripped out. Now we know it’s ‘not real’ and Lesnar isn’t trying to hurt anyone, but the sheer violence of when he does that final wretch to pull the arm out of its socket? Devastating. I’ve been put in a kimura before. It only takes one little pull to complete rearrange your shoulder and to give that move to the Beast is not only smart, it gives him one of the most dangerous edges in WWE. And he sells it with impunity along with his host of other destructive moves. It sometimes gets uncomfortable with how much destruction he lays in his wake, scaring some parents away from WWE television.
19. Road Dogg
Road Dogg is one silly character. Born during the Attitude Era, the D-O double G was paired with his other half, Mr. Ass, to form The New Age Outlaws (more on Mr. Ass in a second). Road Dogg was the fun loving, dancing, almost Dusty Rhodes-esque sort of wrestler. But what made him just skin crawlingly hard to watch was some of his other antics aside from his fun personality. Sure he was part of D-Generation X and they weren’t exactly the most PG of crews, but Road Dogg did some other weiiiiird stuff that may have turned some people off to him. Road Dogg was one of the few wrestlers given the honor of having the pump handle slam be his finisher. Now Road Dogg had to come up with his own little twist to it to make it his own. Most people come up with a signature taunt to mark that it’s the end for whoever they’re about to hit with their finishing move. Road Dogg, for whatever reason, decided to start channeling his actual inner dog. The pump handle slam requires that you take an opponent’s hand, force it between their legs so you can hold their hand as you lift them up into slam position. Road Dogg decided that in that critical moment of executing the move, he would bend his opponent down and begin to hump the hindquarters of his opponent. To save the raunchier details, he got the deed done, then proceeded to execute the move. Ugh. The Attitude Era sometimes.
18. Mr. Ass
Billy Gunn was saddled with some of the silliest gimmicks in WWE history. It sucked especially for him because he was an extremely talented wrestler. Probably one of the more memorable gimmicks he had was when he rolled with Road Dogg and D-Generation X and called himself Mr. Ass. The character was essentially in love with his own butt and began to even wear attire that was see through, to show off his ass. He would constantly moon crowds before, after, or during matches (this even became a taunt for him during the classic N64 game, No Mercy) and was just an incredibly weird character. As such, Creative started to give him ass-themed matches such as The Kiss-My-Ass match and an Ass themed entrance song. It goes without saying that it wasn’t always great television…
17. Shawn Michaels
The Heartbreak Kid in his heyday was both the most entertaining and inappropriate wrestler of his time. One of the masterminds of the brain child, D-Generation X, Shawn Michaels was as offensive as they come at the time. As Max Landis would say, he was sort of an effeminate, stripper pretty boy wrestler. Lots of gyrating and lots of suggestive moves (I’m looking at you, constantly air humping HBK). Michaels pretty much acted out his wild party life style in the ring while he was still the face of the WWE and during the beginning stages of The Attitude Era, it was more than welcomed on television, but more than despised by the conservative part of its viewership. Along with the sophomoric pranks he pulled by himself, they were only exacerbated by his aforementioned affiliation with DX. With his already stripper-esque type humor adjoined with the offensive and completely weird stuff he did with Triple H, Michaels’ place on this list is well deserved.
16. The Rock
Dwayne Johnson. Oh goodness. The People’s Champ earned his spot by being one of the best trash talkers in all of WWE. And I’m talking about Attitude Era Rocky. From The Nation of Domination to when he was able to turn the word SmackDown into an actual word in the dictionary, he could trash talk, curse beautifully like ghetto Shakespeare, and had enough catchphrases to make an entire conversation with. Which is exactly what made Rocky both entertaining and offensive.
A great example of this would be his backstage segment with Lillian Garcia , where he was talking about his “strudel.” Because remember…you’re probably wet….WITH PERSPIRATION, STANDING THIS CLOSE TO THE ROCK! If you haven’t seen that interview, I implore you to watch it. It might be the most hilarious thing ever.
15. Stone Cold Steve Austin
As many of you know, Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of the toughest SOBs to ever step into a ring. And by God, could he talk your ear off and cuss so much that it would make a sailor turn bright pink with embarrassment. Along with all of the cursing, his signature taunt of the middle finger and his sadism within the ring, with how violent and smash mouth his style of wrestling was, are some of the things that really stood out in how offensively entertaining Austin was. From driving a beer truck into the arena and dousing the McMahons and The Rock with beer, to dumping cement into a Corvette and destroying the entire thing in the process, to attacking Vince McMahon in a hospital bed, Austin wasn’t afraid to push the limits and had his share of detractors because of it.
14. Triple H
Before The Game became the corporate head honcho he is now, the Triple H character as leader of D-Generation X was just downright insulting. Triple H constantly led DX through a myriad of shenanigans that constantly had USA television ready with the censor button. But it wasn’t just the over top gags with DX that made Triple H a truly offensive character. The Cerebral Assassin was also one of the most sadistic and underhanded singles competitors to ever enter the ring. What comes to mind is his usage of his signature weapon, the sledgehammer. He’s frequently cracked people with that sledgehammer in various ways that have made people cringe and cover their eyes.
A sadist in the truest of senses, The Big Red Machine is one of the premier terrifying characters and, by proxy, is offensive in his own right. Tabbed as The Devil’s Favorite Demon, The Demon from Hell, and The Bringer of Fire and Brimstone, Kane’s violence and evil scared many people away from the product, but yet brought so many more people to the fold. His involvement in story lines of possible sexual assault (Hi Lita) and deep mental problems were ground breaking and truly disturbing. One of the scariest and objectionable moments ever on television was when Kane was getting interviewed by Jim Ross. You could see a visibly disturbed and mentally eroding Kane getting angrier and more vicious as the interview went on. What little left of his sanity had finally disintegrated away, so Kane proceeded to get up, throw JR to the floor, sprinkle him with some gasoline AND SET HIM ON FIRE.
12. Muhammad Hassan
Muhammad Hassan was one of those wrestlers that WWE Creative tried to use to take advantage of a situation to create some heat. Sometimes, it can hit the mark beautifully and create genuine heat and inspire great television. Other times, it can be seen as horribly distasteful and disrespectful to the event at large. This was one of those times in which it was more horribly distasteful than it was actually entertaining. Mark Copani was the man behind the character and he was placed with the unenviable task of taking on this gimmick. The gimmick was of an Arab-American wrestler who did extremist acts to ensure that they would elicit the right type of heat. Usually, this kind of thing would be looked at as a normal story narrative, but this was coming off of the heels of September 11th. So needless to say, the reception for such a character was not well received and the timing couldn’t have been worse due to the London bombings that happened when the character was at the peak of its exposure.
11. Randy Orton
Randy Orton’s character has gone from hero to villain quicker than a….viper…. (BA DUM TSS). At any rate, when his character becomes evil, he literally becomes the embodiment of evil. To the point where it starts to get incredibly uncomfortable. One of his monikers is that he hears voices in his head that tell him to do horrible and unspeakable things. When he was given one of the most violent moves ever as another finisher, the punt, he used it to deadly efficiency. So much that people who were hit by it were not seen on television for a really long time. When kayfabe was still real, it was believed that he injured them and put them on the shelf. A kick so violent by a person so sadistically driven by his violent tendencies and his IED (intermittent explosive disorder) truly scared and offended people.
Gene Snitsky was a huge, imposing, and typical mean-looking guy who didn’t really have a gimmick, but was good to have around until they found something to do with him. And then…it happened. Snitsky dropped his first name and became a psychopath. His entire character was centered around an incident in which Snitsky and the aforementioned Kane had a match with one anotherTo help him gain some momentum, Snitsky became part of a storyline in which he accidentally ran into Lita, causing her to fall down, and lose the baby after severe trauma. After developing the catchphrase “I DIDN’T DO IT” to exonerate himself of any culpability during that incident, he proceeded to do one of the strangest and just shake-your-head moments in all of Raw television. While Lita was out in the ring, Snitsky came out with a baby wrapped in a blanket. He proceeded to walk down the ramp and continued to taunt Lita with this child. He then PUNTED THE BABY INTO THE CROWD. Just let that sink in for a second… Good? Good.
9. Los Matadores
Los Matadores (and Torito) are one part of WWE Creative’s secret agenda of putting out obviously racist stuff on television and calling it entertainment. As you can probably tell, Los Matadores are a pair of Mexican matador wrestlers, who do stereotypical Spanish things, like constantly yell “OLE” and pose like matadors throughout their matches. They were never seriously by any of the WWE Universe because the universe had already become privy to Creative’s use of racist stereotypes and putting it on to television.
8. Mick Foley
Mrs. Foley’s baby boy is one of the most diverse and interesting wrestlers to ever hit the mat and we’re going to zero in on two parts of the three faces of Foley that were truly sadistic, twisted, and sick.
One of the most hardcore and violent gimmicks ever, Cactus Jack was known throughout the world as being tough as nails and indestructible. With that fabulous Foley smile, Jack would raise the violence level in every match, most notably during his match against Triple H at Royal Rumble 2000. Thumbtacks, destruction, blood, and just uncomfortable amounts of punishment being doled out against each other that would make a full on car crash look like stuffed animals prancing around.
And that’s not even the most offensive part of Foley. The Mankind character is one of the most disturbing characters ever to be a part of WWE. Hailing from the Boiler Room, Mankind cut cryptic and insane promos that, in Foley’s own words, scared the crap out of little children. Donning what looked like a brown burlap sack, brown tights, and a mask straight out of an S&M video, he was a feared foe with one of the most disgusting, but yet terrifying finishing maneuvers ever, The Mandible Claw. These two faces of Foley were one of the driving forces behind The Attitude Era and pushed the limits of psychological terror a deranged wrestler could inflict on both opponent and observer.
7. The Godfather
Once a member of the feared Nation of Domination, The Godfather character was one of the most objectionable characters to ever come out of the minds of WWE Creative, though he was one of the most well-received from the universe for less than pure reasons. The Godfather was a wrestler who was also a pimp. There was no sugar coating it, no subtle hints, or any real secrets about who or want this character was. He was a pimp, he had hoes, and even had a move set that was revolved around corny wordplay for being a pimp. Not only did he wrestle the part, not only did he look the part with his pimp-tastic attire, he even had his own “Ho-Train.” Welcome to The Attitude Era.
6. Val Venis
Val Venis is another one of those Attitude Era wrestlers who had a weird gimmick that was completely offensive, but the crowd ate it up anyway (especially the women). Venis. besides having a name one letter away from being one of the worst named adult stars ever, was just that: WWE’s resident adult star. Venis’ had one of the most unique entrances in wrestling, simply for the fact that there was a lot of participation from a lucky lady in the crowd. Whether she was a plant or an actual patron, Venis would take a woman from ringside, bring her to the ring, and proceed to make out with her. Aside from having crowd participation, Venis, like The Godfather, had moves named after his character’s life choices. As such for Venis, he had The Big Package (no surprise there) and The Money Shot (welp). Wow.
5. The Un-Americans
The Un-Americans were a group of wrestlers who were extremists in their ideas about the United States of America. Composed of the three Canadians: Test, Christian, and Lance Storm, they spewed hatred and tried to create as much cheap heat for themselves by proclaiming their superiority and the United States’ unfair culture towards people who are not American citizens. Now, we have seen zealots, sympathizers, and just about every single type of ne’er do well ever to hit a wrestling ring. But the Un-Americans truly stood out in their offensive nature by just how incredibly extreme they could be. They stomped on the US flag (that’s a big no no), had the flag flying upside down (oh god), and desecrated the flag and its ideals in every single way imaginable. The Un-Americans were borderline terrorists and went to incredible heights to get people to hate them, and it often crossed the line and became offensive.
Eugene is the saddest case of an offensive wrestler on this list. Eugene’s gimmick was that he was a mentally handicapped wrestler who was Eric Bischoff’s (the Raw GM at the time) nephew who would always be starstruck with the biggest babyfaces at the time. When he would get into trouble with some of the heels, where they would make fun of his mental handicap in a subtle but not so subtle way, the biggest babyface would come out to save Eugene and he would join in on the beat down against the heels, even using the babyface’s finisher as his own. The whole character in itself was a distasteful mockery of those who have actual mental handicaps and Creative using Eugene as a sort of “if he can make it, you can make it too” ideal was disgusting as well.
3. Cryme Tyme
As if WWE hadn’t gotten racist enough with some of their gimmicky acts, out pops Cryme Tyme from the Creative machine. Speaking in jive and basically acting like thugs, JTG and Shad were the shady babyface wrestlers that did people’s dirty work (scalping tickets or robbing people). It was an attempt at Saturday Night Live type humor, but being wrestlers and not seasoned actors, the two wrestlers just looked like two clowns instead of being considered a serious threat to tag team gold. Their gimmick really held back the talents of both of these guys and it was also a dark mark on the WWE because its attempt at sophomoric and light-hearted humor against racial stereotypes fell flat and just portrayed the WWE as completely insensitive.
2. The MexiCools
The MexiCools. Where to begin with this group. Well, we can start off at the very beginning when they debuted on WWE, COMING OUT ON RIDER LAWN MOWERS AND DRESSED IN EXTREME MEXICAN GARB. For God’s sake WWE, it’s like you’re trying to be perceived as a bunch of prejudiced ding bats. The wrestlers themselves, Psicosis, Super Crazy, and Juventud were all accomplished luchador wrestlers, all of them coming from WCW at the time. They were literally doomed from the second they came out on lawn mowers, going for comedic irony instead of being a serious force to be reckoned with. Now their mark in WWE history is being a tasteless Mexican stereotype joke instead of being recognized for their great skills.
The original man-servant to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Virgil is the most insensitive character ever to be spawned by WWE. Virgil was living out the black slave/white master dynamic, perpetuating a stereotype from a dark part in human history. Virgil would do typical man servant tasks, carrying around DiBiase’s ring items, his belt, his towels and would also take beatings for DiBiase, if The Million Dollar Man was caught in that kind of situation. Virgil never gained any meaningful redemption during his stint and was pigeonholed as a punching bag for DiBiase. Needless to say, this was a tasteless gimmick and the most offensive in WWE history.
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