In order to be a fan of professional wrestling, one must suspend his disbelief while watching matches or following storylines. We all know, after all, that the action inside of the ring is choreographed and that the outcomes of matches and feuds are all planned out. It has been decades since companies such as World Wrestling Entertainment pretended that the wrestlers who worked at events were real people and not characters no different than those that are seen in television shows, movies and other forms of entertainment. As much as some fans may not like the term, “sports entertainment” may very well be the best description for pro wrestling.
The WWE is similar to other television programs in that the company has, over the years, pushed things over the top as it pertains to characters and storylines. When such events have occurred in traditional television shows, it is said that those programs have “Jumped the Shark,” referencing that famous Happy Days scene when Fonzie, well, jumped over a shark. Unlike shows that have eventually been pulled off of the air because of lackluster ratings, WWE programs such as Raw and SmackDown have continued on even when weird and downright ridiculous wrestlers have been featured.
You may automatically assume that all of the characters worthy of being among the weirdest wrestlers in WWE history were, by default, awful. That is not, as history has shown, been the case. In fact, two of the most successful wrestlers of their times would have to be considered two of the weirdest wrestlers in the history of the WWE. The man who sits atop this list is undeniably a legend of the industry and he has done well to remain relevant among WWE fans even though his best days inside of the ring passed by years ago. Enjoy watching him while you still can.
20. Lord Tensai
The WWE learned a hard lesson with the Lord Tensai character that had no background story except for the fact that the man playing it was supposedly from Japan. When the company is going to debut such a character in front of a “smart” crowd the night after a WrestleMania, it is probably wise to give the gimmick to a wrestler who was not immediately recognizable to fans in attendance. The Tensai idea was one from another era and that the WWE thought that he would get over with fans in 2012 is, on its own, weird. Just as strange was that the WWE seemed shocked that fans did not buy into Tensai.
19. Papa Shango
Papa Shango was a witch doctor who used voodoo, magic and spells as he attempted to defeat babyface wrestlers such as The Ultimate Warrior. It goes without saying that the Papa Shango character was weird. We think that the WWE missed a golden opportunity in not describing how a witch doctor became the “Ultimate Fighting Machine” known as Kama who then later became The Godfather. One could produce a movie script based on the life and times of such an individual. As fun as The odfather was in the 1990s, opponents referencing his past as a witch doctor would have been hilarious.
18. The Boogeyman
If you are creating a character named “The Boogeyman” for a pro wrestling company, you should just go as weird and nutty as you can with the idea. Boogeyman smashed alarm clocks over his head, he stuffed worms into his mouth, and he appeared out of nowhere at times. Perhaps weirdest of all about Boogeyman’s run in the WWE was that he was often perceived as a fan-favorite. We don’t remember being all that fond of The Boogeyman when we were children. Then again, The Boogeyman we had in our minds did not resemble the character that the WWE presented.
Even the WWE realized that the company had a weird and absurd character in Phantasio. Phantasio was, as best as we could tell from the limited amount of time that he spent working in the WWE, a magician who also happened to be a pro wrestler. He made his debut in the summer of 1996, playing the role of a babyface. The greatest trick that Phantasio ever completed as a member of the WWE roster was disappearing just about as quickly as he had arrived. His one television appearance would be his last while working for the company. Ouch.
16. Doink the Clown
Give Matt Osborne credit for expertly playing the original Doink the Clown character in the WWE. As entertaining as Osborne was, the idea that an evil clown would want to infiltrate the WWE just to inflict pain on opponents and scare younger fans is undeniably weird. Those of you who were not avid Extreme Championship Wrestling viewers during the time should use the WWE Network or other websites to watch Osborne’s work in ECW. Osborne and ECW turned a weird WWE gimmick into a brilliant character.
15. The Ascension
What do you get when you take different portions from acts such as The Road Warriors, Demolition, the Ministry of Darkness and KroniK? You get The Ascension, a tag team that has no real back-story other than winning matches in NXT and painting their faces up for no reason whatsoever. There was a time and a place for a duo such as The Ascension. The time was the late 1980s/early 1990s, and the place was the WWE back when such gimmicks were commonplace. In 2015, however, The Ascension is a weird team that does not belong in the current WWE.
Just as with the WWE character that his brother has played, Stardust has gone through different changes and alterations since it first appeared on WWE television. The first idea was merely that Cody Rhodes wanted to be a better teammate for big brother Goldust. Rhodes apparently dove a little too deep into the character, however, and Stardust has now become more of a villain that is found in comic book stories than a pro wrestler who wants to compete for championships. Stardust could probably use some evil henchmen who are more menacing than The Ascension.
13. Val Venis
What do you do when you are running a wrestling company that has gone all-in on the “Attitude Era?” You naturally give a wrestler the character of an adult-film star who has a late name that rhymes with, well, you know. As ridiculous as this may sound to some wrestling fans nearly two decades after Venis first debuted on Raw, the character actually got over with fans for a time. The second half of the 1990s was wacky in many ways in the world of popular culture, and Venis being popular with portions of the WWE fan base was not all that surprising. We’re just bummed that the poor guy had to find a different line of work.
There are some wrestling characters that make you feel a little embarrassed to be a fan of the product. Mantaur would have to make that list. Mantaur was, per the storyline that WWE presented for the character, a wrestler who was a combination of half-man and half-bull. There are some serious questions that need to be answered for this one. How is it that such a creature would not have devastated any unarmed opponent that he encountered? Shouldn’t a competitor have to be fully human in order to participate in wrestling matches? The WWE has some explaining to do.
11. Isaac Yankem
Anybody who has any doubts about the real talent had by Glenn Jacobs should remember the type of characters that he has played over the years. Before he was the “Big Red Machine” (later discussed in this piece), Jacobs was Isaac Yankem, the evil dentist hired by Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler was attempting to rid the WWE of Bret “Hitman” Hart when he brought in the large dentist to do his dirty work. Laugh all you want after the fact, but younger viewers who had true fears of going to the dentist likely found themselves nervous that Yankem would be able to defeat Hart. Fortunately, good triumphed over evil in the end.
10. Battle Kat
We think, upon looking back at old footage via YouTube and other similar websites, that the idea behind the Battle Kat character was that the wrestler was either actually a cat or was a mentally-disturbed individual who did not know that he was human. The man who originally played Battle Kat was athletically gifted and thus he used those traits to show off – forgive the pun – “cat-like” physical attributes. Battle Kat would go down as one of the many failed characters of this era of WWE history, an era that can be comical when viewed years after the fact but one that is better off left in the past.
9. Repo Man
The idea that a Repo Man would not only get involved with pro wrestling but would want to participate in matches was weird even in the 1990s. For some reason, however, the WWE thought it best to dress the character up like somebody who tried to make his own Zorro costume at home. The gimmick as a whole was as midcard-riffic as the WWE got during the era, although Repo Man did manage to have a short feud with the “Macho Man” Randy Savage over one of Savage’s hats. Savage, not surprisingly, emerged as the victor. Better luck next time, Repo Man.
8. The Berzerker
The Berzerker was a viking who carried a sword and shield to the ring and who did not understand that it would be wise to pin opponents during matches. Seriously. That was the character that the WWE came up with upon imagining what The Berzerker would be. Fans who watched Berzerker squash unmemorable jobbers were not witnesses to five-star classic contests. In fact, it would be understandable if you mostly remember Berzerker for the items that he carried with him to the ring and for the big man yelling “Huss! Huss!” as he marched before, during and after matches.
7. Brutus Beefcake
The truth of the matter is that you could dedicate an entire piece to the characters that Ed Leslie has portrayed during his pro wrestling career. For the purposes of this post, we’ll go with the one that is most famous to those who were casual wrestling fans in the 1980s and 1990s. Leslie played Brutus Beefcake, a “barber” who shaved the heads of his opponents after victories. Maybe weirdest of all is that Beefcake’s victims legitimately had portions of their hair either cut or shaved off after losing to the man who was often associated with Hulk Hogan. That’s a rough way to earn a living.
Of course a character who was nicknamed “The Bizarre One” has to be mentioned in a list of the weirdest wrestlers in WWE history. Goldust experienced several transformations during his first run in the WWE. He was a movie aficionado who, purposely or not, drew homophobic chants from crowds during what was a different time in society. Goldust then became The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust after he linked up with heel manager Luna Vachon. Goldust’s best overall run in the WWE may have been his final stint in the company, when he worked with real-life brother Cody Rhodes.
5. Bastion Booger
It is not easy to describe what the WWE was going for with the Bastion Booger character. The company put Booger in a gray singlet that showed off his rotund figure and the singlets were purposely dingy. In all, it seemed as if the WWE went out of the way to point out to viewers that Booger was nothing more than an overweight comedy heel who was eventually going to get his when he wrestled babyface opponents. Booger did once have a brief feud with Bam Bam Bigelow and you can relive that part of WWE history thanks to websites such as YouTube.
4. Bray Wyatt
Just about everything regarding the Bray Wyatt character has been weird. Wyatt being a cult leader who has recruited one new member in years and who even released his “Wyatt Family” off into the wilderness on their own before eventually receiving them back was weird. Wyatt allegedly acquiring the powers of The Undertaker and Kane before losing them for literally no reason was weird. It is weird that the WWE has made Wyatt and his followers midcard wrestlers who make little-to-no impacts in main events. The WWE has plenty of work to do if the company plans on making Wyatt significant in the eyes of fans.
3. ECW Zombie
You sometimes have to just shrug your shoulders, laugh and have some fun while watching a ridiculous character. The Zombie character that appeared on the debut broadcast for the resurrected Extreme Championship Wrestling brand was the WWE having a laugh at the fact that the show was airing on the Sci-Fi/Syfy Channel. Even the WWE realized that the Zombie had a short shelf-life the second that he stepped out from behind the curtain, and he did not remain a mainstay on ECW television. We think that the company could have done a little more with the Zombie. It’s not as if he could have made their version of ECW any worse.
It is nothing short of hilarious to see in 2015 how the WWE has forgotten the original Kane storyline on several occasions. Kane was physically, emotionally and psychologically scarred by a fire started by The Undertaker, his brother, and so The Big Red Machine did what anybody would do: He used pro wrestling as a way to get revenge. Just ignore the fact that Kane is not at all scarred, that he has, at times, had “powers” similar to those had by The Undertaker, and also that Kane and Undertaker have feuded and forgiven each other on multiple occasions. Some brotherly relationships are just weird like that, we suppose.
1. The Undertaker
Remember that “weird” can, in instances such as this one, also mean “awesome.” One would be forgiven for laughing upon remembering the tweaks that have been made to The Undertaker character since he first debuted. The Undertaker has been a walking deadman, a resurrected walking deadman, a Satanic priest, a member of a biker gang, a walking deadman who learned some mixed martial arts, and a walking deadman who is somehow physically past his prime. The Undertaker will go down in history as being one of the most-successful characters in WWE history. He may also be the weirdest WWE performer we have ever seen.
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