One thing that has remained constant in the sport of professional wrestling, even back to the days when events didn’t air on pay per view and there weren’t multiple broadcasts throughout the week, are the gimmicks. To be one of the best performers in the business, you need to have a gimmick. Talent can only take you so far, as it’s how you present yourself to the fans that helps you gain popularity, stay relevant in an otherwise difficult business to become a star, and continue to be a hated or popular star. Any fan of Ric Flair and the Four Horseman who have watched their DVD knows that these men didn’t only talk the talk, they actually did everything they said they did in their vignettes. It’s what helped them stand out.
On the flip side, for every gimmick like Ric Flair, The Undertaker, Sting, and Hulk Hogan, there are gimmicks that simply don’t work. From The Goon and Men on a Mission to The Oddities and Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, these terrible gimmicks have left lasting impressions on the professional wrestling world.
Some of these gimmicks were rip-offs of other successful characters, chances at a second-life for some wrestlers, and some were just terrible ideas. Many of the worst gimmicks ever involved former champions, but many times, the men wearing the masks were lifetime jobbers and were just looking for their big break. Regardless of the reason behind these terrible gimmicks, these are the 20 worst gimmicks in the history of professional wrestling.
20 “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright
A main staple on World Championship Wrestling’s Saturday evening show, “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright was a rising star. He was a good-looking guy with killer dance moves, but for some reason, the fans never got behind him. He would win some WCW gold during his career, but never won the world title. He spent most of his career as a face, but regardless of his role, he would often find himself being booed by the fans in a way that only John Cena would understand.
Anyone that has watched World Wrestling Entertainment for the past 20 years knows that, aside from a few big men, most of the larger competitors are put into terrible gimmicks. Among the worst cases of this was with Brodus Clay. He's a talented performer, but when you are put in a position where you are dancing for the crowd, there is only so far you can go. Just ask Rikishi, and even Alex Wrigh,t how far great in-ring talent and a terrible dancing gimmick will take you.
18 Repo Man
One of the worst gimmicks in the history of professional wrestling comes from one of the best tag team wrestlers of all time, Barry Darsow. He will mostly be remembered for his role as Smash in the tag team Demolition, but there will be some who remember him for his role as the Repo Man. The premise of this heel character was that he would steal anything he could get his hands on. At this time, the wrestling business mainly consisted of heels and faces, so he did a solid job of being hated, but his wardrobe was a little ridiculous. He looked like a poor man’s Zorro and was too ridiculous to be considered a serious threat to win a title.
17 Bastion Booger
During the time when Bastion Booger was competing in WWE, there were so many other big men that were better talents that he didn't really get a chance to prove himself. He was Bastion Booger, a man who didn’t appear to shower and was hunchbacked, and didn’t have a long run in the promotion, but it was memorable nonetheless. In terms of his success as the character, he was mostly used to put over other wrestlers and rarely won any matches.
16 Akeem the African Dream
This gimmick was one of those times when Vince McMahon should have walked into the writing room and fired everyone. Played by One Man Gang, Akeem the African Dream, was a truly hilarious character, but the hilarity of the massive performer dancing around in African clothing couldn’t help make this a gimmick any better. Gang’s portrayal of Akeem was enhanced by his manager, Slick, but it doesn’t make the gimmick better. It just made it easier to tolerate.
15 The Renegade
In the professional wrestling business, it is all about finding what works and sticking with it. In other cases, it is about finding what works, and then copying something that already worked before. The Ultimate Warrior was one of those wrestlers that didn’t need to do much to become a fan favorite. His run to the ring would excite the crowd and while he appeared to be gassed out at times, he became an instant legend. What WCW tried to do was recreate this character with Rick Williams, but it just never panned out.
14 The Boogeyman
The one thing about The Boogeyman character that many fans will likely remember was when he bit the nasty growth-thing off the face of Jillian Hall. It wasn’t bad enough that he carried worms with him wherever he went or put them in his mouth, but the memory with Hall was particularly gross. The Boogeyman became a popular performer with the fans, but anybody who loves the technical side of wrestling absolutely despised his matches. They were often painful to watch, but still not as bad as seeing that interaction with Jillian Hall.
If it works in a movie or video game, then it has to work in professional wrestling, right? Well, that's not the case at all and the writers at WCW probably wish that someone would've told them about that. Mortal Kombat was a popular franchise in the 90s and Sub-Zero was on of their most popular characters. WCW’s version of this character was Glacier. They developed an insane back story behind his character, but it didn’t work. He came into the promotion at the wrong time and his career never took off.
12 T10. Fake Undertaker
The first wrestler tied for 10th place is the first "fake" wrestler to make this list. Years after Ted DiBiase brought The Undertaker in to compete in the WWE, he brought in another Undertaker to feud with the real thing. This fake version of the future WWE Hall of Famer didn’t have a long run in the promotion, which is something most fans had no real problem with. Played by Brian Lee, better known as Primetime Brian Lee in Extreme Championship Wrestling, this terrible gimmick thankfully didn’t derail his career. He was never going to be a main event performer, but he found success with the hardcore loving ECW fans.
11 T10. Fake Diesel
The second man tied for this spot in Fake Diesel. Following Kevin Nash’s departure from WWE for WCW, WWE writers thought it would be a good idea to bring in a fake version of Diesel, who was played by Glenn Jacobs, who is best known as former WWE Champion, Kane. Over the course of the early part of his career, Jacobs had a difficult time trying to find a gimmick to stick. He also took part in another terrible gimmick that just missed making this list, Isaac Yankem, DDS, who was an evil dentist. We're not surprised that one failed too...
10 T10. Fake Razor Ramon
You can’t have a Fake Diesel without a Fake Razor Ramon. Scott Hall’s character during his run in WWE before leaving for WCW gave us many memorable moments. Unfortunately for Rick Bognar, the man who played the part, there weren’t many great memories and moments for the fans. If these last three terrible gimmicks have told anyone in the writing room at TNA or WWE anything, it’s that recycled gimmicks are not the best way to go. They are in fact, the absolute worst way to go and will lead fans to change the channel.
9 The Ringmaster
The man that has gone on to become one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time first got his chance in WWE as The Ringmaster. Steve Williams, or as we now know him, Stone Cold Steve Austin, began his run in WWE aligned with Ted DiBiase who deemed him the Million Dollar Champion . It wasn’t long before the Austin character was born and a star was born, but one thing that Austin will never be able to get over is this terrible gimmick. Had he not taken part in this gimmick, there is no telling where his career would have gone, so it definitely worked out for him.
8 Dean Douglas
Known as “The Franchise” Shane Douglas in ECW, he was one of the best in the history of that promotion. He was becoming a star in the sport during his time in ECW and decided to leave for more money in Stamford. This made him the most hated man in Philadelphia and his gimmick when he got to WWE was Dean Douglas, a college professor. It actually fit his persona pretty well, but it didn’t last long and ECW fans forgave him when he returned to the promotion as his regular “Franchise” gimmick. We're sure he couldn't wait to get back to being The Franchise after being a college professor.
7 “The Fat Chick Thrilla” Mike Awesome
ECW did a lot for wrestling in the United States but one of the most important things it did was give someone like Mike Awesome a chance to become a star. But much like the situation with Douglas, Awesome left for more money, but this time with WCW. He only had a few weeks as his regular character in WCW before somebody with power decided to make him “The Fat Chick Thrilla.” If you never saw this gimmick at work, you can imagine how bad it could have been and how bad it ended up being. Awesome was never the same and his legacy will be marred by this unfortunate gimmick.
The sixth worst gimmick in the history of professional wrestling is Hornswoggle. He started out his WWE career as a leprechaun, appearing with Finlay, an Irish wrestler. After being separated from Finlay, most fans would have expected the company to give Hornswoggle a few more months before his exit, but he still remains on the roster. He is the first active performer to make this list and his gimmick has stayed consistently ridiculous. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he remains, though. This is the same company that kept The Great Khali on their roster for far too long.
5 The Great Khali
The character of The Great Khali had a lot of promise when he first came to WWE. He was a heel brought in to feud with The Undertaker. His in-ring ability was obviously lacking, but someone that was taller than seven feet and weighed more than 350 pounds was exactly the type of person WWE always enjoyed booking. After winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title, Khali inexplicably became the Punjabi Playboy and started dancing around, like you would expect from any terrible gimmick. It should be obvious by reading this list that dancing wrestlers just doesn’t work in the long-term.
This character was mostly brought into WWE as their way of saying that Goldberg was not to be feared. Played by Duane Gill, a lifetime jobber, Gillberg was a hilarious version of Goldberg and mimicked all of his mannerisms and activities, including being escorted to the ring by security and walking through pyrotechnics at the top of the ramp. Much like the rest of his wrestling career, Gillberg wasn’t very successful and while he was a welcomed comedic addition to the roster, it eventually flamed out.
3 Kerwin White
When Chavo Guerrero Jr. was in need of a character makeover, WWE decided to make him become Kerwin White. The idea behind this character was that he denounced his Hispanic legacy and became a stereotypical white male. He would come to the ring in a golf cart with his caddie, played by the man who would become Dolph Ziggler. WWE and Guerrero put an end to this terrible gimmick after his uncle, Eddie Guerrero, was found dead. It was a gimmick that was never made to succeed and had it gone on for much longer, would have hurt his career to a point of no return.
2 The Gobbledy Gooker
So far with this list, we have established that dancing gimmicks ruin never work and have also seen that there are men that have great talent in the ring that have failed because of the gimmick given to them. One of the men that was dealt a bad hand with his gimmick was Hector Guerrero, who played The Gobbledy Gooker. The basic idea behind this gimmick was that WWE programming had shown this oversized egg for weeks in the build-up to Survivor Series. When they got to the show, Guerrero “hatched” and jumped around the egg in a turkey costume. The rest is history and luckily for everyone, it didn’t take long for the gimmick to be dropped.
1 The Shockmaster
The shortest tenure of any gimmick on this list is The Shockmaster. Played by Fred Ottman, who is better known for his roles as Typhoon and Tugboat, The Shockmaster was heavily hyped and was set to take part in a huge angle on WCW with Sting. During a segment on live television, The Shockmaster tripped over a piece of lumber on a wall with sheet rock that he was supposed to crash through. His helmet fell off him and his face was exposed, ruining the gimmick. WCW tried to keep the gimmick going for a bit, but it fizzled and his career was never the same.