One of the greatest things about wrestling is how interactive it is with the audience. Promoters throw everything at the wall, and the audience tells you what sticks and what sucks, and boy does a lot of it suck! However, the rule of a good brainstorming session is that there are no bad ideas. The idea can only be considered bad after money has been spent on a bodysuit for Giant Gonzales, or for collectable Red Rooster hats. (These do not go well together)
A good rule for a name is if you can imagine Howard Finkel bellowing it out at Madison Square Garden. Hulk Hogan has a great ring to it, Gobbledy Gooker does not.
Further complicating matters is that wrestling has evolved through vastly different eras. Today's era is hyper-realistic and its stars are named accordingly: John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and Randy Orton. The 90's product was much more cartoony, featuring characters like The Berserker, Repo Man, and The Bastion Booger.
One of the culprits of cringeworthy names is Vince McMahon. It’s been said that Vince is a deeply complex individual. He's one of the most successful businessmen in the world, yet he loves a good ol' fart joke. On Steve Austin's excellent podcast, he discussed the future of subscription based media, as well as the joys of pushing someone into a pool. Seriously, the amount of care he went into describing the look on someone's face as they tumble into the water gives a fascinating look into the mind of a wrestling genius.
Not to be outshined by Vince, WCW had some boldly laughable gimmicks of their own. It’s as if they raided the garbage can outside of Marvel Comics, turning rejected superhero ideas into future rejected wrestlers.
Why make up a name at all? Well, besides "Flair" being a lot better than "Fleihr", there's an ulterior motive for the promoter. A promoter can own a gimmick, but they can't own an employee's real name. Also, a wrestler might be less inclined to work for the competition if they have to create a new identity from scratch. Although trailblazers like Scott Hall and Kevin Nash managed to make a very successful gimmick out of ditching their old one.
No matter how bad the name, history has shown us that the best talent will rise above. For every successful wrestling superstar, there is usually a cringe-worthy name that gave them their (incredibly) humble beginning.
17 The Ringmaster
Ironically, as bad as this name was, it would've been trumped by some ideas thrown at Steve Austin from WWE Creative, when he was coming up with the character later to be dubbed Stone Cold. Some names that came his way were Ice Dagger, Chilly McFreeze and Fang McFrost. Vince McMahon's original Ringmaster idea was no winner either. It essentially made a budding star oozing with potential into the most bland character on the roster. Thankfully Austin soon nixed the name, simply telling Vince, "I'm not The Ringmaster."
16 Hugh Morrus
If I close my eyes and imagine the under-card on an old WCW Thunder, I hear Mike Tenay's voice, and I see Hugh Morrus stomping down the aisle with a scowl on his face. If they had me lose all the time while sporting ridiculous names, I'd be scowling too.
The WCW broadcasters couldn't decide how to pronounce his name either, calling him Hugh Morrus one day, and Humorous the next!
Names aside, the big man could do a proper moonsault, although he semi-botched it in his WWE ring debut. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame is being Goldberg's first victim on his 173-0 run.
15 Christmas Creature
Glenn Jacobs's first gimmick was a strange one (and he had many bad ones). While Santa was visiting a USWA televised event, Jacobs appeared as the Christmas Creature. He looked like a mutated Christmas elf with a Klan hood and a Fu-Manchu mustache made out of garland. For the young kids, this must have been terrifying. The kids had nothing to worry about in the end, as Jerry Lawler was there and he saved Christmas.
14 The Gymini
Just because you can pull a very thin thread of logic through a name does not make it a good idea. These poor twins had great physiques and deserved better than a punishing play on the astrological sign of Gemini and the word gym. This wasn't their only bad name however, they were later called “The Johnsons, Richard and Rod”.
The twins were trained by a man who managed to mostly avoid cheesy names, the great Dean Malenko!
13 G.I. Bro
Booker once found a camo hat while working his warehouse job. He wore it to a wrestling training session and the name G.I. Bro was born! It didn’t last too long as he eventually gained success as Booker T in Harlem Heat.
Booker was surprisingly happy to bring the G.I. name back for a short stint during the death throes of WCW, though it didn't last too long. While most found the name ridiculous, he thought of it as an homage to his early days and his former wrestling trainer.
A nice story from one of the good guys in wrestling.
15. Thurman 'Sparky' Plugg
If they ever made a cartoon for the video game Mario Kart, this name would fit right in. But on a human man in real life (as real as wrestling gets), it mercifully didn’t last too long. The idea was that he was a former NASCAR driver turned wrestler. However, instead of the cool fireproof suits real drivers wore, he ended up with the colorful hand-me-downs from Koko B Ware's High Energy days. Poor Bob Holly didn't stand a chance.
An ambiguous one; what could it mean?. It’s like they went with Test as a placeholder at the end of a long WWE Creative work day, and thought they would come up with something better the next day. Well they didn’t, and Test stuck. Although to be fair, Test himself couldn’t find a better name in ECW, as he settled on “Big Foot”. That’s first name Big, last name…
Unfortunately, Andrew Martin is one of the many wrestlers to pass away far too soon, at the young age of 33.
13. Damien Demento
'From the farthest reaches of your mind' is both where he was billed from, and also where this idea must have spawned. Demento existed primarily in the awkward WWE years around 1993. Raw was in its first season, ushering in the live, stripped down format that would become so successful in later years. Before it would reach the adult-themed heights of Raw is War, it still featured the cartoony characters of the past; it was a strange combination. To see the Repo Man stealing Macho Man’s hat in one segment, while witnessing the rise of Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon in the next was a hilarious crossover. In NBA terms, it would be like watching Jerry West play LeBron James.
12 The Yeti
This name could only be a part of Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom. Naming a character after a non-existent monstrous creature would seem like a bad idea to most, yet the WCW saw no problem with this and many more just like it.
Wrestling fans are expected to suspend their disbelief, but no one is believing that a giant snow monster not only exists, but has chosen to wrestle! Of course what makes this name even stupider is that the costume designer didn't get the memo, and the Yeti looked more like a mummy instead. If you're going to try to create a Yeti character, at least do it right!
The trifecta of stupid was completed with the infamous double bearhug on Hulk Hogan, where the Yeti definitely got the worst end of that deal.
Beware of men covered in toilet paper and gauze attacking you from the rear. Also, beware of WCW naming you.
11 The Red Rooster
If the WWE wanted a bird gimmick, they could have named Terry Taylor after the proud and powerful eagle, or perhaps the cool and mysterious Raven, but he was instead saddled as The Red Rooster. They even spiked his hair and made him walk like a chicken! It's no surprise this gimmick never made it past the mid-card.
For all of the roles he filled, they should have called him Tim the Tool-Man Taylor. Taylor filled in where necessary, putting over talent, and also worked as a broadcaster/interviewer. He currently fills a new role as a trainer with NXT.
10 Duke the Dumpster Droese
Ah, the occupation era. Vince has said he relates better with the common man than the rich, so perhaps this was his way of paying his respect to the hard working fans.
While a man who throws around giant heavy cans is believable as a tough guy, it's not a great idea to associate yourself with 'garbage'. Perhaps if they invented a blue collar championship, Duke could have won a belt. Though instead of gold, it could have been made from recycled metal.
Give Duke credit though, as he always had a smile on his face and carried the name Dumpster with pride. After all, he was a Duke!
This would be a great name if wrestling was solved with DnD rules and a 12-sided die. It's not, and this was stupid. They even got the combination wrong. A wrestler with a man's brain for grappling and the body of a strong bull would be fearsome indeed, but of course they gave him a silly bull head to wear. So he had the weak legs of a man, the wrestling knowledge of a bull, and no chance in hell of getting over. Of course they made him do bullish moves like stamping, charging and mooing (not far from Goldberg). You want to know how bad it was for the WWE in 1995? Mantaur actually competed in the first round of the King of the Ring.
8 Firebreaker Chip
What an amazing age of technology we live in. People are connected like never before. With Youtube, I can easily find an entire playlist dedicated to Firebreaker Chip. In the past, I would have to drive for hundreds miles and visit a weirdo in his basement for that kind of thrill. I'm not kidding, this exists and I watched it. Surprisingly, Chip was a pretty good worker. He had a Davey Boy-esque physique, could grapple pretty well and even flew off the ropes.
While the name would never fly now, the male stripper gimmick and look was much more universally accepted then.
7 The Big Show
Since the Big Show is so obviously modeled after Andre 'The Giant', you think they would have taken inspiration from his name as well. The Big Show is still a great nickname, but they really should have finished the job and given him an actual name as well. It's been borderline ridiculous to hear the commentators call him "Show" for over 15 years now.
It could have been worse, they could have stuck with the original "Big Nasty".
6 Loch Ness
Popular in Britain under the name Giant Haystacks (a contender for this list), the gigantic Martin Ruane received a much worse gimmick when he landed in WCW. While his nearly 7-foot, 685 lpound physique was plenty intimidating on its own, he ended up in the Dungeon of Doom with the other monstrously named wrestlers. But speaking of monsters, the Loch Ness is hardly terrifying. Anything with the nickname "Nessie" will not be striking fear into anyone's heart. Also, I may be afraid of a shark or sea monster while swimming, but I'm pretty sure I could take one in the ring (even though my sharpshooter will be useless). There was no way to win with this gimmick. WCW wisely chose against putting him in a ridiculous monster costume, but then they were left with a plain-clothed giant who looked like a strip-club bouncer, and still featured the ludicrous name.
Sharpshooter or not, put me in the ring with a gigantic bouncer and then I'll be terrified!
5 Beaver Cleavage
While many wrestling fans clamor for a rebirth of the Attitude Era, this is one gimmick better left dead. The edgier years of the WWE walked the line of decency, but Beaver Cleavage tripped over that line and fell flat on its face. The overgrown perverted 50's sitcom throwback lusting after his mother just didn't work. Kudos to McMahon and the WWE who quickly ditched this gimmick. They even incorporated the gimmick-switch into the storyline, having the newly christened "Chaz" denounce the failed idea.
This is a case where Vince was absolutely 'in-touch', and modified his product accordingly.
4 Naked Mideon
This was another name born from a wrestlers backstage personality. As the story goes, a couple of WWE officials required a wrestler for a meet and greet and Dennis Knight (Mideon) was the only one available. Having just stepped out of the shower he emerged wearing only a fanny pack, asking "where did you say the meet and greet was?"
Vince McMahon heard of the joke and called Knight into his office, asking to turn the joke into a gimmick on the televised show. Naked Mideon would crash other wrestlers matches wearing just the fanny pack, dance in the ring, and then take off into the crowd.
Knight said he loved the gig as it was a nice break for his body. "I was getting paid the same amount of money as I was wrestling every night...instead of getting my head kicked in, I was running out in a fanny pack for three minutes."
Naked Mideon may not have stuck around too long, but the image of him nearly nude and dancing will be burned into your memory forever. That's why we've spared you from the image.
3 Battle Kat
Debuting on WWE's Wrestling Challenge in 1990, Battle Kat didn't last too long. The best part of the debut was Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan's commentary. Always the consummate professional, Monsoon found it hard to seriously put over the Kat and his skills. He was noticeably perplexed, wondering aloud "gotta be hard working with that cat hat on".
Sean Mooney laid down a dynamite quote after Kat's debut win. "That is one Kat, I'm sure many superstars would not want to meet in a dark alley". Yes that actually happened.
2 The Shockmaster
The stupidity of this name is completely overshadowed by arguably the all-time greatest botch on wrestling television (also distracting is the poor attempt to disguise a Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet with five pounds of glitter). The Shockmaster and WCW lived up to Sting's proclamation when they "shocked the world" with an impressive amount of failure jammed into one television segment. Even before the infamous appearance, Davey Boy Smith, Sting, and Sid were clumsily stepping on each other's promos, while Smith faced away from the camera, almost completely obscuring Sting. After the "shocking" debut, Smith's British accent was audibly heard to say "he fell flat on his ass, he fell flat on his $%@%$@ ass". Lost in the chaos was one of the most intense Sid speeches, as he screamed at the silly looking Shockmaster.
How great would it be if HBO's 24 series existed back then and we could watch the WCW bookers come up with all this crazy stuff?
1 General Hugh G. Rection
WCW delivered a strange product in those last years. With the talent pool dwindling, they decided to finally give Bill DeMott a push, letting him win the United States Championship twice, a highlight of his career. Nothing strange about that of course, in fact, it's a great story of a man paying his dues and finally receiving a reward. The strange part however, is that he had to enjoy the peak of his career with a name Bart Simpson would likely use on poor Moe Szyslak. Even stranger, WCW gave him a serious-toned tribute segment on Nitro, as the other jobbers (and Goldberg) came out to show their support. To put an awkward cherry on top of this seriously weird moment, Mean Gene Okerlund actually started a slow clap.
With champions like Hugh G. Rection, David Arquette, and Vince Russo, it's no wonder WCW soon folded.