Trust me, this is not an easy one to narrow down. I believe this is even more subjective than finishing holds and theme songs…the way a viewer responds to a gimmick is truly up to the whim and preferences of that individual. Additionally, there have been HUNDREDS of purely awful gimmicks in the history of pro wrestling. That said, I am declaring up front that there are going to be a bunch of bad gimmicks that are not included in this list, so just accept that.
Once again, I’ve enlisted a panel of industry professionals, fans, etc. to poll for this battle. What I’ll do here is provide an the analysis right up front with an overview of each grouping in the first round and then we’ll let the tournament ride quickly with the results thereafter. I wonder…when you’ve had an awful gimmick…does it actually make you happy to be considered amongst the worst ever? At least you’re memorable! I’d argue that this is an esteemed title…may the best man with the worst gimmick win! The winners of each first round showdown will be bolded.
“Beaver” Cleavage vs Chaz the Girlfriend Beater vs Lo Down
We will call this grouping the many unfortunate gimmicks of Chaz Warrington. What an awful progression this poor guy made. Sure, The Headbangers were not exactly a world-beating gimmick, but he had a nice run there. What followed wasn’t pretty…first came the overtly sexual and uncomfortable Leave It to Beaver rip-off off. That then morphed into him dropping that for….drumroll please….a domestic violence storyline with his girlfriend Marianna. First she had a black eye…then wait a minute, maybe she was faking everything to get us out of this disgusting storyline. So how do we remedy this? Pair Chaz with DLo Brown and inexplicably give them a completely racist gimmick, completely with turbans and Tiger Ali Singh as their manager. Let’s just ignore that none of these man even shared the same ethnic backgrounds whatsoever…it also made no sense.
Norman the Lunatic vs Bastion Booger vs Friar Ferguson
At least Chaz Warrington wasn’t alone in being strapped with multiple bad gimmicks. Mike Shaw truly ran the gamut of the worst of the worst gimmicks you could ever conceivably imagine. You know it’s bad when your Trucker Norm gimmick doesn’t even make it to your top three worst. Norman the Lunatic, the escaped mental patient, somehow became popular with children who would send him teddy bears. Makes sense. Bastion Booger…allegedly was designed to be some sort of sewer dweller, but that was never ever indicated in any which way. Instead, he was a slob who picked his nose. Friar Ferguson was an interesting oxymoronic character…a pro wrestler who didn’t believe in violence. Here, Mike Shaw was a religious monk who would pray before and after matches. Seems only logical that one would use a 360 pound man in that way.
Repo Man vs “Hole in One” Barry Darsow vs Kloudy
Congratulations Barry Darsow…unlike our first two gentlemen, you only had two gimmicks worthy of making this tournament. Lucky for you, you get to compete against a blonde transvestite manager. You see, when The Body Donnas lost Sunny as their manager, they replaced her with the far less desirable, tattooed man in drag…Kloudy…get it, the opposite of Sunny. So funny I forgot to laugh. Back to Darsow, who as we all know had an awesome run as Smash of Demolition…unfortunately for him, the latter part of his career was not as fulfilling as the first half. Why would resident tough guy Darsow suddenly take up golf? And how exactly would that help his wrestling? Can you imagine that creative meeting? But not to be outdone is The Repo Man. All faces of the WWE be wary…if you don’t pay your bills, this guy will come and take away your car in the middle of the night. Isn’t that intimidating? Oh the positive side, I have a cool Repo Man action figure.
IRS vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs “El Matador” Tito Santana
We’ll call this section of the draw “embarrassing gimmicks strapped to formerly great wrestlers.” It’s not even necessarily that these gimmicks are of all-time worst levels, but when you factor in taking such esteemed guys and giving them these transformations, it just blows. The panel felt that we couldn’t give the win here to IRS, due to Mike Rotunda’s great portrayal of the nefarious accountant. But then again, he was an evil accountant. His ring announcements alone made it kind of fun though…IRWN R. SHYSTER, otherwise known as I.R.S. Genius! Still, a ridiculous character. The other two were in the WWE’s age of costuming. And evidently there love for animals as well. As the story goes, Tito went to Spain to become more nimble in the ring while fighting against the bulls. At least that kind of makes sense, albeit his outfit and winning record were both beyond terrible upon returning. On the other hand, the extremely esteemed Ricky Steamboat, of classic matches with Randy Savage and Ric Flair fame, strapped on some form of wings and thought he was a dragon. Ding ding ding, we have a winner.
The Mexicools vs Saba Simba vs Kerwin White
We will call this the battle of terribly racist gimmicks. It’s amazing…evidently, if you are born of a certain race or ethnic background, evidently your wrestling gimmick has to be an absurdly over-the-top caricature and stereotype of said background. That is, unless you are Chavo, and you are forced to denounce your heritage and then fight only ethnic wrestlers like Rosey, Tajiri, and Shelton. Kerwin was an inside rib on one of the top backstage members of the WWE team, but it was truly inexplicable from a storyline standpoint. As for the Mexicools, what would possibly be better than putting a bunch of Mexicans onto lawn mowers, right? Saba Simba takes the cake though. In addition to being a former many time champion, Tony Atlas was actually Mr. USA. So completely makes sense to make him a tribal African wrestler with a spear. Let’s be glad that somebody stopped these before anyone took them any further.
Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs Duke “The Dumpster” Droese vs TL Hopper
This is the first installment of the WWE’s unhealthy obsession with making wrestlers just be a random occupation. We already had an accountant earlier, so why not throw in a barber, a garbage man, and a plumber. Perhaps they should team up with Jesse & Festus’ MyMoving Company and form a stable. TL Hopper isn’t going to win this, because thankfully it wasn’t around long enough to do any real damage…however, that doesn’t change the level of stupidity. As for Mr. Droese, as I noted in a recent column, I once slapped his garbage can five. Does that make his gimmick any less idiotic and one dimensional? Nope. But I think we need to give it to our resident hair-cutter, mostly as a life time achievement award to Ed Leslie. Between the Booty Man, The Butcher, Brutha Bruti, The Zodiac, etc. this guy has had more gimmicks/occupations than he knows what to do with. On Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Wrestling he’ll probably debut his newest character, The Candlestick Maker. Nonetheless, Beefcake was a major part of the early Wrestlemania era of the WWE, and his vaguely homoerotic portrayal of a barber was a far cry from the Beefcake most of us grew up following.
“The Portuguese Man ‘O War” Aldo Montoya vs Mantaur vs Arachnaman
It’s time for strange obsession with animals part II. And what a showdown this is. Aldo makes this list for a few reasons…but primarily because his gimmick could barely even be deciphered – I mean, what exactly was this? And he wore a jockstrap on his head. He does get bonus points however for giving me the finger at a house show once. He had just lost to The Sultan and we were taunting him…as he was selling the camel clutch, he rolled over, smiled at us, and gave us the finger. How can you not appreciate that? We have another candidate for a lifetime achievement award on the way. The proud owner of gimmicks such as Buzzkill, Fantasia, Candyman, and Badstreet, Arachnaman was surely Brad Armstrong’s worst. Was he a spider? Did he think he was a spider? What is was, was an 8-legged flop. Mantaur was half man, half bull. Yes, you heard me right. Why don’t they just debut a new diva, The Unicorn. Even worse, he’d run around the ring in circles and charge at his opponents like a bull. If only he could have feuded with the aforementioned, El Matador.
Big Josh vs Isaac Yankum DDS vs The Goon vs Skinner
Occupations part II. This time we have a lumberjack, a dentist, a hockey player, and an alligator herder or something. What was Skinner really? They called him the alligator man…what does that truly consist of? A hunter? A breeder? A wrangler? Was he himself an alligator? Now, at least hockey players and lumberjacks are notoriously pretty tough guys. But a dentist? My father is a dentist…I assure you, he’s not a very intimidating physical presence. And this is Glen Jacobs we’re talking about here…this man is enormous…this man is Kane. So why in the world would they make him a dentist? I could drill this point further (pun intended), but this was a slam dunk for our panel.
Tekno Team 2000 vs Glacier vs Adam Bomb vs Max Moon
Welcome to the future with two next century gladiators, a video game character who throws ice balls to freeze his opponents, a…hmmm, what was Max Moon exactly, and a radioactive post-apocalyptic monster. Bryan Clarke (Mr. Bomb) actually crossed paths with Glacier earlier in his career, as Wrath…one member of the perplexing, heavily promoted Blood Runs Cold angle with Mortis and Glacier. Glacier was accompanied to the ring by fog, snowflakes, lasers, the works. He fought in futuristic armor. But most importantly, he was a blatant rip-off of Mortal Kombat. I have nothing to say about Tekno Team 2000 or Max Moon other than they stunk. Let’s face it, this first round pairing was a total walkover for Glacier. And rightfully so.
General Hugh G. Rection vs Rockabilly vs Naked Mideon
A member of the Misfits in Action, Bill DeMott joined forces with Crp Cajun, Sgt. Awol, GI Bro, Lt Loco, Major Stash, and Major Gunns to form a generally ill-conceived staple of military themed gimmicks. But it was the oh so clever sexual word play that made this character oh so moronic. Does anyone remember how The New Age Outlaws were initially paired together? It was simply the country-singin’ “The Real Double J” and the Honkytonk man style rip-off Rockabilly. Lost in an abyss somewhere between the Smoking Guns and DX, Kip James spent several months portraying this sad, sad jobber of a character. When Dennis Knight was no longer a hog farmer…and no longer a disciple of the evil ministry…where else was he to turn but to become naked? Knight still had a job because he was beloved in the locker room…well, if they loved him so much, why on earth did they strap him with this degrading, awful gimmick?
The Dungeon of Doom vs Phantasio vs Xanta Klaus vs “Stuttering” Matt Morgan
A Santa rip-off? A magician whose alleged finishing hold was to remove the underwear of his opponent? Pretty bad stuff. Then we have an entire stable of awful gimmicks. Included in this bunch were a shark, the Zodiac, but most importantly The Yeti. You have a 7’2″ man, is this really the bets way you can use him? Sadly, I do believe The Yeti was a better way to use a giant than “Stuttering” Matt Morgan. I have previously expressed how putrid that was, so I won’t beat the point to death. The win went to the Dungeon of Doom though, in honor of being an entire group of bad gimmicks.
Oz vs The Kiss Demon vs Robocop vs The Juicer
Seems as if WCW creative members watched one too many movies/concerts in their day. How else would you explain this group of silver screen and music knockoffs? Art Barr had a rather esteemed wrestling pedigree. So it only makes sense that when WCW got their hands on him, they turned him into a denim jacket wearing, silly string shooting, Beetlejuice mockery. Gene Simmons, an expert business man, ripped off WCW by signing a mega contract for them to base a character on his band, KISS. So they paid the big bucks, but naturally had no clue what to do with him and never pushed him – money well spent. Robocop was friends with Sting. Why doesn’t Triple H team up with Iron Man at the next PPV? But Oz (as in the Wizard Of) had a trained monkey with him. Game, set, match Kevin Nash.
“The Real Man’s Man” Steven Regal vs Giant Gonzalez vs Who
What happens when you take a mat-wrestling, tough guy and have vignettes in which he crushes oranges to make juice? You get this list’s second lumberjack character, “The Real Man’s Man.” Anyone remember The Union? I didn’t think so. What about when you try to revive a many decades old Abbott & Costello bit with a former many time tag team champion/tough guy? You get a demeaned Jim Neidhart under a mask as Who. Who? You tell me who, because the average fan would have zero recollection of this bomb. Paving the way for later classics like the previously victorious The Yeti, was Giant Gonzalez. Was he supposed to be Big Foot? Either way, they took this poor man and put him into an airbrushed, fur suit. Need I say more?
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea vs Perry Saturn w/Moppy vs Leif Cassidy
Two more entrants into the obsessed with pop culture rip-off genre of gimmick. Leif Cassidy was the unfortunately hamstrung Al Snow, portraying a child start turned pro wrestler turned new Rocker turned embarrassment. Islander Prince Iaukea was strapped with a Prince gimmick…I guess because his name had Prince in it??? There was certainly nothing he had ever done prior to then to support that type of behavior. But when Perry Saturn left Terri Runnels for his love of Moppy (yes, an actual mop), that had to take the cake. And for revenge, Terri put his new love through the wood chipper – literally. It was surreal (albeit quite strangely humorous) to hear tough guy Saturn utter phrases like “Pigeons wear lipstick so they can get out of speeding tickets. You’re welcome.”
Akeem vs Tugboat vs Gulga
An obese man dressed an a born-again African in a dashiki vs an obese man dressed like a 4 year old in a Popeye costume vs an obese man dressed as God knows what with a Cartman obsession. Oh my. I’m not even clear as to what Gulga was supposed to be, but at least he was supposed to be an Oddity. Tugboat was just plane shameful…how did Hulk let this happen to his good friend? But Akeem, Akeem, Akeem. Please youtube the vignette where he became Akeem – you will not be sorry. One Man Gang was magically transported to “deepest, darkest Africa” – aka a NYC alley way – with Slick and Mean Gene. You couldn’t write this stuff if you were high on LSD or even if you were Vince Russo. Just watch it, haha.
Damien Demento vs “Make a Difference” Fatu vs Thurman “Sparky” Plug
It’s R Truth, no wait…it’s Rikishi talking about his life on the streets and giving an anti-drug message. Well, I say Just Say No to this gimmick. It speaks poorly for him that giving people the stinkface was actually the lesser of two bad gimmicks. I don’t want to give Damien Demento much space in this column due to his recent foolish behavior, but we do need to give a shout out to the man who hailed from “The Outer Reaches of Your Mind.” But the winner of this battle is company man, Bob Holly. A race car pit crew member? Brilliant stuff. I’m surprised they didn’t have him change people’s tires as his finisher.
Beaver Cleavage defeats Friar Ferguson
* Tough battle between Mantaur and Isaac Yankum…personally, I felt Isaac was definitely a viable contender for a top 8 slot in the worst gimmicks ever. However, it’s hard to argue with the panel, as it’s not exactly like Mantaur was a good gimmick. I don’t know that the actuality of Repo Man was as bad as the concept…but the concept alone was so inconceivable inane that the voters just couldn’t look past it at this juncture.
* I think that most people initially expected Giant Gonzalez to take out Akeem, but when a discussion ensued, the case for Akeem was very strong. After all, the One Man Gang was a veteran of the sport and a legit, real life monster. So, to actually acknowledge that he was Akeem on air, and to turn a tough guy into such a joke comedy character was truly inexplicable. Especially when you factor in the fact that he still used his big man, power wrestling style and teamed up with The Big Bossman to form the Twin Towers, which was a tough guy (not a comedy) tag team. But again, watch this vignette on youtube. It’ll be the best few minutes of your week.
AND THE WORST GIMMICK OF ALL-TIME IS….
Honestly, it’s going to be tough for even the most argumentative of internet fans to dispute this one. Vignettes promoting the BLOOD RUNS COLD angle started in April…he didn’t debut until September. When it finally did debut, fans were miffed to be staring at Mortal Kombat’s Sub Zero. I mean his outfit was almost literally identical initially. The laser light show he came down to the ring to was fit for your local roller skating rink, yet according to legend, the costume and ring entrance alone was at least $500,000. And somehow, at the end of his run, he “sold” his gimmick, costume, theme song etc. to Kaz Hayushi…what did Kaz ever do to deserve that? All in all, this was a botch job of epic proportions from start to finish. Congrats Ray Parks, you my friend, had the worst wrestling gimmick of all-time!