The Good, The Bad, The Ridiculous
The world of professional wrestling is very much like a circus. It is a fantastic spectacle filled with colorful characters and vivid story lines. Sure you will not find lions or elephants but I am sure if you look hard enough you will find something you like be it a charismatic good guy or a snake in the grass bad one. Some of these personas are so far over the top and in your face they almost don't seem real.
Undertaker, Kane, The Rock. These names rank right up there as some of the greatest characters, or gimmicks as we will be calling them to ever grace a wrestling ring. These gimmicks along with others have helped fuel the fire that is the world of professional wrestling.
The wrestling arena is filled with these gimmicks ranging from outlandish to downright mean. Sadly however there is a grim truth that stands in the world of professional wrestling. For every one amazing gimmick there are usually five very crappy ones. Just imagine for every Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior there is five Gobbly Gookers or Repo Men. It's as sad as a Vickie Guerrero Christmas Album.
The reality is not every character can shine in the spotlight. There are those random odd gimmicks that catch on and have lasting power. Golddust is a prime example of that. Other gimmicks are hit and miss. They may work for a brief period of time and than fade into wrestling obscurity. It's these strange and unusual gimmicks we will address in this text. These outcast of professional wrestling that we might try to forget but for some reason they are so bad it is impossible to erase them.
Some of these gimmicks tried to capitalize on pop culture while others just sampled the flavor of the week. What may be hot today is lukewarm or even cold the next so this was always a hard way to go about creating a gimmick. This is why we sometimes forget less impactful characters played by talented wrestlers. Remember Kane was once Isaac Yankem.That being said I want to make the statement that I am not saying the men who played these gimmicks in the ring failed. Some of them are super talented but the gimmick was just not going to work. So for your entertainment pleasure 10 professional wrestling gimmicks you wish you could forget.
10. Aldo Montoya
This is a prime example of how a great wrestler can get stuck in a bad gimmick. Peter Joseph Polaco had the ultimate misfortune of getting picked to play this very unusual gimmick. In many ways this gimmick was a very racially influenced one being that Peter was of Portuguese descent and the gimmick called him to be the Portuguese Man Of War. Yes ladies and gentlemen this gimmick was named after a jellyfish.
His WWE career would span 3 years from 1994 to 1997. Very little success would come his way and even more disturbing was the fact that he was a super talented professional wrestler.
Aldo would eventually gain a great deal of respect from his peers. In fact he was often considered a member of the legendary locker room group known as the Kliq. Despite this respect he was never really given much of a chance to climb the corporate ladder of the WWE.
The gimmick was so outlandish and the costume so odd that both fans and wrestlers alike began to refer to the mask as a jock strap. After years of pulling jobs (losses) to wrestlers who were much less talented than he was he finally requested a leave from the WWE. This leave would not be granted and instead he was moved into a developmental promotion in hopes that one day he would return to the big show. In Memphis he continued to suffer from bad gimmick syndrome until he realized just how incredible he could be.
As I said bad gimmicks do not mean bad wrestlers. ECW saw the potential for a superstar and they could see that Peter was just incredible, so much in fact he became known as Justin Credible and went on to be one of the companies biggest stars. As Justin Credible he buried the embarrassing past created by the colorful Aldo Montoya character.
9. The Renegade
I have never been a fan of wrestling promotions recycling story lines and I find doing so with gimmicks to be just as appalling. It is no surprise that many amazing gimmicks were spawned during the great Monday Night Wars between rival promotions WCW and WWE. DX, NWO, and the list goes on and on. Again though, every great gimmick had some very poor ones leading up to it. WWE had tried to degrade the two wrestlers who left their ranks and headed to WCW.
These two men were Scott Hall and Kevin Nash who during their tenure with WWE were known as Razor Ramone and Diesel. These two would help create the stable known as the NWO and what would be the biggest competition for the WWE. In response WWE started to promote the team of New Diesel and New Razor. (for the record new Diesel was played by Kane)
WCW would take the idea of recycling a gimmick a bit further and even cross over to flat out stealing one. Richard "Rick" Wilson was an OK wrestler. He was not good enough to garter a great deal of main stream attention but he had a look and size that mimicked some of the bigger stars of the 80s. In 1995 he would become the gimmick that may possibly be the most negatively spoken of one in history.
It was more so sad because one of the most positively talked about ones brought him in. Hulk Hogan began to speak of the man who would bring Hulkamania into the next century. He called him the ultimate surprise and showed silhouettes of a man with long hair, huge arms, and streamers tied to his bulging biceps.
Wrestling fans began to assume the ultimate surprise was none other than Jim Helliwig, who is better known by the name Ultimate Warrior. This could really pick things up at WCW. Hype continued to build and fans were ready for the ultimate one to once again run wild with Hogan but when the time come for his WCW debut it was not the Ultimate Warrior they were introduced to at all.
Hogan brought out the Renegade. This was an almost carbon copy of the Warrior. He wore face paint and similar attire and even copied a lot of moves and mannerisms. Fans never really took to the character and a lot of that fell on them because they expected a legend, not a clone.
Renegade did have a TV title reign and had a small fan following but soon the real Warrior would address the character in various wrestling publications. Soon the gimmick became a bad guy one and from there just fizzled until Rick was released from the WCW. Sadly the depression caused by this release lead Rick to take his own life.
Thurman Sparky Plugg
8. Thurman "Sparky" Plugg
Once again I present a wrestler who survived a bad gimmick and went on to a very fruitful career. Robert William Howard made his WWE debut in 1994 as a NASCAR driver seeking fame and fortune in the squared circle. He wore a very colorful spandex costume that was very reminiscent of countless failed Spider-Man villains. Originally billed as Thurman "Sparky" Plugg it was no wonder the character never really took off. He had a few impressive wins and became a running mate with another young talent at the time by the bane of 123 Kid. (Later X-Pac)
Despite successful matches and being very sound in the ring the gimmick just failed with fans. NASCAR fans felt it was to silly to watch and wrestling fans could give 2 cents less about NASCAR.
Fans could accept a pro football player turning to professional wrestling. It happens a lot. Even a basketball player is believable to some extent but a racecar driver was just not a profession that lent it's talent to the wide world of sports entertainment. Eventually the name Thurman would fade and Bob Sparkplug Holly was created. Still the gimmick failed to gain the following WWE creative teams felt it should. Bob would lose the spandex for a robe and become part of the New Midnight Express with Bart Gunn. Of course this recycling of an old tag team did not gain Mr. Holly any more success than the spandex and references to engine malfunctions did.
In 1999 Holly would team with his on air cousins Crash and Molly. This union started to see him gaining the momentum WWE had hoped he would have had years prior to the collaboration. From this point on the mat wrestler wearing a checkered flag started to exhibit traits that would eventually earn him a new improved gimmick. Over time Hardcore Holly would arise from the ashes of NASCAR obscurity and recycled tag gimmicks and pave a new road for himself.
Ask any fan who Hardcore Bob Holly is and they know. He is one of the ring's most beloved stars and possibly one of the most respected wrestlers to his peers.
The debut of Chainsaw Charlie
7. Chainsaw Charlie
Again I feel the need to stress the fact that a bad gimmick does not mean a bad wrestler. Chainsaw Charlie made his debut by cutting through a wooden crate to provide assistance to Mankind. He wore dingy sweats, a lumberjack's shirt and a pair of nylons over his face that served little to protect the identity of who was actually under the mask. Once the chainsaw wielding madman spoke the world had full confirmation that Chainsaw Charlie was really living legend Terry Funk.
This gimmick was so foolish that many fans were confused as to why a legend like Funk, whose wrestling career was as legendary and profound as that of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and even Mick Foley. Funk had a reputation for serious in your face wrestling action and dangerous matches and here he was with pantyhose over his head and a chainsaw in his hands.
Some speculated the entire idea was to use horror movie imagery to sell a wrestling gimmick. This stunt had been done before and we will discuss that a little later.
Chainsaw Charlie lasted roughly a year and made no real impact what so ever in the WWE universe. It was more of an annoyance than it was a memorable gimmick.
Duane Gill was no stranger to the ring. In fact the man was a rather accomplished and talented wrestler. During the famed Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW, WCW fired at WWE with some serious heavyweight contenders. Scotty Norton, Wraith and the most noted of all Bill Goldberg.
Instead of doing the same WWE went a different route. They recruiting tiny Duane Gill to become the greatest wrestling parody to date. He would answer the challenge of Bill Goldberg by becoming Gillberg.
He mimicked every move and mannerism of his large counterpart perfectly. While Bill was burying foes in WCW with spears and his finisher the jackhammer Gill was barely eeking by match after match. He did have some success in the light weight division capturing gold and keeping it for 15 months.
The hilarious parody earned Gill a huge fan following and even pushed him to become part of Al Snow's Job Squad.With every push WCW gave Bill Goldberg WWE fired right back with more attention on it's pint sized version Gillberg. As WWE came to the understatement that Gillberg would never quite reach the popularity of Goldberg the gimmick started to fade. Despite that fall from grace fans still remember fondly the matches of Duane Gill and of course how he came to the ring and emulated WCW's rising star flawlessly.
5. The New Rockers
While it is no secret that the original Rockers were just a copy of the Rock and Roll Express they still paved their own road through wrestling's tag ranks. The team was lead by the flamboyant Shawn Michaels. In 1996 WWE tried to resurrect that popular team using original member Marty Jannetty and new comer Lief Cassidy. (Al Snow). The name Lief Cassidy was a play off of real life rockers Lief Garret and Sean Cassidy.
They had the look but the in ring performance just lacked the charisma of the original team. That chemistry that made the Rockers contenders was just not there in this new group, despite having two fine wrestlers who could easily put on a great show.
For those who don't know Al Snow is my favorite wrestler of all time. I think he did well in this position but it was so far fetched from what he was really like it just did not click for him. Jannetty was on top as usual but without Shawn's antics and high flying the team seemed to fizzle.
They started to make a successful run and were being viewed as a more serious approach to a very trivial idea when creative started to shift them into a comedy act. Rumors begin to circulate that Shawn Michaels was actually behind the shift from serious contenders to the tag titles into the WWE comedy troupe.
Almost one year after the creation of the New Rockers the team was disbanded and Jannetty released from the WWE. Al would go on to some level of success in the WWE.
In 1992 WCW was grasping to find a gimmick that captured and kept the audience's attention. At this time Marvel Comics was everywhere. They had taken over cartoons and comic books were as popular as baseball cards had been decades before. Marvel's poster boy had always been Spider-Man.
WCW decided that they could capitalize on the popularity of the web slinger by adapting it for the ring. Thus Arachniman was born. When looking for someone who could bring WCW's variation of the webhead to life the search took them to the very talented Brad Armstrong. Brad was one of the most talented young wrestlers in the company and his in ring ability would give the character the fuel it needed to thrive.
Sadly the first look at Arachniman in his blue and yellow costume kind of looked like a kindergarten kid who was slightly colorblind painted it with extra runny fingerpaints. The character never really did what it set out to do and it kind of became one of professional wrestling's do not speak ofs.
In ring Brad worked well and the wrestling was there but out of the ring was a different story. The costume looked silly and it was worsened when he would throw fake webbing from his hands. The idea was there but the performance of the idea was just to out there for fans to latch onto.
Nick Dinmsmore is what many consider to be the best wrestler to ever come from Ohio Valley Wrestling. He held the world title there 10 times and created a following that few others before him could have done. He earned a reputation for sound matches and great wrestling storytelling.
In 2004 when it was decided that he would make the move from OVW to WWE fans were excited to see what the creative team at WWE had in store for a professional wrestler of Nick's caliber.
Unfortunately the debut of Nick Dinsmore was not what was to be expected and had he not been the professional he is it may have died before it was ever given a chance to shine and deliver. Nick would debut as the mentally handicapped nephew of Eric Bischoff, Eugene Bischoff.
While this angle has been done before with Norman, and others Nick would be the first time the idea of a mentally disabled wrestler who could actually wrestle was tossed about. He came to the ring and exhibited a mental disorder and acted the role perfectly but in ring he was as sound as a seasoned vet and one of the most crisp mat wrestlers the WWE had used in some time.
While many felt Nick was not being used to full potential he was making a successful climb with the Eugene gimmick. Professional wrestling fans had never seen anything like this. He would wear his cape and pretend to fly and than as soon as those two crazy feet hit the apron he was as pristine as a new 100 dollar bill. I had known Nick prior top his move to WWE and I have to say he handled it well and I was not surprised he would make a success out of a gimmick that had failed so many times prior to him handling it.
Eugene would gain tag gold with William Regal and even start to see fans pushing the upper echelon to give him a shot at some more serious titles in the company. Despite the talent present the gimmick seemed to over shadow the man and eventually WWE did away with the character. Nick returned to the indies and is still regarded as one of the business' best workers.
2. Nightmare Freddy
No my friends you did not accidentally jump to one of my horror articles. There was a time when the sweater wearing, fedora packing, claw swinging monster known as Freddy Krueger made his home in the professional wrestling world. It seemed like an idea that would never catch on and may even hurt the promotions that used the gimmick but as soon as the popular Do The Freddy music played fans left their seats and for the duration of the match they were taken back by this man dressed as Freddy Krueger but wrestling with great talent and poise.
Nightmare Freddy became a mainstay on the southern wrestling circuit and was brought to life by Doug Gilbert. Doug was a very talented professional wrestler and had a passion for pleasing the crowd and he fell right in to this gimmick and made it his own.
Nightmare Freddy started a trend in the wrestling world and saw more and more horror themed gimmicks come to fruition. Jason, Swamp Thing, Leather face and even a Creature From The Black Lagoon but those gimmicks were a shy comparison to the Freddy one.
I remember being a kid and loving how he would scare the hell out of the other wrestlers and his moves were always so crisp. He even implemented the patented claw hold to finish his foes off. While I am sure die hard serious wrestling fans will claim the 80s was ruled by serious cats like Backlund and Samartino I think it was gimmicks like Doug's Freddy that allowed WWE to become the forerunner of the wrestling world. Had Nightmare Freddy not been in there would anyone ever taken the Undertaker serious?
Do the Freddy
I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the wrestler known to the world as Glacier. It was far from the first gimmick to combine martial arts and professional wrestling. Great Muta and Ricky The Dragon Steamboat had been highly regarded for doing so but what Glacier was was the first gimmick of it's kind to originate not in a ring but on the screen of a popular video game. Mortal Kombat had become to the world of gaming what Mario was before it and WCW knew that if they could tap into some of that popularity it could prove profitable.
For weeks video clips would run during their shows stating He's Coming and Blood Runs Cold. Occasionally a blue clad ninja would appear and do a few moves but we were left without a real idea of who was coming and what he would be about.
Raymond Lloyd would be the man to help us understand those answers. He was making a name for his self on the indies with a mixture of shoot fighting and wrestling and eventually his talent caught the eyes of Diamond Dallas Paige, DDP.
It would be Lloyd who would enter the $35,000 costume and become WCW's answer to Sub-Zero, Glacier.
As 1996 approached the wrestling world was in awe as finally we would get the chance to see Glacier. His entrance was more extravagant than any in wrestling history. Snow fell from the ceiling as blue lasers danced about the arena. Rumors spread quick that at this time his entrance costed the company half a million dollars.
Glacier began with a full engine of steam and fans seemed receptacle to him but soon the idea started to seem trivial and WCW creative needed to boost their investment with an enemy. Of course in game Sub-Zero had Scorpion so after some work Kris Kanyon, who in my opinion was one of WCW's best talents became the skull wearing Mortis. Now Glaciar had an enemy worthy of his transgressions. The feud was considered lack luster but really the matches were sound and well played out. It was just the craze of Mortal Kombat had passed and fans were not buying the gimmick anymore.
This never phased Lioyd as he continued to advance the character and make it his own. Soon WCW would end the run and retire the Glacier gimmick but Lloyd would take it to the indies and even prove to make it such a success that on his reputation as a worker alone Dusty Rhodes united with him to form Turnbuckle Pro Wrestling. To this day Glacier still pops up in indy shows and fans love him more today then they did all those years ago. I agree the gimmick was silly but would it not be fun to see a Glacier match in the WWE arena?
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 13, 2018:
Omg, Nightmare Freddie is scary! There's certainly some interesting characters there!