Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
It used to be that to make it in wrestling you had to have a gimmick. A memorable catchphrase and a quirky get-up also helped. Heck, you didn’t even need to be that great a wrestler and in many instances it seemed that the focus was on their main occupation such as working for the IRS or being a garbage man.
Sure, some of these were short lived but others managed to hang on for dear life a lot longer than they really should have. This week in the Top Five Craig, Brian and Jamie share their thoughts on the worst gimmicks in wrestling history. Take this journey with us as these are the worst of the worst.
5. Isaac Yankem, DDS
“What about a wrestling dentist?” “That’s a dreadful idea, why would that be a good idea?” “Err.. it’s 1995 in the WWF?” From the 1993 King of the Ring Jerry Lawler and Bret Hart had engaged in an on-off feud for a few years that was fairly solid and gave the WWF a good match for each of them to do if they had nothing else on. That soon changed when Lawler brought in his family dentist to take on Hart. It might sound ridiculous by modern standards but that’s the sorta stuff the WWF got away with back in 1995. Yankem managed to finally get success, after a stint as the Fake Diesel, under the guise of Kane and the rest is history.
This guy’s shtick is that he was supposed to have cat like reflex? Sure, on paper it sounds awful but if he’s good in the ring he might be able to pull it off. Oh…
3. Akeem the African Dream
Take a guy that had been a solid heel pre WWF and had been good since joining the company, although not reaching his previous heights, dress him in African attire and make him speak with a very bad accent and call him Akeem. Great idea…
2. The Gobbleygooker
Ahead of the 1990 Survivor Series a large egg appeared at live WWF events leading the fans to wonder who was inside the shell. At the event the egg hatched to perhaps one of the worst debut reactions you’ll ever hear from the crowd as Mean Gene announced who it was and proceeded to dance with him in the ring. Even Piper and Monsoon, on commentary, couldn’t save this one and the whole thing was quietly dropped. It was so bad that a few years later the website WrestleCrap would use the name for its “Gooker Award”, presented for the worst gimmicks, storylines, or events in wrestling.
Yeah yeah the debut didn’t help but let’s look at this on face value. You build up to the debut of a new superstar to aid the top level faces against a group of heels and who is it you introduce? It’s the guy that was Tugboat in the WWF. And what’s worst, he appears to be wearing a glittery Stormtrooper helmet and manages to botch his entrance before a promo airs that sounds very much like the Black Scorpion from a few years previously. What I want to know, and I don’t think it has ever been revealed, is what was the end point of this meant to be? What did the powers that be at WCW expect from The Shockmaster? One thing is for sure, they can’t have expected the disaster that it was.
5. The Battman
Not to be confused with Batman…but I could see anybody be easily confused seeing how he looks like Adam West decided to become a wrestler. In reality, his name was Tony Silipini…who stood 5 ft 9 inches tall and weighed a modest 200 pounds. An obvious ploy by promoters during the 1960’s to capitalize on the popularity of the Batman TV show. It worked, especially in the Pittsburgh territories where The Battman wrestled. It doesn’t mean it was any less stupid.
4. The Mummy/ Prince Kharis/ The Yeti
Throughout wrestling history there have been several versions of wrestling Mummies. They have competed in Mexico and Japan, but let’s focus of the mummies that competed in the states. The first if I recollect correctly was The Mummy portrayed by a wrestler named Benny Ramirez in the Los Angeles territory in the 60’s…but other incarnations by Eddie Marlin in Memphis and Bobby Duncum Sr. in Southwest Championship Wrestling followed. Then there was Jim Cornette’s idea of Prince Kharis in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. He was managed by Daryl Van Horne who wore a Fez hat and carried a scroll. When Van Horne read the gibberish on the ancient scroll, it awakened the mummy known as Prince Kharis….Horrible. That brings us to WCW’s Yeti…Ron Reis didn’t stand a chance getting this horrid gimmick over. I think Kevin Sullivan in the creative room said, “The Gobbeldy Gooker failed because the payoff for the egg hatching was a turkey….I know a way to improve on that….A Mummy breaks out of ice.” Ugh!
3. The Johnsons
There have been stupid tag team gimmicks like the Ding Dongs or the Bushwackers…but the team with the worst gimmick and penis innuendo was the TNA tag team known as The Johnsons AKA The Shane Twins. “Richard “Dick” Johnson” (Mike) and “Rod Johnson” (Todd), were twin brothers who dressed in flesh colored spandex with masks to make it look like they were two wrestling penises. Seriously…
A cross between Rikishi and Big Daddy Viscera…Cheex AKA Mike Staples was this rather big, fat and awfully slow “wrestler” who was accompanied to the ring by his valet named “The Brown Eyed Girl”….Get it? I hope so, because I’m not going to explain that inside joke at all.
1. Nightmare Freddie
Back in the middle to late 80’s….slasher movies were all the craze…so why not capitalize on that phenomenon with a wrestler monster/serial killer? Doug Gilbert…the brother of the legendary “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert donned a rubber mask and became “Nightmare Freddie,” complete with the sweater and blade glove. As ridiculous as this gimmick was/is, it is still way popular in Japan.
5. Max Moon
There are many candidates for this list from the early the 90’s, in any promotion you care to look in, but you’re unlikely to find any quite like Max Moon. He was originally played by Konnan, but a backstage disagreement led to him leaving and the gimmick being handed to Paul Diamond, who played the part of Kato in The Orient Express. Max was a brightly coloured chap billed from outer space. He had rocket blaster things and was meant to be a half human, cyborg type thing. They say the best characters are those that the audience can relate to, hence the dismal failure of Max Moon; the human cyborg from outer space, but also kind of from the future too.
4. Beaver Cleavage
It was inevitable that someone from our Icons of Wrestling series would make it into the countdown. What WWE were thinking with this guy is totally beyond me. He was inspired by the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ TV show, a show most people outside the US are completely unaware of. A man (not even a small one, he was Headbanger Mosh) portraying a boy sounds bad enough, but he also had a crush on his attractive storyline mother! After weeks of vignettes the character only made one live appearance before the wrestler portraying it, Charles ‘Chaz/Headbanger Mosh’ Warrington, was instructed to trash it during a worked shoot promo.
3. Kerwin White
I’ve limited myself to just one racist gimmick, so move aside Akeem and Saba Simba; Kerwin White is here! As a solo star Chavo Guerrero was always a reliable hand to have towards the bottom of the card, while in a tag team or stable he could excel as the secondary member of a dominant team. However, in 2005 WWE saw a new use for this proud latino; a stereotypical, middle-class, conservative, white American. In principle that sounds relatively harmless, like a hispanic version of Carlton Banks. In fact the gimmick may have had legs, had it not been portrayed by someone who was not immediately recognisable to wrestling fans of all ages. However, the issues came from the character’s rhetoric, rather than his appearance. He made sly, racist remarks towards many superstars but primarily babyface Shelton Benjamin. The fact that they used Chavo and the racist overtones make this one of the worst gimmicks I’ve ever witnessed.
Nick Dinsmore was a really talented worker, so talented that a few days ago he was re-hired by WWE to act as a trainer for NXT. What a shame then that the Eugene character effectively torpedoed his hopes at a sustained on-screen WWE career. The Eugene character had very obvious, but unspecified, learning and behavioural difficulties. The problem was that he was portrayed in the over the top WWE style; he had messy hair, his jacket was never buttoned up correctly and everything he did was to stereotype. As a short term character he may have been relatively effective in introducing Eugene’s twin/big brother Nick. Cue Nick Dinsmore with a new haircut and a shave, there’s your career, go get it! However Eugene seemed to hang around for too long and fans grew impatient of him. It was a bad idea to start with, but the longer it lasted the more uncomfortable the whole Eugene story became.
1. The Yeti
Some gimmicks are controversial, some end up on the wrong person, while some are just utter shite! The Yeti was WCW’s answer to the Gobbledygooker, and was of course a member of the famously shit Dungeon of Doom. However, unlike the Gobbledygooker, The Yeti was supposed to play a bigger role than just dancing about like an idiot with Mean Gene. He made his debut at Halloween Havok 1995, bursting out of a Glacier that The Master and Task Master had been banging on about. For some reason this Yeti was covered in bandages, like an Egyption mummy. He came down at the end of the main event to help The Giant (The Big Show) dry hump Hulk Hogan. Next time we saw him, a month later, The Yeti was a participant in World War 3 (WCW’s 3 ring, 60 man battle royal) and he was dressed like a ninja! He disappeared shortly afterwards.
All previous ‘Top Five’ articles can be read here.
2 thoughts on “Top Five: Worst Gimmicks”
Recently on the GWF shows on ESPN Classics The One Man Gang appeared, now this was AFTER his run in WWE and WCW and he said ” I’m not from Africa, I don’t have a demonic name and I don’t need any more managers…I’m the One Man Gang”…good for him…he became a joke.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Top Five Best Gimmicks in Wrestling | Ring the Damn Bell