Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage & Craig Wilson
We have our first Top Five piece of 2016 and it’s the first of a two part piece. Next week we look at crap wrestlers that had good gimmicks but today we look at good wrestlers that were unfortunately for them, but thankfully for this piece, given terrible gimmicks. Without further ado.
(Dis)Honourable Mentions: Flash Funk, The Stalker, Big Josh, The Gobbledygooker
Okay, so on the surface Mortis was pretty cool….. for a Mortal Kombat character. Problem is; he was a wrestler. Another problem is that his backstory was never fully revealed. We knew that he was supposed to be a Malaysian pit fighter who didn’t like Glacier, but we didn’t know why and we didn’t know why he dressed like Reptile. I could live with all this, but not when you consider that Mortis evolved into Kris Kanyon, who I thought was a fantastic wrestler.
4. John Tenta
Three for the price of one here. John Tenta had four notable gimmicks, three of which stunk. Thankfully most remember Tenta as Earthquake in WWF, but that’s of little comfort to those familiar with his WCW incarnation as Avalanche – we see what you’ve done there WCW 😉 He then became Shark, who was, erm, a shark. He then returned to WWF in 1998 as Golga, the masked guy in The Oddities….. i.e. the one who could actually wrestle. The sad irony being that – unlike others who churn through shit gimmick after shit gimmick – Tenta was really good, especially for a big man.
3. Kerwin White
Basically WWE took a well-established Latino wrestler and turned him into a stereotypical rich – and somewhat racist – white guy, as a parody of something. Not hailing from the states I didn’t get the joke – assuming it was actually a joke – so thus I found it unfunny as well as tasteless. For those unfamiliar with this character, the wrestler in question was Chavo Guerrero Jr., yes the Chavo Guerrero. Oh, and this wasn’t before he was famous or anything like that either, this was in 2005!
At best this was naïve, at worst it was downright offensive and insulting. I’m not necessarily against the idea of someone without a learning difficulty or additional support needs portraying such a character – not like it doesn’t happen in TV and movies – but WWE being WWE all they could think to do was portray a negative stereotype and pretend they were doing good by trying (and failing) to tell a positive story. To that I say, fuck you WWE. And you know what else? Nick Dinsmore was a very talented wrestler. It’s a shame that after writing Eugene off TV, Dinsmore wasn’t told to get a haircut and have a shave. He could have easily returned under the guise of Eugene’s brother, to defend his honour.
1. The Red Rooster
The king of shit gimmicks; take your crown! So two talented wrestlers enter the WWF at a time when there are a couple of gimmicks on the table. One will be become Mr Perfect the other will become The Red Rooster. Curt Hennig got lucky, Terry Taylor did not.
5. Big Josh
You may be thinking…”Wait, Matt Borne was Doink the Clown as well.” That is true, but the evil clown gimmick was done so well that it was perfectly suited for Borne’s personality. Big Joah in WCW however, was nothing more than a wrestling lumberjack and in my view, wasted so much of Matt Borne’s natural charisma.
4. Aldo Montoya
Peter Polaco proved under the guise of Justin Credible in ECW, that he could truly be utilized much better than just a “Portuguese Man O War.” I still can’t fully grasp what this gimmick was suppose to be.
3. Flash Funk
A wrestling pimp before the Godfather made wrestling pimps cool. It seemed like such a waste to have 2 Cold Scorpio under such a stupid gimmick.
2. Dean Douglas
Another crap gimmick for somebody who really didn’t need a gimmick. Shane Douglas himself was a built in gimmick and I found the wrestling scholar gimmick to be an utter waste.
1. The Mexicools
The WWE takes three super talented luchadors and give them a very stereotypical gimmick where they apparently mow lawns on their spare time. Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy and Psicosis deserved much better than that.
5. Flash Funk
A four time ECW TV title and one-time tag team champion as 2 Cold Scorpio, Charles Riggs was a big player for Extreme Championship Wrestling mixing high flying with a hardcore element. However, he wasn’t able to showcase his abilities to the same extent in the WWF saddled with a gimmick which involved dancing, wearing a zoot suit, and being accompanied to the ring by his “Funkettes”. As Scorpio, he would join the J.O.B squad in a gimmick far too close to reality for those in the group.
4. Saba Simba
Tony Atlas was a former tag champion with The Rock’s father Rocky Johnson and a successful bodybuilder – earning the title ‘Mr. USA’ three times. So when, after overcoming a series of personal difficulties, he returned to the WWF in 1990 you would expect him to be used properly. Instead, he was given the gimmick of ‘Saba Simba’ a Ugandan warrior – a gimmick was deeply unpopular at best and outright racist at worst.
3. John Tenta
As Earthquake, Tenta was a top star for the WWF in the early 90s headlining events against Hulk Hogan and winning the tag team titles as one half of The Natural Disasters. A forgettable run with WCW maybe took the gloss of things but in 1998 when he returned to the WWF, he was aged only 35 and could easily have done the WWF a turn – particularly at the time when it was creating a multitude of new stars. Instead, he was packaged as Golga – part of the Human Oddities.
2. Shane Douglas
Ah, Dean Douglas… After helping create much of the controversy around ECW during its early days with his dismissing of NWA history, Douglas could have realistically played a big part in the WWF when he rejoined in 1995 – hardly a year that was a highpoint for Vince McMahon’s promotion. Instead, he was saddled with the gimmick of a school lecturer and his spell with the promotion was very short-lived. And it was probably for the best.
1. The Stalker
I’m a huge fan of Barry Windham but his WWE career never hit the heights it did elsewhere, despite two early WWF tag team title reigns with Mike Rotundo. A multiple time holder of NWA titles and a member of the Four Hoursemen, Windham would again return to the WWF in late 1996, this time as “The Stalker”, wearing camouflage face paint as well as being billed from “The Environment”.
It was meant to see him feud with Marc Mero over Sable but Mero but the kayboosh on the idea and the gimmick went nowhere.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.