Jamie Lithgow & Craig Wilson
Recently we had a Top Five looking at good wrestlers that were saddled with a poor gimmick. Today we turn it round and list top five gimmicks that were spoiled by having a poor wrestler perform under the guise featuring the likes of Festus, Vampiro, Kane and more.
5. Festus: For years I thought this gimmick sucked, until the debut of The Wyatt Family. Festus would have been a perfect fit in this group. For those that don’t remember, Festus was a large, docile man with obvious mental difficulties and a vacant look on his face… until the bell rang. It was at this point when he would unleash hell and kick all kinds of ass. His partner, Jesse, essentially acted as his handler to try and calm him the fuck down. Festus was a case of a good gimmick on a good wrestler, but at the wrong time. Festus went on to become Luke Gallows aka Doc Gallows from Bullet Club. These days he’s pretty damn good, but back in 2007 he was just a big guy throwing punches and clotheslines.
4. Mordecai: As an atheist with an interest in religion I thought the Mordecai character was, in principle, brilliant. He was presented as essentially an anti-Undertaker and was even pencilled-in to feud with The Deadman. Thus, the white knight on a crusade to rid WWE of sin would be the bad guy, facing the evil Undertaker – who would be the good guy. There’s a lot of social commentary to be explored there, but alas Kevin ‘Mordecai’ Fertig just wasn’t very good and the character vanished after a couple of months. Well, I say that, but a good idea is a good idea. Shawn Michaels borrowed the anti-Undertaker dressed in white angle for his feud with The Deadman heading into Wrestlemania XXV. So it was a decent gimmick after all….
3. Waylon Mercy: I genuinely feel bad for mentioning this guy. Before he was Waylon Mercy, Dan Spivey was a solid worker and barring injury who knows what Waylon Mercy could have become. The unfortunate truth is that the Max Cady inspired character came along too late for the physically broken down Spivey – and ironically some might say it came along too early for WWE. But hey, a good idea is a good idea. Bray Wyatt, while not exactly the same as Mercy, is very clearly a modern day version of the gimmick.
2. Kane: On paper this looks harsh because, by and large, the character of Kane has been fantastic. The gimmick is so good in fact that it masks more than Glen Jacobs’ face. Jacobs has been with WWE for over 20 years now, and he has been Kane for a little over 18 of those years. I’m not saying Kane is a terrible wrestler, but he’s been around for so long and produced so little in terms of match quality. Here is my challenge to you; can anyone point me in the direction of a truly classic singles match involving The Big Red Machine? Wrestlemania 14 against The Undertaker was pretty good, any others…?
1. Hollywood Hogan: I was tempted to mention the entire nWo and even red and yellow Hulk, but I shall stop short and just pick out Hollywood. Hulk Hogan transforming into Hollywood Hogan is still the daddy of all heel turns. He was so convincing as an egotistical prick that one might have believed he really was that big of a dickhead in real life! As brilliant as Hollywood Hogan was, can anyone name me one good match he had? His match with Sting Starrcade 1997 typifies him; brilliant angle, terrible match.
5. Sean O’Haire: You can’t dismiss him for not having the look. At 6’6 and 270 pounds, he was a big man that could do it in the air. Throw in some dark promos and we started to get pretty excited about the debut of his new character. The problem? In terms of a worker, he had largely stagnated and wasn’t able to live up to anything like the hype that surrounded his new character. Even throwing in an association with Roddy Piper couldn’t help him connect with the audience and he was soon sent back to OVW before being released.
4. Tank Abott: You only need to look at the success of Brock Lesnar to see how to book someone from a mixed martial arts background. However, if you go back to the late 90s you can see how WCW tried, and ultimately, failed with it. We should point out, that although Abott was from a mixed martial arts background – his record in the sport was average at best. This is a man that on WCW PPV pulled a knife out on his opponent. And to think Vince Russo thought he would be a credible world champion.
3. Vampiro: He had the rock star aesthetics that would help him get over with an edgier crowd – as the Monday Night Wars was. In fact, his look helped him get over massively in Mexico – including film and tv appearances – where he was based before he made it to America and WCW. However, even in Mexico his in-ring abilities weren’t the strongest and that came to the fore on WCW, even after a big push at the start that saw him mix with the likes of Sting and the Great Muta.
2. Glacier: I loved Mortal Kombat as a kid. A great button bashing style beat ’em-up game. So, capitalising on the game’s success and giving a wrestler a gimmick similar to Sub-Zero in the game was a sure fire success right? Well, remember it was WCW. Months of vignettes aired, the effects needed for his entrance cost WCW $500,000 and his costume cost $35,000. The problem? He was rubbish. More focussed on martial arts exhibitions than performing wrestling moves and when you lob in silly feuds with the likes of Wrath, Mortis and James Vandenberg – it only got worse.
1. Gangrel: Gangrel had both the best ever ring entrance and a great theme song. Throw in the fact that, with his eyes and teeth, he did look like a vampire. Everything, you would think, needed to make a great career out of wrestling. However, his in-ring ability didn’t live up to the rest. His DDT finisher was good but that was really it and his achievements were very quickly bettered by the two other members of The Brood: Edge & Christian.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.