Professional wrestling has never been accused of being particularly highbrow. Plenty of the gimmicks and storylines related to WWE and the various companies that have tried to oppose their monopoly have been almost gleefully geared towards an LCD audience. Occasionally this has worked out to their grand advantage—there’s nothing particularly classy about a disgruntled employee beating the hell out of their boss, and no story in wrestling history has been as successful as that one. However, more often than not, going for the cheapest and easiest forms of entertainment can very easily start to get extremely stupid. If that stupidity isn’t somehow placed in check, it can also start to get offensive.
Some of these gimmicks were intended to be a little offensive. The point of wrestling is to entertain and excite an audience, and sometimes being crass is a way to get the audience to hate a heel, or start begging a babyface to make their comeback. If that offensive idea is also stupid, though, it ends up failing on every level and just making the participants look clueless and weak. Fans start wondering what any of it has to do with wrestling in the first place, and start tuning out. Keep reading and discover 15 gimmicks that blurred the lines between stupid and offensive.
Heidenreich’s entire career borders between stupid and offensive, with stolen gimmicks and barely thought out ideas executed poorly following him throughout his three years in WWE. The worst was without question when he cornered Michael Cole in a dark room and pretty blatantly raped him. It rarely came up again, and somehow loosely tied in to the fact Heidenreich wrote poetry. Rape is a touchy subject that’s pretty much always deeply offensive if presented without delicacy, and WWE didn’t even pretend to be delicate. The only solace one can take in watching the angle was the fact it meant nothing and Michael Cole didn’t seem too affected by the assault in the long term, which made it extremely stupid, so much so it was completely forgotten along with how offensive it was.
14. The Sisters of Love, Wrestling Nuns
The Sisters of Love only lasted a few weeks as such in WWE before repackaging themselves as The Headbangers and achieving moderate if forgotten success during the Attitude Era. As the Sisters, they appeared on a few episodes of Shotgun Saturday Night dressed as fighting nuns. They didn’t get enough screen time in this incarnation to do anything truly offensive, but the mere idea of nuns in such a violent area of pop culture is enough for some Catholics to be offended. Appropriately, Sister Angelica and Mother Smucker were managed by Brother Love for the few short months before they ditched the habits, but kept the skirts. Their religious origins were forgotten much faster than their time as metal heads. They weren’t exactly the first holy gimmick that WWE attempted, though…
13. Friar Ferguson, The Wrestling Monk
Friar Ferguson was essentially the same character as the Sisters of Love, only a few years earlier and as a solo act. Just like the Sisters, the character was extremely short-lived, and played by a wrestler who although talented would ultimately become a mere punch line in wrestling history: Bastian Booger, also known as Mike Shaw. He had wrestled for WCW as Norman the Lunatic and Stampede Wrestling as Makhan Singh, but when he jumped to WWE, Vince McMahon decided to make him a Catholic monk. As one could expect, various Catholic organizations loudly voiced their complaints, and the gimmick was gone after a brief winning streak. Even if no one had been offended, many fans were left dumbfounded at where exactly this gimmick could go.
12. The Undertaker at the 1994 Royal Rumble
It’s hard to include The Undertaker on a list like this, because in general, he’s the exception that proves the rule with dumb wrestling gimmicks. These all blur the line between stupid and offensive, but The Undertaker is the gimmick that proves it’s also possible to blur the line between stupid and amazing, so we understand why wrestling companies would continue to try. Unfortunately, even the Undertaker has suffered a few truly idiotic moments, and none were worse than the 1994 Royal Rumble. Virtually every heel on the roster united to help Yokozuna defeat the Dead Man to no avail, until Paul Bearer’s urn was stolen and opened, causing the Undertaker to “lose his powers.” If that wasn’t insulting enough to the fan’s intelligence, Undertaker was thrown into a casket, which he then metaphysically gave a speech from and then “ascended to the heavens.” He came back to face his doppelgänger in an equally stupid angle. While most of these gimmicks blur the lines between stupid and offensive, this gimmick was simply so stupid it became offensive by default.
11. The Mexi-Cools, Wrestling Stereotypes
We’ve written before about the much-maligned and oft-forgotten stable that was The Mexi-Cools, but the talented trio of luchadores deserved far more attention than they got, and the reason rests on their horrible and offensive gimmick. Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and Super Crazy were three of the greatest cruiserweight wrestlers of the 90s. They signed to WWE around the same time and debuted as a team in 2005. The talented Mexican athletes rode to the ring on lawnmowers and made jokes about day laborers. Amazingly, the gimmick actually got the guys over enough for Juventud to win the WWE Cruiserweight title. Despite the minor success, most people find it too stupid and offensive to even bother remembering it.
10. The Kerwin Whitewashing of Chavo Guerrero
Chavo Guerrero, Jr. may not have been quite the superstar his uncle Eddie was, but he was pretty damned talented in his own right. Chavo was the second most popular Guerrero of the 90s and beyond, and his longevity as a high performing athlete has shown he’s no slouch in the ring, either. Instead of respecting his talents and his family legacy, in 2005 Chavo changed his name to Kerwin White, throwing said legacy away in favor of pretending he was Caucasian. His catchphrase was briefly “If it’s not White, it’s not right,” but even WWE quickly realized how intensely offensive that was. Of course, the fact it was supposed to be funny meant that instead of offensive, it was just stupid. Making things worse, Chavo’s Uncle Eddie died only a few months into the gimmick, causing it to be dropped and Chavo to go back to representing his true name.
9. LayCool Bully Mickie James
Mickie James is one of the most talented female wrestlers of her generation. Although the women’s revolution started in earnest a few years after her tenure in WWE, along with Trish Stratus, Mickie was one of the first female wrestlers to get a big push in WWE while also having the ability to back it up in the ring. In 2009, Mickie was rewarded for her talents and loyalty to the company over the past four years by repeatedly getting called fat by Michelle McCool and Layla. The bullying duo renamed Mickie “Piggy” James and sent her to tears. The idea was deeply offensive and stood in direct opposition to WWE’s Be A Star campaign, and the fact James wasn’t at all overweight and in fact had a body just as perfect as any of the other divas at the time made it fall far into the category of stupid, too.
8. Molly Holly’s Big Butt
Molly Holly is another name thrown in the discussion along with Mickie James and Trish Stratus as one of the first female wrestlers in WWE to show some serious wrestling ability in quite some time. She debuted in WWE as the cousin of Hardcore and Crash Holly, but quickly branched off on her own as a voice of seriousness in the women’s division. While the other females of the time were divas, Molly was already breaking the mold and presenting herself as a wrestler first. Instead of being rewarded for her forward thinking and love of the sport, she was saddled with several gimmicks ultimately mocking her for choosing to be a virgin and having a “big butt.” Molly has since said that the gimmick offended her, although she understood the performers themselves were simply doing what they were told to do. Not only was it offensive to her personally, but the idea of mocking a performer for having morals and assets a great deal of men actually find incredibly attractive doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the first place.
7. Mark Henry and Mae Young
The saga of Mark Henry and Mae Young will forever be one of the most embarrassing and upsetting eras in WWE history. Although it took place during the most successful year the company had ever seen, many fans would probably give that entire year away to remove the final image this relationship resulted from their head. The 28-year old Henry dated the 76-year old Young, impregnated her, and became the proud father of a white human hand. The only way for any part of that to not to be offensive is for you to be a lifelong WWE fan who understands it was just one man’s extremely stupid attempt at comedy. The only way for any part of you to not find that stupid is for you to be Vince McMahon.
6. Snitsky, the Accidental Baby Killer
Gene Snitsky debuted in WWE in September 2004 to face Kane in a No Disqualification match on Raw. During this time, Kane was in the midst of an offensive angle of his own, kidnapping Lita and unwillingly impregnating her, which gradually turned into a bizarre relationship. Snitsky hit Kane with a chair, causing him to fall on Lita, in turn causing her to miscarry their baby. As stupid as the whole thing was, nothing was dumber than Snitsky coming out of the angle as the accidental baby killer. His catchphrase became “It wasn’t my fault!” and although it rarely was relevant in wrestling, the fact he killed a baby was his only defining characteristic for a long time. It would be morbidly offensive if it weren’t so blatantly dumb.
5. Cloudy, the Transgendered Manager
If WWE attempted a gimmick similar to Cloudy in 2016, and actually managed to handle it tastefully, it could make headlines as a groundbreaking gimmick. Unfortunately, they tried it in 1996, long before it could be done with any sort of dignity. For anyone who blinked and missed it, Cloudy was the first transgendered individual in wrestling. As an audience, we were supposed to find this hilarious. In a decent enough pun, Cloudy replaced Sunny after she dropped The Bodydonnas and they needed a new valet. Cloudy only lasted a month and very little about the performer or backstage story behind the gimmick is public knowledge, but based on her TV appearances, her sole characteristic was the fact she was transgendered. Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler thought that was weird and very funny. The word transgendered was never used, but Cloudy herself and even her opponents clearly viewed her as female. The insensitive treatment of her on commentary likely would’ve become seriously offensive if it lasted any longer than it did, but as is, it was simply one of the stupider gimmicks McMahon invented.
4. Pimpinela Escarlata Kisses Referees
Pimpinela Escarlata is arguably the most famous Mexican “exótico” wrestler in the world today, and as such he stands as a representation of the entire style of wrestling. Escarlata is one in a long line of overly effeminate male wrestlers, who certainly don’t identify as transgendered, and aren’t necessarily gay, but use stereotypical concepts related to both cultures in order to make the audience laugh or boo. Pimpinela is rather popular on Lucha Underground, but that popularity came at the cost of assaulting referees with unwanted kisses, and appealing to the broad idea that homophobia is generally hilarious. It might at least be a step in the right direction that a character like this is allowed to be a babyface, but the fact it’s so regressive to the gay community keeps it well within the confines of being stupidly offensive. Of course, it used to be even worse…
3. Adrian Adonis is Flamboyantly Offensive
Wrestling and WWE specifically have a long history of intensely insensitive displays of homosexuality. It’s very arguably the worst was the first, and his name was Adrian Adonis. Adonis wasn’t the first flamboyant character in WWE or elsewhere, but as he morphed from a leather-clad biker into “Adorable” Adrian, he lost weight and started wearing garish make-up that made him a complete joke. The gimmick lived on the homophobia of the era, and although fans fondly remember the time Roddy Piper obliterated Adrian’s Flower Shop, it’s hard to remember anything the character itself did without getting a sour taste in your mouth.
2. WCW’s “Ultimate” Solution
WCW has been accused of a great deal of management issues, but one in particular stands out as possibly the most clueless move in professional wrestling history. In early 1996, a super-team of heels was constructed to battle Hulk Hogan and “end” Hulkamania. Two members of this team were movie stars turned wrestlers, Tiny Lister and Jeep Swenson. Lister had wrestled for WWE as Zeus and here he became Z-Gangsta, which was kind of stupid, but it comes nowhere near the ineptness of naming future Batman & Robin actor Swenson “The Final Solution.” Somehow nobody in WCW had heard this was the name of Adolf Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jewish race. The character received obvious and immediate complaints, and Swenson was quickly renamed The Ultimate Solution. The fact the name still wasn’t that far off tips this one pretty far into the stupid category.
1. Goldust Shocks Himself Into Tourette’s Syndrome
Goldust and Booker T formed one of the most popular tag teams of late 2002. Shortly after losing the titles, they were forced to break up, which left Goldust feeling despondent. Randy Orton and Batista attacked him for no reason and threw him into an electric outlet, causing sparks to fly, and Goldust to develop a strange stutter, with an inclination towards dirty turns of phrase. Although Goldust and WWE were steadfast that Goldust was suffering an electrical shock and not Tourette’s syndrome, it was extremely hard to distinguish the two, and some fans were upset WWE dared mock a serious disease. The fact he only seemed to show his symptoms for naughty innuendos took it to a stupid level as well, but someone must find it funny, since Goldust has been stuck in comedy segments ever since with the old habit weirdly popping up on rare occasions when appropriate.