As Jim Ross has warned crowds on countless broadcasts, what the WWE does isn’t Shakespeare. At its peak, it can actually get pretty close, at least in terms of basic story structure. But at its nadir, nothing in this world works quite like wrestling, whether it’s as highbrow as Shakespeare or as lowbrow as fail videos on YouTube. In all other forms of entertainment, there are basic rules behind how crowds will respond. A good idea will be praised, and a bad idea will be maligned. But sometimes in wrestling a crowd knows an idea is bad, so bad there’s nothing redeeming about it…and they’ll just cheer the hell out of it, appreciative of the audacity of a performer willing to attempt to entertain us in such a unique way. Given enough time, sometimes it turns out those dumb ideas actually work, when given the proper, bizarre context only professional wrestling is capable of giving.
Let’s be clear about one thing: each of these gimmicks, stupid as they were, had one thing in common, which is ultimately what caused them to get over. The performers gave the role everything they had, committing fully to the dumbest ideas Vince McMahon and company had to offer (and sometimes, the dumb ideas were even their own). Professional wrestling is acting, and the key to acting is conviction in your character’s beliefs and motivations, and these superstars all had that in spades. Unfortunately, those characters were ridiculously, outrageously stupid.
15. Goldust Has A Shocking Stutter
Much of Goldust’s character is extremely odd, which is why they call him the Bizarre One. In 2003, things took a turn past the bizarre to the downright stupid, when Randy Orton and Batista threw Goldust into some form of explosive light fixture and “shocked” Goldust, causing him to develop a Tourette’s-like stutter. Goldust stressed it wasn’t actually Tourette’s, which saves this from being too offensive, but hardly changes how stupid the whole thing was. Throw in the fact Goldust’s stutter only seemed to kick in during sexual puns, and it sounds like a bad comedy routine. But fans laughed almost every time, and many were likely pleased to see the gimmick come back just a few weeks ago during a segment in a bathroom with R-Truth.
14. Val Venis Is A Wrestler/Adult Film Star
One of the final gimmicks based on a wrestler having a side job, Val Venis was the wrestling “adult” star. Debuting in 1998, Venis spent the first several months of his career doing the only thing a wrestling “adult” star would do: make videos with divas. Of course, Venis made the dastardly choice of only choosing married divas, starring in films with Mrs. Yamaguchi-san and Terri Runnels, running the ire of Kai En Tai and Goldust respectively. Somehow, fans fell in love with Venis and his brash arrogance, laughing along with the Big Valbowski’s sex puns. Eventually, Venis was so popular he managed to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship twice.
13. Spirit Squad Had Spirit, Yes They Did
Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky and Mikey formed the Spirit Squad, a group of wrestling cheerleaders. Maybe it isn’t terribly surprising a group of male cheerleaders would get boos in the macho WWE, but it’s pretty amazing how far this group managed to get on spirit alone. Granted, they had a bit more than spirit behind them—the gimmick was created by Vince McMahon, and McMahon’s character utilized the Squad in his feud with Shawn Michaels. After entering the top level feud, crowds really started to hate the group, and the performers appropriately amped up the obnoxiousness in response, eventually winning the World Tag Team Championships from Kane and the Big Show.
12. Doink the Clown Was No Laughing Matter
Doink the Clown is a wrestling clown. We can pretty much end this entry right there, but that would be a huge disservice to Matt Borne, the first man to play the character. Doink started as a villain, performing goofy but cruel crowd tricks at ringside, scaring children and bothering faces with cartoonish and childish antics. Somehow, maniacally laughing and acting like a literal clown the entire time, Borne made audiences believe this crazy clown could beat the hell out of beloved wrestlers, including Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Borne later appeared in ECW as Borne Again, mocking the ridiculousness of the Doink character, proving the performer doesn’t have to love the dumb gimmicks WWE gives to him to make the best out of it.
11. The Blue Meanie and the bWo
Sometimes, the entire point of parody can be to take something popular and make it as dumb as humanly possible. The Blue Meanie was a character created by Raven, a goof so useless he was Stevie Richards’s subordinate, named after a character in Yellow Submarine. Richards acted like a moron worshipping Raven, so Meanie acted like an even bigger moron, but this time ECW crowds started cheering at how silly it was. Realizing the comedy potential, Meanie teamed up with Richards and Nova to parody KISS followed by their most popular effort, the bWo. Parodying the nWo, the Blue World Order copied the new World order to a tee, only they wore blue and made colorful puns. It was so simple and so stupid it just had to work.
10. Are Kai En Tai Evil? INDEED!
Kai En Tai suffered two dumb ideas during their WWE careers, but luckily, one of them was the style of dumb that might also be genius. Parodying poorly dubbed Japanese film, Taka Michinoku would mumble nonsense into a microphone while Shane McMahon (who came up with the gimmick) dubbed threats to their opponents over the loudspeakers, based on the premise that Kai En Tai were “EVIL.” Taka would then pass the mic to Funaki, who would simply say “INDEED.” Though the duo never won any titles together, fans went wild for Taka during his one shot at the WWE World Championship, when he nearly defeated Triple H for the belt on Raw. Funaki would have singles success as well, boasting himself to be SmackDown’s Number One Announcer, an equally stupid but funny gimmick, and winning the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
9. The Boogeyman Eats Worms
The Boogeyman was a movie monster brought to life, eating worms and licking moles off of a woman’s face as if it were dinner. Though the WWE was at once literally a cartoon for Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, they never went too far into toon land during the actual matches, making the Boogeyman out of place in any era. For some reason, though, it worked. Feuding with JBL and WWE Hall of Famer Booker T, the Boogeyman found himself almost immediately on the top of the card, scaring his opponents with horror show antics and powerhouse wrestling.
8. The Mountie Was The World’s Most Famous Mountie
Jacques Rougeau is an accomplished tag team wrestler, as a member of the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and the Quebecers, but his greatest singles success came as The Mountie. The Mountie, of course, was a wrestler who was also a mountie, a Canadian Mounted Police. The Mountie naturally feuded with the Big Bossman over which country’s law enforcement was superior, and somehow, despite the majority of United States fans not caring about mounties, and no Canadian fans actually thinking it was an accurate representation of mounties, Rougeau managed to get crowds to hate him. Under the management of Jimmy Hart, after gaining notoriety for attacking opponents with a cattle prod, the Mountie even won the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart.
7. Rosey, Superhero In Training
For whatever reason, we just can’t knock on The Hurricane. Wrestling’s first superhero, Gregory Helms donned the mask in 2001, winning the WWE European Championship the night he debuted the gimmick. Less awesome, and more in the category of so stupid it’s funny, was a few years later when he would be joined by Rosey, Superhero In Training—S.H.I.T. The pair were joined by Super Stacy Keibler, who is always a welcome edition, but that doesn’t change the stupidity of a man’s gimmick being that he’s a giant “shit.” Nonetheless, the fans found the ordeal hilarious, and supported the team on their way to winning the World Tag Team Championships.
6. Repo Man Repossesses The Crowd
Barry Darsow had better success as a member of Demolition and the Russians while in NWA, but fans still fondly remember his turn in the early 1990s as Repo Man. At the time, it was pretty popular for wrestlers to have a day job. There was taxman IRS, plumber TL Hopper, monk Friar Ferguson, garbage man Duke Droese, and of course, repo man Repo Man. What set Repo Man apart from the others was Darsow’s commitment to the absurd role, which makes sense, as he came up with it himself. He was sneaky to a point of parody, making gestures appropriating Snidely Whiplash while hiding from his opponents and pestering fans. Though Repo never won any titles, he did have a brief feud with WWE Hall of Famer Randy Savage.
5. Eugene Is Offensive On All Levels
It feels extremely offensive to put Eugene on this list, but unfortunately, every single thing about Eugene was extremely offensive. And yet, no one can deny one thing—Eugene was extremely popular for a little while in 2004 and 2005. Eugene, whose real name is Nick Dinsmore, wrestled with the gimmick he was Eric Bischoff’s mentally challenged nephew. Eventually, fans grew tired of the gimmick’s novelty and started to realize how offensive it actually was. Before the fans turned on him, Eugene managed to win the World Tag Team Championship with William Regal, and even feuded with Kurt Angle and Triple H. Eugene’s peak came at WrestleMania 21, where he posed with Hulk Hogan.
4. Papa Shango Made People Bleed, Vomit
Charles Wright is well known for having two gimmicks in WWE, and although we love the Godfather as much as anyone, Papa Shango was all sorts of stupid. A voodoo priest, Papa Shango was one of the first WWE wrestlers to use magic spells on his opponents. He caused various wrestlers to vomit, and famously made the Ultimate Warrior’s head ooze a black red goo. Although Shango debuted around the same time as the Undertaker, history wasn’t quite as kind to his brand of horror movie magic, and he left WWE after little over a year, never winning any titles. He did, however, challenge Bret Hart for the WWE World Championship, proving he was a success, even if his success was extremely hard to understand.
3. Viscera, The World’s Largest Love Machine
Nelson Frazier wrestled for WWE for over a decade, never really finding the right gimmick, despite achieving a fair amount of success with the initial Men on a Mission tag team, along with his partner, Mo. In 2004, after a few years’ hiatus, Frazier returned to WWE to assist Trish Stratus. Big Vis helped the WWE Hall of Famer because he, like most men, was extremely attracted to Trish, which he expressed to her by showing her a huge rack of condoms. Trish rebuffed his advances, but Big Vis would start hitting on Lilian Garcia amongst other divas, and develop a new finishing maneuver, which was basically humping his opponents, and somehow fans ate it up and cheered the big guy for the first time in years. Unfortunately for the World’s Largest Love Machine, it didn’t really go anywhere, leading to fans eventually getting tired of the joke.
2. Disco Inferno Has Disco Fever
Disco Inferno never made it to WWE, although it isn’t that he wouldn’t have fit in, in almost any era. Disco, real name Glenn Gilbertti, was always busy, though, spending the majority of his wrestling career in WCW, winning a variety of titles, and of course, dancing his heart out the whole time. The Disco Inferno character, which Gilbertti has said in shoot interviews was co-developed with Raven, managed to get cheers and jeers from crowds, simply by loving disco. While it’s not a huge surprise Disco could draw some cheap heat with a Southern crowd, the fact he managed to win multiple WCW Television Championships and the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, not to mention for a short while becoming a key member of the nWo Wolfpac, makes a pretty huge success out of a gimmick based around the idea some people like to say “disco sucks.”
1. The Undertaker and Kane
There’s no denying that The Undertaker is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, performing with one of the greatest professional wrestling gimmicks of all time. There’s also no denying, however, that if you simply heard about it, and never actually saw Mark Calaway perform, the whole thing sounds pretty stupid. The man can shoot lightning out of his hands. And so can his brother Kane, who we include along with the Undertaker as a proxy. And sometimes they still lose!
Despite how much suspension of disbelief is required, as soon as you reach that level, the Brothers of Destruction make it clear why they’ve been two of the most dominant forces in WWE history. Of course, it’s hard to reach that level of disbelief with them. Kane has buried the Undertaker more than once, and it’s implied the Undertaker is revived back to life, and then is able to travel, through lightning bolts. Both the Undertaker and Kane have magic powers, including the lightning tricks, Kane’s fire tricks, and being able to lift the entire ring telepathically. It’s really easy to break it down and say the Undertaker is the gimmick that destroys any pretense of wrestling being legitimate, but who would want a version of wrestling without the Undertaker?
To anyone offended we dared called the Undertaker a dumb gimmick, we suggest you check out WWE’s other attempt at a wrestling zombie and see just how poorly it could have gone.