A great nickname is more than just something you say before you get to the actual name of the superstar in question. It is an extension of their personality. It tells you something about the performer before you even see them coming down the aisle. The best example of this can be seen in “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. His was a simple nickname, a single two-syllable word with five letters. However, it summed up Piper’s personality perfectly, and it was clear from the moment he stepped through the curtain that he was going to live up to it.
There has been no shortage of great nicknames in professional wrestling. Unfortunately, there has also been no shortage of truly God-awful ones either. For every “Hitman” or “Hulkster,” there is a “Funkasaurus” or “All-American American.”
In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the worst nicknames Vince McMahon and his team of writers have forced upon WWE superstars over the years. Here are 15 of the worst nicknames ever given to WWE superstars.
15. “The Big Dog” – Roman Reigns
Three-time WWE Champion Roman Reigns had a number of uninspired nicknames during his time around WWE’s main event scene. Since the night after WrestleMania 32, Reigns has been referred to as “The Guy,” a nickname which he has probably had backstage during the past three years.
Prior to this, Reigns was described by WWE commentators as “The Big Dog,” a name which was ill-advised for a number of reasons. Firstly “The Big Dog” is extremely lacklustre and forgettable, and way too similar to Ryback’s “The Big Guy” (which will also appear on this list a little later on).
14. “The Lunatic Fringe” – Dean Ambrose
During his time in WWE’s developmental system, Dean Ambrose played the character of a mentally unstable loner, and was quite often compared to the likes of Hannibal Lector or Ed Gein.
Ambrose played a slightly modified, but pretty much untouched version of the character while performing on WWE television as a member of The Shield, and usually came across as the wildcard of the team. However, after the implosion of the faction, Ambrose’s unstable gimmick took a turn towards the cartoonish. Now marketed towards children who needed a wacky hero to cheer, Dean Ambrose became “The Lunatic Fringe.”
While some people complain that it is an offensive label, the major problem WWE fans have with the name “The Lunatic Fringe” is that it makes absolutely no sense. What does “The Lunatic Fringe” mean? Is it that Dean Ambrose is not quite a lunatic, but is on the fringe of it and could become one at any moment? Or is it that Ambrose is, in fact, a lunatic and just has messy hair? We may never know.
13. “The Devil’s Favorite Demon” – Kane
Kane had a lot of nicknames since he first arrived on the scene at Badd Blood 1997. “The Big Red Machine” a nickname which Kane took on early in his career, is easily one of the most iconic wrestling nicknames of all time. In recent years, however, Kane’s nicknames have not been as memorable.
In the latter half of the 90s, WWE commentators began referring to Kane as “The Devil’s Favorite Demon,” a nickname which would have been more suited to his kayfabe half-brother, The Undertaker.
Kane was never intended to be a supernatural character. Unlike his brother, he could not be beaten half to death and return several weeks later better than ever. In fact, it can be said that Kane’s mortality was the very basis for his character. As “The Big Red Machine,” he was someone who had been left with horrible scars from a fire he was in as a child, and was forced to wear a mask and use a voice box in order to survive in the outside world.
12. “The Vigilante” – Sting
In WCW, Sting was known as “The Franchise.” In TNA, he was known as “The Icon.” It’s understandable that WWE would want to put their own stamp on the Sting character and give him a nickname unique to their company, but they could have done a whole lot better than “The Vigilante.”
When Sting finally debuted in WWE, he did so by attacking Triple H and costed The Authority their position at the helm of the company.
Because of the manner in which he arrived in WWE – taking matters into his own hands and disposing of an unjust ruler – Sting became known as “The Vigilante.” While a lot of fans groaned the moment they heard Sting referred to as such on WWE television, there were those who felt the nickname had potential and just had to be used correctly.
11. “The Last Outlaw” – The Undertaker
“The Phenom”… “The Deadman”… “Big Evil”… In his 25-year career with the company, The Undertaker has had some of the best nicknames ever given to a WWE Superstar. But in 2011, Taker returned with a nickname that was a great deal less spectacular than the monickers he had used in years prior.
Now “The Last Outlaw,” The Undertaker was portrayed as an aging gunslinger who had fallen into a state of complacency and was only returning to WWE to defend his WrestleMania winning streak before disappearing again.
Many fans were confused by the nickname and WWE’s sudden decision to acknowledge that The Undertaker was not the man he used to be. While Taker was undoubtedly the last of a dying breed, he had never exhibited any cowboy traits beyond wearing a western-like hat for a brief period after his return at WrestleMania XX.
10. “The Eater of Worlds” – Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt is one of those performers who has the perfect combination of mic skills and in-ring ability, as well as a fantastic gimmick to top it off. Wyatt could be the biggest star in professional wrestling today if it wasn’t for chronic mismanagement at the hands of WWE’s creative team.
Since he first debuted in WWE, the maniacal leader of The Wyatt Family has been pushed to the main event again and again, only to be defeated by WWE’s top stars such as The Undertaker, Roman Reigns, and, of course, John Cena. It’s obvious WWE doesn’t know what to do with Wyatt, and his “Eater of Worlds” nickname shows that they don’t particularly care how he is perceived by the fans.
9. “The Big Guy” – Ryback
It’s hard to find a nickname more uncreative than Roman Reigns’ “The Big Dog,” but Ryback somehow managed to do it. Shortly after Ryback abandoned the “Skip Sheffield” name and began appearing in WWE as an unstoppable monster heel (who was also a face, for some reason), WWE announcers dubbed Ryback as “The Big Guy.”
The name is certainly one of the more uninspired entries on this list, but fans have also taken issue with the fact that there are many performers on the WWE roster who have a more legitimate claim to the nickname than Ryback. Sure, Ryback is pretty muscular, but he is far from the most jacked guy under a WWE contract. Brock Lesnar is a significantly bigger guy than Ryback, while The Big Show and a dozen other performers tower over the former Intercontinental Champion when it comes to height.
8. “The Great White” – Sheamus
Though Sheamus has spent the majority of his time on WWE television as “The Celtic Warrior,” he has on occasion been referred to as “The Great White.” This, along with his “White Noise” signature move, has been a source of outrage for pasty skinned wrestling fans everywhere (and there are a lot of them).
Like Bray Wyatt’s “Eater of Worlds” nickname, “The Great White” draws attention to a negative part of Sheamus’ appearance which fans probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. As soon as WWE announcers point out Sheamus’ pale skin, it becomes all the fans can think about for the remainder of his time on screen, which may be why crowds so often overlook the Dublin bruiser’s in-ring ability.
Furthermore, many have voiced their concern that the “Great White” nickname is way too close to “The Great White Hope,” which was used during the 20th century to describe any sportsman who seemed to have a chance of defeating a superior African-American athlete.
7. “The Bionic Redneck” – Steve Austin
Steve Austin’s “Stone Cold” nickname is so much a part of his character that it seems strange to say his name without it. Austin has also popularly been referred to as “The Texas Rattlesnake” since his rise to fame during the Attitude Era. However, Stone Cold has also been the recipient of a couple of less than stellar nicknames. Jim Ross, who has been responsible for some of the most iconic calls in the history of professional wrestling – many of them, ironically, revolving around Steve Austin in some way – at one point took to calling Austin “The Bionic Redneck.”
For those who don’t know, Steve Austin was also the name of the lead character in the TV series “The Six-Million Dollar Man,” who wound up becoming a major pop culture figure during the 1970s. In the show, the original Austin would use his superhuman strength and bionic powers to fight crime and return order and justice to the United States of America. Obviously, “The Bionic Redneck” seemed like the most natural nickname in the world for the WWE Hall of Famer.
6. “The Charismatic Enigma” – Jeff Hardy
During his time in WWE’s main event scene, Jeff Hardy played a character similar to that which Dean Ambrose is portraying now. Like Ambrose, Hardy was an underdog who management felt had no place in the title picture. He did not fit the mold of a typical WWE Champion, but he had the support of the fans and the willingness to do whatever it took to make it to the top. He also had a nickname which made zero sense. Dubbed “The Charismatic Enigma” by WWE’s marketing machine, Jeff Hardy began covering his face in paint and wearing t-shirts which proclaimed him so.
Because Hardy was so over at the time of his “Charismatic Enigma” nickname, the fans were willing to look past the fact that it sounded ridiculous. Now, however, criticism of the persona, and the way in which Hardy was managed at the time, is widespread in the Internet Wrestling Community.
5. “Mr. Ass” – Billy Gunn
You ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer’s license plates get mixed-up with the vanity plates of a proctologist and the entirety of New York City begins to mistake him for “The Ass Man?” Apparently Billy Gunn did, and he thought it would be a great idea for a gimmick.
During his time as a New Age Outlaw, Billy Gunn exhibited a fondness for the human rear-end, and took to calling himself “Badd Ass” with two Ds, because he obviously has a fondness of adding extra letters where they’re not necessary.
After the breakup of The New Age Outlaws, Gunn embraced his love of the anus and rectum even further and became known as “Mr. Ass.” Along with this new, awful nickname came a just as awful entrance theme which announced to all those in attendance that Gunn was indeed an “ass man,” – in case there was any doubt.
4. “The Silverback” – Mark Henry
During one of Mark Henry’s many pushes as a monster heel, WWE commentators began to refer to him as “The Silverback.”
Obviously, this was because Henry had earned the nickname by demolishing his opponents and winning many high profile matches with relative ease. His freakish strength, which went beyond superhuman and into inhuman territory, could only be likened to that of a gorilla, so “The Silverback” as a nickname made perfect sense.
However, it failed to occur to WWE that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to compare a large black man to a gorilla. WWE has come under fire over the past decade for their lack of African-American world champions, so the last thing they wanted to do was undo the goodwill earned by Mark Henry’s time in the main event by giving the guy a racist nickname.
3. “Sexual Chocolate” – Mark Henry
Poor Mark Henry. Poor, poor Mark Henry. As much as he tries to get away from the “Sexual Chocolate” nickname and gimmick, it seems to follow him to every arena in America. Towards the end of the 1990s, Mark Henry began to make his love of any part of the female body known in much the same way Billy Gunn made his affinity for the bottom half known.
After becoming infatuated with Chyna, Mark Henry began to refer to himself as “Sexual Chocolate.” Henry was given this nickname because he would win the hearts of women by supplying them with gifts like flowers and boxes of chocolates (this is probably WWE’s current explanation of the name, anyway). Though his relationship with Chyna didn’t work out, Mark Henry quickly found love in the wrinkled, sagging arms of women’s wrestling pioneer May Young. After a whirlwind romance, Young gave birth to the couple’s only child; a severed hand.
2. “The World’s Largest Love Machine” – Viscera
The smooth voice of a Barry White impersonator would pour out of the usually Heat Titan Tron, proclaiming the arrival of “The World’s Largest Love Machine”, Viscera. Seconds later, Nelson Frazier Jr. would come through the curtain, covered from head-to-toe in silk pajamas.
Not long after returning to WWE in the new millennium, Viscera, a former member of The Ministry of Darkness, abandoned his demonic persona in favor of something which would make him a little more popular with the ladies. Dubbing himself “The World’s Largest Love Machine,” Viscera would attempt to win the love of WWE’s female competitors, and entered into a complicated relationship with ring announcer Lillian Garcia.
1. “Booger Red” – The Undertaker
This is The Undertaker’s second appearance on this list and the second cringeworthy nickname coined by the usually on-point Jim Ross.
When The Undertaker returned to WWE at Judgement Day 2000, his gimmick had completely reset. No longer the undead leader of The Ministry of Darkness, he was a badass biker; something a great deal closer to Mark Calaway’s personality outside the ring. For this new gimmick, The Undertaker returned his hair to its natural orange color, which Jim Ross felt was worth frequently mentioning on screen. During the early days of ‘Taker’s “American Badass” gimmick, Ross began to refer to him as “Booger Red,” a nickname which he defends to this day.
“Booger Red” sounds like one of the many names The Phenom would have used in the 80s, when he was still trying to find his voice, but it was in no way suited to him at this point in his career. Vince McMahon felt this way also, and put a stop to the nickname before it had the chance to catch on (not that it ever would have).