The history of professional wrestling has so often been based on the age-old formula of good guys against bad guys. Fans were wowed by battles that would hopefully edge a competitor further up the ranks where championship gold was concerned or would at least settle a personal grudge. Then, there are those performers and superstars who struck a nerve with the audience, who'd send shivers through the crowd, made viewers feel uncomfortable in their own skin at the mere sight of them, and remained in the memory of fans long after they had turned their TV off or left an arena.
Whether it’s hulking, intimidating monsters, brutish forces of nature, eerie master manipulators, or just flat-out oddities, wrestling has seen some thoroughly creepy and sinister sights over the decades. We can all cheer our favorite good guys and jeer our most detested bad guys, but there’s something truly unique and mesmerizing about a talent that can make you stop dead in your tracks as you never quite know how to receive them. We’ve seen superstars freak us out with merely just a few words, while others have shocked and scared us with outrageous actions. Then, there are the ones who just strike at a very primal fear in order to get their point across. So, let’s take a look back through the history of the WWE and give due props to the 15 creepiest superstars to have ever passed through the twisted, tormented corridors of Vince McMahon’s Titan Towers.
15 Bastion Booger
At a time when the World Wrestling Federation was chocked full of forgettable, regrettable, disposable gimmicks, Bastion Booger is a character who sticks out as being particularly creepy. Granted, Booger rarely did anything creepy to any of his opponents (in fact, he barely won any match of any sort of note), but just Bastian Booger being Bastion Booger was creepy enough to warrant inclusion on this list. For those fortunate enough not be around at the time (or those who have done their best to block this gimmick from their memories), Bastion Booger was a character portrayed by Mike Shaw, formerly known as Norman the Lunatic. Shaw was initially brought into the WWF as Friar Ferguson, but a backlash from religious groups (and apparently as a punishment for his weight issues), Shaw was soon repackaged as Bastion Booger – an unclean, stinking, oversized oaf who would wear outfits far too small for him and who would rarely be seen without a chicken leg in hand.
The sight of Bastion Booger coming into the ring (with morsels of food spewing from his mouth), was enough to turn the stomach of any and all fans watching. More shockingly, though, Bastion’s one win of note was a clean victory over Owen Hart just before The Rocket started his feud with Bret Hart. Sadly, Mike Shaw passed away in 2010, but he’ll always be remembered by certain unfortunate fans as the stomach-churning, gluttonous Bastion Booger.
When it comes to flat-out, straight-up intimidating monsters, they don’t come much nastier or imposing than The Man They Call Vader. A former professional football player and a super heavyweight in Japanese wrestling, Vader’s stock in the U.S. rose upon his time in WCW during the early 1990s. Big Van Vader, the hulking former IWGP Heavyweight Champion made an instant mark in WCW, destroying top babyface Sting in some truly memorable, brutal matches. The presentation of Vader during those times has rarely been topped when it comes to showcasing someone as a monster bad guy. With Harley Race at his side, and a creepy, intimidating, smoke-spewing helmet as part of his entrance, Vader had many an opponent and fan dousing their drawers before he’d even stepped between the ropes.
Upon debuting in the then-WWF in 1996, Vader was hyped up as the true monster that he was. Hopes were high, and it looked as if Vader was set to take Vince McMahon’s organization by storm as he ran through its top guys. Unfortunately for Vader fans, running through top WWF guys was something that rarely happened for the mastodon. As soon as he debuted, shoulder problems meant that the former WCW World Champion needed time off. Then the biggest nail in the coffin for Vader’s WWF run was Shawn Michaels refusing to lose the WWF Title to him at SummerSlam ’96. After that, he’d stay with the company for another 2 years, but this was mostly spent jerking the curtain and doing the J.O.B. to up-and-comers such as Mark Henry, Bradshaw, and Edge.
13 Waylon Mercy
While he may now ultimately be viewed as nothing more than a precursor to Bray Wyatt, Dan Spivey’s Waylon Mercy character was one creepy cat during his 1995 run with the World Wrestling Federation. Like Wyatt, Mercy would take great inspiration from Cape Fear’s Max Cady, and his act was a hugely interesting one that was sadly a little too before its time to really connect with audiences. Waylon would be the quintessential southern gentleman, for the most part, shaking the hands of fans and opponents before a bout. Once the ball sounded, though, he’d viciously torment his opponents. Then post-match, again all would be calm as Mercy would fall back into his southern gentleman routine. The Waylon Mercy character only actually had a 4-month lifespan before Spivey had to retire due to injuries getting the better of him, but it’s a testament to both Dan Spivey and the Waylon Mercy character that it is still remembered by so many to this very day.
12 Papa Shango
To any wrestling fans who were around during the early ‘90s, you’ll still get a shudder up your spine at the mere mention of Papa Shango. For some, that shudder may be due to the shocking antics that the Voodoo Man carried out. For others, that shudder may be because this is a wrestling gimmick that was WrestleCrap at its finest. Debuting in the then-WWF in early 1991, Shango and his magical, mystical voodoo powers tormented many a jobber on WWF Superstars. But that wasn’t it for this brutish performer, for Papa Shango would famously tangle with the Ultimate Warrior. One of the most shocking and memorable moments of that time in the WWF was of Shango casting a spell on the Warrior that made the former WWF Champion vomit and convulse.
Unfortunately, the Papa Shango and Ultimate Warrior rivalry would go absolutely nowhere, with a match between the pair never taking place. As such, Shango is best remembered as the man who was late for a run-in during the WrestleMania VIII main event. Charles Wright managed to put the Papa Shango gimmick behind him and later became known as The Godfather.
Not many entries on this list can lay claim to being a vicious headhunter, but Kamala certainly can. While the real-life Jim Harris may be a softly-spoken gentleman who is spoken of in the highest regard by his fans and peers, the Kamala gimmick was one that scarred the mind of many a young wrestling fan. Coming to the ring with loud, pounding tribal music, this hulking figure, complete with tribal paintings on his body, a menacing mask, and a spear in hand, still remains one of the most recognizable performers that the wrestling world has ever seen. The Ugandan Giant and his savage acts of brutality saw him engage in famous battles with huge names like Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and The Undertaker.
Sure, the Kamala gimmick had run its course by the mid-1990s as the wrestling business saw a shift towards a more youthful, realistic approach, but Kamala will forever be remembered as one of the most intimidating, creepy gimmicks in wrestling history.
Of course, Gangrel’s entrance itself will go down as one of the very best in wrestling history, but there’s a whole lot more to the Vampire Warrior than just a cool entrance theme and the way that he rose from below the stage through a ring of fire. When you really think about it in its simplest terms, Gangrel was somebody who basically wanted to swig blood while cracking skulls. He also didn't think anything about corrupting young minds along the way, such as Edge and Christian and even The Hardy Boyz. Vampires so often come across with a certain sense of coolness, and that was definitely the case here, but The Brood’s famed bloodbaths, orchestrated by Gangrel, were downright sinister during the Attitude Era. Sadly Gangrel’s WWE tenure wasn’t quite as immortal and untouchable as the rest of history’s classic vampires. While his entrance will still live on in infamy, fans might be surprised to know that the real story is even creepier than his vampire gimmick. Nowadays, the real-life Dave Heath, aka the man behind Gangrel, is an adult film director.
9 The Wild Samoans
During their peak in the 1980s, The Wild Samoans were some of the scariest and creepiest competitors in the then-WWF. Managed by Captain Lou Albano, the duo would spend their interview time grunting in a language only Albano could understand. As well as regularly eating raw fish and meat during their appearances, Afa and Sika were even insinuated to be cannibals at certain points during their WWF stints. So fearsome was the representation and reputation of The Wild Samoans, both performers were even seen as worthy challengers for the WWF Championship that was being held by Bob Backlund. Neither would manage to take Backlund’s gold, but that didn’t stop them from tormenting the Tag Team Division as they racked together three stints as WWF Tag Team Champions during their time in the WWF. There have been many a scary Samoan since The Wild Samoans made their bow, but for a long time they were still used by many as the standard in pro wrestling history.
8 Bray Wyatt
There’s certainly something to the argument that Bray Wyatt has lost some of his luster in recent years, but there’s no disputing that The Eater of Worlds has been a truly menacing and maniacal presence when the WWE has presented him in the right way. When the former Husky Harris was repackaged as Bray Wyatt, his time in FCW and then NXT had the character and gimmick played up like Max Cady of Cape Fear fame. Serving as a cult leader whose misguided mindset saw him justifying his actions, Bray was someone who had one of the key characteristics that make a great bad guy. There was actually some rationale and reasoning behind what he said.
Eli Cottonwood was the first to fall under Wyatt’s charms, before Luke Harper and Erick Rowan became the more famous Wyatt Family members. Daniel Bryan and Braun Strowman joined the group at later dates as Bray was positioned as a master manipulator and a twisted leader of tortured souls. Unfortunately, for every great Bray Wyatt promo and every delicately delivered message, there’s been too much supernatural chicanery for him to be taken seriously by modern audiences in recent times. Similarly, it’s hard to accept Wyatt as a truly major player when he tends to lose every big match he's in.
7 Mankind/Cactus Jack/Dude Love
Some entries on this list are here for being fear-inducing monsters. Others are here for just having something truly menacing about their mannerisms. Then there’s Mick Foley, who’s largely here for his intensity and intestinal fortitude regardless of what gimmick he was pulling off. What marked Foley out as a truly scary prospect is that you really had no idea what he was going to do next or how far he was going to go. If there was ever a limit, Foley would push way past it. If there was a line, Foley would cross it. From a psychological standpoint, Foley's promos are still the stuff of legend to this day. With an unbridled intensity, Foley was a game-changer when it came to the art of cutting a promo. Not only could he talk you into buying a seat for a show, but he’d also convince you that something really bad was going to happen too.
Apart from his exceptional talking ability, there’s the trademark insanity that is often associated with Mick Foley’s death-defying spots in various matches throughout the years. In the WWE alone, there’s been shocking falls through (and off) Hell in a Cell, thumbtacks, an uncomfortable amount of chair shots, flaming tables, dumpster falls, and pretty much any sort of carnage imaginable.
In terms of throwing themselves into a gimmick that could potentially bomb, Dustin Runnels went full throttle with the Goldust gimmick when he was handed it back in 1995. The creepy, bizarre, and sexual nature of this new character shook up fans who were watching the World Wrestling Federation. At that time, the world was a very different place, and the sexually suggestive and often homosexual tone of the character was shocking to most. This was a time where seeing such behavior wasn’t as commonplace as it is now, and many of Goldust’s opponents would run him down with slurs and terms that simply wouldn’t fly these days. Yet, when you peeled back the suggestive, shock factor of Goldust, there was something still eerie and ominous about the character. As a villain in his early days, Goldust would play all sorts of mind games with his foes, toying with them in a sick manner that was reminiscent of a cat playing with a doomed mouse.
In terms of wrestling gimmicks, Dustin Runnels as Goldust is one of the most successful of all-time, with the character still going strong in the WWE to this very day. Considering that he was often placed in the heavy shadow of his legendary father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Dustin used Goldust to brilliantly step out on his own and become a true star in the wrestling world.
5 The Boogeyman
While The Boogeyman was presented as an eerie form of comic relief, the gimmick of eating wriggling worms seems to be taking it a bit too far. In all fairness to Marty Wright (the man behind the character), his journey to becoming a WWE superstar was spectacular in how quickly it happened. At the age of 40, Wright attended a Tough Enough tryout in late 2004 but was rejected due to his age. Following a brief stint in OVW in June 2005, his WWE main roster debut was then planned for July 2005, which was only 9 months after he turned up to Tough Enough with no experience whatsoever.
With a murky backstory, a penchant for smashing an oversized clock on his forehead, and his hunger to eat worms, The Boogeyman quickly became one of the most unique and strange characters to ever appear in the WWE. Bizarrely, despite his scary nature and outright oddness, jelly versions of The Boogeyman’s worms were huge sellers at one point in time for WWEShop.com.
4 Jake “The Snake” Roberts
While it isn't exactly a gimmick, there’s no doubt that Jake Roberts has a solidified place as one of the most intimidating and unnerving superstars in all of professional wrestling history. Roberts was often seen with a snake draped over his shoulders but wasn't ever seen as a man with glamor, glitz, or an over-the-top demeanor. Unlike other gimmicky wrestlers, Roberts stood without any face paint or explosive pyrotechnics. However, he was still thought of as one of the most heartless, cold, and calculating wrestlers in the business. In a wrestling landscape that was dominated by superstars who sounded more like frenzied children, Robert’s time with a microphone was a refreshing change (a refreshing, eerie change, but a refreshing change nonetheless).
Jake Roberts, even though he was a bad guy, for the most part, made you shut up and listen to him. There was no pomp and circumstance, no shouting, no ranting, and no raving. Roberts talked at a volume that made you stop what you were doing and strain to hear what cold, remorseless words would come out of his mouth. Even worse, The Snake had you believing everything that he said, with his delivery being enough to give provoke nightmares. From striking Miss Elizabeth (something which still shocks to this day), to having his snake actually bite Randy Savage on live TV, to his vicious attacks on Ricky Steamboat, to his tormenting of the Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts is one of the most sinister superstars to ever pull on a pair of tights.
In terms of baby brothers, they don’t get more fearsome and fear-inducing than The Undertaker’s younger sibling, Kane. From his first debut moment, this was someone audiences knew was one creepy, twisted, and heartless soul. With a penchant for setting things on fire (and even a penchant for attacking people’s testicles!), the Big Red Machine was a force to be reckoned with from the instant he tore the Hell in a Cell door off its hinges at Badd Blood ’97 and manhandled his legendary brother. It’s a credit to Glenn Jacobs/Kane that he’s managed to stand out as such a sinister character of his own when the nefarious shadow of his older brother could’ve easily seen him lost in the shuffle. For his first few years in the then-WWF, the Devil’s Favourite Demon was an untouchable monster. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made to say that he should’ve been given a lengthy WWF Title run during this time. Of course, the years have not always been kind to Kane, but when Kane was presented as a truly destructive force, few have been more impressive than the Big Red Machine.
2 Doink The Clown
Quite simply put, clowns scare the pants off an extraordinary number of people. In fact, there’s even a term for it: coulrophobia. Even before the recent creepy clown sightings across the globe, Bozo, Krusty or whatever your local rent-a-clown was called, would strike fear into the heart of many. And then, in the scheme of professional wrestling, there was Doink. Debuting in the then-WWF as ringside comedy relief in 1992, the following year would see Doink the Clown become an active in-ring performer, soon becoming a villainous heel who would tangle with the likes of Crush, Randy Savage, and Bret Hart. Most of his evil acts were relatively tame like throwing water, using tripwire, or pulling the old fake limb gag.
In fairness, so much of the eerie nature of Doink has to be credited to the original man behind the paint, Matt Borne. With the way he played Doink, Borne brought a truly maniacal, sinister edge to the role. Over the years, Doink would be played by several performers, such as Steve Lombari, Steve Keirn, and Ray Apollo. The character turned up in ECW, Smokey Mountain Wrestling, and the independent circuit. Wherever he went, though, there was always something truly disturbing about this face-painted grappler.
1 The Undertaker
As one of the greatest performers in the history of the business, The Phenom has been there, done that, and dug the grave. In a WWE career spanning 25 years, there’s been the Zombie-like Undertaker, Lord of Darkness Undertaker, American Badass Undertaker, Big Evil Undertaker, the ‘classic’ Undertaker. Throughout his entire WWE run, ‘Taker has been one of the creepiest, sinister, and purest of evil superstars to have ever competed in Vince McMahon’s organization. From having the Hell in a Cell structure as his personal playhouse to tormenting opponents with the prospect of an ominous Casket Match to going as far as Buried Alive Matches, this multiple time WWE World Champion has made a legacy for himself that is unmatched in the professional wrestling history books. The Undertaker is the creepiest grappler that World Wrestling Entertainment has ever seen. Yet, regardless of how eerie his character was, The Undertaker has become absolutely legendary. His 25-year WWE career has been made up of mostly cheers by the audience, despite his heinous actions.
Sources: WWE, Wrestling Inc., Wrestler Deaths
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