The 1990s were known for a number of things when it came to wrestling. Promotions pushed the envelope with risqué programming and PG 13 material. There was a lot of good that came from the Attitude Era of WWE, the nWo faction in WCW, and ECW's rise to prominence. But for all that was good during the decade, there were a number of fairly forgettable things as well. During the earlier part of the decade the WWE wasn't as popular as it had been in the 80s, and with change often come risks. The risks WCW and WWE took were often a mixed bag but the gimmicks were just as bad then.
Much like Forrest Gump said, it was "like a box of chocolates." This box of wrestling chocolates often left fans wondering if the filling had gone bad and moldy. So what do you do when you are unsure as to what resonates with your audience or not? Throw lots of ideas out there and see which ones stick! For as many successful moves that were done toward the end of the era, there were a number of flops early on. We are talking everything from a character that was a plumber to another one that was dressed as a mummy. It felt as though bad wrestling factions were tied to over-the-top gimmicks or characters that were as painful to watch as they are to remember! They should be given credit for trying, but sometimes it's the delivery that makes the idea look worse than it may have been. Here are the 10 worst wrestling gimmicks of the 1990s:
10 G.I. Bro
This former five-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion is known for many things. He's a former World Tag Team Champion, United States Champion and WWE Hall of Famer. Unfortunately for Booker T, he is also known for having one of the worst gimmicks of the 1990s. Early in Booker T's career he was given this gimmick in Ivan Putski's Western Wrestling Alliance Live, a character that was a similar to Sgt. Slaughter, under the name G.I. Bro. What was worse, just before the turn of the century, T reprised his G.I. Bro character as part of the Misfits in Action stable.
9 Loch Ness
You've heard the tales of the sea creature that lives in Scotland, correct? As legend had it, WCW thought it would make sense to have 6 foot, 11 inch, 685 lb Martin Ruane present the creature…in human form. While he went by the name Giant Haystacks early in his career, it was during his time in World Championship Wrestling where he went under the name Loch Ness, billed as being from the Scottish Highlands. Much like Ed Leslie he was part of the Dungeon of Doom, introduced as part of the faction in 1996. The idea of the gimmick was what made it so awful.
8 Bastion Booger
As a character who dressed in such a way that Adrian Adonis would be proud, the late Michael Shaw performed as none other than Bastion Booger, after the WWE dropped his Friar Ferguson character. The character resembled Adonis in that he appeared in an unflattering singlet with a gluttonous look about him. Booger appeared unkempt and seemed to have a hunchback. While the character didn't have very much success, he was part of an angle where he fell in love with Luna Vachon. He lost his short-lived feud with Bam Bam Bigelow over the affections of Luna, and nothing much was done with the character after that.
7 Repo Man
Have you ever had your car repossessed? (knock on wood) I haven't, but I doubt that if it ever happened, the person repossessing my car would be dressed like this guy. The Repo Man was played by Barry Darsow, who was known previously in the WWE as Smash, one half (or even one-third) of the team Demolition. That character stood out because of the frightening nature of his persona. The problem with the Repo Man was he appeared to be dressed more like the Hamburglar, and would often sneak around and just take things.
6 Thurman 'Sparky' Plugg
Hardcore Holly was one of the tougher characters the WWE developed during the attitude era. But prior to being hardcore, he was presented as a two sport athlete. During a time where a number of athletes were earning notoriety competing in both baseball and football, Holly was highlighted for his racing career. We aren't exactly sure why racing would have been a sport that fans would have gravitated to, and indeed they didn't. From his cliché checkered flag running down the side of his tights, Thurman "Sparky" Plugg did nothing for the career of Bob Holly.
5 Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese
We can appreciate a hard days work for hard-earned pay, so in the early 1990s, the WWE thought it would be meaningful if they created a character that was doing just a regular job. The belief that people would gravitate to the character didn't really work out. Duke The Dumpster Droese did exactly what he said he would do...take out the trash. However, is watching a 6-foot garbage man walk to the ring with attire that suggests he smells something you'd pay to watch? Vince McMahon believed that people would, so he brought Droese into the company!
4 Nailz/The Prisoner/The Convict
If the name Kevin Wacholz doesn't ring a bell, it's understandable. What may, however, ring a bell was the gimmick Wacholz had in the early part of the decade. He debuted in the WWE as Nailz, an ex-convict who in a series of promos declared he was bent on exacting revenge against the Big Bossman. He came to the ring dressed in a one-piece orange prison jumpsuit. His primary feud was with the Bossman, but he did tease a feud with The Undertaker.
3 Abe 'Knuckeball' Schwartz
The man behind the make up was a long-time WWE enhancement talent Steve Lombardi. Lombardi went by a number of names, with The Brooklyn Brawler being the most notable. However, in the early 90s Lombardi was a character tied to professional baseball, and went by the name Abe Knuckleball Schwartz. His face was painted like a baseball and he wore a baseball jersey with the number 00 on his back. At the time Major League Baseball was in the midst of a players strike so the character made sense. Was it really necessary, and did it mean he was going to get a push out of it? It wasn't likely.
2 The Goon
During the 1990s it seemed as though the WWE had a fascination with tying their characters to other sports. If it wasn't "Knuckleball" Schwartz, it was "Sparky" Plugg. There was a time, however, where one character was named according to how he played his particular sport. The Goon was a character that appeared to be inspired by the Paul Newman film Slapshot, but did nothing to make fans believe he had any actual hockey skill. He was dressed just like a hockey player, with his boots even resembling skates without blades.
1 The Man With No Name/The Zodiac
Ed Leslie was a fairly popular wrestler during the 1980s. During wrestling's boom in the 80s, he was known as Brutus The Barber Beefcake. However, Leslie has also gone by a number of names throughout his wrestling career, changing them frequently after he left the WWE. While he was in WCW, Leslie went under the name The Booty Man and also The Disciple. We knew who he was, but he continued to reappear with a new names and different characters.
There was one time, however, when he was aligned with Kevin Sullivan, and during this time he became someone who had lost his memory and was called The Man With No Name, one third of the Three Faces of Fear. After that, he was a character that would repeatedly shout "yes" and "no" and wore black and white face paint. Long before Daniel Bryan used the words yes and no as a catchphrase, Leslie did the same thing, but with little to no effect. It could be easy to say that Leslie regularly reinvented himself, but the truth is that none of his characters did anything memorable in any of the roles.
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