As we look towards WrestleMania coming this Sunday, it must be noted that throughout wrestling sports entertainment, there have been some very interesting character gimmicks over the years. Of course, despite all of the variations, the Undertaker is quite arguably has been the best gimmick that has lasted this long. The very idea that a quasi-dead man is wrestling has created its own legend. There have been a few other classics that have been very memorable including the Legion of Doom, the Ultimate Warrior, The Million Dollar Man, Mankind and the Iron Sheik just to name a few. There have even been a few borderline ones including Val Vanus, The Godfather, and the Repo Man. Then there have been some very bad ones including Oz, Bastion Booger, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, and the Yeti. For some reason, many of these gimmicks make it past whoever is in charge of quality control, into the ring and broadcast for the world to see and then, at some point, they disappear, thankfully to never be seen again.
Here, Aitch and Brett pick three bag gimmicks that comes to mind.
Giant Gonzales existed for nothing more than to be a stepping stone for the Undertaker. I remember when he first came in and eliminated the Undertaker from the Royal Rumble in 1993. This was one of those early times when, in my opinion, the WWF (as it was known then) was really trying to find a replacement for all of the big men they had lost in prior years including Big John Studd and Andre the Giant. Not to mention find a credible opponent in stature for the Undertaker. It really didn’t help that Gonzales couldn’t wrestle but the whole hairy muscle suit getup was just atrocious. So it’s no wonder that in less than 10 months he was gone from the WWF.
William Regal – A Man’s Man
If there ever was a gimmick that confused the hell out of me, it was this one. The WWE tried to take Regal who had always been hated (and many of us loved to hate on him) because of his blueblood gimmick and turn him into a mountain man. Really? The promos that were cut made it hard to believe that this was the same elegant villain that WCW built up for 5 years prior to this gimmick: cutting down trees, shaving with a mirror, and flannel. (Sidenote: Regal once stated that although he was having drug problems at the time, that this gimmick contributed to it as well. That’s just how bad he realized it was.) This lasted all of one year before Regal was back in the WCW and back to looking down his blue-blooded persona’s nose again.
Akeem the African Dream
There have been many times over the years where wrestling and sports entertainment have been tone deaf with its fans. There have been many things that were borderline offensive if not downright so and this gimmick to me, is pretty much the pinnacle. George Gray, better known as the One Man Gang, was repackaged into this nightmare of a character. Akeem, was pretty much blackface without the black paint on his face. He spoke in ‘jive’, the exaggerated movements and the intro? Nearly every time a match involving him came on, I turned the channel. I am still befuddled as to how this gimmick managed to last 2 years.
This is the end all be all in bad gimmicks, and is routinely lauded today in wrestling circles as one of the biggest and most hilarious blunders ever put in a wrestling show. Back in 1993, The team of Sting, Dustin Rhodes, and The British Bulldog needed a fourth partner for their upcoming War Games match at WCW’s Fall Brawl. On the talk show “Flair for the Gold”, hosted by The Nature Boy (WOOOO) Ric Flair, we got one of my favorite moments in wrestling history, the debut of Shockmaster. After Sting builds him up, the Shockmaster comes barreling through the set, tripping over a piece of wood framing in the wall in the process, causing his glittery Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet to fall off. On top of that, he was voiced over by a distorted Ole Anderson (after a few awkward silent moments), which sounded like the voice at the end of Children of the Corn. Check this out in the video above, it’s a must watch. WCW would go on to reevaluate this design (as it got no fan reaction, I know big shocker..HAH), and he wrestled a pretty rough match.
While The Shockmaster was great for a laugh, Oklahoma was a roll your eyes and shake your head moment. Back to WCW, but now in the late 1990s, we see the arrival of disgruntled former head WWE writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. The two cooked up a character named Oklahoma, whom was more or less just a parody of Jim Ross from WWE, played by Ed Ferrara. What makes this so despicable is that they went so far as to make fun of Ross’ Bells Palsy. There’s really no excuse for it, and it really sours anything those two did in WCW (not much there anyway). Jim Ross now has a Podcast called the Ross Report, where he recently interviewed Ed Ferrara, and questioned him on it. Ferrara, naturally, was very apologetic, and Jim Ross, being the All Around amazing human he is, is able to look beyond it. Sadly, years later, JR would be mocked in WWE by Chairman Vince McMahon; just as distastefully.
Isaac Yankem DDS
Back to the funny ones, Yankem was introduced in the early 1990’s WWE as Jerry “The King” Lawler’s dentist, and some of the most off the wall interviews and promos ensued. While there is no doubt that Yankem was fairly horrifying, it’s just an abysmal gimmick, giving almost no crowd reaction for his active time. On top of that, his debut match was decided by Count Out… He was counted out in his debut… Doomed from the start! Don’t be too upset, though, Yankem would go on to be one of my favorite characters, Kane; having a run of success over a decade long.