49) Salvatore Sincere
50) The Dicks
WWE brought developmental talents Tank Toland and Chad Wicks to SmackDown in late-2005 and re-named them James and Chad Dick, two Chippendale-like grapplers slathered in body oil. It proved to be a real dick move by WWE, as the team never caught on.
Journeyman grappler Tom Brandi joined the WWF in 1996 and was cast as Salvatore Sincere, an Italian wearing a pink-and-white jacket (and matching fedora) who claimed to love everyone. Marc Mero eventually exposed him as Brandi and Sal was sincerely finished.
Miffed that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had defected to WCW, the WWF (using a newly heel-turned Jim Ross) introduced their own versions of Razor and Diesel, as though anyone could stunt-double those characters. Soon the gimmicks were outsiders - as in, outside of the WWF.
In October 2008, SmackDown began airing vignettes of Sinn Bodhi as Kizarny, a tattooed sideshow freak of a grappler who spoke carny (as in "thizzis gizzimick sizzucks"). Thankfully, WWE didn't honor the carny code and he was fizzired within five months.
47) Fake Razor Ramon and Fake Diesel
For weeks on Monday Night Raw, The Honky Tonk Man teased having a new protege, and out of anyone he could sign on the active roster, he chose... former Smokin Gunns member Billy Gunn, wearing a rhinestone-studded shirt and dancing like Elvis? We got all shook up for nothing.
SmackDown hired a trio of top luchadors in mid-2005, but instead of letting Super Crazy, Psychosis and Juventud Guerrera, you know, just wrestle, they were sensitively portrayed as immigrant landscapers driving "Juan Deere" tractors to the ring. Not Mexicool at all.
To celebrate 25 years of women's wrestling, WWE had a 25-woman battle royale at WrestleMania 25. Instead of any of their current or former Divas winning the title of "Miss WrestleMania", the honor was given to Santina, the "twin brother" of Santino Marella.
The WWF hired "Hacksaw" Butch Reed in late-1986 so that they could feature an African-American who could claim to be all natural - including his bleach blond hair. What hilarity! Naturally, the relationship lasted just over a year before Butch left for the NWA.
44) The Mexicools
45) Santina Marella
46) "The Natural" Butch Reed
Kenny! Johnny! Mitch! Nicky! Mikey! Whomever thought that a faction of male cheerleaders decked out in green and while and waving pom-poms would get over in the year 2006, they were sadly mistaken. Even if the spirit was willing... the idea was weak.
After Bret Hart stuck Jerry Lawler's own foot in his mouth in 1995, The King brought in his personal dentist to avenge The Hitman. While the performer would later go on to become Kane, watching the man with the Three Stooges-esque moniker in the ring was like pulling teeth.
Originally a sidekick for the short-lived Bobby Heenan Show, the nerdy Jamison became a manager for The Bushwhackers, marching his mismatched pants and snotty kleenexes out for all to see. This was one nerd who was in serious need of a wedgie.
Bob Howard debuted in 1994 as a NASCAR driver named Thurman "Sparky" Plugg, promising to run laps around his competition. Although he would experience marginal success as a jobber to the stars, he never really sparked the fans' imagination... until later becoming Bob Holly.
42) The Spirit Squad
41) Isaac Yankem, dds
39) Thurman "Sparky" Plugg
During the Brand Extension in 2002, someone took D-Von Dudley's "Oh my brother, testify!" catchphrase too literally, and he suddenly became an evil preacher. Because who could be offended by making fun of organized religion? Thankfully he soon saw the error of his ways and prayed for a return to The Dudley Boyz.
When the WWF signed WCW's Lord Steven Regal to a contract in 1998, they decided to strip him of the British regalia, entrance and pomp that made him a star, and instead reinvented him as a manly lumberjack capable of chopping down trees. Man, this character was anything but regal.
At the height of the Attitude Era, the WWF decided it needed a drug dealer character, so they signed Vic Grimes to the role in 1999. He formed a brief alliance with Droz and Prince Albert and tried to push drugs on Hawk, but thankfully he wasn't key to the ratings.
In 2001, WWE paired Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo on SmackDown and suggested that they were lovers. But because we're not in the dark ages anymore, WWE was able to handle it with dignity and respect and.... ahh, who are we kidding? The characters were anything but fab.
38) Reverend D-Von
37) "Real Man's Man" Steven Regal
35) Billy & Chuck
How do you take an awesomely evil character like Doink The Clown and ruin it? In 1994, they had Santa Claus bring Doink his own mini-me (isn't that the stork's job?) to follow him around, dance with children, etc. I wish I weren't clowning around, either.
In 1995, the WWF transformed Louie Spiccoli into Rad Radford, which sounds like a name straight out of the Hanna Barbera Corporation (on The Flintstones, he'd be Rad Radstone). Because he wore flannel and had messy hair, he was automatically into grunge. So not rad.
Even though his debut was in 1991, Nick Busick's WWF debut was a Depression-era bully, complete with derby hat, turtleneck sweater and sweet handlebar moustache. Despite attracting the managerial services of Harvey Whippleman, Busick was gone by year end. Bully for him.
34) Dink The Clown
33) Rad Radford
32) Paul Burchill
31) Big Bully Busick
After not making enough of a splash as wrestling monk Friar Ferguson, Mike Shaw returned in 1993 as Bastion Booger, a hunchbacked super heavyweight slob with excess body hair and stained grey trunks. Ironically, boogers may have improved his overall look.
After trying him out as Impostor Kane (don't worry; we're getting there), WWE introduced Drew Hankinson as Festus in 2007, a mentally-challenged hillbilly who would remain calm under he heard a bell ring. Festus festered for two years before becoming Luke Gallows.
30) Jillian Hall
29) Xanta Claus
28) Bastion Booger
Despite being born in Puerto Rico, Juan "TNT" Rivera debuted in 1993 as Kwang, a mysterious masked Asian (didn't matter where in Asia, because the entire population looks like Puerto Rico) who would employ stereotypical martial arts moves before spewing green mist. Those who watched him wrestle spewed chunks.
Southeastern wrestler Tony Anthony joined the WWF in 1996 and went from being a Dirty White Boy to a dirty plumber, complete with butt-crack, stained wifebeater and a plunger he called Betsy. Thankfully, the Toilet Lid Hopper gimmick was quickly flushed down the toilet.
When Ricky Steamboat returned to the WWF in 1991, he wasn't acknowledged by his previous ring name, under which he was a top star. Instead he went by his nickname of The Dragon, dressing as such and breathing fire before every match. Later that year, Steamboat quit and returned to his dragon's lair.
In 1994, the man who once wrestled as Garbage Man debuted in vignettes, threatening to take out the trash in the WWF. Sure enough, his entrance music included the sound of a garbage truck backing up and he wore traditional trash man garb. He lasted less than two years in the WWF before being tossed in the trash.
Originally created as a platform to introduce Konnan to WWF audiences, Paul Diamond took over the role of Max Moon in 1992, a being from another planet who shot sparks out of his wristbands and wore a jet pack to the ring. The gimmick was out of this world - but not necessarily in a good way.
In 1998, the WWF had the services of Jim Cornette but didn't have his legendary tag team of Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane (or Eaton and Dennis Condrey). No problem - midcarders Bob Holly and Billy Gunn were told to fill the Express roles instead, and were quickly placed on the express to nowhere.
During a 1988 vignette, One Man Gang was revealed to have African roots, and thus transformed himself from a mohawked Chicago super heavyweight to a super heavyweight stereotype, wearing a yellow dashiki, dancing in the ring and talking in mock ebonics. This was one dream we wish we could have woken up from.
Shane Douglas was one of wrestling's hottest heels when he joined the WWF in 1995. Instead of adapting his groundbreaking Franchise character, Douglas used the fact that he used to be a schoolteacher and would scrape his fingers across the chalkboard to get everyone's attention. This character got a failing grade.
A wrestling viking may have been a cool concept if you, say, had your own time machine and wanted to bring back a character from the past to fight your battles. But instead, the WWF brought in AWA veteran John Nord in 1991 in full Viking regalia (including a sword) and the whole thing was more bizarre than berserk.
The WWF hired Mondo Kleen, a New York-based independent wrestler with a killer look, in 1992 to portray Damien Demento, a schizophrenic who would talk to himself in the ring and sometimes have arguments with his other personalities. The whole character was demented.
Before he played Festus (see # 27), Drew Hankinson was... well, he wasn't quite Kane's alter ego, nor was his character someone dressing up as Kane. He started off as a figment of Kane's imagination, giving him messages in his mind, before surfacing as an actual wrestler and fanning the flames of wrestling critics.
The son of a WWWF Champion, Shawn Stasiak debuted in 1999 as Meat, wearing Calvin Klein underwear-style trunks and being the sex slave of Terri Runnels, Ryan Shamrock and Jacqueline. As a result of his prematch activities, Meat would show up too exhausted to compete proving the character was more sizzle than steak.
In 2003, Rosey had finished his role as one third of Three Minute Warning and was more or less rudderless. Superhero The Hurricane took him on his apprentice or Super Hero In Training, or S.H.I.T. for short. Corny acronym aside, the character turned out to be a real piece of Super Hero In Training.
Think of every awful Japanese stereotype you can come up with.... and perhaps a few you couldn't.... and that summarizes Kaientai, the heel stable that invaded the WWF in 1998 and gave us a devious manager, broken English, dubbed-over voices and a sword to castrate Val Venis - wait, what??? Evil? IN-DEED!
Erik Watts and Chad Fortune arrived in the WWF in 1995 (not 2000) as wrestlers from the future.... yes, seriously. Their clothing and hair were something straight out of Back To The Future Part II, but where they were going they didn't need roads.... they did need someone to give them better characters, though.
WWF signed Ron Simmons in 1996 after he was wrestling's first African-American World Champion, in addition to being a legendary All-American football player. So how did it make sense that they debuted him as a Roman gladiator wearing a Marvin The Martian-style? DAMN!
In 1997, Road Warriors Hawk and Animal returned to the WWF and eventually become LOD 2000 (but again, not in the year 2000). The WWF decided to play off of Hawk's real-life addiction issues, having him act drunk and stoned during matches and even attempting suicide on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
In 2005, Chavo Guerrero Jr. renounced his Latino heritage under the new name Kerwin White, a wasp-y country club type with bleached-blond hair who came to the ring to Sinatra music and in a golf cart. His catchphrase was "If it's not White, it's not right," which makes us want to white-wash the whole memory away.
Terry Taylor's 1988 run in the WWF had him as The Red Rooster, wearing a red robe and caving to manager Bobby Heenan's every whim. Soon he became a babyface and becoming strutting like a rooster with a red spike in his hair to boot, making him seem less cocky and more like a cock.
Much like Akeem (see # 20), Tony Atlas discovered his African roots in 1990 - although Atlas may have had a better claim to them than One Man Gang. Saba Simba, his traditional African name, dressed up in tribal clothing, including an African headpiece and bare feet. This wasn't a Simba we'd say Hakuna Matana to.
One of the most infamous characters in WWF history, Mike Halac debuted as Mantaur in 1995 wearing a minotaur-like headdress and charging his opponents in the ring. Later, he dropped the headdress in favor of war paint and brown trunks, but the whole character seemed like a bunch of bull to us.
Slick entered the WWF in 1986 and played into practically every negative African-American stereotype, such as dancing, a penchant for lying, pimp-like clothing and... well, this entire video. While he was a manager off and on until 1991, phasing his character out was perhaps the only slick move WWF really made.
When The Headbangers broke up in 1997, Mosh became Beaver Cleavage, a sitcom star from the 1950's who became increasingly infatuated with his mother, bringing incest into the WWF for the first time. Eventually, we had to leave it to Beaver to "break character" and drop the gimmick on Monday Night Raw.
Adonis morphed from being a street-tough biker to Adorable Adrian in 1985, reinforcing every homophobic stereotype out there at the time. Adonis began coming to the ring in lace, makeup and dresses and hosted a show called "The Flower Shop" while talking in a list. Essentially the opposite of adorable.
25) T. L. Hopper
23) Duke "the dumpster" Droese
24) The Dragon
21) The New Midnight Express
22) Max Moon
19) Dean Douglas
20) Akeem the African Dream
17) Damien Demento
18) The Berzerker
15) Impostor Kane
14) Super Hero In Training Rosey
11) Faarooq Asad
12) Tekno Team 2000
9) Kerwin White
10) Drunk LOD Hawk
7) Saba Simba
8) The Red Rooster
4) Beaver Cleavage
3) Adorable Adrian Adonis
In 2004, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff had a "special" nephew named Eugene, who managed to channel the very worst caricatures of people with mental illness, such as not knowing his own strength, being an idiot savant and chewing on his fingers. What's worse, the name was (allegedly) taken from a fan named Eugene who used to get autographs after wrestling shows. Nothing special about this at all.
Hassan's character, which debuted on Raw in late-2004 was actually intriguing - he was an Arab-American tired of getting shunned by people's prejudices in the wake of 9/11. However, he quickly became a character who prayed to Allah, screamed in Farsi and had his followers decimate The Undertaker in an attack with terrorist undertones. Ironically, it was the latter attack that caused WWE to be criticized for the portrayal of a character who had clearly bombed.
1) Muhammad Hassan
Why, yes, I am aware that there is a website called WrestleCrap. But this isn't the same thing; not exactly...
For this week's Top 50 list, Canadian Bulldog's World is looking at WWE/F characters where, if the company's owners looked back and were able to change the gimmick somewhat due to political correctness, controversy the character generated not being worth it or general silliness overall, they might have just put the kibosh on it.
This is not to suggest that WWE should or would kill every controversial gimmick it's ever done. Some of the over-the-top ones Vince McMahon has presented over the years (DX, Goldust, Val Venis, Doink The Clown, The Hurricane, Rusev) worked because everything fell into place nicely. But others, such as those on this list, may not have been worth pursuing.
A couple of housekeeping notes: because the forces of political correctness have changed so much over the years, I'm limiting this list to characters that came along during my time as a wrestling fan (read: the 1980's and beyond). It's no use criticizing a character for being regrettable when the gimmick was far more acceptable in a different era. Even with many of these presented, the bar has been raised dramatically since they debuted. And I'd like to be clear that this list is by no way a condemnation of the wrestlers who portrayed the gimmick. but rather WWE for presenting them as such.
Ready? Here we go!
Any names missing or misplaced? Leave your feedback in the Comments section below...
In 2006, Burchill was on SmackDown as a promising British wrestler who had just split from teaming with William Regal. SmackDown's network executive Palmer Cannon told Burchill he had pirate ancestry and had to dress up like Jack Sparrow. Thar (this gimmick) blows.
In 2005, SmackDown tag team MNM hired Hall as their "fixer", complete with a comical cookie-sized, multicolored mole on one cheek that became her gimmick. The Boogeyman finally chewed it off, because that's how you can remove dangerous growths.
The Million Dollar Man delivered bad tidings to WWF fans before Christmas 1995, unleashing Jon "Balls Mahoney" Rechner as Santa's Claus evil twin brother from the South Pole and terrorizing the likes of Savio Vega. Hopefully he got a lump of coal in his stocking.