In the insane world of professional wrestling, “gimmicks” are a key factor to achieving mega success. While legends such as Ric Flair and Bret “The Hitman” Hart remain etched in the beer soaked brains of fans for years to come, countless others are simply forgotten. For every genuine superstar, there are innumerable Doink the Clown’s bouncing around the ring and making you pray no one enters the room while you are watching.
Awful gimmicks are evidently just a part of the wrestling business. Some might even say they are a time honored tradition. We here at WeirdWorm have put together a list of legendary wrestling superstars who miraculously defied the odds and made it big despite some shameful early incarnations. What follows are five glaring examples of horrific gimmicks that could have easily killed the careers of some otherwise talented performers.
A mainstay in the WWE, Triple H came into his own with the co-creation of the rebellious group, DX, which he formed with Shawn Michaels. For all of those non-wrestling fans reading this who may recall kids in the late 90’s yelling “SUCK IT!” while obnoxiously crisscrossing their arms around their crotches - you can thank Triple H for that fine addition to pop culture.
From DX and beyond, Triple H’s tough-guy persona and career has evolved and skyrocketed. He has won numerous world championships, appeared on TV and radio shows, overcome near career-ending injuries and even married Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE owner Vince McMahon.
When he first entered the WWE, Triple H was known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a.k.a. the “Connecticut Blue Blood”. Clearly the company was attempting to craft a snobby “silver-spoon” type heel which in theory should have worked. After all, who doesn’t hate the rich by default? The problem was that Hunter’s prim and proper persona contrasted so much with the other nasty brawlers in the federation that he mostly came off as a prissy weakling.
The timid gimmick basically evolved from his previous WCW role as a snooty British grappler, Jean-Paul Lévesque. WCW (in their infinite wisdom) went the extra mile though by requesting that “Jean-Paul” speak with a stereotypical French accent. Of course it was completely irrelevant to management that he couldn’t actually speak a word of French. The results were hilariously cheesy even by wrestling standards.
Hulk Hogan - the iconic symbol of wrestling, the star of VH1’s reality show “Hogan Knows Best” and the guy who tossed Stallone from the ring much like a monkey flinging its feces into a crowd of idiots. One way or the other you’ve heard of him. He’s a former WCW champion, WWE champion, hall of famer and despite being 103 years old he is still actively performing on TNA Wrestling. Seriously, Hulkamania lives on BROTHER!
Arguably the most popular wrestler of all time (and literally the worst actor of all time), Hogan made his debut in the sport under a cliché mask and called himself “The Super Destroyer". The cloaked gimmick was basically a rip-off in name and appearance of Don Jardine, a.k.a. “The Spoiler”. The same generic gimmick went on to be passed around like a bong by other wrestlers.
Surprisingly Hulk Hogan’s time under a mask wasn’t limited to just his first appearance. In 2003, the hideously patriotic and very familiar “Mr. America” debuted and fooled exactly not one person as to the true identity of the man behind the mask. He even went as far as to use his own “Real American” theme song as entrance music.
Kevin Nash, a.k.a. “Diesel”, blasted onto the scene in the WWE in 1993 and instantly became popular with fans. However, it was when he defeated Bob Backlund for the Championship in an 8 second squash match that fans truly took notice. Yes - EIGHT seconds. For the sake of comparison: it would take at least 8 seconds for your brain to realize you’ve accidently turned on “Desperate Housewives” before quickly changing the channel.
His later stint in WCW was arguably even more successful. He helped found the mega-popular group the “nWo” which launched WCW into the spotlight and gave the competition a run for its money. One significant thing to note is Kevin was never even one of the most gifted wrestlers around.
Prior to his WWE debut, Kevin first appeared in WCW under two notably atrocious gimmicks. His first persona was Steel – an orange mohawk sporting freak and one half of the tag team known as the "Master Blasters". We believe he was also generic thug #2 in many early Nintendo games.
Determined to sink even lower in the gimmick department, someone (likely inebriated at the time) actually came up with “Oz”.
The documented existence of Oz is the reason many wrestling fans deny watching wrestling. The disastrous gimmick in question required Nash to wear silver-hair, a matching beard and blatantly rip off the famous children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” How far did WCW take this abomination?
Oz, was managed by “Merlin the Wizard”.