Pro Wrestling

13 Great Gimmicks Wasted On The Wrong Wrestlers Source:

The history of pro wrestling is littered with incredible characters, some great, some utterly forgettable. Over the years, there have been some surprisingly creative gimmicks that seemed, on paper, that they should have been destined for greatness, but due to the shortcomings of the wrestler underneath, never managed to pan out for a variety of reasons. We’ve scoured the archives to bring you a list of wrestling characters that probably should have been some of the most memorable performers ever to grace the squared circle, but were instead relegated to the scrap heap.

13. Papa Shango

In what would become an ongoing theme over the years in WWE, Papa Shango, the evil Voodoo man, was brought in with expectations that he could be a foil for The Undertaker, and a main event talent in his own right. In an indication of the original plans WWE envisioned for Shango, he even made an appearance at WrestleMania VIII, interfering in the main event to assist Sid against Hulk Hogan, preparing the way for a feud with the returning Ultimate Warrior. Unfortunately, the man behind the painted skull, Charles Wright, was a mediocre wrestler at best, and while he did have a unique charisma, none of it came across in the persona of the mysterious witch doctor. Shango hung around for a while, but his lack of in-ring ability saw him plummet down the card quickly, and he eventually disappeared forever. Fortunately, all was not lost for Wright, who was repackaged several times over the years in an attempt to find a character that worked for him, allowing people to ignore his wrestling shortcomings. Wright moved from Papa Shango to The Supreme Fighting Machine, to Kama Mustafa, and finally to the role that would land him a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, as The Godfather (a persona where nobody cared if he wrestled for a single second). Source:

12. Ernest “The Cat” Miller

Shortly after his original debut as a martial artist/kickboxer aligned with Glacier (don’t worry, we’ll get to him), The Cat eventually settled down into a role as a blatant James Brown impersonator (who claimed to be best friends with the popular singer, and actually brought him out in a completely unadvertised appearance at a WCW Pay Per View that nobody saw), which was a really cool character that worked in a number of roles. Unfortunately, the role Miller believed he belonged in best was “wrestler”, and that’s where the wheels kind of fell off, as The Cat might have been good at being cool, but he was awful once he got into the ring. After WCW folded, Miller was brought into WWE to be an announcer on the syndicated Velocity program, but once again tried to revive his in-ring career, even getting an on-screen endorsement from Vince McMahon (who allegedly knew nothing about Miller’s abilities before agreeing to the segment). Miller was so bad, however, that his first appearance involved him entering the Royal Rumble, dancing, and getting thrown out immediately. The Cat was released from WWE only weeks later, but his entrance music, “Somebody Call My Momma”, lived on, and was revived for another dancing comedy act, “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay. Source:

11. Outback Jack

As we all learned from that episode of The Simpsons where Bart started a war with Australia, there was a brief period in the 80’s where North American culture was obsessed with the Land Down Under. And if there’s one thing WWE loves to do, it’s attempt to cash in on pop culture phenomenons. And if it happens to involve putting a character playing an ethnic stereotype on television, so much the better! Now, we actually have no problem with the concept behind the Outback Jack character, because we, like the rest of the world, loved Crocodile Dundee, who is an awesome, bad-ass action hero that doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions to the genre (although Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles was terrible). In the right hands, a wrestler playing a similar character would likely have been very popular, and by all accounts, WWE initially had plans to turn Outback Jack into a Hogan-level star. Unfortunately, they assigned the gimmick to someone who had absolutely no wrestling experience, and after several years of training, he was still terrible in the ring. Only weeks after he debuted in WWE, he was busted down to the lowest level of jobber, and disappeared from the industry entirely after only a two-year run. Source:

10. The Reflection of Perfection

At one point, Mark Jindrak was considered one of the hottest young prospects in WCW. When that company went under, he was picked up by WWE and expected to be one of their future stars. At one point, he was even supposed to be the fourth member of Evolution instead of Batista, to the point that videos of him as part of the group were actually shot. However, he was pulled from the group before he could officially debut, and after a short-lived tag team with Garrison Cade, resurfaced on the Smackdown brand as “The Reflection of Perfection”, a gimmick similar to Lex Luger’s “Narcissist” act which had actually done quite well for Luger when he originally debuted in WWE. After all, who doesn’t hate people with sculpted physique who are in love with their own appearance? The gimmick, if handled by a good performer, is absolute gold. However, by that point, Jindrak’s biggest weakness had been pretty much exposed: he had the charisma of wet cardboard, and nobody cared enough about him to even vaguely dislike his act. Jindrak was basically dead in the water at that point, and a solid heel gimmick was dropped within weeks of its debut. Source:

9. The Boogeyman

Despite being kicked out of the Tough Enough qualifiers for lying about his age, Marty Wright impressed WWE enough with his passion and physique to earn himself a job and an incredible gimmick. The creepy and deranged Boogeyman had it all: a great and unique look, an elaborate entrance, the makings of a big push, and most importantly, the attention of the fans. It was a great gimmick that had huge potential to create a marketable star going forward, and he was given high profile Pay Per View victories over established main event stars like JBL and Booker T, the latter at WrestleMania. There was just one problem: Wright was an abysmal wrestler incapable of having a match longer than a couple of minutes, and his advanced age (Wright was already in his 40s when he tried out for Tough Enough) meant that his body simply couldn’t hold up to the grind of wrestling, and he was continually sidelined with injuries. Wright was quickly de-pushed and eventually released, sidelining what had been a promising gimmick for good. Source:

8. Glacier

At some point, someone in WCW had the bright idea to mimic the popular video game Mortal Kombat and introduced a group of wrestlers with crazy gimmicks, all allegedly fighting for control of some mystical talisman of power. The first man to be introduced was Glacier, a shameless rip-off of the Sub-Zero character from the game. Admittedly, it wasn’t the worst idea in the world, as Sub-Zero was an incredibly popular character and Mortal Kombat was a smashing success and a big mainstream news story (granted, that was more about concerns over its levels of brutal violence, but still, it was making news). After a long delay and lots of hype, Glacier was unleashed upon the WCW audience, and he looked really cool, if you’ll pardon the pun. Unfortunately, underneath the costume was a bad wrestler whose offence was mostly kick-based. WCW never gave up on Glacier, however, but his awful displays of wrestling quickly made him the butt of jokes (in fact, near the end of WCW’s existence, they actually brought Glacier back as a complete joke, playing a deluded guy who thought he was a massive star). Source:

7. Test

In this case, it’s not so much the gimmick, because “Test” isn’t really a gimmick (and barely qualifies as a name at all). But Test was given so many plum opportunities and high profile story lines based on the fact he was really tall and muscular, despite the fact that he consistently showed no ability to capitalize on any of the chances he was given. Over his WWE career, Test was immediately given a position in Vince McMahon’s Corporation, dated and was set up to marry Stephanie McMahon on TV, part of a tag team that introduced the world to Trish Stratus, given multiple title runs, given total immunity from being fired for an entire year as part of the Invasion angle, made a major part of an Anti-American heel stable and given a SummerSlam match with The Undertaker, paired with Stacy Keibler as she was rising in popularity (Test was actually dating Keibler at the time, so you could probably argue that her career actually took off after she left him), and in a last-ditch effort to salvage his career, built up as a major contender for the ECW Title back when WWE still cared about their third brand. To be given that many prime positions and fail every time takes a very special lack of ability, which pretty much sums up Test in a nutshell. Source:

6. Sin Cara

When Triple H gained control over hiring new talent to swell the ranks of WWE and its developmental system, his first big signing was Sin Cara. Originally known as Mistico, he was considered one of the biggest stars in Mexican wrestling, and since lucha libre is a very big part of the culture, he was also one of the country’s biggest celebrities. However, his time in WWE was full of obstacles, as he struggled mightily to adapt to WWE’s style of wrestling, resulting in bad matches and several long-term injuries caused, in part, due to messing up in the ring. Originally intended to be the heir apparent to the aging Rey Mysterio and attract both Latino wrestling fans and young children to WWE (to the point that he was given a major role in WWE’s movie crossover with the Scooby Doo franchise), Sin Cara never came close to becoming the replacement WWE had hoped, and after many failed attempts to save face, the original wrestler portraying him was removed from TV and eventually returned to Mexico. The Sin Cara persona was given to a new wrestler, but he has fared no better under the mask, leading some to wonder if the gimmick itself might have been cursed. Source:

5. The Ascension

The Ascension, as they evolved during their development in NXT, were a gimmick that seemed tailor-made for success. Drawing on the influences of big, bruising tag teams of the past such as The Road Warriors and Demolition, Konor and Viktor were a pair of face-painted, hard-fighting, intimidating forces who ran through all their opponents with ease, becoming the longest-reigning NXT Tag Team champions in history in the process. While they weren’t the greatest wrestlers in the world, they played the gimmick to the hilt, and as some would note, it’s not like The Road Warriors were very good wrestlers either. Upon their debut in WWE, however, a major problem with the act was revealed, as both men were significantly under the average height for wrestlers, especially Viktor, and when standing against legitimate giants like The Wyatt Family, Kane, and The Big Show on the main roster, they were far less intimidating than they had been in the smaller confines of NXT. To make matters worse, the commentary team relentlessly buried them during their matches for daring to claim that they were better than the legendary teams of the past, and ultimately, an angle played out which saw The Ascension absolutely manhandled by a group of the retired tag team wrestlers they’d claimed to be superior to. Despite having a gimmick that should have been a surefire hit, The Ascension tumbled down the ladder in WWE incredibly quickly, to the point where they were possibly the biggest losers in the entire company. Source:

4. Waylon Mercy

Based on Robert De Niro’s unforgettable character in the film Cape Fear, Waylon Mercy was a soft-talking Southern gentleman who waxed poetic about the horrible things he was going to do to his opponents, keeping a friendly demeanor the entire time. With WWE stuck in the midst of the cartoonish “New Generation”, a complex character like Mercy instantly drew attention, and he was even set up with a program with WWE Champion Diesel on live events. While the gimmick was a breath of fresh air in a terrible period for WWE, and Dan Spivey, the wrestler portraying him did so quite well, the problem was that Spivey was suffering from multiple chronic injuries, most notable serious back and neck issues that were aggravated constantly by his wrestling career. Despite all the build and a character that was being set up for success, after only a single appearance on WWE Pay Per View, he was forced into retirement and never appeared on WWE TV again. Source:

3. Sean O’Haire

To understand just how disappointing Sean O’Haire’s wrestling career was, you need to know that he was such a “can’t miss” prospect in WCW that Eric Bischoff told everyone, after a late failed attempt to buy the company before WWE stepped in, that he would have built the company around O’Haire. The aura of guaranteed future success followed him to WWE, where he was a forgotten man during the Invasion, sent down to developmental to “learn WWE style” and, coincidentally, saved from the taint of the disastrous WCW-ECW Alliance. When things settled down again post-Invasion and former WCW talents were re-introduced to WWE, vignettes began airing of O’Haire playing a “devil on your shoulder” sort of character, exhorting fans to do things that were bad for them by offering reasonable explanations for why they should. These vignettes were creative, clever, and led to incredible hype for O’Haire’s eventual debut. However, when the character hit TV, reports came out that he was unable to replicate his mesmerizing speeches on live TV, and while he was aided by appearing solely on taped episodes of Smackdown (which could be edited to remove his mistakes), WWE pretty much instantly lost faith in the character. Eventually, they would strip O’Haire of the gimmick entirely, and without his unique hook, O’Haire was exposed as a fairly mediocre wrestler, and never attained the potential he showed in WCW. Source:

2. Kevin Thorn

Making his debut as part of the newly resurrected ECW brand on the then Sci-Fi Network, many figured that Kevin Thorn was a tongue-in-cheek response to fans worried that WWE would use a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy gimmicks on the show to better fit into the channel’s overall theme (ironically, Sci-Fi would change its name to “SyFy” as part of the addition of WWE content in an attempt to attract a broader audience instead of being solely about science fiction shows). Thorn played a vampire character, although it was constantly explained that he wasn’t an actual vampire, but a fan of vampire culture. We don’t know why they had to make a distinction about it, but they did. Thorn was given a fair bit of TV time and an eye-catching valet, but was mostly sunk by two big factors: he wasn’t a very good wrestler, and more importantly, allegedly Vince McMahon didn’t “get” the gimmick. As the ECW brand slowly devolved into just another arm of WWE, Thorn quietly disappeared from TV. If he’d debuted a few years later, maybe someone could have attempted explaining Twilight to Vince, but you have to remember, Vince is the guy who also didn’t understand Paul Burchill’s “Pirate” gimmick, due to being the only person on the planet who had never heard of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Source:

1. Mordecai

We swear, sometimes we’re not sure how WWE managed to turn The Undertaker and Kane into the legendary figures they are today, because it seems like every other ridiculously awesome “supernatural” gimmick they create ends up assigned to bad wrestlers incapable of performing at a required level of competency, leading to the gimmick being shelved and forgotten about instead of becoming one of the coolest things in wrestling. And topping the list is Mordecai, who was literally created to feud with the Undertaker and instead got to fight briefly with Bob Holly and then disappear. The concept of a completely over-the-top priest-like figure shouting about the fire and brimstone that awaited all those who opposed his teachings certainly seemed epic when it was introduced, and Mordecai was given a spectacularly memorable entrance upon his debut that made it clear that he was supposed to be a big deal. Unfortunately, the man behind the gimmick was almost comically short relative to other wrestlers, giving his appearance a certain lack of gravitas that was necessary to make him appear intimidating. Also, he wasn’t a very good wrestler, but at this point in the list, that should go without saying. After several painful weeks in which his stock visibly plummeted every time he appeared, Mordecai disappeared forever, and the wrestler portraying him sent back to developmental, where he was given the new gimmick of…Kevin Thorn, which you may recall from the #2 entry on this very list. Source: s***

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.