One interesting aspect that separates pro wrestling from other forms of entertainment is the colorful gimmicks that the wrestlers portray. Some are good, and some are, well…not so good. Sometimes the booker or promoter will come up with the gimmicks, while other times the wrestlers create the characters. Some are purposely geared to the kids, whom the diehard adult fans cannot stand, and some are to try and get television ratings or get people to the live shows. During the 1990s, the WWF (now WWE) went with many cartoonish characters to appeal to the masses, even forgetting the pasts of the wrestlers as former champions in other leagues and territories. Some characters were created by the wrestler’s actions in the dressing rooms, and some were inside jokes, or “ribs” on other wrestlers or the heads of the companies.
Keep in mind that many famous wrestlers had their share of gimmicks that may have not worked out before they broke out as major stars. Steve Austin was once called “The Ringmaster” before he was “Stone Cold,” there was talk of Bret Hart being a cowboy once, and even The Rock’s early characters did not start off well.
Some wrestlers had their hatred for the gimmicks and seemed to show, like Terry Taylor’s “Red Rooster,” and some seemed to try and work with what they had, from the many characters that Barry Darsow was given in his career. Whether or not you liked any of these characters, I decided to show some gimmicks that some people may have forgotten about. There are some on here that even I forgot existed. This is not a “Worst Of” or “Best Of” gimmick, and there are many more, but I thought I’d give you a trip down memory lane. So here are a few of Wrestling’s Forgotten Gimmicks in no particular order.
- T.J. Hopper (1996). After being in the AWA, USWA, and coming off a successful run in Smoky Mountain Wrestling (where he was the champion as “The Dirty White Boy” ), Tony Anthony was created to be a plumber who would take his plunger and stick it in the face of his opponents after beating them. He was repackaged as Uncle Cletus and put with the Godwinns. He was trained by Steve Keirn (of the Fabulous Ones and also packaged as Skinner later in the WWF) and Ron Wright.
- The Stalker (1996). One of the finest pure wrestlers of his era, Barry Windham was in the first Wrestlemania, a 2 –Time WWF Tag Champion with Mike Rotundo, a NWA Champion and now in the WWE Hall of Fame with the Four Horseman among other rewards in the business. He was a star in Florida and the NWA and was coming into his second WWF run when he was called “The Widowmaker.” After that failed attempt, he was “The Stalker,” who came from “The Environment.” He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the movie “Commando.” Shortly after this, he was paired in The New Blackjacks with the future JBL.
- The Christmas Creature (1992). There were many characters that Glenn Jacobs was given before being successful as Kane, The Undertaker’s Brother. He was a dentist for Jerry Lawler. He was called “Unabomb” in Smoky Mountain, but his forgettable Christmas Creature in USWA is one that many fans like to bring up. He was also the Fake Diesel in 1996. It’s a good thing the Kane character stuck.
- Seven (1999). The story goes that Dustin Rhodes was fired from WCW after his match with The Blacktop Bully (Barry Darsow) after a Pay Per View match where they bladed, which was against policy at the time. He went to the WWF, became Goldust and then returned to WCW as Seven, a mysterious person with a white face that looked similar to Michael Myers. After airing videos for his character, where he was standing outside a child’s window, apparently Turner Broadcasting pulled the idea due to thinking the character may be viewed as a child abductor. On WCW Nitro, he appeared and went into a worked shoot promo denouncing the character during the debut.
- Phantasio (1995) This character was brought to the WWF in 1995 and was brief. Part mime/part magician, Harry Del Rios, who was used as The Spellbinder in USWA has one match on television, where he beat Tony Devito after “magically” pulling Devito’s boxers from out of his own trunks for the win. Check the match on youtube. Not really shocked this character did not get over, and is one many people’s lists as one of the worst gimmicks ever.
- The Yeti (1995) I like mysterious creatures and reading about the unknown and characters in wrestling can have its place. There have been voodoo people, savages, ghost like characters in wrestling. But WCW created something here that was mind confusing. Granted any character that associated with Kevin Sullivan was to be strange, but Ron Reis, who was trained by Big John Studd, had to have thought this gimmick given to him was a bad idea. A Yeti is like similar to an Abominable Snowman. Well, this character did break out of a block of ice for his debut, but was a mummy all wrapped up. Yup, a frozen mummy. He attacked Hulk Hogan in a match and was a member of The Dungeon of Doom. Later TV appearances showed him dressed up as a ninja. The name Yeti was then dropped and he was The Super Giant Ninja. Confused yet? The Mummy Ninja from ice did not last too long, and Reis went on to call himself Big Ron Studd for a while as well.
- The Master Blaster (1990). Many people now know Kevin Nash as one of the WWF/WCW’s biggest stars, as “Diesel” and a member of the N.W.O. with Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall. Many even remember his “Vinnie Vegas” gimmick in WCW, along with his “OZ” character, where he wore all green and was from “The Emerald City.” But do you remember him starting out in a tag team called “The Master Blasters?” Not to be confused with The Master Blaster from the AWA based on a Mad Max character in 1987 who debuted by scaring announcer Larry Nelson by breaking through a wall. This tag team looked similar to The Road Warriors and Nash was called “Steel,” along with his partner Al Green, who went by “Blade.” Nash had an orange Mohawk haircut, and once the team broke up, he went solo for a bit as “The Master Blaster” before becoming Oz.
- The WWF NWA Faction (1998). Many people questioned a previous blog where I stated that The Rock and Roll Express should be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Several readers said they were never in the WWF/WWE. Here’s proof that they were. Jim Cornette brought in a stable of NWA Wrestlers stating that he was tired of the “Sports Entertainment” and wanted traditional wrestling. He brought in Jeff Jarrett , who won the vacant NWA North American Title on Raw, along with NWA Tag Team Champions The Rock and Roll Express. Barry Windham joined the group as well, after being tired of the Blackjack gimmick. Jarrett left the stable and started his “Double J” gimmick, The Rock and Roll Express were “kicked out” after losing the titles to The Headbangers, where Cornette brought in “The New Midnight Express” (Bart Gunn, and Bob Holly). NWA Champion Dan Severn also joined the group at this time. In interviews Vince Russo claims that the creative department was him, Cornette, and Vince McMahon, and claims that the angle was used to show Cornette that type of wrestling was not relevant anymore (maybe Mr. Cornette can give his side to this statement)
- The Trooper (1989). This character was started out in the AWA as a police officer who wrote tickets to his opponents after he beat them in the matches. Del Wilkes went on the become popular in a mask , calling himself The Patriot, and journeyed to Global Wrestling , the WWF, and WCW. The Trooper character was also the last AWA Tag Team Champion, along with partner DJ Peterson.
These are some characters that you may have forgotten existed in the wrestling world. A few others that you may want to look up involved “Rockabilly” (Billy Gunn managed by The Honky Tonk Man), “The Juicer” (Art Barr), “Abe Knuckleball Schwartz” ( Steve Lombardi), “Waylon Mercy” (Dan Spivey), WWF’s “The Executioner” (1996-1997 Terry Gordy) “Curry Man” (Christopher Daniels) and the famous “Shockmaster” ( Fred Ottman).
Do you have some favorites that may be forgotten? Don’t forget to add this page to follow!