If you want to make it in the world of professional wrestling, you’ll need more than flashy moves and the ability to dive off the ropes and land on your opponent without having to go to the hospital afterwards. You’ll need to create an unforgettable persona fans can instantly recognize, like Hulk Hogan or the Rock. And whether the fans love you or love to hate you, the single most important thing about being a wrestler is to be memorable.
But coming up with the right character, or gimmick, as it’s known in the profession, is a lot harder than you may think. And of course those bulky wrestlers are generally not known to be the smartest people in any room. So when they fail, they fail hard. They become memorable, just not in the way they originally intended. Whether it’s lack of effort or imagination, or just plain too many folding chairs to the face, these guys will leave you scratching your head and keep you puzzled for quite some time.
#10 – Dr. Isaac Yankem
Meet Dr. Yankem, the mad wrestling dentist. And just by looking at his teeth, it’s safe to say that it’s a good thing he quit his day job to pursue his wrestling dreams. He made his debut in 1995, settling a feud between two other wrestlers. The head scratching logic behind his debut: when you need to take care of your arch nemesis once and for all, you bring in your personal dentist to help you out.
And if this guy looks vaguely familiar, well, he did actually become pretty famous when he reinvented himself two years later. Dr. Yankem brought in a dentist of his own to settle the feud between his teeth, quit his practice altogether and became known as Kane, The Undertaker’s half-brother and the poster boy of professional wrestling in the late nineties.
#9 – Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry
He looks like Rick James on steroids and before he started wrestling under a very awkward name, Mark Henry was an Olympic weightlifter and three-time US national weightlifting champion. He took up wrestling in 1998 and became known for signature moves like the reverse chokeslam facebuster and the leapfrog body guillotine.
But, as the name Sexual Chocolate may suggest, he also became known for a very different and adult kind of wrestling, in a way that trumps every soap opera you’ve ever seen. He was romantically involved with a 70 year-old woman, who was punched in the stomach while pregnant by one of Sexual Chocolate’s jealous lovers, and later gave birth to a hand. He was also involved with a transvestite and even his own sister. Sexual Chocolate dramatically admitted in the ring that he had a problem and vowed to go to rehab to overcome his sex addiction.
#8 – Hole-in-One Barry Darsow
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of your opponent like showing up dressed as a golfer, with matching hat and everything. And when you’re in a jam packed stadium with people expecting to see carnage, why not challenge your opponent to a game of putting? If it sounds ridiculous, it’s really not, because the putting game is part of Barry Darsow’s deviant and well thought out strategy.
When his opponent is completely focused on getting that little white ball into the hole, Barry sneaks up from behind and hits him in the back of the head, performs a series of body slams and starts choking him with a nine iron. This strategy is also evidence that there is no learning curve in the world of professional wrestling, because Darsow was choking people successfully for about two years, before dropping this gimmick in 1999.
#7 – Bastion Booger
When you dress up a fat slob in a really tight duct tape mankini and make him eat garbage as he walks up to the ring, you get someone like Bastion Booger. To make things even less appetizing, his signature move was landing on people’s faces with his crotch. His career of grossing people out spanned 13 years.
Before becoming Bastion Booger, he made a one time appearance as a different character, a wrestling monk. Not like an obese Shaolin master, but as Friar Ferguson, dressed in a brown robe and armed with a wooden club. The Catholic Church was not amused though, so after a stern warning, the friar’s debut was also his last performance and Ferguson was reborn as Bastion Booger, the not so lean but very mean eating machine, grossing out fans and opponents alike by sitting on faces.
#6 – Arachnaman
Arachnaman is probably one of the laziest attempts at creating a wrestling persona in history. It’s actually not even an attempt, more like ripping off, as you may notice a very close resemblance to Marvel’s friendly neighborhood superhero. Just like the real Spiderman, this guy could also shoot webs, but only the budget kind, in the form of deadly multicolored silly string with no practical use whatsoever.
But slapping on a different name and changing the color of the outfit didn’t fool anyone, including Marvel, so Arachnaman ceased to exist when they threatened to take legal action. For Brad Armstrong, the man behind the spider mask, it wasn’t the first threat of legal action either. His previous persona was briefly named Fantasia, before Disney’s lawyers started knocking on his door and forcing him to drop the name.
#5 – Kerwin White
Kerwin White started out as Chavo Guerrero and in 2005, he decided it was a really good idea to denounce his Hispanic roots and go through life as the most stereotypical middle class, white Anglo Saxon man imaginable. He dyed his hair blonde, started driving around in a golf cart and changed his intro theme music to Frank Sinatra songs.
If that’s not enough for you to start scratching your head, he also came up with a new catchphrase with a very disturbing pun: “If it’s not White, it’s not right.” He changed that to the slightly more politically correct “If it’s not Kerwin White, it’s not right”, before dropping it altogether. It took him about half a year to figure out that this persona wasn’t one of his best ideas after all and went back to Chavo, hoping no one had noticed.
#4 – The Gobbledy Gooker
It seems as though both wrestling and making very poor choices about wrestling personas run in the Guerrero family. Chavo’s uncle, Héctor Guerrero, decided that a really great persona also needs a very spectacular buildup, and he started one of the most disappointing and bewildering viral marketing campaigns in the history of wrestling.
In 1990, a mysterious giant egg was wheeled up in the wrestling arena, just laying there. And the suspense lasted weeks, with people discussing what unimaginable treasures could be hidden inside the giant egg. It just had to be something really good, because why else would anyone build up that kind of suspension for weeks? As it turned out, the mystery inside was Héctor Guerrero, in a turkey suit. Just imagine that very awkward moment when Héctor finally popped out and fans witnessed the birth of The Gobbledy Gooker.
#3 – The Shockmaster
Only very few people can take the art of failing to new and previously unimagined levels. The Shockmaster is one of those proud few, for two reasons, both displayed during his spectacular failure of a debut. The first reason is his outfit. Fred Ottman, the man behind the mask, cut up a curtain to use as a vest, added glitters to a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet, put on some jeans and lo and behold, The Shockmaster was born.
The costume was there, now all he needed was an entrance. And what better way to set the stage than crashing through a ridiculously obvious fake wall, during a televised live press conference? He also tripped in the process, falling flat on his face, losing his helmet and instantly revealing his secret identity. With all credibility dying then and there, so did his persona.
#2 – Eugene
Remember that valuable bit of acting advice Robert Downey Jr. gave in the movie Tropic Thunder? The one about never going full retard? Well, Nick Dinsmore never got that memo when he came up with his Eugene character, the “special” wrestler and overly excited nephew of Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. Yup, a lot of thought went into coming up with that one…
Eugene made his puzzling debut back in 2004, with an equally puzzling fighting style. He starts out by being overly cheerful and hugging the referee, but after a good beating, he goes into berserk mode (he usually doesn’t win though). And you might think this gimmick would be getting old pretty fast, but he’s still going strong and full throttle, even though he’s now working freelance, because he failed a couple of WWE drug tests.
#1 – The Yeti
Nope, you’re not looking at the wrong photo. This is pretty much the reason this guy ended up being number 1. When people think of yetis, the vast majority of them imagine furry ape like monsters that roam the snowy mountaintops of the Himalaya. But not Ron Reis, this photo is his personal take on the yeti concept and his persona lasted for one very confusing wrestling match, with a signature move that was little more than awkward humping.
After that match, when someone took the time to explain to Ron in very small words that yetis are not mummies, Ron had to come up with something new and decided he wanted to dress up like a ninja. And even though he gave his persona the awfully unimaginative name of Super Giant Ninja, he understood the concept and wasn’t dressed as a vampire.