The 80s and 90s were a golden age for everything from television and movies to fashion, and professional wrestling was no exception. Stars like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior all made an impression on us during our childhoods, but for every smash hit there were at least a dozen totally forgettable wrestlers.
It was an era when the only limit on creativity was how far you dared to push the envelope, and that was a double-edged sword for the WWF.
Relive your childhood and see how many of these wrestlers you can remember. Be warned: your nostalgia might not hold up after all these years!
1. The Goon
Hockey in the 1990s was a sport full of big-name stars: Wayne Greztky, Mario Lemieux….the Goon? Yes, this short-lived gimmick was billed as a hockey player so violent he was “kicked out of every league he ever participated in,” including the WWF – he only lasted a few months.
2. The Mantaur
You would think there would be rules preventing non-humans and mythical creatures from wrestling, but nothing could stop the Mantaur. The Mantaur would bull-rush his opponents and even “moo” at them, which sounds more threatening than it really was.
3. Koko B. Ware
Koko B. Ware lasted years in the WWF despite having no recognizable personality besides the bird (named Frankie) sitting on his shoulder. While Koko was less annoying than other wrestlers on this list, he was basically pointless – yet somehow made it into the Hall of Fame.
4. Papa Shango
There’s a long list of rules in professional wrestling – 3-counts for pins, 10-counts for ring-outs – but nothing forbidding witchcraft and voodoo, which is why this witch-doctor character was allowed to compete against mere mortals. He returned later on as the more popular “Godfather” character.
Click the next page for more awful gimmicks, including the Gobbledy Gooker!
5. The Gobbledy Gooker
A character with a lifespan as short as the Gobbledy Gooker – a giant wrestling turkey – doesn’t deserve to be remembered, but the agonizing way his “big moment” was dragged out does. For months, this turkey’s giant egg sat next to the ring, waiting until the Gooker “hatched” at Survivor Series 1990. Fans buried the dancing turkey in boos, and he was retired in shame for more than a decade.
6. Isaac Yankem, DDS
It makes sense that an audience of young children would be terrified by an evil dentist, but there wasn’t enough in this half-baked character to justify his existence except the joke that he had bad teeth – even though he’s a dentist, get it? Somehow, this one-note villain had huge feuds with stars like Bret Hart.
7. The Mountie
Mounties, Canada’s version of the FBI agent, are respected around the world for their upstanding behavior, so fans obviously didn’t take kindly to The Mountie playing an evil heel character. Just as strange, he feuded with the only other “police officer” character, Big Boss Man. He was booed out of the ring at any Canadian appearance.
8. The Repo Man
Sure, a working class audience would boo a character who brags about repossessing people’s cars with a big ‘ol hook, but this character raised a lot of questions. Namely, how bad was job security in the WWF if the Repo Man had to wrestle and work a second job?
9. The Dumpster
Another working class gimmick that probably sounded better in the writer’s room, the Dumpster was a trash-man who carried a big metal garbage can to the ring (usually while fans booed). Unlike the Repo Man he was meant to be a blue collar hero, but nobody wants to cheer for “the Dumpster.”
Click the next page for even more awful gimmicks, including Santa Claus’s evil twin!
10. Max Moon
In the 90s, when video games like the Megaman series and comic books like X-O Manowar were all the rage, it probably seemed natural to introduce a character from “outer space” with a custom-built suit that shot fireworks. While the suit was rumored to be very expensive, the character bombed. Audiences just couldn’t bring themselves to cheer for a ridiculous looking rubber suit, and the gimmick was retired a few months later.
11. Xanta Claus
No, that’s not a typo. Xanta was a special character introduced at Christmas time and hired by Ted DiBiase (the Million Dollar Man). Xanta was Santa’s evil twin. He lived at the South Pole (of course), and stole presents from good children (of course). His time in the spotlight was brief, but an idea this bonkers deserves to be recognized.
12. The Shockmaster
The man. The myth. The legend. Wearing his bedazzled Storm Trooper outfit, Fred Ottman entered into wrestling history when he tripped during his new character’s big introduction. While it’s not fair to hold this accident against him, the character was forced to be re-written as a klutz, and didn’t survive long afterwards.
Remember Zeus? Probably not, unless you saw Hulk Hogan’s classic wrestling flick No Holds Barred. Actor “Tiny” Lister played bad-guy wrestler Zeus, and he made a single special appearance as the unibrowed heel to promote the movie. Mainly, Zeus deserves to be remembered as an awful case of cross-promotion.
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