Professional wrestling has always had a flair for the dramatic. Wrestlers wear brightly colored costumes and do death-defying stunts in front of thousands of screaming fans. By nature, these characters are always pretty ridiculous. For every Macho Man and The Rock, there have been dozens that have tried to capture the spotlight... and failed miserably.
For decades professional wrestling organizations have tried every type of “gimmick” they can to create for memorable characters. From ripping off popular video games and comic book characters to dressing as an oversized turkey (literally), promoters have attempted anything they could to find the next Hulk Hogan. We have compiled a list of some of the most unbelievable wrestlers that debuted before the modern era. So join us as we talk about 15 of the most ridiculous characters in the history of pro wrestling.
Brad Armstrong came from a family of accomplished professional wrestlers. Debuting at the age of 18, Brad made a name for himself due to his good looks and great wrestling skill. Unfortunately, he never was truly able to break through with his natural persona. Armstrong donned the Arachnaman persona for WCW in 1991, but unfortunately it was very short-lived. The reason the character didn’t last was his striking resemblance to Spider-Man. Lazily changing Spider-Man’s red and blue costume to purple and yellow and shooting silly string “webs” out of his hands, it didn’t take long for Marvel to notice the similarities. After Marvel threatened to sue WCW over the character, Arachnaman was no more.
Armstrong did survive the embarrassment to go on to wrestle for years after, donning such personas as The Candyman, who naturally handed out candy to little children, and Buzzkill, in which Armstrong donned fake braids and imitated the more successful character created by his brother, Road Dogg. Neither of these was as ridiculous as Arachnaman.
If you were a fan of professional wrestling in the late ‘90s, then you probably remember Glacier. Debuting in a series of short clips, promoting how mysterious and powerful he was, Glacier was going to be the next big thing in 1996. For viewers, he clearly resembled one of the most popular video game characters of the time, Sub-Zero of “Mortal Kombat” fame. Attempting to distance themselves from the clear infringement, and to obviously avoid lawsuits, Glacier was given a detailed fictional backstory.
After going to Japan and learning a mixture of martial arts and pro wrestling, he was given a 400-year-old helmet from his Master as well as the name Glacier. The character would enter the ring with a very intense entrance that included blue laser lights and fake snow. WCW invested heavily in the character -- the extravagant entrance and costume are said to have cost $35,000 to make. Unfortunately, the character never reached his full potential and never won any championships.
The Mantaur character made his debut in the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) in 1995 and lasted less than a year. However, he will not soon be forgotten due to his incredibly over-the-top costume, which included a giant bull’s head. While some of the characters on this list were quick to leave after their debut due to their weird gimmicks, Mantaur had a fairly serious run in the WWF. Not much was known about his fictional backstory, but Mantaur clearly was a play off the minotaurs from mythology.
During his matches, Mantaur was known to charge, trample and moo at his opponents. The highlight of Mantaur’s run in WWF was his shot at the Intercontinental Championship against Razor Ramon. He also made his way into the 1995 Royal Rumble, where he lasted approximately 10 minutes. Towards the end of 1995, Mike Halac, the man underneath the ridiculous bull’s head, left the WWF and the Mantaur character was retired.
12 MYSTERY MAN
Mystery Man is a bit of a... err, mystery... in the WWF during 1991. Not much was ever known about the character, and a backstory was never given to him, but he did make quite an impact during that year. Donning a full-face mask covered in stars, the character incorporated a heroic gimmick that was never fully fleshed-out. Mystery Man, as he is commonly known nowadays, was a masked character that is best known for running into matches to interfere by beating up the “heel” character for a brief period before running out of the ring. He never wrestled a match of his own, and no storyline involved his character, but he continued to do these mysterious run-ins throughout the beginning of 1991.
It was later revealed that Mystery Man was none other than Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. While never officially named as the Mystery Man, Beefcake was using the character as a way to be part of the WWF during his recovery from major facial injuries sustained during a parasailing accident. Thus, the reason for the mask and an unresolved storyline.
11 BATTLE KAT
Battle Kat is probably a character forgotten by most wrestling fans. Only lasting for most of 1990, Battle Kat spent most of his time wrestling in non-televised “house” shows, and never contended for any titles. However, his outrageous costume and gimmick will live on in infamy for a long time to come. Battle Kat was, as you might presume, a cat-based character. He wore a furry black cat mask, which included cat ears, and would use his gymnastic abilities to appear more “cat-like.” Not much is known about why the character only lasted a year, other than the fact that being a furry kitty cat probably isn’t the most intimidating wrestling gimmick ever.
Under the mask, Battle Kat was actually two different men. First, Brady Boone donned the mask, probably because of his experience with highflying gymnastic-style moves. However, when Boone left the WWF, the organization decided to keep the gimmick going and made Bob Bradley the new Battle Kat. Interestingly enough, Bradley had previously lost a match to Boone’s Battle Kat.
10 MAX MOON
Hailing from “Outer Space,” Max Moon was one of the few sci-fi characters seen in WWF during the early ‘90s. With a very elaborate costume featuring bright colors and silver tubing, Max Moon, also known as “The Comet Kid,” was a cyborg that came from space that shot pyrotechnics from his arms. Not much more is known about the character due to the behind the scenes antics of the wrestler under the mask and the lukewarm response the character received from fans.
Originally, the wrestler Konnan was the man under the Max Moon mask. Coming up with the idea after wrestling in Japan and watching anime, Konnan thought the character would be a huge hit with American audiences. After WWF spent over $13,000 on the costume, the character made his debut in 1992. Unfortunately for Konnan, his behind the scenes difficulty with the WWF led to him leaving the company shortly after the character’s debut. After Konnan’s departure, and due to the financial investment in the character, Max Moon lived on with Paul Diamond under the mask. The highlight of the Max Moon era was his appearance on the first ever “Monday Night Raw.”
9 GOBBLEDY GOOKER
In the months leading up to the 1990 “Survivor Series,” fans were clamoring to know what was inside the massive egg that was promoted on TV. During its live on-air “hatching,” legendary WWF commentator, “Mean” Gene Okerlund speculated as to what was inside, even insinuating that it might actually be the Playboy Playmate of the Month. Unfortunately for fans, that was definitely not the case.
Fans were shocked -- and incredibly disappointed -- when a giant turkey popped out of the egg. Immediately, the crowd began to boo the character that would later be named The Gobbledy Gooker. To the WWF’s credit, in retrospect, it was fairly obvious that it would be an over-sized bird that would hatch from an over-sized egg. The man who brought the infamous Gobbledy Gooker to life was none other than Hector Guerrero, of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family. The character was quickly dropped after fans showed their dislike, but the mystery surrounding him lived on. The Gobbledy Gooker went on to be revived in the early 2000s and in 2015, but definitely in a more self-deprecating way.
After the mild success of Glacier in 1996, WCW went back to the “Mortal Kombat” well and debuted the character of Mortis in 1997. Drawing clear inspiration from a couple different “Mortal Kombat” characters, including Scorpion, Mortis debuted as a clear rival to the undefeated Glacier.
Donning a skull mask, and bright green spandex, Mortis feuded with Glacier for most of the beginning of his storyline. Later on, he joined fellow wrestler Raven as a member of The Flock, where mortis lived on until 1998. Mortis frequently teamed up with another member of this list, “Wrath,” especially during the Glacier feud. Unfortunately for all of those characters, the “Mortal Kombat” craze slowly died off and the personas ended. Mortis was portrayed by the then-relatively unknown wrestler Chris Kanyon, who went on to “graduate” from the Mortis persona to become a fairly popular wrestler for several years before his untimely death in 2010.
The story of the wrestler known as Wrath is very similar to that of his future tag team partner, Mortis. Created as another bad guy to face Glacier, Wrath was WCW’s attempt at yet another “Mortal Kombat”-esque character. Wearing what can be best described as a combination of “Mortal Kombat” and “Mad Max,” Wrath sported a black ninja helmet with bone spikes protruding out from it. His leather jacket had bat wings on the shoulders, but during his wrestling matches, he wore the standard spandex and took off his mask.
The character went on to become pretty popular, along with Mortis and Glacier, who collectively became known as “Blood Runs Cold." Wrath was portrayed by Bryan Clark, who had a brief stint as “Adam Bomb” in the WWF. After the “Mortal Kombat” masks and costumes were ditched, the character still rose in popularity until he was injured in a match in 1999.
Coming on the heels of their big success with the Doink the Clown character, the WWF thought it would be a great idea to tackle another one of the characters found at your standard children’s birthday – a magician. Enter Phantasio, a wrestler sporting mime makeup and a spandex suit that is supposed to look like a magician’s outfit, but comes off more like some kind of fetish gear.
Phantasio was portrayed by unknown wrestler Henry Del Rio, who thought he could translate his personal love of performing magic into a successful wrestling persona. Debuting on TV with no music and an awkward introduction, Phantasio was not a hit with fans. Perhaps the oddest part of the whole character was his “performance” when he came to the ring during his debut. He wore a plastic mime mask, which he removed to reveal very similar mime makeup underneath. When he took off the mask, there was ribbon that attached to his mouth that he kept pulling out and pulling out, in classic magician form. He then gave the ribbon, from his own mouth, to a little child in the audience. Instead of charming, the character comes off as very creepy.
Kevin Nash is a legend in professional wrestling. Having hugely successful careers in both the WWE and WCW (as well as other independent promotions), Nash will go down as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in history. However, that doesn’t make him immune to the bad gimmick. Unknown to many casual fans, before Kevin Nash was Kevin Nash, he was actually Oz. Yes, as in the “Wizard of Oz.”
As probably one of the laziest gimmicks on this list, WCW debuted Oz in 1991, and the execution was severely lacking. While he came out in a full robe, gray beard, and wrinkly face, with a manager named The Great Wizard, Oz didn’t have much of a backstory at all. In fact, when he took off his Oz clothing, he was just a normal looking (though admittedly massive) wrestler with no facial hair. The hat, wrinkly face and bushy beard were, in fact, just a fancy rubber mask. The horrible gimmick only lasted a month until it was scrapped after a disagreement about pay between Nash and WCW. He was kept on the roster, but a new persona was created for him.
4 THE BERZERKER
The Berzerker is another name on this list with an interesting look, but horrible backstory. Debuting in 1991, The Berzerker was initially just known as The Viking. A character donning a Viking helmet and clothing, a sword and a giant beard, The Berzerker was an unorthodox wrestler, to say the least.
Defeating most of his opponents by count out, after throwing them out of the ring, The Berzerker was also known from his shouting of “Huss! Huss!” over and over while licking his hand. Despite the horrible character, The Berzerker went on to have relative success in the WWF, wrestling in the 1991 “Survivor Series,” as well as contending for the World Championship against Bret Hart. His most famous moment might be during his feud with The Undertaker, where The Berzerker “stabbed” The Undertaker with his sword. The Berzerker was last seen on “Monday Night Raw” in 1993, shortly after his defeat at the hands of Bret Hart,
3 THE SHOCKMASTER
The Shockmaster has a special place in the heart of professional wrestling historians. To fully understand the tragedy that is The Shockmaster, you have to watch his first appearance in WCW. While hyping a huge eight-man tag match featuring some of the biggest WCW stars, Sting introduced their mystery partner in what was supposed to be a huge, dramatic reveal. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. After the camera pans to a portion of a false wall and pyrotechnics go off, The Shockmaster crashes through... but immediately trips and falls down.
His mask -- a repainted and glittered Stormtrooper helmet -- falls off his head as he scrambles to regain his composure. He then begins gesturing before the prerecorded voice track plays, and the other wrestlers are heard on hot mics making fun of him. It’s one of the most hilarious and sad moments in pro wrestling history. WCW went on to pivot and change the character from an intimidating wrestler to a bumbling idiot. However, the stigma followed The Shockmaster and his full potential was never realized.
2 XANTA CLAUS
Everyone likes Santa Claus, especially the little children who watched professional wrestling in the ‘90s. Well, in what would later be seen as a horrible idea, the WWF decided that they wanted to have their own Santa Claus character. Instead of the jolly old man who gave presents to children on Christmas, they decided to make their Santa into a villain.
Xanta Claus was a character that debuted in 1995. Originally dressed as Santa, the character ended up becoming a bad guy after he ambushed another wrestler and worked with the legendary "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, who said he had "bought off" Santa with his incredible wealth. During his next appearance, it was revealed that it wasn’t Santa at all. In fact, it was Xanta Claus, who comes from the South Pole to steal children’s presents. Instead of a fluffy white beard, he has a short black beard. His red suit didn’t have the signature white trim. Instead, his was colored with a decidedly more nefarious black. He made only a couple other appearances, and was soon forgotten by many fans, to the sadness of almost no one.
1 REPO MAN
Some of the worst gimmicks in professional wrestling history revolved around everyday jobs being turned into larger than life roles. From an evil dentist to a plumber with entrance music featuring toilet flushes, some of the worst gimmicks have involved occupations. None, however, can compete with the Repo Man character from the early ‘90s. Repo Man was, as you have undoubtedly guessed, an evil repo man who loved repossessing other wrestlers’ property.
Donning a black mask similar to that of Zorro and mannerisms that would fit in any campy comic book film, the Repo Man was a horrible gimmick that shockingly went on for almost two full years. The Repo Man’s most ridiculous feud was with Macho Man Randy Savage, who was upset with Repo after he stole Macho Man’s famous hat. Other famous feuds included British Bulldog, Virgil and The Big Boss Man. You would think a gimmick this lazy wouldn’t be popular, but Repo Man was featured on multiple TV appearances, including Pay-Per-Views, before his last match in 1993.
Who was your favorite WWF weirdo back in the day? Let us know in the comments!