Induction Special: The Fandango Effect: Gimmicks Spared from Induction by Great Performers

67 Submitted by on Thu, 11 April 2013, 19:00

fandango

Color us here at WrestleCrap surprised.

When Fandango’s vignettes began playing, ol’ RD was about to engrave the cha-cha dancer’s name onto the 2013 Gooker Award plaque well in advance. I myself have tallied many Power Crappings ballots that featured Johnny Curtis’ alter ego among the selections.

It seemed Fandango was destined for induction from the minute his, “Mind if I cut in?” promo first appeared on Raw.

But on two levels, inducting the Ballroom Brawler will now be impossible.

First off, there’s the gusto with which he plays the part. Watching him in action gives you the impression that he *is* Fandango, and not merely “Johnny Curtis in dance attire.” He lives Fandango, he breathes the role. He didn’t break stride in his appearance on Opie and Anthony’s radio show, leaving the second that the hosts failed to get his name right.

The length to which he lives the role was evident on Monday night, after Chris Jericho brutalized him with a flurried assault. When Fandango was announced the winner via DQ, the nearly-comatose dancer took the mic and, with gasping and pained breaths, insisted upon the actual pretentious pronunciation of his name.

That’s dedication to the role.

And speaking of that Monday night, as we all have seen and heard, the sarcastic and lively crowd hijacked the show via guerrilla chanting. Among the highlights of their assault on the staleness was 16,000 fans in East Rutherford “da-da-da’ing” Fandango’s theme song while rocking around like a goofy mosh pit.

As we speak, in an act of further good-natured culture jamming, fans are downloading Fandango’s catchy cha-cha theme off if iTunes and Amazon to see how far they can get it up the charts.

It’s neat to see a character once doomed by our justified cynicism break through in a way that sees fans get in on the act.

In the annals of WWE history, this isn’t the first time this has happened. There’s a good number of gimmicks and characters that could very easily have wound up on this very site, had the performers in said roles given less than 110% percent, or they simply have not been suited for the role in the first place.

Indeed, Fandango is just the latest in a long line of “coulda been crap, but ended up working out,” thanks to his commitment to the act, and a timely show of fan solidarity.

Here’s the best examples of gimmicks that could just have easily been enshrined by RD and the gang.

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jomo

 

Take for instance, one John Morrison. After inexplicably becoming ECW Champion in 2007 (inexplicably, as he’d spent the past 6 months doing nothing but be scenery next to the heavily-pushed Melina), the then-Johnny Nitro underwent a makeover. Now instead of being a heatless pretty boy, he would now be a heatless impersonator of The Doors’ enigmatic frontman.

Gone were his seldom used Sunset Blvd/reality-show-brat witticisms, now replaced by melancholy musings and proclamations, delivered in a breathy and bored monotone. Essentially, he’d just become Raven with a washboard stomach, and little character motivation.

But Morrison was a skilled in-ring performer, as evidenced in his matches with CM Punk over the ECW Title. Supplementing his innovative gymnastic style was his improved promo work, becoming the understated half of a partnership with the bombastic Miz. Together, they got each other over, and were WWE’s best tag team from 2007-09.

Although Morrison, in the process, ended up ditching most of the Leaves-of-Grass somberness that defined his persona early on, his inspiring ring work and acquired showmanship came to define him more than being a second-rate crooner of “LA Woman.”

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razor

 

But Morrison wasn’t the only character ripped off of a pop culture icon. While Jim Morrison was a real-life figure, Tony Montana isn’t. The polarizing drug lord from the regarded 1983 classic film Scarface is imitatible, as Scott Hall proved nine years later with the role of Razor Ramon. Although Al Pacino, of Italian heritage, had no issues with a Hispanic accent, Hall’s attempt was a little more farcical.

Nobody had ever confused the decidedly-Caucasian Hall (from Minnesota) for being Latino, and the accent he employed would have been fine for a white guy like me going as Montana for Halloween. Even layering himself with tan after tan wasn’t going to fool very many people.

A lesser man may have died a quick death in the role, with the world never ‘being his’, but Hall had one thing going for him: sheer presence. Being 6’7″ with an arsenal of exciting power moves (namely his falling death drop, renamed The Razor’s Edge) was supplemented by his confident promos, whether threatening or playful. His natural swagger could have carried many gimmicks on this site to better days.

And to think, Razor Ramon was born when Vince McMahon suggested to Hall that he work as Sgt. Slaughter’s new recruit, Private Scott Hall. Hall suggested a “better idea”, asking Vince if he’d ever seen Scarface. Vince said he hadn’t, and an impromptu demonstration of Pacino’s revered character led to WWE saying hello to “The Bad Guy.”

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hurricane

 

When WCW was acquired by WWE in 2001, I was delighted to see a few of my favorites cross over with their jobs in tact. Among the likes of Booker T, Lance Storm, and Diamond Dallas Page was WCW Cruiserweight Champion “Sugar” Shane Helms. Armed with a breathtakingly deadly finisher, The Vertebreaker, and a style similar to the popular Hardy Boyz (his real life chums), Helms was certain to be a hit in WWE.

But it wouldn’t come as “Sugar Shane”. After dropping the name “Shane” (can’t have two Shanes with Vince’s son around), Helms would undergo a dramatic repackaging. With the invasion angle foundering, and many of the crossover guys lacking identifiable gimmicks, Helms’ love of comic books came into play.

An innocent conversation with Alliance leader Steve Austin about Helms’ Green Lantern tattoo spurred Helms becoming a superhero himself. The Hurricane was born, bedecked in green and black, wearing a mask to hide his identity (*wink*). But the character was played as a goof who everyone rolled their eyes at, and often got manhandled by larger foes.

Despite that, Helms was a multiple time Cruiserweight and Tag Team Champion with the gimmick. His mask was a top seller at WWE Shop, and he played the role so over the top, he was more fun to laugh with as opposed to at. He even got a catchphrase out of it (“WASSUPWITDAT?”), and remains a memorable character in WWE’s annals.

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htm

 

What about an Elvis impersonator? Surely, even though the wrestling world has had its share of kooks and cretins, that even someone looking and dressing like Memphis’ most famous son would be pretty dumb. Especially if you brought him into a company as a good guy alongside Hulk Hogan and Ricky Steamboat, and expected fans to get behind him.

That’s what WWE did, importing Roy Farris in 1986. Farris had competed as Honky Tonk Wayne prior to his WWE jump, but he, like many, made his greatest mark in sports entertainment’s titan. After getting a negative reaction for the first few months of his WWE run, the now-Honky Tonk Man became a villain, still in the Elvis garb. Good call.

Managed by Jimmy Hart (taking on a “Colonel” title, a la Tom Parker), Honky became an obnoxious punching bag for good guys like Jake Roberts to wail on. A big twist came in June 1987, when Honky upset mega-star Ricky Steamboat to become Intercontinental Champion. For the next fifteen months, nobody, from Steamboat to Randy Savage to Brutus Beefcake, could get the title off of him. Honky always managed to escape somehow.

And that was the beauty of the role. Honky was easily hateable, always thanking the fans for being a beautiful audience with no sincerity in his tone. House show revenue with Honky as IC champ was big, as fans lined up outside arenas, hoping to be the ones to see the cocky charlatan finally get beaten. Could another wrestler have played Honky Tonk Man quite like Roy Farris? It would be a daunting challenge.

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umaga

 

Over the years, WWE has cycled through the concept of the “dangerous island savage” gimmick, to the point where there aren’t many fans who would buy into it as realistic. While the likes of King Curtis Iaukea, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and the Wild Samoans were successful in the days of wrestling yore, the gimmick seemingly died out with the Headshrinkers in the 1990s.

By 2006, the audience was much hipper to the room than it once was, thanks to the proliferation of wrestling news and history on the internet. WWE at the time was still marketing toward adults a little more, so it was a surprise when they decided to create a throwback character: Umaga, the Samoan Bulldozer.

Speaking no English and, well, bulldozing opponents between his incoherent screams, Umaga became a fixture on WWE Raw, even if reactions to him were a little lukewarm early. Umaga was the younger brother of Tama and Rikishi, who both played similar roles earlier in their careers, but those days had long since died out.

Umaga, however, found traction in two places. First, he made a great foil for John Cena’s Superman act, engaging in a violent feud with the champ, and looking like a real threat. Later, he became Vince McMahon’s dial-a-henchman. After he’d perfected his act as an unstable primal beast, he fit the bill perfectly, helping McMahon steamroll Bobby Lashley and anyone else the boss saw fit to destroy.

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goldust

 

In 1995, Dustin Rhodes would make his WWE return after a fruitful four year run in WCW, earnestly adding to the championship legacy of his father, “The American Dream”, Dusty Rhodes. WWE at the time was much more circus-like than he remembered in 1991, and a zany gimmick was the order of the day. Little did anyone know how the weird idea for Dustin would come to identify him, in a very positive way.

Through a series of unsettling vignettes in Hollywood, Dustin transformed into Goldust, a heavily made-up thespian with theatrical darkness and heavily-implied homosexual overtones. It was a drastic change from the humble Texan he’d been playing for his whole career, and many wrote it off as just another ridiculous WWE cartoon character.

But the Goldust character had bite. By copping feels of his opponents, and displaying behavior not unlike a tortured artist with a cocktail personality, Goldust became known for his twisted mind games. Nobody in their right mind would have believed Dustin Rhodes could pull off this role, and none of those people could have probably even conceived it.

What seemed like a role tailor-made for WrestleCrap’s sorrowed halls actually became Dustin’s calling card, to the point where he would play it off and on through his WWE runs. This year, Goldust received a deafening ovation when he appeared at the Royal Rumble, engaging in fisticuffs with younger brother Cody. Explain that to anyone, even me, in 1995, and none of us would have believed it.

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rico

 

Speaking of characters with camp elements to them, this brings discussion to Rico Constantino. You wouldn’t think a former police officer and American Gladiators contestant would lend himself well to a demeaning gay stereotype, but Rico put all of his energy into his role, having more fun with it than most wrestlers might have.

Rico debuted in WWE in 2002 as the “stylist” for another pair of faux flames in Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. Defined by his muttonchops and a prissy attitude, Rico would leave the duo for Three Minute Warning later in the year. By spring 2003, the trio had gone their separate ways, and Rico was left with nothing to do.

That summer, Rico camped his image even more, borrowing pages from underappreciated legend “Exotic” Adrian Street. Now wearing more make-up and frills, Rico was accompanied by Jackie Gayda and put forth as a singles star. That had minimal success, and Rico was merely a bit player until he and Jackie were traded to Smackdown in 2004, when the former cop went for broke with the gimmick.

Now paired with the straight-laced Charlie Haas, Rico mashed every stereotype button possible, groping opponents (including asking Rikishi for a stinkface, and begging a reluctant D-Von Dudley to headbutt him in the crotch) as a means of getting in their heads, and making them susceptible to defeat. The fish-out-of-water duo proved popular, and Rico’s antics proved highly entertaining.

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doink

 

Of course, one can’t discuss WWE’s circus-like atmosphere without mentioning the resident clown. In the fall of 1992, Vince McMahon brought veteran Matt Borne into the fold. But instead of being plain ol’ Matt Borne, he was broached with the task of playing the evil and twisted Doink the Clown. Borne admitted in an interview that he was taken aback, but says Vince insisted that he thought only Borne could pull it off.

After studying Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise in Stephen King’s “It”, Borne cloaked himself in the grease paint and became a mean-spirited bozo who tormented fans, and pulled pranks on wrestlers. His first big angle was attacking Crush with a fake human arm filled with batteries and lead, after faking an apology to the big Hawaiian.

But unlike a lot of WrestleCrap gimmicks, Doink the Clown (as a heel) had more than one layer to it. While he was, indeed, a deranged harlequin, he was also a skilled wrestler, something Bobby Heenan would always point out, and Vince McMahon and Randy Savage would begrudgingly concede. It seemed the clown schtick was merely a distraction to the opponent before they were blinded by his masterful wrestling and ring generalship.

Doink would have great matches with Savage, Bret Hart, Marty Jannetty, and Mr. Perfect, alternating between his twisted antics and dominant grappling with a hint of bi-polar tendencies. It’s hard not to admire the way in which Borne took a silly idea and played it in a way that requires timing, presence, and his own spark of madness.

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eugene

 

Just look at that picture. Look at it long and hard. There is no conceivable reason that Nick Dinsmore’s run as Eugene, the mentally retarded nephew of Eric Bischoff, should have been spared a trip to RD Reynolds’ induction gallows. Unless, of course, you remember how Eugene was originally presented to the audience. In which case, it was a gimmick with so many possibilities, and of course WWE squandered them.

The fact that Dinsmore was a skilled wrestler that had taken Chris Benoit to the limit when Benoit visited OVW several years before was vital to the role. Instead of simply being a slobbering dimwit who fans should feel sorry for, Eugene was a savant. He had watched wrestling his whole life, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling holds as a result.

Eugene began his WWE tenure with Bischoff assigning an indignant William Regal to be his handler. Regal wanted to rid himself of the well-meaning nuisance, and tried to torture him in a wrestling training session. Instead, Eugene outwrestled him, giggling all the while, and gradually won Regal’s love and respect.

By the time Eugene had made his in-ring debut, he was a star. Although his slow intellect would be his Achilles heel, he would compensate by ravaging opponents with moves that hadn’t been seen in years, making him dangerously unpredictable. He was never the same after Triple H got the better of him, and played a broader stereotype of the mentally challenged going forward, thus robbing the gimmick of its appeal.

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demos

 

Longtime WWE fans might have a hard time believing that Demolition would fit WrestleCrap’s criterion, and for the most part, they certainly didn’t. Ax and Smash deserve their place among WWE’s greatest tag teams ever, and lived up to their name during their heyday from 1987 to 1990. But it wasn’t always the company’s intention that they would be used in their dominant capacity.

When they debuted in early 1987, Ax was pushing 40 (after wrestling for years as Masked Superstar) and Smash was played by Randy Colley, better known as Moondog Rex, who wasn’t much younger. They were covered in much more garish and laughable face paint, and actually had glitter in their hair. The original appearances of the Demos actually were inducted into this site.

It seemed as though the team was just a petty joke at first, meant to ridicule the Road Warriors in the NWA after Vince was unable to give them the guaranteed contracts they wanted in the mid-1980s to jump ship. But when Barry Darsow (a friend of Animal and Hawk’s) took over the role of Smash weeks after the debut, the team hit it big.

Demolition became known for their catchy Sabbath/KISS-sounding hard rock theme, their convincingly brutal offense, and their equally-convincing caustic promos. The fans essentially turned them face by cheering them often, and they parlayed this winning formula into three tag team title reigns, one of which lasted from March 1988 to July 1989.

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jbl

 

The image above was maddening to many a fan in 2004. When little-regarded tag team wrestler Bradshaw transformed into John Bradshaw Layfield in the spring of that year, essentially mixing Stan Hansen and Ted Dibiase into one persona, nobody was buying the career midcarder as a threat to Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, or any other main event player. This was a man who traded the Hardcore Title with Johnny Stamboli, mind you.

But JBL, a financial guru in real life whose made many appearances on FOX News and FOX Business, cultivated this deeper persona, as if his life and career depended on it (the latter for sure). He was pushed over Guerrero to become WWE Champion in June 2004, and he’d hold the gold for over nine months. Smackdown PPV buyrates dwindled in 2004 with him on top, something his detractors mentioned often.

Hindsight was much kinder to JBL, as fans who refused to buy into him as a main eventer grew to appreciate his willingness to make any babyface look good. JBL willfully played the coward, displaying a never-before-seen wit that ranged from exaggerated to subtle, and became one of the most entertaining members of the roster.

In retirement, he’s been a welcome change of pace in the commentary booth, calling out Michael Cole for his inconsistencies, and providing insight and knowledge that Jerry Lawler can’t be bothered to add. When he was “Bradshaw pretending to be Dibiase”, he was boring, but when he fused his natural personality into the role, JBL worked out well.

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rtc

 

WWE has never been a company to shy away from hitting back at its critics. Whether it’s been Vince McMahon giving editorials against Phil Mushnick on his weekend programs in the 1990s (solely in the New York market), or using Jillian Hall to mock Brooke Hogan’s singing after Vince and Hulk Hogan had a falling out in 2006, Vince is known for being childish at times.

So it’s no surprise that WWE spoofed the Parents Television Council (PTC) in 2000 with the Right to Censor (RTC). The PTC was a conservative group that championed decency in television programs, and labeled WWE’s Attitude product to be the antithesis of family programming. The PTC urged WWE’s sponsors to boycott the product, and that led to WWE making Stevie Richards over into a zealot like L. Brent Bozell.

While much of WWE’s booking that’s used to spite someone instead of entertain fans would be grounds for induction, the RTC drew massive heel heat. The Godfather and Val Venis joined the cause, abandoning their risque personas to “fight the good fight”. Add Bull Buchanan as muscle, and Ivory as shrill female presence, and you have a very hateable group.

During their run of censoring female nudity and sneak attacking the likes of the Dudley Boyz and Chyna, they made it easy for faces to get over at their expense, which is the hallmark of any good villain. They were largely vanquished by the time Wrestlemania X7 came to an end, and that meant the end of their appropriately annoying theme song as well.

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undertaker

 

Likely nobody would have guessed that the same “Mean” Mark Callous that jobbed to Lex Luger’s clothesline in 1990 would become the most enduring character in WWE history. And nobody in 1990 believed he would do it while playing a zombie mortician that was nearly impervious to pain. Had anyone other than Mark Callaway taken on the role of “The Phenom”, there’d probably be no ‘streak’ and no legend to speak of.

Countless entries onto this site have been menacing characters, meant to instill fear in the hearts of opponents and fans alike. While they failed, The Undertaker succeeded by being downright frightening. His cold, unblinking stare was complimented by his chilling movements that were less walk and more stalk. Framed by Jim Johnston’s rendition of the Funeral Dirge, and The Undertaker was a winner.

In spite of the ridiculous moments his character has endured, like the feud with Giant Gonzalez, his levitation at the 1994 Royal Rumble, and his involvement with the Ministry of Darkness, Undertaker has soldiered forward, his reputation never taking a hit. When you master a difficult character and leave an indelible mark on the fans the way he has, you tend to get lots of leeway.

It does speak volumes that, for 22 years and counting, The Undertaker has been a main eventer player, one almost always welcome, never out of place, and he’s done it playing a character virtually nobody else could play without looking foolish. For these reasons, The Undertaker might just be the greatest gimmick of all time.

Written by

Justin Henry is WrestleCrap's inquiring newsman, thirsting for knowledge always. He enjoys the art of satire, as you'll find in many of his works here at WrestleCrap. Drop him a line on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jrhwriting)
67 Responses to "Induction Special: The Fandango Effect: Gimmicks Spared from Induction by Great Performers"
  1. Scott "The Man" Matias says:

    What about John Cena? A white rapper? Who ever thought that would go over?

    • Lgfvdfdf says:

      Exactly, I’m amazed Cena wasn’t included. I know his shtick has got tiresome now but it’s easy to forget how and why he got over in the first place. He could have been regarded as one of the best anti-hero champions in history, instead of a guy trying his best to make a stale blue-chipper character work with only occasional glimpses of what he’s really capable of.

      • Walter Kovacs says:

        The white rapper heel becoming a face due to being so entertaining thing isn’t actually new though. Before John Cena, there was Too Cool [which started out as Too Hot rebranding themselves as white boy rappers, but then turned into dancing with Rikishi].

  2. Raven7309 says:

    “Roy” Farris??!! It’s “Wayne” Farris, for crying out loud!!
    With regards to the rest of these characters:
    When Goldust first debuted, I had absolutely no idea who he was. When my friend’s buddy told me that he was Dustin Rhodes, I was stunned.
    I actually viewed JBL as a wrestling version of JR Ewing from “Dallas.” When he moved to the commentary table with Cole, they reminded me of a 21st century version of Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura.

    • Justin Henry says:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Honky_Tonk_Man

      I can’t read his real name, what’s it say?

      • Steve "Hard Rock" Diamond says:

        WIKIPEDIA Lies!!! As far as I know, his real name is, in fact, Wayne Farris

        I wouldn’t really rely on wikipedia for any facts, Justin

        • Steve "Hard Rock" Diamond says:

          Never mind, i guess wayne’s his “middle” name…

          • Falcdango says:

            Fun fact

            During the Kings questline (a bunch of Elvis Impersonators) in Fallout New Vegas, there are 3 guys you need to talk to. They are called – Roy, Wayne, and Farris.

  3. Luchaporn says:

    Jillian Hall had nothing to do with Brooke Hogan. She’s said in plenty of interviews that it started when somebody heard her singing backstage and told her she was terrible, she decided to do so on a talent show and that’s pretty much it. Had squat to do with Brooke.

    • RipplinrrR says:

      I didn’t (at the time, at least) think it had to do with Brooke either, but more to mock shows like American Idol. *shrug*

  4. Stephen says:

    I’m really glad that Fandango is gaining some ground with the fans and I hope the singing of his theme tune lasts beyond Monday’s post-Wrestlemania Raw.

    Speaking of these kind of gimmicks, I’ve noticed “Pirate” Paul Birchill on the past inductions page and think he’d be a shoe-in for this. It was annoyingly short-lived, however, so I guess that’s why he’s not. That poor guy had a string of bad luck.

    • John Darc says:

      Definitely. It was super over and failed only due to Vince McMahon’s old-man-ness, and it got inducted here. I know the induction is actually pretty accepting and apologetic.

  5. Cory Schibler says:

    I’d have to say Leo Kruger has already made this list for me. A South African big game hunter? In 2013? But good gravy is this man fun to watch. I can’t wait to see him on the main roster.

  6. Jerichoholic Ninja says:

    Mankind and Dude Love come to mind. Disco Inferno as well.

    Most of these make sense, but I am quite surprised that Rico and Right to Censor haven’t been inducted yet. I could have sword I’d read an entry about RTC, but it must have been in one of the books.

  7. Reflecto says:

    How can you add Undertaker on the list and not also add Kane?

    -All of the WTF-ery and And Still It Got Over (ASIGO)-ness of Undertaker,
    -In an equal main event-caliber spot for The Undertaker,
    -in an equal amount of time as The Undertaker (Undertaker had been around for 23 years, but had at least two extended breaks in 1994 and 1999-2000, plus being repackaged to the American Bad-Ass, a more straightforward gimmick, from 2000-2004- putting him as The Deadman for 17 years off and on. By contrast, Kane had the same gimmick from 1997 to the present day without any extended time off, giving him 16 consecutive years as the Big Red Machine),
    -Plus, Kane added the “EVIL version of established superstar” gimmick that never really got over.

    • Wrestlecrap's Janitor says:

      And to believe that Kane was the Christmas Creature AND Dr.Isaac Yankem DDS in prior gimmicks.

      You know, after reading this, I can kind of respect certain gimmicks even if I hate the ridiculousness of them.

      That being said, why not the Godfather? He went from playing Papa Shango to the Godfather to the Goodfather and back to the Godfather. Only he could have pulled off that gimmick in a convincing way because he was such a fun guy to cheer!

      • Wrestlecrap's Janitor says:

        And before I forget, Kama Mustafa.

      • Walter Kovacs says:

        Kane definitely is up there with Undertaker for “how is it that it works”. While Kane has recently (and a few times in the past) gone the goofy route, it was less “this is a goofy character” and instead “it’s funny that this character is being goofy”. While Taker has been involved in some very stupid angles, he hasn’t had the necrophilia, testicular electrocution, mocking of his burnt up junk, etc … that Kane has.

        • BigPoppaNasty says:

          No character in the history of professional wrestling has been involved in more bad angles or bad booking than Kane. You could put Kane up against anyone. Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Sting, Ric Flair, and Goldust all kneel before Kane in the bad angles department. We’re talking about a guy that debuted as a guy who set his parents on fire, had a 24 hour WWF Title reign, has set Jim Ross on fire, electrocuted Shane McMahon’s testicles, had a guitar solo during Stone Cold’s Christmas party, attacked Pete Rose as his personal high point of three separate Wrestlemania’s, was accused of raping a corpse, removed his mask to show that his face is covered in charcoal, played Jacob Goodnight, had a fake version of himself with a bad perm attack him and defeat him in a match, impregnated Lita and feuded with Matt Hardy over it, had Snitsky “accidentially” abort Lita’s baby and feuded with him over it, feuded with Big Daddy V, feuded with Edge over his “father” Paul Bearer’s safe return while he was being brought from arena to arena tied to a chair, Embraced The Hate, pushed a wheelchair bound Zack Ryder off a stage, and has turned face and heel aproximately 678 times.

  8. Cameron A. says:

    What’s even more amazing about Goldust is his 2002-03 run. The Booker T/Goldust odd-couple tag team should never have been as entertaining as it was, and it led into Booker T’s 2003 main-event push.

    Goldust’s subsequent “electrocution,” and ensuing stutter/Tourette’s-like symptom, should have killed the character. The gimmick wasn’t great, but Goldust played it goofy and over-the-top. Hell, Goldust was used to prop up Lance Storm’s “not boring” gimmick, and Goldust retained the stutter in later WWE runs.

  9. Forest George says:

    I liked Rosey back in the day. I really wanted him to get a mega-push.

  10. Walt says:

    How about Gangrel? Vampire gimmick which evidenced by Kevin Thorn, can be goofy. Gangrel made it work though. He had the blood baths, his theme music was good, his entrance was unique, he could wrestle, was tough and the Brood were an interesting faction.

    • 80sGuy says:

      The only thing I wish he would have done was less Kool-Aid grinning. I liked the vampire gimmick and his look, but he was always cheesing. I guess I just wanted him a bit more “serious” and menacing at the time…

      Loved his DDT, too.

  11. Forest George says:

    Wait a minute, Scott Hall is from Minnesota? Next you’ll tell me that Scott Simpson wasn’t really from Russia?

    • Wrestlecrap's Janitor says:

      Steve Simpson was from South Africa and when I was younger, I swear he was just another Von Erich from another mother.

  12. SaintStryfe says:

    One more I think was an induction but I think would have worked:
    Waylon Mercy, seemingly a reject from “One Flew over the Cookoo’s Nest”, with a creepy tag line (“Lives are gonna be in Waylon Mercy’s hands… know what I mean?”), a menacing persona and a few squashes before injuries took him out of any real game.

  13. Greg says:

    Norman should have been on here, too. He was HUGELY over when he turned face and started tossing the teddy bears into the audience. Shaw was never a great talent, but damn did he make that gimmick work.

  14. SaintStryfe says:

    Walt: also cool was that Gangrel was actually a licensed name – Gangrel was a clan of Kindred in White Wolf’s “Vampire, the Masquerade” pnp game. In the game, they were feral, city-avoiding vampires who could occasionally work with open-minded Werewolves (in the game’s universe, Garou, the werewolves, were almost instantly antagonistic toward Kindred, the Vampires). Old WWF games would be marked as that.

    • Walt says:

      Yeah, you’re right, I forgot about that. Ha, Kindred…actually used to e-fed as a vampire character based on Gangrel named Kindred.

  15. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Mike Rotondo was awesome as I.R.S. He took a lame character and really put effort into it.

  16. Rose Harmon says:

    Brodus Clay in his current incarnation could be included as well. I wanted to hate it for being a stupid gimmick, but I started to really enjoy it.

    • Walter Kovacs says:

      Hell, the gimmick was actually able to salvage Tensai in the process, which didn’t seem possible for a while.

  17. Kray Z says:

    Most obvious omissions are Cena and Jay Lethal. A white rapper and a Randy Savage impersonator. Neither should have had ANY long-term potential let alone resulted in multiple title reigns each, but they did.

  18. RD Reynolds says:

    Glad to see everyone liked this so much, I think Justin did a great job. And yeah, we can probably do a part 2 at some point…

  19. Sharpe Puppy says:

    I call bullshit on Eugene. Jim Cornette stated that gimmick was given to Dinsmore solely to kill his career because he was a top guy from OVW, and they were trying to get Cornette fired at that point. HHH had nothing to do with it.

    Same think with Doink. FUCK Doink, I’m sure Matt Borne is a nice guy in real life, but that gimmick was so awful it made me quit wrestling for many years.

  20. James says:

    I still want to know if Herb Kunze (remember him?) was right, and that Mark Calloway was originally going to get the Gobbledygooker role as “the Eggman”?

    Though just a midcard gimmick, we must give props to Barry Darsow again for making Repo Man so over the top it was impossible to not like. I think Akeem could fit in here too, as George Gray made that work similarly and hey, he got another year of main events out of the character.

    I never disliked Fandango…though I liked Johnny Curtis’ NXT persona even more.

  21. patricko says:

    biggest issue with Doink was that he was just annoying for so long first, before they made him threatening. Never really got the dark, disturbed side as well as it could have been done.
    And he didn’t study Tim Curry’s role in IT very well, if that’s what he ended up with.
    And since so many people really hate / are phobic toward clowns, seems a logical character to try to present.

    I don’t have any real disagreements with the list, but am surprised Rico’s on there, but not Mankind, Val Venis, Kane, hell Warrior lived the gimmick, and was crazy over, and I doubt some other minimally talented body builder would have been able to slap on the face paint and get that character over so thoroughly.

  22. AlexAlexaAndruanAdru says:

    Nice list, minus Eugene who was just obnoxious. though “Macho Man” Jay Lethal, Val Venis, and I.R.S should all be on the list. Just wanna say that it’s great Fandago has gotten over, considering how WWE was screwing him by delaying his debut, as Curtis has really put his all into the gimmick like he did with “Creepy” Curtis on NXT.

  23. Forest George says:

    Those guys did make those character works. There were a few others, that were crap – but I really wanted them to get over.

    “Big Bully” Busnick: I was big into watching a documentary called Legendary Champions. It was made in 1968, and it featured boxing champions from 1882 until 1930. So, when Big Bully came to the ringside with his manager, Harvey Wippleman – I thought it was cool that somebody had created a time-machine and brought the Bully back from the 1890′s. I know better now, but I was only about 13 back then and I really wanted to see this guy get over.

    Owen Hart, the black Hart: Yeah, I’m a little bitter about this one. There was so much they could have done with him when he came back, and they should have. Of course, Hunter ends up burying him before Hunter really had “blank check” powers to do so, and get basically forced to turn heel to end up working a program with anybody worthy. Not to mention the whole dumb, “relive the Steve Austin” injury, which morphed into the relive the Blue Blazer. That had something really special they could have done with Owen in 1997. I’m not talking about world titles, because Shawn was never going to do that in 1997. I just think they could have given him a better baby-face run than they did. Austin probably was a lot to blame for that too, due to the neck-injury. [In hindsight, I loved the Blue Blazer comeback - I just hate the fact they had to bother with the high-risk stunts. I kind of liked Jack Swaggart because he looks a lot like Owen Hart]

    The Berserker (Viking): I kid you not. Another heel from the 1990′s of WWF-dom, that I actually liked. Again, I was hoping for a mega-push for John Nord back then. I thought the gimmick was funny. I loved the fact he loved to throw guys out of the ring and take countout wins. I thought he be a great opponent for Hogan. It just never happened.

    Rosey, The Superhero in Training: Yep, years ago I laughed because of the inside dirty jokes. At the same time, however, I just liked the fact that Rosey came off as such as comedy character. Comedy might not get you to the main event, although it did help Edge, Christian, and the Rock. Yes, they were great workers too – but you’d think Rosey could have been the brother that got the push. I mean the dude lasted for almost two years, and by Taboo Tuesday 2005 (or was it 2004) I knew by the boos – he was never going to get over. It’s sad, because he was a entertaining comedian.

    The Bar-Room Brawler: Not that fandango dude, but the guy that almost beat up R.D. Reynolds, as he sang Happy Birthday to some retired person. That guy should have gotten a WCW match at least.

    Charlie Norris: Another guy that I really wanted WCW to push, just because of his name. Big Charlie Norris.

    The Gambler: Why did WCW jobbers have such cool names?

    The Italian Stallion: Another WCW jobber, that should have gotten some kind of push.

  24. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    A good entertainer can almost always make a crappy gimmick watchable.

  25. BigPoppaNasty says:

    I don’t know how this list can exist without having Val Venis, The Godfather, and “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry. That’s like the Holy Trinity of bad sex-themed gimmick that guys got over with. I mean, Mark Henry still gets “Sexual Chocolate” chants and Godfather gets a huge pop everytime that music hits.

    Also… THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE! THAT’S GOTTA BE!!!

  26. TjM says:

    Say what you will about JBL but the man could make opponents look good. His violent match with Cena I think “Made” Cena

  27. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Mankind should definitely be on this list – easily one of the most bizarre characters ever that could have bombed

    Mickie James’ original Lesbian Stalker character could have been a candidate had the object of her infatuation not have been Trish Stratus – imagine if it had been the Ultimate Heat Machine Stephanie “Nipple H” McMahon-Levesque?

  28. ReReallyrPeteGasWopie says:

    I said on here, that I was calling Fandango an induction during the what, 4 months of vignettes? Well, I was wrong…. way wrong. As soon as he came out and refused to wrestle, I loved it. The score cards, awesome. And the match at Wrestlemania where he got his ass beat, and won with a roll up? EXCELLENT. I’ve always been a fan of “heel” characters, because I feel WWE doesn’t try to force them down everyone’s throat…. and now that fans are reacting to this fact, I feel like they are going to blow it with Ziggler, Fandango, and The Sheild…. trying to do what they did with Del Rio and The Miz. They have a long history of doing so, and I really hope they just go with things the way they are, because those 3 I named are (add CM Punk) the only thing I find entertaining at this point.

  29. John Darc says:

    I had no idea Doink was ever supposed to be good. Ironic that Matt Borne was “the only guy for the role” when so many others have played Doink since and generally jobbed as Doink.

  30. Doc 902714 says:

    I always wondered why Steve Blackman never got over. He had no personality, was a no-nonsense ruffian and has to be responsible for introducing the Kendo Sticks (and in large part, hardcore wrestling) to WWE. I liked him as the Costello to Al Snow’s Abbot in Head cheese. His match with Shane McMahon at SummerSlam 2001 is highly underrated

  31. The Scanian Maniac says:

    I’m a bit surprised over this statement:

    “The Undertaker has been a main eventer player, one almost always welcome, never out of place, and he’s done it playing a character virtually nobody else could play without looking foolish. ”

    Haven’t his ordinary, boring self “American Bad Ass” gimmick, with his bike and a dishcloth around his head, been inducted?

  32. Tempest_Fennac says:

    I think the main problem with Eugene was that the gimmick had a short shelf life due to getting annoying quickly (there only seemed to be so much he could do as a Rainman impersonator). It’s a shame they didn’t just turn him heel by revealing that the whole thing was an act; it would have at least worked better then turning him heel while keeping the gimmick, which didn’t seem to go anywhere beyond assaulting Jim Duggan and D-X.

    • The Scanian Maniac says:

      I think the problem for Eugene was the heavy criticism WWE got as soon as the media learnt they was to debut a new mentally retarded character, and that the WWE didn’t dare to joke with handicapped people.

      Instead they insisted on making him a hero for the children, and it soon got very tiresome to hear JR say “poor Eugene” all the time.

      It wasn’t exactly the Attitude era you recognized here.

  33. smarker33 says:

    there hasn’t been a mention of this fandango guy on the experience and superstars shows we get in ireland this is strange seems how he beat jericho at wm

  34. Zeez says:

    MY CAPS LOCK IS ALSO BROKEN

  35. Ski-Low I got that rap name from hitting a tree while sking. says:

    I would say certain gimmicks got over then better because of strong kayfabe and then got established to high fan love where we would still accept them today. I wonder how much of the old gimmicks would even work if you tried to bring them out today?
    Talking about awesome gimmicks…
    Back then I believed as a little kid that Ted Diabase really was a millionaire and I think it really was one of the best sold gimmicks. WWF gave him money to throw around and put him in settings where it looked like he had it all. Big cars, planes,houses ect. They put a big suit on him with dollar signs and it was perfect. He looked like a millionaire creep. Strong kayfabe helped sell this stuff.

  36. Ryan says:

    No Kane?

  37. Photon says:

    Having seen Morrison live twice and on TV countless times, I feel like I’ll defend everything non-Melina-whipped about him. I definitely had my doubts when he became the replacement champ for ECW in 2007, but it worked out in the end.

    “Join me… in the Palace of Wisdom… or continue being slaves to society”

  38. Mitchell Colburn says:

    Demolition’s “Sabbath/KISS” sounding theme was actually sung by Rick Derringer,who also sang Hulk Hogan’s theme and is well known for his major hit “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hoochie Koo”,which Mean Gene “performed” back in the ’80s,I believe during the Slammy Awards.

  39. OmarGooding says:

    I think Eugene was partially original. Jameson was a little like Eugene only not a wrestler. That guy that played Jameson hammed it up. He was eating his socks and being on the poor end of everyones jokes. Got a pumpkin put on his head.

  40. King of Kings LJ says:

    There’s a couple you forgot.

    Daniel Bryan. If it weren’t for the indy wrrestling fans, he would just be an annoying jobber screaming “YES.”

    Kane. The only thing harder than pulling off The Undertaker gimmick, is trying to pull off the exact same gimmick in a mask.

    Dude Love. Seriously, he was a stoner. But it worked.

    Eddie Guerrero. Think about his character. He lied, he cheated, he did whatever it took to win…AND WAS A FACE. That to me is amazing. How can a face pull off every heel tactic unless he’s a legend? Yes, Ric Flair does it but when he wasn’t considered a legend, he was a heel. Eddie did it and remained the fan favorite. Now thats cool. (yes, it was a carlito reference).

  41. 80's Guy says:

    Can’t forget the Big Valbowski!

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