The most unlikely crossovers, novelty characters and misconceived ideas in an entertainment world that is already several steps removed from reality.
OK, let’s get the obvious out of the way first. To talk about which wrestling gimmicks are the most ludicrous is rather like discussing which water is the wettest. After all, this is a form of ‘sports entertainment’ that has as some of its most beloved figures wrestlers who are supposedly the re-animated dead, the clinically insane and beyond. Wrestling is a cultural appropriation nightmare with performers pretending to be races, sexualities, disabilities and cultures that they have no connection with and it clings to the idea that wrestlers can not only openly flout the rules of the company that employes them but also apparently appear in the ring without even having a contract of employment.
Wrestling fans, then, are willing to put up with a lot of suspension of disbelief. But even so, every so often promoters have managed to push things too far. This might involve cross-promotion with clearly fictional feature films featuring fictional characters, ludicrous celebrity crossovers or misguided characters that fail miserably. For fans, these gimmicks become the stuff of legend; for everyone else, they are moments to marvel at as something that still makes a token gesture towards being a ‘real’ sport jumps the shark (though wrestling sharks in mainstream promotions still seems a step too far).
You can read the full story of the Kiss Demon on another post – but here are a few more WTF moments from professional wrestling. We’ve left out the jaw-dropping appearances of Donald Trump because that, frankly, is a story all of its own.
In 1990, WCW held the pay-per-view event Capital Combat, which hyped an appearance by Robocop. Robocop 2 was about to be released, the character was popular with kids despite the adults-only nature of the first film and WCW was keen to cash in. The fact that Robocop was a character from a movie didn’t seem to matter – for one night, he was going to be a real person. The promotional material for the event suggested that Robocop would be an integral part of the action – presumably not actually shooting his opponents, but who knows? – but in the end, his participation involved walking slowly out to the ring, freeing Sting from a clearly-rigged steel cage that looked as though it would fall apart if you breathed on it too heavily (something not far from the truth, apparently) and then walking back out of the arena as bits of the Robo suit start to fall off. There are those who claim that it was actually Peter Weller in the costume but as the character is on-screen so briefly and says nothing, it could really be anyone. As a tie-in, it’s entirely ineffectual and as a wrestling gimmick, it feels like a step too far, blatantly rubbing the fans’ faces in the artificiality of it all.
Rather less well-remembered than the appearance of Robocop was the moment when Chucky – yes, the plastic doll from the Child’s Play movies – popped up on a video screen WCW Nitro in 1998 to promote his new film Bride of Chucky and taunt Rick Steiner – who had to then unconvincingly argue with the doll as if he was a real person. You can hear the crowd booing as this prolonged movie ad plays out – and rightly so. It’s a shameful bit of cross-promotion that was never going to actually go anywhere as a storyline and simply emphasised the fictional nature of professional wrestling.
Making his first appearance proper in 1995 at WCW’s Halloween Havoc, the Yeti had burst out of a block of extremely unconvincing ice in the final seconds of the previous episode of WCW Nitro – making an appearance too brief to have any impact – and then turns up during the pay-per-view, helping The Giant to overcome Hulk Hogan in an uncomfortably sexual three-way bear hug. Clearly, someone at WCW got their monsters confused, because ‘the Yeti’ is very clearly a Mummy, a monster from a completely different part of the world. It’s hilariously bad and you have to feel sorry for poor Ron Reis stuck inside the costume. The Yeti would be absent from events for a month after this and when he finally re-emerged, he had somehow become a ninja. Fans were not impressed.
Possibly the most cumbersome costume ever seen in a wrestling ring, Mantaur was some sort of minotaur character played by Mick Halac, stumbling blindly out for his debut WWF match in 1995. It was a ludicrous gimmick that couldn’t even be sustained – Halac would have to remove his ‘Mantaur’ head in order to wrestle, yet still clung to the whole half-man, half-bull concept in his character. The whole thing lasted a little longer than many gimmicks – after all, without the head, the character was no more ludicrous than any other wrestler – but it still felt like a step too far and the beast head was soon dropped in favour of a more conventional style.
The first appearance of The Shockmaster in 1993 was supposed to launch a new wrestling superhero into the big leagues. Scheduled to be the mystery third wheel in a team consisting of Sting and the British Bulldog who would compete against Sid Vicious, Vader and Harlem Heat at the WCW Wargames pay-per-view. After much hyped-up shouting, the Shockmaster made his dramatic entrance by bursting through a wall – and promptly falling over, losing his mask in the process. Fred Ottman, the poor mug playing the character, had to then scramble around to retrieve the mask and put it back on, by which time all levels of shock and awe had well and truly evaporated. The Shockmaster character was quickly dropped but the footage remains and it never fails to make me laugh out loud.
First appearing in 1995, Xanta Claus – played by Balls Mahoney – was supposed to be the evil twin brother of Santa Claus. You know, the fictional character Santa Claus. He dressed like Santa, lived at the South Pole and stole presents from children, which seems a pretty odd gimmick to use in the run-in to Christmas on a show watched by little kids. But there you go. Once Christmas was over, so was the career of Xanta Claus.
In a storyline that was, in retrospect, far too long in development, the WWF (as was) spent the run-in to the 1990 Survivor Series pondering the mystery of a giant egg that would hatch at the pay-per-view event. What could be inside? Whatever it was was going to be fairly ridiculous but still, the emergence of The Gobbledy Gooker still left fans stunned. Poor Hector Guerrero then had to wrestle inside the giant chicken suit and it didn’t go down well, as you’ll hear on the clip below. The gimmick was immediately dropped, though the Gooker has subsequently made re-appearances for comedy effect over the years. However, he’s never been a significant part of the actual wrestling again.
Help support The Reprobate: