The WWE has made a hash of some wrestler careers in its time. From fitness gimmicks, to vampires, to religious zealots, to oppressed “minorities”, the audience of the world’s biggest wrestling promotion have had to sit through some godawful promos by characters who weren’t even costumed well, let alone believable.
Of course, there are numerous wrestlers that have survived the bad gimmick phase and lead a relatively successful career: just ask Hunico, who managed to escape relatively unscathed from his horrendous Mexican hoodlum gimmick to appear as the second incarnation as Sin Cara. But spare a thought for those poor professionals who never managed to unstick the tar and feather applied to them by the WWE creative department. The sports entertainment professionals who never shook the creative team’s failed stratagem to make them into stars. A few of these individuals can be marked out as the very worst gimmicks since the modern, legal founding of the WWE in 2002: it is these who are honoured in our Hall of Shame showcasing the worst of gimmickry.
1. Cryme Tyme
Two black, muscled men in urban clothing, entering to a rap theme called “Cryme Tyme”. So much for post-racial America. Debuting in October 2006 against the esteemed team of Johnny and Mikey from the Spirit Squad, this team went on to form a fairly successful tag team, but the lasting memory will be the pair robbing people during vignettes, nicking stuff and selling it to the crowds, and the fact that black people making it onto Raw was considered “Bringing the Hood 2U”. I think I just broke my cringe vein.
2. Trevor Murdoch
At the other end of the racial stereotype spectrum, Trevor Murdoch was a “southern trucker” with the body of an oversized, uncooked sausage and the wrestling tights of a portly grandmother. It beggars belief how the creative department could, with a straight face, send this man out to headline episodes of Heat before the programme was dropped. Indeed, pairing with Lance Cade made him appear even more rotund, only appearing slim when being shown off against the late Viscera. His hatred towards “city folk” and horrible trucker cap/sideburn combination made for miserable viewing, and this made it a relief when he was dropped before his Smackdown debut.
3. Simon Dean
Let’s get straight to the point: the most entertaining part of Simon Dean’s career was watching him get crushed by Viscera once or twice on episodes of Velocity. Debuting the gimmick of being some kind of fitness guru, the WWE actually had the cheek to operate a toll number to listen to a Simon Dean promo down the phone. A natural heel – Dean had a gimmick not even a mother could love – appearing on a segway never helped his cause, and he slowly found his way gliding down the midcard into jobbing for debuting wrestlers and being scared by The Boogeyman. The only thing we have him to thank for is the debut of Bobby Lashley, who Dean gladly jobbed to; if only to promote his wretched Simon System. He retired in 2006, but reprised the gimmick as recently as last year.
4. Kung Fu Naki
Following the abysmal period in the lower mid-card of the cruiserweight division in which he became the “number one Smackdown announcer”, in a segment featuring R-Truth, Funaki revealed his full name to be “Kung Fu Naki”. In terms of racial stereotyping, it was par for the course for the WWE to make this his gimmick. However, as time progresses and more and more Americans realise Japan is a country as well as the source of some martial arts, this phase becomes increasingly difficult to watch without breaking into a cold sweat. Impressively, he did somehow manage to score pinfall victories over Shelton Benjamin and Montel Vontavious Porter. Nevertheless, the gimmick remains hideously racist and a further dark stain on the brand split era. Let’s hope he isn’t brought back into the fold beyond cameos alongside the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura.
Endearingly labelled “Little Bastard” by good ol’ JR, Dylan Postl emerged first as an aide to Finlay during his matches. Sadly, as that gimmick died, Hornswoggle somehow made it to become one of the fixtures of Monday Night Raw. As the old saying goes, if a storyline loos fucked, Hornswoggle it. He became not only Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son, but also the anonymous Raw General Manager and the tadpole-sized catnip that Maryse and AJ Lee fought over for a few tepid weeks. What brings Hornswoggle into this list isn’t just the way he debuted (short people are leprechauns, har-de-har) but also that the guy was continually pushed on us by creative until he violated the Wellness Policy and disappeared into the ether. Let’s hope he’s taken a fall under the ring and never recovers.
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