To clarify, just so we’re all starting from the same point, by terrible gimmicks I mean gimmicks that were so terrible I actually found them perversely entertaining. Some of you might think these were actually good “gimmicks”, others amongst you may think they should be erased from the history of wrestling. Either way, these are five gimmicks that were, in my opinion, terrible, but still strangely kept me watching.
Alex “The Pug Porteau”
I alluded to The Pug in my recent article about bringing back the jobbers. But it’s worth noting how surreal it was in the mid 1990’s for the World Wrestling Federation to present a newcomer and hype him on the basis of his wrestling ability. This wasn’t a Kurt Angle, either, whose technical ability was secondary (in the hype sense) to the fact that he was an Olympic Gold Medalist, but simply a man who was a great collegiate wrestler and who had solid technical abilities. This, along with a sense of fair play and sportsmanship was all he needed to make his way to the very top of the profession. He didn’t make it of course. He was never going to make it (being brought in merely as a “name” jobber) but even in 1996, when I was decidedly less “smart” to the business than I am now, the idea that Vince McMahon would push someone on the basis of their wrestling ability alone was bizarre enough to make Porteau must-see TV.
The Black Scorpion
As a microcosm of what was wrong with the booking of World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s, you don’t need to look much further than the Black Scorpion fiasco. Having “run out of” viable opponents for World Champion Sting, well ones who weren’t called Ric Flair, Ole Anderson and co came up with the Black Scorpion, a mysterious black masked character from Sting’s “past”. Unfortunately the bookers hadn’t decided who the man was going to be. The role was given to Al Perez, but he quit the company (and no-one knew who Al Perez was anyway) so there was a series of unknowns under the mask (helpfully all different shapes and sizes) before it was eventually revealed it was none other than Ric Flair (who kindly agreed to facing Sting under these circumstances at Starrcade 1990, on the proviso that he beat Sting for the belt a few weeks later – how thoughtful of him). It was terrible, but the combination of a mystery man, Ole Anderson’s bizarrely cadenced voice over’s, a general lack of idea of where the storyline was leading and, oh yes, the magic tricks made this a memorable and, dare I say it, entertaining mis-fire. Because really, a mysterious wrestler is one thing, but a mysterious wrestler who performs magic tricks like making fans disappear (quite literally as well in terms of gate receipts), turning humans into leopards and teleporting women from one stage to another on separate sides of the building is quite another thing altogether.
Terry Funk, in his excellent book, admits how stupid this was. He even admits that it was his own idea. You can’t blame this one on the evil Vince McMahon. You take, as far as I am concerned, one of the greatest legends in the history of Professional Wrestling and you cover his face in pantyhose and talcum powder to present him as Chainsaw Charlie. OF course Funk is so great, and such a professional, that he even made this terrible idea work and get over. It still doesn’t mean it was a good idea though.
Long before Al Snow became the decider of fortunes in TNA’s Gut Check and even before he had to resort to carrying around (and talking to) a foam head in order to get over, he was this Hayabusa rip-off in the WWF. I didn’t have a great knowledge of Japanese wrestling at the time, but even I knew he was a Haybusa rip-off in terms of the look. And yet there was something compellingly cool about a man who walked to the ring without his mask, only to put it on to actually wrestle his match. I mean, come on guys. That’s cool right?
Tekno Team 2000
Ok, so they weren’t even bad in a good way. But for a four week period in 1995 I was convinced that Tekno Team 2000’s Travis and Troy were the FUTURE of tag team wresting. They weren’t. But you cannot underestimate just how awesome I thought they were when they debuted. Sadly for Erik Watts, one half of the team here, he had even worse runs in WCW and TNA to contend with in his career.
– By Matthew Roberts