Ranking WWE's 5 Best 'Hillbilly' Gimmick Wrestlers Ever
In WWE's world of heroes and warriors, monsters and sadists, there have also been a number of country-bumpkin characters, brawling hillbillies that have made their mark on the company.
Trading in tights for overalls, these men found themselves players on WWE's roped stage. It's a gimmick that has likely been swept away by modernity for good, but it was a wrestling tradition for many years.
Fans cheered for the simple people with rural origins, the country folk with a talent for fighting.
Ask your local hillbilly, there's a big difference between a cowboy and a hillbilly. That's why won't see names like Stan Hansen, Ron Bass or Jimmy Wang Yang on here.
The following are WWE's most successful, most well-known hillbilly wrestlers.
5. The Godwinns
Shackled with terrible ring names and a silly pig-farmer gimmick, the Godwinns made the most of their position with WWE.
After wrestling as Tex Slazinger and Shanghai Pierce in WCW, Mark Canterbury and Dennis Knight underwent a transformation in WWE. They spent the mid '90s as mullet-wearing farmers who brawled their way to moderate success.
The Godwinns don't compare favorably to the all-time great tag teams, but they are easily one of the most memorable pairings of hillbillies. They twice won the world tag titles and were a prominent part of the tag division for years.
The ridiculousness of their gimmick is a tribute to WWE's awkward stage, going from the cartoon sensibilities of the late '80s and early '90s to the edgier product that was the Attitude Era.
4. Stan Frazier
Of all of Stan Frazier's gimmicks, a good number of them were some version of the country bumpkin. Frazier wrestled as Giant Hillbilly, The Country Plowboy and most famously to WWE fans as Uncle Elmer.
Frazier wasn't a fantastic performer in the ring, especially by the time he came to WWE. He was nearly 50 in 1985 and was always more spectacle than wrestler, more attraction than athlete.
Kurt Nielsen of Slam! Sports wrote that "Frazier was the budget version of Andre the Giant."
In his pre-WWE career, Frazier was a draw, as a curiosity, as a massive country boy whipping on his foes. The WWE portion of his career is highlighted by wrestling at WrestleMania 2 and being the largest man in the a stable called "The Hillbillies."
New Zealand apparently has its hillbillies, too.
The Bushwhackers were a pair of country boys famous for licking faces and raising their arms up and down. Prior to their WWE debut, they'd had been wrestling for decades as The Sheepherders, men who often left their matches bloodied.
The way WWE transformed the vicious Sheepherders into lovable twits is a testament to how cartoony WWE was in the '80s, but also shows how astute Vince McMahon was.
Luke and Butch became two of the most endearing characters of their generation. Few teams elicited such delighted reactions as these New Zealand hillbillies.
2. Hillbilly Jim
Warriors come from all over, including Mudlick, Ky.
Hillbilly Jim's radiant smile, lanky build and overalls made up one of WWE's most beloved characters. Whether he was teaming with Hulk Hogan or battling Big John Studd, fans were fervently behind Jim.
His is a character that would completely bomb today, but in the mid-to-late '80s, he was a representation of the fun side of the business. There aren't a ton of memorable matches to his credit, but his charisma and character made him hard to forget.
In a way, Hillbilly Jim is the grandfather of WWE's hillbillies. Jim was part of The Hillbillies stable with Uncle Elmer. He also managed The Godwinns, goat in hand.
There is only one massive man that created a more lasting hillbilly character.
1. Haystacks Calhoun
Haystacks Calhoun was WWE's original hillbilly and one of wrestling's biggest circus-like attractions.
At over 600 pounds, Calhoun's massiveness made him a hot commodity. He was one of WWE fans' reasons to flock to Madison Square Garden.
During his heyday in the '60s and '70s, Calhoun feuded with men like Dick the Bruiser and battled Bruno Sammartino. He eventually big-splashed his way to co-holding the WWWF Tag Team titles.
Every subsequent hillbilly wrestler owes his gimmick to Calhoun, the biggest, most compelling country brawler in company history.
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