Although things have gotten decidedly more realistic in the WWE since the Attitude Era, wild and wacky gimmicks continue to play a big part in professional wrestling. The recent emergence of Fandango is a perfect example of that; the ballroom-dancing fiend continues to carry on a long tradition of strange characters in the WWE.
From the early 1990s up until the beginning of the Attitude Era in late 1997, the WWE had a habit of employing people who already had other jobs on the side. Whether it be a garbage man, a plumber, a hockey player or anything in between, it seemed like every wrestler had to be something weird in order to make it on television.
Gimmicks are still integral to wrestling and they always will be, but today's gimmicks are rooted more in reality than they used to be. Old-school characters will never fully be eliminated from the business, though, and that is a good thing. It is important to have some variety in order to keep things exciting.
With that said, here are the 10 silliest gimmicks in WWE history. I can't imagine that any of them will be topped in the near future, but if the WWE continues to create characters like Fandango, then you certainly never know.
Fandango hasn't yet made his televised in-ring debut for the WWE, but it is already clear that he is one of the strangest characters to ever surface in the company. There have been plenty of dancing gimmicks over the years, and there is even another one on the current WWE roster in the form of Brodus Clay, but Fandango is the only ballroom dancer I can think of.
On top of that, Fandango has a personality to match his bizarre occupation.
Vignettes have aired for months touting the debut of Fandango, who happens to be played by former NXT winner Johnny Curtis. The WWE has really dragged things out, but he finally started appearing on television a couple weeks ago.
Fandango has refused to compete in scheduled matches, however, because he maintains that nobody has been able to say his name properly. This has already happened on several occasions and there is no end in sight.
It's fair to say that Fandango is the weirdest wrestler in the WWE at the moment. The jury is still out on whether he will find success, though. It isn't easy for somebody to thrive with such an outside-the-box gimmick, but Fandango is extremely talented and may have what it takes to get past the obvious hurdles in front of him.
In actuality, Mike Shaw was a fairly talented and athletic big man who stood at 6'3" and weighed 401 lbs. Unfortunately for him, he was stuck with ridiculous gimmicks no matter where he went.
The strangest among them was unquestionably that of Bastion Booger in the WWE. Shaw initially wrestled as Friar Ferguson, which was a terrible gimmick in and of itself. But he soon became an unkempt slob in the form of Booger.
Booger was essentially a gluttonous, slovenly character who would stuff his face, walk around in a stained singlet and engage in generally disgusting activities. Clearly, the WWE never had any big plans for him. Such a gimmick can only go so far.
Booger wrestled mostly on Superstars and other lesser shows as enhancement talent. He would beat jobbers on occasion, but he was used mainly in a comedic role, although most fans found him gross rather than funny.
Among Booger's most memorable moments in the WWE were his attempt to steal Luna Vachon from Bam Bam Bigelow, as well as failing to enter the 1994 Royal Rumble due to a "stomach ache."
Shaw did what he had to do in order to make it in the WWE, but I can't help but think that he could have been a bit more important with a legitimate character.
Whatever the case, Booger is certainly remembered by WWE fans, even if it's for all the wrong reasons.
Glenn Jacobs has gone on to become one of the most successful men in the history of the professional wrestling business as Kane.
Before Kane came to fruition, however, Jacobs had to sift through a number of awful characters. Arguably, the worst was that of Isaac Yankem. The gimmick essentially featured Jacobs as Jerry "The King" Lawler's evil dentist. Yankem was brought to the WWE in order to combat Lawler's rival, Bret Hart, but the feud was short-lived due to the ridiculousness of Yankem's character.
It was evident that Yankem had talent since he could really move for a big man, but nobody was buying a wrestling dentist. The WWE would often show vignettes of Yankem and Lawler in a dentist's office. Yankem would inflict unnecessary pain on his patients and he seemed to take great joy in it. If that wasn't lame enough, Yankem's theme music consisted of sounds such as drills and other dental instruments.
Luckily, Yankem was only a prominent character for a couple months before serving primarily as a jobber.
After that character was abandoned, Jacobs became Fake Diesel. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had jumped ship to WCW, which prompted Vince McMahon to keep their characters and give them to other performers.
Not surprisingly, this failed miserably as well.
Either gimmick could have made this list, but since Yankem was at least whimsical and a bit funny, it got the nod.
There is no doubt that the WWE had big plans for Papa Shango when he debuted in 1992, but things certainly didn't go the way that the WWE planned.
Shango's gimmick was that of a voodoo practitioner who would cast spells on his opponents. He was immediately thrown into the fray as he interfered in the WrestleMania VIII main event between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice. Shango missed his cue to hit the ring, though, so the finish was botched.
That inauspicious start was a harbinger of things to come for Shango.
Papa Shango was supposed to break up a pinfall attempt by Hogan on Justice after Hogan hit his leg drop finisher, but Shango was late, so Sid had to kick out on his own. Shango eventually made it to the ring and attacked Hogan until The Ultimate Warrior made the save. This led directly into a feud between Shango and Warrior.
Over the course of the angle, Shango often used his voodoo to make Warrior do strange things. At one point he forced him to vomit and he even caused black ooze to drip from Warrior's head. Shango used his magic on other superstars and personalities as well, including "Mean" Gene Okerlund.
The feud with Warrior was dropped before it ever really got going, though, and it basically spelled the end of Papa Shango in the WWE. Shango had a cool look and plenty of talent, but the gimmick was too outlandish to work.
Shango eventually resurfaced as Kama in the WWE, which was moderately successful. He truly hit his stride in the Attitude Era as The Godfather. It took a couple tries to get it right, but at least the WWE created something positive out of Shango.
Most of the gimmicks on this list failed miserably and qualify as ones that most fans would prefer to forget, but Goldust is one of those rare, silly gimmicks that worked from the start. Dustin Rhodes had some success in WCW, but he was viewed by many fans as boring and milquetoast.
Once he joined the WWE as Goldust, however, it became abundantly clear that Rhodes had a rare talent when it came to executing bizarre characters.
Goldust was essentially a movie buff who was clad in gold from head to toe in order to look like an Academy Award. The entire premise sounds ridiculous, and it was, but Rhodes made it work.
Goldust was immediately thrust into a high-profile feud with Razor Ramon, which resulted in Goldust becoming Intercontinental Champion. Goldust eventually lost the belt to Ahmed Johnson before becoming obsessed with him. Goldust went so far as to give Johnson mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on an episode of Raw, which was both hilarious and disturbing to me as a child.
Goldust was just getting started, though, as he became a staple on WWE programming. Goldust would win the IC title once more, as well as the Tag Team Championships, over the course of his WWE career. He was always a key mid-card player, and while his storylines didn’t always land with the fans, he usually found a way to elicit a response.
He ensured that we will always remember the name—Goldust.
The period of time from 1993 until the start of the Attitude Era was certainly transitional in nature for the WWE. Big stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage departed. The likes of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart emerged in place of them atop the card.
But the undercard was littered with strange characters. One of them was Damien Demento.
This odd superstar debuted in late 1992 and apparently hailed from "The Outer Reaches of Your Mind." That alone tells you how strange this guy was.
Demento could often be seen talking to himself on his way to the ring and during his matches. Demento also had an interesting hair style that featured a bald head with long locks in the back. He wore tasseled boots and a furry entrance coat of some kind with spikes on it.
To say that Demento looked unique would be an understatement. Being different is usually a good thing in professional wrestling, but Demento took it a little too far.
Not surprisingly, Demento never really caught on. He served mostly as a jobber before leaving the company near the end of 1993. Demento did compete in the 1993 Royal Rumble, though, and he holds a special distinction that most wouldn't expect. Demento actually wrestled in the main event of the first episode of Raw, as he lost to The Undertaker.
I suppose nobody will ever be able to take that away from him, but luckily he was taken off of our television screens.
There is no question that The Boogeyman is one of the oddest wrestlers to ever compete in the WWE.
Vignettes began airing in 2005 for his debut and it was immediately evident that he was something different. The Boogeyman painted his face red, wore fur and carried around a large alarm clock.
The weirdest aspect of his character, though, was his penchant for eating worms. This is something that he would utilize many times over the course of his career, often forcing his opponents to eat them as well.
While The Boogeyman didn't have a gimmick capable of reaching main-event status, he actually did quite well for himself. In 2006, he defeated former WWE Champion JBL at the Royal Rumble. He then beat former World Heavyweight Champion Booker T at WrestleMania 22. Over the span of a few months, he beat two of the bigger names in wrestling history.
He toiled in the mid-card for the most part after that and spent 2007 through 2009 in ECW, but The Boogeyman definitely made an impact.
Not everyone enjoyed The Boogeyman, but his antics allowed him to build a fairly sizable fanbase. The Boogeyman made a brief appearance at the Slammy Awards this year as he interrupted Booker T. It was only a brief return, but most WWE fans responded positively to it. There is no telling if or when we'll see him back in the WWE, but he will be remembered regardless.
Pretty much everyone loves the Christmas holiday, as well as its jolly mascot known as Santa Claus.
For some reason, the WWE decided to take something heartwarming and make it awful back in 1995. “The Million Dollar Man,” Ted DiBiase, paid off Santa at In Your House 5: Season’s Beatings, which resulted in St. Nick attacking Savio Vega. This faux Santa was officially introduced the next night on Raw as Santa’s evil brother, Xanta Klaus.
Unlike Santa, Xanta Klaus wore red and black, sported a black beard and appeared to be maniacal. Xanta Klaus also apparently hailed from the South Pole. He scored a couple squash-match wins over jobbers, but soon left the WWE and was never heard from again.
I suppose that I can't blame Vince McMahon for trying to capitalize on the Christmas season by introducing a Christmas-themed character, but Xanta Klaus was about as bad as it gets.
Soon after Xanta Klaus vanished from the WWE, a man known as Balls Mahoney made his ECW debut. He looked awfully similar to Xanta Klaus. That is because they were played by the same person.
Mahoney wasn't known for his technical acumen and he will never be remembered as an all-time great. but at least he achieved some measure of success. That is a lot more than can said for the abomination that was Xanta Klaus.
As previously mentioned, the WWE tested out many off-the-wall gimmicks during the early 1990s. One of the strangest was that of Max Moon.
Played initially by Konnan, Moon was a character who had apparently come to the WWE from another planet. He wore a bright blue jump suit and mask, and he also had long dreadlocks. Perhaps the craziest aspect of his attire were wrist apparatuses that shot fireworks.
For all the trouble that the WWE went through in order to create the Moon character, Konnan only participated in three televised matches before leaving the company because he didn't receive a guaranteed contract.
Rather than dropping the gimmick for good like it probably should have, the WWE put somebody else in the suit. The unlucky wrestler was Paul Diamond.
He was chosen due to the fact that he fit into the costume, and he wasn't given much of a chance to thrive. Moon was essentially used as a lower mid-carder and rarely moved up any higher than that.
Moon did have a marquee match on the first episode of Monday Night Raw, however, as he faced Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship. Moon lost that match and was used sparingly afterwards.
If nothing else, the Moon gimmick was definitely original and is still talked about today. At the same time, it goes to show you that a spaceman gimmick wasn't even well received during a time when wild characters were the norm, so it was clearly doomed from the start.
Even when the WWE comes up with an awful gimmick, it still gives most performers time to get the character over. Every once in a while, however, a gimmick is so bad that the plug is pulled right away. That was the case with Phantasio.
This strange superstar was a magician who came to the ring wearing a black and white mime mask with similar face paint underneath. It was abundantly clear that Phantasio was unlike anyone else in the WWE, but it was also obvious that he was bound to flop.
Phantasio took on a jobber known as Tony DeVito on the July 16, 1995, episode of Wrestling Challenge. Rather than displaying actual wrestling skill, Phantasio used deception and performed magic tricks during the match, such as shooting a web of some kind out of his wrist, a la Spiderman.
Phantasio eventually won the match as he "magically" pulled DeVito's boxers out of his singlet and pinned him. Phantasio then did the same thing to referee Earl Hebner following the bout.
I'm guessing that the WWE hoped the younger fans would respond to Phantasio, but the character obviously didn't land, so he never wrestled another televised match. Phantasio did work one more contest at a house show, but that was it for him.
Although Phantasio was bad, he is remembered quite fondly by fans to today due to his brief stint. With that said, the WWE was smart to act as quickly as it did because fans would likely have much different feelings about Phantasio today had he become a regular part of the product.