Cock of the Walk: The Red Rooster Is the Worst Gimmick Ever

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Cock of the Walk: The Red Rooster Is the Worst Gimmick Ever

What makes a gimmick bad, or in far too many cases, truly awful?

One can readily classify a gimmick as simply a character idea that includes requisite costume, ring gear, and accessories. Those have included everything from men dressed as women, clowns, hog farmers and even hockey players.

Usually, these are niche characterizations hatched within the mind of an out-of-touch promoter or "good ol' boy" and meant only to fill a "void" in a show or telecast.

In the case of the subject of this article, I'd sure like to meet the demographic that was waiting to be served by this character.

 

Birth of a Failure

But if we look a bit deeper we see the true reason horrendous gimmicks are born—an assumption that talent isn't enough to excite the fans; An indictment that a person's style and ability are not enough to generate money.

The standard of a terrible gimmick is not simply whether we laugh at what we see, or how often we wonder what writing committees were thinking when they green-lit an idea, but rather by how much talent is being masked by the atrocity and wasted, for how long and to what magnitude.

The list of performers that overcame such circumstances grows year by year.

One only needs to read Terry Taylor's biography or note that he performed as this character, The Red Rooster, at numerous pay-per-view extravaganzas (including Wrestlemania!) to understand how devastating this gimmick was to Taylor's career.

 

Is This a Clucking Joke?

Let's follow this chicken, ahem...I mean rooster, across the road, shall we?

Terry Taylor is no stranger to bad gimmicks and ring personas, as he has assumed nearly as many AKA's as a fugitive, including such creative visions as "Scary" Terry Taylor, "Terrific" Terry Taylor, and "The Taylor Made Man."

In hindsight, Mr. Taylor might have been far better off never finding out the lengths of WWF's creativity in the late '80s.

 

Accomplishments

In his travels across wrestling territories like the NWA, WCCW and UWF Taylor was recognized as a star and popular babyface. His blond hair and wide smile often sending the country ladies into fits. Promoters ate this up and Taylor found himself feuding or tag teaming with the biggest stars in those territories.

Taylor was a top hand everywhere he worked and held numerous major heavyweight, television and tag titles across the US. He was voted "Most underrated wrestler" by The Wrestling Observer in 1991 and 1992, an acknowledgment of his consistency and ability.

It is also proof positive that the Rooster gimmick served only to relegate a talented (yet nomadic) wrestler to the mid-card and below unnecessarily.

 

Is He Really Strutting Like That?

From the initial "cock-a-doodle-doo" of his canned 80's entrance theme, to his dyed-red cockscomb Mohawk and his loose, head-bobbing, rooster-esque strut every fan was instantly aware that it was time for something to happen- usually a bathroom break.

But those "Rooster Boosters" who didn't run for the toilet were treated to 10 second bursts of technical wrestling placed between rooster cackles and wing flapping gestures meant to be taunts.

In seeking some possible rational explanation of this lame gimmick or the inspiration behind it, one might draw some connection between the character and the Las Vegas swingers club of the same name, opened in 1982.

That is at least plausible, even if still horrendous. That connection has never been established, try as people might to rationalize why a grown man would subject himself to this embarrassment.

There is a also a theory that Taylor upset management with his abrasiveness and cockiness and was then purposely subjected to this humiliation for almost the entire duration of his contract because of it. That seems cruel and unusual punishment, and definitely didn't help the organization either and seems far-fetched.

It is more commonly believed that the idea was pitched by Bobby Heenan with the belief that one day Taylor would rebel from Heenan's camp and be a bigger babyface draw than he had ever been. This angle culminated in a "squash" match at Wrestlemania V.

You read that correctly—The Red Rooster was featured in a match at the event where the Mega Powers collided.

Almost every pro wrestler claims that performing at Wrestlemania is their dream and the biggest thrill of their careers, and to be granted a victory is the pinnacle. Perhaps Taylor feels that way, but what use is being at Wrestlemania in a role such as his was, not allowed to actually perform?

I'd almost rather be outwrestled by Lawrence Taylor.

 

He Can Fly, He Can Fight, He Can Crow!

In looking back at this decisively idiotic wrestling gimmick, we can also attempt to rewrite history and let our imaginations discover possibilities never realized by WWF/WWE in promoting The Red Rooster. I've taken the liberty of including a few ideas here for your approval that I believe might have garnered ratings and captivated bored audiences everywhere.

  • The Red Rooster - Koko B. Ware feud: Easily could have been a high-flying (pun definitely intended) rivalry to decide who is truly the Big Bird on the street, culminating in a huge pay-per-view "Bird Cage Match" featuring Bald Eagles tied to perches outside the cage who don't care about what's happening inside the ring. This style of match was made successful by Al Snow, the Big Boss Man and a band of pooping rottweilers.
  • The Red Rooster joins Raven's Flock- In an attempt to be accepted for being "different", the Rooster turns his life over to Raven's teachings and dyes his Mohawk black. Taylor defends his choice by telling the fans to "stick it".
  • The Red Rooster gets a tag team partner: After being attacked by the Hog Farmers, Henry and Phineas Godwinn, the Rooster is aided by bird of the same feather The Gobbledy Gooker! As the two are left in the ring after "cleaning house", we the audience witness the birth of "The Birds of Prey." Or "Pray." Either one fits, really.
  • The Rooster revolutionizes wrestling after slapping his boss, Vince McMahon, in the Crossface Rooster Wing before Steve Austin was ever able to give him a Stunner. Over the next five years, McMahon torments Taylor by refusing to fire him and instead gives him a new terrible gimmick each month to act out. Eventually, the entire McMahon family gets involved in the dispute before Matriarch Linda McMahon sides with the Rooster, books him in main events all over the world and is committed to a sanitarium for it.

Sadly, we are left to wonder what could have been, and Terry Taylor must live with having had to carry what can now be considered the worst gimmick in wrestling history.

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