It is no secret to long-time fans of professional wrestling that companies like WCW and the WWE had periods where they created some very strange, and often cartoonish characters for their superstars to portray. When looking back at gimmicks that lay in the wastelands of the WWE Network, there are garbagemen, giant chickens, Yetis, repo men, evil clowns, Vikings and Shockmasters. While these gimmicks could easily kill a man's career, there were some wrestlers who worked through the gimmicks and ended up as WWE Superstars.
When Hillbilly Jim was inducted into the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame class, he said that he never passed up an opportunity. While his gimmick as a hillbilly was cartoonish, he worked hard to make it work and ended up as a Hall of Famer. That is the important part to understand about succeeding in the WWE. When a wrestler takes on a strange gimmick and works hard on it, they often end up rewarded with a bigger chance down the road. Some of the strangest gimmicks were played by future world champions. With so many bad gimmicks in professional wrestling history, here are 25 strange or forgotten gimmicks WWE stars had before they made it big.
25 BRAUN STROWMAN - A ROSEBUD
Braun Strowman has become one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE. While he started out very green and inexperienced, he worked by the side of Bray Wyatt and developed his presence and ring psychology for a couple of years before he finally set out on his own and developed into the Monster Among Men that fans have fallen in love with. However, while everyone remembers his stint in The Wyatt Family with Bray, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, many fans likely never knew that he showed up on television before that in a smaller, very strange gimmick. Braun Strowman was a member of the Rosebuds.
For fans who might not remember, Adam Rose was an NXT star whose gimmick was that of a party animal. He had a tour bus and came to the ring with an assortment of people dressed up in costumes -- giving some reference to the party kids that frequent rave clubs. While the most popular is still the guy dressed as a giant rabbit, some might not remember that Braun Strowman was one of the partiers that accompanied Rose to the ring for his matches. In the picture above, there are other familiar faces -- such as Elias Samson, Simon Gotch and Carmella.
24 HULK HOGAN - TERRY BOULDER
It was a funny story how Hulk Hogan came up with his name. Hogan took part in an interview on Buzz Radio in Little Rock. During the interview, he said that he was wrestling at the time as Terry Boulder and ended up on a talk show with Lou Ferrigno, who at the time was television's Incredible Hulk. The two were talking and Ferrigno said that Hogan was bigger than him and was the real Hulk out of the two of them.
Something clicked and Hogan began using the name Terry "Hulk" Boulder and then soon ended up changing his name to Hulk Hogan in the AWA before moving on to the WWE.
With that said, Terry Boulder was an interesting story in itself. Hogan was looking to break into professional wrestling and started as Terry Bollea in Florida and then Sterling Golden in Georgia. He went to Memphis, where he got a huge break and changed his name to Terry Boulder. He also took his best friend Ed Leslie with him and the two portrayed brothers, with Leslie going by the name Ed Boulder. When Hogan made it to the WWE, he got Leslie a job there as well and fans know him best as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.
23 RANDY SAVAGE - THE SPIDER
Macho Man Randy Savage is a second generation star, the son of Angelo Poffo. However, fans almost didn't get to see Savage as the legendary professional wrestler he was destined to become. Instead, Savage had a dream of playing baseball. He was a star as a youngster and the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him directly out of high school to play outfield. He played in the minor leagues for the Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox. It was during this time that Savage was trying to find a way to make some extra money.
The problem was that his minor league contracts prohibited something like professional wrestling due to the risk of injury. Savage found a way around this. While playing minor league baseball, Savage wrestled in the offseason wearing a mask, calling himself The Spider to hide his identity. The entire gimmick was an homage to the Amazing Spider-Man. By the time his baseball career ended, he was good enough in the ring to make it under the name Randy Savage and the rest is history. Ironically, Savage later appeared in the movie Spider-Man as wrestler Bonesaw McGraw, the character that Spider-Man fought to make some extra money while hiding behind a mask to protect his identity.
22 JOHN CENA - THE PROTOTYPE
John Cena is the face of the WWE and has been so for well over a decade. Not even Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin were able to maintain the top spot in the industry for as long as Cena. It almost makes it seem like Cena is more than just a man. Interestingly, his first gimmick in the WWE developmental territory took that entire idea and ran with it.
When Cena started out in OVW, he took on the role of a character called The Prototype. The gimmick was a character who was part man and part machine -- literally.
Cena was a heel at the time and even said in promos while with a company called UPW that he was "50 percent man and 50 percent machine" while talking with a stilted Terminator-styled dialect. The OVW then called Cena the "perfect man" and he worked as a hated heel for most of his developmental career. However, when Cena joined the main roster, he was a spunky young star who challenged Kurt Angle. He then developed a rap gimmick due to a Halloween party where he dressed up as Vanilla Ice and he then became the biggest star in the entire WWE.
21 BATISTA - LEVIATHAN
When John Cena got his start in OVW, he wasn't alone. Also training there were names like Shelton Benjamin, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Batista. While three of those men used their real names thanks to their success before entering the WWE, Cena and Batista got gimmicks. Cena was The Prototype and Batista got a gimmick that was even stranger. The man who would become The Animal was known as the time as Leviathan -- The Demon of the Deep, The Guardian of the Gates of Hell, the Right Hand of Satan Himself.
The way Jim Cornette tells it, he was booking OVW at the time and was asked to create a wrestler who could possibly one day come up to the WWE and be a foil for men like The Undertaker and Kane. Since Cornette was instrumental in creating Kane when that character first appeared in the WWE, he knew what it took to create a monster. Cornette turned Batista into a monster who had a great look and was a solid athlete and pushed him to the top. When Batista went to the WWE, he changed gimmicks and was a second to D-Von Dudley before he finally and ended up in a suit as part of Evolution.
20 KANE - ISAAC YANKEM, DDS
Before Glenn Jacobs became Kane, the brother of The Undertaker, he had two gimmicks in the WWE that were both strange and very limited in their potential. In an interview with Chris Jericho on his podcast, Jacobs said that he got a tryout with the WWE and Vince McMahon himself got the idea for the first gimmick. Kane was an evil dentist named Isaac Yankem, DDS. The humor for McMahon was that the WWE painted Jacob's teeth to make it look like he was a dentist with bad teeth.
The storyline was that he was Jerry "The King" Lawler's dentist who, due to his large size, was hired to take out Bret "The Hitman" Hart. After that storyline ended with Yankem losing, the character was phased out of the WWE and the gimmick ended. Up next was worse. Jacobs played Diesel as the WWE tried to keep the character after Kevin Nash left the WWE to start the nWo in WCW along with a fake Razor Ramon as well. Fans rejected them instantly and the gimmick was extremely short-lived. Just over two years after he debuted as Isaac Yankem, Jacobs arrived as Kane and became one of the top superstars in the WWE and a future Hall of Famer.
19 BUFF BAGWELL - THE HANDSOME STRANGER
There was a period of time in the early '90s when the state of Texas was trying to find its replacement for the once thriving World Class Championship Wrestling. The home of the Von Erich family went out of business in 1990. One year later, an upstart promotion called Global Wrestling Federation tried to take its place. While it only lasted for three years, it was the launching pad for a number of future stars including Booker T, Sean Waltman, Raven, Mick Foley, JBL and Buff Bagwell.
When it came to Buff Bagwell, he had a very interesting gimmick as a masked lothario wrestler known as The Handsome Stranger.
He wore a Lone Ranger styled mask and would walk around the wrestling ring before and after matches, "romancing" fans at ringside. According to Bagwell, it was Bill Eadie, who wrestled in the WWE as Ax of Demolition, who came up with the idea for the gimmick. Bagwell ended up in WCW, first as Marcus Alexander Bagwell and then he hit the main event scene as Buff Bagwell until WCW finally went under. Bagwell had one chance to make it in the WWE, but after a poorly received match against Booker T on Monday Night Raw, Bagwell was sent back to the indies.
18 KONNAN - MAX MOON
Konnan has established himself as one of the top wrestlers and bookers in Mexico, but most American wrestling fans know him from his days working in WCW and later in Impact Wrestling as the leader of LAX. His early career in the United States saw him bounce around from World Class Championship Wrestling to WCW to the WWE. Ot was during 1991 in the WWE that he received his first strange gimmick -- a masked wrestler known as Max Moon.
Konnan said in an interview that he created the gimmick for Max Moon himself, saying the wrestler was a cyborg from the future. According to Konnan, the character was influenced by a Japanese anime cartoon he watched about a robot that shot confetti and fire. Konnan said that Vince McMahon loved the idea, spent a lot of money on the costume, and then asked him to dance as the character. He also said that a mixture of jealousy from other wrestlers, as well as his own discontent in the WWE, caused the company to fire him. When Konnan left the company, the WWE took his creation of Max Moon and gave it to another wrestler named Paul Diamond, while Konnan went back to wrestling in Mexico, saying he never watched one match with Diamond playing his character.
17 ULTIMATE WARRIOR - BLADE RUNNER ROCK
The Ultimate Warrior was easily the most popular star in the WWE for many years. His match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI remains one of the most significant matches in WWE history as it was the first time Hogan "passed the torch" after years on top of the company. While the WWE took many stars from regional promotions in the '80s and gave them new gimmicks, that was not so with Warrior. Instead, he developed the gimmick himself in World Class Championship Wrestling under the name the Dingo Warrior before moving on to the WWE.
With that said, the Warrior gimmick was not what he broke into professional wrestling with. When Warrior got his start in the industry, he was part of a bodybuilding wrestling faction under the guidance of Rick Bassman. Out of that group, the two men who became stars were Warrior and Sting. At the time, they were called The Freedom Fighters (Warrior was known as Justice) and then they moved on to the UWF where they changed their names to the Blade Runners (Warrior was known as Rock). In an interview, Warrior said that he and Sting had a falling out and that ended the gimmick with Warrior quitting the UWF and moving on to WCCW.
16 BOOKER T - G.I. BRO
Booker T has used a number of great gimmicks over his career that got him over huge with fans. His first breakout gimmick came in WCW when he and his brother Stevie Ray formed Harlem Heat (known on the independent scene as the Ebony Experience). After they broke up, Booker T became one of the top stars in WCW until they went out of business. After a few years in WWE, he developed the King Booker persona and achieved even greater heights. However, there was one gimmick that he could not get over.
When Booker T started out wrestling in Houston, he worked in a promotion called Western Wrestling Alliance. His idea for a debut gimmick was a spin on a current WWE storyline. In the WWE, Sgt. Slaughter turned on America and became an Iraqi sympathizer. In WWA, Booker T took the name of G.I. Bro, a war hero. Interestingly, that was not the end of G.I. Bro. Booker T revived the gimmick in WCW when he joined the group The Misfits in Action. Because of the bigger stage, and his previous success as a championship caliber wrestler, fans rejected it and he only lasted two months with the gimmick change before reverting back to Booker T.
15 JBL - JUSTIN HAWK BRADSHAW
JBL was one of the many wrestlers to get his start in the Global Wrestling Federation in Dallas. As a Texas native, he wrestled as John Hawk -- the storyline cousin of Barry Windham. This was the start of a redneck gimmick that lasted all the way through his entry in the WWE. He teamed with names like Bobby Duncan Jr. and Black Bart in the GWF before he moved on to the NWA. By the time he entered the WWE, he kept his gimmick but added a new first and last name, calling himself Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw. He kept the tough country boy gimmick as well and was managed by none other than Zeb Colter (known at the time as Uncle Zebekiah).
Even more interesting is that, before he became a monster star as one-half of the APA with Faarooq, he revived another part of his GWF gimmick in the WWE.
Barry Windham re-signed with the company and they teamed him with Bradshaw as The New Blackjacks -- playing off the gimmick that Windham's dad, Blackjack Mulligan, portrayed in the '70s. He changed his name to Blackjack Bradshaw and then just became Bradshaw with the APA before becoming a world champion as JBL.
14 JUSTIN CREDIBLE - ALDO MONTOYA
Justin Credible had a strange and twisting journey to the main event in professional wrestling. He started out as a mid-card star in the WWE before moving on to ECW and becoming a main event talent in the company's dying days. Along the way, he was one of the lesser known members of The Kliq but achieved none of the success that members like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash enjoyed. He also got a gimmick in the WWE that ended up as a punchline thanks to the mask the company forced him to wear.
When wrestling in the WWE in 1994, Justin Credible (real name Peter Polaco) received the gimmick of Aldo Montoya, the Portuguese Man O'War. According to Credible, he told Vince McMahon he was Portuguese and when he was asked if he spoke the language -- and he did -- the gimmick was born. The problem is that the mask they had him wear bore an uncanny resemblance to a jock strap and the look alone was enough to make Aldo Montoya a joke -- despite his friendship with The Kliq. Two years later, he was a jobber and he finally asked for his release in 1997, after which he went to ECW.
13 HARDCORE HOLLY - SPARKY PLUGG
Bob Holly achieved his greatest success in the WWE under the moniker Hardcore Holly, mostly due to the fact that he held the WWE Hardcore title six times and was legitimately one of the toughest wrestlers in the business for years. However, before that, he had a number of gimmicks including working with Bart Gunn as The New Midnight Express when the WWE tried to revive that gimmick (Holly was "Bombastic" Bob). Before any of that, Holly had one of the classic WWE cartoon gimmicks -- Thurman "Sparky" Plugg.
If the name didn't clue you in, it was a race car gimmick. While it was not as embarrassing as something like a repo man or a garbageman, it wasn't something that would see the wrestler portraying it become a star. However, for Holly, it was a part of who he was at the time. In an interview with SESCOOPS, Holly explains that he was auto racing at the local level before he signed with the WWE. While he thought it was silly, he took the role because it meant he made it to the top of the wrestling world. Six months later, he asked Vince McMahon if he could change his name and Bob Holly was officially born.
12 RAZOR RAMON - BIG SCOTT HALL
In the mid-'90s, Scott Hall as one of the biggest names in professional wrestling thanks to the nWo. Before that, he was a superstar in the WWE as Razor Ramon before he and Kevin Nash (Diesel) left the company and helped kick off the Monday Night Wars between the WWE and WCW. The gimmick was created early on when Hall previously wrestled in WCW as the Diamond Studd, and then further developed in the WWE when Hall started to mimic Tony Montana from the movie Scarface.
However, for fans who only know Scott Hall as the Cuban-American machismo, his earliest gimmick will come as a shock.
It was Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) who got Hall hired by the WWE and the two men knew each other from their days in the AWA. While in that Minnesota-based promotion, Hennig and Hall were tag team champions, with Hennig the All-American bluechip star and Hall as a big, tough cowboy. He originally trained under Dusty Rhodes in Florida and took on the name Starship Coyote teaming with Dan Spivey (known as Starship Eagle). He also used the name Texas Scott after leaving the AWA and finally made the change he needed when he arrived in WCW in 1991 as Diamond Studd, alongside manager Diamond Dallas Page.
11 ZACK RYDER - AN EDGE HEAD
Zack Ryder is an interesting case for the WWE. He was never pushed as a star but started his own YouTube show called Z: True Long Island Story and became a huge star on the Internet. Fans at live events started chanting his name but, despite this, the WWE never pushed him. He is back to the lower mid-card, where he spent most of his career wrestling. He had some rare success, such as winning the Intercontinental title at a WrestleMania event and holding the United States title at one point.
Interestingly, Zack Ryder was also a World Tag Team Champion at one point in his career with a man who now holds the record for most consecutive losses in the WWE -- Curt Hawkins. It was after he first made his way to the main roster that he was put into a group called La Familia. The main job of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins was to serve as the Edge Heads, two men who mimicked the look of Edge and did anything he needed of them. They ended up as the youngest tag team to ever win the tag titles when they won them in a four-way match in 2008, holding them for two months before splitting up. Ryder went to ECW and developed the character he still uses to this day.
10 SID VICIOUS - LORD HUMONGOUS
A lot of wrestling stars got their big breaks working for Bill Watts and Mid South Wrestling before moving on to the WWE. Names like Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase and Jake "The Snake" Roberts were major stars in Mid South before Vince McMahon came calling. When Roberts was wrestling there, he had some high profile feuds, but one of his most memorable was against a giant hulking wrestler wearing a hockey mask and calling himself Lord Humongous.
Of course, Lord Humongous was a gimmick stolen directly from the movies, based on the character from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The name and the look were taken directly from the movie, and the wrestler moved around the ring like a zombie who felt no pain, almost adding in a Jason Voorhees influence as well. A number of men took on the role, which started out in Memphis under the management of Jimmy Hart, before moving to Mid South. The most famous name is none other than former WWE world champion Psycho Sid. In some interesting trivia, Sid's son Gunnar Eudy took on the role in 2009, carrying on his father's legacy. Since 1984, 12 different men portrayed Lord Humongous, none as famous as Sid Vicious.
9 TRIPLE H - JEAN-PAUL LEVESQUE
Triple H is the biggest name in professional wrestling today, thanks mostly to his work behind-the-scenes. He has transitioned from a full-time star into a creator and has turned NXT into one of the most entertaining wrestling promotions in the world today. It is hard to believe that his career took such a hit early on after the infamous curtain call and he was able to weather that storm and push on to achieve the position he now holds -- although some of that is also due to him marrying Vince McMahon's daughter along the way.
However, before Triple H arrived in the WWE as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the Connecticut Blueblood, he wrestled under a similar gimmick in WCW. After a short tenure as the heel known as Terror Risin', WCW decided to give him a French gimmick since his real name was Levesque. The character was Jean-Paul Lévesque, and he was asked to speak with a French accent, even though he couldn't actually speak French. Good things came out of the gimmick, as it helped him portray the Blueblood in the WWE and also gave him the chance to develop the Pedigree finisher. The gimmick lasted less than a year before he left for the WWE.
8 THE GODFATHER - PAPA SHANGO
If there is any professional wrestler who had way too many gimmicks, it was Charles Wright. In 2016, Wright made it into the WWE Hall of Fame under the name of his most popular gimmick -- The Godfather. However, outside of The Godfather, Wright also wrestled as The Goodfather, Kama Mustafa, Kama, Sir Charles and Papa Shango. That latter name is the most infamous and strange of Wright's career, and that says a lot from someone who reached his greatest success as a professional wrestling pimp.
Papa Shango was a wrestling character developed to feud with The Undertaker, playing into the supernatural aspects of the Dead Man's persona. He debuted in the WWE in 1992 as a voodoo practitioner that looked like most voodoo priests from horror movies. He had supernatural powers and could control lights, cast spells and even possess and control the movements and actions of other wrestlers. Fans hated the character and he was gone in just over one year. Luckily for Wright, he was persistent and made his career work when he finally became The Godfather. In another bit of interesting trivia, before all his matches, the Godfather was accompanied to the ring by a string of ladies and that is how former women's champion Victoria made her debut in the WWE.
7 LUKE GALLOWS - FESTUS
Luke Gallows is currently enjoying some success in the WWE in a mid-card tag team with Karl Anderson. The two men have been teaming for a long time now, starting out together in New Japan Pro Wrestling before coming to the WWE along with A.J. Styles. However, this isn't Gallows first time to compete in the WWE. Some fans might remember him from when CM Punk had his Straight Edge Society and enlisted Gallows to stand by his side. He also had a strong run in Impact Wrestling as part of Aces & Eights.
However, one gimmick he likely wants fans to forget about is when he was in a very different tag team. In 2007, Gallows went by the name Festus and teamed up with Ray Gordy, who went by the name Jesse. While Gordy is a second generation star, the son of Fabulous Freebirds legend Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, the two were put into a Southern boys gimmick, with Gallows playing the "dimwitted" brother. The twist was that he would go from dimwitted and confused to a raging madman as soon as the ring bell dinged. The gimmick ended in the 2009 brand split draft and Gallows was repackaged for the Straight Edge angle.
6 STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN - STUNNING STEVE AUSTIN
Stone Cold Steve Austin is the biggest reason that the WWE put WCW out of business and helped the WWE transform from a struggling company in the mid-'90s to the national powerhouse that it became. It was Austin who helped kickstart the Attitude Era with his anti-authority feud with Vince McMahon and it is hard to see Austin as anything less than the redneck, butt-kicking, anti-authority figure that he remains known as to this day. However, that is the opposite of how he started his career.
Austin started out his career down in Texas, working in World Class Championship Wrestling, trained by the legendary Gentleman Chris Adams.
When Austin moved on to WCW, he became Stunning Steve Austin and was part of the Hollywood Blondes with Brian Pillman.
He was Hollywood all the way and it was impossible at the time to see him as the Texas Rattlesnake he would become. Things were worse when he went to the WWE and they made him The Ringmaster -- one of the most generic wrestlers in the company at the time. Thankfully, Austin improvised the Austin 3:16 promo at the King of the Ring in 1996 and Stone Cold was born, leaving his previous gimmicks in the dust.
5 RAVEN - JOHNNY POLO
When Raven became a star, it was thanks to Paul Heyman and his work in ECW. However, the character of Raven was the complete opposite of the characters that he portrayed before entering that iconic company. While Raven was anti-authority, playing on the grunge scene, with his black leather jacket, grunge metal shirts, and very risque storylines, the character predating that was a rich yuppy who believed he deserved anything he wanted.
Raven worked around the territories early in his career but got his first chance at the big time in WCW in 1992. He worked a surfer gimmick under the name Scotty Flamingo and even carried a surfboard with him. He actually was the Light Heavyweight Champion at the time. In 1993, he moved on to the WWE and became a manager known as Johnny Polo, a rich kid who wore yuppie clothes, carried a golf club, and was a true homage to Jim Cornette. Raven hated the role as a manager and wanted to wrestle again, finally quitting in 1994, moving to ECW, and becoming a legend. Seeing Johnny Polo, it is unfathomable to think that the same man ended up quoting Edgar Allen Poe and Sandman comics in his promos two years later.
4 ROAD DOGG - THE ROADIE
Before Brian James was a professional wrestler, he was a Marine. However, as a second-generation superstar, the son of Bullet Bob Armstrong and brother of Brad, Scott and Steve Armstrong, it seemed natural that he would make his way into professional wrestling after his tour of duty ended. After working as a jobber in Smokey Mountain Wrestling and a short sting in WCW, James finally got the chance to sign with the WWE.
However, for fans of his Road Dogg gimmick, it seems strange to think that his first gimmick in the WWE was as an assistant to "Double-J" Jeff Jarrett.
It really isn't a secret now, as the two men played off the gimmick at Jarrett's WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2018. Jeff Jarrett worked a country music star gimmick with the twist being that he never sang his own songs. Instead, he lipsynched while his assistant, The Roadie, was the actual singer of the songs. That gimmick actually died before it could conclude when both men left the WWE. When James returned, he teamed with Billy Gunn as the New Age Outlaws, and the rest is history. James now works as one of the head bookers for the SmackDown Live brand.
3 DOLPH ZIGGLER - NICKY
Dolph Ziggler often seems like a forgotten man in the WWE. He is extremely talented but never seems to stick with a good gimmick long enough to make it work. There was one time that it looked like he could be a major star, as his Money in the Bank cash-in against Albert Del Rio got one of the loudest pops in Monday Night Raw history, but that fizzled out quickly as well. However, when looking at the two gimmicks that Ziggler had before he became "The Show-Off," it is amazing he made it this far.
Ziggler worked in OVW with other young stars trying to get a break in the WWE. One day, the WWE decided to create a new faction of young stars and bring them to the main roster. Unfortunately for those young wrestlers, the gimmick was a male cheerleader gimmick known as The Spirit Squad. Ziggler was Nicky in the group and he is the only wrestler who survived the gimmick to become a star in the WWE. Crazily enough, that wasn't even Ziggler's worst gimmick. Before that, he worked as the caddy and enforcer for Chavo Guerrero, who was portraying the character of Kerwin White.
2 THE UNDERTAKER - THE MASTER OF PAIN
The Undertaker is one of the greatest creations that the WWE ever developed for one of its stars. In an era where cartoon-styled characters often flamed out quickly, Undertaker caught on somehow and fans soon fell in love with The Deadman. Now, Undertaker is widely considered one of the greatest WWE superstars of all-time and that is largely thanks to how he portrayed this legendary gimmick throughout his career. However, before he entered the WWE, he was just a generic big-man in WCW named Mean Mark Callous. it wasn't until he became The Undertaker that he became a legend.
What a lot of fans may not realize is that Undertaker had a strange and forgotten gimmick when he was first starting out his career in the USWA. He went by the name The Master of Pain and was managed by Dutch Mantel (who later became Zeb Colter). The gimmick saw him as an ex-convict who got out of the Atlanta State Penitentiary after serving five years for taking out two men in a fight. The Master of Pain was an immediate success, sent by Ricky Morton to take out Jerry Lawler and he quickly ended up winning the USWA unified world heavyweight title from Lawler in 1989.
1 KEVIN NASH - OZ
Possibly the most embarrassing gimmick for a future WWE superstar was given to Kevin Nash by WCW. Of course, fans know Nash best from his days as former WWE world champion Diesel and as the co-founder of the nWo during the Monday Night Wars.
What is crazy is that five years before Kevin Nash and Scott Hall invaded WCW as The Outsiders, the two men teamed up in WCW in 1991 under the ring names The Diamond Studd and Oz.
Hall's Diamond Studd gimmick was a great precursor to his Razor Ramon gimmick but Kevin Nash's Oz gimmick was a huge joke. When Nash debuted as Oz in 1991, WCW even had Wizard of Oz characters accompany him to the ring. He even wore a turban and a giant white fake beard that he removed before he started wrestling. He also had a manager known as The Wizard. As bad as the gimmick was, Nash said in an interview years later that WCW sent him to Japan to wrestle and the character was extremely over there with the fans. After Oz flopped, WCW repackaged him as Vinny Vegas, which was better but he finally left for the WWE in 1993 and became a star.
Which of these surprised you most? Let us know in the comments!