Looking back, WCW revealed itself to be filled with outlandish fantasy gimmicks. This factor separates it from its predecessor, the NWA — a promotion focused on a grittier style of wrestling, preserving it into the ’80s with Jim Crockett Promotions (and continues to do that today). Let’s go through eleven of the strangest examples of WCW fantasy gimmicks to understand how pervasive they were throughout the company’s run.
1. KISS Demon
Time and time again on this list, we will see WCW use cross-promotion and brand integration as the basis for outrageous fantasy gimmicks. The KISS Demon is just such a story.
KISS has never met a branding opportunity it didn’t like — even offering fans their own coffin (called the Kiss Kasket). In 1999, the band was heavily promoting their live tours. Part of this involved working with WCW, as Nitro was still a cable ratings powerhouse.
The result is a wrestler (Dale Torborg) dressed like a member of KISS working actual matches and being given an intro on Nitro’s August 23, 1999 episode.
In the ’90s, the Mortal Kombat franchise was enormous. It not only did major business in arcades and with home console releases, but it even spawned an action film adaptation, released in 1995, to an underwhelming reception.
WCW created Glacier to capitalize on this interest. A blatant copy of the Mortal Kombat character Sub-Zero, the gimmick, was given to Raymond M Lloyd and introduced in 1996.
WCW Magazine ran a story in their October edition of that year describing his elaborate backstory — including working with a sensei in Japan where he earned a ceremonial Samurai helmet over 400 years old.
The expensive production and lengthy entrance meant that Glacier would need to get extremely over to make it work. He didn’t.
But the same year he debuted, WCW found enormous success with a highly realistic angle: the nWo.
You can learn more about the secret history of Glacier, Eric Bischoff’s frigid failure, here.
We can’t discuss WCW without always remembering their origin in Turner Broadcasting. In 1986, Turner bought Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM). That meant that WCW could use intellectual property from the entire MGM archive. This includes what, by some estimates, is the most-watched film in history: The Wizard of Oz.
Watching Nash walk out to the ring as Oz makes it easy to see why the gimmick didn’t work. For one, it isn’t even based on a character in the film or books. He is simply an embodiment of the movie. And even if he was a recognizable character, would audiences want to see that in a wrestling ring?
In 1990, WCW ran a cross-promotional program with the new action film RoboCop 2. The action would culminate at Capital Combat, a pay-per-view event live from the DC Armory in Washington, DC.
The night occurs in a strange middle period when the NWA ran events under the WCW moniker. The card is very much a hybrid — with NWA belts being defended and the likes of the Midnight Express appearing on the card. But it also featured RoboCop coming to the ring to assist Sting, the leading babyface of the promotion.
It is an odd combination, as the Crow version of Sting (which would debut many years after this) might be the one time WCW got a fantasy character right.
When it comes to difficult gimmicks to get over, Goldust is up there among the hardest. Yet, Dustin Rhodes, son of legend Dusty Rhodes, took the strange premise of the character and turned it into something memorable.
Dustin jumped ship from WWF in 1999 to work for WCW, and they saddled him with an equally strange gimmick. This time, he would be the mysterious Seven.
Nitro gave us vignettes to introduce him, showing a supernatural boogeyman who scared children.
Seven’s in-person debut proved a head-scratcher courtesy of Vince Russo. Upon entering the ring, Rhodes immediately broke character, complaining on the microphone about how stupid his gimmick was and how he was disgruntled at WCW management.
While fans agreed with him, this did not prove a great way to boost interest in Rhodes, and the run fizzled.
6. The Shockmaster
If you haven’t ever watched WCW, there is still a chance you’ve seen a clip of the Shockmaster’s debut, as it is one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments in wrestling history.
It’s captivating not only for being so botched as he falls flat on his face upon entering but also because the outfit was so strange. We could try to describe the concept, but a coherent description of the gimmick has yet to surface.
Fred Ottman, the man behind the glitter-bedecked Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet, could not get the gimmick off the ground, and his career suffered for it — an example of how unfair the business can be.
Unlike many other items on this list, the Shockmaster is not a promotional tie-in. Instead, it was an original (if half-baked) idea.
You can learn more about The Shockmaster and Fred Ottman’s emotional side of the story here.
Like RoboCop before it, the movie-franchise character Chucky made it onto WCW television for Nitro’s October 12, 1998 edition. During a segment where “Mean” Gene Okerlund interviewed Rick Steiner in the ring, Chucky appeared on the arena’s screen to interrupt the wrestler.
Things went off the rails completely.
It seemed that Chucky’s dialogue was pre-recorded, with Okerlund and Steiner not remembering their lines that would feed into the canned ones — leading to nonsensical moments. As you might have guessed, this was an effort to promote the upcoming release of Bride of Chucky. And, like all of these attempts, the audience was left confused.
This was a reminder of how often WCW seemed not to know how to use their incredible talent.
8. The Dungeon of Doom
Sullivan did this with his earlier stable, the Three Faces of Fear, but he went even further with the Dungeon of Doom — a group of wrestlers hell-bent on destroying Hulkamania.
The Dungeon of Doom approach can be summarized this way: create spooky big men, build them up with vignettes (rather than an impressive in-ring run), and send them off to Hogan for slaughter. It gave rise to many outlandish characters. Among their most baffling wrestlers were Braun the Leprechaun, Zodiac, and the Yeti, who we turn to now.
9. The Yeti
The Yeti will go down as one of the most infamous WCW gimmicks.
The Yeti is an ape-like creature purported to inhabit the Himalayan Mountains. What this has to do with wrestling is anyone’s guess. His Nitro debut in 1995 epitomized the misguided Dungeon of Doom, and his eventual in-ring debut landed with a thud as he awkwardly bear-hugged Hogan.
This gimmick is systematic of a broader issue with WCW at the time, and it shows why the nWo was so essential to the company’s success. Hogan was their biggest star far and away, but his approach to protecting himself was a millstone around the neck of the main event scene. The nWo breathed life into the top of the card, adding a level of realism that created must-see television.
But before all that, WCW was trapped in the ultimate fantasy: that they could defeat WWF using what little remained of that Hulkamania magic (which wouldn’t return until 2002).
You can learn more about The Yeti here, where we dive further into the question: “What was that all about?”
10. Braun the Leprechaun
A perfect example from the Dungeon of Doom is Braun the Leprechaun. Played by longtime enhancement talent and Power Plant trainer DeWayne Bruce, Braun was a heel who looked to terrorize the WCW. Predictably, this gimmick failed.
In 2022, Eric Bischoff discussed the gimmick on his podcast 83 Weeks and made a soft defense of the character.
“I let it happen,” Bischoff admitted. “Ultimately, everything you saw [in WCW] came down to me. If it was a [awful] idea, yours truly let it happen, so I’ll take the heat. I promise I didn’t come up with it, but I’ll take the heat.
“I like a crazy leprechaun, just like a sinister clown. When you can find something that is that wicked but scary, I’m in! I’ll have a conversation with someone who wants to do that.
“Here’s the worst part,” Bischoff continued. “It didn’t go anywhere. Let’s have a cracked-out leprechaun and see what happens!
“He could have been one of the most intimidating, fearsome, and mean people that anybody ever saw in wrestling. I liked the idea. The concept was not bad. It just didn’t go anywhere.
It was an era when the average wrestler was much taller and larger than today, explaining why Bruce, who stands at five and a half feet tall, was given a gimmick based on diminutive height.
11. The Zodiac
On July 15, 1995, The Zodiac was another attempt by WCW to repackage Brutus Beefcake, who entered the company with personal friend Hulk Hogan.
His introduction on TV is classic Dungeon of Doom — poorly paced but with a delightful level of theatrical production design.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that the gimmick had no relation to the performer underneath the face paint. It was an example of trying to find a role for this talent.
Other names he took in the company include Bruther Bruti, the Butcher, the Man With No Name, the Bootyman, the Disciple, and Ed Leslie. The Zodiac, however, will go down as the most hard to explain.
Wrestling Fantasy Gimmick Honorable Mentions
In popular memory, the award for most outlandish fantasy gimmicks aimed at children typically goes to early-to-mid ’90s WWF. And sure, there are some good reasons for that.
Characters like the Gobbledy Gooker, Max Moon, Mantaur, and Adam Bomb point us in that direction. Even some of the greatest inventions of the federation are fantasy, including the Undertaker, the original Mankind, and Kane.
But with these eleven egregious characters, WCW gave WWF a run for its money while hurdling the promotion towards its doom.
These stories may also interest you:
- 13 WWE Mid-Carders Turned World Champions After Departure!
- WCW Comic Disaster: How It All Went Wrong!
- Notorious Tales from a Former WCW and Turner Corporate Employee
Want More? Choose another story!
Pro Wrestling Stories is committed to accurate, unbiased wrestling content rigorously fact-checked and verified by our team of researchers and editors. Any inaccuracies are quickly corrected, with updates timestamped in the article's byline header.
Got a correction, tip, or story idea for Pro Wrestling Stories? Contact us! Learn about our editorial standards here.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us provide free content for you to enjoy!