Ghastly Gimmicks: The World’s Largest Love Machine

Viscera, Big Daddy V, world's largest love machine, Lilian Garcia, WWE, wwf, pajamas

The Great Romances of the 20th Century

Nelson Frazier, better known has Viscera, was never the most fortunate guy when it came to gimmicks. King Mabel brought very little to the table, and the “generic oversized thug” role he filled for most of his career wasn’t exactly groundbreaking. Still, one of his characters stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of being worthy of embarrassment – The silk-pajama-wearing World’s Largest Love Machine.

This ghastly gimmick began in 2005 when Trish Stratus enlisted Viscera’s help to take out Kane, who at the time was “married” to Trish’s arch-nemesis Lita. Not one to offer his services for free, Big Vis forced himself upon Trish, straight dogging her in a backstage segment before showing up to a “business dinner” with a supply of XL condoms. When Vis failed to eliminate Kane from the picture at Backlash ’05, Stratus put an end to their partnership, and Big Daddy V put her on the shelf with a big splash for her troubles. This, of course, turned Viscera into a babyface (wrestling!).

With Trish out of the picture, Vis turned his attention to ring announcer Lilian Garcia. Week in and week out, he’d attempt to seduce her, and although his advances were unwelcomed at first, Garcia eventually came around. The couple shared a number of in-ring kisses (one featuring nachos), and eventually, Lilian thought it was time to take things to the next level. At Vengeance ’05, Garcia proposed to the World’s Largest Love Machine in the middle of the ring. Before he could accept, however, The Godfather and his Ho Train made their way to the ring to remind Big Vis of everything he’d be leaving behind should he chose to take himself off the market. Unable to resist the hos, Viscera left a devastated Lilian Garcia in shambles. Naturally, he’d begin pairing up with fellow ladies man Val Venis as part of a tag team that was aptly named V-Squared. During this time, he began using a signature maneuver called the Viscagra, with which he’d literally dry hump opponents into the canvas.

A year later, Vis attempted to reconcile with Lilian, who was less than enthused to give him another chance. He and Charlie Haas competed for her affection for a short while, but when she said that she only liked them both as friends, things took a dark turn. Viscera responded to being put into the friend-zone by Samoan Dropping Garcia, after which he and Haas shared a good laugh. You can’t make this stuff up. Most of the World’s Largest Love Machine’s “highlights” are featured in the short tribute video below, inexplicably (but oddly appropriately?) set to Bobby Pickett’s “The Monster Mash.”

Ghastly Gimmicks: That 70’s Guy

Mike Awesome, that 70s guy, ace, wwe, ecw, wrestler, career killer, fat chick thriller

Hello Wisconsin!

In the spring of 2000, the reigning ECW Champion made a surprise debut in WCW on the April 10 edition of Monday Nitro. He was a big man, standing 6’6″ and tipping the scales at nearly 300 lbs, but he was as quick and as agile as a cat. He was buzzy, debuting for a rival promotion while still carrying Extreme Championship Wrestling’s top prize. Perhaps most importantly, he was mean, having left a path of destruction in his wake at every stop he made during his career. His name was Mike Awesome, and he was a can’t miss superstar who missed and missed hard.

Things started all right for Awesome in WCW as the big man took on a “career killer” gimmick shortly after his debut, the result of throwing Kanyon off the top of a cage and putting him out of action for a while. It didn’t take long, however, for things to take a turn for the worse. A couple of months into his tenure with the Georgia-based promotion, Awesome watched as things went to hell at Bash at the Beach 2000. In an infamous kayfabe-shattering moment, Jeff Jarrett laid down in the middle of the ring and allowed Hulk Hogan to pin him. The circumstances surrounding the incident are still disputed today, but that’s a story for another time. The reason it bears mentioning now is that Mike Awesome was a relative of Hulk Hogan’s through marriage, and after Hogan left the company on such bad terms, it’s widely believed that Vince Russo took his aggressions out on Awesome, saddling him with gimmicks that were failures by design. Continue reading

Ghastly Gimmicks: The Dicks

Chad wicks, Tank Toland, wwe, wwf, the dicks, tag team, wrestlers2005 was a strange time in the WWE. The Attitude Era was over, but the PG Age had yet to begin. It was a transitional period during which the company attempted to continue pushing the envelope with shocking gimmicks and storylines, but had already said goodbye to most of the gritty in-your-face characters that had made the adult-oriented programming of the past several years a success. The result was lots of sophomoric humor akin to what the WCW was producing during its death throes, with plenty of offensive stereotypes to boot. This may not have been as evident anywhere as it was in the tag team division.

The 2005 WWE tag team division featured: A team of swinging club-goers, a trio of tractor-riding Mexican stereotypes, a Road Warrior / Rapist combination, two Middle Eastern terrorists, some tobacco-chewing rednecks, a superhero and his protégé (a Super Hero In Training, otherwise a S.H.I.T.), an Englishman and his mentally challenged nephew, and of course, The Dicks.

Comprised of Chad Wicks and Tank Tolland, The Dicks were standouts in Ohio Valley Wrestling, where they first began teaming. By the time they reached the main roster, however, it was failure by design. Saddled with a Chippendales gimmick that saw them use baby oil to blind their opponents, The Dicks were, well, a couple of dicks. During their five-month tenure on Smackdown, The Dicks primarily interfered in the matches of other teams, but did manage to notch a few victories of their own along the way. In early 2006 it looked like The Dicks may be on the rise, but a real life altercation quickly derailed any momentum that the duo had.

Most likely due to a combination of their juvenile gimmick and their short statures, The Dicks found themselves the targets of heavy locker room ribbing during their stint in the WWE. According to the Wrestling Observer, James Dick (Tolland) was able to take the pranks in stride, while Chad Dick (Wicks) had a harder time dealing with the situation. Chad’s poor reaction to the ribbing only caused locker room leaders like JBL and Chris Benoit to heap it on more heavily. Eventually fed up with his partner bringing this heat down on them, James Dick punched Chad square in the mouth, breaking his own finger and busting his partner’s lip. Shortly after the real-life altercation, the WWE unsurprisingly released The Dicks. Upon his release, Tank Tolland continued his career in Ring of Honor, while Chad Wicks faded into the sunset. The days of The Dicks were over before they ever really began.

Ghastly Gimmicks: Oklahoma

Ed Ferrara, Oklahoma, Jim Ross, JR, WCW, WWE, Cruiserweight Champion

Somebody take this man to the woodshed and whip him like a government mule.

Continuing our focus on the cruiserweights, this week’s installment of Ghastly Gimmicks pulls back the curtain on who was surely the worst Cruiserweight Champion of all time, Oklahoma. In late 1999, the WWE parted ways with their top creative writing team, Vince Russo and Ed Ferarra. Almost immediately, the duo sought refuge with the WWE’s top competition, World Championship Wrestling. By and large, the best days of both writers were behind them, and that became painfully obvious once they arrived in WCW. It wasn’t just their writing that was a problem, though – it was also the fact that they made themselves focal points of Nitro & Thunder as on-screen characters every week. Vince Russo would notoriously go on to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, while Ed Ferarra…well, he became one of the most abhorred characters in the history of pro rasslin’.

Taking the name Oklahoma, Ferarra’s character was an obvious and distasteful parody of Jim Ross. Going so far as to mock Ross’ Bell’s Palsy, Oklahoma provided fans with a reason to not watch WCW. At worst, the character was offensive and off-putting.  At best, it was just plain not funny. Coming to the ring with his signature BBQ and using JR-esque colloquialisms, Oklahoma brought literally nothing original to the table. Thankfully, the character was short lived, only wrestling in five matches before riding off into the sunset. In addition to wrestling Asya (who was as blatant a Chyna rip-off as Oklahoma was a JR one), Oklahoma also twice did battle with Medusa. The second time, in what would be his final WCW match, he was able to defeat the former Ms. Blaze for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship at Souled Out ’00.

Three days alter, Oklahoma vacated the title, due to the fact that he was not a wrestler about 60 pounds over the weight limit. A tournament was held to crown a new Champion, won by another Ghastly Gimmick of yesteryear. Oklahoma, mercifully, would soon be gone forever. Though Ed Ferrara has publicly apologized to Jim Ross since the character’s demise, I think an apology is also owed to any fans subjected to watching him perform as the character, one of the ugliest stains on an already dark era of professional wrestling.

Ghastly Gimmicks: Beaver Cleavage

Beaver Cleavage, WWF, WWE, Mosh, Headbangers, Chaz, Mrs. Cleavage, Marianna Komlos, mother

Beaver Cleavage and his mother, Mrs. Cleavage.

Last week, the WWE Universe saw the return of the Headbangers to Smackdown Live as part of the ongoing tournament to crown the inaugural tag team champions of the brand. Both Mosh and Thrasher will always be remembered most fondly for the work they’ve done as a team, but there was a brief time when the former pursued a career as a singles competitor. The results were…strange.

In the spring of 1999, Headbanger Thrasher suffered a knee injury that put him on the shelf for a few months. To their credit, the WWF decided to keep Mosh on TV, repackaging him as a 1950’s throwback named Beaver Cleavage. The character, named as an homage to the TV show Leave it to Beaver, was one of the more disturbing ones of the late Attitude Era. Coming to the ring with a black and white filter applied on WWE television, not unlike the Vaudevillians today, Beaver was seldom seen without his “mother,” Mrs. Cleavage. The woman who portrayed her, Marianna Komlos, was less than two years older than her “son.”

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Ghastly Gimmicks: Phantasio

Phantasio, Spellbinder, Harry Del Rios, WWE, jobber, gimmick, magic, magician, mime, dove, facepaint, WWE

Today, it’s almost unheard of for a new talent to debut on WWE programming without spending some time in NXT first. For every AJ Styles or Braun Strowman who bypass the system altogether, there are a dozen Nakamuras, Finn Balors, Sami Zayns, and Kevin Owens(es?) who are sent to Full Sail University to hone their craft the WWE way before a main roster call-up. But what did the WWE do before NXT? Before Florida Championship Wrestling, before Ohio Valley, and before Tough Enough – even before ECW talent raids and the Monday Night Wars? Enter the WWE’s first developmental territory – the United States Wrestling Alliance. And enter the man who signed the first ever WWE developmental contract – Harry Del Rios, better known by his ghastly gimmick, Phantasio.

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Ghastly Gimmicks: Heidenreich

littlejohnnyJohn Heidenreich wore many hats during his tenure in World Wrestling Entertainment, a real jack of all trades. Paul Heyman guy. Poet. Road Warrior. Rapist. This big man did it all.

Entering arenas to the abrasive sounds of his name being repeated in rhythmic fashion “HEIDEN-HEIDENREICH, HEIDEN-REICH,” poor John was doomed from the start. Heidenreich made his first appearance in the fall of 2003, asking Steve Austin for a tryout match on Raw. It was at this time that the audience first learned of Little Johnny, a mysterious voice that guided Heidenreich’s behavior. While it’s probably safe to assume that this was a figment of his own imagination (Heidenreich all but confirmed as much years later), the story went the way of G-TV and was dropped before any on-air resolution was established. A couple of months later, Heidenreich moved to the Smackdown brand. With Paul Heyman as his new handler, logic would dictate that Heidenreich could find success as a strong silent monster for whom Heyman would advocate. Despite having the best mouthpiece in the business at his side, though, Heidenreich still did his own talking … in the form of poems. When he was working as a heel, his “disasterpiece” poems were about destroying his opponents and hating the world. When he was a babyface, he’d recite verses on topics like friendship and farts, clearly things that wrestling fans would be interested to hear.

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