Like the New Gen Podcast on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes.
This absolutely had to be at the top for me. It's never really clear exactly what Mantaur was supposed to be. Was he supposed to be an actual minotaur? Was he supposed to be a bloke who thought he was a minotaur? And why exactly was Jim Cornette (briefly) his manager? As a lover of all things on the 'Wrestlecrap' spectrum (I love The Dungeon Of Doom), Mantaur ranks highly on an all-time silliest gimmick list, let alone one confined to the year 1995. The giant bull's head is just absolutely ridiculous. Jim Ross tried his best to make some sense of this bizarre gimmick while commentating on one of his bouts, claiming that Mantaur's real name was 'Mike' and he had been a 'bully' his whole life and had therefore decided to use the whole 'bull' thing as part of his persona. Nice try Jim, but nobody is buying it. Points for trying though. Mantaur would make it on to PPV though, appearing in the not-exactly-star-studded 1995 Royal Rumble match as well as moo'ing his way through the main event of "In Your House 2". Seriously, go back and watch/listen to the match. Full marks for living the gimmick.
2. Techno Team 2000
Dressed in silver pleather, the tag team of Travis and Troy (ever get the feeling Vince has a Stan Lee-esque love of alliteration?) could have probably picked no worse place to travel back in time to than 1995 WWF. While they might have fancied their chances in a depleted tag division, Techno Team 2000 would last a couple of house show loops and a handful of television appearances before jumping back into their Delorean or Phone Box or whatever to try their luck in 1996. They would manage a Pay-Per-View appearance (technically) as Lumberjacks in the Diesel/Sid match at "In Your House 2". Part of me really wants to know where Vince would have gone with characters who could time travel - maybe if they lost a match they could go back in time to counter the move that put them away? That's a whole other type of paradox.
3. Xanta Claus
Evil wrestling Santa Claus from the South Pole. I don't need to say anything else.
The very definition of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gimmick. Competing in simply one match on "Superstars", Phantasio was a wrestling magician. On paper that might sound interesting, but, at least in this instance, it was totally ridiculous. Using his impressive array of 'magic tricks' Phantasio would pick up the win by pulling out his jobber opponents underwear and using a schoolboy. Before he did the same to referee Earl Hebner. Yes, this was an actual thing that happened. In his ultimate magic trick, Phantasio would disappear from the WWF forever after this sole appearance.
Al Snow enjoyed a prosperous run in the dying days of Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and when that promotion folded, he would join a number of the company's performers in making his way to the WWF. His initial gimmick? Brightly coloured masked Ninja. Well, I say masked Ninja, what I mean is Ninja who walks out to the ring without his mask on, only to put it on when he gets in the ring. What exactly is the point in that? There isn't one, that's the answer. Following an extremely disappointing 'Raw' debut, Avatar would be canned, including being removed from the opening match at "Survivor Series". Back to the drawing board for Al, it would be a number of tries before the WWF got it right for him.
6. Dean Douglas
While the character 'teacher' is not as outlandish or far-fetched as many others on this list, the fact it was given to ECW's hottest heel Shane Douglas warrants its inclusion on this list. While Douglas did have a background as a part-time teacher, this was not a character that would establish him as a strong mid-card heel in a company lacking performers on that side of the fence up and down the card. Douglas would get an initial push opposite former IC Champion Razor Ramon and become involved in 'The Bad Guy's' rivalry with The 123 Kid, playing instigator amongst the former rivals turned friends. Douglas would capture the Intercontinental Title in the most underwhelming way possible on one of the WWF's worst ever Pay-Per-Views, "In Your House 4" , via Shawn Michaels forfeit, before quickly dropping it to Razor Ramon in a disappointing bout. Douglas is another who would grow tired of The Kliq's antics. Add that on top of a back injury and Douglas would depart the promotion, never to return.
7. Jean-Pierre LaFitte
The antics of The Quebecers and Johnny Polo were a highlight of late 93/early 94 WWF despite the fact that the former Mountie Jacques Rougeau was advancing in age. His partner Pierre did the lion's share of the heavy lifting in their matches and had some unique offense for a performer of his size. When Jacques retired, Pierre went AWOL for 18 months before reappearing as a Pirate. Yes, you heard right - a pirate. Thrust into a feud with Bret Hart (not a problem on paper) over LaFitte stealing the Hitman's jacket (definitely a problem) the two had a cracker at "In Your House 3" that helped cement Bret's status as "Champion of the Mid-Card" in 1995. In addition to his dated gimmick, LaFitte had run-ins with The Kliq and was quickly canned.
8. Rad Radford
Vince McMahon has always been a few years out with his cultural references, with Rad Radford being one of the most shining examples. Grunge was over with. Done. Finished at least 18 months before Radford debuted. Louie Spicolli definitely showed promise as a performer but was saddled with a gimmick that had a very short life span. The fact that mere weeks into his run, he was made a 'Bodydonna in Training' didn't fit with the character either, and seemed more in tune with Vince's natural predilection towards pointing fun at those that didn't fit his preferred body type.
9. Make-A-Difference Fatu
What difference exactly was he trying to make? While The Head Shrinkers tag team had certainly run its course, this was a somewhat questionable repackaging of Fatu. Dressed in a gaudy brightly coloured jacket with an absolutely awful theme tune, Fatu was immediately set up as a bottom of the card babyface, something of a fall from grace for a former WWF Tag Team Champion who had once contested a very good WWF Title Match on 'Raw' with Bret Hart.
OK, so the gimmick is still alive in 2015, but that is perhaps more of a compliment to the longevity of Dustin Rhodes than the character itself (although there is certainly an argument that Rhodes would be way less tenured without it). What's not up for debate is how totally off the wall the character was when it first debuted, with the WWF seemingly unsure of what they wanted it to be. Initially, Goldust just quoted movies quite a lot. Then he had a pair of bad matches with Marty Jannetty and Bam Bam Bigelow that certainly didn't give any indication that the character would last any time at all. As 1996 dawns, Vince figures out what he wants Goldust to be, and it's definitely different to pretty much anything he has done before.