Not every wrestling superstar is meant to be a horror character – all wrestling fans know that. But some gimmicks found new and exciting ways to captivate audiences. Some of the very best wrestlers found ways to be charismatic and pull you in, not by being intimidating, not by being squeaky-clean babyfaces, but by being terrifying, even if they didn’t have a transitional horror themed gimmick.
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Whether it was these superstars’ appearance, demeanor, the way they spoke, their actions in the ring, or combinations of all the things mentioned – these superstars found ways to peer right into fans’ souls, scaring the life out of them.
10 Sabu Feared Nothing And Used His Body As A Weapon
There Was A Reason He Was Homicidal, Suicidal, And Genocidal
- Sabu is a second-generation star, having been trained by his uncle, The Original Shiek.
- Somewhere in the WWE archives is footage of a dark match Sabu had with Owen Hart.
- The legend officially retired from wrestling in 2021.
Sabu was labeled as “homicidal, suicidal, and genocidal.” If that wasn’t terrifying enough, Sabu’s early ECW appearances saw him being escorted to the ring, strapped to a gurney in a Hannibal Lecter mask. That should evoke some fear in the hearts and minds of fans. While plenty of ECW faithful weren’t too afraid, there were plenty of detractors who were outright terrified of the presentation – especially when watching him dive into the audience.
9 Luna Vachon Was So Tough, Even Men Wouldn’t Mess With Her
From Worshiping The Devil Kevin Sullivan To Being Married To A Vampire
- Luna Vachon debuted in WWE at WrestleMania 9 as Shawn Michaels’ valet in a riff on the Beauty (Shawn) and The Beast (Luna) motiff.
- Her marriage to Gangrel (then known as The Vampire Warrior) was actually covered by WWE in the old Mania series.
- Luna was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame Legacy Class in 2019.
Everything about Luna Vachon was menacing. From her very first appearance as Shawn Michaels’ valet at WrestleMania 9 to being one of the toughest competitors, male or female. For her time, she was seemingly so tough that she was never allowed anywhere near competing with Alundra Blayze or later Sable for championships.
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She faced them both once or twice, but never had a full-fledged program against either. Combine that with the gravelly voice she adopted, and you get a superstar who was way ahead of her time.
8 Waylon Mercy Was Kind Before Unleashing Hell
Somewhere Between Max Cady And Bray Wyatt, Waylon Mercy Existed
- Dan Spivey wrestled for years as Dangerous Dan Spivey before becoming Waylon Mercy.
- Mercy would shake hands with fans and referees on his way to the ring, including his opponents. Then he’d thrash them.
- Spivey’s eerie character was inspired by Robert DeNiro’s Max Cady, from the film Cape Fear.
Speaking of ahead of their time, just about all of Bray Wyatt’s early vignettes, promos, and mannerisms seemed veryr similar to Danny Spivey’s Waylon Mercy. Derived from Robert DeNiro’s depiction of Max Cady in Cape Fear, everything about Spivey’s new character evoked a brooding, dark temper underneath. If the right buttons were pushed, he’d snap on an opponent in a heartbeat.
7 Doink’s Evil Clown Was Mesmerizing
In A World Full Of Colorful Characters, Doink Was The Darkest
- Doink was originally portrayed by second generation superstar, Maniac Matt Bourne.
- Several other wrestlers, most notably The Brooklyn Brawler, Steve ‘Skinner’ Keirn, and Ray Apollo have all donned the grease paint.
- Most fans agree, the best version was Bourne’s.
As some of the wrestlers knew him, Matt Borne was the perfect choice to play the evil clown Doink. While still a heel, the design wasn’t meant to be scary, it was only Borne’s portrayal that made it pretty terrifying. It somehow got even darker when he headed to ECW as Borne Again. Then, Matt wrestled in tattered Doink gear, full of rage over Vince McMahon overlooking him for other superstars and making him, a great wrestler, have to wear a silly getup.
6 Cactus Jack’s Hardcore Antics Are What Made Him Scary
Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy’s Original Face Is Still His Most Memorable
- Foley has said that he thought of Cactus Jack until he was able to play the real wrestler he wanted to – Dude Love.
- Jack was billed as being from Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, which is amazingly a real town.
- His ECW anti-hardcore promos helped him stand out and eventually get signed by WWE.
Before the world learned that Mick Foley was one of the kindest and endearing wrestlers, if not humans on the planet, he was simply Cactus Jack, the bad man from Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. That, along with the attire, made him look like a wild man from an old-school Western.
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Jack was the good, the bad, the ugly all rolled up into one. He was good at delivering crazed promos, a bad man capable of doing ugly things to his opponents all across the globe.
5 Bull Nakano Helped Show American Fans The Joshi Style
When Alundra Blayze Needed Opponents To Work With, Bull Nakano Answered The Call
- Bull Nakano started wrestling in 1983 for All Japan and frequently teamed up with legend Dump Matsumoto.
- Nakano was able to defeate Alundra Blayze for the WWE Women’s title in 1994 in Tokyo.
- The star influenced future legends like Beth Phoenix.
There’s the WWE Universe before Bull Nakano and then there’s the WWE Universe after Bull Nakano, and she doesn’t get enough credit for that. She came into the WWE to challenge Alundra Blayze for the WWE Women’s title and successfully became the champ. But the appearance of the fierce competitor was enough to instill fear in all of her opponents. Her face was painted up with lighting bolts, plus a massive flattop that somehow barely moved. To this very day, seldom few if any superstars have ever been able to break out of The Scorpion Cross Lock, or Saraya’s version – the PTO.
4 The Loose Cannon Brian Pillman Had Them All Fooled
Within A Very Short Period Of Time, Brian Pillman Captivated All Three Major Wrestling Promotions
- Pillman started his career as being one of the most innovative Cruiserweights of his era.
- The “Pillman’s Got A Gun” angle forced WWE to apologize for crossing the line.
- He was able to convince Eric Bischoff to give him his release, with the thought that he’d make himself an even bigger star before returning.
When you’re able to basically convince all of the boys, across three major promotions, along with the fans that you’ve lost your marbles – that’s terrifying to think about. Brian Pillman went from a squeaky clean cut baby face to a certifiable nut bag seemingly overnight. In several documentaries and shoot interviews over the years, even his own friends, like Jim Ross, had no idea if Brian was working or not.
3 Sid Vicious Ruled The World
Despite Being A Heel, Sid Was Largely Cheered Wherever He Went
- Sid Vicious got his start in Memphis as Lord Humongous.
- He is the only man to have main evented WrestleMania against Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker.
- Vince McMahon wanted Sid to be his next big blonde babyface after Hogan. But Sid thought he was better as a heel.
Sometimes, whenever you look into a man’s eyes, you can be scared just by what stares back. Psycho Sid Vicious is one of the most underrated big men in the sport. Over the years, his penchant for supposedly favoring softball over wrestling has made him a bit of a joke. The big man’s temper made him a nasty human being to cross. Just the segment of him destroying The Barbershop was enough to send chills up fans’ spines.
2 The Undertaker Returned On A Motorcycle And Brought Big Evil
The American Badass Made Everyone Famous
- Undertaker initially thought he’d be The American Bad Ass for the rest of his career.
- It was during this era that Taker started a career resurgence of great matches.
- The American Bad Ass returned for Undertaker’s final match against AJ Styles.
Even if he didn’t spend nearly a decade walking around as an undead wrestling zombie from beyond the grave, The American Bad Ass would still be able to strike fear into the hearts and minds of fans everywhere.
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Big giant bikers always seem to evoke fear wherever they go, even the nicest teddy bears of the lot. But Big Evil had the advantage from ten years prior of being an absolute monster. The fans already knew – he might not be “dead”, but he could still bury all the competition.
1 Jake “The Snake” Roberts Made Everyone Listen
Jake Is Considered To Be One Of The Greatest Minds In The Sport
- Jake Roberts is a second generation wrestler.
- His style of promos was acerbic, and made every fan make their TV louder to hear what the soft-spoken Roberts had to say.
- Jake The Snake Roberts’ life was saved by Diamond Dallas Page
If you speak softly, the fans will have to move closer to the TV to hear you. That was the magic trick of how Jake Roberts was able to effortlessly draw fans in. But even when he was a babyface, he was a little scary. It was clear that Jake walked on the wild side, and the WWE fans were more than willing to take that sojourn with him. That made his heel runs all the more despicable – the acts he’d have to commit to get boos – actually unleashing a King Cobra onto Randy Savage scared an entire generation of fans.