So with that in mind, I have called in our resident fashion expert Mrs. Cewsh and together we'll do our very best Tom and Lorenzo imitation in selecting the 10 looks that even Lady Gaga would giggle at and break down just what in the fuck they were thinking.
Cewsh: To kick off this list of things that made us facepalm harder than a English teacher in a chat room, we have the priceless treasure that is the video of Vince McMahon's dynamic singing performance of Stand Back at the 1987 Slammy Awards ceremony. There's so much to cover here that I can't even imagine a large enough space in which to break it all down. Putting aside how amazing it is that Vince McMahon held an entire ceremony just so he could perform at it, the fashion choices shown here is just breathtaking.
So let me bring in our resident fashion expert Mrs. Cewsh at this point to get us started. Madam Cewsh?
Mrs. Cewsh: Well I wouldn't say I'm an expert. Just, personally able to see that if you're wearing a pink suit, complete with tie-dyed shirt and matching pink bandanna as your formal attire, perhaps you've made a wrong decision today.
Jesse Ventura starts off the video wearing just that. Now I would say that you can wear a t-shirt with a jacket for an event like the Slammys, but you must forgo the vest. Otherwise you look sloppy.
Not fashion related, but Jimmy Hart has not aged one single day since this video was shot. It's remarkable.
When we cut to the performance, it's an assault to the senses. Hulk Hogan is playing bass and wearing a sleeveless tuxedo, complete with tails. With sleeves he would be woefully overdressed. Without them, he is wearing a SLEEVELESS TUXEDO.
The dancers are all wearing enormously poofy lamé skirts paired with what appear to be velvet bodices and huge, ruffled necklines. Even for the 80s, they are truly hideous.
And then there's Vince. Poor, sweet Vince McMahon in his pink shirt with the giant collar. The pants and vest are actually nicely tailored from what I can see. Unfortunately, the outfit looks like it's from the height of disco, a problem in 1987.
Add in whatever Macho Man and Beefcake are wearing and it's an orgy of 80s tackiness. There's no saving any of it. Whenever someone suggests that 80s fashion is making a comeback, I will direct them here.
Cewsh: Also of note are a shirtless Junkyard Dog playing the saxophone (which was apparently the only instrument black men were allowed to play in the 80s) and Jake Roberts in a bad suit standing next to a fully decked out Savage and Beefcake, clearly wondering if he overdressed. This video is only 3 minutes long, but it may contain more fashion atrocities than a hippie jam band festival.
And this is ONLY NUMBER TEN HOLY SHIT WHAT
Cewsh: Next up on our list that proves that wrestlers have the fashion sense of concussed water buffaloes, is Rey Mysterio. Now we all know that we could have chosen from a dozen different looks on this one. The Joker ridiculousness comes to mind. But this one made the list for being just so horribly, heinously awful and lazy.
Mrs. Cewsh: Rey's costumes are crazy, but in that great cracked out way. Unfortunately, he forgot any of the fun with this one. I will never understand that sky blue camo, in theory or in this outfit. It's probably supposed to look like the stripes, but it doesn't. The braid is an afterthought. The mask looks more like a cat than a Na'vi. Wholly unsatisfying.
Cewsh: The worst part is that if you took the braid away, not one person on Earth would identify this with the movie Avatar. They would just think he stepped off the set of a 70's themed midget porno. Which is perhaps one of the only instances where something 12 inches long every made anything less porntastic.
Okay, um, yeah. So this one requires a bit of elaboration. Noted 90s cat enthusiast Dean Peters created the character of Battle Kat in the WWF and may actually be the only person ever to go undefeated their entire WWF career. Granted this lasted about one month, but hey, he was undefeated and Goldberg wasn't. Of course, perhaps the REASON he was undefeated is tied up in how distracted his opponents were from looking at the man in the super bright and way too tight spandex that made him look like a clown stripper halfway through his act.
Mrs. Cewsh: Isn't it ironic that Rey's Na'vi mask looks more catlike than Battle Kat's? Those are definitely mouse ears.
Boys, let's have a little discussion on proportion. For women, the general rule is you can show off your chest, or you can show off your legs, as long as the outfit fits and covers all exposure laws. Mr. Kat desperately needs to go up at least two sizes in his singlet and decide if he'd rather show nip or junk. You can't do both.
Secondly, this color combination. It's not harmonious or particularly pleasing. Orange and purple are pretty dominant colors, though they could work together if the purple was more pure and used as a more sparing accent. The inclusion of green would make it a triad, and while it would be vibrant and undeniably 90s, perhaps an all orange singlet with purple and green cat stripes at the hips would have been the way to go.
Cewsh: See, that's why we have Mrs. Cewsh as our official Cewsh Reviews fashion consultant. She knows so much about color triads and appropriate fabric distribution that Tim Gunn considers her a mentor. Whereas i'm a colorblind, 20 something man who thought that cashmere was some kind of vitamin until depressingly recently. But even I feel qualified to say that if Vince McMahon walks up to you and tells you to put on your little sister's gymnastics outfit and a gigantic Maxi Pad in order to portray a threatening cat warrior, that's probably something you should say no to.
Mrs. Cewsh: There are so many ruffles because Bull is amazing. There's nothing wrong with this look, except I would have advised pants. They would have covered the knee brace and kept this more period appropriate.
I applaud her decision not to go too matchy with the hair, face paint, and coat. That shows a sophisticated taste level that keeps the look from being costumey. I supposed I must quibble and say the hair color looks a bit spotty. Dear should fire her colorist.
All in all, brava.
Cewsh: I'm not sure that I can, in good conscience, suggest that AQUA is a hair color that will ever work on any human being with skin, though it might possibly be fetching on the Jello people from the Delicious nebula.
I also have to question just why exactly she has chosen to be a pirate for this occasion. Were Japanese pirates a big thing? Did she rob some War of 1812 reenactors? Was her plan to just swing into the ring, steal the title and flee into the night? Because if any of that is true, I totally take this back and this is an awesome costume.
Cewsh: Okay, we're going to have to tackle this one piece by tacky piece, one member at a time. Let's start with the patriarch himself, Dusty Rhodes.
Now rumor has it that the legendary polka dot outfit was given to him as a rib by Vince McMahon after Dusty came to him for a job, post NWA firing. I don't know if this is true or not, but in all honesty just the fact that someone gave Dusty Rhodes a shirt is some of the most inspired thinking in wrestling history. Unfortunately they ran out of material, resulting in tights so short that they often disappeared under the shirt and made it look like Dusty was wearing nearly nothing at all, and that doesn't bear thinking about.
Mrs. Cewsh: I don't think shorts is quite the word for Dusty's bottoms. Those are clearly bikini cut panties.
I just think this look is all too much. Unlike Bull, there's no variation. He doesn't play with shades or patterns or textures. Black with yellow polka dot top, bottoms, headband, elbow pad, knee pads, with matching yellow and black wrist bands. White tape, white hair, white and yellow boots.
I think neutral accessories, plain black pads and no headband to start would go a long way. I'd lengthen the shorts to mid thigh. Then, I'd tone down the hair color. That shade of platinum ages a man. Finally, white boots are rarely good idea. Black with a pop of color on the sides; maybe a gold bee since this combination of yellow and black should be reserved for yellow jackets.
Cewsh: We are in agreement. White boots should be a crime punishable by having to take a shower with Dusty Rhodes.
Alright, now on to the fruit of his loins (which should be producing terrific mental images at this point). First let's start with the youngest, and the least heinous offender of the group, Cody Rhodes.
Cewsh: I feel like at some point Cody Rhodes decided that the less clothes he wore, the better wrestler he'd be. Which is fine since he has roughly 800 abs, but dear god, imagine if his father and brother had taken that philosophy.
Much has been made of the lack of knee pads that he was known for. But honestly, its the creamsicle tights and the GODDAMN WHITE BOOTS that invoke the wrath of Cewsh here. And for fuck's sake, is there some kind of cream he could put on his eyes so he doesn't look like he's 3 weeks into the Black Death or something?
Mrs. Cewsh: Cewsh has covered it all. He looks like a dreamscicle with the orange tights and white boots. And since I would like to lick him about as much as I'd like a dreamscicle, there's nothing wrong here.
He needs knee pads, another elbow pad, and black boots. And a design on the tights. This is awfully amateur hour.
Cewsh: But of course, that was just the warm up. I'm not even going to pick on the Goldust character here, because wacky outfits were part of the gimmick. Besides, why go for a flamboyant cross dresser when you can have a rhinestone cowboy?
Cewsh: This outfit is so bad that my eyes rebel from looking at it. I think they might be orchestrating a strike as we speak.
Mrs. Cewsh: I'm at a loss for words.
Cewsh: The outfit can only be considered an outright act of aggression, so i'm certain he is.
Finally, let's take a moment to acknowledge the achievements in style of a woman who nearly has a hat trick in terms of bedding this ridiculous family. The fabulous Terri Runnels. More specifically, her role as noted computer expert Alexandra York. What did computer experts look like in the early 90s? Well...
Where do you even begin with these guys? The mullets? The pastel short shorts? The ill fitting shirts? The gratuitous skateboards? THE WHITE BOOTS?
If I were a robot, I would have overloaded and be throwing up error messages at this point.
Mrs. Cewsh: Oh god, I'm thinking about just throwing up.
What on earth is wrong with Johnny Ace's head? It's not just the hair, although hello peroxide, why do we keep meeting like this? He's either got the largest forehead imaginable and he's covering it with terrible bangs or he's got the deepest, flattest head possible. His head is like 9/10th of this picture.
The t-shirts are equally confusing. Perhaps doubling as a 90s Rorschach test, I see three women, one shooting a fireball and bullets at something offscreen, standing in front of a pink chicken. What about you, Cewshketeers?
I was being nice with Dusty, we are putting a blanket ban on white boots.
Cewsh: I don't know how John Laurenitus has such a big ol' biscuit head in that picture and yet walks around looking like a Koopa from the Super Mario Bros. movie these days. And don't get me wrong, we're not sparing Shane Douglas any of this scorn. I bet you if he could afford such a thorough movement on his Target manager's salary, he'd have every picture of himself in these clothes burned, and for good reason because even then you get the feeling that he knew that this was just all wrong. You can only wear short shorts for so long before Dean Douglas starts sounding like a pretty good deal.
Cewsh: Now you should know going into this that this is the outfit that was the entire inspiration for this list. The unique joy of introducing someone to the look I have named "The Denim Sandwich" is almost unparalleled in life. The background is simple. Triple H tore his quad famously in 2001. Several months later he was set to make his comeback and through a series of brilliant hype videos and the void his absence left, the fans were hailing him as a conquering hero returning home. So when he came out in Madison Square Garden on that faithful night to one of the biggest pops in wrestling history, you would imagine that he would have attired himself in the very coolest thing he could possibly imagine wearing. And he did. And that's the problem. Denim on denim on leather on more denim, with each new layer piling on an added layer of "what the fuck is he thinking?".
Perhaps no other wrestler will ever think they look more awesome in worse clothes. He thought he looked like Conan. He was a rat tail away from looking like Cletus.
Mrs. Cewsh: I've actually got a not-so-secret thing for Triple H, especially in street clothes, so it's with great pain I say this.
Trips, honey, it's not you, it's your acid wash jeans.
I love the idea that he's such a bad ass that he ripped the sleeves off his denim jacket but took the time to carefully match his belt to his under jacket. The jeans and the over jacket are carefully coordinated to be just slightly different washes, lest we cross into Canadian tuxedo territory.
I feel like someone with this level of attention to detail probably should have remembered a shirt under his two jackets. But, it was a big night, it makes sense that some things would get overlooked. At least he's always shown good fashion instincts since t...
...previous statement retracted.
Cewsh: This one needs to be prefaced by two facts.
1. In the 80s this was less ridiculous than it looks today.
2. I secretly think that this look is completely balls out awesome.
See, Ravishing Rick Rude was very interested in making himself appealing to the ladies. To accomplish this, he permed his hair out huge like a hair metal singer, grew a Magnum P.I. mustache of legendary stature and theoretically did more sit ups then there was physically time in the day enough to do. Then he got to WWE and decided to start airbrushing his tights with various things. During his feud with Jake Roberts, that became primarily the face of Jake's wife right there on his dong for the world to see. As a mind game to infuriate Roberts, it was unquestionably brilliant. Paired with everything else, as a piece of fashion it was perhaps slightly less so.
Cewsh: I...um...hmm. I never considered that maybe he was just a big Bon Jovi fan.
My childhood is crumbling around me.
Cewsh: Former WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette (I can't say that out loud because by the time I get to the end I have drunk myself into unconsciousness) really wanted to make an impression on the night of his greatest title defense. He would defend his championship in a triple decker cage match, and he wanted to look like a rock star for this glorious occasion. I can not fault him for this, as it would no doubt be the last time anyone was crazy enough to let him be part of a wrestling match (it wasn't). So he went to a tailor, ordered enough red shiny leather to cover the entire eastern seaboard and came out proud of himself, looking like a colorblind 8th grader playing Dracula in a school play.
Mrs. Cewsh: At this point every wrestling blog, forum, fan, or cooly detached smark has taken a shot at this look. Yes, it's head to toe red leather. Yes, it has a stand up collar so tall it's threatening to become a hood. Yes, it's David Arquette as your world heavyweight champion.
It's like making fun of Gaga. You know it's all a carefully designed character to get you talking.
You could have gotten a hair cut, though, David. Your mother probably bought this show. You know she's proud of you, even in your red leather vampire cape. You should call her.
Cewsh: I think that's Ernest "The Cat" Miller's job.
Cewsh: Here we are at last. The very tippy top of the spectrum for poorly dressed shenanigans. And unlike the other selections on this list, this is less about the selected picture (which is absolutely totally terrible all by itself) and more of a lifetime achievement award for the man's fashion choices in the 90s. Nobody's hair was more bleached, nobody's colors were more neon and no man on Earth did more to stimulate the fanny pack and ill fitting tank top industries than Steve Borden.
Its like someone fed the 90s into a computer to condense it and fashion a human being to represent the whole thing at once. And to bring things back to the picture at hand, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU PUT THAT ON?! You look like Uncle Sam is holding you hostage in his sex dungeon for fuck's sake, man.
Mrs. Cewsh: I'd like to call a brief interlude and direct us all to another site:
Wrestlecrap, we may not always see eye to eye, but I salute you for compiling this. It's all so bad. It's, well if you made a list of the worst dressed wrestlers of all time, this would definitely be at the top.
Forgive me all other 90s wrestlers for mocking your satin, sequins, bleached hair, tassels, neon, high waisted tights, muffin tops, and bedazzlers. You were only emulating your god.
Cewsh: Somewhere groups of people gather once a year to burn their fanny packs in tribute to their pagan god of tackiness.
Is it any wonder people loved Crow Sting so much? They could finally look directly at a WCW broadcast without being blinded for the first time since 1989. Sheesh. Truly, this man is the deserving undisputed champion of this list, the standard by which all future badness will need to be measured. Look on him and weep, costume designers. WEEP BITTER TEARS.
Cewsh: Well that'll do it for this edition of Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet. We hope you enjoyed this radical departure (radical in both difference to our usual work and in awesometacularness), and we have our eye set on many more installments of this particular list in the future. Its a big world out there, and wrestlers are always finding excuses to look ridiculous in it.
So as we depart, Mrs. Cewsh, would you like to impart any final advice on any impressionable young wrestlers reading this?
Mrs. Cewsh: Kittens, in the words of the immortal Coco Chanel, “Arrogance is in everything I do. It is in my gestures, the harshness of my voice, in the glow of my gaze, in my sinewy, tormented face.”
Sorry, wrong quote. That's Cewsh's daily mantra. To the men and women of this list, “Dress shabbily and they remember the gimmick; dress impeccably and they remember the wrestler.” Or something like that.
Cewsh: And if we can see what kind of feminine hygiene product you're wearing, your tights are too tight.
Thank you and goodnight.