Christmas and wrestling go together like whiskey and Easter egg hunting. So it was only natural for the WWE to come up with the perfect tie-in to the season.
That's right -- it's the anti-Santa Claus, the Xanta Klaus!
Introduced at a Christmas Pay Per View event called In Your House: Seasons Beatings, the character began by posing as the real Santa, handing out presents and being super Santa-like. Then he suddenly went from St. Nick to St. Dick and began handing out smackdowns like they were candy canes.
Everything about this creepy bastard was frighteningly backwards. The traditional red and white became red and black, he lived at the South Pole and every Christmas he stole presents from good children. After making only one more televised appearance, Xanta Klaus disappeared forever, meaning he is definitely still out there. If you find burnt presents and reindeer shit in your stocking this Christmas, you can be sure that this is the jerk behind it.
Also, sometimes he punches people in the face.
There came a point in 1996 when Extreme Championship Wrestling executives figured out there was one demographic conspicuously missing from their viewership: the Amish. In their scramble to remedy this miscarriage of justice, they came up with a character who really exemplified the best of the simple folk: Amish Roadkill.
Constructed entirely from adipose tissue, back hair and a metric fuck-ton of shame, absolutely nothing about Amish Roadkill made any sense whatsoever.
Sure, we can buy the idea that an Amish guy might get into wrestling for the spirited competition -- we could even get that he'd be good at it. It wouldn't be the first time a fake Mennonite stole our hearts.
Or the last.
But this was freaking ECW -- better known as the Jerry Springer Show of professional wrestling -- and the character who started out as "Roadkill, the Angry Amish Warrior" was quickly rechristened "Amish Roadkill" for simplicity's sake. Because, if you're like us, the first thing you think when you see a dead deer on the road is, "I wonder if it's Amish?"
The most unsettling aspect of Amish Roadkill was his vocabulary, which consisted of one word.
If you couldn't bring yourself to watch all of that, it was "chickens." Why? Because chicken is tasty, that's why. Amazingly, this was enough for Roadkill's career and gimmick to last almost five years and he had the distinction of being one half of the final ECW Tag Team Champions before the company went bankrupt.
Who saw that one coming?
If there's room for that wheelchair kid to hook up with a hot cheerleader on Glee, then surely there must be a place for a mentally-challenged person to punch people in a wrestling ring, right? Maybe, but probably not if the best incarnation of "special" that the WWE comes up with is a surefire kick to the groin of people of people dealing with not-fake mental illnesses. Hey guys, meet Eugene!
While it was never explicitly stated by the WWE what was actually wrong with him, Eugene's permanently gormless expression and unfortunate habit of doing weird shit with his hands kind of let the audience know that this guy wasn't your run-of-the-mill wrestler. And it didn't help that he jumped up and down clapping in response to everything, or that his signature move of riding his opponent like a hobby horse.
Yeah, we're thinking this right here pretty much cancels out every positive human achievement of the last century.
The gimmick might have been salvageable if WWE had built him up as one of those quiet yet intelligent autistic people who will one day enslave us all. Unfortunately, WWE made Eugene less Rain Man and more Arnie from What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Surprisingly, the character did not incite every fan in attendance to projectile vomit in rage or to lose faith in the goodness of humanity, even after one match portrayed the character getting beat mercilessly while commentators chuckled things like "Run Forrest!" and his opponent hit him on the head with a stick. But the real kicker is that even after the actor playing Eugene left the WWE for the WFX, he kept on playing the character. Only now he's "U-Gene."
On the surface, Phantasio looks like the most horrifying mime ever conceived, like what you get when you mix Marcel Marceau, hallucinogens and body building. In reality, he was the WWE's pants-shittingly awful attempt at magic.
Oh yeah, that's new and fresh.
You would think that a magician wrestler would be sawing his opponents in half or making them disappear completely ... you know, something kind of menacing but cool. All Phantasio had was a hat that shot smoke, a stick that could catch on fire and some of the most flamboyant hand gestures ever witnessed in the history of hands. This is made all the more hilarious by the commentators, who sell every shitty illusion as though it was Jesus Christ himself performing them.
Just when you thought shit couldn't get any more awful, beneath that mask is an identically frightening face. And beneath that face was a silvery, two-meter long tapeworm that he apparently pulled out of his stomach, then smacked it onto the face of some unfortunate kid.
How exactly does this qualify as "magic"?
But the jewel in the crown of the preposterously idiotic farce that was Phantasio's debut was his finishing move, where he "magically" removed the underpants of his opponent and then used the element of surprise to pin him to the mat, which didn't have any homoerotic undertones whatsoever. Phantasio then proceeded to do the exact same thing to the innocent referee for absolutely no reason other than to appease his seemingly insatiable lust for men's underpants.
Penn and Teller finish their act the same way.
For more terrible gimmicks in wrestling, check out The 8 Most Insane Moments in Professional Wrestling. Or learn about some comic book gimmicks that should've been left on the cutting room floor, in The 5 Most Unintentionally Offensive Comic Book Characters.