Since the advent of cable TV and pay per views, pro wrestling has seen a cornucopia of future superstars make their TV debut…before they were known to the mass public. Some, would debut later to become world champions and main event players themselves. In the meantime, they are used as enhancement talent or extras to make the stars of that period look better.
For example, 3 months before debuting on the WWE’s version of ECW….CM Punk was used as an extra at Wrestlemania 22 as one of John Cena’s gangsters for his elaborate introduction. Blink and you may miss him….but make no mistake, Vince McMahon had no idea how big CM Punk would later become.
Speaking of Punk…he was also used as an extra in a 2003 SmackDown segment which also featured unknown “fans” Mr. Ken Anderson and future TNA Knockouts champion “O.D.B.” Jessica Kresa.
That segment was a set up for a big Smackdown match between Brock Lesnar and Matt Hardy. Now before Matt and Jeff Hardy were tag team icons…they were used primarily as enhancement talent ie, Jobbers to established stars. Perhaps their biggest exposure before stardom came at the 1995 King of the Ring. While neither competed in a match, they were the official door openers for the stars of the day like Mabel, Irwin R. Shyster and Savio Vega.
Ah yes….enhancement talent….the unsung heroes that make the stars look great. Their job is simple…sell…sell…sell!!! We all remember this past SummerSlam where Daniel Bryan cleanly pinned John Cena to become WWE champion. It was a great match, but it certainly wasn’t their first go around. You see, in February of 2003…a young, up and coming heel John Cena faced a small pasty white, clean cut jobber named Bryan Danielson on the C show…Velocity.
D-Bry wasn’t the only future star to be a jobber on WWE TV….future TNA stars have also done the J-O-B…
A.J. Styles (2002): Trust me…that was him against The Hurricane
Samoa Joe (2001): A slender, bleach blonde youngster jobbed to Essa Rios on Jakked.
Not all future stars were plants, enhancements or extras….they were just plain fans…take the 16 year old fan who was paid $100 dollars to kiss the foot of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase on WWF Wrestling Challenge in 1987…the fan would later turn out to be “The Whole F’N Show” Rob Van Dam!
A young Adam Copeland (Edge) was spotted in Wrestlemania 6 audience…as was a young Mick Foley at Madison Square Garden for the night Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka jumped off the top of the steel cage in 1983…
Also in attendance for that MSG show were the future Tommy Dreamer and Bubba Ray Dudley…
…And since we mentioned Wrestlemania 6…who could forget the segment with the tag team of “Rhythm and Blues” coming down to the ring in a pink Cadillac? Take a look at the driver….none other than the future “Diamond” Dallas Page!
Getting back to John Cena…before his WWE debut in 2002, he “starred” in a 2001 WWE produced reality game show called “Manhunt” as Big Tim Kingman. At the time, Cena had a bleach blonde buzz cut and was a character called, “The Prototype” in Ohio Valley Wrestling.
In 2006…Sheamus and Wade Barrett were used as WWE security to escort DX out of the arena…
Before he was MVP…a top free agent signed to Smackdown and now TNA investor…MVP played a cop escorting Kurt Angle to the ring.
Even The Godfather’s Hooooooooooooo Train had some cameos from future WWE Divas including Lisa Marie Varone (Victoria/Tara) and WWE Hall of Famer Amy Dumas before Lita…
Before they were the Pitbulls in ECW…Gary Wolf and the late Anthony Durante were jobbers to the Hart Foundation in the WWF in 1989.
Finally, I leave you today with one half of the Authority… Stephanie McMahon Levesque who made a cameo in WWF magazines in 1988 as a 12 year old model…
So in conclusion…always pay attention to the backstage segments and the extras used in them…you never know who may be a future world champion playing a hot dog vendor…Ya never know.