One Chance to Make a First Impression: A Wrestlers Wasteland

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Brian Damage

So a wrestler gets a gimmick…gets vignettes to trumpet his/her arrival with the company….and has a match…or two. Then, out of nowhere, is either dropped or barely used. They enter a wasteland where certain wrestlers go when “creative” or a booker has nothing for them or changes their mind on a character. Sure, we can say…”Well at least they are collecting a paycheck.” That might be true, but if you ask the wrestlers themselves…I’m positive a majority would rather be out in the ring entertaining fans.

It doesn’t seem fair that a talented wrestler is not utilized because of a gimmick that doesn’t pan out for whatever reason. This piece will look at just a few of these performers that fell into the vortex of almost immediately after they debuted and in some cases…BEFORE their debut.

Xavier Woods

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Not only is Xavier a very talented wrestler, but he is also extremely charismatic. That’s why I was perplexed when he debuted without any fanfare, vignette or build up. He just showed up one Raw teaming with R Truth. What made his tenure even more disappointing…he was given Brodus Clay’s entrance music and dancers. So far, Xavier had no build up, no entrance music to call his own and no real identity.

Even more disheartening was when creative FINALLY gave Xavier Woods some direction by starting a faction with Big E and Kofi Kingston….it was unceremoniously dropped without warning. If there really was a wrestlers wasteland…Xavier just might be elected Mayor. Very sad indeed.

Dick Slater

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Now before old school wrestling fans like myself get on me….Yes….I realize that Dick Slater had a tremendous career in the territories. His WWF career in the mid 80’s…however…was an absolute flop. Vince McMahon gave Slater a southern rebel gimmick complete with a Confederate flag and ‘I wish I was in Dixie’ entrance music. The problem with that was the WWF was still primarily a north east promotion trying to expand nationally. When Dick Slater debuted that gimmick at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in New York…it was met with groans, boos and indifference.

After his debut victory, I guess Vince had a change of heart and quickly transformed Dick ‘The Rebel’ Slater into a jobber. Dick Slater was jobbing to the likes of Nikolai Volkoff and Don Muraco. It wasn’t long after that I’m sure Slater started singing he really wished he was in Dixie.

Public Enemy

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Johnny Grunge and Rocco Roc had a great career in ECW…even their time in WCW wasn’t all that bad…not great…but not bad. While in the WWF, however, not only did they flop..their time was brief. If you believe the rumors, Vince immediately had buyers remorse considering they were out of shape and at times late to the arenas. If those rumors are true or not…we will probably never know…but they were sent to the slaughter by the Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw) on an edition of Sunday Night Heat.

The Public Enemy took such a stiff beating in that match, that they soon disappeared from the company…never to return again.

Great Sasuke

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The Great Sasuke was suppose to be the crown jewel of the WWF’s newly created Light heavyweight division. He was suppose to be the inaugural champion. Then out of nowhere, Sasuke was jobbed out and vanished from the company. No push…no title…just a pink slip. Rumors were Sasuke bragged to the Japanese media that he was not only winning the title, but would only defend it in his native Japan. Soon after Sasuke was gone from the WWF…marking his tenure with the company…not so great.

The Baron

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Baron von Raschke had a legendary career in the AWA and various territories. His stint in the WWF in 1988, was less than memorable. He debuted as “The Baron”…the manager of The Powers of Pain…and looked like wrestling’s version of the Emperor from Star Wars. Soon after he debuted…he vanished…and was replaced by Mr. Fuji. Raschke soon returned to the familiar stomping grounds of the AWA. What might have been…if only.

Coach John Tolos

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John Tolos was another case of a legendary wrestler who had a less than stellar career within the WWF’s circus. As great a career as Tolos had during his heyday in the 1960’s and 70’s….his transition as a WWF manager in the early 1990’s did not work. Perhaps it was because he was asked to fill the legendary shoes of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan or perhaps because his gimmick of a hardened wrestling coach..didn’t mesh well with his wrestlers..ie Mr. Perfect and the Beverly Brothers.

Key

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Vic Grimes debuted for the WWF in all white attire nicknamed ‘Key.’ It was a play on the word Kilo as in drugs…because Key’s gimmick was that of a drug dealer. A faction with Key as the ring leader was started with Prince Albert and Droz..but the gimmick was abruptly dropped as was Vic Grimes.

Tekno Team 2000

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Erik Watts and Chad Fortune were suppose to be the future of tag team wrestling for the WWF in 1995. After just a handful of matches, they disappeared…re appeared and disappeared again. They never lived up to their hype…not that they had much going into their debut and both went their separate ways.

2 thoughts on “One Chance to Make a First Impression: A Wrestlers Wasteland

  1. What a pathetic career ending for guys like John Tolos and Baron Von Rashke. These guys were legendary in their own ways back in the day, and what happens? Oh I see, let’s dump all over the great stuff they did in the past and make them into absolute jokes. Tolos and Rashke deserved way, way, way better than that. But isn’t that what the WWE (or in this case, the WWF) seems to do the best?

    Like

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