Gorilla Monsoon: “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades!”
So many young wrestlers strive to become the next big thing in professional wrestling. Some make it, while others do not. Some get close, but for whatever reason fall short of their ultimate goal. There are those who you can see right off the bat…have “it,” but for whatever reason don’t get to the very top.
Whether, it is career ending injuries as was the case with the destined to be world champion Magnum TA or by their own faults…there are those we can only wonder..What if?
Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat recently announced that his son…Richie Steamboat had retired from pro wrestling due to an ongoing back injury. At the time of the announcement, Richie was only 27 years old. It got me thinking…what if? What if Richie was able to stay healthy? What if Richie made it to the main roster of the WWE?
No doubt, Richie “got it,” he understood all the ins and out of being a successful pro. His talent could speak for itself. He had some of the best matches in the WWE’s old developmental territory…Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) history against Seth Rollins. Richie was a star in the making and in my mind…could have been a big star. He came so close too…
Rumor has it, that a feud would have started up between Ricky Steamboat and Wade Barrett. Richie would then make his debut and come to his father’s defense. Richie would then battle Wade over the Intercontinental title. They had already planted the seeds for that happening on an edition of Monday Night Raw in 2013.
The problem was Richie couldn’t stay healthy and was put on the sidelines…eventually Bo Dallas was given the nod and vcall up instead of Richie and Dallas feuded briefly with Barrett.
Reid Flair…the youngest child of the legend Ric Flair…had a world of potential. A great amateur wrestler in high school…Reid had pro wrestling in his blood. He made his pro wrestling debut at 10 years old in WCW and defeated Eric Bischoff…from there was trained by Harley Race.
The difference between him and his older brother David (Who was also a pro wrestler) was that Reid had charisma as well as a solid training background. David never really had that the majority of his career. Reid went on to tour Japan to further his in ring abilities.
The major stumbling blocks for Reid Flair were sadly his addiction to drugs. After multiple arrests for various violations….Reid tragically died of a drug overdose at the age of 25 years old.
‘The MoFo’ Steve Bradley was at one time, one of the WWE’s top developmental prospects in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. He had tremendous charisma, athletic ability and a sound technical wrestling background. During his time in the WWE’s developmental system, he was called a “5 tool” wrestler and someone considered destined for greatness. His style of wrestling was compared a lot with Rob Van Dam.
Shockingly in 2002, Bradley was released from the WWE’s developmental. How could someone with so much potential be cut by the company? While it was never discovered exactly why Bradley was released….a few years later Bradley was arrested for possession of heroine. He later died what is believed to be an overdose in 2008.
Scott Vick was a graduate of WCW’s Power Plant and was immediately thrust into storylines as a member of Raven’s flock where he was known as ‘Sick Boy.’ You could see right away that Vick had a ton of potential in the ring. Extremely athletic, Vick was an underused, underrated star of the faction.
After being wasted as a jobber in WCW…the WWE signed him to a developmental contract. His big break was to come as a part of the Katie Vick/Triple H/Kane storyline…but after negative backlash, the angle was dropped. Vick being frustrated by languishing in developmental quit and retired from wrestling.
Sure Mike Sanders had a solid push in WCW’s final days….but ultimately it should have been so much more. Sanders had a charisma and gift of gab on the mic that just can’t be taught. Was he a technical master in the ring? No…but his mic skills made up for anything he lacked in ring.
After WCW went under, Mike Sanders signed with the WWE’s developmental system. He suffered some concussions and various other nagging injuries that kept him away from the main roster. Ultimately, the injuries piled up and Sanders called it a career.
Make no mistake about it, Nigel McGuiness had a tremendous career in various independent promotions around the world. While that in itself can be a successful career….there is no question…McGuiness’ talent both in the ring and on the microphone could have been so much more. It almost was, as Nigel McGuiness almost signed with the WWE, but an old injury prevented him from a contract. He did compete with TNA as Desmond Wolfe….but contracted Hepatitis B that ended his in ring career way too soon.
Many will recognize Corey Graves as a color analyst on NXT TV and during WWE’s pay per view pre shows…but before multiple concussions ended his once bright career..Graves was a sure fire talent. He had skills both on the microphone and in the ring and had a very unique look that could’ve taken him pretty far.
Matt Cappotelli was a Tough Enough Season 3 co-winner along with John Hennigan in 2002. Cappotelli and Hennigan went down to OVW to further train and both looked like locks to become stars on the main roster. In 2005, however, Cappotelli took a stiff chair shot in a match…when he went to get an MRI…a brain tumor was found. It ended his career right then and there. Thankfully, the tumor was successfully removed and Matt is healthy and happy out of the industry.