Marc Mero had a lengthy in-ring career in both WCW and the WWF with mixed success. In this latest ‘Well, That Didn’t Work‘ we’ll take a look at why, despite the promise, his WWF career didn’t hit the heights of his WCW run and what impact, if any, a certain blonde bombshell played in that.
Marc Mero was born in Buffalo New York in 1960 and before stepping inside the wrestling ring would play hockey, win the New York Golden Gloves Tournament and compete in a bodybuilding competition.
It was after that, he decided to become a professional wrestler. After a stint as a jobber in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Dusty Rhodes signed him up and gave him the Little Richard inspired gimmick of Johnny B. Badd – a play on the Chuck Berry song Johnny B Goode.
As with most wrestlers that portray flamboyant characters, he was initially a heel under the tutelage of Teddy Long. Eventually, crowds were so into the character that he was turned babyface and would go on to become a three time WCW TV champion.
However, in 1996 he strongly objected to a feud that involved Diamond Dallas Page’s then real-life wife Kimberley Page. With his contract nearing the end, a bidding war begun between WCW and WWF which was by now in the early stages of a battle that wrestling fans would rename ‘The Monday Night Wars’.
To win his signature, the WWF did what was previously seen as unthinkable: they offered Mero a guaranteed contract. Previously WWF deals had been heavily focussed on bonuses and percentages of the gate but in Mero, more accurately Johnny B Badd, they saw something that made them go against contractual obligations of past.
To quote Mero, from an article with wrestlinginc.com
When my third contract (with WCW) came up I had some disputes with Eric Bischoff about the contract and other things, but WWF offered me an unbelievable deal. I think I was one of the first guys to get a guaranteed contract in WWF. Not only that, I wanted my ex-wife to fly everywhere I went. They gave me all these stipulations in my contract, it was a deal I couldn’t refuse.
The problem? It was WCW, and not Mero, that owned the Johnny B Badd character.
What charisma and fan interest Mero had, was all down to the Badd character. Fans lapped him up in that role but it soon became very clear that whatever charisma Mero had, it was best displayed through the flamboyant Little-Richard inspired gimmick.
It was clear that the character was a prototype WCW Power Plant gimmick. He had been trained to play that role and play it very well he did. However, having only had that one role, Mero had no idea how to convey charisma via another character and it didn’t help when he was saddled with the bland ‘Wild Man’ role in the WWF.
He would quickly pick up an Intercontinental title reign over the then being punished Triple H – for his part in the Curtain Call. However, the main cause of his run was Ahmed Johnson being injured.
It soon became abundantly clear that Mero was bland. His in-ring work wasn’t all that special and his promos were average. However, there was one thing about him that kept the WWF and the fans interested in him: his wife, Sable.
Sable, the current wife of WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, would go on to feature in Playboy magazine and become one of the biggest names, and most over talents, of the Attitude Era – far eclipsing the achievements, of which there were few, of her then husband Marc Mero.
In the end, Mero’s run with the WWF failed so miserably because the WWF really wanted the gimmick: Johnny B Badd and not the man that portrayed him. What they got was Mero on a long-term guaranteed contract but with none of the charisma that had made the Badd character such a hit with fans, particularly the younger ones, in WCW.
You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.