We return with a ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities‘ today. This series looks at superstars that deserved a better opportunity during their runs with a particular company. Today the focus is on Terry Taylor and his initial run with the WWE back in the late 80s when he was saddled with a rather unfortunate gimmick…
The WWE got a hell of a lot of things right in the 80s as Vince McMahon took his father’s company from a north east territory to a global brand. Thanks, perhaps in equal measure, to WrestleMania and Hulk Hogan, the WWE became the biggest promotion in the history of wrestling.
But that’s not to say that during that time everything Vince touched turned to gold. His failings, particularly outside of the ring, are well documented but unsurprisingly there were a few gaffes inside the ring too. One performer that certainly has to be mentioned as one that the company dropped the ball with during the 80s is one Terry Taylor.
Prior to joining the WWE in 1988, Taylor was a popular figure in the Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic regions and almost became part of The Fabulous Ones with Stan Lane before Steve Keirn was picked instead. He even won the NWA North American and UWF Heavyweight tiles pre-WWE.
With all that it mind you’d think the WWE would give him something good when he joined the company in 1988, right?
They gave him the gimmick of: The Red Rooster.
Yup, you read that right. He had a red Mohican, red trunks and displayed the mannerisms of a rooster as he made his way to the ring. Oh, and this was his music.
Taylor joined the WWE around the same time as Mr. Perfect and is often mentioned in the same breath as him in terms of in-ring talent. I was listening to a podcast the other week, am sure it was Vince Russo’s, and he imagined an alternative universe when Taylor and Curt Hennig were backstage drawing gimmicks out of a hat and Taylor landed the Mr. Perfect shtick and Hennig was lumbered as the Red Rooster.
Instead, we had Taylor, a more than accomplished in-ring worker, portray a wrestler that didn’t know how to work and instead took instructions from his manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. It was all relatively short lived as Taylor would eventually turn babyface after losing due to Heenan’s distraction. It would lead to a programme against The Brooklyn Brawler and a WrestleMania V match against Heenan, which Taylor would in.
By early 1990, after the Royal Rumble match where he lasted just two minutes, he would be gone from the WWE. He would rejoin WCW and achieve tag team success alongside Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine and be a part of the York Foundation.
Another stint with the WWE would follow when he returned as “Terrific” Terry Taylor. He would defeat the likes of Jim Brunzell and Jim Powers but otherwise be used to put new talent over before again leaving in August of 1993.
In 2012, Taylor rejoined the company and currently works as a trainer at NXT where his experience and talent will be hugely important in helping the WWE stars of tomorrow. However, I can’t help but wonder what Taylor could have become had he been given a good gimmick and used properly during his early WWE runs. Judging by his in-ring work, he could have occupied a solid mid card role and been a good foil against Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart etc during their Intercontinental Title runs.
You can read all previous ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities’ pieces here.