Whatever Happened to WCW’s Natural Born Thrillers?

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Brian Damage

Back in 2000 a group of seven graduates from WCW’s Power Plant debuted on TV known as the Natural Born Thrillers. In this latest ‘Whatever Happened to?‘ piece we look at the careers of the seven men that formed that group.

Back when World Championship Wrestling was still an active brand, it had its own training and developmental facility. It was known as the Power Plant and it would take athletes and transform them into WCW wrestlers. Such notable graduates of the Power Plant included names like Bill Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page.

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In the year 2000, a group of seven very talented wrestlers came out of the Power Plant and were christened the future of WCW. Collectively, they were deemed ‘The Natural Born Thrillers’ and consisted of Mike Sanders, Johnny The Bull, Reno, Shawn Stasiak, Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak and Chuck Palumbo. Many had no experience in pro wrestling before the call up to WCW, while a couple of others had very little exposure to the business. In their brief one year as a faction, they managed to win a total of 8 titles including the world tag team, Cruiserweight and Hardcore titles respectively.

The team would eventually split up and when WCW went out of business…many were signed by the WWE and continued their careers. Some continued to have success, while some others from that group never saw the light of day with that company. So with that, we ask the question…Whatever happened to The Natural Born Thrillers?

Mike Sanders

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The mouthpiece and leader of the group retired in 2005 after an on set of injuries. He currently works as an actor and an MC/host of various events and functions. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Johnny The Bull

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Johnny the Bull Stamboli continued his career in the WWE and was a member of the revamped F.B.I aka Full Blooded Italians. He won a few titles with the WWE before totally repackaging himself as the Psychotic Rellik in TNA wrestling. He also wrestled in Japan and the independents before retiring. He currently is a Mortagage Loan Officer for a bank called First Western. He resides in Scotsdale, Arizona.

Reno

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Reno was a former competitive kick boxer before going into the Power Plant. He won the WCW Hardcore title and was briefly signed to a developmental deal by the WWE. He has since retired from wrestling and is married with two children. He currently resides in Nevada.

Shawn Stasiak

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Shawn wrestled briefly for the WWF as Meat before being released and joining WCW. He won the WCW tag titles and when WCW was bought out by the WWE wrestled for them as well. Stasiak is a second generation wrestler…his father Stan Stasiak was a WWWF world champion. Shawn Stasiak is now retired as a full time wrestler, although he still wrestles on occasion. He is now a chiropractor who lives in Dallas, Texas.

Sean O’Haire

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Sean O’Haire was once one of the hottest young prospects in WCW. A graduate of the Power Plant, O’Haire co-held the WCW tag titles on 3 occasions. After a brief stint in the WWE…O’Haire eventually retired from pro wrestling to get into MMA. He had multiple run ins with the law and battled drug and alcohol addictions. Sadly, O’Haire committed suicide at his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was only 43 years old.

Mark Jindrak

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Mark was a graduate of WCW’s Power Plant and competed for both WCW and the WWE. After his WWE release, Jindrak became a huge international superstar in Japan and Mexico wrestling as Marco Corleone. He appears on Spanish soap operas, game shows, magazine covers etc. He is married and lives in Mexico City, Mexico.

Chuck Palumbo

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Chuck Palumbo is a former 6 time tag team champion for both WCW and the WWE. He set aside his wrestling boots in 2009/2010 to focus on his businesses a gym, a Custom car shop, a rock band…”3 Spoke Wheel” and is a television host of two shows on the Discovery channel.(Rusted Development and Extreme Car Hoarders)

You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to?’ pieces here.

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4 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to WCW’s Natural Born Thrillers?

  1. I never thought of them as big deals as I thought Shawn Stasiak was a joke whose first WWE run was shit while Mark Jindrak and Sean O’Haire as a team just didn’t appeal to me as tall guys trying to be cruiserweights as it looked awkward. Chuck Palumbo was OK but the whole Billy/Chuck thing, as I look back, was dumb.

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  2. Of them all, I honestly thought O’Haire had the most potential to eventually be a world champion. He had the look and wasn’t bad on the mike, and had enough charisma to be passable. But he and Palumbo, as well as Stasiak are prime examples of good young wrestlers being ruined by terrible gimmicks, as Vince McMahon was wont to do. There was no reason that all of these guys couldn’t have been at least solid B-level performers in WWE. I thought that if they had packaged Jindrak and Stasiak as a tag team, they could have given Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudleys a good run for the money in the WWE tag scene. O’Haire was to me, at the very least a future IC champ, and maybe a frontline candidate for a WWE world title shot.

    It is nice to see that all of these guys have been able to find success outside of the ring, as I am relatively certain that WWE killed off a lot of the love they had for performing. Obviously, the only exception to this was O’Haire; I recall reading about his passing, and feeling saddened, as I truly liked the guy.

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  3. I remember Mark Jindrak through his 2003 tag-team run with Garrison Cade, and his brief “Reflection of Perfection” gimmick with “Holla Holla” Teddy Long as his manager in mid 2004 (which had the plug pulled, because the similarly-gimmicked Chris Masters was on his way to the WWE at the time).

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  4. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2016 week 38 | Ring the Damn Bell

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