“Somebody call my momma” as we have a new Whatever Happened to piece focusing on a popular mid-card talent from WCW during the Monday Night Wars, namely Earnest “The Cat” Miller.
A former American footballer turned three-time karate world champion, Ernest Clifford Miller got his break in wrestling after being asked to train with WCW by Eric Bischoff when Miller was teaching his son Garett the martial art. He had this to say to Inside the Ropes about entering the profession: “It was like 1996, I was a competitor in martial arts and was a karate instructor. One of my students was Garrett Bischoff. I met with Eric, and he thought it would be a really good idea to come in and be a part of WCW. About a year later I came in, started training at the power plant, trained and became part of WCW.”
Miller debuted with WCW in 1997 when he jumped out of the crowd to save Glacier from a two-on-one attack at that year’s Slamboree PPV. Although he debuted as a babyface, he soon became a heel and picked up Sonny Onoo as his manager.
The heel Miller began calling himself “The Greatest” and gloating that he could beat anybody within two minutes. He was often successful in this, relying heavily on his, as commentators would describe, his “educated feet”. Miller would claim on TV that he knew James Brown and this eventually led to a dance off between the pair on PPV. It was clearly a highlight for him: “It was a big deal for me as a big fan of James Brown. They didn’t know how it would go over. They didn’t know how the fans would react to it. They took a chance with it and it was a great opportunity.”
Another dancing programme would come Miller’s way when he entered into a feud with Disco Inferno, including a stipulation match where the loser wouldn’t be able to dance anymore.
Soon after, the Cat’s popularity began to wane and he soon found himself increasingly on the wrong end of decisions. By early 2000 he became a comedic character as Eric Bischoff’s assistant. It wasn’t long, however, until he was appointed the company’s Commissioner.
Miller remained a popular star in WCW right up until the day it closed but wasn’t picked up by WWE in March 2001. Several years later he got the call to join the WWE and became an announcer on the company’s Velocity show. But what Miller hankered most was a return to in-ring competition. Speaking to WWE.com several years ago, Miller said: “It’s just like any old athlete.” “You sit and talk about it, but you feel you’ve still got something in the tank. They gave me the opportunity to see if there was something left in the tank.”
Miller returned to action in late 2003 and looked to pick up where he left off in WCW. However, it didn’t last long. After a brief appearance in the 2004 Royal Rumble Match and a short programme with Tajiri, “The Cat” was released by the WWE.
However, a longer legacy of his short WWE run was undoubtedly his entrance music: ‘somebody call my momma’ which would be recycled in 2012 by the WWE for Brodus Clay. However, Miller was somewhat enraged by it and had the following to say to the Inside the Ropes podcast: “I haven’t watched it. I’ve nothing against him, he’s working for a company. I feel like someone told him to do it. He’s trying to make it work. Many fans have said he’s not as good as me and it made me popular without being on the TV show. It’s a little more than dancing. I was an athlete, I could wrestle. WWE had so many people afraid of their jobs, they never let me develop into what it could be. People like this guy out there dancing and saying call my momma, but he’s not the original. I could’ve made it work so in other words, I’m a little pissed off about it.”
Soon after leaving the WWE, he landed the opportunity of a lifetime staring opposite Micky O’Rourke in ‘The Wrestler’ as his nemesis The Ayatollah. The film proved to be hugely successful with it taking home a total of 22 awards, although Miller didn’t win any on his own.
Aged 40, Miller returned to karate and picked up where he left off: winning competitions. Nowadays, he continues to be involved in karate but through training youngsters in the martial art. Speaking to WWE.com, Miller said: “I see the payoff when they grow up and they’re productive citizens. All the money in the world couldn’t get me out of martial arts. It gives me something to give back.”
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to?’ pieces here.