Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
Throughout wrestling history there have been countless superstars who have had the proverbial rocket strapped to their back and pushed to the stars but lacked that star power to really make it. Today’s Top Five looks at those superstars who simply failed to live up to the hype.
5. Nathan Jones: Remember this guy? His promo vignettes suggested a monster heel with a prisoner gimmick. A bit like Nailz for the 21st century. However, what we got was a really crappy protégé for The Undertaker. Later he was used by Paul Heyman to make up the numbers on Team Lesnar at the 2003 Survivor Series before quitting WWE.
4. Lex Luger: Take your pick of his WWE gimmicks here. For all his flaws, Luger was a big name in WCW but his initial ‘Narcissist’ persona in WWE was just dull and for all the effort that went into the Lex Express angle fans were lukewarm at best. Personally, I think the bus tour stuff was a decent idea, maybe they just chose the wrong guy to pull it off?
3. Tazz: His debut at the 2000 Royal Rumble was worthy of a legit main eventer. Tazz marched to the ring at Madison Square Garden and promptly choked out an undefeated Kurt Angle to a deafening reaction. Skip forward a couple of months and the Human Suplex Machine only just made it onto the Wrestlemania card in a multi-man hardcore match. Coincidentally, like many others who showed promise in the WWE around this time, Tazz’s decline coincided with a clean loss to Triple H…
2. Dr Death Steve Williams: Dr Death became one of the world’s top wrestlers in the 1990s, without the aid for WWE or WCW. Think about that for a moment. By the time he signed for WWE in 1998 he was regarded as a massive star in Japan and a genuine hard man. Thus, he was earmarked to challenge for the WWE Title shortly after his debut. While it’s fair to say there wasn’t much fan fair around Williams’ WWE debut, the subtext suggested that the guy was a big deal. Then the Brawl For All happened, he tore his hamstring and Bart Gunn knocked him out. With his tough guy reputation irreparably damaged in the eyes of casual fans, Dr Death spent several months rehabbing his hamstring before doing little of significance in the company before quietly disappearing in early 1999.
1. Scott Steiner: Early to mid-90s Scott Steiner was an absolute beast but by the time he finally broke into the main event scene in WCW’s dying days he was bloated with muscle and hampered by injuries. That said, he still had an aura that made him a credible main eventer. So, when he returned to WWE in 2002 he was treated as a big deal worthy of challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship in his first match back. His bout with Triple H at the 2003 Royal Rumble did not go well. In fact, it was embarrassingly bad. Save for a rematch at No Way Out, Big Poppa Pump’s WWE career nosedived thereafter. Surprisingly he almost made it two-thirds of the way through a three-year contract. That said, Steiner’s last match was the 2004 Royal Rumble and he wasn’t released until August of that year, despite only being injured for two of those seven months. Now there’s a fall from grace.
5. Mordecai: I know some people will disagree with this first selection but Mordecai was a huge disappointment for me personally. He had a great look and an awesome looking entrance but just didn’t cut it in the ring at the time. His reemergence years later as Kevin Thorn was much more successful than this incarnation.
4. Kharma: We all knew that the wrestler formerly known as Awesome Kong was coming to the WWE. It was going to be a refreshing break from all the barbie doll like divas that had infected the WWE’s women’s division. A series of very creepy, yet impressive vignettes aired. The problem was after an impressive debut destroying all the women in her path, she had to leave because she was pregnant. Kharma never held the same mystique after that announcement.
3. Nathan Jones: The WWE built this guy up as a monster who was just getting released out of jail. When he debuted he was extremely green in the ring, so they paired him up as the apprentice to the Undertaker. Not even the dead man could save Nathan Jones WWE career.
2. Renegade: Hulk Hogan had built him up as the “Ultimate Surprise” to combat against the Dungeon of Doom. Many fans including myself speculated that it would be the Ultimate Warrior. What we eventually got was a very cheap Warrior knockoff that sorely disappointed WCW fans.
1. Glacier: WCW invested so much time and money into the character’s vignettes. They were like mini movies. Everybody was anxiously awaiting the debut of Glacier with his cool tag line: “His Blood runs Cold.” As it turned out, Glacier was nothing more than an average wrestler who was a copycat gimmick of Sub-Zero from the Mortal Kombat video game. It was a major let down.
There is our take on some of the wrestlers from history who simply failed to live up to the hype. Think we missed any? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous ‘Top Five’ pieces here.