Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get-go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative but, for various reasons, faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ and today we look at the WWE Juniors Division.
Right off the bat, I did NOT like the Juniors division. I did like the original concept that was never implemented. In the fall of 2005, members of WWE’s creative came up with an idea to reinvigorate the cruiserweight division exclusively on the Smackdown brand. The idea was spearheaded by former WWE creative writer Court Bauer. He gathered the rest of creative and put together a long list of wrestlers that were on each of the writers “wish lists.” First, they went after wrestlers who had working visas and were almost immediately available to work. Some of those included Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera who had significant name recognition. There was the talk of bringing in other luchadors and Japanese talents.
Talent like a returning Ultimo Dragon, Milano Collection A.T., Ricky Marvin and Mistico were on most lists and it was all presented to Vince McMahon. According to Bauer, McMahon signed off on the idea and allowed it to go through. WWE creative moved fast because they realized that with Vince McMahon, he could agree to something one minute and a few minutes later totally decide against it. The new division was to be called the Juniors division. A play on the very successful Super Juniors division in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The impressive laundry list of wrestlers WWE creative put together was handed to the then Vice President of WWE Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis to hire. With McMahon’s signature and approval in place, all Laurinaitis had to do was make the phone calls and reach out to the various talents and gauge their interest. It seemed simple enough, except that’s not what happened at all. For whatever reason, ‘Big’ Johnny decided to hire several mini wrestlers from Mexico instead. The names included: Mascarita Sagrada, Tsuki, Pequeno Violencia, Octagoncito, Piratita Morgan and Super Porky.
All in all, very skilled and talented wrestlers but not what was agreed upon initially. The hyped up and promoted Juniors division was then given silly graphics to go along with the roster of unwanted minis. It was inexplicably and abruptly changed at the hands of John Laurinaitis. It was almost as if the WWE was portraying this Juniors division as a bunch of underage kids working for the WWE. It immediately became a joke.
Court Bauer and other members of creative confronted Laurinaitis about the signings and Johnny played off like he thought this is what they wanted. Not getting anywhere with Johnny Ace, they went to Vince himself. They handed him their original wish list and plans and asked him to compare it with the list that Johnny hired. Bauer asked McMahon directly ‘Look at my list and look at John’s, who do you think fucked up?’ Regardless, the damage was already done and the Juniors division was started without any changes made to John’s screw up.
The Juniors failed miserably because creative wanted nothing to do with that botched up division. They wanted to see Johnny Ace get heat from Vince but, alas, it never happened. The fans crapped on the minis and they were used sparingly just to fill time when needed. Seeing the big mistake that it was, the Juniors division was quickly killed off after just five months. Fit Finlay came out and attacked several of the minis during a match. After that, the entire Juniors division was future endeavored by the WWE. What was once a seemingly awesome idea with some great talent was reduced to a comedy act and ultimately an afterthought in WWE history.
You can read all previous ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’ pieces here.