HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
Stars That Never Shuned!
Our resident philosopher Jay Shannon looks at some of the wrestlers that should have been Legends, but simply didn’t make the grade.
In every class of new wrestlers that hit the indies and the big two US promotions (WWE and TNA), there is always a breakout star. Often, they are recognized as the Rookie of the Year or given a contract to one of the bigger promotions in short order. A few of them succeed to levels beyond what they or the promoters could have dreamed possible. Sadly, many more simple short-circuit and quickly fade from view. In this edition of HeadLocker, I want to look at a few of the wrestlers that simply fell one (or more) notches below where they should have been.
Psycho Sid (Justice)/Sid Vicious
Some might find it odd to include someone who has held both the WWE and WCW World titles on a list of grapplers who fell short. Sid’s run at the top was simply too short. Sid should still be a main-eventer on either WWE or TNA. Two things caused his fall: Attitude and Injury.
It has been well documented that Sid was a Problem Case. His violent attack on Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors was the most infamous of Sid’s behavior problems. There were others, as well. Sid began, according to all reports, to believe his own hype.
Another thing that derailed Sid’s career was a severely broken leg. During a match in WCW, Sid came off the top rope and fractured his leg in multiple places. Sid took many years to recover from the brutal break. Only recently has he started to work for the NWA territories. Whether Sid will ever get back to the top is hard to say. His career hit a staggering road block and age may prevent Sid from reaching the top, again.
He was seen as the New Hulk Hogan. Ultimate Warrior worked his way up from Mid-South and World Class to stand as the next superstar in the then-WWF. He pinned Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI (something that was unheard of at the time). He ended the record-breaking Intercontinental Championship reign of The Honky Tonk Man. Ultimate Warrior’s name should have been listed alongside Bret Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Hogan as one of the top champions to ever compete for Vince McMahon. It just didn’t happen.
Warrior, as he is now known, simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) live up to the expectations. After losing the WWF title to Sgt. Slaughter, Warrior bumbled his way through a few feuds before making one of the most costly mistakes of his life. Before Summerslam 1991, Warrior tried to extort more money from Vince McMahon. McMahon promptly fired Warrior after his match, that night.
Warrior would go on to be fired twice more by Vince and the WWE. Warrior would also get the boot from WCW. The reasons for the firings/releases ranged from failing a drug test to simply not agreeing to a contract. Warrior would go from wrestling to being a very contraversial public speaker. Warrior has recently returned to action in the ring, winning the NWE Heavyweight Championship in Spain. With his personal issues with Vince McMahon, it is highly unlikely that Warrior will ever succeed in the United States in one of the major promotions.
Nick Dinsmore aka Eugene
Nick still has time to salvage his career, but it’s going to take a lot of work. Nick was stuck with the most offensive character of all time, Eugene. The idiot savant was annoying and an insult to the mentally challenged. It wasn’t Nick’s fault, he was stuck with the character as part of a deal that WWE brass made with the developmental territory that Nick was working in.
Nick Dinsmore would have been a lock to take, at least, the I-C or US title. Eugene could barely find the ring. Eugene should have been a beloved character but he turned into a laughing stock. Dinsmore tried to continued with the character in OVW and the NWA, changing the name slightly to U-Gene and Special E. The crowds rejected the character, no matter what name he used. Dinsmore finally made the wise decision to abandon the character and claim that the whole Eugene thing was simply a dream. It was more like a nightmare, especially for Dinsmore.
Ric Flair is perhaps the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots. The world expected great things from David Flair. They were horribly disappointed. David simply couldn’t break free from his father’s huge shadow. David’s best run was in WCW, where his father basically ran the show.
When WCW folded, David basically went into limbo. David might have had a decent career if he had chosen to head to WWF, while his dad stayed in WCW. David should have tried to escape his father, instead he embraced the shadow. That short-circuited his career beyond repair.
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams
I am a huge mark for Doc. I watched his earliest matches in Mid-South when I lived in Oklahoma. When Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase and others headed to WWF, Williams stayed behind. When others were heading to Atlanta and WCW, Williams went to Japan. While Williams had a legendary career in Japan, he just never reached his potential in the US.
Williams’ team with Terry Gordy should have taken on the WWF. They would have been equals to the Road Warriors, in my humble opinion. Williams’ foray into the WWF was an absolute disaster. Jim Ross created the Brawl For All to highlight Williams. On Doc’s very first match, he was knocked out and injured by Bart Gunn. Williams was quietly released by the WWF and Doc retreated to Japan. Williams then had some serious health issues that nearly ended his life. At his age, Steve Williams just may not be able to have the comeback that he deserves.
Kerry Von Erich
Kerry was the torchbearer for his family. He was an Intercontinental champion in the WWF and the NWA World Champion. Both reigns were cut short by Kerry’s poor choices. Kerry lost his foot due to a motorcycle accident. Kerry was facing jail time for forging prescription drugs when he took his own life.
Kerry could have been bigger than Lex Luger, Sting, Curt Hennig, and dozens more. Because of his bad life choices, Kerry is nothing more than a pathetic footnote in the wrestling history books. He is the poster boy for throwing away one’s career. He missed the mark more than just about anyone on my list.
Razor Ramon was one of the greatest Intercontinental champs of all time. His character was fun to watch and even more fun to hate. His arrogance led to huge ratings for the WWF and superstardom for Razor. The world changed for Razor when he headed to WCW.
As a part of The Outsiders, Scott Hall began to embrace his demons. It wasn’t an over-night thing, but eventually things got out of control for Scott. Scott lost jobs in the WWE and TNA before heading into rehab. Hall may have burned too many bridges to rebuild his career. That would be the biggest tragedy of them all.
The Argentinian basketball player got the break of a lifetime when he was given a chance to wrestle in WCW. With his size and agility, El Gigante (as he was billed in WCW) should have been the best big man since Andre the Giant. El Gigante simply became a sideshow attraction in the WCW Circus. As much as his career was a joke in WCW, it only got worse when he moved to WWF.
The fun-loving El Gigante was replaced by a brooding, hulking monster known as Giant Gonzalez. He was outfitted in the most bizarre ring gear. His bodysuit was airbrushed with hair to make him look like a shaved Sasquatch (Bigfoot). Gonzalez was set into a feud with the best worker in the industry, The Undertaker. Even the Dead Man couldn’t salvage Gonzalez’s career. They had a horrid encounter at Wrestlemania. The match ended in a DQ win for ‘Taker, the only time that he didn’t win by either pinfall, submission or achieving the goal of a gimmick match. Gonzalez faded from view shortly after that turkey of a match, never to be seen again.
There were so many more that just didn’t make it. Billy Jack Haynes, Mike Von Erich, Eric Watts, Ranger Ross and dozens more had their minimal time in the sun. They could have done so much more but something just didn’t click. It’s easy to criticize these men for falling short, but the one thing that they all have in common and I praise them for it: They went out there and lived their dream. I just wish the dream had been better for them.
Editor’s note about Jay Shannon:
Jay Shannon has been writing about wrestling on the internet for close to a decade. Jay writes both here in the US and in Italy, as well. He recently won an award as The Best New Foreign (non-Italian) Internet Journalist: Sports and Entertainment Division. Jay lives near Reno, Nevada with his wife and collection of “critters” and has followed wrestling for over 35 years.