I'm a little late this week. There are a couple of reasons and I'll bore you with the major ones. I started at a new school this week. After graduating from Siena College last May, I took a semester off. This week, I started grad school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After spending all of last week moving into a new dorm, I didn't have much time for wrestling. I moved into a suite with four guys I don't know, but seem to be OK. Favor was with me as I'm apparently replacing a weirdo. He left me his sheets. I'm not using them.
Second, if any of you like Computer RPG's and haven't played Baldur's Gate or Baldur's Gate 2… get them NOW. I'm addicted.
So, between those two things, I wasn't able to think up a topic until Monday night, and the idea isn't mine. I gave a friend of mine Have a Nice Day for Christmas and he's just now getting to the Mankind part of Foley's career. Something Foley mentions is Vince McMahon's first gimmick for him. I can't remember the exact name off the top of my head, it was either the Marauder or the Mangler or some other silly name that started with M. Also, the first name "Mason." Vince's first idea, before Mankind, was to call Foley "Mason the Marauder." So, my friend told me I should write a column about wrestlers who Vince McMahon doomed to obscurity with crappy, lame gimmicks. I'd like to thank WrestleCrap for freshening some of my memories.
I never understood why the WWF and WCW always had a fixation with wrestlers having other jobs. You would think Vince would have noticed that he only guys who EVER got over in his federation were the guys who were basically gimmickless… or who didn't have a sidejob. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Yokozuna, Kevin Nash, and a slew of others spring to mind. Guys whose gimmicks were their attitudes, not their side jobs.
Glenn Jacobs: Who's Glenn Jacobs? Well, he started his WWF career as Jerry Lawler's evil dentist, Dr Isaac Yankem. Lawler was in a feud with Bret Hart and lost a kiss my foot match. For revenge, he sent his dentist after Bret Hart. People rolled their eyes, and Jacobs ended back up on the drawing board. The next time Glen Jacobs appeared, he was Big Daddy Cool. No, not the Kevin Nash version of Big Daddy Cool, but the Jim Ross version. Since Razor Ramon and Diesel had left the WWF and appeared, in character, on Nitro, the WWF decided they didn't need the men to make the characters. Well, they did, and Razor and Diesel got booed out of the building. Eventually, Jacobs was dusted off a third time, and was assigned to be Undertaker's little brother, Kane. Kane, a character with no side job, no stupid gimmick, just a character idea. Now, Jacobs is probably one of the more popular guys in the WWF.
Jeff Jarrett: People would argue it's utterly impossible for Jeff Jarrett to ever get over. He's been shoved down people throats for the last ten years, and he's never been really popular… except when he hit old ladies with guitars. Personally, I always thought it was his hair. But, who can forget Jarrett's first gimmick in the WWF. The man who wanted to gain fame in wrestling so he could get a break in his country singing career. Naturally, the mid-ninties's WWF was so popular, it would catapault you into the mainstream. Jarrett would go on to bring The Road Dogg down, too. The Road Dogg, who began as the roadie, was the singer to Jarrett's Milli Vanilli act. Amazingly enough, neither guy found any success until the country music was dropped from their characters. Jarrett shaved his head, grew a goatee, and started swinging his guitar more frequently. The people kind of started to like him. The Roadie became Road Dogg, and went on to team with Billy Gunn.
Billy Gunn: Speaking of whom. Has anyone ever noticed Vince McMahon's obsession with backwood hillbillies? We've had Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, The Smoking Gunns, the Funks (during their Jimmy Jack days), The Honky Tonk Man, the Blackjacks, and the others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. Did he ever notice that it NEVER worked? Anyway, Billy Gunn started off in the Smoking Gunns, a tag team that saw him and his "Brother Bart" in tight jeans, no shirt, and with Sunny as a manager. Formula for success, right? The Smoking Gunns won tag team titles. Eventually, whether it be from Bart getting injured or whatever, the team got split up. So, Billy Gunn with left open for a singles push. What did they do? They teamed him with the Greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Since The Honky Tonk Man was able to make the gimmick work in the 80s, then OBVIOUSLY he could get it work again with another guy. WRONG. Rockabilly bombed horribly. Both Rockabilly and The Roadie languished in jobberville until Vince teamed them up, gave them an attitude and a surprise win over the Road Warriors for the tag team titles.
Bob Holly: Bob Holly may be an entertaining guy now, but he started off with wrestling as his side job. In real life, he was Thurman "Sparky" Plugg. He was a NASCAR driver who decided to wrestle. Naturally, as with all of these other gimmicks, he flopped. He still had the skills he did now, but he wasn't nearly as entertaining. He dropped the gimmick, got himself an attitude, the fantastic "Giant Killer" attitude.
Shane Douglas: Do you remember Shane Douglas being in the WWF, or were you not watching those few months? That's an exaggeration, but I digress. Anyway, Douglas was a teacher before he was a wrestler, so he naturally was given a professor as his gimmick. So, the WWF was sitting on ECW's future world champion, and the guy who carried the promotion from 1993 to 1997 or so… who worked one match with Al Snow with THREE broken bones… and they never put him over anyone. He was scheduled to win the IC belt from Shawn Michaels, but Michaels forfeited it to him rather than working the match. Shane moved on when his contract expired and ECW gave him free reign to do what he wanted. Douglas could be a superstar in EITHER of the big two, but his time's running out. WCW doesn't want to give him a shot, and I don't know if he'd even be welcome in the WWF after choosing WCW in the first place.
Terry Taylor: Terry Taylor was a good wrestler. In fact, he could have gotten over. Bobby Heenan was his manager and people hated Bobby Heenan. Had Taylor just been Terry Taylor, and NOT the Red Rooster, he very possibly could have started on a good run in the WWF after the mandatory turn on his manager. Eventually, on television, Taylor strutted around in the ring like a chicken and dyed the mohawk on his hair red. Yeah, it got people to boo… but out of disgust and boredom, not with heel heat. Taylor's career NEVER recovered from this, as he knew it wouldn't. When he jumped to WCW, he immediately got in backstage crew. Vince effectively killed Taylor's career in that short run.
I could go on, but I think you all get the general idea. I have to wonder how many guys in the WWF may have been something if not for wrestling's "side job" love of gimmicks. Some guys never got to go anywhere. Guys like the Repo Man (who later became "Pain Stewart" WCW's wrestling golfer), Bastion Booger, Friar Ferguson, Tugboat, Earthquake/Golga, "El Matador" Tito Santana, Duke Droese, The Goon, and the list goes on. These poor guys never rose past the gimmicks they got slapped with. But there were a few who did, which is why you have to wonder what could have happened with some of the others. Aldo Montoya, who became Justin Credible in ECW. Farooq Asaad and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, who would find new attitudes, and some success, as Farooq and Bradshaw in the APA. The "Blue Chipper" Rocky Miavia, The "Ringmaster" Steve Austin, and "Connecticut Snob" Hunter Hearst Helmsley… all of whom became incredibly popular.
Attitude makes the star, not the side job. Hell, "Attitude" is the WWF's catchphrase. Vince has finally seemed to get away from silly gimmicks, and I would give him a clean last couple years.
If not for Beaver Cleavage.