Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Sabu in WCW

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Sabu in WCW – WCW, 1995

History

Although Sabu had been in WCW for a few months, we got an introduction to him on the very first Monday Nitro – September 4th, 1995. It was pretty standard, there were some clips of his matches in WCW, and then it was noted that he would debut the next week.

Sure enough, Sabu had his debut a week later. He was facing Alex Wright. Sabu got the win, then rolled out of the ring and set a table up in the aisle. He placed Wright on it and hit a legdrop from the top rope to send Wright through the table. Referee Nick Patrick was not pleased by this and reversed the decision.

Sabu returned to Nitro on October 9. Ironically, his opponent was Mr. JL – who would become better known as ECW’s Jerry Lynn. Sabu won the match, then powerbombed JL to the floor afterward.

JL got a rematch at Halloween Havoc, as he faced off against Sabu once again. This time Sabu was accompanied to the ring by his uncle, the Original Sheik. Sabu hit a split-legged moonsault for the win. Afterward, the Sheik threw fire into JL’s face.

The next night Sabu took on Disco Inferno. Sabu won the match and Disco got splashed on the floor. Disco frantically checked to see how his hair looked as Sabu grabbed a table and cracked Disco with it. Sabu put Disco on the table and went for a moonsault only for Disco to roll off the table and run away.

And that was the end of Sabu’s run in WCW. By the middle of November, Sabu had returned to ECW, where he defeated Hack Myers at that year’s November to Remember.

Analysis

For years, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup motto was “two great tastes that taste great together.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here. While Sabu doubtless saw the big dollar signs on the WCW contract and the chance for wider fame, there were two problems that stood in the way. First, at this time WCW was being dominated by Hulk Hogan and his WWF pals (the main feud at the time was Hogan vs. the Dungeon of Doom). Second, Sabu’s more extreme style of wrestling didn’t exactly fit the family-friendly atmosphere of WCW (especially the pre-NWO WCW).

To his credit, Sabu wasn’t the only future (or present) ECW star that didn’t work out in WCW. We’ve talked about the Sandman’s run in 2000 as Hardcore Hak. Jerry Lynn’s time as Mr. JL is listed above. Rob Van Dam was there in the early 90’s as Robbie V. Arguably the most successful was Raven, and he was simply portraying his character from ECW.

(To be fair, Raven did have a semi-successful run in WCW before he went to ECW as Scotty Flamingo – even winning the Light Heavyweight title.)

In the end, Sabu and WCW were not like mixing peanut butter and chocolate. It was just a poor fit all the way around. Still, if it had to work, perhaps following the example set by his first match would have been an interesting run – where he wins the match and then the decision is reversed due to excessive violence. It just wasn’t meant to be and Sabu returned to ECW, where his style of wrestling fit in perfectly.

Where are they now?

As mentioned above, Sabu returned to ECW following his WCW run and would remain there for most of ECW’s remaining lifespan. In 2000 he reportedly signed a new deal with WCW, but legal maneuvering by Paul Heyman kept him off television until WCW was gone. Sabu made his way to XPW where he won a breach of contract lawsuit brought by Paul Heyman (the contract stated that Sabu was unable to work outside of ECW, but the court discovered that Heyman had actually breached the contract first). In 2002 Sabu made his way to TNA but soon vanished to return to the independent scene. Sabu returned in 2004 and was placed in a feud with Raven (who had also been trained by the Sheik). Due to injury and then a virus infection that took nearly a year to recover from, the one-on-one match never took place.

In 2005 Sabu appeared at Hardcore Homecoming (facing Shane Douglas and Terry Funk in a barbed-wire match) and the first ECW One Night Stand (where he had an impromptu match against Rhino). Shortly after this, Sabu returned to TNA and began feuding with Abyss. In early 2006, Sabu signed a contract with the WWE and was placed with the restarted ECW. Sabu remains in ECW today and will be inducting the original Sheik into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007.

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