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Characters That Should Have Been Huge
Sometimes, a great gimmick or a great character comes along that changes the face of wrestling forever. They get over with the fans and are worshipped by internet "smarks" everywhere. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that they last. Sometimes, backstage politics kill off a seemingly successful angle. Other times, the wrestler involved quits in the middle of the angle.history

Here are some of the angles/gimmicks that could have been huge....

 

The Cam-Am Connection


Martel and Zenk had all the talent in the world.

Vince teamed Rick Martel, the Quebec native, with Tom Zenk, an American, and the Can-Am Connection was born. The team didn't last long, however, as Zenk left over a contract dispute. Nevertheless, during their short run in the WWF, they thrilled crowds with their enthusiasm, chemistry, and athleticism. They brought down the house at Wrestlemania III against the team of The Magnificent Muraco and Cowboy Bob Orton. Can-Am fans looked forward towards feuds with The Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs. The Can-Am Connection was booked to beat the Hart Foundation for the titles in 1987. Zenk left before this could happen, though. 

How did it End? Tom Zenk left over a contract dispute and eventually ended up in the NWA. Zenk was billed as "The Z-Man" and won the NWA Television Title, and held the U.S. Tag Team Titles with "Flyin'" Brian Pillman before eventually retiring. Martel stayed in the WWF, forming Strike Force with Tito Santana. Martel turned heel on Santana at Wrestlemania V in a match against The Brainbusters. Martel subsequently received the biggest push of his WWF career as "The Model." Martel recently retired after a short-run in WCW. 

Bad News Brown 
This guy was one bad mother.
Now this guy scared the s*** out of me when I first saw him. Bad News Brown was one bad mother. If I saw him in a dark-alley, I would give him my wallet without any question. Hell, I'd even give him my ATM code. Bad News Brown engaged in feuds with Roddy Piper and others, but his most famous moment was when he won the Wrestlemania IV Battle Royal by eliminating... Bret Hart. Bad News could be a star today. Of course, they would have to change his name to Bad Ass Brown. 

How did it End? I honestly have no idea as to why Bad News Brown left the WWF. Drugs? Injuries? Maybe both. He wrestled in the independents for a while before retiring. 

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Good ol' American Boys.
The Rougeaus, at first, were comedic faces that could never quite win the big match. Frustrated by the lack of support from the American fans, they turned heel. They were the Bret Hart of the 1980's, constantly complaining about America. Instead of Hart's bitterness, though, the Rougeaus used satire to get their point across. They cheered American society but were really making fun of it. They called themselves "good ol' American boys." Of course, they were from Quebec. This was pretty high-concept stuff, especially for 1980's WWF. The Rougeaus replaced the Hart Foundation within Jimmy Hart's stable and took the Harts to the limit. The Rougeaus, however, never won the Tag Titles and were perennial midcarders. Eventually, the team faded away, although the WWF would not hear the last of the Rougeaus. 

How did it End? Raymond retired in the early 90's and became an announcer for the WWF. Meanwhile, Jacques pursued a solo career. First he was The Mountie and won the Intercontinental Title from Bret Hart in 1992. Then, he formed The Quebecers with Pierre. The Quebecers have their separate entry in this section. 

The Skyscrapers
They dominated, then dropped off
No, the Skyscrapers were not the best wrestlers in the world. No, they were not the best tag team out there. However, when Teddy Long paired Sid Vicious and "Dangerous" Dan Spivey together, everyone predicted greatness for them. After all, these two monsters looked and were intimidating. Vicious and Spivey were both young, healthy, and hungry. Vicious hadn't gotten lazy and injuries hadn't destroyed Spivey's career yet. They ran roughshod over the tag division in the NWA, and even went toe-to-toe with the Road Warriors. The Skyscrapers were the tag team of the future. However, Sid got injured and had to take time off. He was replaced with Mean Mark Callous, but it was never the same. By the beginning of 1990, the Skyscrapers were just another team in the NWA. 

How did it End? Spivey left WCW due to injuries in early 1990, leaving Callous without a partner. Callous was forced to team with a masked Mike Enos at WrestleWar 1990, effectively spelling the end of the Skyscrapers. Callous went solo for a while before leaving in 1990 for the WWF where he became The Undertaker. Spivey would wrestle on-and-off for the next few years before re-emerging as Waylon Mercy in the WWF. Sid Vicious returned from his injury and was drafted into the Four Horsemen. He would leave for the WWF as well in 1992. 

The Brainbusters 
Tully and Arn in the WWF.
Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson were already accomplished wrestlers when they joined the WWF in 1989. They had been Horsemen in the NWA. Tully was a former NWA Television Champ. The two had also held the NWA Tag Titles. However, when the two men jumped, they were immediately put under Bobby "The Brain" Heenan's leadership. The two won the Tag Titles from Strike Force at Wrestlemania V and engaged in 5-star matches against the Rockers. They only lasted one year in the WWF, however. Apparently, Tully wasn't happy and wanted to go back to the NWA. On top of that, Tully had developed a drug problem, eventually leading to his dismissal. With no partner, Arn decided to go back to the NWA to re-form the Horsemen with Flair, Ole Anderson, and Sting. The Brainbusters were ridiculously over in the WWF and could have been one of the greats. However, it was not to be...

How did it End? Tully was fired for failing a drug test. He's been out of the Big Two ever since. He wrestles on the independent tour, recently appearing on the Heroes of Wrestling PPV. He is also an ordained minister. Anderson went on to a long career in the NWA/WCW. He recently retired due to a neck injury. 

The Hollywood Blondes 
Your brush with greatness is over.
They are universally revered as one of the greatest tag teams in history. They dominated like no other and revolutionized wrestling. Steve Austin and Brian Pillman are more appreciated now than they were when they were actually a team. Their catch-phrase: "Your brush with greatness is over" could still get over today. They were arrogant, talented, and in the primes of their careers. This was back before Pillman's ankle injury and Austin's neck injury turned the two into garbage wrestlers. Both men were in transitional stages in their careers at this point, and were a temporarily thrown together as a a tag team. However, they managed to get themselves over by pissing off the fans and using old-school heel cheating during matches. Eventually, the team was so over that they had to have the tag team titles on them. Because of backstage politics, the Blondes were broken up and forced to feud with each other for a while. Both men, embittered by the entire experience, eventually left WCW for the WWF (after making separate stops in ECW). 

How did it End? The Blondes were forced to drop the titles to the Horseman team of Paul Roma and Arn Anderson. Pillman was injured, so Lord Steven Regal filled in and lost the titles with Austin. Austin went on to win the U.S. Title before getting fired. Austin went to ECW for a while where he was "Superstar" Steve Austin. Austin feuded with the Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck over the belt before going to the WWF. The rest is history... Pillman became a Horseman and a Loose Cannon before also making a stop-over in ECW where his ankle injury prevented him from doing anything other than giving memorable "shoot" interviews and terrorizing Shane Douglas. Pillman wound up in the WWF where he spent the rest of his life.

Doink
Hailing from Clown College, NY...
Doink the Clown is maybe one of the most controversial characters ever. You either loved him or hated him. Today, he is universally despised by wrestling fans who are embarassed that Doink ever existed. However, it's the annoying face Doink with his mini-me that most fans cringe about. When Doink first debuted, he was an evil clown that played mean pranks on the faces of the WWF. The character played off such elements as serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jack Nicholson's "The Joker," and Steven King's "IT." He had a psychotic demeanor with bone-chilling theme music that really got the crowd going. Although many played Doink, the best was the original, Matt Borne. Doink's crowning achievement was a victory over Crush at Wrestlemania IX. During this match, fans witnessed the debut of Doink II played by former Fabulous One, Steve Keirn. The Doinks were soon joined by a third (former Brooklyn Brawler, Steve Lombardi), and ran roughshod over the federation. Eventually, Matt Borne left the WWF, and unknown wrestler Ray Liccachelli was put into the Doink suit. Doink turned face and began his descent into jobberhood. Doink's reputation suffered and he became a symbol of everything that was wrong with the WWF at the time. Too bad, Doink the mega-heel would have been great... 

How did it End? The face Doink destroyed all of the heat left over from the previous Doinks. Eventually, fan hostility towards Doink killed the angle. Doink still fights on the independent scene. 

The Quebecers and Johnny Polo 
We always get our man!
Damn if Jacques Rougeau was one of the most under-appreciated wrestlers of all time. The Quebecers were one of the funniest, most innovative teams in the WWF during the mid-90's. They would come out singing their theme song, line-up to do a pre-match shoulder massage, and wave flags, infuriating the crowd. They combined comedy wrestling along with great mic work to ignite the ire of the crowd, but could also cut it as serious heels. They beat the Steiners for their first WWF title and continually foiled and outsmarted the Steiners in subsequent rematches. Once, Scott Steiner had to beat Pierre in ten minutes in order to earn a title shot, but manager Johnny Polo, seeing his man in trouble, seized the bell and rang it. The confused Steiners chased Polo, running down the clock and costing the Steiners the title shot. Eventually, Rougeau decided to retire, leaving Pierre and Polo high and dry. Polo became a TV announcer for a time and Pierre was repackaged. 

How did it End? Johnny Polo went to ECW and became Raven, Jacques Rougeau "retired" only to resurface in WCW in a few years with Pierre as The Amazing French Canadians, which was essentially the same team, but without the wins. Pierre, before going to WCW, was repackaged as a pirate, Jean-Pierre Lafitte. Lafitte feuded with Bret Hart before leaving for WCW. The Quebecers were recently brought back to the WWF, but exited once again without much of an impact. 

Ludvig Borga
The Hellraiser from Helsinki
Ludvig Borga was a big, bad, monster from Finland who hated Americans. Borga would give interviews in Finnish and, when asked to speak English, would disparage Americans for only knowing how to speak one language (well, he's got a point). Borga wasn't much in the ring, but his look and persona quickly made him into one of the top heels in the company. He ended Tatanka's winning streak and destroyed him in the process. He also emerged as a major foil to "Made-in-the-U.S.A." Lex Luger and, as a result, a World Title contender. Borga was booked to win the World Title prior to Wrestlemania X and transition the title to Luger. However, an ankle injury destroyed those plans and, as a result, Yokozuna remained champion, beat Luger and dropped the title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania X. Borga was lost in the shuffle and his career never recovered. Too bad. Borga was a man who, much like Bad News Brown, defined the word "bad-ass." 

How did it End? Borga's ankle injury eventually forced him out of the WWF. Borga was last seen wrestling independents and PPV shootfights wrestling under his real name, Tony Halme. With the way Russo's signing former WWF talent like Ahmed Johnson and Bertha Faye, don't be surprised to see him turn up in WCW any day now... 

Waylon Mercy

This gimmick was way ahead of its time and got over huge on the internet. Unfortunately, the vast majority of fans either didn't care or didn't get Waylon Mercy. Mercy was the repacked "Dangerous" Dan Spivey in an idiot-savant/Max-from-Cape-Fear type gimmick. He believed he was a face but wrestled like a heel, gave psychotic interviews, and had a spooky catch-phrase: "D'you Know Whadda I Mean?". This gimmick debuted in 1995, in the midst of WWF's transitional period from circus-show to Attitude. For Spivey, a man who had once been dubbed "The Next Hulk Hogan" only to fall to a series of injuries, this was his last shot at the big-time. If he were around today, he'd be a star.

How did it End? Dan Spivey suffered numerous injuries shortly after debuting as Waylon, killing his momentum. Spivey was released after losing to Savio Vega at the third In Your House PPV. Also, his high-concept gimmick just wasn't getting over with the internet-deprived fans. They just didn't "get it." 

Mr. Bob Backlund 
That's MR. Bob Backlund.
Bob Backlund was a former WWF World Champion back before it meant anything (i.e. it was a regional title). His six year reign (1977-1983) was impressive, and his technical wrestling skills were second to none. When he came back to the WWF in 1992, no one knew who he was. He did the same "All-American" howdy-doody type gimmick that he always did, and displayed his vast array of techincal wrestling manuevers to... dead silence. Desperately in need of a gimmick change, the WWF did the unthinkable... they turned Backlund heel. During a title match with Bret Hart on WWF Superstars, Backlund lost after having seemingly gotten a pin. The decision was reversed and the match continued, with Hart winning the match. An infuriated Backlund snapped, and placed Hart in the cross-face chicken wing submission hold. Backlund let go eventually, and looked at his hands in disbelief. He was supposedly possessed by a soon-to-be-returning Papa Shango. Backlund, however, got himself over with his "crazy-old-man" schtick, criticizing America, wrestling fans, and the "new school" of WWF stars. He was so over that he was given the title off of Hart at Survivor Series 1994. He lost that title six days later to Diesel, effectively opening up the Kliq era in the WWF. Backlund lingered on, unable to regain his heat, and eventually disappeared. Too bad. Bob was the most interesting heel champion ever in the WWF, but his push was killed by politics. 

How did it End? Backlund lingered on in a non-wrestling role, first as a candidate for the presidency, and then as a manager for the Sultan. Ironically, he joined forces with former enemy, The Iron Sheik, to help out The Sultan. Backlund still makes sporadic appearances for the WWF. He recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Connecticut. He appeared at the 2000 Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden, competing in the Rumble. 

Hakushi 

He had moves like no one else. His style of wrestling hadn't been seen in North America since The Great Muta ran roughshod over the NWA in 1989. He also had the look of a badass with the tatoos on his body. His feud with Bret Hart produced some of the best matches ever in the WWF. Yet, he fizzled out. Some point to his doomed face-turn soon after the Hart feud as the source of his downfall. He was teamed with long-time loser Barry Horowitz in an Odd-Couple type of gimmick. Hakushi, no longer the cold-hearted ass-kicking machine, lost his heat and was soon out of the WWF. It's hard to say if he would fit in today given the emphasis on acting and speaking. Yet, if the Hardys can get over without talking, then Hakushi might be able to as well. Still, Japanese wrestlers don't fare well in today's WWF (see Michinoku, TAKA). 

How did it End? Hakushi lost all of his heat after his disasterous run as Barry Horowitz's buddy. He was jobbed out and eventually released. Hakushi returned to Japan where he competes in FMW as Jinsei Shinzaki. He returned to America to take part in ECW's Heatwave '98. He and Hayabusa lost to Sabu and Rob Van Dam. 

Dean Douglas and Buddy Landel 
The Dean and the Nature Boy.
Dean Douglas was a former Intercontinental Champion when he brought in Buddy Landel as his "student." In truth, Douglas was hurt and needed a substitute for his December 1994 match with Ahmed Johnson. Thus, the "Real Nature Boy" Buddy Landel was brought in. The pairing was smart; Douglas and Landel were both excellent wrestlers and Douglas was especially good on the microphone. Both men also had somewhat checkered pasts. Douglas feuded with Ric Flair behind the scenes in WCW and would be eventually forced out of the WWF after a power struggle with the Kliq. Landel saw his once promising career go down the drain as drugs, alcohol, and injuries all robbed him of a promised NWA World Title reign and a big money feud with that other Nature Boy, Ric Flair. The pairing was also a wink-wink for the smarts. After all, what were the chances of seeing Douglas and the Nature Boy together? For both men, this was probably their last shot at the big time. The pieces were in place for a good run. Douglas' character was a heat-machine (don't let anyone, Douglas or others, fool you into thinking that Dean Douglas was lame. The minute he came out, everyone hated him. Promoted right, he could have been huge). Landel gave Douglas a foil to play off of. Unfortunately, Landel never caught on and Douglas blew yet another chance and the two were back doing indy shows within the year. 

How did it End? Douglas left the WWF due to politics and a running feud with the Kliq. Douglas returned to ECW where he spent the next few years before signing with WCW in 1999. Landell was brought in strictly for the match with Ahmed at the PPV and for the next night against WWF Champ Bret Hart. "The Nature Boy" was impressive, but was not offered a long-term deal. 

"The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman 
A True Legend.
Brian Pillman is revered in wrestling history and rightly so. His "Loose Cannon" persona came at the tail end of the pre-Attitude era in professional wrestling. Pillman's mental instability, as well as evil deeds in the ring, made him into one of the most hated heels ever. His wrestling ability was almost completely deteriorated at this point due to a terrible ankle injury, forcing him to rely solely on his personality to get over. His antics were ahead of its time, and his character, along with Austin, Shawn Michaels and others, gave the WWF the blueprint for the wildly successful Attitude era. Sadly, Pillman never lived to see this as he died in 1997. His "Loose Cannon" persona could have been so much more, but unfortunately, he was cut down too soon. 

How did it End? Brian Pillman died in his sleep following a mix of alcohol, painkillers, and a heart condition that he did not know about. Brian is missed by everyone and a memorial card is held every year in his honor. 

The Perfect Alliance
Not quite perfect
After a back injury destroyed Mr. Perfect's wrestling career, Hennig tried his hand at commentating and managing. As a commentator, he was usually cast in the Jerry Lawler-type heel role. However, a face turn of sorts occurred in 1996 as Perfect began coming to ringside to steal Hunter Hearst Helmsley's valets. An enraged Helmsley challenged Perfect to a match. However, Hennig was still injured at this point and couldn't wrestle. So, Intercontinental Champion Marc Mero stepped up on Hennig's behalf and even put up his title against Helmsley. Perfect turned on Mero, giving Helmsley his first taste of WWF gold. Helmsley had been suspended for the Kliq incident and this angle indicated that his career was back on track. The angle was just beginning, and other recruits into the Perfect Alliance were promised. Names that were bandied about included Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, Billy Gunn, and Sunny as an additional manager. An alternate plan for the alliance would be to turn Shawn Michaels heel after he lost the WWF title (which he did to Sid at Survivor Series 1996), and pair him with HHH and Perfect. That pairing would happen the next year and lead to DX. The angle was a hot topic on-line and promised to dominate WWF storylines for the next year or so. The angle, however, never got off the ground because of Hennig's subsequent jump to WCW. 

How did it End? Curt Hennig signed with WCW in 1996, effectively destroying the angle. HHH floundered before hooking up with Chyna. The destruction of the Perfect Alliance, ironically, may have been the best thing that ever happened to Hunter. With Chyna, and eventually, DX, Hunter's career got the boost it needed, leading to his current status as the #1 man in the WWF. 

TAKA Michinoku 
What a waste.
When the WWF decided to build a light-heavyweight division in response to WCW's successful cruiserweight division, TAKA Michinoku was not the guy that Vince was planning on building around. Instead, Vince had his eyes on TAKA's Michinoku Pro boss, The Great Sasuke. Sasuke wrestled at 1997's Canadian Stampede against TAKA, beating his hand-picked sacrificial lamb on the PPV and the next night on RAW. However, it was TAKA that made the bigger impression with the WWF brass. As a result, Vince signed TAKA and built the light-heavyweight division around him. TAKA got a big push, going over Brian Christopher to win the title. TAKA was also involved in bigger feuds, joining forces with Bradshaw and the Headbangers against TAKA's old Kaientai friends (Dick Togo, MEN's Teioh, Sho Funaki). However, TAKA's inability to give promos cost him. Fans didn't care enough about his character, even though he was putting on great matches and wowing crowds with his athleticism. The Vinces (McMahon and Russo) also showed a remarkable ineptitude at promoting light-heavyweights, often burying them and demeaning the title. TAKA lost the title to Christian, who lost it to Gillberg, killing the title once and for all. TAKA was a forgotten man on television only until recently when he and Funaki were brought in for dark matches, Jakked tapings, and comedy matches against the Mean Street Posse. 

How did it End? It hasn't. TAKA has been on WWF TV, getting some airtime and taking part in tag matches with fellow Kaientai alum, Sho Funaki. He was also wrestling in Michinoku Pro and was slated to be a part of the Super J-Cup tournament this year. However, TAKA recently hurt his shoulder at the Royal Rumble, putting him out of action for several months. It was rumored that the WWF was planning to revamp the Lightweight Division, so TAKA could be getting a push... 

Chavo Guerrero

In a time when WCW was alarmingly formulaic and redundant (NWO beatdown, NWO squash, Hogan in the main event), Chavo gave fans a breath of fresh air. His psychotic demeanor, built up through weeks and weeks of mental abuse from his uncle, Eddie, made for great entertainment. He scared his uncle so much that Eddie was unwilling to fight his nephew without some insurance. Eddie got Chavo into a match at Bash at the Beach 1998 against Stevie Ray. Eddie would then get Chavo after the match in a hair-vs-hair match. Chavo, outthinking his uncle, went to shake Stevie's hand, and submitted. A fresh Chavo then got Eddie in an excellent match that saw Eddie go over. Chavo then shaved his own head, and tried to get Eddie to do it as well. "We can be twins, Eddie," he screamed. The entire spectacle made for hilarious entertainment. Of course, since Chavo was a cruiserweight who got over on his own talents rather than because he had friends in the back, he was immediately depushed and jobbed out. His character "evolved" into a stick-horse riding, phony watch selling, comedic sideshow. Too bad, he had potential.

How did it End? Chavo was depushed and jobbed out. He's still in WCW, though, albeit as a marginal player. 

The West Hollywood Blondes
Fighting in an ambigious way...
Two lower midcarders named Lenny Lane and Lodi found themselves in a firestorm of controversy in 1999. They were WCW's not-so-ambigiously gay duo. Their antics included giving each other massages, licking lollipops, and hugging and touching each other during matches. Oftentimes, they would fall down after getting hit and just happen to end up in some sort of sexual position. The crowd loved to give the Blondes hell and often chanted derogatory phrases at the duo. Unfortunately, the crowd responses that the duo elicited got them in trouble. GLAAD protested the Lenny/Lodi angle as being derogatory towards homosexuals. The politically minded WCW then decided to pull the Blondes off television, despite the fact that Lenny was the cruiserweight champion and the duo often received the highest quarter ratings out of anyone in the promotion. 

How did it End? The duo was shelved after GLAAD's protests. Lenny's title was taken away from him in a "phantom match" (i.e. there was no match in which he lost the title). Lenny and Lodi were kept off TV until Vince Russo brought them in as "Standards and Practices." That gimmick didn't last long, so they went to Lenny Lane/Idol. They're currently jobbing away, unable to get their heat back due to political reasons.