7 WWE Wrestlers From the '90s Who Never Made It Big
The 1990s were a period of change for WWE; it included the fall of the Golden Age, the rise and fall of the New Generation Era, and the rise of the Attitude Era. In the space of a decade, WWE drew both its biggest and its lowest television ratings.
For ten years, WWE went through several rosters worth of talent in search of the next big star. And though the company eventually hit paydirt with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, it wasn't for lack of trying, as this gallery attests.
Here are 7 WWE wrestlers from the '90s who never made it big. They may have had a respectable career before or after their tenures "up north." But they never received their proper due in professional wrestling's biggest promotion.
If you liked this gallery, check out our gallery of Wrestlers From The '00s Who Never Made It Big and our true/false analysis of WWE Urban Legends. And be sure to visit Gamespot Universe in the coming weeks. We will have full coverage of WWE's Money in the Bank PPV on June 17.
In today's WWE, Hakushi would have been a top midcarder. The White Angel possessed hard-hitting moves, a high flying style, and a serene countenance, which juxtaposed him with every loudmouth on the roster. Hakushi also decorated his body with rows of "tattoos" running up and down his face, chest, and body. It was eye-popping, and it must have taken eons to apply backstage.
Hakushi debuted as a heel, and during his one major feud--against Bret Hart--he accused the Hitman of making racist remarks about the Japanese. When he turned babyface shortly afterward, WWE didn't know how to utilize Hakushi's quiet menace, so they paired him with Barry Horowitz as a comedic duo.
After being "branded" by Bradshaw, Hakushi "quit" WWE out of shame. He didn't win a single WWE title during his run, though he would subsequently have a long career in various Japanese promotions.
Adam Bomb was a nuclear meltdown survivor from 3-Mile Island. He was a 6'9", 300 pounder who could hustle. He was a believable asskicker with great fundamentals; what he lacked in artistry he made up for with intensity. He also had a memorable entrance; the lights went out, and a green, mushroom-shaped cloud would explode over the ring.
For years, he bounced around the midcard; he was popular with fans, even though he never won a WWE title. But then, according to Adam Bomb, he was lied to by Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, who told him that he would get a run with the Intercontinental Championship after King of the Ring (1995). When the opportunity never materialized, he headed for WCW.
This character was subversive and ahead of its time. Ring veteran Dan Spivey played Waylon Mercy, a genteel, polite man who liked to shake his opponent's hand before the match. When the bell rang, however, Mercy became an unhinged, bug-eyed psychopath, who cinched in life-threatening sleeper holds for way too long. Spivey loosely based the Mercy character on Max Cady, the deadly villain from Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear.
Unfortunately, Spivey was at the end of a long career. He only wrestled in WWE for several months before he was forced to retire due to injuries. Bonus trivia: Spivey inspired Bray Wyatt to create his backwoods cult character. If you compare Mercy and Wyatt's promos side-by-side, the similarities become even more obvious.
This is an example of how gimmicks can go horribly wrong. Duke Droese was a big man with great tools, a showy finisher (tilt-a-whirl power slam), and a ton of charisma. The only problem was his gimmick; he was a garbage man who entered the ring to the sounds of a truck's warning signals.
He never held a WWE title, but Droese made the most out of his lower card spot. He was a mainstay on WWE Superstars, where he got a consistent, positive response from WWE audiences. He even had a catchphrase; he hollered, "Time to take out the trash" right before delivering his finisher, which he dubbed the Trash Compactor. His most significant moment was actually a loss, he put over Triple H at In Your House 6 (1996) before leaving WWE that same year--the result of mounting physical injuries.
Tatanka was a natural babyface. He was a "proud Native American" (for real; he was a member of the Lumbee tribe) and he remained undefeated for close to two years. He sold a ton of merchandise; kids bought those foam tomahawks by the boatload.
But that entire time, Tatanka never won a WWE title. It's been rumored that he was supposed to win the Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, but Tatanka won by countout, which meant that the title didn't change hands.
Tatanka would later turn heel and join the Million Dollar Corporation, which prevented him from doing his war dance, his air chop, and all the other signature moves that fans loved. He left WWE in 1996, and unlike many of his contemporaries, he declined an offer to join WCW, citing family issues.
Prior to his stint in WWE, Luger was a decorated multi-time champion in WCW. He debuted in WWE in 1993 as the Narcissist, who posed in front of a full-length mirror before taking on his opponents. But he soon transitioned into being an All-American good guy, complete with red, white, and blue gear. The way Luger was booked and featured, most onlookers assumed he was WWE's new main eventer. Fans considered it a foregone conclusion that he would defeat Yokozuna at SummerSlam (1993) to win the WWE title.
And although Luger did beat Yokozuna at the big event, it was by countout, so the title never switched hands. The "win" killed Luger's momentum. He later tagged with the British Bulldog as The Allied Powers, and though he was a fan favorite, his world title contention days were behind him. Luger returned to WCW in 1995. For the two years he spent "up north," he never won a single WWE title.
Doink The Clown (Matt Borne)
Most casual WWE fans know about the "good guy" version of Doink the Clown. For the majority of his existence, the Doink character has been a silly diversion--a good-natured entertainer who, along with partner-in-crime Dink, played good-natured pranks on his opponents.
That's not the Doink we're talking about.
The original Doink was portrayed by wrestler Matt Borne, who played the character as an evil, angry clown. His entrance music was filled with creepy, off-kilter laughter. Borne's Doink was more Joker than Bozo; the WWE cameramen always panned to the little kids in the audience, who were invariably terrified.
Evil Doink didn't last very long. WWE turned Doink face after less than a year, and shortly afterward, the company fired Matt Borne for drug abuse. Ray Apollo then took over the role, and Doink became the kid-friendly mischief-maker he's now known as. Multiple people have portrayed Doink over the decades, but never with the sinister undertones that Borne brought to the role.