Building a solid new era isn’t always easy, and WCW can attest to that very statement. Re-launching a company takes a crop of new talent, along with some established veterans to pave the way into a new era of pro wrestling.
The WWE is currently in the midst of doing so and doing a really good job at establishing some new faces along with veterans to put them over. Look at Amore and Cass for example, who are young and exciting acts; in order to put them over the company has made them feud with the likes of long time veteran Chris Jericho, and another veteran who’s been doing this for years in Kevin Owens.
Not all promotions have used this proper formula though; however, today we will document a company that failed miserably in doing so, WCW. They attempted to re-launch the program by starting from scratch. The move was bold and could have worked, though it became quickly apparent that it would not. The company once again resorted to the old guard while putting an emphasis on factions yet again. The story tanked miserably and these are the 15 wrestlers that were crucial components in the company’s failed relaunch.
With a rebuild came an attempt by Vince Russo to resurrect past stars, such as Sunny. She was slotted as the manager of her partner at the time, the late Chris Candido. They signed during the New Blood Era and would debut in March at Spring Stampede. She would help her man capture the Cruiserweight Championship away from the former holder, Prince Iaukea. The company would later attempt to put her in the ring with Candido, and the two would feud against the likes of Daffney and Crowbar. Ultimately, the decision was disastrous and an absolute fail. It was obvious that Sunny’s popularity ship had sailed away a long time ago.
Candido would drop the title to Crowbar, ending the duo’s short lived run with the company. Although some believe WCW cut ties with her because of a lack of talent, rumors are that she was instead released because of an apparent drug problem. She would proceed to join the independent circuit alongside the late Candido.
14. David Flair
At one point in time David Flair was exactly what the company was going for; someone fresh, new and with an established background. One problem, he had no talent whatsoever and was made to look like an absolute fool during his matches.
Unlike his father, David just simply didn’t have the quality to make it in the wrestling business. He had charisma at times but lacked the in-ring talent that was needed at the time. The WCW, as they typically did, would look passed this and make him succeed because of his family name. Somehow, someway, Flair would earn himself two Championship reigns with two prestigious titles. One, a run with the Tag Team Titles alongside Crowbar and the other, a run with the second biggest Championship in the company, The United States Title.
His time with the New Blood will be mostly remembered for introducing Miss Hancock (aka Stacy Keibler) after he would dump Daffney. This would be the beginning of a huge career for Stacy, but the same could not be said for Flair who eventually faded away from the pro wrestling business.
13. Rey Mysterio
The New Blood Era was comprised of three different teams, which were The Natural Born Thrillers, The New Blood and The Filthy Animals, comprised of Konnan, Kidman, Juventud, Disco Inferno, Eddie Guerrero, Torrie Wilson and Rey Mysterio; basically the established Cruiserweights from the company. WCW had hopes for the group. They wanted them to be WCW’s version of DX, although the team just didn’t have the charisma to pull off such a gimmick. Thinking otherwise is absolute shocking; yes, the guys had talent but it takes a lot more than that to become an established stable.
Mysterio in particular struggled, and taking off his mask was a terrible idea. The WWE would pounce on his uniqueness, while WCW shockingly took it off of Mysterio. WCW failed to make him a star and he was instead reduced to being a Tag Team wrestler alongside Kidman during this rebuild era. Had things gone differently, Rey could have been a huge star.
12. Mike Awesome
Man, did WCW drop the ball with this guy. At the time of his signing, Mike seemed like a perfect fit with WCW entering a new era. He was an established star that made a terrific name for himself with ECW. What would happen next, nobody saw coming.
His debut was great. He helped the New Blood and attacked Kevin Nash while he was still ECW World Champion, and things looked quite promising. He began to feud with the top stars like Nash, DDP and Hogan, though that all suddenly changed following Hulk’s incident in 2000 at Bash at the Beach.
Mike was Hulk’s cousin and Russo decided to take his frustrations out on him with Hogan gone from the company. Vince would change his gimmick into the “Fat Chick Thrilla” and later “That ‘70s Guy”. He looked like an absolute fool and would never recover. This was just another example of how foolish Vince Russo was without anybody like Vince McMahon watching his back.
11. Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas returned to WCW for a second stint in 1999. To his credit he enjoyed far greater success with the promotion than he did during his failed WWE days when he was instantly regulated to a lower-card talent.
He joined the New Blood group which was lead by Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff at the time. He was put front and center to feud with the Millionaire’s Club which included Ric Flair and other long time established WCW talent. He would enjoy some serious success during the New Blood Era, winning the Tag Team Championships alongside Buff Bagwell, a run with the Hardcore Title and later another improbable run with The United States Championship while having Torrie Wilson as his valet.
Following the purchase of WCW by the WWE, Douglas would not be bought by the company, he would instead take his talents onto the independent circuit, later joining TNA Wrestling. Still today, he is heavily involved in the independent wrestling scene.
Some fans actually liked Vampiro, while others thought of him as a cheap knockoff of Sting. Nonetheless, WCW had huge plans for the wrestler labelling him as one of the biggest and brightest faces of the new WCW era, although in an odd twist, he’d only win one Championship alongside the Great Muta, capturing the Tag Titles.
His gimmick was pretty cool but the company didn’t have a clue how to book him. He lost way too many matches against so many irrelevant talents which hurt his momentum and draw value a great deal. WCW really missed the mark on this guy who could have been a huge star had he been booked properly in the win/loss department.
9. Major Gunns
Since its origins, WCW never saw its female talent as in-ring performers, instead, they predominantly used them as eye candy. Major Gunns was no exception; she served as a valet during her stint with the company. The female talent worked as both heel and face. During her heel work, she worked alongside Lance Storm dressing up in Canadian colors. Though, she was remembered for her time spent as a member of the Misfits In Action stable, alongside former NXT trainer Bill DeMott who was working under the alias of General Rection.
She had some decent feuds during the New Blood angle, finding herself face-to-face with Tygress from the Filthy Animals and Miss Hancock (aka Stacy Keibler).
After the purchase of WCW was made, the WWE decided against bringing her in. She would join the XPW independent brand for a little while serving as the Sandman’s valet. She would later leave the wrestling industry pursuing a career in adult entertainment.
8. Disco Inferno
Ultimately with Inferno no matter how you repackaged him he was indeed still Disco Inferno. To his credit, the veteran stuck around for a long time working with the company since 1995.
WCW kept him on board during the New Blood relaunch hoping to reinvent the Superstar. He renamed himself Hip Hop Inferno and later Disqo, but the name changes did absolutely nothing for him, as you might have already imagined. He became a floater during the era aligning himself with various groups, like The Mamalukes and later the Filthy Animals. Inferno failed to make an impact losing chances at the Cruiserweight and Tag Team Championships. To make matters worse, just when he was finally selected to win the Tag Titles a legit injury kept him out. Instead the company turned to DeMott to take his place and would win the Tag Championships alongside Alex Wright.
7. Buff Bagwell
Similar to Disco Inferno, Bagwell was a long-time WCW employee joining the promotion back 1991; he spent an entire decade with the company. Like the previously mentioned Inferno, no matter how you changed him, he was still Buff Bagwell in the eyes of millions watching at home. For whatever reason, the company was high on Bagwell because of his look, although the fans weren’t buying it. WCW showed their commitment to the veteran by making him one of the first New Blood faces to join forces alongside Bischoff’s alliance. The wrestler was given a major push and would go on to capture the Tag Team Championships alongside Shane Douglas, defeating the star-studded duo of Ric Flair and Lex Luger.
A suspension for racial slurs halted his progress and he was forced to drop the Tag Titles, though he was still pushed pretty hard defeating the likes of Goldberg towards the end of the promotion’s run. The WWE decided to bring him in only to release him after a lackluster showing.
6. Rick Steiner
A constant theme from this article when it comes to the veteran during the New Blood angle is no matter how you fed them to us, they were still that same person with minimal improvements, and most of the time none at all (asides from a slight gimmick change).
The brother of Scott Steiner, Rick, was exactly that. His brother enjoyed great success and he did as well, despite his lack of draw value at that point. Rick was actually given the ball on several occasions; he knocked off up and comer Booker T for TV Title and would actually hang onto the Championship for four months.
To make things even crazier, he’d capture the second most prestigious title in the company in 2001, The United States Championship, after he defeated another veteran in Shane Douglas. People like Steiner should have been used to put young talents over, though for some reason it ended up being the opposite with Steiner, somehow enjoying multiple Championship runs when he was way past his prime. The WWE decided against bringing in the veteran following their purchase of WCW.
5. Bam Bam Bigelow
What so many fans tend to forget was the fact that Bigelow had so much upside; he was a huge presence that was able to move fantastically well in the ring, despite his overpowering size. The WCW initially took advantage of this labelling the wrestler as an unwelcomed guest from outside the company. He was immediately thrown into a Championship feud with Goldberg, only to see him lose and never recover from it.
Following the loss, Bigelow became an afterthought being thrown into a lackluster Hardcore Division. He did nothing noteworthy from then on, losing feuds to the likes of Mike Awesome and Shawn Stasiak. The only high he somewhat endured was joining forces with WCW talents DDP and Chris Kanyon, forming a group called Jersey Triad, although that was short lived.
4. Tank Abbott
The New Blood was all about creating something new and at one point in time, Tank Abbott was exactly that. Although we’ve criticized Vince Russo a heck of a lot during this article, his intent with Tank was right on the money. The company attempted to bring in a combat fighter and have him dominate the roster, similar to the likes of Brock Lesnar.
Like so many previous examples, WCW jumped the gun way too fast putting him in a Championship feud against Goldberg right off the bat. The feud ultimately just stalled and nothing really happened.
In 2000 at the WCW Souled Out PPV, Vince Russo was forced to rewrite his script because of injuries to Bret Hart and Jeff Jarrett. In a bold decision, Russo wanted Abbott to win the title; instead, Vince was fired for such an idea and Chris Benoit was given the Championship. Once Russo left, Tank fell off the map badly being used as a comedic wrestler with the dance group 3 Count.
3. Bret Hart
In terms of properly rebuilding a new era, a company needs a roster filled with young stars along with an established face to lead the way. On paper, Bret Hart seemed like the perfect fit, although with the way it played out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It was a mixture of bad writing along with Bret just not wanting to be with the company. The misuse of Hart was a huge reason as to why the company was unable to relaunch ultimately.
Things went from bad to worse when Bret suffered a career ending injury when he took a stiff kick to the head by Bill Goldberg. The timing of it all could not have been worse, as Hart was putting on some bad matches at that time for the first time in his career, and this put the cherry on top.
In terms of special moments, Bret himself admitted that there were only three; they were his tribute match to Owen against Benoit, the steel plate segment with Goldberg and capturing the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Oh, how things could have gone differently if Hart was booked properly.
When your entire demeanor and gimmick is built around a win streak, things are bound to get difficult once that gig is up. Kevin Nash said it himself in several shoot interviews, once Goldberg’s streak ended he became pretty much useless.
During the New Blood Era, the company attempted to reinvent Goldberg and this tanked miserably. They tried to turn him heel which was an absolute mess of a story. They then flipped the script and had Russo feud with Goldberg, similar to the Austin/McMahon rivalry over on the WWE’s product.
Later on, once again, Russo and his creative heads went to a familiar storyline, claiming that if Goldberg didn’t recreate his streak he’d be out of a job. The company totally messed his gimmick up. In terms of booking the company needed to use a Brock Lesnar approach by making Goldberg appear less and when he did, it seemed like something so prestigious as he’d proceed to destroy anyone in sight. The company did not opt for this route and became a major turning point in the failure of the entire New Blood angle.
1. Jeff Jarrett
We’ve seen this time and time again in the world of pro wrestling, a promotion trying to shove a wrestler down our throats despite our obvious un-interest in the wrestler. McMahon was the master of this tactic, although to his credit this plot worked several times. Look at John Cena for example; fans initially hated him and the fact that he had become ‘the chosen one’. Though years later, most fans respect his contributions in and out of the ring and he has become one of the most respectable faces in all of the company. Vince hopes to achieve something similar with Roman Reigns, though he still has a lot of work to do.
Jeff Jarrett was the quote “unpopular chosen one” with WCW, though things were different back then and the company needed results asap. It was apparent Jeff wasn’t a draw but the company was unwilling to change this. He was the leader of the New Blood Era and would become the most dominant wrestler in the entire promotion. Jeff would win the US Championship three times along with four World Heavyweight Championship title reigns. Some believe WCW would still be fighting today had the company given the ball to someone else during this era.