Through the decades, WWE has brought us some great, some mediocre, and some really awful wrestlers. The Attitude Era, one of the most popular time periods in professional wrestling, brought us so much superior talent. Likewise, we have seen wrestlers come through the doors that may not be superstars, but they weren’t necessarily awful at their craft either. There seems to be a very complex formula for what it takes to make it big in professional wrestling in the long run: the look, charisma, a good gimmick, great wrestling skills and more. Sometimes talent comes through with a few of those qualities, but their careers end up as a flop, or they just drop off or fizzle out after a while.
Sure, luck probably plays a part in the success as well; sometimes you just come in with the right act at the right time. So many wrestlers put on a great show and entertain crowds, but sometimes the most entertaining acts are not able to carry themselves through more than a few years at the top. It comes down to the decision of whether or not they can use this gimmick for years to come, without it getting stale or downright silly. Whatever it is, we know that plenty of Attitude Era wrestlers will make it into the Hall of Fame, but here is a list of those that we can pretty safely say will not have their names remembered forever as superior wrestlers during their time in the WWE.
11. Crash Holly
The late Crash Holly, who invented the 24/7 rule, was a popular wrestler during the Attitude Era bringing a certain uniqueness to the hardcore scene. As a smaller wrestler, Holly used what would typically be seen as a disadvantage to benefit him during matches and story lines. He had always had a unique ability to escape from the clutches of his opponents, yet always had to keep one eye open with his head on a swivel to avoid a sneak attack. While Holly’s gimmick was highly entertaining for crowds at the time, his career seemed to stop short, and the entertainment was short-lived. Eventually, he fizzled out, and many fans believe that if it weren’t for the hardcore title rule that he created, many people would not remember him at all.
10. Val Venis
Former intercontinental champion Val Venis made a name for himself as being a ladies man, and entering the wrestling ring clad with a bath towel. Venis certainly brought plenty of humor to the stage and got over with the crowd, yet never really brought anything too flashy or impressive in the ring. In other words, no one really tuned in specifically to see what Val Venis was up to that week. At one point, he finally dropped the “Adult Star” gig, joining forces with a heel group led by Stevie Richards called the Right to Censor (RTC). The group would attempt to interrupt matches featuring any violence or sexuality, obviously to the dismay of fans who quickly turned against them. The act was short lived, and as entertaining as his gimmicks were, Val Venis never made enough of a splash to compete with some of the other headlining superstars he was up against. Once Val Venis, uh, threw in the towel, if you will, he became a past thought in the WWE and does not stick out very much aside from his “Adult Star” routine.
9. Ken Shamrock
Former UFC fighter Ken Shamrock brought his fighting techniques over into the WWE, which quickly attracted fans. His temper was a huge part of his routine, with crowds always watching and waiting for him to “snap.” At one point in time, Shamrock was used almost as a henchman of sorts for Vince and The Corporation. He had an interesting gimmick, “the look,” and was a talented fighter and wrestler. However, his wrestling career never quite panned out, probably as a result of his lack of personality or charisma, particularly when there was a microphone in his hand. Unfortunately, the wrestling talent and looks alone were not enough to carry him through to a long, successful career.
8. Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn made this list as an independent wrestler, because there is a reasonable potential that his group DX, or even the tag team New Age Outlaws will make it into the Hall of Fame. However, as an individual, this former intercontinental champion was just not up to par. He did have feuds with the likes of The Rock, yet he struggled to find his niche in the WWE universe. Having gone through two or three different gimmicks (Mr. Ass, anyone?) trying to find his way, he also had two other tag teams, The Smoking Gunns, and Chuck and Billy, neither of which really caught on for long. It seemed that Billy Gunn always needed a group, tag team, or opponent to carry him through his career, and just could not figure out how to make it on his own. This, underwhelming mic skills, and later substance abuse issues, ended up being the demise of Billy Gunn’s wrestling career.
Tazz originally made a name for himself in ECW, where he was reasonably popular. Later, he made quite an impact at his WWE debut at the Royal Rumble in 2000, going up against and even defeating Kurt Angle. At that point, Angle had not been defeated yet, so when Tazz choked him out, the crowd got on board and got behind the new talent. His move set was entertaining, and the fact that he came from ECW helped him to gain popularity, but there was just something missing. Towards the end of Tazz’s wrestling career, his character had become almost a joke. At this point, they were giving him feuds with commentators, because the WWE were running out of things to do with him. He ended his career as a WWE commentator himself, and was entertaining at what he did. Unfortunately, the name he made for himself in ECW didn’t carry over into WWE and he never got over the hump to push his career to where it needed to be.
6. Al Snow
Al Snow was yet another wrestler to come over from ECW, and joined WWE as a part of the Job Squad. His most entertaining and noteworthy performances were the hardcore antics and matches, particularly his interactions with Mick Foley. Many remember Snow for his gimmick carrying a mannequin head during his introduction that went, “What does everybody want?” to the crowd’s response, “head!” The more risque entrance certainly got over with the crowd, and at times he was paired with Mick Foley and Steve Blackman. Snow was entertaining in his own right, but unfortunately, people aren’t talking much about him these days. Though it was entertaining at the time, his gimmicks and “just okay” wrestling ability won’t go down in WWE history. Foley predicted this outcome with his blank VHS tape labelled “The Best of Al Snow.” Sorry, Snow, the act just didn’t cut it.
5. Too Cool
“Scotty Too Hottie” and “Grand Master Sexay” made their debut clad in baggy pants, do-rags, and sunglasses. Their rather silly gimmick instantly won fans over, including Scottie Too Hottie’s signature “Worm” move. Originally a duo, Too Cool later introduced Rikishi, who added a whole new element to the group. Fans went wild when they would put a yellow pair of sunglasses onto Rikishi, instantly transforming him into “Too Cool,” leading into one of their silly dance routines. Crowds loved them, and they were nothing short of entertaining. However, as is the case with many popular acts, over time their gimmick did not make up for their lack of real wrestling ability. You can only make it so far in WWE with a few goofy dance moves and no real talent. Unfortunately, the routine just got stale after a while, and the WWE just simply ran out of things to do with them. The tag team eventually split, Rikishi turned heel, Scottie Too Hottie went on into singles competition, and Grand Master Sexay (also known as Jerry Lawler’s son) went on to struggle with substance abuse. This once popular group sadly did not have what it took to last in the long run.
4. Kai En Tai
Kai En Tai was a popular tag team comprised of Sho Funaki and Taka Michinoku. Michinoku began his career as a singles competitor, earning a light heavyweight championship belt. After being put into a feud with a group called Kai En Tai, he wound up actually becoming part of the group. Over time, most of the group disbanded, leaving Funaki and Michinoku as the only standing members, turning the former group into a tag team. The pair rose in popularity using what most would call a “typical Asian” gimmick, at times using “English” voice dubs when they went on the mic. The crowd ate it up, and were always entertained by the antics. Once the gimmick began to fizzle, Michinoku ended up leaving the WWE altogether, and Funaki went on to become a singles competitor under the name Kung Funaki. However, this too was short lived, and although the duo were reasonably talented in the ring, over time they will be forgotten due to the lack of an impact they made during their careers.
Also a former DX member, X-Pac began his career as the “123 Kid” in the WWE, left for some time to join the WCW, before finally returning to the WWE once again, this time as X-Pac. Upon rejoining WWE, X-Pac immediately joined DX for a few years, before joining a tag team alongside Kane, becoming tag team champions. Through it all, there was always something about him that never won over the fans. Despite the fact that he was a pretty good wrestler, and always brought plenty of energy into the ring, and performed well with DX, he just could not get over with fans. The term “X-Pac heat” was born to describe the negative heat he was always receiving, even despite the fact that he was a face! As a singles competitor, he was viewed mainly as just a punk, and not much ever came of his wrestling career.
2. Hurricane Helms
Hurricane Helms began his career in WCW. However, once Vince bought them out, he transitioned over to WWE as the WWE’s very own local superhero, “The Hurricane,” which didn’t take long at all to get over with the fans. The Hurricane was entertaining, had a few catch phrases, and his general over-the-top gimmick was well received by the crowds. During his feud with The Rock in 2003, Helms brought lots of humor into the ring, running around pretending he could fly and that he really did have superpowers. What made this gimmick even more entertaining was The Rock’s superb effort to really sell the antics Helms would put on. However, after a few years the act went stale, and superstars like Triple H and Stone Cold began making his act out to be more of a pathetic joke than anything else. After running out of fuel as a superhero, Helms decided to drop that act, but this made it difficult for WWE to find a place for him. Helms was a decent wrestler, but without having the necessary qualities, he unfortunately never made much of a splash in his career, and we don’t expect to see much about him in the history books.
The late Test made his debut in 1998 as a bodyguard, fighting his first match alongside The Rock as part of a tag team. He turned heel, joining The Corporation, and got over with fans almost immediately. Test wasn’t bad in the ring, and his angle with Stephanie McMahon entertained fans. This new talent came into the ring and stole away the heart of the boss’s daughter, eventually feuding with Shane McMahon over his displeasure with Test having a “thing” with daddy’s little girl. Test had the look, women found him attractive, he wasn’t the best or the worst on the mic, but he never made it far enough to become Hall of Fame worthy. He flip-flopped between heel and face, though he fared better as a face, but at the end of his career, it seemed that he always had to rely on someone else to assist him in getting any sort of crowd reaction. When left to his own devices, Test ultimately never had what it took to be a very memorable wrestler.
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