People having their character destroyed is simply a part of life. Just witness the 2004 US Presidential Election where candidate John Kerry was accused time and again of wearing flip flops. It was so cutting that the American public overwhelmingly voted for Gene Simmons.
5) Jim Duggan
Of all the people Vince Russo ruined, Jim Duggan appears to be one of the strangest. A harmless cancer survivor in his late 40’s, Duggan was essentially relegated to losing to young talent and making token appearances on some of WCW’s syndicated programming. It appeared that Duggan was just making the most of the time he had left, and pleasing young crowds with his patriot act.
During a meeting on WCW TV with the “Powers That Be”, Duggan was told if he wished to keep his job, he’d have to travel with the company as their janitor. Duggan embraced this opportunity, likely because he was still being paid at his old contract wages with none of the physical contact, and proudly donned a pair of brown coveralls that made him look like a giant turd.
“Hilarious” moments of this new transformation saw Jim Duggan playing chopsticks on the piano while screaming at the top of his lungs, washing the toilets with Vince Russo’s toothbrush, eating brownies laced with laxatives, and walking around with a fusebox just in case the power happened to go out while David Flair stalked Kimberly.
4) Hugh Morrus
From 1996 until 2000, wrestler Bill DeMott portrayed a character on TV named “The Laughing Man” Hugh Morrus. His character was your typical schizophrenic who generally played “The Big Man” in whatever stable of wrestlers he was booked with at any given time. Mildly successful, he was given regular time on Nitro and Thunder, where he hovered around in the TV title race.
The crazy old man was his “pop”, whose entire gimmick was to walk around like an escaped mental patient. After one appearance, both Morrus and “pop” were never seen or talked about again for a long time.
Fast forward to Russo’s dramatic return, Morrus was part of a group of wrestlers who were fired on television for ... well, nobody’s sure, the 14 fans in attendance were pretty blitzed, but they recall that someone was fired and there was definitely a reason. Never one to take instruction well, Morrus hung around. He would lead the other fired wrestlers with an army theme known as The Misfits In Action, or MIA. Chavo Guerrero Jr. became Lieutenant Loco, Van Hammer became Sergeant Stash (originally Private Stash, but he didn’t want to be a Private ... we are not making this up.), Lash LeRoux became Corporal Cajun, and The Wall became a heroin addict.
3) The Cruiserweight Title
Look folks, at Shooting Star Press we’re definitely a lot of things. But we’re still within our minds enough to know that the Cruiserweight Title is not in fact a person during most hours of the day. Today’s topic though is character destruction, and the Cruiserweight Title definitely qualifies.
Ultimo Dragon. Dean Malenko. Eddie Guerrero. Rey Mysterio Jr. Absolutely none of these men were involved in the Cruiserweight division at all when Vince Russo swaggered into Atlanta. Once considered the crown jewel of their company, the title was quickly reduced to a bigger joke than the WWF Hardcore Title which was being contested for inside of giant slides in amusement parks at the time.
Making all of 1 title defence against Brad “Buzzkill” Armstrong, Madusa went on to engage in a feud with Russo’s assistant, Ed “Oklahoma” Ferrara. Oklahoma was a parody of Jim Ross, complete with Bell’s Palsy, bad commentary, and 300 pounds. It should be noted at this point that the weight limit for the Cruiserweight division was 225 pounds, so he was ineligible to compete for the title. He’d win it, of course, with the help of a bottle of barbecue sauce.
Pinata on a Pole matches: 1
2) Mike Awesome
In April of 2000, WCW was hitting the reset button on their programming like an angry 8 year old who hasn’t taken his Ritalin before a Super Mario Brothers marathon. On a near daily basis, management was being restructured all in the name of the ratings game.
During one of these shuffles, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff had been brought back to be in charge of creative, and one of their first moves was to acquire ECW champion Mike Awesome. Awesome had been rescued from a bit of obscurity having spent most of his career on the indy circuit and Japan, and was on the run of a lifetime. A hot program with Masato Tanaka and an upcoming feud with Rob Van Dam and Sabu had lifted him among the top players in the industry. The shift to WCW would no doubt be a huge deal, and an easy money maker for both sides.
By June, Russo had grown bored with the former ECW champion and decided to freshen up his character, turning him from killer to thriller. A Fat Chick Thriller that is. Yes, Awesome revealed on television to the 18 fans left in attendance and the entire staff of Shooting Star Press that he was a man who appreciated women with a little flesh on their bones, a thrill seeker who was always up for tons of fun. Fat chicks were spotted on television getting swooned by the charismatic mullet.
After transforming hardcore psychopath Crowbar into his buddy, and doing a direct rip of “Those Wild And Crazy Guys” from Saturday Night Live, WCW eventually threw up their arms and turned Mike Awesome into a Canadian shortly before the company would close its doors for good.
1) Hulk Hogan
One of the most underrated points that lead to the change from a children’s program to a more mature product in the late 90’s was the rise of the Internet. Wrestling companies have loudly complained about the Internet as much as the Internet has complained about them, but ultimately, they intertwined to work hand in hand to create the Attitude era of wrestling.
Upon entering WCW, his motivations were made clear from the beginning. Ric Flair was buried in a desert, Sting was phased out as the face of WCW, and Hulk Hogan was painted as a selfish politician. In his very first appearance working for Vince Russo, Hogan was scheduled to wrestle for the World Heavyweight Title. To make the appearance that he was working against the script, Hogan arrived in street clothes and laid down to champion Sting, before walking off. He wouldn’t be seen again until Vince Russo was terminated in January.
Hogan was put back in the title picture and was being groomed as the man to take Sid’s gold, only to see the Bischoff and Russo duo take back over in April of 2000. Hogan was tight with Bischoff, but still wary of Russo. Still, with Bischoff he trusted his career in the hands of Russo, and began dressing like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Heading up the war against the New Blood and armed with the letters FUNB, an obvious acronym for Fuck U Nick Bockwinkle, Hogan tried to develop an edge.
Reverting to his Hollywood Hogan persona for whatever reason was convenient for Russo at the time, Hogan entered the arena at Bash at the Beach to see an identical scenario to the previous year occur; Jeff Jarrett lay down as soon as the match began, allowing Hogan to get the pinfall and “win” the belt. Stories had been appearing on the Internet throughout the week that Hogan had been difficult to deal with heading into the match, and it was all confirmed when Vince Russo took the microphone 20 minutes later.
While the previous segment had been booked with Hulk’s approval, the idea was he’d return months later as the Real World’s Champion against whomever would presumably end up with the belt after a big tournament and feud. Russo however was far more interested in going into business for himself, and cut a scathing promo against Hogan. Hogan was called everything from selfish, to a politician, to being impossible to deal with, that he’d booked the match against Jarrett with his “creative control” card in his contract even when it was bad for business. He finished it all off by calling him a big bald son of a bitch, which wound up triggering a lawsuit by Hogan, who presumably was so surrounded by yes men he was unaware he was bald. However he was spared the ultimate indignation; he was never turned into a Canadian.