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Guys you thought would be the next big thing


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Who are those newcomers that, on arrival, your younger self instantly identified as the next big thing - only for their run to the top to, for whatever reason, not pan out?


Strange as it may seem now, I remember thinking Man Mountain Rock was destined for stardom.


Surveying the evidence.... I was a fan of him as Maxx Payne in WCW, he was a big guy with a different, interesting look - pre-dating Raven and the other kind of dark grunge-style gimmicks that would follow into the mainstream.




He'd mix it up occasionally with the top stars of the day, as seen below -




They even let him go on the 1990s' second most popular talkshow (behind Wogan), 'A Flair For The Gold'!


Moreover, the man could go, and had a degree of in-ring success under his belt as a tag team guy with this man -





, the gimmick lent itself to some natural feuds too (more on that later).


Add to that the ultra-cool hometown of 'The State of Euphoria', and you've got a cool dude, albeit one trapped in the less cool world of WCW (their colours simply didn't match up to Vinces. The ring, etc. I mean, not their... never mind).



hastened his departure I don't know.


Anyway, when Payne shows up in the WWF in, what, I suppose early 1995, with a badass new name PLAYING A WWF LOGO GUITAR in what was a pretty cool entrance gimmick, you can understand why my childhood self expected big things. At least I hope you can, as otherwise this post is fucked.




Did I mention he had a cool entrance gimmick?


Throw in some vignettes like this one, and one of the edgier babyface personas for the time (despite the terrible outfit which thankfully was alternated with much better gear), and you have logical feuds on the table that would seeminly properl MMR up the ranks.


Firstly, you have another big guy that's turning heel, and the 'rock vs rap' dynamic as potential backdrop.... I like this picture! -




Then of course, and in something that was pushed on TV I'm pretty certain, or at least in the magazines at the times, you've got the 'rock vs country' feud against this man (with the possible title switch at the end of it) -




So it's the summer of 1995, new stars are coming in left and right, but few are making an impact. Man Mountain Rock stands out, and seems set to buck the trend.


And then for whatever reason it just didn't happen.


Did they put him in with the wrong guy, feud-wise, in Bob Backlund - a logical foe, yet one winding down?


Murky Internet sources suggest that a combination of substance issues and a desire to jump in the commentary booth attributed to MMR's release.


Then of course, there's this

- still yet to see the light of day in any kind of substantial form.


But yeah... Man Mountain Rock - destined for stardom in the eyes of a misguided 11 year old.


Incidentally, my other choice would have been Scott Norton in 1993 WCW, coming in to get the Stinger. But then we already knew he was good at




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In 1993, I was fairly sure that Tatanka and/or Crush would be taking the title off Yokozuna and/or regularly beating him in rematches, due to the ease in which they pasted the Berzerkers, Papas Shango and Repo Men of the world. Seriously, I thought with a military press, legdrop, tilt a whirl slam and legdrop Crush could splatter anyone to the point of defeat, and he could pick Zuna up. Well, apart from he was being cheated by Doink. And Tatanka was never going to lose, was he? He had beaten actually everybody. Apart from Shawn Michaels who squeaked out of 'Mania with the Intercontinental title, the bastard. Still, didn't matter. He was going to take the BIG belt from Yoko. If Crush didn't get there first.


In 1995 I mistakenly believed Adam Bomb was the next big thing. He definitely had the combination of strength, popularity and a bit of speed/agility. C'mon, he was a near-Undertaker sized bloke that could do a slingshot clothesline! How could he not be a massive success? Well, if you include "gone by summer" as a success.


Of course in about 1999 we were all exposed to the real answer to this thread, D'Lo. His numerous European title runs had all featured some good matches, and he seemed to get slimmer/better all the time. He was can't miss. I mistakenly assumed winning the Intercontinental title from Jarrett was the mark of his ascension to King of the Midcard which he would occupy for a bit waiting patiently for his crack at the main events. But somehow SummerSlam came and went, and he was back chasing the tertiary title and feuding with big Mizark, who was a pile of shit.


More recently I thought first of all Monty Brown and later Lance Hoyt were destined to be big babyface World Champions in TNA, purely because they seemed to have gotten massively over with the Impact Zone mutants. I probably should have given up being a wrestling fan after that pair of misjudgments.


EDIT - I realize that these guys all had me convinced maybe a year or so after breaking through so not strictly "newcomers" but they still represent the spirit of what you're looking for. Actual newcomers? Based purely on squashes, I thought Tekno Team 2000 were going to give the Gunns a run for their money. Oops.

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It must be him:



Scott Hall said this about Johnny Storm in a Torch Talk a few years ago:

I just talked to Kid and he told me there's this one kid, Johnny Storm. Kid told me this the other day. He used to be the hugest Razor fan - a huge Razor mark. He would come to town, so I could send him on errands. Go get me a sandwich and silly stuff like that. I know his parents and everything. Kid told me he's the hottest thing in Europe now. That makes me feel kinda good. Because you know what, we smartened him up. We did not kayfabe this kid at all. We told him this is the way it goes, this is where you are. F--- that, don't do that, act like this, do this, do that. We gave him the edited version of being a star.
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Really thought Ken Doane/Kenny Dykstra was going to become a major player, he was really young as the leader of the Spirit Squad (21?) and was really charismatic, athletic and talented. His release had something to do with crazy ass Mickie James and Cena IIRC.


Along the same veins of being really young and talented, Rene Dupree. La Resistance were given a prominent spot when the tag division last meant something, mixing it up with RVD/Kane, Steiner/Test and the Dudleys. In 2004, Dupree had the prominent feud with Cena for the US title, then he just kinda faded into obscurity.


Both guys would be around 30 now, WWE could do worse than re-hiring them.


EDIT: Dykstra is 26. Geez, really hasn't been as long as I thought it was!

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I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.




I'd have to admit that I watched very little, if any, WCW prior to its demise. So when this guy and his tag partner Chuck Palumbo popped up on SmackDown and battered the absolute fuck out of Matt Hardy, I thought he was mega. He had cool moves, clearly looked the part and generally just seemed to have a star quality. Even the fact that after that short assault, the entire WWF locker room of jobbers/midcarders knocked seven bells out of them and chucked 'em through a table couldn't diminish my feeling that Sean O'Haire was quality. He and Palumbo even beat the Hardyz on my birthday that year. From there, the push seemed to die down and I was sad that it seemed this guy with obvious charisma and ability wasn't on my screen, until I put an episode of HeAT on the next year and was surprised to see my boy O'Haire back pummelling fools with his awesome Widow Maker finisher. I figured he was back and would be on RAW within no time, but no dice. Then around 2003 or so, this started happening:




Finally, I thought. Finally he had a sustainable gimmick and was headed for the top of the card. I guess it was true, for a while - according to sources (read: Wikipedia) he beat Benoit, Rikishi, Eddie Guerrero and even had a countout victory over Hogan as Mr. America. Of course, after giving him this awesome gimmick, wicked ring gear (including a leather coat) and a lot of broadcast time, WWE felt he needed an extra edge, so they put him with 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. Smart in theory, but looking back, it was never going to work - Piper would've upstaged pretty much anyone on that 2003 SmackDown roster in terms of promo so he was always going to upstage any proteg

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He's now a hair stylist. Here he is on the cover of this months South Magazine:



What I liked about O'Haire is that he was a mix of well groomed and very unhinged. A really unique appearance, that. He was his own worst enemy to be fair to him. He seemed a God send to both WCW in 2000 and WWF in the early 2000s. He was big, athletic and looked great. But being a real life nutter who kept getting arrested finished him off. And he hates wrestling, so he wasn't to fussed. Shame.


Also a shame about Nathan Jones. Those intro videos made him out to be Goldberg's harder brother. But he came across as a clueless cretin when he appeared onscreen.

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Some stuff I found for SOH on YouTube:


I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Tax promo that the collection above misses.

O'Haire and Palumbo debut, beat up Hardy then get battered in the stupid InVasion angle


EDIT: That picture is just more proof that he should've stayed in wrestling. That way he wouldn't have gotten fat and out of shape. He's clearly capable of being in shape if he wants to, judging by Ian's magazine cover.

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Never got the O'Haire thing myself. Those vids were neat, sure, but he was actually pretty rubbish. Didn't like his look with his camp hair and beard either.


Speaking of camp hair and beards, when i was younger and stupider i thought Test would be someone who would skyrocket to the top in WWE. Especially when the whole Survivor Series '99 situation seemed to logically present such a situation to thrust him straight up there.

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Maxx Payne is a good shout.


An absolutely tremendous training background to him with his amateur stuff and in Japan. He'd have probably done a lot better by dropping the whole "guitarist" gimmick and going full on "Raven" though. He should have just been f*cking people up with those Fujiwara armbars, not strumming like Hank Marvin on Acid.


When he hit the WWF, they didn't have a scooby what to do with him. Filming that undercover footage wasn't wise too.

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