When WCW and ECW closed in the early 2000s, they left WWE as the only major wrestling promotion in America. While more and more indie promotions would eventually appear, for quite some time, WWE became the place to go if you were trying to make a living as a professional wrestler. Because of this, WWE soon found themselves with a gigantic roster of wrestling talent. This is actually the primary reason behind their decision to split the company off into two brands. There were just too many wrestlers signed to the company, and there was no way for WWE to fit them all into Raw and SmackDown.
So, while it may seem too soon to forget about wrestlers from this era, don’t feel too bad if you sometimes find it hard to remember every single performer that appeared on WWE television during that era. Even wrestlers that felt like a big deal during at the time were easily forgotten when they just kind of disappeared from TV one week and someone new was taking their place. Just because their WWE careers are over, though, doesn’t mean that their lives didn’t go on. This is where the top 15 forgotten wrestlers of the 2000s are now.
15 Vladimir Kozlov
The whole “Evil Russian” thing might not have been very relevant by the time that Vladimir Kozlov debuted in 2006, but that didn’t stop WWE from running with the gimmick anyway. Vladimir Kozlov was actually kind of an interesting character in the beginning (his lack of entrance music was especially cool), but he soon devolved into a fairly generic heel. He left WWE in 2011 and briefly joined the Inoki Genome Federation in Japan. That only lasted about a year, though, and Kozlov (real name Oleg Aleksandrovich Prudius) retired from wrestling.
Eugene (Nicholas Dinsmore) was a product of a different era in wrestling. He debuted as the mentally handicapped nephew of Eric Bischoff who soon found himself feuding with the likes of Triple H. The two even had a nearly 15-minute match at SummerSlam 2004. As it turned out, WWE had no plans for Eugene outside of his initial run. As such, he soon began to participate in a series of comedy sketches and poorly planned angles that left nobody wondering why Dinsmore was released in 2007.
13 Jackie Gayda
If you’ve ever wondered how, exactly, the hopelessly untalented Jackie Gayda (Jacquelyn Gayda) got her start in the WWE…well, you’re not alone. Jackie didn’t have much professional wrestling experience before she won Tough Enough II, and she never seemed to really improve her incredibly limited skillset as she progressed through her WWE career. She left the company in 2005 and spent a few months on the indie circuit before being signed by TNA. Despite winning Knockout of the Year in 2005, she was released in 2006.
12 Orlando Jordan
11 Simon Dean
Mike Bucci must be considered a success in the wrestling business given what he started and what he had to work with. Even as a member of ECW, he was treated as a pure comedy act who usually took part in various parody segments. Surprisingly, WWE still came calling for him in 2002 following the fall of ECW, and Bucci signed a developmental deal. He is best remembered for his time as the fitness expert Simon Dean, but even then is probably only remembered by hardcore WWE fans. He did a pretty good job, considering the awful gimmick he got.
10 Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones is pretty much the living embodiment of the type of wrestler Vince McMahon is always accused of falling in love with. He’s big, he’s generic, and he looks really mean. Nathan Jones actually spent seven years in prison before getting into powerlifting and mixed martial arts. WWE signed him in 2002 and found out that he was unable to work in the U.S. due to issues related to his criminal history. Once that was cleared up, Jones was thrown into a feud with The Undertaker and given the nickname “The Colossus of Boggo Road.”
9 Muhammad Hassan
Muhammad Hassan (Marc Copani) will forever live in wrestling infamy due to the angle he participated in that saw him and a group of “terrorists” attack The Undertaker in the ring shortly after the London bombings. That angle pretty much sums up the career of Hassan who was brought in to be a controversial character but quickly found out that WWE didn’t have any storylines for him that didn’t push things way too far. He got to work some big angles with Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker, but essentially had to be removed from television following the terrorist attack angle.
Jon Heidenreich debuted as part of a bad angle that involved him being controlled by a mysterious force known as Little Johnny, and his career only got worse from there. The man was involved in some of the absolute worst storylines WWE ever came up with, including a Pulp Fiction-inspired bit that saw him drag Michael Cole to the back to sexually assault him. Remarkably, he still lasted almost three years in WWE before leaving in 2006.
7 Deuce and Domino
Deuce Shade (James Snuka) and Dice Domino (Cliff Compton) briefly made a splash on the WWE Tag Team scene as a throwback team of ‘50s greasers. The gimmick felt like a product of the ‘80s and never really got over with the fans despite the fact that the pair were regularly on television. Domino left WWE in 2008, while Deuce stayed around a little longer as Sim Snuka. Both went their separate ways following their WWE departure with Snuka going to the NWA Compton spending time in OVW and Ring of Honor.
6 Chuck Palumbo
Chuck Palumbo had the misfortune of debuting for WCW in 2000 at a time when the company was doing everything they could just to keep the lights on. He was paired with the equally forgettable Shawn Stasiak for some time and was signed to WWE as part of the Invasion storyline in 2001. He is probably best remembered for being paired with Billy Gunn and taking part in that Billy and Chuck angle that almost ended with their same-sex marriage. Palumbo left WWE in 2004 and returned, briefly, in 2006. He wasn’t given much more to do the second time around and found himself back on the indies in 2008.
5 Marcus Cor Von
Things probably should have worked out better for Marcus Cor Von (Monty Brown). As a former NFL linebacker, Brown was an incomparably gifted athlete that was actually capable of working a good match when called upon. He even spent a few years in the TNA and NWA circuit where he got the chance to learn the pro wrestling essentials. His WWE career came to a halt pretty much immediately, however, due largely to his involvement in the ECW New Breed angle which started off pretty hot but quickly fell apart.
He took a little time off from WWE in 2007 and never came back due to personal issues. After receiving his official release, he focused his efforts on expanding a t-shirt line he started years ago and also works as a personal trainer.
As part of the infamous Anoa’i family, Manu (Afa Anoa’i Jr.) was seemingly destined for big things in WWE. After all, nearly every other member of the family had gotten the chance to shine regardless of how talented they actually were. After spending a year in WWE’s developmental territories, Manu made his main roster debut in 2007 and quickly joined up with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase as part of their Legacy faction. The set-up was good, but the faction never really achieved the success that WWE hoped they might. Manu was released from WWE in 2009, and Randy Orton later claimed that it was due to his bad attitude and entitlement.
3 Joy Giovanni
About the best thing you can say about Joy Giovanni is that she didn’t make too many TV appearances. After participating in the 2004 Diva Search and finishing in third place, Giovanni was quickly signed by WWE and made her debut as a massage therapist. She spent most of her WWE career participating in similar non-wrestling roles. With the exception of her participation in bikini and lingerie contests, she never really did much work in the ring which, according to reports on her wrestling abilities, was all for the best. She was released from WWE in 2005 and, aside from a brief return at the WrestleMania XXV Diva Battle Royal, got out of wrestling entirely.
2 Gene Snitsky
While there is no reason to believe that anyone in WWE actually held a personal grudge against Gene Snitsky (Eugene Snisky), it’s easy to believe that given some of the things that he was asked to do during his time in WWE. Snitsky’s very first role in WWE saw him cause Lita to miscarry her baby following an in-ring accident. Apparently, WWE was so happy with how this storyline played out that they decided to bring Snitsky on full-time.
1 Chris Masters
WWE had big plans for Chris Masters (Christopher Mordetzky), and it’s not hard to see why. The guy was built like a cartoon character, had a good look, and was actually decent in the ring (at least when he was working with Shawn Michaels). Toss in a really cool entrance, and Masters seemed destined to be a mega-star. Although Masters actually played a pretty good smarmy heel whenever WWE needed one, he was never able to reach that next level and become a main event player.
When he left WWE for good in 2011, he immediately became a high-demand indie wrestler. He briefly worked for TNA in 2015, but you can mostly find him at Preston City Wrestling shows where he is occasionally champion. He got into trouble in 2012 for Tweeting out a photo of him with a gun pointed to his head, and allegedly pulled a 10-foot tree from the ground in order to help his mother escape a burning home in 2013.
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