The 2000s were an odd era in WWE’s history. The wildly popular Attitude Era was just dying down early in the decade and the current reality era had not yet begun by the end of the decade. The WWE had just put both WCW and ECW out of business so they were the only big dogs in the yard when it comes to major wrestling promotions. Some say that the 2000s should be called the Complacency Era as the WWE seemingly just went through the motions with their programming as they had no competitors to push them in ratings.
Regardless of how you feel about the WWE in the 2000s, it is undeniable that many superstars came from this era. Some of them are still on your screens today such as John Cena and Randy Orton. Others have left the business and came back (Brock Lesnar) or left the business, came back, and then left again (Dave Batista).
While those are the superstars that you would never forget from this era, there are many more superstars whom you likely forgot about from the 2000s. This was when the WWE had its biggest roster ever following the acquisitions of WCW and ECW so you may have forget that some of these guys were even in WWE. We will look back at the forgotten stars from this era and also look at what they are doing today. Some of these guys haven’t appeared in a WWE ring in over 15 years so they look quite different than what you remember. Here are 15 forgotten WWE stars of the 2000s you wouldn’t recognize today.
Gangrel had appearances in WWE, ECW, and WCW before landing back with WWE full-time in 1998. He was married to Luna Vachon at the time and was part of a faction along with Edge and Christian called The Brood. Gangrel would last with WWE until 2001 when he was fired for weight issues. He was brought back in 2006 for the company’s relaunch of ECW, but he again faced weight issues and was released shortly thereafter. When he’s not directing porn films (seriously), Gangrel still appears on the independent circuit and is also a trainer at Rikishi’s wrestling academy in California. Gangrel looks about the same size he was during his last run in WWE which means he shouldn’t expect a phone call from the company for one last run.
14 Charlie Haas
While Haas’ run in the WWE was unspectacular, he can always thank the company for allowing him to meet his future wife, Jackie Gayda. Haas was one half of the World’s Greatest Tag Team along with Shelton Benjamin and then went solo with a parody gimmick. It’s hard to believe but Haas lasted 10 years with WWE during two separate stints before leaving for good in 2010. After three years in Ring of Honor, Haas announced his retirement in 2013, but as is often the case, has returned to do several independent shows. However, he stays busy outside of the ring as he is still married to the now-Jackie Haas and together they have four kids. When Charlie isn’t in the ring or chasing around his kids, he also works as a spine specialist for a medical supply company in the Dallas area.
13 Chris Masters
The Masterpiece had the ideal look that Vince McMahon likes in his superstars although it was later proven that his physique was enhanced. He debuted on WWE as a 22-year-old in 2005 although he looked much older and wrestled there until being fired in 2007 for a drug violation. He then resurfaced again in 2009 looking about 30 lbs lighter and wrestled with the company until 2011. Masters apparently had friends in high places as Randy Orton was the one who put in a good word to McMahon to get Masters rehired in 2009. Since leaving WWE for good, Masters now goes by Adonis and has wrestled on the independents and is currently signed with Impact Wrestling. At just 34 years old, it would be surprising if he doesn’t appear in a WWE ring again even if it’s just a one-off appearance with the Masterlock Challenge.
12 Pete Gas
Pete Gas (second from left) was a part of the Mean Street Posse who were real-life childhood friends of Shane McMahon. At 6’4” 265 lb, Gas was the “muscle” of the group as they battled feuded alongside McMahon against Test. Gas also had a singles run and even won the Hardcore Championship twice under the 24/7 rule. The Posse was sent down to a developmental territory in late 2000 before being released in 2001. Gas was an independent wrestler for a while but then went back to the 9-to-5 life in New England. He works for WB Mason and doesn’t look much different than he did back with the Posse. As for the other members, both Rodney (left) and Joey Abs (right) retired after being released in 2001. None of the three have appeared in a ring in over 15 years, but if Shane McMahon needed their help again, none would hesitate to help out their childhood friend.
From Phineas Gowinn to the Mideon in the Ministry of Darkness to Naked Mideon, you have to tip your hat to Dennis Knight. He had some of the strangest gimmicks in WWE history but managed to pull them off rather convincingly. He left WWE in 2001 and served as a wrestling trainer in Florida under the man who originally trained him, Steve Keirn AKA Skinner. After a one-off appearance in TNA and wrestling dark matches for WWE in 2006, Mideon retired from in-ring competition. In a complete change of careers, Mideon then became a chef in the Tampa area after having not worked in a restaurant since he was in high school.
He now owns a private catering company and appeared on one of those reality cooking shows on TV. He is unrecognizable from his WWE days as his long hair is completely gone as are the symbols drawn on his forehead.
10 Taka Michinoku
The Light Heavyweight title was WWE’s answer to WCW’s Cruiserweight division but the belt was only active for four years. Nevertheless, Taka Michinoku will always be remembered for being the first Light Heavyweight champion…as well as that feud with Val Venis. Michinoku was also a member of Kai En Tai where he was a stablemate of Funaki. While Funaki would last with WWE for 12 years, Michinoku left after three years and returned to his native Japan. He founded the Kaientai Dojo in 2002 which is an independent promotion and he has also appeared in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling over the last 15 years. Michinoku is one of the few on this list who is still a full-time wrestler, and at 43 years old, he could have one last run in WWE if he so desires.
9 Molly Holly
Before Paige referred to herself as the anti-diva, Molly Holly held that title in the 2000s. She wasn’t your typical women’s wrestler during that time because she was actually a wrestler. Holly was a two-time Women’s champion and one of four females to be the Hardcore champion along with Terri, Trish Stratus, and one of Godfather’s hoes. One of the reasons Holly left the WWE in 2005 was because she wasn’t happy in the direction that the company was taking their women’s division. She did the indie thing for a while after leaving WWE but then went into real estate. She also became a born-again Christian after seeing many of her friends die at young ages due to drug usage. Today, Holly lives in Minnesota and is the lead female trainer at a wrestling academy owned by Daivari and Ken Anderson (Kennedy).
8 Rob Conway
Conway’s journey to WWE was unique and took much longer than he expected. In 1997 he stopped by at a local wrestling show in Indiana and thought all of the wrestlers were out of shape. He then climbed into the ring for the first time and said he knew within five minutes that he knew this what he wanted to do. He also thought it would take just six months of training for him to reach WWE but it ended up taking six years. Conway’s four-year run in WWE was uneventful but life did imitate art when he was fired by Mr. McMahon on Raw and then actually released from WWE shortly thereafter.
Today, Conway still lives in Indiana and wrestles for NWA where he became the first person to ever hold the NWA Heavyweight championship and Tag Team titles at the same time. He also never became one of those out-of-shape wrestlers he saw earlier as he is also a competitive bodybuilder.
7 Scotty 2 Hotty
Just like the Hardy Boyz after him, Scotty 2 Hotty was a jobber for WWE while still in high school. He first appeared on WWE programming as an 18-year-old in 1991 and wrestled as enhancement talent for the next six years. He joined the company full-time in 1997 and his career really took off as one-half of Too Cool in the late 90s/early 2000s. He wrestled with the company until 2007 and then spent the next 9 years in the independents. When his in-ring career was winding down, he started thinking about a career outside of wrestling and graduated from a firefighter training academy in 2013. But shortly thereafter, he received a call from the WWE to return as a trainer for their performance center. He accepted the offer and is currently a Level 2 trainer at the WWE Performance Center in Florida.
The first-ever winner of Tough Enough, Maven traded in teaching middle school in Oregon to being a WWE superstar. He had about as much success as someone plucked from the streets could have (excluding The Miz), as Maven was a three-time Hardcore champion and was named by PWI as its Rookie of the Year. After nearly 4 years with WWE, Maven was released in 2005 and wrestled in TNA for a short time. He “retired” in 2007 but came back to the independents in 2015 and wrestled for Curt Hawkins’ promotion in New York. Apart from indy appearances, he now works in dental sales in New York and also is a health and fitness expert for exercise products sold by the Home Shopping Network.
5 Chuck Palumbo
You can’t have any two more different gimmicks than what Palumbo had in his two WWE stints. He was first Chuck as a part of Billy and Chuck and then was later a biker in the mode of The Undertaker’s biker gimmick. Michelle McCool must have a thing for bikers as before marrying The Undertaker, she managed Palumbo. Palumbo would retire from wrestling in 2014 and opened up motorcycle shop where he builds his own custom cycles while also repairing others’. He also started teaching Crossfit classes when he’s not working on bikes. Palumbo also hosted a show on the Discovery Channel called Lords of the Car Hoards in which he fixes up classic cars. We may see Billy again in a WWE ring someday, but don’t count on Chuck.
Carlito seemed like one of those wrestlers who would be in the mid-card for years and then finally breakthrough to the main event scene. While the former turned out to be true, his coolness never made him a world champion. He was with WWE for six years and while he held a couple of titles, his stable of valets and managers is even more impressive. Perhaps no other wrestler in history can say they were managed by Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson and the Bella Twins. Carlito left WWE in 2010 when he refused to enter a company-sponsored rehab after developing an addiction to painkillers. He then returned to his native Puerto Rico where he currently wrestles under his father’s promotion, World Wrestling Council. Speaking of his father, Carlos Colon was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2014 which marked the first time in four years that Carlito appeared on WWE television.
3 Bobby Lashley
There may not be a greater example of a wrestler from the 2000s who had a bigger disconnect between his physique and his performance than one Bobby Lashley. Don’t get me wrong, Lashley could wrestle and was a national champion in college; but he lacked the charisma in the ring and on the mic to make him a superstar. He was with WWE for fewer than three years and his greatest achievement was becoming the ECW champion. Since leaving WWE in 2008, Lashley has split his time between TNA, the indies and in MMA. He is currently signed with Bellator MMA and has won his last nine fights. Lashley has two kids with former WWE diva, Kristal Marshall, but the couple is no longer together. Lashley has stayed in shape and I wouldn’t rule out another WWE run. Let’s just hope that the WWE gives him a mouthpiece like Paul Heyman and then he could be used similarly to the way Brock Lesnar is used.
2 Steve Blackman
Even the most-diehard of Steve Blackman fans, if there is such a thing, may not be aware that he wrestled for WWE during the late 1980s as a jobber. He left and didn’t return until nearly a decade later where he was a martial artist/wrestler known as “The Lethal Weapon.” Blackman achieved his most success in the hardcore division and his 172 days as hardcore champion is the most in WWE history. By the early 2000s Blackman was paired in tag teams in which he would always play the straight man next to his comedy partners. The gimmick was short lived and Blackman would leave WWE in 2002. Unlike most other wrestlers, Blackman didn’t go to the indy scene afterwards and he actually opened up a self-defense school in Pennsylvania. Making a complete 180, Blackman now works as a bounty hunter in central Pennsylvania and appears in his own TV show called Blackman’s Bounties.
1 Val Venis
One of the most memorable gimmicks from the Attitude Era, Venis struggled to fit in once that era ended. Nevertheless, he lasted 10 years with WWE and was primarily a jobber in his later days. He is retired from wrestling full-time but still makes various one-off appearances around the country. While it would have been great if life imitated art and Venis went back into the adult industry, he is actually in the medical marijuana business in Arizona. The Purple Haze Lounge is a marijuana dispensary in Mesa, AZ and Venis is actively advocating for the legalization of cannabis in his home state. He also runs a YouTube channel called The Kaptains Show in which you can learn everything possible about weed. Venis no longer rocks the mullet he had in his early days and could easily be confused for Stone Cold Steve Austin from the back.