In any profession, you need to bring something special to the table in order to forge a noble and memorable career.
This is especially true in the wrestling industry. Many superstars come and go, while others become legends. You can’t forget icons like The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Triple H or John Cena. Yet, does the name Eugene rings any bells? Or how about Muffy? Eric Escobar?
Sometimes the storylines are unfair, and wrestlers are written off before they have a chance to show potential. Sometimes the gimmicks or characters are too ludicrous and/or ridiculous to stick with audiences. Oftentimes, though, the wrestlers simply don’t deliver enough entertainment value to the fans.
Not to say some of these wrestlers weren’t fan favorites in their day. Many of them very well could’ve been. When I first got into wrestling back in the mid-2000s, I cheered for guys like The Hurricane and Carlito, names I almost completely forgot about until I conducted research for this article. It was startling how many wrestlers won WWE titles during their careers, yet faded into relative obscurity just a few years after their reigns.
The list below details 15 wrestlers we only have vague memories of in 2016.
15 Just Joe
Joseph Legend spent time wrestling in Canada and Europe before making his WWE debut on a summer 2000 episode of Heat. He went by the ring name “Just Joe” in the WWE. Unfortunately, Joe Legend’s WWE career didn’t live up his name.
He quickly built a reputation as a backstage instigator, a gimmick that never stuck. Just Joe spread rumors about other wrestlers and that gossip landed him on the wrong side of favorability with many of his fellow wrestlers.
Notable defeats for Just Joe included an armbar from Saturn and a submission by Dean Malenko. After less than a year under the brand, Just Joe was released from his WWE contract in March 2001.
Since his release, Legend competed in TNA, as well as in Russian and Japanese wrestling promotions. He currently tours annually with the South African “World Wrestling Professionals (WWP).”
14 Hade Vansen
One key to success in the wrestling business is to carve out a clear gimmick and identity, and be committed to your shtick. Hade Vansen never received that memo when he took over a December 2008 episode of SmackDown! to promote his upcoming WWE debut.
Vansen had originally signed on with the WWE in 2007 and spent time developing with Florida Championship Wrestling. Yet, when it came time to introduce himself on SmackDown!, the London native’s cryptic message to an unknown friend (or foe) and references to “darkness” and “immortal power” left many fans confused.
Apparently Vansen was set to debut amid a storyline with The Undertaker, but that never materialized. Vansen was released from his contract just one month later. Maybe it was because he never actually identified himself in his promo, but whatever the reason, Vansen never got a fair shot in the WWE.
13 Super Porky (Brazo De Plata)
Despite his all-too-brief WWE stint from 2005-2006, Brazo De Plata made his name as a well-known “luchador” in Mexico. Plata is a member of the respected Alvarado wrestling family, and first debuted in 1977.
Plata and his brothers won numerous championships in their homeland. In 2005, the WWE hired Brazo as part of SmackDown’s “Junior Division.” He was given the ring name “Super Porky” and carried an obligatory ham around with him, but his appearances were more for comedic purposes than competitive ones. The Junior Division experiment ended in March 2006, and Porky was released from his contract. It was no surprise, as fans completely tuned out once the "juniors" got on screen.
He never made an in-ring appearance, and has since signed on with Mexican wrestling promotion Asistencia Asesoría y Administración from 2006-2009.
12 The Heart Throbs
Many of us can’t stand that cocky, over-aggressive guy at the bar or in the club who thinks he’s all that when trying to woo some ladies.
Well, The Heart Throbs tag team was the WWE’s version of that annoying guy in the bar. The duo (Antonio Thomas and Romeo Roselli) were all talk and no walk, unless that walk involved a pelvic thrust. That was how they’d make their entrances.
Yet, The Heart Throbs couldn’t live up to their own expectations once in the ring. They debuted against World Tag Team Champions William Regal and Tajiri on an April 2005 episode of RAW. They lost that match and never truly caught on with fans.
Desperate gimmicks like bringing girls into the ring to dance with them elicited reaction, but never stuck. The Heart Throbs had their hearts broken when the WWE released Thomas and Roselli from their contracts in March 2006. They have since been active on the independent circuit.
11 Simon Dean (Mike Bucci)
Mike Bucci originally made his name in the ECW as part of the “Blue World Order,” a clear parody of “The New World Order.” Bucci spoofed Hollywood Hulk Hogan, calling himself “Hollywood Nova.”
Once the ECW ended in 2001, Bucci trained with Ohio Valley Wrestling. After two years, Vince McMahon decided to bring Bucci up to the main roster. Bucci took the persona of “Simon Dean,” a fitness guru whose introductory promos for RAW involved workout videos and infomercials promoting his “Simon System.”
Dean defeated The Hurricane in his debut match in 2004, but never made an impact with RAW. He was traded to SmackDown! in 2005, where he spent one year before moving into the development and scouting side of the business.
Dean signed future stars like Sheamus and Bad News Barrett before amicably parting ways with the WWE in 2007. Bucci enjoyed a stint as a mortgage broker after his retirement, and works as a branch manager at a bank in Louisville, KY.
10 Elijah Burke
Elijah Burke was another wrestler who trained with OVW before his promotion to the main roster. Burke was brought up to SmackDown! In July 2006 and defeated Scott Wright in his first match.
Burke and his partner Sylvester Terkay debuted on ECW that November, where they lost to the Hardys.
Burke became the leader of “The New Breed,” a group of ECW stars who looked to feud with the ECW originals. The team attempted to recruit CM Punk, but he eventually betrayed Burke, attacking him backstage after a match. Over the next year, Burke lost matches to Chris Benoit, CM Punk, and Batista. He was released from his WWE contract in December 2008.
Burke made his TNA debut as D’Angelo Dinero” on August 16, 2009. He developed feuds with well-known names like Kurt Angle. He currently serves as a color commentator for TNA.
9 Gene Snitsky
Gene Snitsky, known simply as "Snitsky," had a four-year career in the WWE. He debuted against Kane in 2004, and was involved in a wild storyline where he was blamed for Lita’s miscarriage of Kane’s (non-existent) baby. This angle caused a feud between Snitsky and Kane, culminating in matches for the Intercontinental and WWE World Championships. He is better known amongst WWE fans for his goofy appearance and silly catchphrase “It wasn’t my fault.”
His wild facial hair and braided beard are more memorable than his title-less WWE run. Attempts to repackage him failed and he was released in 2008.
Since his release in 2008, Snitsky has competed on the independent circuits and started a fledgling acting career. He appeared in spot roles as an actor on network television and in music videos.
8 Dan Rodman
The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Dan Rodman had all the makings of a WWE Superstar. The former Arena League Football player competed on Season 2 of WWE’s Tough Enough and was signed to a developmental contract with Deep South Wrestling in 2006. After winning his first two matches, he fast-tracked through Ohio Valley Wrestling and made his Raw debut on February 2, losing to Eugene on Heat. He returned to Heat in April, but lost to Val Venis. He got his revenge against Eugene in his first televised match on May 25.
Rodman even got a chance to wrestle John Cena for the WWE championship in June 2007, but lost. He was eventually released in August. He spent just over a year in the WWE.
Rodman has since returned to work at his own mortgage company, Champion Home Lending, in the Tampa, FL. area.
7 Gunner Scott
Brent Albright (aka Gunner Scott) was another talented young wrestler who excelled in WWE’s development territory. He won Ohio Valley Wrestling’s Heavyweight Championship and Television Championship in 2004.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Oklahoma native made his SmackDown! debut on April 7, 2006 and immediately made a name for himself with a shocking victory over Booker T. He teamed up with Chris Benoit the following month to defeat Booker T and Finlay.
Unfortunately, Scott was sent back down to OVW after a June loss to Mr. Kennedy. After the match, The Great Khali threw Scott into a body bag, seemingly “selling” his exit from the WWE.
Scott was released four months later, but wasn’t done wrestling just yet. He proceeded to win the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Championship in 2008.
6 Braden Walker
Think about all the terrible gimmicks you’ve heard over the years. Few are worse than Braden Walker’s pathetic spiel uttered during his feud with Armando Estrada:
"I'm Braden Walker and I'm going to knock your brains out."
Bold, strong words from a guy who went 1-1 in the only two televised matches in his career. Not to take away from the respectable run Walker had in TNA, as half of the tag team, “America’s Most Wanted,” or his seven NWA World Tag Team Titles with James Storm, but he never quite clicked in the WWE. His seven-month tenure under the brand was marked by feuds and taunts that he couldn’t back up.
After his August 2008 release, Walker wrestled on the independent circuit before a brief comeback attempt with TNA in 2011.
5 Orlando Jordan
As is the case in any job field, networking with the higher-ups is crucial for moving up within the organization. Orlando Jordan realized that, but sadly, it never got him the success he sought.
He defeated Jamie Noble in his Velocity debut in 2003, but went on to lose his SmackDown! debut at Madison Square Garden to John Cena. The Undertaker was impressed by Jordan’s effort, and helped the young wrestler to his feet after the match.
He turned from a face character to a heel after joining John Bradshaw Layfield’s “Cabinet” stable. Jordan eventually captured the United States Championship from John Cena in March 2005 with JBL’s help. It was his only WWE title win.
Jordan's reign didn’t last long. Chris Benoit won the title from Jones at that year’s SummerSlam and proceeded to successfully defend his belt in three consecutive matches against Jordan. All three matches lasted less than one minute.
After a fiery, but brief feud with Booker T, Jordan was demoted to Velocity in 2006. He lost his final match to Gunner Scott, and left the promotion in May 2006. Jordan competed on the independent circuits and had a short stint in TNA from 2010-2011. He reportedly retired from professional wrestling in 2013.
4 Mr. Kennedy
We discussed above how Gunner Scott ended Orlando Jordan’s WWE career. Well, the man that ended Gunner Scott’s career was Mr. Kennedy. However, Kennedy had just as unlucky a run in the WWE as Scott.
You likely haven’t “forgotten” about Mr. Kennedy as a wrestler, as he enjoyed great success in TNA, winning two world heavyweight titles. Yet, you may not recall his four-year tenure in the WWE.
Kennedy made his SmackDown! debut in August 2005, and won his first (and only) title with the brand in 2008, when he had a month-long reign as United States Champion.
Kennedy’s issue wasn’t a lack of skill, but an unfortunate injury that cost him a title shot against Edge.
Kennedy announced on 2007 episode of Raw that he would take his “Money in the Bank” championship opportunity against Edge at WrestleMania XXIV. Unfortunately, he lost his contract because of a triceps injury and his WWE career never fully recovered.
He was one of 11 wrestlers implicated in a steroid scandal in September 2007, and was suspended for 30 days. After a turbulent, feud-filled final few years in the WWE, Kennedy joined TNA in 2010, where he finally achieved the success that eluded him.
I wasn’t sure whether to include Carlito on this list because (thanks to his wild hair) he remains a recognizable face to wrestling fans. His seven-year run in the WWE is also fairly impressive. He boasts a United States Championship, an Intercontinental Championship, and World Tag Team Championship title.
He is also a legend in Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, winning the promotion’s Universal Heavyweight Championship 17 times.
Carlito was even involved in storylines with The Sandman and Triple H, the latter defeating him at Unforgiven in 2007. He expressed frustration with Vince McMahon at the direction of his character, but stayed on with the brand. Carlito was released from the WWE in 2010 after violating the WWE Wellness Program and refusing to attend rehab.
Carlito has since returned to the WWC.
2 Bobby Lashley
Akin to Dan Rodman, Bobby Lashley had the intimidating size and adroit skill of a future superstar. He did eventually find stardom in MMA and TNA, but never caught on in WWE. Luck just never broke his way.
Lashley defeated Simon Dean in his September 2005 debut, and became the first SmackDown! wrestler to earn a spot in the 2006 Royal Rumble.
Lashley defeated JBL in 2006 to win his only United States Championship. Lashley also became the first African American to win the ECW World Championship at the 2006 PPV December to Dismember. However, the show had the lowest buy-rate in WWE history, so Lashley’s accomplishment never got much publicity.
The misfortune continued as Lashley’s title was taken from him after he was drafted into Raw at the 2007 WWE Draft. He had an opportunity to win the WWE Championship at the July 2007 Great American Bash, but lost to John Cena.
Lashley legitimately injured his shoulder during his final PPV appearance after Mr. Kennedy kicked him into the ring steps, and he needed six months to recover. He was released by the WWE in February 2008.
1 Muhammad Hassan
Muhammad Hassan tops this list because he’s not just a wrestler you’ve likely forgotten, but one the WWE wanted to be forgotten.
WWE made the ill-advised choice to give New York native Mark Copani the gimmick of an Arab American caricature. The timing of his debut? The year 2004, just a few years after the 9/11 attacks and in midst of the Iraq war.
Pair the crude, bombastic nature of wrestling entertainment with a nation still reeling from terrorism, and the result is predictably disastrous.
Hassan met his end on an infamous 2005 taping of SmackDown! Hassan was feuding with The Undertaker, and summoned five masked men to choke out his opponent after Hassan “prayed” on the ramp. The ignorant stunt aired on UPN the same day as the London bombings. UPN received heavy criticism for airing the segment.
The network soon pressured the WWE to drop Hassan from SmackDown! due to the controversy. The Hassan character was quickly written off, and Copani was promptly released from his contract in September 2005.