The branding of the “new era” in the WWE has shaken up the wrestling world. Fans have shown excitement and optimism about changes to the product, which has made it more interesting than the standard routine WWE has gotten into the past few years. The appeal is mostly the fact that we have hope and the future is actually a mystery for once. This isn’t the first time a wrestling promotion has tried rebooting to freshen up things. WCW rebranded their product in 2000 with the “New Blood” angle setting the table for the show to restart all new.
Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo led all the young talents on the roster to rebel against the main event legends occupying the top spots. The idea was promising on paper, but the writing of it killed the New Blood performers. Fans were conditioned to dislike them by seeing them associated with the two hated figureheads and opposing the most popular stars in the company out of bitterness and jealousy. WCW's approach to making new stars led to disappointment after disappointment, as the stars were presented poorly for the most part. We’ll take a look at the failed potential with the top fifteen wrestlers to flop during WCW’s so called “new era.”
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15 Tank Abbott
Tank Abbott's legitimate fighting background in the early stages of MMA earned him a reputation as a tough guy. WCW signed him to an impressive deal with the hopes of making him a star performer for the company. Vince Russo had high praise for Abbott and put over his ability to step outside of his comfort zone. The early stages of the New Blood featured Abbott as a background member of the stable.
Abbott didn’t accomplish much in the faction and saw his career completely change following the stable ending. The tough MMA star would become a dancing bodyguard as an honorary member of 3 Count, a parody boy band gimmick based on *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. Abbott's poor dancing provided momentary humor, but ended up hurting him in the long run. No one took him seriously and his wrestling career ended with a whimper.
14 Chris Kanyon
Chris Kanyon was one of the most underrated performers in WCW for a couple of years. From his time as the masked character, Mortis, to being himself, Kanyon always delivered a good in-ring performance. WCW attempted to elevate him as a heel, by having him turn against his best friend Diamond Dallas Page to join the New Blood. The booking was all over the place as the New Blood tossed Kanyon off of a cage on the show before his eventual turn. Jumping off of a cage and risking your life all to screw over DPP is true commitment.
The heel turn flopped horribly and Kanyon failed to gain any momentum. Fans wanted to see Page beat him up, but that was more out of loyalty to their beloved hero. Kanyon dressed as DDP and cut silly promos attempting to impersonate him. Kanyon's skills were wasted as he later went on to enter a feud with Buff Bagwell and Buff’s mother, Judy Bagwell. Things obviously didn’t work out and Kanyon’s stock ended up hitting rock bottom.
13 Big Vito
Vince Russo is loyal to three things in life – New Yorkers, Italians and pole matches. He got two out of three when he pushed Big Vito as a stereotypical Italian from New York. Big Vito received a push as the leader of an Italian faction, The Mamalukes, that was very similar to ECW’s Full Blooded Italians stable. Johnny the Bull and Tony Mamaluke entered the group but Vito would shine on his own as we entered the New Blood days.
Vito did his best work in the hardcore division. Both WWE and WCW placed their limited workers with small upsides in the hardcore matches because weapons can help mask a lack of in-ring talent. Vito's push never evolved into anything more during the new era and he floundered. WCW fans didn’t care for him and his career went downhill. Once Russo lost power, Vito’s television time declined until we forgot his existence.
12 Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch
The signings of Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch should have been a no-brainer, but ended up looking like a poor decision. Candido never fulfilled his potential in the WWE but was one of the best in-ring workers of his time. WCW signed him to help establish the Cruiserweight division again. Tammy Sytch was his real life girlfriend and they made a perfect pairing for television. Unfortunately, WCW could not find the magic and they turned into another New Blood flop.
Candido hoped to get his big break on national television and Sytch wanted to return to form as a huge star like she was during he WWE days. Neither saw their wishes come true. WCW made them play more of a comedic act with Sytch often wrestling in matches. She absolutely hated the way she was booked and Candido had to feel the same, as once again he was in her shadow. Sytch and Candido departed WCW as quickly as they entered.
11 Shawn Stasiak
WCW wanted a few of their young talents to progress and become the future main eventers of the company. If the company didn’t go out of business in 2001, they wanted guys like Shawn Stasiak to become main event stars going forward. Stasiak sadly didn’t have the talent and could not get over enough to warrant any sort of a push. WCW signed the son of former WWE Champion, Stan “The Man” Stasiak, after he had a poor run with the WWE.
The genetics didn’t help him and fans reacted to him with silence every single week. WCW booked him as a member of The Natural Born Thrillers, along with Sean O’Haire, Chuck Palumbo and Mark Jindrak. All four men had potential in WCW’s eyes but never evolved into what they wanted. Stasiak later received a push with Stacy Keibler as his valet, shortly before the company went out of business. His tenure in WCW was meant to create a new star, but just created segments that allowed us to change the channel to WWE.
10 David Arquette
Okay, David Arquette should not be classified as a wrestler, but his run in WCW is arguably the worst part of the New Blood rebranding. Arquette appeared on television to promote the Ready to Rumble movie associated with the WCW world. The B-list actor actually won the WCW Championship thanks to Vince Russo making poor decisions with no one to stop him. Arquette turned on his friend and co-star Diamond Dallas Page at the end of the storyline to join the New Blood faction.
The rationale behind the decision was Russo claiming that WCW would get mainstream attention from the move, which might improve the ratings. It never happened and most people just found it amusing, but in a pathetic way. Arquette claims he never wanted to win the belt, but was talked into it. Many believe that this was the reason WCW went out of business, as it was the point of no return for them as a wrestling promotion. Arquette’s run in WCW was absolutely a flop that helped sink the new era movement.
9 Vince Russo
You can’t have David Arquette on the list without Vince Russo. The main reason for the new era movement was Russo failing horrendously after leaving WWE for WCW in 1999. Russo sold WCW a bill of goods and took credit for WWE’s Attitude Era success. The ratings and content on WCW television were a mess under Russo and the company decided to change things up. Russo and Eric Bischoff were forced to work together and co-run the show.
They appeared on television as the heel masterminds of the New Blood, but they were on opposite sides backstage. Russo and Bischoff loathed each other and were never on the same page. For all of Bischoff’s flaws, he had highly successful ideas and a more respectable track record. Russo did nothing of note, with the WWE machine filtering his ideas and making changes to them. His WCW tenure destroyed his reputation, as we saw some of the worst writing you’ll ever find in professional wrestling.
8 Chuck Palumbo
Chuck Palumbo's career is forgettable, despite him spending many years on national television. It started on WCW during the New Blood era, when he entered a feud with Lex Luger. Palumbo would get most of his notoriety in tag teams with Shawn Stasiak and Sean O’Haire, both under the Natural Born Thrillers stable. There was nothing outwardly terrible about Chuck, but he lacked anything special to make him stand out.
Palumbo could be defined as the perfect example for mediocrity in wrestling. Everything was technically sound and correct by the books of wrestling. The problem is that he never had a great match or cut promos that left an impact on the viewer. WCW investing time and money into his progression turned out to be a waste. Following his flop in WCW’s new era, he came over to WWE and had another painfully average stint in various gimmicks until he left the business to no fanfare.
7 David Flair
The experiment of signing a legendary wrestler’s son to a big contract and giving him a big opportunity doesn’t usually work out. Ric Flair is arguably the greatest performer in wrestling history, but his son David Flair did not have the chops to follow in the footsteps of the legend. David instantly flopped prior to the new era rebranding, but still managed to get a spot in the New Blood stable. The greatest success of David’s career came when teaming with Crowbar and Daffney in their charmingly, insane act.
WCW made the worst move possible for the second generation Flair’s career by having him turn on his friends to join the New Blood. David feuded with Ric once again and aligned with Stacy Keibler as his love interest. The idea of making him a legitimate heel rather than a slightly comedic sympathetic face is laughable, considering he failed in the role just a year prior.
6 Mike Awesome
Mike Awesome was a hot commodity in ECW as one of the most exciting performers to watch in the wrestling business. The big man made one of the most controversial moves of the time by signing with WCW while still holding the ECW Championship. Awesome planned to drop the title in the garbage on Nitro, but ECW threatened lawsuits. Following the big story about his new home, WCW managed to do absolutely nothing with him.
Instead of Awesome moving to the top of the card as suggested with his debut coming by attacking Kevin Nash, he fell into midcard obscurity. The writing team destroyed his career with new gimmicks such as “That 70’s Guy” and “The Fat Chick Thrilla.” Awesome went back and forth with various characters but nothing found success. The signing was meant to be one that helped usher in an era of new stars in WCW, but their failure with Awesome proved how insincere the movement was.
Goldberg's career was at a high in 1998, as he was the first homegrown star in WCW in a long time. Fans rallied behind Goldberg and his destruction as a powerful face always provided excitement. No one wanted to root against him and he has gone on the record to say he fought the idea of turning heel. Sadly, it could not change the minds of those in charge and Goldberg turned into a villain by joining the New Blood following his return from injury in 2000.
You can watch the moment on the WWE Network and soak in the instant regret that had to be involved when Goldberg cost Kevin Nash a match for the WCW Championship. There was a silent confusion as everyone wondered how this could actually happen. At that point, fans started to lose interest in WCW’s last big draw. Goldberg joining the New Blood was one of the worst decisions in company history and ended any chance of success for the reboot.
One of the main feuds WCW wanted to establish during the New Blood storyline was Vampiro vs. Sting. Vampiro entered the company after a hugely successful stint in Mexico as one of the biggest wrestling stars outside of the United States. His unique look and mysterious personality made him a perfect young opponent for Sting. Things were growing stale for Sting as he was the only top star to spend the entire decade in WCW, but a new rivalry added intrigue.
The potential was there but Vampiro never stepped up to the plate. As the heavily pushed heel, Vampiro did many dastardly things such as lighting Sting (or a stunt double) on fire and throwing him off the titantron. Fans just never viewed him as an equal to the WCW icon and Vamp would see his career trend downwards following the feud. The push ended and he fell into obscure midcard angles that made him look like a joke.
3 Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman’s story during the New Blood is somewhat depressing, considering he was actually one of the better talents in the company at the time. Kidman always delivered in the Cruiserweight division and held a great reputation for being able to pull a great match out of anyone. That theory was exposed when he entered a storyline with Hulk Hogan. Kidman held an important spot in the New Breed faction as the heel trying to ruin Hogan’s legendary legacy.
WCW actually pulled the trigger by having Kidman pin Hogan on multiple occasions, but never executed it well enough to make him credible. There was always a silly ending with Eric Bischoff turning his back on Hogan and trying to take him out. Hogan had no motivation to put Kidman over and went out of his way to bury him publicly. A memorable radio show appearance saw Hogan say Kidman wouldn’t draw fleas at a flea market. Kidman’s push fell apart and he went back into the Cruiserweight division until WCW was sold to WWE.
2 Shane Douglas
WCW actually tried to deliver a cool program during the New Blood angle by having a disgruntled Shane Douglas return to feud with Ric Flair. Douglas became a top star in ECW and used his frustration towards Flair to channel his promos. The majority of talking segments with Douglas featured him calling out Flair for holding him down during his initial WCW tenure and threatening to beat him up any time they crossed paths.
The worked shoot atmosphere in the feud should have given us fascinating television, but it was just another weak WCW feud. Flair was already over the hill and Douglas just didn’t have the tools to thrive in an ocean compared to the freedom of the pond in ECW. They had awkward segments together for a few weeks before Douglas went back to being a lower midcarder. The Franchise was no more and Douglas floundered with another horrendous flop in WCW.
1 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett made a drastic decision by leaving the WWE high and dry for a bigger push in WCW. Vince Russo always held Jarrett among his favorite performers. That naturally led to Russo recruiting Jarrett into the company as an upper carder. Jarrett would become one of the biggest stars of the new era in WCW. The first PPV following the changes saw him win the vacated WCW Championship to become the face of the New Blood faction.
Many believe the push of Jarrett was undeserved as there were better performers on the roster and Jarrett never spiked the ratings or buyrates. Jarrett would go on to win the WCW Championship a total of four times during the new era. The company went all in but was met with little reward. Jarrett’s title reigns are associated with failure and showed why WCW was falling further away from WWE in the Monday Night Wars. Jarrett's flop summarized why the new era in WCW never worked and why the New Blood was a disaster.
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