The battle for ratings supremacy throughout the late '90s brought out the absolute best in professional wrestling between rival companies WWE and WCW. It was a head-to-head battle between Vince McMahon's WWE and Ted Turner's WCW, not to mention the ever-so-important cast of characters thrown into the mix between both companies that made professional wrestling a social phenomenon.
Stone Cold Steve Austin. Scott Hall. Kevin Nash. The Rock. These are the Superstars that made late '90s professional wrestling "must watch" television, and this distinct era is often affectionately referred to as the "Monday Night Wars." This surge in popularity brought about mainstream publicity and people often fondly remember the good ol' days, but after taking a second look many years later, was everyone associated with the era actually worth all the praise?
Sure, it was an era of groundbreaking Superstars, but that doesn't mean that everyone who was on television was instantly loved by the fans. There were some notable characters that were either extremely overrated or simply never got over with the crowd, and we're going to highlight eight of those wrestlers from each company that wrestling fans had to witness on a weekly basis.
That being said, let's take a look at 16 wrestlers who were not exactly the cream of the crop during the Monday Night Wars!
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16 WCW - Vincent
Virgil, I mean, Vincent, is the definition of a mediocre talent. Mediocre skills in the ring, mediocre charisma, mediocre on the mic… you name it, the guy can't do it well. Practically the only reason anybody even knows he exists is because of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, and that's in both WWE and WCW. Virgil (a name that was given to him by Bobby Heenan as a jab at Dusty Rhodes' real name) had a short run as a face after he turned on DiBiase (pre Monday Night Wars) in WWE, but he soon fell to the mid-card fairly quickly.
In his time in WCW during the Wars he was rarely an in-ring performer, but instead took on the name Vincent (again, a jab by WCW to WWE owner Vince McMahon) and served as the nWo's "head bodyguard." His wrestling career is forgettable, but the "lonely Virgil" internet meme keeps his name relevant to wrestling fans everywhere.
15 WWE - Mr. McMahon
Speaking of Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE put himself in front of the camera after the infamous Montreal Screwjob and instantly created the character of "Mr. McMahon," a heel that had a penchant for turning on various wrestlers. It can certainly be argued that McMahon was one of the better heels -- if not the most important one of the Attitude Era for Stone Cold Steve Austin -- but wrestling fans should have a problem with a few things that he chose to do on television.
The biggest one of all? He actually booked himself to win the 1999 Royal Rumble, which is a giant slap in the face to anyone who paid money to see the show. And the worst part? The result didn't even matter.
McMahon -- again, not a wrestler -- relinquished his newfound #1 contender status after winning the rumble and gave it to Stone Cold Steve Austin, because, well, that's what the fans really wanted to see in the first place. We know that Austin winning the 1999 Royal Rumble (which would have been the third year in a row) would have been way too obvious, but having McMahon (entry #2, mind you) outside of the ring for almost an hour and yet still winning it all was simply wrong.
14 WCW - The Renegade
WCW had a knack for not only taking already established WWE Superstars and piggy-backing off of their success, but also taking the likenesses of others that were unavailable (for whatever reason) and tweaking them ever-so-slightly in an attempt to have the same effect. This was the major problem with The Renegade, who was hyped by Hulk Hogan as his "ultimate surprise" for his match against Vader at WCW PPV Uncensored in 1995.
The Renegade was a direct carbon copy of The Ultimate Warrior, complete with a phony entrance theme that would make any radio commercial jingle that didn't want to actually pay for the rights to use the real song that they clearly ripped off very proud. While he was attempting to portray the Warrior's style, the actual Warrior he was not, and the fans responded accordingly by yawning through all of his mediocre matches. He would eventually be relegated to jobber status before his release in 1999.
13 WWE - Beaver Cleavage
We'll never know why the creative team at WWE decided that it was a good idea to repackage Mosh from the Headbangers (real name Chaz Warrington) as "Beaver Cleavage," a wrestler whose character was blatantly lifted from the television series Leave it to Beaver, but the result wasn't shocking in the least. Fans weren't exactly comfortable with the black and white vignettes that WWE spent a few weeks airing during Raw in order to hype his debut, mainly because of the over-the-top sexual innuendo between Beaver Cleavage and his supposed "mother" Mrs. Cleavage.
With horrible puns and the worst double entendres one could think of, the gimmick lasted only a few weeks (he actually only wrestled one match under the Cleavage name) before it was mercy-killed off of television. In the form of a "worked-shoot," Mosh publicly stated that he was done with the ridiculous gimmick and revealed that Mrs. Cleavage was actually his girlfriend, Marianna.
12 WCW - Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett is one of those guys that no matter how hard he tried to get over with the crowd, they simply wouldn't have it despite all the attempts to push him in the right direction (cough Roman Reigns cough). He struggled mightily when he first came to the WWE as a country singer, even becoming less popular than his roadie (Jesse James, who would find much larger success in the WWE with the successful tag-team the New Age Outlaws).
Although, that doesn't mean that he isn't an extremely accomplished wrestler: throughout his lengthy professional wrestling career Jarrett has amassed a total of 77 different championships, which is saying something. However, he jumped from WWE and WCW so frequently that he was seemingly always on TV whether you liked it or not, and the fact that each company kept giving him belts just made matters worse. Jarrett's not a bad wrestler, he just never had that "it" factor that is often talked about concerning a wrestler's ability to get over.
11 WWE - Marc Mero
It's never a good sign when you introduce your real-life wife as your valet to accompany you down to the ring, only to have her steal your spotlight as soon as you're sidelined with an injury. But that's exactly what happened to poor Marc Mero.
Mero went through a few awful personas in his tenure as a professional wrestler: in WCW he was Johnny B. Badd (complete with Jimmy Hart's signature rip-off version of Chuck Berry's hit song Johnny B. Goode), then in WWE he was Wildman Marc Mero after he left WCW over a disagreement concerning a love triangle story line with Diamond Dallas Page and his then-wife Kimberly, and finally he became Marvelous Marc Mero, a former boxer-turned-wrestler that fans never really had an interest in from the start. Sable went onto become several thousand times more popular (we'll get to that a little later), and Mero would drift away from television.
10 WCW - Mike Awesome
ECW Heavyweight Champion Mike Awesome left for WCW (which many, many wrestlers did at the time), but boy did his career take one of the worst nose-dives in the history of professional wrestling. Fans around the world loved Mike Awesome simply as that: Mike Awesome, but apparently Vince Russo didn't think that his gimmick was good enough and instead turned him into "That '70s Guy" and the "Fat Chick Thrilla."
Awesome went on record voicing his opinion on the matter, stating that he thought that Vince Russo was attempting to bury him by giving him awful gimmicks just because he was a blood relative of the Hogan family. Russo and Hogan -- if you remember -- had a legendary fallout during the Bash at the Beach Pay Per View in 2000, and because of that situation fans were then subjected to those two aforementioned gimmicks listed above.
Remember when Mike Awesome feuded with the Insane Clown Posse and he powerbombed Shaggy 2 Dope on top of a bus? What were they thinking?!
9 WWE - X-Pac
Much like Jeff Jarrett, it seemed like Sean Waltman was on TV a thousand percent of the time, whether you watched WCW or were a die-hard fan of the WWE. To his credit, Waltman was always a solid in-ring performer since he was already a grizzled road-veteran before he could even legally drink in the US, but it's his lack of variety that somehow always came across during the majority of the matches that he had throughout the Monday Night Wars.
His big spot that he's most famous for is the Bronco Buster, which is one of the most degrading moves in the history of professional wrestling (honorable mention and clearly #1 on that list: the Stink Face). Fans were so sick of seeing Waltman that he's actually responsible for the term "X-Pac Heat," where fans don't necessarily hate the character rather the person who's behind it, be it for political reasons or simply out of frustration (again, see: Reigns, Roman).
And as far as a fun fact is concerned, there is only one wrestler in the entire world that has the honor of being in both D-Generation X and the nWo, and you guessed it, it's the innovator of X-Pac heat himself... Sean Waltman.
8 WCW - Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell was a wrestler during the Monday Night Wars that did everything he could do to stay in the limelight, and is one of the reasons why WCW ended up losing the Monday Night Wars. When the nWo made wrestling history by breaking down the walls of kayfabe and ran rampant over WCW, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash were the reasons why it was so successful. Anyone else that joined the group afterward simply never made the grade, and Buff Bagwell is one of those guys who clearly wanted to stay relevant and maintain his time on television.
He certainly looked the part of a prototypical wrestler: he had that physique that professional wrestling promoters always gravitated towards. But if you take a look at the historical list of nWo members throughout history, you'll find a total of 60 (!) wrestlers who at one point wore those famous three letters across their chest, with Buff Bagwell on that list while never making a significant impact with the hugely successful faction.
7 WWE - Naked Mideon
Where to start with this tire-fire of a gimmick? Well, we might as well start at the very beginning. Dennis Knight went by many names during the Monday Night Wars, first as Phineas I. Godwinn (get it? P.I.G.? Har, har…) from 1996 to 1998, then as one-half of the tag-team Southern Justice, which was pointless and never went anywhere, and then he finally found a comfortable home as Mideon, a brainwashed cult member of the faction Ministry of Darkness.
But the reason why he makes our list is from his brief run as "Naked Mideon," an extension of his existing character after the Ministry stable disbanded that ran around the arena wearing only a fanny pack and a thong. To the surprise of no one, the character slowly faded away until he was taken off of television and eventually released from WWE near the tail-end of the Monday Night Wars in January of 2001.
6 WCW - Disco Inferno
Another one of those guys who joined the nWo just to stay on television, and all that the wrestling world could do was just sigh a giant sigh. The Disco Inferno was a doomed gimmick from the get-go, but that never stopped Glenn Gilbertti from dancing like a lunatic throughout his entire run in WCW.
As far as his matches were concerned, he was always a competent wrestler and actually put on some decent matches, but nobody could ever get past his truly awful gimmick which is what makes him joining the nWo so mystifying. To put it this way, it would be like if D-Generation X decided to start recruiting members to their faction and one of the wrestlers that they chose ended up being... Duke the Dumpster Droese. Sure, the garbage man character is hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons and should never be taken seriously. Next...
5 WWE - Chyna
For all that Chyna accomplished in the ring during the Monday Night Wars -- she was the first ever female to compete in the Royal Rumble, first female to qualify for the King of the Ring, AND she was the first and only woman to ever win the WWE Intercontinental Championship -- if you look back on her run, was she really all that impressive? Aside from being a very muscle-bound woman that put many men to shame, she really lacked a lot of the basics that made other WWE Superstars successful.
She was clearly the weakest link in the hugely popular D-Generation X stable, she had some of the worst mic skills on the planet, possessed practically no charisma (but maybe that was just her on-screen character and not her as a person), and as for her in-ring ability? Well, she's no Alundra Blayze (or Madusa, whatever side you want to take on that one).
Put that all together and what do you have? A glorified bodybuilder that was given a platform to be successful given the right circumstances. She was groundbreaking, there's simply no denying that, but a wrestling fan can only take so many low-blow spots before they've had enough.
4 WCW - Glacier
Remember WCW's attempt to incorporate Mortal Kombat into wrestling characters? Of course you do, and we haven't forgotten it either. Glacier was the most over-the-top of them all (the other two being Wrath and Mortis), being hyped for months until his inevitable debut on WCW Pro in September of 1996.
While his entrance was certainly extravagant (and expensive: tons of blue lasers and and a falling snow effect throughout his first few matches), the gimmick itself wasn't very well-received because it was fairly obvious that WCW was blatantly trying to expand on the success of a hugely successful video game rather than trying to establish their own brand of wrestling stars. Especially considering the changing time of society in the late '90s, wrestling fans were getting tired of those kinds of gimmicks and instead found characters like the emerging Stone Cold Steve Austin in WWE a lot more relatable. Sorry, Glacier...
3 WWE - Fake Diesel/Razor Ramon
We're putting these two together because you sort of have to when you think about it. After Scott Hall and Kevin Nash split for Ted Turner's WCW in 1996, it dawned on Vince McMahon that he still held the trademarks for the names Diesel and Razor Ramon. In his infinite wisdom, he decided to simply replace the departing wrestlers with two relatively unknown workers in Glenn Jacobs and Rick Bognar, respectively.
The execution was horrific: they attempted to sell it to the crowd by stating that Diesel and Razor Ramon were indeed returning to the WWE, but slyly never stated that Hall and Nash were no longer playing the parts. The angle instantly backfired, and to put a cherry on the top of this disastrous idea, they also attempted to turn good ol' Jim Ross into a heel broadcaster, which is a combination of awful ideas thrown into one. The crowd never got behind the new gimmicks for any of the three involved in the storyline, and the idea was scrapped altogether shortly afterward.
2 WCW - Bret Hart
There's no question about Bret's ability in the ring, but even the Hitman himself knows that he severely lacked that all-important stick work that made otherwise marginal talents mega-stars during the Monday Night Wars.
When he jumped from WWE to WCW things looked optimistic for the Hitman, but he never came close to capturing the audience the way he did only a few years prior in WWE. At no fault of Bret's own either; the industry around him was simply changing at a very rapid pace and there was no room for an old-schooler like him to make his mark any longer. Matches were getting shorter and focus was shifting heavily towards promos, and as a result is entire run with WCW was stale.
While he did hold several championship titles and was given a decent enough push, the only highlight of his tenure with WCW was a moment where he wore a steel plate under a hockey jersey in order to knock out Goldberg if he attempted to spear him. It was cheesy and was nothing compared to the product that was being offered in WWE, so fans tended to gravitate toward other wrestlers who were much better at captivating the crowd.
1 WWE - Sable
Before you start scoffing, just listen: Sable wasn't very good at any aspect of wrestling. She was undoubtedly great looking and was a major factor in how WWE started to turn the tide in their favor during the Monday Night Wars, but her looks could only get her so far when it came to justifying her time on television.
She couldn't wrestle and her mic work was terrible to say the least, but that didn't stop the WWE from handing her the Women's Championship in 1998. It's not just wrestling fans that thought she was overrated either: through various shoot interviews you can hear other wrestlers talk about their experiences with Sable in the company. Sean Waltman, for example, had enough of her claiming to be the only reason that WWE was still in business, so he took it upon himself to give her a "thank you" of sorts by leaving her with an international parting gift in the form of a cup full of feces in her travel bag.
Sable's ability in the ring wouldn't come close to any of the women that they had before her and especially since, so she deservedly takes our #1 spot for "wrestlers" we hated to watch during the Monday Night Wars.
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