One of the most memorable promos of the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage was the famous “Cup of Coffee in the Big Time” interview in the lead up to WrestleMania III. Holding a coffee mug, Savage spoke about his opponent Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat--who was challenging for his intercontinental Championship—and that Steamboat facing him at the Pontiac Silverdome in front jam-packed 90,000 rabid fans was going to be his "cup of coffee in the big time". Savage's "cup of coffee" reference was obviously an insulting metaphor about Steamboat receiving a slight brush with fame by earning a match against the Macho Man and after losing, Steamboat would fade into oblivion.
That didn't exactly work out the way Macho Man wanted but there have been quite a few wrestlers who the metaphor fits perfectly. When you make it into the WWE you're in the "big time". The hope is on both sides that a wrestler has a long, fruitful career and makes himself and the company a ton of money. A wrestler hopes to leave a legacy and lasting impression that will get them one day in the Hall of Fame. But such as life, things don't always work out the way you hope.
Whether it be an injury, backstage issues or just WWE realizing the idea they had for a guy was terrible there has been a fair share of wrestlers who had astonishingly short stints with the WWE. Let's take a look at some of the stars who went through the revolving door of WWE the fastest.
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10 The Heart Throbs
Debut to Release: 10 Months
In 2005 the RAW brand was hurting for some depth to their tag team division so they acted fast and brought on an energetic yet corny team known as the Heart Throbs onto the roster. Romeo and Antonio proclaimed themselves as chick magnets and thrusted their way onto the scene in matching attire, dancing to loud techno music and often bringing a girl from the crowd into the ring to dance with them.
Right away the Heart Throbs were given a shot at then Tag Team Champions William Regal & Tajiri but would lose in their debut match. The heart Throbs were able to stick around a bit longer than most of the names on this list but their act fizzled out quickly and they were gone in under a year.
9 Ryan Braddock
Debut to Release: 7 Months
Before being known as Aiden O'Shea as part of TNA Wrestling, O'Shea wrestled briefly asRyan Braddock in the WWE in 2008. Braddock got his start in wrestling atSteel Domain wrestling school in Chicago, where he trained with the likes of Colt Cabana and CM Punk. At 6'4 and 260 lbs, he would be the first of the three to get a contract by WWE in 2005. Braddock would get some seasoning in OVW and after a few years would make his debut to the WWE's main roster in 2008 on an episode of Smackdown in a losing effort to the Big Show who would KO him.
Braddock would compete in a battle royal the following week on Smackdown and lose and then lose another contest on ECW before being released. After one more appearance on Smackdown, Braddock was sent back to developmental and subsequently released in what was a rather disappointing and forgettable run.
8 Jackson Andrews
Debut to Release: 6 months
In 2010 the talented but underrated team of the Hart Dynasty consisting of Tyson Kidd (the last graduate of the Hart Dungeon), David Hart Smith (Son of the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith), and Natalya (daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) would break up to see how they would fare in singles careers.
The undersized Tyson Kidd would try to go the early Shawn Michaels route and bring in a bodyguard to protect him. His "Diesel" would come in the form of a chiseled monster by the name of Jackson Andrews. Andrews would debut in December 2010, attacking Kidd's former partner David Hart Smith following a match. Andrews would not stick around very long, lasting three weeks to be exact and never wrestling a single match, mainly just interfering in Kidd's matches.
Andrews would be sent back to developmental and would by cut by the roster in May 2011. He would be in the news a year later when he was accused of physically abusing his former fiancee, WWE Diva Rosa Mendes back when they were together.
7 Gunner Scott
Debut to Release: 6 months
Who? Even the most hardcore WWE fans may have forgotten this name. After impressing WWE scouts in OVW Brent Albright became a hot commodity because of his technical skill and in-ring work. This fast-tracked Albright to the main roster as he would debut on Smackdown under the rather generic ring name Gunner Scott in 2006.At first thought to be enhancement talent, Scott would sneak in an upset win over Booker T. Chris Benoit would then take the upstart under his wing and they would team up and defeat Booker T and Finlay in a tag match.
Things looked promising for Scott until WWE hit the reject button on him. The reason isn't clear but possibly due to his rather bland character, the WWE pulled back on making Scott a featured player and he would follow his surprising wins with a streak of losses, ending with him being attacked by the Great Khali and tossed into a body bag. He would be cut from the roster soon thereafter.
Debut to Release: 4 Months
If you were watching WWE in mid-1997, you would have seen vignettes by a big brute of a man by the name of Brakkus where he would threaten various WWE superstars and warn of his impending debut--which then suddenly disappeared perhaps because he still had a lot more training to do. Brakkus is a classic case of being signed purely because of his look. A successful bodybuilder from Germany, Brakkus had a lot of muscles and that was enough for him to receive a contract.
After a couple of years of training, WWE seemed ready to debut Brakkus has a legitimate foreign threat but after putting a kibosh on the debut promos, Brakkus debuted with little fanfare, losing a match on Shotgun Saturday Night to Goldust. Brakkus would then participate in the terrible Brawl-For-All shoot tournament where he would lose to Savio Vega and suffer a bloody nose along with a shoulder and knee injury. This would put the nail is Brakkus' coffin when it came to his career before it ever really began.
5 Dan Rodman
Debut to Release: 4 months
When you look at Dan Rodman (real name Daniel Rodimer), his chiseled features and physique screams professional wrestler. Standing at 6'7 and 300lbs, the man had a look that was right up Vince McMahon's alley and despite losing the second season of Tough Enough in 2004, he was signed to a developmental deal to be a pet project of the company. Rodman would get his training in Deep South Wrestling and would compete in his first match in 2006, defeating a young Heath Slater.
From the jump, Rodman was treated quite differently than the other wrestlers in developmental and may have been rushed onto WWE TV before he was ready. He would debut on WWE Heat and have a handful of matches in a losing effort against the likes of Val Venis, Eugene and Mark Henry. The company even experimented with him at a house show where he faced company champ John Cena but alas, he would be sent back to developmental after that experimental run.Rodman would be released in August 2007.
4 Eric Escobar
Debut to Release: Less than 4 Months
After spending 4 years in WWE's developmental system, Eric Escobar made his WWE debut on the Smackdown brand for his "cup of coffee" in the big time as one of the many love interests of Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero. In his first match Escobar would defeat Matt Hardy to earn a spot on the Smackdown 5 man team at the Bragging Rights PPV.WWE thought they perhaps had another Razor Ramon on their hands with the Puerto Rican, but they soon soured on the idea of a relative no-name representing the brand at a PPV about brand supremacy.
WWE would back-track on this sudden push, having Escobar lose enough matches to withdraw him of his spot on the team and earn the wrath of Vickie who wouldbreak up with him and follow up by booking Escobar in handicap matches as punishment. Eric Escobar's career lasted barely three months so if you blinked in 2009, you may have missed him.
Debut to Release: 3 months
After Phantasio bombed (keep on reading!), one would assume that the WWE would be through with lame carnival characters but apparently they just needed about a 10 year break before reintroducing another one, when carnival acts were even more irrelevant. That's what would happen in late 2008 when WWE prepped the WWE Universe with introductory vignettes for the debut of Kizarny. The character was that of a carnival freak show performer who would speak in a bizarre form of gibberish meant to depict "carny" language.
After weeks of incoherent promos, Kizarny would debut on a January 2009 edition of Smackdown and defeat MVP in a rather oddly performed contest. That would be his first and last singles match for Kizarny as he was promptly removed from TV, reappearing only once more to compete in a battle royal before being released in March.
Debut to Release: Two Months
We're not talking about Christ, we're talking about just Jesus(Hay-zeus) who was a large latino wrestler brought in to be the bodyguard of the newly-debut Carlito Caribbean Cool. Carlito at the time was in the middle of a heated feud with John Cena after defeating Cena for the US Title in his debut match and when he needed to take time off to film The Marine, the story was that he was involved in a bar fight and was stabbed in the kidney by Jesus, a hit ordered by Carlito.
When Cena returned to in-ring action he had his sights set on Jesus and would defeat him at the Armageddon 2004 Pay Per View. This would be Jesus' last match has he would need to have surgery to repair a bad back and a torn groin. Jesus would attempt a return but would be a casualty of WWE's spring cleaning in 2005.
1 Braden Walker
Debut to Release: 1 month
Braden Walker gained notoriety in the early years of TNA under the ringname of “Wildcat” Chris Harris. He would be one half of a respectable tag team , America’s Most Wanted, along with his partner, “Cowboy” James Storm. The two would be a dominant team in TNA for a few years, capturing the tag team championships on multiple occasions.After the team split up in 2007, Harris didn't fare well as a singles competitor, floundering in the mid-card before being released.
Opportunity knocked when WWE would be interested in Harris as they were looking to beef up their ECW brand with new talent. It is here that Harris would debut as Braden Walker and on the ECW brand. It would be short-lived however as Walker would disappoint the WWE with his bad in-ring shape and even worse matches. Walker would be abruptly released before his cup of coffee in the big time would cool enough for him to drink.
10. Hade Vensen
Debut to Release: Two Weeks
In late 2008, a series of mysterious vignettes would begin to a man standing in the dark alley speaking about studying the darkness and having followers. These videos never really led to any real conclusion or follow-up, merely disappearing from the programming without any explanation. The man in those promos was Hade Vansen, a British wrestler signed by the WWE in 2007. These promos were supposed to be an introductory series for his character, who WWE had big plans for.
Apparently, Vansen was slated to be the latest rival of the Undertaker and was vaguely speaking about the Undertaker being his target in those promos. Vansen had a story arc that sounded a lot like what Bray Wyatt has been doing current day as Vansen would have had followers who would do his bidding and go after the Undertaker. This would never materialize past the introduction video of his character as WWE changed their plans and would release Vansen without him wrestling a single match.
4. Abraham Washington
Debut to Release: Sporadically for 3 years (Mostly in developmental)
Brian Jossie languished in FCW developmental for some time without any real persona but since he looked similar to Barack Obama, the WWE decided to run with a presidential character for him named Abraham Washington. This character looked to be a hit and would be his ticket to the big time, at least for a cup of coffee.
The Abraham Washington show would debut on ECW which would be a talk show segment featuring Jossie and his sidekick, WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas. He would interview various WWE Superstars but when ECW cancelled in 2009, he would return back to developmental for three years. Abraham Washington would return back to the main roster in 2012 as a manager scouting talent and would align himself with the Prime Time Players. However after some controversial statements on commentary during a match, Washington would be abruptly released from the company, having never wrestled a match on television.
1. Buff Bagwell
Debut to Release: One Week
So the WWE had bought WCW and rather than killing the fed entirely, they decided to try to make a little money off of the WCW name and talent with the infamous Invasion. While they didn't have big names like the NWO, Goldberg and Sting at the time, the WWE decided to make the most of what they had in guys like Booker T, DDP and Buff Bagwell. Buff Bagwell was a solid act in WCW and had decent charisma so under the WWE umbrella he'd fare well wouldn't he? The answer would be a big resounding NO. Bagwell was given the ball, along with Booker T to deliver on prime time television in the main event of RAW but it went so poorly that it may have changed the whole direction of the Invasion angle as a result and would result in Bagwell being given a pink slip.
Bagwell would last only one more show, a Smackdown taping the next night where he was attacked by the APA and powerbombed. Bagwell would be fired at the RAW taping the following week due to unprofessional behavior with the straw being that he was requesting time off to recover from injuries and had his mom call WWE to request them. Buff sadly did not have "The Stuff" WWE was looking for.
Debut to Release: One and done
In 1995, the WWE was still very much in a cartoony phase where wrestlers were plumbers, hockey players, garbage men, circus clowns and magicians. The Phantasiowould be one of those kooky characters as he would do magic tricks while donning white clown makeup and a black bodysuit. In the lead-up videosto his wrestling debut, he would perform various magic tricks like making doves appear, doing card tricks, and messing around with linking rings.
Phantasiowould make his WWE debut on Saturday morning episode of WWE's syndicated show Superstars. The match would go down to be a ridiculous disaster which Phantasio would win by pulling his opponent’s boxers out from their tights. Phantasio's last trick would be a disappearing act because he was never seen on WWE TV again after the debut match.
2. The Battling Turtles
Debut to Release: One and Done
Yes, this actually happened folks. The WWE, in an attempt to continue to appeal to their kid audience, decided to research what kids were into at the time and apparently discovered that kids loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So what did they decide to do? You guessed it, they created a tag team known as "The Battling Turtles".
In a dark match during a WWF Wrestling Challenge TV Taping on March 9, 1993, Duane Gill (Gillberg) teamed up with fellow jobber Barry Hardy and they donned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes for a tag team match. It's safe to say that the experiment wasn't received well and WWE realized how stupid this was and canceled the gimmick immediately after the first match. Thank you WWE for sparing yourselves the lawsuit.
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