What do you remember most about the ’90s? If it’s the music, you probably remember grunge and alternative taking rock ‘n’ roll to a harsher realm than the party-all-night hair metal of the ’80s. (Or the resurgence of boy and girl bands.) If it’s sports, then you might recall the baseball strike, rock-bottom-low NBA scores, and the O.J. Simpson trial, er…media circus. And if you’re thinking wrestling and the WWE in particular, you may remember Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels leading the New Generation Era, and the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Mick Foley becoming household names in the Attitude Era.
Of course, you’d remember those guys. But what about the other talents (and we use the term loosely in this case) that came and went during the ’90s? We’ve taken several lesser-known WWE Superstars from the 1990s, made sure that they aren’t WWE Hall of Famers as individual wrestlers, and made sure that they’re still alive. And with those requirements in mind, we’ve narrowed things down to a list of 20, as we shall now be looking back at their careers, as well as how they look like/what they’re up to at the present.
20. Duke Droese
The WWE sure had a lot of trash to take out in the mid-’90s, and one could argue that Duke “The Dumpster” Droese wasn’t just taking out the trash, but also part of it. Of course, none of this was the man’s fault – he was extremely young (23 at the time he joined WWE in 1994), and WWE seemed intent on giving everyone who wasn’t in the main event some sort of second job. Droese’s was that of a garbageman, and while he did get some mileage out of his “second job,” it’s saying something when the man you do the job to on your way out of the company is a “plumber” by the name of T.L. Hopper. Can’t make that stuff up, really.
Like some of the others in this list, Droese took part in the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven in 20o1. After retiring from the ring, he went to work as a special education teacher in Tennessee, though that success story was marred in 2013 when Droese was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover police informant.
19. Marc Mero
Some of you might not be aware that Sable’s sort-of iconic ring theme actually belonged to someone else originally – her ex-husband, “Wildman” Marc Mero. Formerly known in WCW as the Little Richard-knockoff Johnny B. Badd, Mero entered the WWE in 1996 with great hype, and while he won one Intercontinental Championship during his time with the company, his was an ultimately disappointing run, as he was soon overshadowed by his stunning wife. That’s why most fans may be more familiar with the more ground-based, post-injury “Marvelous” Marc Mero whose main shtick was that he was insanely jealous of Sable’s popularity and sex appeal.
Mero was released by the WWE in 1999, and after years out of the spotlight, he briefly competed in TNA in 2004 using the Johnny B. Badd gimmick. He then embarked on a public speaking career, mainly educating young people about drugs and bullying, but also earning controversy for blaming steroids for the death of several wrestlers in the aftermath of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide.
When talking about Men on a Mission, most everyone remembers the late Mabel, or as he was later on known, Viscera. Rapper/manager Oscar also stands out, and it was only in more recent years that we knew his real name is Greg Girard. But what about Mo, or Bobby Horne as he was known in real life? MOM would never have been accused of being a small tag team, but Mo was the shorter half of the duo, and the one whose career never had a chance after he became “Sir Mo,” assistant to “King Mabel” after the latter’s King of the Ring victory.
After leaving WWE in 1996, Mo worked the indie scene for the next decade or so, though he was still wrestling occasionally as recently as 2015. Except for some pretty obvious weight gain in some photos, he looks relatively the same as he did back in the day, though on a sad note, his fiancee took to GoFundMe earlier this year to raise money for Mo’s battle with kidney failure. Unfortunately, the campaign has raised less than $2,000 out of its $30,000 goal in the seven months since it was launched.
17. Tom Prichard/Zip
You may be more familiar with his younger brother, veteran backstage worker and on-air personality Bruce Prichard, or Brother Love as he was most famously known to 1980s WWE fans. But “Dr.” Tom Prichard did get some exposure as well in the WWE, first as one-half of The Heavenly Bodies with the late Jimmy Del Ray. After WWE released Del Ray, Prichard traded his long brown hair with a blonde buzzcut, becoming Bodydonna Zip, Skip’s (Chris Candido) storyline cousin.
After The Bodydonnas disbanded, Prichard continued working for WWE, initially wearing a mask as jobber Dr. X as his hair grew back in. Prichard mostly focused on backstage work before he was finally cut in 2004, and returned to WWE in 2007 ,where he served as head developmental trainer before being replaced by Bill DeMott in 2012. Whoops.
16. The Goon
During WWE’s much-maligned New Generation Era, the company tried to give many a wrestler a “second job.” That included a few “two-sport athletes,” such as Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, who was actually Steve “Brooklyn Brawler” Lombardi in a one-off role to poke fun at Major League Baseball for its season-ending strike of 1994. The Goon was another one of these “two-sport athletes,” an ultra-violent hockey player who joined the WWE in 1996 because he was kicked out of every hockey league he had previously joined.
It took only a few months for WWE to put The Goon in the penalty box for good, but Bill Irwin, the man behind the gimmick, would continue wrestling in the indies for several years thereafter. (He did have a “WrestleMania moment” at X-Seven, reprising his role as The Goon in the Gimmick Battle Royal.) He’s reportedly been working as a motor coach driver in recent years, though further details on Irwin are mostly unavailable.
15. Big Bully Busick
No, The Vaudevillains weren’t WWE’s first attempt at throwback characters straight from the early 20th century. About 25 years prior to Aiden English and Simon Gotch’s WWE main roster debut, the company hired Nick Busick and gave him a gimmick of a town bully circa 1910s or earlier, having him wear a bowler hat and an extremely thick handlebar mustache. Like many others in this list, Big Bully Busick was managed by Harvey Wippleman, which, back in the ’90s, was often a recipe for getting stuck in the mid-card.
Busick was gone from the WWE after his brief 1991 run, and after retiring from wrestling, he sold a line of sports nutrition products and promoted MMA shows in his adopted home state of Ohio. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2015, though he’s been cancer-free since last year, having lost about 80 pounds, as well as all of his hair and his signature mustache.
14. T.L. Hopper
Like some of the other wrestlers in this list, Tony Anthony had wrestled in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling before moving to WWE for gimmicky lower-card duty. Also known as the Dirty White Boy, WWE decided to take this ring name literally when they transformed Anthony into T.L. Hopper, the wrestling plumber. This was a role that required him to wear low-hanging jeans that exposed part of his butt crack, bring a plunger named Betsy with him to the ring, and dive underneath a swimming pool to investigate what looked to be a piece of poop. Because when you’re Vince McMahon, toilet humor is still funny even if you’re already in your 50s.
After WWE thankfully flushed T.L. Hopper down the toilet, Anthony returned in late 1997 in a non-wrestling role as Uncle Cletus, managing The Godwinns during their evil pig farmer phase. He’s living a quieter life now, but he’s still involved in the wrestling business, having served as a babyface commissioner for his home state’s Tennessee Xtreme Wrestling not too long ago.
The WWE was just not a conducive work environment for Japanese stars back in the 1990s. Oftentimes, their characters were of a stereotypical nature, and upward mobility in the card was just out of the question. For an example of the latter, let’s take a look at Jinsei Shinzaki, who joined WWE in 1994 as Hakushi, a kayfabe Buddhist monk whose body was covered in (fake) tattoos of Japanese text. For a while, it appeared as if he had a bright future, thanks to an extremely well-received series of matches with Bret Hart. But he would soon end up losing to Barry Horowitz, of all people, and getting branded by one Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw, leading to his exit from the company. Guess you can say Uncle Zebekiah’s protege bullied him out of the WWE, if you get our drift?
At the age of 50, Shinzaki is still actively wrestling, and has been with Michinoku Pro Wrestling since 2002, serving as the company’s president since 2003. WWE arguably dropped the ball with Shinzaki, who had the talent and the initial promise to become the company’s first breakout star from Japan.
At least Jinsei Shinzaki was actually a Japanese wrestler. Kato, on the other hand, was a Canadian of Croatian descent (Tom Boric in real life, Paul Diamond in his usual in-ring roles) who would go on to play a pretend-alien as Max Moon when Konnan fell out for good with the WWE in 1992. But since everyone knows about how crappy Max Moon was, we’re going to focus on Kato, the masked member of the early ’90s tag team The Orient Express. After the requisite hot start, Kato and teammate Pat Tanaka were curtain-jerking jobbers to the stars, and it could be argued that Max Moon was actually a career upgrade for Kato – at least WWE was serious (for a bit) in booking him as a mid-card fan favorite with kiddie appeal.
These days, Boric is based in the Decatur, Alabama area, where, as of 2012, he was working for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. He also has a son playing collegiate soccer, which is in line with Boric’s pre-wrestling career as a college and pro goalkeeper (in the now-defunct, pre-MLS league, NASL). Unfortunately, he’s also racked up quite an arrest record over the past decade, mostly for driving offenses.
11. Adam Bomb
Back when Vince McMahon was peddling the New Generation Era to fans who were getting sick of the cartoonish elements of pro wrestling, he stubbornly insisted on pushing “people in your neighborhood” occupational wrestlers, or characters that turned their cartoonish qualities up to 11. Adam Bomb falls in the latter category – his name was a bad pun on “atom bomb,” he was billed as being from Three Mile Island, and his gimmick was that of a nuclear meltdown survivor. Not surprisingly, he never got anything better than a mid-card push, what with the likes of Johnny Polo (the future Raven) and Harvey Wippleman managing him.
Moving to WCW in 1997, the man behind Adam Bomb, Bryan Clark, became part of a Mortal Kombat-themed tag team as Wrath, teaming up with Mortis, aka Chris Kanyon. He then began using his real name as one-half of KroniK, lasting till WCW’s bitter end and having a terrible match against The Brothers of Destruction at Unforgiven 2001. Clark was released soon after, and he’s spent recent years cutting shoot interviews and telling people how much he hated working with Vince McMahon and the Kliq during his WWE run.
10. Blake Beverly
We would have liked to include both Beverly Brothers, Beau and Blake, in this list, but since we can’t seem to find recent photos of Wayne “Beau Beverly” Bloom, we’ll have to settle with a sole entry featuring Mike Enos, aka Blake Beverly in the WWE. The Beverlys’ gimmick was that of a pair of spoiled preppies managed by The Genius (Lanny Poffo), and while they did have a few stabs at the WWE Tag Team Championships in the early ’90s, fans were nonplussed by their forgettable portrayal of wrestling rich kids with bad mullets.
Today, Enos’ biggest claim to fame is that he was one of two WCW lower-carders (the other being the late Steve Doll) who were in the ring when Scott Hall interrupted their match and asked WCW if they “want a war.” He retired from wrestling in 2000, and apart from an early-2010s prostitution arrest (which is where the “now” photo comes from) and his involvement in last year’s WWE concussion/brain injury lawsuit, he’s been living pretty much under the radar since he hung up his wrestling boots.
The Undertaker-threatening Hade Vansen was canned after one pre-debut vignette during the Ruthless Aggression Era, and that’s why the Vader-threatening Brakkus can take solace in the fact that he did make his in-ring debut, even if it was a year and a half after his hype vignettes first aired. Of course, Brakkus never got to feud with Vader, as he was just too raw and clumsy, even after all that time WWE gave him to develop his skills. Instead, he took part in a handful of televised matches in 1998, including a quick exit in the infamous Brawl for All shoot-fighting tournament.
Brakkus’ failure in the WWE was likely a huge disappointment to Vince McMahon, who must have seen dollar signs in the German bodybuilder-turned-wrestler’s physique. He would retire soon after his WWE exit, though he appears to have led a successful life after pro wrestling, as he’s been based in California since the late ’90s, working as a personal trainer and nutritionist under his real name, Achim Albrecht.
8. Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker/Chainz
If you were a WWE fan as far back as 1994, then there’s no way you can forget The Underfaker, or “Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker” as WWE would prefer him to be known. But what about the man who played him? Dropping his last name as a fixture of Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Brian Lee Harris was cousin to the far more recognizable Harris twins, Ron and Don. And while he was meant to be a one-shot character as the Undertaker impostor who had seemingly sold out to the Million Dollar Man, Brian Lee returned to the WWE in 1997, taking the ring name Chainz and playing the role of a generic biker in Crush’s post-Nation of Domination faction, the Disciples of Apocalypse.
Four years after his forgettable second WWE run ended, Lee became one of TNA’s very first wrestlers, as he teamed up with Slash (aka Wolfie D of PG-13) to briefly hold the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Since then, he’s kept an extremely low profile, save for the occasional shoot interview, but rumors did swirl as of late that Lee, now 51, has been fighting a drug problem in more recent years. We hope those rumors aren’t true, but it’s clear that he hasn’t been aging too well.
7. Barry Windham
The WWE just didn’t know what to do with Barry Windham. The son of WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Mulligan, Windham had some tag team success with Mike Rotunda in The U.S. Express in the ’80s, but what followed were several forgettable, short-lived WWE gimmicks in between WCW runs – The Widowmaker, The Stalker, and eventually Blackjack Windham. The latter gimmick saw Barry team up with a pre-APA/JBL Bradshaw as The New Blackjacks, and it was clear from day one that nobody wanted to see the two rehash the gimmicks made famous by Mulligan and Lanza in the ’70s and ’80s.
We now remember Barry Windham as the uncle of Mike Rotunda’s kids, current WWE Superstars Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, but we can’t blame you if you forgot what he did for the WWE back in the ’90s. Now 57, Windham doesn’t look too bad for someone his age, though he did cheat death after suffering a massive heart attack in 2011.
6. The Mean Street Posse
What’s to do when you’ve got a new on-air personality/occasional wrestler who was born to wrestling royalty, but needs to get over as a top villain? If you’re the WWE, you’d hire said personality’s childhood friends, and have them take part in actual wrestling matches despite a sheer lack of training. That’s exactly what happened when Shane McMahon got the backing of The Mean Street Posse. The preppy faction featured Shane-O-Mac’s actual friends, Rodney (Lienhardt) and Pete Gas (Gasparino), with journeyman Jason Ahrndt getting repackaged as Joey Abs. As you may expect, the Posse were responsible for some of the worst-worked matches in Attitude Era history, due to Rodney and Pete Gas not being trained wrestlers.
As you’d expect from two well-off high school football players-turned wrestlers, Rodney and Pete Gas shifted their focus to business and family after their WWE run ended, though Gas did make some appearances last year on The Edge & Christian Show. The same applied to Joey Abs, who retired from wrestling at a young age and was working for his family’s car repair business as of the late 2000s.
5. Kwang/Savio Vega
An up-and-coming star in Carlos Colon’s World Wrestling Council, Juan Rivera joined the WWE in 1993, but not under his real name, or anything remotely Hispanic. Instead, he was debuted as Harvey Wippleman’s newest protege, a masked ninja from Japan called Kwang. Like many of Wippleman’s mid-card charges, Kwang had little upside to go with his bad gimmick, and it was only when he became Savio Vega – Razor Ramon’s kayfabe childhood friend – that he became relevant. Of course, there was his leadership of Los Boricuas during WWE’s awful Gang Warz storyline, but heck, being a Puerto Rican street thug still beat working as a fake ninja.
Even at the age of 53, Savio Vega remains a big star in his home country of Puerto Rico. He also looks virtually the same as he did during his WWE days, still maintaining the bald head and pudgy frame, but thankfully not the green mist that was a key part of his Kwang gimmick.
4. The Berzerker
“HUSS! HUSS! HUSS! HUSS!” I wish I knew what that meant. But that’s basically my best memory of The Berzerker, in a nutshell. WWE gladly capitalized on John Nord’s Scandinavian heritage by transforming him into a kayfabe Viking, and while WWE did try to make him look as fearsome as possible, it often ended up with comical results. (Seriously? Licking your hands while you wait for your jobber opponent to get counted out?) No wonder he wasn’t as accomplished as his fellow Minnesota natives and longtime friends Rick Rude and Barry “Demolition Smash/Repo Man” Darsow.
After his mostly uninspiring two-year WWE run ended in 1993, Nord competed in All Japan Pro Wrestling and WCW. He then worked at his brother’s auto dealership in his home state of Minnesota, and hasn’t been involved much with wrestling since he retired from the sport. Like some others in this list, he was involved in last year’s traumatic brain injury lawsuit against the WWE, alleging that the company willingly withheld such risks from its talents.
3. Rick Martel
You might not have been aware at first that Rick Martel was doing fellow Canadian Tyler Breeze’s male model shtick as far back as 1990, before Prince Pretty was old enough to talk, much less say “mmmm, gorgeous.” Turning heel late in 1989, Martel developed this arrogant persona to become a solid upper mid-card villain, and as fans of the era should know, he topped it all off with a “fragrance” that epitomized his new attitude – Arrogance.
As “The Model,” Martel had some memorable feuds, including one against Jake Roberts, and he did have some prior success in the tag team ranks with both Strike Force (with Tito Santana) and The Can-Am Connection (with Tom Zenk). We’d say he looks quite young for someone who’s now 61-years-old, and while he’s been out of the spotlight for years, his WWE resume makes him a good candidate to get back out there for a bit and get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Robert Maillet had an interesting career in the WWE. The French-Canadian giant debuted in 1997 as The Interrogator, the unstoppable monster of The Truth Commission, a kayfabe South African faction. Ultimately renamed Kurrgan, he was built up for some time as a force to be reckoned with, but over time, WWE gave up on his lack of in-ring refinement. He wrapped up his WWE run as a comedy babyface, joining The Oddities stable where he teamed with the even more inept Giant Silva, Golga (a masked, slimmed-down John “Earthquake” Tenta), a misused Luna Vachon, Insane Clown Posse, and for a brief period of time, Sable.
Although Kurrgan was awful in the ring in the three years he competed in the WWE, his giant frame has worked in his favor in recent years, as he’s carved out a pretty decent, though definitely not Dwayne Johnson-esque acting career, usually starring in small roles that demand a tall and imposing actor. And yes, he did co-star with The Rock in the 2014 film Hercules, where he played the role of the Executioner.
1. The Patriot
He’s the answer to a popular WWE trivia question – who was the first person to enter the ring to Kurt Angle’s ring music? Even if he was often identified by his real name, Del Wilkes, The Patriot was kept underneath a mask as he joined the WWE in mid-1997 and got a good push out of the gate as a rival to Bret Hart and his evil-in-America-only version of The Hart Foundation. That probably compromised his potential a bit, but in the end, it was injuries that did him in when WWE released him early in 1998.
After leaving the WWE, Wilkes quietly retired from professional wrestling, and saw his life bottom out as he battled a crippling painkiller addiction. He even ended up spending nine months in jail in 2002 for forging prescriptions. Fortunately, Wilkes has been clean for about a decade, and released a documentary two years ago, aptly titled Behind the Mask. As of 2014, he was still working as a salesman at a Nissan dealership in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
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