The New Generation is one of the forgotten eras in WWE history as it was sandwiched in between the wrestling boom of the 1980s-90s and the Attitude Era of the late 1990s. This era was the WWE’s attempt to distance themselves from the negative press they had incurred from Vince McMahon’s steroid trial in 1993 as the company pushed newer and younger wrestlers labeled the “New Generation.”
This period in wrestling was marked by over-the-top gimmicks, outsized personalities, and a greater emphasis on actual wrestling! Gone were the days of matches that consisted only of big boots and legdrops as the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would put on wrestling clinics in the squared circle. The stars from the 1980s were being phased out by younger wrestlers who would, for better or worse, create some of the most memorable gimmicks in wrestling history. Cowboys with guns, NASCAR drivers, and the IRS! Only during the mid 90s could this be seen as commonplace.
Over 20 years have passed since the New Generation era ended and it’s time to look back at some of these superstars. Some have aged reasonably well and others…not so much. We all know what the likes of Hart, Michaels, The Undertaker, and a couple others from this era look like; so we’ll only be looking back at the others that don’t populate our TVs on a regular basis. Here are what these 20 New Generation stars now look like today:
20 Johnny Polo
Then: The wrestler currently known as Raven had his first run in WWE as a jack-of-all-trades and went by the name, Johnny Polo. Polo was a part-time wrestler as well as a manager, commentator, and even a backstage producer on RAW. He would manage three of the other wrestlers on this list: Adam Bomb and the Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre). After about a year-and-a-half with the WWE, Polo would leave for ECW because he wanted to wrestle full-time and he felt that he would only get jobbed out in WWE.WWE’s loss was ECW’s gain as the character, Raven, would become one of the most iconic in the promotion’s history. He would then bounce from promotion to promotion including another stint in the WWE in the early 2000s.
Now: Raven currently lives in Atlanta and always jumps at the opportunity to take on one of his former ECW nemesis on the indy scene. He also hosts a podcast called The Raven Effect which is hosted on Chris Jericho’s podcast network. 20 years of chair shots to the head clearly haven’t done Raven much good as he looks older than his 52 years would indicate.
19 Bart Gunn
Then: Gunn first joined the WWE as one half of the Smoking Gunns alongside his “brother” Billy Gunn. Billy and Bart shared as much blood as The Undertaker and Kane do but after they split up, Billy became a cornerstone of D-X while Bart became a shoot-fighter. He won a legit shoot-fighting tournament called Brawl for All in which he defeated four other Superstars including renowned tough guys, Bob Holly and Dr. Death Steve Williams. After being knocked out by IBA Super Heavyweight champion, Butterbean, in 35 seconds at WrestleMania XV; Gunn was released by WWE.
Now: After leaving WWE, Gunn went to Japan where he continued wrestling until 2004. At the age of 42 he decided to capitalize on his Brawl for All success and entered the world of MMA but lasted just 2 fights. With his wrestling/boxing/MMA careers now done; he returned to being an electrician which is what he was doing full-time while being a part-time wrestler in his pre-Smoking Gunn days. Gunn no longer rocks the mullet or buzz cut he had as a wrestler; but he still has the forearms of a guy you wouldn’t want to yell “Butterbean” at if you see him in the street.
18 Savio Vega
Then: The pride of Puerto Rico vs. debuted in 1993 as the masked wrestler Kwang which was an amalgamation of various Asian gimmicks. After about 2 years he then transformed into Savio Vega, who was a face and that gimmick played off his real-life Puerto Rican heritage. As the New Generation started to shift into the Attitude Era; Vega also made a transition into one of the heels in the Nation of Domination. Although he would spend 6 years in the WWE, Vega never held a title and was mostly relegated to jobber status throughout his tenure.
Now: Vega has continued to make appearances in various federations in Puerto Rico and also in the independent scene. He also served a stint in TNA as a road agent and trainer for the Knockouts division, similarly to the role Fit Finlay has with the WWE. While working the indies, Vega also trained a young Sami Zayn when they were together in the Puerto Rico Wrestling Association. Vega is still rocking the goatee from his WWE days but if you just glance at him, one could easily mistake him for the Coach, Jonathan Coachman.
17 Dean Douglas
Then: Following on the heels of The Genius; Douglas returned to the WWE in the mid-90s as ‘Dean Douglas,’ an overly-educated heel wrestler. Many forget that Douglas was even in the WWE during this time period as his tenure was sandwiched between two stints in ECW as Shane Douglas. He would last just six months as Dean Douglas but this snobbish heel gimmick has been recycled over and over again and was most recently used by Chris Jericho.
Now: Douglas is still wrestling in the independents and often times his opponents are fellow former ECW wrestlers. Showing that extreme has no age; Douglas still competes in various hardcore matches even though he’s over 50. In addition to doing autograph signings across the country; Douglas is also working on his autobiography and starting up a personal podcast.
16 Waylon Mercy
Then: Mercy (real name Dan Spivey) has a three-year run with the WWE in the 1980s and then returned to the company in 1995. Even though he was part of the New Generation; Spivey was 42-years-old when he became ‘Waylon Mercy.’ The character had a split personality and was calm and peaceful outside of the ring but merciless inside of it. However, due to injuries Spivey would retire just 4 months after rejoining the WWE.
Now: The character of Waylon Mercy would be reprised in 2012 by Bray Wyatt. When Wyatt was sent down to the WWE Performance Center after the failed Husky Harris experiment; Spivey also happened to be present and he suggested the character to the WWE and they ran with it. In 2015 and some 20 years after his retirement; the 62-year-old Spivey wrestled one last match in Dory Funk’s promotion. These days Spivey runs a company in Florida that provides assistance to those recovering from addictions.
15 1-2-3 Kid
Then: What would a list about the New Generation be without an appearance from the Kliq, albeit the least heralded member? Sean Waltman shocked the wrestling world with his upset of Razor Ramon as a then 21-year-old on Monday Night Raw. Who knew it would be all downhill from there? With the political influence that Waltman’s friends had in WWF at the time, he could have become THE face of the New Generation. But recurring drug problems did him in as he was in rehab during the infamous Curtain Call at MSG and would leave for Dubya-C-Dubya in 1996.
Now: Waltman will likely always have a job in WWE as long as one of his best friends, Triple H, is an EVP. Waltman has served as a talent evaluator for WWE’s developmental promotions and is also signed to a Legends contract with the company. Somehow only 44 years old, Waltman is still young enough to have one last WWE run in his future, provided his demons don’t get the best of him. Waltman still rocks the same head band he did as 1-2-3 Kid/Syxx/X-Pac but it appears he’s finally ditched the ponytail making Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels the last two Kliq-ponytails left standing.
14 Mr. Hughes
Then: If you blinked, then you might have missed Curtis Hughes’ first run in the WWE. He had his customary black sunglasses and mean-mug and was managed by Harvey Wippleman. Back then he was still a 300 pounder and is best remembered for stealing The Undertaker’s urn. His stay in the WWE was only a few months and not long after leaving he would seemingly become the person every wrestler turned to when they needed a bodyguard.
Now: Hughes would return to the WWE in 1997 and again in 1999 as the enforcer for Triple H and Chris Jericho, respectively. He wrestled in the independent promotions until 2012 and then transitioned to a trainer for World Wrestling Alliance in Atlanta. Among the wrestlers Hughes would help train are Heath Slater, Apollo Crews and Moose of TNA.
Then: Who doesn’t hate the IRS? That was Vince McMahon’s thinking behind making Mike Rotunda Irwin R. Schyster AKA IRS in 1991. It was a classic heel gimmick perfect for the New Generation as it was based off someone or something that most people generally despise. After a brief singles career, IRS would then team with Ted DiBiase to form the tag team, Money Inc. and then later join the Million Dollar Corporation. Rotunda, along with DiBiase and many others, would then be poached by WCW during the Monday Night Wars.
Now: With his sons, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, now a part of the WWE; Rotunda has made various appearances with the company since last wrestling for them in 1995. He also currently works as a producer and road agent for WWE while his daughter, Mika, works as a production assistant. Thus, backstage at a WWE event is a family affair for the Rotundas as there are four employed by the company.
12 Flash Funk
Then: After making a name for him as 2 Cold Scorpio in WCW; Charles Scaggs would go to ECW and later would join WWE in 1996 as Flash Funk. Think of a 90s male version of Naomi and that’s what you had with Flash Funk in WWE. He later joined Al Snow’s J.O.B. Squad which was a reference to the fact that all members of the group were essentially jobbers to the stars every time they stepped through the ropes.
Now: Funk went to Japan for five years after his WWE stint before returning to the States in 2005. Since then he has participated in several ECW reunion shows and admitted to using hardcore drugs during his time as Flash Funk. He still wrestles to this day but one would think that his infamous 450 splashes are a thing of the past now that Funk is over 50 years old.
Then: Before there was Goldberg, there was Tatanka! No, their wrestling styles weren’t similar but Tatanka was undefeated on WWE television for over a year-and-a-half during the early 90s. Tatanka was a Native American wrestler who was a fan favorite until he turned heel and joined Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. He would eventually leave the company in 1996 but unlike many other wrestlers during this time; he didn’t jump ship to WCW (or ECW). Tatanka stayed on the independent scene which allowed him to spend more time with his family.
Now: A decade after leaving the WWE; Tatanka would return full-time after a very impressive one-off appearance in a match vs. Eugene. He would leave again in 2007 but has since signed a Legends contract with the company. He most recently performed for the company at WrestleMania 32 in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. At 55, Tatanka is still in decent enough shape to wrestle with his shirt off unlike many of his contemporaries.
10 Marc Mero
Then: A former junior hockey league MVP and Golden Gloves boxing champion; Mero was a highly accomplished athlete before stepping foot into a wrestling ring. He first came into prominence as Johnny B. Badd in WCW and would play a similar role as ‘Wildman’ Marc Mero in WWE. Mero was a one-time Intercontinental champion, but let’s be honest; the best thing he ever did during his tenure was deliver Sable to the WWE Universe as she was his then-wife at the time. Sable would outlast Mero in the WWE as he would leave the company in 1998.
Now: Mero divorced Sable in 2004 and retired from wrestling in 2006. Since then he has become a motivational speaker and guest lecturer. He speaks to kids across the state of Florida and details his experiences with abusing drugs and steroids. At the age of 56, Mero’s wrestling days are clearly behind him but the lifelong fitness enthusiast has kept himself in incredible shape over the years.
9 Jacques Rougeau
Then: Rougeau had two different gimmicks during the New Generation era: first as a singles competitor and then as a part of a tag team. Rougeau was initially The Mountie, which was a gimmick based off the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He had two high-profile matches with Bret Hart: one was when he defeated Hart for the Intercontinental title and the other was losing a world heavyweight championship match to Hart. Rougeau then teamed up with fellow Canadian, Carl Ouellet, to form the tag team, The Quebecers. They won three tag team titles before Rougeau had a short-lived retirement in 1994.
Now: Rougeau would join WCW after his 1994 retirement but would retire for good in 2000. He then tried to become an action member of the Canadian law enforcement but was denied by the Montreal Police Department because he did not graduate from high school. With that door slammed shut, Rougeau decided to open another and became a public speaker and talks to kids about the effects of drugs and bullying. He also has kept his wrestling ties as he trains future superstars of the ring at the Rougeau Wrestling School in Montreal.
Then: Before he was the thong-wearing author of the Stinkface, Rikishi as known as Fatu and was one-half of the Headshrinkers. Along with Fatu’s cousin, Samu, this tag team was a spinoff of the Wild Samoans who were the uncles of Fatu. Back then Fatu was a svelte 300 lb and would even venture to the top rope at times. But he would slowly pack on the pounds during his run as Fatu (and other gimmicks) and that weight gain would necessitate a gimmick change into the pseudo-sumo wrestler, Rikishi.
Now: Today Rikishi looks similar to how he did during his last run with the WWE, except a bit heavier. It’s quite hard to mistake a 400 lb Samoan with long blonde hair and Rikishi pops up on TV from time to time as his sons are the Usos. But, thankfully, when the 51-year-old Rikishi is back in the ring, he usually forgoes the thong in favor of long pants.
7 Aldo Montoya
Then: Many didn’t realize that the wrestler who would become Justin Credible in ECW also began his career in the WWE as Aldo Montoya. With a gimmick that milked his Portuguese heritage; Montoya was the youngest wrestler of the New Generation as he made his debut at just 19. He spent much of his 5 years in the WWE as a jobber to the stars and appeared in just one pay-per-view during his time there.
Now: Montoya would achieve his greatest success in ECW and would then have a couple of returns to the WWE in later years. Despite ‘retiring’ in 2015, Montoya has continued to do one-off appearances on the indy scene, mostly with or against former cohorts in ECW. Montoya has also stated in interviews that he was a member of The Kliq in the 1990s but the other five members aren’t as forthcoming with their inclusion of Montoya in the group.
6 Ahmed Johnson
Then: One of the many athletes who transitioned from the gridiron to the squared circle, Ahmed Johnson may have been the most intimidating babyface in WWE history. He was also one of the strongest men to ever step into a wrestling ring as he bodyslammed a 600 lb plus Yokozuna with ease. However, Johnson struggled with injuries during his entire WWE run which even caused him to vacate the Intercontinental title. Johnson had a run with the Nation of Domination that was short-lived and he was eventually released due to his ongoing injuries and weight issues.
Now: Speaking of weight issues, they were on full display when Johnson would re-surface in WCW in the late 1990s. After WCW closed, Johnson would work a few shows for his childhood friends Booker T and Stevie Ray in Houston and he would even earn his college degree. Johnson also played the role of Suge Knight in a movie about MC Hammer that premiered on VH1 in 2001. No word on what Johnson is doing these days, but from the looks of the photo above; visiting the buffet seems to be on his daily agenda.
5 Adam Bomb
Then: With a gimmick straight out of the mid 90s, Bomb wore ridiculous, oversized goggles to the ring and when he removed them one could see his luminous green contact lenses. He also may have sucked on a strawberry popsicle before every match as he had a red tongue reminiscent of George the Animal Steele’s green tongue. He had the physique that the WWE was going for back then at 6’6” 290 lb but unfortunately, Bomb was a bomb in the ring and was as awkward as they come.
Now: Like many others on this list, Bomb migrated to WCW after leaving WWE and he would team with Bryan Adams, AKA Crush from Demolition. Their team KroniK would have moderate success and won a couple of tag team titles. Since leaving wrestling, Bomb has kept a low profile but he did appear in a low-budget horror film called Axeman 2: Overkill. The 2016 film featured Bomb as the title character so it appears straight-to-video films are in his future.
4 Bob Holly
Then: Nothing screams kid-friendly like a NASCAR gimmick and who can forget Thurman “Spark Plug” Holly? Surprisingly, before Holly joined the WWE, he wrestled in Smokey Mountain Wrestling as a snobbish heel named “Hollywood Holly.” It’s a credit to Holly that he could pull off both a Hollywood gimmick and a redneck gimmick. As you would expect from someone nicknamed Spark Plug, Holly never elevated above lower mid-card status until he would turn ‘Hardcore’ in the Attitude Era.
Now: In 2009 Holly was released by the WWE after spending 17 years with the company. He then released his autobiography which, like his personality, is described as straightforward and to the point. Now in his mid 50s, Holly continues to wrestle part-time on the independent circuit. Even at his advanced age, he still has a better physique than many of the guys half his age competing today.
Then: Remember Kama “The Supreme Fighting Machine”? This was Charles Wright’s forgotten gimmick in between Papa Shango and The Godfather. This character didn’t have many memorable moments but is best remembered for stealing the urn from The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, melting it, and turning it into a gold necklace which he wore to the ring. Thankfully, this gimmick didn’t last too long and it eventually gave way to the Godfather who would be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2016.
Now: In a case of life imitating art, Wright’s real-life profession these days is (no, not a pimp) as a strip club owner in Las Vegas. He still wrestles from time-to-time but I’m sure he doesn’t mind just sticking to his day job. Perhaps the most surprising thing we learned about Wright is that he’s been married for over 30 years! And they say wrestlers don’t know how to turn their gimmicks off!
2 Alundra Blayze
Then: No, Alundra Blayze is not the mother of Alexa Bliss but one could easily interchange their names on accident. Blayze is better known as Madusa which is the name she used in her stints in WCW. Blayze was brought over to WWE in 1993 when the company rebooted its women’s division which had been inactive since 1990. She would have three reigns as the women’s champion before infamously going back to WCW and throwing the belt in the trash.
Now: When Blayze’s in-ring career was winding down, she took up monster truck riding and competed in that for 18 years. She became the first female to win the Monster Jam World Finals championship and later served as a vice president of the Major League of Monster Trucks. Despite being in her mid-50s, she has stayed in remarkable shape since her wrestling retirement and her Instagram is full of seemingly impossible yoga poses. Blayze ‘came home’ to WWE by being inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2015 and the also retrieved the women’s belt from the trash during her induction speech.
1 Lex Luger
Then: Hey, not everyone on this list was a jobber to the stars or a mid-carder! Along with Bret Hart, Luger was essentially the face of the New Generation even though his physique clearly looked as enhanced as any wrestler’s from the 1980s. Originally a narcissistic heel when he joined the WWE; Luger then became an All-American face after becoming the first person to bodyslam Yokozuna. He was always in the main event scene but never held a WWE title as Hart and The Kliq were running things back then. Luger switching sides to join WCW without telling Vince McMahon was one of the reasons he was never brought over once McMahon bought WCW in 2001.
Now: Today, Luger looks nothing like the bodybuilder he appeared to be during his 20 year wrestling career. That is the result of a nerve impingement in his neck which led to temporary paralysis in 2007. After years of rehab Luger can now walk again but mostly uses a wheelchair to get around. Unlike so many wrestlers who gain weight in retirement, this condition has led to Luger losing almost 100 lb. Today, Luger is still good friends with his former partner and adversary, Sting; and he travels the country as a motivational speaker detailing his life and experiences.