Despite featuring one of the largest (and most talented) rosters in WWE history, the Ruthless Aggression Era seems to be forgotten when it comes to fantastic periods in wrestling. Maybe it's a fondness for the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars, or, maybe the transition from car-crash storytelling to more wrestle-centric programming wasn't everyone's cup of tea.
Regardless, some of the biggest names in the history of WWE existed in this time. Whether that's new stars like John Cena, Umaga, and CM Punk or old carryovers like The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H — this period of wrestling was stacked with talent. Because of this, however, some names were left in the shadows, and that's unfortunate. So, we're going to honor those forgotten names.
The Japanese Buzzsaw captivated audiences with his unique, hard-hitting moveset, and his strange over-the-top persona. In many ways, Tajiri popularized "strong style" in North America before we even knew what it was, and less than five months in WWE, he captured his first title in the company, the WCW cruiserweight championship. After years as a pillar of the division, Tajiri moved into the Tag-Team title scene, where he teamed with Eddie Guerrero following an injury to Chavo. The two captured the WWE Tag Team Championship from Team Angle and even defended the belts against Roddy Piper along with Sean O'Haire.
While that was a fun time in Tajiri's career, he will probably be best remembered for his time tagging with William Regal. The duo was funny but both were technical wizards, making both hardcore and casual fans fall in love with their antics.
9 Paul Burchill
Paul Burchill was a freaking pirate, and no one ever talks about this. Inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, Burchill would swing onto the stage decked out like Jack Sparrow, making him one of the more entertaining parts of SmackDown every week. Unfortunately, according to backstage stories, Vince McMahon didn't understand the fascination with the Disney movie series and quickly shelved the fan-favorite gimmick. Instead, he became a bad-guy for no reason and kept making comments about his attractive new manager— who happened to be his sister.
8 The Mexicools
The Mexicools consisted of Mexican wrestling legends in Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and Super Crazy who dressed as maintenance workers and rode lawnmowers to the ring, so we understand how many fans would want to blackout this period in WWE history. Still, the trio was pretty successful, with Juventud winning the Cruiserweight championship. They would eventually focus on the Tag-Team Titles following that run, but never managed to win gold in that division.
Unfortunately, the group faced a slow death as Juventud left WWE, leaving the team of Psicosis and Super Crazy to continue on as a duo. They eventually broke up, and Psicosis left WWE shortly after that.
WWE's women's division during the Ruthless Aggression Era is dramatically underappreciated. Unfortunately, the fantastic wrestling ability of some of the women of that time was pushed aside for gimmicky matches meant to excite the young-adult-male fanbase. Sure, stars like Trish Stratus, Lita, and Mickey James managed to rise above that, it wasn't the case for every star. One forgotten legend was Victoria.
As an absolute powerhouse, Victoria dominated the women's division, winning the championship twice during her time in the company. She was far more successful in TNA, however, but her time in WWE during the Ruthless Aggression Era shouldn't be understated.
Montel Vontavious Porter, AKA MVP, debuted in WWE as the highest-paid and highly-anticipated bluechip prospect in WWE history. While that was just a gimmick, the talented superstar went on to prove he was worth all the hype. His feud with Chris Benoit over the United States Championship was really fun, and he went on to have the longest reign in the history of the Title. His bouts with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair, and John Morrison proved he could have a good match with almost anyone, but for whatever reason, he could never move past the mid-card. Throughout his time in WWE, however, he was constantly fed to Undertaker, losing in quick and decisive fashion, hurting his image in the company.
Still, much like Victoria, MVP went on to have a successful run in TNA, specifically as a main member of the Beat Down Clan, proving WWE dropped the ball with him.at the age of 43, he still competes on a semi-regular basis.
5 FBI (Full Blooded Italians)
The Full Blooded Italians were a hilarious group in the original ECW where obviously non-Italian wrestlers claimed descent from the old country and acted stereotypically Italian. When the faction revived in WWE, however, it consisted of Chuck Palumbo and Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, and Nunzio (who actually was one of the original members from the ECW group). They were a little different in the sense that all the members at least appeared to be Italian, and they were a pretty fun heel faction.
The team lost and gained members throughout their time in WWE, but eventually, it boiled down to just Nunzio and Big Vito. The team disbanded in 2005 when Vito declared he enjoyed cross-dressing.
4 The Boogeyman
It's easy to forget that The Boogyman actually wrestled in WWE and isn't just a character they trot out for every reunion show for some reason. To be fair, the character is pretty endearing and the man behind the gimmick, Martin Wright, actually took part in the first-ever "Tough Enough" competition. He made it to the final eight before being ousted when he admitted he was 40-years-old. Unfortunately, we never got to see much of the character as his career consisted of a number of stops and starts thanks to some poorly timed injuries.
Still, WWE saw something in the star and kept him around, eventually giving him The Boogeyman gimmick. He'd go on to wrestle the likes of Kane and Booker T but is probably best known for eating the growth off the face of JBL's "Fixer", Jillian Hall.
3 The Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick may be the grizzled veteran in 205 Live these days, but during his first run in WWE, it was clear the company had plans for the agile high-flyer. While he made a name for himself both with and away from WWE, he really gained prominence alongside Paul London, where the duo captured the Tag-Team Championships on SmackDown.
When the team broke up, however, Kendrick was given a pretty big push and went on to take part in the "WWE Championship Scramble" where he actually won the title of interim champion before losing just a few minutes later.
2 Road Warrior Animal
Did you know The Road Warriors competed during the Ruthless Aggression Era? Well, they did. In fact, the team returned in 2003, just before Hawk's death.
Animal returned years later, and he recruited the man who probably assaulted Michael Cole in a bathroom — Heidenrich. The pair went on to win the Tag Team titles on SmackDown. The team eventually broke up, with Animal dropping the facepaint and shoulder pads. He ended up competing under the moniker "The Road Warrior", before being released by WWE months later.
1 Zach Gowen
Zach Gowen gained immense popularity in WWE as a one-legged wrestler with no fear. He debuted on an episode of SmackDown, saving Hulk Hogan (as Mr. America) from a beatdown at the hands of Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire and the rest was history from there.
From there on out, he was featured prominently throughout 2003 and 2004 where he was seen alongside names like Stephanie McMahon, Kurt Angle, and even Big Show. His crowning achievement was beating Brock Lesnar, which lead to an entertaining, yet one-sided feud.