The WWE has seen some incredible characters over the years: The many faces of Foley, The Dead Man himself, The Undertaker, Timeshare salesmen, The Shining Stars of the Caribbean. Sometimes WWE have a great thing on their hands and yet they do nothing with it, these are just five of the worst examples of this waste of great talent.
Remember him? Not many people do. In April 2004, vignettes began airing on SmackDown of a man, dressed in all white with a staff, portraying a religious zealot type character that resembled the weird Albino guy from The Da Vinci Code. Mordecai would, in these videos, discuss ridding the world of sin, genuinely capturing the interest of fans during an era that was moving to more reality-based characters. On May 16th 2004, Mordecai debuted at the Judgement Day pay per view, with a very visual entrance, and defeated Scotty 2 Hotty. Mordecai then used his next few SmackDown appearances to berate the audience for their sin, before ultimately falling off the face of the planet, never to be seen again.
The gimmick was dropped in July, with many speculating as to why the sudden change of heart, given the investment that the company had made in his debut. There was also a given money match with the Undertaker that could have obviously made for a great story. The man behind the character, Kevin Fertig, would later leave and come back to the company as Kevin Thorne on the now infamous revamp of ECW. In 2009, after going back to WWE’s then-developmental territory OVW for a second time, he was granted his release from the company.
4: Matt Morgan
Now, from a character perspective, Morgan made a great career for himself in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, given the gimmick the DNA of TNA. But his time in the WWE was a different issue altogether. Morgan made his WWE TV debut on SmackDown on 30th October 2003 and was immediately thrust into the main event scene, being made a member of Team Lesnar to take on Team Angle at Survivor Series. Morgan would then team with Brock Lesnar on the way to the Royal Rumble, where he competed and was eliminated by the eventual winner Chris Benoit. Morgan’s character was seemingly lost thereafter and he didn’t arise on WWE TV again until spring 2005 when the company re-debuted his character on the April 21st edition of SmackDown. This time his character was a man with a stutter. Yep, you read that right. A stutter. In what was supposed to be the ‘Ruthless Aggression’ era, they gave a guy with a great look and solid fundamentals a stammer to get him over. Morgan was subsequently released early in July 2005 and was never seen in a WWE ring again. A truly great talent passed over by a company that should have propelled him to the moon.
3: ‘The Big Show’ Paul Wight
Yes, I used his full name. That’s because, after his debut at in February 1999, they went around the houses with how to name him. At one point JR was referring to him as the ‘Big Nasty Bastard’ but I don’t think that stuck. I can actually pinpoint the moment that things went awry for the Big Show, and it was very early on in his career in the WWE. On the road to WrestleMania X-5, he had a one-on-one singles match with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, and even as a young fan, I figured the match would end in disqualification or count out to maintain the mystique of the Big Show. The match ended with Austin defeating Show clean.
This would then set a precedent, as Show would turn face at WrestleMania X-5, which set in motion an entire career of flip-flopping from a face to a heel and vice versa. The best effort at getting the Big Show character over was during his feud with Brock Lesnar at 2002’s Survivor Series where Paul Heyman turned on Lesnar and aligned himself with the Big Show, helping him capture his second world title. This was made even more significant with the fact that this was Lesnar’s first pinfall defeat in the WWE. The belief was that with the success Heyman had with getting over Lesnar, would help with getting the Big Show over as a monster heel. T, unfortunately, wasn’t the case, and Show lost the title only a month later to Kurt Angle. The Big Show is still semi-active, and aside from the negativity, has still had a long run with the company, but his character will always be remembered as a ‘what could have been’ rather than a ‘what was’.
2: Shelton Benjamin
Few wrestlers during the early 2000s had the billing of being a ‘pure athlete other than Kurt Angle, so it was only fitting that Shelton Benjamin debuted in the WWE alongside his tag team partner Charlie Haas as part of Team Angle in December 2002. He and Haas became two time tag team champions, and in 2004, during the infamous brand split, he was drafted to RAW and became a singles competitor for the first time in WWE. At this point, his character was booked to beat Triple H, and in late 2004, won the Intercontinental title for the first time from Chris Jericho. He had the longest title reign of the decade at that point and eventually lost the title to Carlito in June 2005. This is where things took a weird turn for Benjamin.
He went on a losing streak, prompting his ‘momma’ to turn up on TV and berate him when he lost. This was all done and dusted by WrestleMania 22 but he continued feuding for the Intercontinental title and won it an additional two times between 2005 and 2006. From 2007-2008, Benjamin was drafted to the WWE’s relaunched ECW brand, doing very little at that point, and creative gave him the ‘Gold Standard’ moniker, that never really fit his character. He spent the next two years bouncing around all three brands, and his character was never really filled out or given any depth. A really impressive talent who never really found much character development. Benjamin was released from the WWE on April 22nd 2010, but has now returned to the company, and is part of the SmackDown brand.
1: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt, formally ‘Husky Harris’, hit WWE screens in May 2013 with creepy vignettes, alongside Erik Rowan and Luke Harper. They had a weird ‘Hillbilly’ horror type vibe and were completely different from anything else that was going on in the company, and it grabbed attention very quickly. The Wyatt Family made their anticipated debut just two months later, attacking Kane on RAW. For the first few months, the booking of Bray Wyatt’s character wasn’t bad. His nonsensical promos were decent for a time, but because quickly tiresome to a portion of the audience. The first big dent to his character was at WrestleMania XXX, which in all honesty should have been the start of big things for his character. He fought John Cena, the biggest character in the company, on the biggest stage and lost. Clean.
Thus began the infamous 50/50 booking from the company, where effectively in a feud Wyatt would win one, then lose one. His mystique by 2014 had already begun wearing off. Rowan and Harper were essentially split from Wyatt towards the end of 2014, and after some very underwhelming feuds, reformed the Wyatt Family for a second time between 2015 and 2016. In late 2016, Wyatt’s character courted Randy Orton, and after some back and forth, Orton aligned himself with Wyatt, quite clearly leading to a feud a short time later (you’d think Wyatt’s character would have seen that a mile off), but during this time, Orton helped Wyatt get into the Elimination Chamber match, and at that Pay Per View in February 2017, Wyatt won his first WWE Title.
Great right? He held it a month and then dropped it to Orton in a match that included projecting bugs onto the ring mat. Things could have gotten much worse in late 2017, when on the road to the TLC Pay Per View around Halloween time, during a feud with Finn Balor (who was bringing his ‘Demon’ persona to the show), creative thought it a good idea to reveal Sister Abigail, a fictional God of sorts to Wyatt’s character, as Wyatt himself, basically dressed in drag. Weird, weird stuff. I could go on, but those who have followed his character will understand that it is very difficult to salvage anything from the way that he has been booked. There is still a glimmer of hope, but I don’t hold out for it.
Who do you think WWE dropped the ball with? Do you agree with Scotty? Let us know @VultureHoundMag
Screencap and Photos courtesy of WWE.com