Some wrestlers will be forever remembered by WWE fans due to their enduring legacies in the company. Then there’s a handful of wrestlers that made you go “do you remember that guy and used to wear the thing and do that move?”
Yes, sadly some wrestlers end up working for the WWE for a very short time, and their appearances have all but faded from memory. Right here and right now, we’re going to honour them by going through some of the shortest WWE runs of all time. Just to let you know that these aren’t technically the shortest, but are 10 of the most notable short runs with the promotion.
Obviously, I couldn’t put everyone who had a short run in WWE on this list, but here’s a handful of honourable mentions to cool your jets.
You could pick nearly any of these strange 90s wrestlers:
– Abe ‘Knuckleball’ Schwartz
– Gobbledy Gooker
– Battle Kat
– Friar Ferguson/Bastion Booger
– The Goon
– Big Bully Busick
Elsewhere, Kizarny was a wrestler based on the idea of a ‘Jake Roberts/Doink the Clown lovechild’ who lasted only a few months. Sami Callihan wrestled for the company for a few years on NXT, but only a handful of his television matches made it to air. The Blue Meanie was an unexpected signing for the WWE, and only lasted around a year in 1998/99. Haku made an unexpected debut in 2001 at the Royal Rumble, while he was stil the WCW Hardcore Champion, however he left later that same year. Giant Gonzales was another Royal Rumble debutant, who fought The Undertaker in a poor match at WrestleMania and left the company later in the year.
1. Beaver Cleavage
Headbanger Mosh was faced with a difficult decision when tag team partner Thrasher suffered a serious injury. Having one half of a tag team running around isn’t an ideal situation, so the WWE decided to repackage Mosh with a new gimmick. This gimmick would be: Beaver Cleavage.
They actually built up the debut of the character for several weeks prior to his debut, showing black and white vignettes of Beaver with his ‘mother’ Mrs Cleavage, in a potentially incestious relationship. As disturbing as it sounds, the vignettes were played for comedy, with Beaver glancing to camera cheekily throughout.
Only a week after his debut, the character was canned in a ‘worked-shoot’ promo. I’d never seen a promo like this before, and seeing a WWE wrestler break character so realistically was so unique. By the end of the year, Beaver Cleavage reverted to the Mosh name and reformed his team with Thrasher.
2. Flash Funk
I can already hear you typing in the comments, and yes I know Flash Funk (aka 2 Cold Scorpio) worked for WWE for three years back in the mid-to-late 90s. But did you know he made a return as the character in the mid-00s? 2 Cold Scorpio was a huge independent talent that had proven himself all over the world.
Not only had he been a popular name in WCW, he also worked for ECW, New Japan, Pro Wrestling Noah, amongst others. But he could easily turn his hand to the cartoon world of the WWE too, as he took the character of Flash Funk and ran with it as far as he could in the mid-90s. It wasn’t a great character, but it did well enough to be remembered by fans, and this potentially led to his return to the company in 2006.
And they did nothing with him. He worked a number of Smackdown house shows before being sent to Deep South Wrestling, then onto Ohio Valley Wrestling. Flash Funk later work a dark match on an episode of Smackdown, losing to Paul Birchill. He’d make a sole appearance on WWE TV, taking part in the RAW 15th anniversary battle royale.
3. D’Lo Brown
D’Lo Brown, much like Flash Funk, had a successful career in the WWE prior to returning to the promotion. After debuting as a member of the Nation of Domination, he’d later become hugely popular for his tag team with fellow Nation member, Mark Henry. Brown eventually feuded with Henry, then with Jeff Jarrett, becoming one of only a handful of wrestlers to be European and Intercontinental Champion at the same time.
It may seem an exaggeration now, but D’Lo’s popularity during the A E could have rivaled many main eventers, his entrance leading to huge pops at many events. Brown’s career would be derailed after he seriously injured fellow wrestler Darren Drozdov during a match. D’Lo would be lumped in a tag team with The Godfather, and then later with Chaz Warrington. Later he’d work primarily on Heat and despite an undefeated run alongside Theadore Long, he was released in 2003.
D’Lo returned to the WWE in 2008, and after working a number of dark matches, he debuted to great applause against Santino Marella. He continued to feud with Marella, but would only work a handful of televised matches, instead being used on house shows and dark matches. He was released from his contract in early 2009, working for the company for just over six months.
Key, better known as Vic Grimes, was a wrestler for All Pro Wrestling who signed for the WWE alongside fellow APW alumni Erin ‘Crash Holly’ O’Grady in 1998. He eventually debuted as Key, a drug dealer who aligned himself with Droz and Prince Albert. Key attacked The Godfather on a number of occasions and seemed to be setting up the pair to feud.
However, Key’s feud was put on hold after The Godfather suffered an injury and Key went to work for ECW, as did many WWE stars when they were ‘treading water’. Now working once again as Vic Grimes, he’d flourish in ECW, becoming well known as one of their most exciting heavyweights, competing against Mike Awesome, Tommy Dreamer and New Jack.
However, disaster would strike during a match with the aforementioned New Jack. When building towards a stunt involving a high platform in the area, a miscommunication saw New Jack fall from the scaffold, followed by Grimes, who landed on New Jack. This accident left New Jack blind in one eye and with brain damage. Grimes would never work for WWE again.
5. Hade Vansen
People have asked me in the past: do you think Vince McMahon even knows who the WWE signs sometimes? It’s possible. Former WWE wrestler Raven claimed McMahon thought he was still working as his former gimmick of Johnny Polo when he was rehired to the company in 2000. The same could be true for Hade Vansen.
Hade Vansen was a talented British wrestler who worked his way up via major UK promotions All Star and the Frontier Wrestling Alliance. He made the move towards North America by working in Puerto Rico and found fame in a tag team alongside Jon Moxley. Vansen would sign a development deal with the WWE and began working for FCW.
Vansen was called up to the main roster in 2009, and was rumoured to be feuding with The Undertaker going into Wrestlemania in 2010. But suddenly Vansen was gone, released around a month after his pre-taped promo aired on Smackdown. Rumour has it that Vince McMahon thought that Hade Vansen was too small to be a threat to Undertaker, although that has never been confirmed.
6. Just Joe
In the late 90s, a number of Canadian wrestlers rose to prominence in various promotions. In the WWE, Edge and Christian were quickly becoming household names, and in ECW, Rhino was becoming known as a monster in the ring. Few actually know that all these three men were actually in a faction in their native Canada called THUG Life. With these names gaining traction, it’s no mystery as to why the WWE would go looking for more talent from up north.
Joe E Legend was another member of that same faction, and due to their success it’s easy to see why the WWE would hire another worker from that group. Sadly, Just Joe wouldn’t quite attain the same adulation of his peers. Saddled with the gimmick of a ‘rumour spreader’ he’d actually end up having backstage segments with some of the biggest names in the company.
That being said, Joe spent much of his time working on TV shows Heat and Jakked. He would get one major segment before he left the WWE after only a few months, being beaten by Stone Cold backstage. Joe E Legend went on to have a decent run and feuded with Jeff Jarrett in NWATNA, but he’d never return to the WWE.
7. The Public Enemy
The 90s was a strange time. Looking back, it seems odd that the Public Enemy, a team that were seemingly the love child of the Nasty Boys and the Dudley Boyz, was the most sought after tag team of the decade. Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge grew to prominence in ECW, and soon got the attention of major promotions in North America. The Public Enemy had a tryout with the WWE against the Smoking Gunns in 1995, but then signed for WCW.
Their run in WCW was a mixed bag, however it did see them hold the WCW Tag Team Championships for around one week. After three years the pair left and returned to ECW, and began to feud with the Dudley Boyz. This feud never got out of the blocks though, as the Public Enemy began negotiating with the WWE almost immediately. After only a month in ECW they joined the WWE, but were not accepted backstage.
The Public Enemy debuted and began feuding with the Acolytes. However, early on the two teams faced off in a now infamous one sided match on Sunday Night Heat. The match became a shoot, and turned into more of a televised beating of the Public Enemy. There’ve been a few reasons given for the shoot in the years gone by, including Terry Taylor’s backstage heat (Taylor would be responsible for bringing PE in) and Vince wanting revenge for choosing WCW over him.
Either way, they only lasted two months in the WWE, and their career would never get back on track.
8. Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones is an Australian former strongman and powerlifter who made the jump to wrestling in the late 90s. He began to make waves in the wrestling world when he started working for Australia based World Wrestling All-Stars. During this time he’d work all over the world and feud with some of the biggest names in professional wrestling, including Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner.
His enormous size and fantastic look made him a clear target for Vince McMahon and the WWE. The WWE were desperate for new heavyweights, the Undertaker and Kane were not getting any younger and the Big Show was looking out of shape. Jones, who was being billed at 7’0” and 320lbs, fit the bill perfectly. Nathan Jones debuted in 2003, and quickly became aligned with the Undertaker in a protege role, in his feud against the Big Show and A-Train. Jones was set to be in a tag team match with ‘Taker against Show and A-Train at Wrestlemania that same year.
At the last minute, WWE decided that Nathan Jones simply wasn’t good enough in the ring to carry a tag team match. He made a run-in appearance during the match and delivered a slightly awkward kick. Following Wrestlemania, Jones was sent to development to sharpen his skills. He returned in Autumn of 2003, and while he wrestled a major match at Survivor Series, he’d leave the company in December. He would sign for TNA in 2008, but due to suffering with nerve damage, he’d never actually wrestle a match.
9. Buff Bagwell
Alexander Marcus Bagwell, known as Buff Bagwell by the late 90s, was a talented wrestler who’d worked for WCW for nearly a decade. He grew into his cocky, annoying yet charismatic character and was a dependable upper midcarder by the time WCW closed. He’d be one of the first ex-WCW stars to sign for WWE, and WWE would experiment with keeping the WCW Championship alive on WWE television. Bagwell wrestled his first TV match against Booker T for the WCW title, but things didn’t go well.
There has been no solid reason as to why Bagwell was released from the WWE so quickly, especially when the likes of Scott Steiner, who was in worse shape than Bagwell, was kept on for a longer stint at a later date. Many rumours have swirled for years, including general attitude, a backstage fight with Shane Helms and Bagwell’s mother calling the WWE to complain. Either way, Bagwell’s run with the WWE was over after only a few months.
10. Braden Walker
Chris Harris was already a known commodity when he signed for the WWE. While he had previously worked for WCW and NWA Cyberspace, he was primarily known for his work with NWATNA. He had a successful run as one half of America’s Most Wanted alongside James Storm and went on to become a seven time tag team champion. After a brief and uninspired singles run, he was released from the company and made the jump over to WWE.
After beating Shelton Benjamin in a dark match, he was due to make his debut. However, it seems that Chris Harris was a little confused that they hadn’t promoted his debut in the company at all, and in fact had given him little to no guidance on which direction his character should go. Harris was told only 20 minutes before his television debut that he needed a name and he was to come up with one, that name would be Braden Walker.
He’d defeat Armando Estrada in his debut, delivering his killer catchphrase afterwards: “I’m Braden Walker and I’m going to knock your brains out”. Following this he made one further appearance defeating James Curtis, and then without warning he was released from his contract, months after his debut. Most recently Chris Harris made a return to Impact Wrestling, aiding former partner James Storm to defeat Eric Young in March 2021.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.