So Chavo Guerrero got released this weekend, and one of my first thoughts was “now the invasion is truly over”.
See, in April 2001, after WWE purchased WCW, twenty-four contracts were absorbed by Vince McMahon’s company. Of those twenty-four, only two of them remain employed by WWE (Bill DeMott and Jamie Noble). Guerrero was the last person of those twenty-four to still be employed by WWE without once getting released or leaving once (DeMott and Noble had brief exits in the mid-2000s). When Shane Helms was released in February 2010, Guerrero was the last man standing.
Here now, I will take a look at those twenty-four individuals, and reveal what each of their fates was. Some never made it to the WWE roster. Some had short tenures with WWE, while others had longer runs. Some had memorable moments within the WWE Universe, while some of their subordinates were true “blink and you’ll miss it” blips on WWE’s radar.
Some names missing from this list include Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Buff Bagwell, Billy Kidman, Torrie Wilson, and others. These talents all signed with WWE later, and were not part of the original consortium of acquisitions.
Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Storm had a respectable WWE tenure, well, in some ways. The man from “Calgary……Alberta, Canada” held Intercontinental and Tag Team gold, and was allowed to show off his awe-inspiring athleticism and customarily-monotone promos, with both The Alliance and his own group, The Unamericans. However, toward the end of his run, Storm was downgraded to comedy act, first as a man who was labeled “boring” (by Stone Cold Steve Austin), and then “revitalized” himself alongside Val Venis as a man with large genitals and an unsettling smile. Yes, really.
Storm retired from the ring in 2004, and became a trainer for Ohio Valley Wrestling through May of 2005. Since then, he’s made one-night returns for ECW’s One Night Stand, as well as various Ring of Honor shows. Storm is now the head booker for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, and his training facility, Storm Academy, was featured on the Canadian reality series World of Hurt.
THE WALL (2001)
The monstrous bodyguard for the likes of Berlyn (Alex Wright) and The Misfits in Action never made it to WWE television. Instead, he was released later in 2001 to attend to “personal issues”. Wall managed to drop a ton of weight, arriving in TNA for its inception as “Malice”. As Malice, Wall received a few main event opportunities before leaving TNA in 2003. By year’s end, Wall was found dead in a hotel room in Japan of a heart attack. The real life Jerry Tuite was only 35.
CHUCK PALUMBO (2001 – 2004, 2007 – 2008)
Once shoehorned by Vince Russo into the desirable standing of “the new Lex Luger”, Palumbo found an interesting niche post-Invasion as a gay lover for Billy Gunn. The two would have a much publicized “wedding” that was revealed as a sham, and “Chuckie” never regained that unlikely momentum. After a midcard run as an FBI henchman, followed by a forgettable run as a greasy-looking mechanic, Palumbo was axed during a large bloodletting in late 2004.
Palumbo did return in 2007, playing up his real life persona of a free-spirited biker. His initial run, where he was flanked by the “blander than usual” Michelle McCool flopped, so he was turned heel, and became a much more ‘aggressive’ biker. Palumbo took the boot in late 2008, and then oddly claimed in an interview that he never wanted to put Jamie Noble over, because Noble was smaller than him, and that’s not realistic. You’d think Vince McMahon would have rehired Chuck after that statement, but no.
EVAN KARAGIAS (2001)
Much like The Wall, this former Cruiserweight Champion never made it. Instead, Karagias and former Three Count ally Shannon Moore meandered around ex-developmental territory HWA before the former underwear model got the boot. Karagias has not wrestled in close to six years.
KID ROMEO (2001)
This WCW undercarder had the look and the ability, plus a nifty “Cup of Life” knockoff song, but ended up being one of the first men axed after the buyout. Wrestling primarily in Puerto Rico, with some shots in TNA here and there, Romeo left wrestling in 2005 to become an exterminator.
YANG (2001, 2003 – 2005, 2006 – 2010)
A lot of tenures have been had by a man who’s one of the most underrated high flyers that never made “the leap” higher on the card. Yang never made it into the Invasion, and was released within a year of his buyout. But Yang would have his redemption, returning to WWE after an impressive dark match with Tommy Dreamer in the fall of 2003. From there, Yang became “Akio”, a Yakuza-molded assassin in Tajiri’s employ. Akio, as he was, lasted until the summer of 2005, where about twenty talents were all released in one swoop.
Oddly enough, a year later, Yang would return as “Jimmy Wang Yang”, a clearly-Asian man with cowboy attire and a handlebar mustache, speaking with the most Southern of drawls. After sporadic appearances on Smackdown and ECW, Yang was released in the spring of 2010. Since then, the master of “Yang Time” has resurfaced in All-Japan Pro Wrestling and, like Romeo, now works as an exterminator. What are the odds?
Betcha forgot about the silent muscleman of the Natural Born Thrillers. Reno worked one dark match in August 2001 for Vince McMahon, and then was shunted down to HWA, where he was released four months later. Other than an appearance for the short lived World Wrestling All-Stars in February 2002, he’s been retired from the business. His whereabouts are largely unknown.
SHANNON MOORE (2001 – 2005, 2006 – 2008)
The littlest member of Three Count languished in developmental for over a year before jumping to Smackdown in the fall of 2002 as Matt Hardy‘s “Mattitude Follower”, a role in which he received much television time. After the duo split, Moore aimlessly went from “plucky underdog” to “punk scenester” before his 2005 release.
After a short stint in TNA, Moore returned in 2006 as the “Prince of Punk”, looking more and more like a societal reject with a Mohawk, piercings, and studded attire. His push was short lived, and it was back to jobbing until his 2008 release. Now in TNA, Moore has formed a solid tag team with the equally eccentric Jesse Neal, called Ink Inc.
MIKE SANDERS (2001 – 2002)
“Above Average” spent over a year in developmental purgatory, and was allegedly being groomed to commentate on WWE Velocity, when he was released for supposedly brushing off Triple H backstage. Sanders ended up in TNA the following year, performing as a mouthpiece for Vince Russo’s S.E.X. stable. However, Sanders found himself jobless again, apparently after he ran afoul of Mike Tenay. After retiring in 2004, Sanders joined Raven and Chris Kanyon in filing unsuccessful litigation against WWE, claiming improper treatment of independent contractors.
LASH LAROUX (2001 – 2002)
LaRoux was also a developmental casualty, negotiating his own release in 2002 to pursue other opportunities. The “Ragin’ Cajun” worked briefly with TNA after their launch, but a neck injury sidelined him for months. Since then, LaRoux has worked occasional matches as a glorified jobber for TNA, and has remained active in the Deep South/Gulf Coast independent scene.
HUGH MORRUS (2001 – 2007, 2011 – present)
“The Laughing Man” was initially a knockaround guy for the Alliance, before he and Chavo Guerrero revolted against Steve Austin’s leadership. After disappearing briefly at the Alliance’s demise, Morrus returned to Smackdown in 2002, under his real name Bill DeMott, playing an overbearing bully that loved to torment smaller opponents with intense power moves. DeMott retired from the ring in the summer of 2003, citing injuries.
Since then, DeMott has worked on Velocity as a color commentator, as well as a developmental trainer. He would be released in 2007, and would return to the indies for sporadic appearances. In 2011, DeMott was brought back to be the jockular trainer on the revived WWE Tough Enough. His performance as the tough-love coach has been well-received by fans and WWE alike, and an in-ring return is rumored.
SHAWN STASIAK (2001 – 2002)
Stasiak never had much of a chance. “PerfectSHAWN” was released from WWE in 1999 after a breach of etiquette, and was considered to be a bit clueless. Upon his return with the Alliance, Stasiak became a bumbling fool that ran headfirst into things, and generally played the moron. In 2002, Stasiak got a small boost of momentum on Raw, becoming “Planet Stasiak”, a deluded cross between Jack Nicholson and Max Headroom. After losing most of his matches, Stasiak retired in the fall of 2002, and later became a chiropractor.
ALAN FUNK (2001)
Another early casualty of the “not used” variety, Funk (the former Kwee-Wee) worked tours of World Wrestling All-Stars as “The Funkster”, complete with a tremendous Hulk Hogan impression, and was an early part of TNA as Bruce, the cross-dressing, uncloseted member of the Rainbow Express.
However, tragedy struck in 2003, when, on a wrestling tour of Finland, Funk took a botched moonsault from Sonny Siaki that crushed his face and cost him the hearing in his left ear. Despite these setbacks, Funk largely recovered, and now works for the Lucha Libre USA promotion, still as a stereotypical homosexual called “Chi Chi”.
ELIX SKIPPER (2001)
An astonishing release, Skipper took his incredible agility and went to Nashville, becoming an integral part of TNA’s X Division in its earlier days. By the end of 2002, Skipper would form Triple X with Low Ki and Christopher Daniels, with the trio holding TNA’s Tag Team Titles several times under the “Freebird Rule”.
After Triple X went kaput by 2005, Skipper remained in TNA’s middle tier, working in the undercard until his 2008 release. Since then, very little is known about “Prime Time”, except than his 22-year old son was murdered in 2009.
JASON JETT (2001 – 2002)
You may not remember this one. Jett was once known as EZ Money, and worked with ECW during it’s final six or seven months of business. Once they went belly up, Money jumped to WCW in early 2001 to become Jason Jett. Bad luck followed him, as WCW was bought out two months after his debut. After lasting a year in WWE developmental, Jett was off to the indies, where he had a short run in TNA in 2002. Since then, Jett has seemingly vanished from the wrestling scene altogether.
JOHNNY THE BULL (2001 – 2004)
After working his way up through developmental, Johnny became Johnny Stamboli, first working in Hardcore Title matches on Raw in 2002 with Bradshaw, before jumping to Smackdown to join Nunzio and Chuck Palumbo as the revived FBI the following year. By the end of 2004, Stamboli was gone.
But in an unusual career twist, Johnny wound up in Japan, becoming a mega-version of the Great Muta, and eventually working under the name REDRUM in the United States with a similar persona. Shortly thereafter, TNA brought him in as RELLIK, essentially the same dark character. Stamboli was released in 2008.
KAZ HAYASHI (2001)
Hayashi was a fixture in WCW’s Cruiserweight Division during its last handful of years, but barely lasted in WWE, becoming one of the first casualties of the buyouts. However, all was not lost for the “Kazanova”, as Hayashi would join up with All-Japan Pro Wrestling, winning Tag Team and Junior Heavyweight gold. Recently, Hayashi reigned for 23 months as Junior Heavyweight champ, from February 2009 to January 2011. Hayashi is now the lead booker for the juniors division.
SHANE HELMS (2001 – 2010)
Helms was bestowed with a nine year tenure under Vince McMahon, with much of that tenure coming under a mask as the loveably amiable Hurricane. Since taking the mask in 2001, Helms’ faux-Green Lantern schtick entertained kids, and provided a character that could win feel-good matches, and put tomorrow’s stars over.
In 2005, Helms angrily shed the gimmick, becoming Gregory Helms (since WWE felt there should only be one Shane, and that’s Vinnie Mac’s boy) and Helms would have a year-plus long Cruiserweight title reign from January 2006 to February 2007. Shortly thereafter, Helms suffered a neck injury that shelved him for a long time.
Upon his return, Helms worked as both The Hurricane again, as well as a backstage interviewer, before his 2010 release after an arrest for drunken assault. Since then, Helms has bottomed out, taking to Twitter to taunt Shawn Michaels and his fans, followed by nearly dying in a motorcycle wreck that is currently being investigated.
MARK JINDRAK (2001 – 2005)
Jindrak may have been the Natural Born Thriller with the least personality, and it didn’t take WWE long to send him away to “learn how to work”. After two years of that, Jindrak returned to Raw to team with the late Lance Cade. After they split in 2004, Jindrak jumped to Smackdown and rekindled Lex Luger‘s old “Narcissist” gimmick, calling himself the “Reflection of Perfection”. That fizzled, as did a run as Kurt Angle’s back-up. After Jindrak’s 2005 release, he’s worked around the world as Marco Corleone.
SEAN O’HAIRE (2001 – 2004)
Jindrak’s original partner in WCW had a rather unusual run in WWE. O’Haire, at one time considered Eric Bischoff’s “star of tomorrow” had he and Fusient bought WCW in 2001, was called up from WWE developmental in 2003 to portray a “Devil’s advocate”, complete with genius vignettes that enticed viewers to give in to sin. He was then paired with Roddy Piper, before being sent down for more training in the fall of 2003.
O’Haire would be released in 2004, but since then, the master of the Seanton Bomb has been arrested several times for assaults, and has had a rather unsuccessful MMA career, including an embarrassing knockout loss to fringe fighter Butterbean.
MIKE AWESOME (2001 – 2002)
You’d think WWE would find good use for a big man with incredible agility and a wealth of experience. Instead, Awesome was shunted down the card, and wound up injured in late 2001. After a brief return in 2002, Awesome left WWE the same day as Shawn Stasiak. From there, “The Career Killer” had short runs in TNA, MLW, and All-Japan, before wowing fans once more at One Night Stand in 2005, putting away Masato Tanaka in brutal fashion.
Awesome retired in February 2006 to devote himself to family. Tragically, however, Awesome committed suicide one year later, hanging himself in his home. Marital problems, as well as a loss of mental capacity due to years of concussions, are believed to have led to the suicide.
JAMIE NOBLE (2001 – 2004, 2005 – present)
Noble, once “Jamie-San” in WCW, made it to the main WWE roster in 2002 as Nidia’s redneck boyfriend. For the next two years, Noble was a fixture in WWE’s Cruiserweight division, before being released in September 2004, over what is believed to be an issue regarding a staph infection.
From there, Noble worked the indies, and had a short stint as champion of Ring of Honor, before WWE brought him back in late 2005. Noble was largely used as comic fodder from there, and handily lost a one sided storyline with Chuck Palumbo in 2008. In late 2009, Sheamus brutalized him after a match on Raw, leading to Noble’s real life retirement. “The Redneck Messiah” now works as a trainer for the company.
If Vince doesn’t push WCW talents due to his own ego, he sure made an exception for one of the most beautiful women in wrestling history. Keibler was used prominently throughout her WWE tenure, with her long legs and virtuous face serving as pleasant sidebars among WWE’s chaotic programming.
Through her WWE run, Stacy aligned with the Dudley Boyz, Test, Randy Orton, Scott Steiner, and The Hurricane, while serving as an occasional hostess/interviewer. That’s not to mention the many mud matches and pillow fights and bra & panties matches and bikini contests that slowed the breathing of the male fans watching.
In 2006, Stacy came in third place on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. From there, Stacy wanted to get into acting, and left the company that summer. A comment she made, that wrestling was “some silly thing (she) used to do”, infuriated Vince McMahon. It’s believed that her exit led to a new company policy that new wrestlers cannot use their real names, so that Vince can “own their created likenesses”.
CHAVO GUERRERO (2001 – 2011)
And there you have it: the only person of the twenty-four to have an uninterrupted tenure of over a decade in WWE. Guerrero didn’t begin to shine until 2002, when he aligned with Uncle Eddie to form Los Guerreros, the team that lied, cheated, and stole their way into fans hearts with creative trickery and playful stereotyping.
The team ran its course by the end of 2003, and Chavo turned heel. The “Mexican Warrior” set his sights on the Cruiserweight Division”, which he would dominate until mid-2005, when he jumped to Raw. From there, Guerrero became a WASPy Caucasian named “Kerwin White” that drove a golf cart. The gimmick flopped, and was abandoned when Eddie died later that year.
Now carrying the family name, Chavo wound up exploiting Eddie (though not by choice perhaps) in a feud with Rey Mysterio, wherein Eddie’s widow Vickie managed Chavo. By 2008, both Chavo and Vickie were aligned with Edge in a mini-stable, and Guerrero became ECW Champion for over two months.
After that, Guerrero was used mainly as Edge’s lackey, and then hit a career low by losing to Hornswoggle for close to three or four straight months. After that, Guerrero vanished from WWE, and made a surprise return in the 2011 Royal Rumble.
After that, Guerrero engaged in a short feud with Sin Cara, putting him over, before his release this past weekend. A series of angry tweets later, and Guerrero seems determined to rejuvenate his career elsewhere.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com