When it comes to professional wrestlers, some of the very best always seem to have a story attached to their childhood that could have prevented them from ever making it to the top.
That could include being discouraged to wrestle by friends or family or even suffering an illness or injury that almost curtailed a career inside the squared circle. For Sean Waltman, he fell very much into the latter category.
He joined the World Wrestling Federation way back in 1993, but before that journey even began, he suffered a horrific injury that threw everything into doubt. Whilst working for the infamous Larry Sharpe over in New Jersey, an opponent's horrible attempt at a suicide dive went wrong—and he landed on Waltman's head. He was unable to work for four months and was even advised to give up the trade completely. Thankfully, for lovers of the Attitude Era in particular, Waltman rejected that advice.
The Early WWE(F) Years
Waltman signed with the WWF in 1993, and his televised debut came against Doink the Clown, of all people. He went by the name The Kamikaze Kid, one of several character guises from over the years. That turned into The Cannonball Kid and then simply The Kid.
His early weeks and months with the company weren't exactly filled with success—The Kid was the perfect description of a jobber, in fact. However, that all changed on May 17. Waltman's horrible losing streak came to an end in remarkable fashion when he pinned Razor Ramon. That prompted another name change—he became The 1-2-3 Kid.
Ramon was a heel at the time, but he quickly turned face due to a rivalry with Ted DiBiase and took Waltman under his wing. That prompted him to become a huge fan favorite and almost an ultimate underdog.
Waltman's greatest moment in his first stint with the company? It has to be his outstanding match against Bret Hart for the WWF Championship on Raw in July 1994. It was a lengthy match, and although he lost, his performance was fantastic. However, a change was coming, and Waltman was about to switch over to the enemy.
The WCW Years
By the time September of 1996 had rolled around, Waltman had left the WWF. He was then shown in the front row of a taping of WCW Monday Nitro, the archenemy of Raw at that time. Unbeknownst to everyone, Waltman was about to launch his career with the company in some style.
He used a remote control to reveal New World Order propaganda from the roof of the arena (the faction had only recently been formed at that time). The act established Waltman as the sixth man to join the stable, leading to the imaginative character name of Syxx.
Highlights of his time with the company involved a good rivalry with Eddie Guerrero over the WCW United States Championship—his first major angle with the company, in fact. He managed to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on a solitary occasion, and thanks to the nWo's "Wolfpac Rules," he was a co-champion of the tag division with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.
Unfortunately, things soon turned sour with WCW, and he was let go after a neck injury curtailed his abilities. However, big things were on the horizon.
Back in WWE(F)
Arguably the best years of Waltman's career were just about to begin. D-Generation X was just starting to gather momentum in the late 1990s, and the new leader of the stable, Triple H, was on the lookout for a "DX army."
Waltman returned to the WWF on March 30, 1998. He appeared on stage to become the newest member of DX—and even took a swipe at WCW in the process. He also said that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash—once members of The Kliq with HHH, Waltman and Razor Ramon—would have joined had they not been contracted with WCW.
The X-Pac character was quickly born and became a real favorite amongst fans of the company. He became a European champion twice in late 1998, beating D'Lo Brown on both occasions. However, he would ultimately lose that belt in February 1999 to Shane McMahon. A championship rematch was scheduled for WrestleMania of that year, but he was betrayed by Triple H.
A face turn was in the offing for X-Pac, and he formed a successful allegiance with Kane, then a relative newcomer with the roster. They actually won the Tag Team Championships twice as a pair and were a pretty good team. When DX reunited, though, in late 1999, X-Pac turned heel with the rest of the group, turning his back on Kane and even stealing his girlfriend, Tori.
After DX once again disbanded, Waltman won some more singles belts, further increasing his reputation amongst wrestling fans. Spells as the WWF Light Heavyweight champion and WCW Cruiserweight champion were simultaneous—in fact, he was the only man to do that.
Return to nWo
In 2002, the members of the New World Order finally arrived in the WWF after Vince McMahon lured them over. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan were the three men in the stable, but that was about to change. After Hogan lost to The Rock at WrestleMania, he was excommunicated from the group.
That led to X-Pac returning to beat down Hogan, enabling him to rejoin the New World Order at the expense of Hogan. There was an interesting storyline to it, as Hogan had cut a promo back in WCW saying Waltman couldn't "cut the mustard," which was believed to be a shoot based around Waltman's departure from the company.
However, due to the first ever draft in the company, that storyline was kicked. And by the time August of 2002 had arrived, Waltman had left the company for a second time.
TNA and Independent Circuit
Waltman headed to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2002, wrestling under the name Syxx-Pac. He quickly formed an allegiance with some of his former buddies, namely Scott Hall and Road Dogg.
He quickly picked up the X Division Championship in the company after winning a nine-man Ladder match. However, he dropped the belt two weeks later to A.J. Styles.
He was in and out of the company over the forthcoming years but wrestled for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on several occasions, including at TNA's Slammiversary event.
Like most wrestlers in the latter years of their careers, Waltman then headed around various independent promotion, still entertaining crowds.
He appeared in Chikara for a number of years, wrestling as both The 1-2-3 Kid and Sean Waltman until 2013.
Fast forward to that year, when Waltman signed a Legends contract with the WWE. He has appeared at a couple of Hall of Fame ceremonies over the years since, most notably with the rest of The Kliq.
He's been a key member of some of professional wrestling's most important stables. In both the New World Order and D-Generation X, wrestling has a guy who is one of the most underrated wrestlers of this—and perhaps any—era.
Sean Waltman is a guy who has been there and done it in almost every walk of professional wrestling. And whilst he will no doubt be most fondly remembered for his time in WWF's Attitude Era, Waltman will forever be recognized as someone who had a far-reaching impact on the business.