The on-screen personality of any given performer can single-handedly affect the perception of that man or woman. That is the case with X-Pac, whose somewhat grating persona on screen overshadowed his resume of tremendous matches.
One of the most underrated workers of his generation, Sean Waltman starred for World Wrestling Entertainment from 1993 until 1996, when he left to join Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling. During his stint with Vince McMahon's promotion, he worked phenomenal wrestling matches with the likes of Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Jeff Jarrett, Owen Hart and Hakushi.
The May 17, 1993, upset over Ramon catapulted Waltman, who became known as the 1-2-3 Kid shortly thereafter, into stardom with the No. 1 wrestling company in the country. A plucky underdog capable of upsetting any of his fellow competitors, the Kid was a very popular star for the company and a true workhorse at a time when one's wrestling abilities were counted on to cover up a lack of star power at the top of the business.
On Jan. 10, 1994, the Kid and Marty Jannetty captured the WWE Tag Team Championship from the Quebecers. The win came during the one-year anniversary of the first episode of Raw and was a legitimate feel-good moment. Kid was the consummate underdog who achieved greatness, doing so with a tag team specialist who finally earned his first recognized run with the company's tag titles.
After a stellar match against Owen Hart at the 1994 King of the Ring, 1-2-3 Kid wrestled the biggest and best match of his career when he squared off with Bret "Hitman" Hart for the WWE Championship on Monday Night Raw in July.
The match was absolutely fantastic and showed what could happen when an established main event star worked hard to put over a bright young talent. Kid matched Hart step-for-step and the crowd responded in kind, actually believing on more than one occasion that the Minnesotan had a chance to leave with the WWE title. He did not, succumbing to the Sharpshooter, but was elevated because of it.
From there, Kid would compete in both singles and tag team competition, regularly working with real-life best friends Razor Ramon, Diesel and Shawn Michaels. Their tag team championship bout on Action Zone in fall 1994 was a spectacular match that saw Kid and Ramon nearly knock off the champions, only for a well-timed blow from Big Daddy Kid to effectively end the contest.
When someone the size of 1-2-3 Kid works the style that he did, injuries are bound to mount and that is exactly what happened. While rehabbing bumps and bruises, he continued on as one of the most popular midcard attractions in WWE and continued to perform to his lofty standards. By November, however, the decision was made to turn him heel (for some stupid reason) and he betrayed Ramon.
A brief run with "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's Corporation would be the last bit of success he enjoyed in WWE before jumping ship.
To say that Waltman's WCW was unsuccessful would be an understatement. He debuted with the New World Order faction in September 1996 and soon was renamed Syxx. He wrestled a memorable Ladder match against Eddie Guerrero at the Souled Out pay-per-view in January 1997 and even won the Cruiserweight Championship from Dean Malenko a month later.
A severe neck injury sidelined him, however, and he was fired by Eric Bischoff by year's end. It was an unceremonious conclusion to a low point in Waltman's career. It did, however, free him up to return to the company that made him a star in North America.
This time, he would exceed everything he had ever done to that point in his career, becoming one of the key stars of the Attitude Era.
On the March 30, 1998, episode of Raw, Waltman returned to WWE and joined Triple H and the New Age Outlaws in D-Generation X. As X-Pac, he and his DX stablemates would become marquee stars during the biggest boom period professional wrestling had ever seen. Their sophomoric humor and degenerative antics popped the audience like only they could and led to them becoming one of the leading forces behind the controversial and edgy product.
Once he returned to the squared circle, X-Pac picked up where he left off, delivering quality performances on a nightly basis. It was clear the injuries had taken their toll and that he was not the same level of performer he had been during his first WWE stint but he worked a smarter, safer style that showed great evolution from the performer.
His feud with D'Lo Brown elevated the European Championship, making the often devalued title more meaningful than it had been at any other time in its existent.
The program he worked with Shane McMahon is probably the most memorable of his second stint with WWE. After dropping the title in controversial fashion to the boss' son on Feb. 15, 1999, X-Pac made it his mission to regain the gold and beat down the spoiled rich boy at the same time. To do so, he would have to overcome the constant interference from Test and the Mean Street Posse.
What he could not have expected was for his best friend Triple H to stab him in the back, cost him the match against McMahon at WrestleMania XV and essentially end D-Generation X.
From there, X-Pac formed an excellent tag team with Kane. The mismatched pair was one of the few of its type to work as effectively as it did and the layered storytelling of the smaller X-Pac trying to make Kane more human by being his friend was really well done.
The team eventually split when X-Pac turned heel and the two competitors engaged in a seemingly never-ending feud. They met at Survivor Series in 1999, Armageddon a month later, No Way Out in February 2000 and in tag action at WrestleMania 2000. The matches were typically good, thanks to the chemistry between them, but it eventually grew stale and it was time to move on.
The influx of talent in 2000 made it difficult for X-Pac to stand out and remain viable competition to some of the top stars of the time. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, the Hardy Boyz and Chris Jericho were doing things at the time that few on the roster could have matched up with. X-Pac was not one of them.
He floated around television, feuded with Jericho and formed a trio known as X-Factor with Albert and Justin Credible but never really played a prominent or key role in any major storylines. It looked at one point as if he may be part of an attempt to introduce cruiserweight wrestling into WWE but that was halted as well.
A brief stint with the reformed New World Order in WWE was the last thing of any significance that he did.
He competed in TNA, Wrestling Society X, Mexico and other independent promotions and still returns to WWE for the token D-Generation X reunion. He has appeared at the Hall of Fame inductions of friends Shawn Michaels and Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall and even did some training with the young stars of NXT.
An incredibly smart wrestler whose mind for the business is as strong as any of his peers from his generation, X-Pac is a man who has a lot to give back to the wrestling business, if given the opportunity.