World Wrestling Entertainment's Attitude Era was chocked full of characters and performers who will live forever in the annals of sports-entertainment as some of the most beloved and entertaining of all time.
Most were iconic figures who will one day take their place among the greatest professional wrestlers ever in WWE's Hall of Fame. Others were over-the-top characters whose gimmicks were so absurd that fans have no choice but to remember them.
As is the case in any line of sport or entertainment, there are those who flew under the radar, never really enjoying the recognition they deserved for their hard work and dedication, let alone the quality of performances they turned in.
D'Lo Brown was one such Superstar during the hottest period in wrestling history.
After years of being "that guy from the Nation," he broke out in the summer of 1998, carrying the European Championship with pride and legitimizing it as a valuable tool for getting midcard stars over. His matches with Val Venis, X-Pac and Jeff Jarrett, among others, ensured that any given WWE event would have at least one really good, competitive match that fans could sink their teeth into.
Driven by a will and determination to be the best that he could be, Brown worked hard to prove himself as a star in Vince McMahon's company, and he became just that. Unfortunately, an accident during a taping of SmackDown derailed his push and led to years spent in obscurity prior to his departure from the company in 2003.
A stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling saw Brown achieve main event status and wrestle a series of outstanding matches against NWA champion AJ Styles, but shortly thereafter he took a step back and disappeared from the spotlight, opting to work behind the scenes, molding and crafting young talent into fine in-ring workers.
In celebration of his career, here is a look at some of the greatest matches and moments from D'Lo Brown.
While Brown was part of the Nation of Domination, a faction with a strong television presence, he was very much an afterthought throughout his first full year with WWE. In many ways, he was the tackling dummy for popular babyfaces such as Ken Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson, both of whom threw him around the squared circle lack of sack of potatoes.
It was not until the summer of 1998 that he began establishing himself as one of the stars to watch in WWE. Ironically enough, part of his development as a character came in a loss during the King of the Ring tournament. He was stretched by Dan "The Beast" Severn to the point that he tore his pectoral muscle and was forced to wear a chest protector.
That protector helped him get over with the audience, especially when he started using it as a weapon.
On July 14, he was rewarded for his efforts to get over with his first singles championship as he defeated Triple H to capture the European title. It was a title win that seemed to be but a plot device in the war between the DX leader and the Nation's head honcho The Rock, but in reality it was the stepping stone to bigger and better things for Brown, who treated the title with the respect it deserved.
Over the next four months, Brown would trade the title with X-Pac in a series of matches that elevated the title to heights few could have imagined. Fans appreciated the quality bouts between the Superstars, and a buzz built around them. The two had considerable chemistry, and it showed as each match got progressively better.
X-Pac won the rivalry with his victory at Judgment Day in October 1998, but Brown came out of the feud hotter than ever before.
Teaming with Mark Henry and Winning the Intercontinental Title
After dropping out of the European Championship scene, Brown became lost in the shuffle. Despite appearing regularly on Monday Night Raw, he was left with little productive to do and began teaming with former Nation teammate Mark Henry. Together, the two formed a bond and a fairly successful team, defeating the likes of Godfather and Val Venis on pay-per-view.
Their friendship became a constant on WWE television and something writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferara established that they could continually go back to when they ran out of ideas for the stars. As a result, they did not fade into obscurity.
In summer 1999, Brown did everything he could to try to get Henry to lose weight and become healthier as he chased his dreams of moving up the ladder in WWE. "Sexual Chocolate" was hardly receptive, complaining throughout the training and becoming somewhat disenfranchised with his friend's exercise plan.
On July 27, Brown achieved the biggest victory of his career when he defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. As a result, he became one of four men to ever simultaneously hold the European and Intercontinental Championships, forever etching his name in the history books.
Unfortunately, he would be betrayed by Henry at SummerSlam, as he was blasted with a guitar and lost both titles to Jarrett.
A month later, he would avenge the betrayal, defeating Henry to regain the European title that had been handed to the former Olympian by Jarrett.
Teaming with The Godfather and Forming Lo-Down
After the incident involving Droz, Brown found himself lost in the shuffle. With nothing else better to do, he began partnering with The Godfather and working undercard matches against the likes of Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan and the Dudley Boyz.
Brown rarely won and was forced to dress like his partner rather than being his own man. It was humbling for the proud competitor. Things would get worse.
After turning heel, he began making fewer and fewer appearances on Raw and SmackDown. When he did, they were in meaningless matches in which he was in the shadow of his opponent or partner, never really having anything to do with the story that unfolded in that bout.
Then he and Chaz (formerly Headbanger Mosh) were thrown together as a new tag team known as Lo-Down. The very epitome of a jobber team, they were prey for more popular and relevant duos such as the APA, the Hardy Boyz and the previously mentioned Dudleys. The addition of the hated Tiger Ali Singh did little to enhance the act.
The duo would disappear from television in 2001, and the Invasion angle would ensure that Brown saw very little, if any, television time.
C-level show Sunday Night Heat became his home as Brown wrestled and commentated but did nothing of note until a brief 2002 rivalry with Raven caught the eye of fans still watching the program at that point.
In February 2003, Brown was released from his contract with WWE, no longer happy with the direction his career was taking.
A stint with the upstart TNA Wrestling promotion presented Brown with the opportunity to rejuvenate his career, and he seized said opportunity, turning in several great performances against then-NWA champion AJ Styles. Brown was instrumental in helping the young star develop into the great performer he became, something he does not get enough credit for. Together, they delivered several quality bouts in the summer of 2003.
He failed to wrest the title away from Styles, but that was not a bad thing. After all, Brown was a quality wrestler, but TNA really needed to focus on the future, and Styles was clearly it.
After an NWA Tag Team Championship reign with Apollo, Brown exited the company in 2004.
He would return years later as an agent, working behind the scenes to develop young talent.
In 2008, Brown made a brief return to WWE as an on-screen character. A tryout earned him a spot back on the roster, but WWE Creative had little for him to do. After appearing on Raw a handful of times, including a match against Santino Marella in which Beth Phoenix got involved, he was gone from WWE again, never to return.
At least not yet.