Error, Wrong Era: WWE Wrestlers Born Too Late and Too Soon
Steven Anderson was born on March 22, 1987.
That would make Steven 24 years old today.
Steven has a fire for professional wrestling and is very good at it. He entered into the WWE developmental system when he was 20 years old and debuted on Raw two years ago at the age of 22.
For the last two years, he's been feuding with heels as a face character who is all about physical health and remaining humble. While charismatic and decent in the ring, he isn't really all that over with the fans because, well, his gimmick is horrible and the stories written for him are non-existent.
The WWE couldn't find a way to get him to connect with the fans, and so, last month, they decided to future endeavor him along with Chris Masters, David Smith and Melina.
In an alternate reality, that would be your experience with the man who was born Steven Anderson.
Who later had his name changed to Steve Williams.
Who you know best as Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Fortunately, Steve Williams was actually born on December 18th, 1964. Which put his prime performance condition right in the middle of the 1990's and allowed him to enter into a WWF that was willing to push the envelope to compete with the WCW and turn him into Stone Cold Steve Austin.
He would end up becoming the single biggest financial draw in history, a legend and one of the biggest icons in the history of the industry.
What a difference two decades makes.
Had Steve Williams come into the WWE now? He might not be any different from a Heath Slater. A country boy with a bad gimmick that not many see anything special in.
It's all about timing.
And so, in this article, we are going to look at some WWE athletes, both former and present, who had the unfortunate luck of being on the opposite side of Steve Williams' fortunes.
Men and women who were born at the wrong time and broke into the business in the wrong era, and it made all the difference in their careers and legacy.
Jimmy and Jey Uso
I wanted to use this video to remind people that Jimmy and Jey aren't bumbling, boring, gaffe machines when given the time to talk. They aren't exactly the Rock, but they aren't Michael McGillicutty, either.
Not only are the Usos decent mic workers, but they are also well rounded tag-team wrestlers as well. They have a good look and a style that would connect with those who like urban athletes.
Jimmy and Jey probably never would've ended up on any of the "Greatest Tag Teams of All Time" lists, but they certainly would've had better treatment had they been born early enough to enter a WWE that actually cares about tag teams.
Unfortunately for them, they landed in the WWE in 2009, right about the time the WWE completely abandoned tag team wrestling.
In fact, the Usos and The Hart Dynasty (David Smith and Tyson Kidd) are probably two of the last actual tag-teams that were brought in as a unit and given any attention at all; as opposed to rag-tag pairings of superstars that had nothing better to do.
If the Usos, who are both 26 years old, had entered the WWF back during the Attitude Era, there is a chance that as the sons of Rikishi and second cousins of The Rock, they might have had some pull in the back, as far as their careers were concerned and would have been treated better than they are now.
More than that, they would have predated the "Cryme Tyme" team by five or six years and would've had a fresh feeling with the urban-images they currently portray. Cryme Tyme was extremely popular upon arriving in the WWE together, but like many things that are popular with the fans, the team and angle was botched.
Had the Usos debuted with a similar gimmick, they may have been a highly popular tag team during the Attitude Era and would more than likely have been aligned with their father Rikishi instead of "2 Cool."
And while "Replacements for 2 Cool" won't get you in the Hall of Fame, it would at least get you on TV and make you popular for a few years. As opposed to being nebulous faces the WWE parades out on the Internet when they need to fill some time on Superstars.
Kharma is the single most dominant woman in modern professional wrestling. There isn't a single woman around, anywhere, (seriously, I checked) that matches her size and fierce look, while also having her level of actual wrestling ability. She isn't just big, she can wrestle very well.
And yet, in today's environment, it's completely wasted.
The WWE is the biggest promotion in the world, and yet, it can't provide her with any serious competition outside of Beth Phoenix and Natalya. And Kharma has 130 pounds on Beth, can out power her, and has 150 pounds on Natalya and can keep up with her in the ring.
Kharma is one of kind. Which is why she has dominated in TNA, Shimmer and Japan.
Sadly, she's dominating in 2011.
Had Kharma come on the scene during the 1990's, she would've been a legend that dwarfed even Chyna.
Back in the '90s and early '00s, the WWE cared about their female performers. They actually got them involved with male wrestlers on a regular basis, they actually gave them matches with length, they actually procured skilled women, and not girls like Kelly Kelly and The Bella Twins.
Imagine if Kharma had broken in to the WWF in the days of Sable, Sunny, Chyna, Lita and Trish?
Much like Beth today, Chyna would've been her only realistic competition then. And Kharma probably would've run through her. In fact, had Kharma been in the WWE during the late '90s, it would probably be her, and not Joanie Laurer that would be the first and only female WWF Intercontinental Champion.
Unfortunately, Kia Stevens, the woman behind Kharma, was just getting her start in Japan in 2002, just a few years before the Attitude Era came to an end.
Kharma is gone from WWE television and is currently pregnant. She will be back next year. And when she comes back, she'll destroy everything and everyone in her path. Nothing else is even believable when you see her in the ring.
But even though she'll destroy Eve and AJ, and have tough challenges with Beth and Natalya, it still won't matter.
The WWE's women's division is dead. And the WWE's attempts at reviving it thus far, have been weak and tepid.
And with Kia already being 34, there isn't much time left in her career. Sadly, a career that will never be respected at the level it should be, except by hardcore wrestling fans who knew her as Awesome Kong and saw her in AJPW and HUSTLE in Japan.
The WWE probably won't start looking to hire and develop skilled women wrestlers in the next five years. The latest girls to show up on the WWE product have been women like Kaitlyn and Aksana.
It doesn't look like Kia will ever have the competition she needs in the WWE to become the kind of superstar she could've been.
For Kaval (or Low-Ki), it's a case of being born too soon.
Brandon Silvestry has been plying his craft in promotions around the world. From TNA and ROH to NOAH and New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is literally, one of the most unique, unorthodox, intense and skilled wrestlers in the entire world.
He's been wrestling for 13 years now, and for eight of those years, he has been trying to get his foot in the door of the only promotion left on the planet that can make him a true international superstar, the WWE.
And for 10 years, they have been batting him away, with his diminutive size being the main reason.
When the WWE finally gave him a chance to get in the door in 2008, they held him down in their developmental camp for two years with rookies he could wrestle circles around in his sleep.
They finally called him up to their C-show, "NXT" where the fans of the WWE Universe were one step ahead of the WWE, recognized Brandon's talents and voted him the winner, even though the WWE regularly attempted to bury him during the show.
These burial attempts included having him lose most of his matches, having Michael Cole bury him at the announce booth and having him jumped by every other contestant after he won.
When he finally made it to the main roster, the WWE decided they knew what was best, what the fans should be seeing, and they buried him on Smackdown until he finally asked for his release.
They didn't even let him challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship with the title shot he won as a prize on NXT. They had him go after Dolph Ziggler's Intercontinental Championship and still wouldn't let him win it.
What wrestler would honestly be given a shot at any title and not choose the World or WWE titles? Seriously, it was just disrespectful to him as a performer, as if to say he didn't even belong in the ring with John Cena, The Miz or Randy Orton.
Unfortunately, the WWE just isn't ready for Kaval. And it's this attitude that CM Punk is currently work-shooting against.
If this attitude changes, that wrestlers must be a certain size and have a certain look, then Kaval would be a major player and main-eventer in the WWE, just like he's been almost everywhere else he's gone.
But that change hasn't come yet.
Not with the signing of Daniel Bryan, not with the signing of Claudio Castagnoli and not with the push of CM Punk to the top.
But, it is showing signs of cracking.
Eventually, the WWE will have no choice but to change, as every other promotion around the world utilizes smaller, far more exciting wrestlers than the lumbering giants the WWE has always preferred. The most seasoned offerings are going to be smaller men down the line.
At that point in time, the door will be open for guys like Brandon Silvestry to succeed.
Sadly, that won't be for several years if not more, and Kaval is already 32. By the time that glass ceiling breaks, he may be pushing 40. Possibly too late for him to become the legend he could've been.
While Evan Bourne is also a diminutive wrestler, his style is accepted by the WWE because it's more aerial pizzazz than it is Puroresu intensity and technical skill like Kaval's.
So, Evan is allowed into the WWE, even though until recently, he has never been pushed much and has been a constant in the list of men under-utilized by the WWE. Again, much of this has to do with his size and lack of speaking ability.
But unlike Kaval, it's not that Evan Bourne has been born too soon, rather, he was born too late.
While Matthew Korklan got his start in 2000, he was only 17 years old. Far too young for an organization like the WWF or WCW to consider.
But Bourne should have been born in 1973, as opposed to 1983. In those extra 10 years, he would've been able to get the seasoning and experience to be picked up by WCW around 1995 or 1996 as a 22- or 23-year-old with 5-6 years under his belt.
Had Korklan been able to get into the WCW at that time, he would've been coming in to the WCW at the same time as other lightweight legends like Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko.
Three of those men have been WWE and World champions in their careers and are respected icons and grapplers.
Evan Bourne, working with and befriending them, learning from them on how to put together matches and promos, while having an aerial ability that is superior to all of them, would've made him a prime target for the WWE. As unlikely as it seems now, he may have also become a legend by jumping to the WWF with them when they did.
Keep in mind that saying "Eddie Guerrero is going to be a WWF Heavyweight Champion one day" in 1996, would've gotten you laughed at. Evan Bourne might have been polished enough by working along side of those legends, that he could've been a champion just like Eddie, too.
Unfortunately, Evan didn't have that opportunity to work with those men and make that jump during the collapse of WCW.
Today, Evan works around in the mid-card with his friend Kofi Kingston as the tag champs and it seems unlikely as though he'll ever be much more than that. Although stranger things have happened.
Like Rey Mysterio winning the WWE title.
If there is any one person on this list who I feel personifies "born too soon" it would be Husky Harris.
Watch that video and tell me that he wouldn't have been a perfect fit along side Stone Cold Steve Austin or The APA, as a beer-swilling, barroom-brawling, profanity-laced tough guy with an attitude bigger than the state of Florida.
I think he would possibly have been the only guy that Stone Cold Steve Austin might have run with during the attitude era, regularly. Of course, he would eventually stunner him out of his boots and pour beer in his face, but for a while, they would be drinking buddies.
Husky Harris has that Southern attitude and swagger that some of the best heels of the territories era possessed.
And yet, because he's a 24 year old in the PG Era of the WWE, it is completely wasted. There's nothing they can do with Windham Rotunda in this generation other than make him a New Nexus lackey or seem "skeevy."
The WWE wouldn't let him bust a beer bottle in Cole's face if he said something about his weight.
The WWE wouldn't let him get into a barroom brawl with Alex Riley and let him win by breaking a bottle of whiskey over his head and then cracking open a Miller Lite.
There's no way he would be allowed to curse someone out before running their head through a window in the back and making them bleed.
It's a shame that he was just a snot-nosed kid when Stone Cold Steve Austin was "raising hell."
Had he just been born 20 years prior, he might have been right along side of him, or having some of the fiercest feuds with him you've ever seen.
Husky Harris in his prime in 1997 would be a legend in 2011.
Husky Harris in the WWE in 2011 is just a mid-carder with tremendous ability and upside.
Hopefully, the WWE will get it together, so that in 2031, Husky can eventually take his rightful place amongst the Southern renegades who have filled the Hall of Fame.
The Great Khali
I hate the Great Khali. Most people do. He can't cut a promo to save his life, even in his own native language. There are, literally, old people in your nearest nursing home that you can grab, bring to a WWE event, and replace the Great Khali with and they will still put on a better match.
And yet, there was a time in professional wrestling history, where Dalip Singh Rana would not only not be the butt of jokes, but would actually be revered.
If Khali was active during the 1940's and 1950's, they would've put a mask on him and had him yelling a lot, while punching American people in the face all over the country.
And he would've been regarded as one of the most legendary heels in the history of professional wrestling.
Observe this match between two of the greatest icons in professional wrestling history, Bobo Brazil and The Sheik.
You can literally count the number of wrestling moves in the entire match on three fingers. Punch, headbutt, throw into the turnbuckle. (And still somehow, they seem like better wrestlers than Khali.)
Those are two of the greatest icons of all time, wrestling in the 1960's. Khali can throw a punch (barely), he can throw people into the turnbuckle (slowly) and he can headbutt people (Which probably explains why he wrestles like he's suffered severe brain damage).
Hey, The Great Khali can even lift a foot off of the ground and kick people in their upper thigh, causing them to go flying as though he kicked them in their faces. That takes skill.
If Khali was active back then, he would've fit right in, and with his legitimate height of 7'1", he would've been a freak show everyone would've come to see. He'd probably have been a champion in every territory he wrestled in.
Can you imagine that? Actually revering the Great Khali as a legend and an icon?
Hold on...I have to end this slide because I just laughed milk through my nose and onto my laptop.
Shelton Benjamin is routinely cited as one of the most senseless terminations in modern WWE History.
He was well regarded by WWE fans as a fantastic wrestler and athlete, who would regularly put on the best matches at WWE events.
Nevertheless, the WWE cut him because he didn't have enough charisma or microphone ability.
In this video, Bob Backlund enters at the 1:26 mark. Take a moment to listen to his promo.
That man held the WWWF title for a solid five years and almost held it for six.
Now, this is not to argue the case of the value of promos in the 1970's, when Bob first started that reign, and in 2010, when Shelton was fired. Obviously, these are different eras and fans had different expectations from their stars.
This example is drawn with this one thought in mind: Shelton Benjamin would have destroyed any man he stepped into the ring against with his athletic arsenal. It would've been like bringing thermonuclear warheads back in time to fight against the ancient Roman Empire. No contest.
Had Shelton been born in 1950 instead of 1975? He would have absolutely electrified and dominated the WWWF, NWA, MSW and any other promotion he stepped into, around the world.
He would've raised the standard for professional wrestling to such a degree, that not only would fans never have been impressed with the Jimmy Snuka's and Ricky Steamboat's Shelton would've gone up against, we wouldn't be impressed with guys like Kaval and Evan Bourne today, because Shelton would've changed the trajectory of the entire in-ring product and advanced it by 40 years.
He would've been an innovator like no one had ever seen. And he wouldn't have even needed to open his mouth. Though, listening to guys who were superstars in the '70s, he would've been just fine with a mic in his hand, too.
Instead, he gets unceremoniously dumped and is now stuck wrestling in a small-time promotion like Ring of Honor. Which, granted, is much better than the WWE's product, but still, it's small-time for the time being.
The American Dragon, Bryan Danielson is a 19-time champion across 16 different promotions.
If he had done that in the territories era of professional wrestling, his name would be synonymous with the likes of Superstar Billy Graham, Andre The Giant, Killer Kowalski and Bobo Brazil.
He would be a legend.
But, in a post-territories world, Bryan Danielson can walk around in Times Square and probably not be recognized by anyone but WWE fans. And it wouldn't be many fans, at that.
The WWF destroyed the territories of the '50s-'80s and took most of their stars, leaving only the corporate giant and a smattering of tiny promotions dotting the landscape of the professional wrestling world.
And so now, in this post-apocalyptic wrestling world, it is the WWE's dictatorial vision that determines whether or not you will be a star in the United States.
The "Indies" have been reduced to the "minor leagues" as the WWE just loves to remind the fans of. And so being perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time in today's promotions means very little to the general public like it used to, when men like Buddy Rogers and Ric Flair were headlining the marquees.
Now, that same American Dragon, "the self made man" who had worked since the year 2000 to enter into the WWE's main stage, is a mid-carder who gets beaten down and submitted by the likes of Sin Cara and Alberto Del Rio.
The Dragon has also been neutered. No longer allowed to be the witty, hardcore, technical athlete that garnered him the title of the "Best Wrestler To Perform In The Independents". Instead he is reduced to being a "dweeb" who also happens to be a vegan.
Bryan Danielson should have been born in 1951 and not 1981.
He'd be a Hall of Famer and living legend who out-wrestled everyone during his time, instead of fodder for the WWE brass' favorites; that same brass that thinks letting him hold a briefcase appeases the portion of the fan base who knows he should be making their main-eventers tap out.
Note: It doesn't.
Stuart Bennett probably should've been born in absolutely any era other than this one.
He could yet to have been born and might have ended up in a future WWE that finally realized that Hollywood soap opera writers don't make good wrestling bookers.
He could have broken into the WWE any time before Vince McMahon thought this was a good idea and he would've been fine.
He could have never stepped foot in the WWE, instead, working for the NWA territories or Bill Watt's MSW, and been better off.
Instead, being born in 1980, and being at his prime at 31 years of age, the man known as "Wade Barrett" is forced to work for a WWE where nearly every single person breathing agrees he would make a fantastic main-event champion, and yet, is booked to lose repeatedly to guys who don't have a fraction of his "It-factor" (Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel).
Had Wade Barrett walked in to the WWF in 1990, he might have easily been the man given The Undertaker's spot at Survivor Series. He could've been the man to beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF Heavyweight Title at the following Survivor Series.
The WWF would've taken one look at this man, one look at his charisma, one listen to his promos and would've had him jumping Bret Hart the next day and facing him at Summerslam in 1992 instead of Davey Boy Smith.
Wade Barrett would already have been a 10-time champion if he went through the WWF's Attitude Era.
He would've held probably every World Title imaginable in the NWA's various promotions in the '70s and '80s.
And today's WWE has no clue what to do with him.
For that reason alone they are dumber than a box of blonde rocks.
If you look at Wade Barrett, and you come up with the idea of the Nexus, botch it all horribly, have it end up with Wade looking like a loser in a group called the "Corre" and then having a meaningless Intercontinental Title reign?
You should not be fired.
Seriously, you shouldn't be.
Everyone else should quit and build a new company in which you are not invited to apply.
However, I have to believe that Wade is going to be okay. Simply because people are going to get fired if the ratings drop any lower. (And they probably will.)
Hopefully, that will mean the incomprehensibly buffoonish creative team that can't figure out something as simple as: "Have Wade jump Orton, start a feud, have Wade win the title and keep it for a while," will be cleaned out.
And then the WWE can hire drunken bums from off the street who will do a better job with his career.
Literally, any other era and this man is a mega-star heel. Any other Era at all. The Frank Gotch era of the 1910's. It doesn't matter.
Worst luck ever, Wade.
John Cena is the face of the "PG Era."
And he is absolutely loathed for it.
Not everyone hates John Cena, but anyone who lived through the WWF's Attitude Era can't stand the man. He is way too childish, cartoonish and campy to be accepted by grown men in their 20's and 30's who grew up watching Stone Cold crack open a "Steveweiser" or watched the Dudley Boyz powerbomb every woman they could get their hands on through tables.
Listening to John Cena talk about "Hustle, loyalty and respect" while calling people "Jackwagons" and releasing the most horrid jokes this side of Rodney Dangerfield, literally runs off fans by the hundreds of thousands.
When John Cena ascended to the top of the WWE in 2005 and became its main star and spokesperson, the WWE would generate 4.0's in the ratings. Now? Raw has dropped down to a 2.7 in its last outing.
Not all of this is Cena's fault, but the top superstars of a company are like the quarterbacks of an NFL team. They are the main attractions. And a weak main-attraction hurts a company more than anything else.
This is the reality that John Cena has to deal with as he gets booed vociferously by his own home-town fans and is regularly eviscerated by viewers around the country, both online and in arenas.
But, what if John Cena had been a star in the 1970's and 1980's?
At a time where America was more into heroes than anti-heroes, John Cena may have possibly been as big a star as Hulk Hogan himself.
In a more character driven environment, a man who portrayed a marine, and spoke on hard work (hustle), loyalty and respect for others, would've been a popular character. Another aspect to recognize that has been touched on in this list, is that wrestlers back then weren't nearly as skilled as wrestlers today.
After being exposed to men like Kaval and Shelton Benjamin, someone who utilizes shoulder blocks and clotheslines as half his arsenal is like watching paint dry.
But, in the 1970's, when a simple suplex was considered a devastating maneuver and barely anyone went to the top rope, John Cena's wrestling ability would've been lauded. His mic skills would've been considered one of the best of his era.
Had John Cena been born in the 1950's instead of 1977, we would possibly consider him one of the greatest icons in the history of professional wrestling.
He will be remembered as probably one of the most irritating and weakest main-event mainstays in the history of the WWE. And if the WWE never turns around, then he'll be considered one of the major causes for the demise of the WWE. Just like overplaying the NWO was considered one of the major causes for the demise of the WCW.
What a difference two decades makes.