One of the most popular features in our WWF Superstars 1992 retrospective is the “jobbers of the week” category, where we snap pics of the guys brought in to lose to the stars — truly some of the worst looking and named wrestlers you’ve ever seen — and riff on them. Future WCW star Perry Saturn showed up as “Peter Motts” a couple of weeks ago, and it got me thinking; why not go back through the past 40 years of wrestling history and cherry pick some of the funniest jobbers who went on to become household names?
So that gives us Job Opportunities, a new (hopefully recurring) column where we remember when The Shield didn’t have a handle, the American Dragon was still a petrified egg, and the Bucks were even younger.
To start the column off, here are ten faces you would’ve never guessed would become some of the biggest stars in pro wrestling and sports-entertainment. I can’t wait to revisit this a few years from now when some random guy getting beaten up backstage by Braun Strowman on Raw wins the NXT Championship in the best match we’ve ever seen.
Before he was a Death Rider, a Lunatic Fringe, or even a “Streetdog,” Jon Moxley was a mild-mannered tag team wrestler with cotton candy hair competing against the Tag Team Champions, MNM, on Velocity. You can watch that here.
His partner? “Brad Taylor,” who joins recent Raw enhancement talent Randy Taylor as 2/3 of the Home Improvement kids wrestling Triforce. In case you’re wondering, yes, there was also a Mark Taylor on Raw, although he only counts because they got a team’s last names mixed up. As far as I can tell, their dad never made it to the big leagues.
Mox’s second jobber appearance turned out even more memorable, thanks to him showing up with pastel pink hair for a Sunday Night Heat match against Val Venis.
Woo woo woo, you don’t know this guy.
Going up against stuttering giant Matt Morgan on a 2005 episode of Smackdown is a young Matthew Brett Cardona, going by the Shawn Michaels-style name “Brett Matthews.” You can watch the full match here. His performance during the beatdown would be enough to get him a developmental deal, and a couple of years later as one half of WWECW’s “Major Brothers.”
You know him best as Zack Ryder, Long Island Iced Z, one half of a popular action figure podcast and former “guy who messed around on the Internet and got insanely popular, changing the way WWE treats online culture and social media, but didn’t get to reap enough of the rewards.”
Would this count as a Pre-faces of Foley?
One of the most famous and thoroughly written about examples on this list, here’s a young Mick “Jack” Foley teaming up with British junior heavyweight star Les Thornton and getting the ever-loving piss beaten out of him by the British Bulldogs. If you’ve never seen the match before, make sure to keep an eye out for Dynamite Kid frothing at the mouth to get in the ring and put the entirety of his forearm through the lower half of Mrs. Foley’s baby boy’s face.
No shade on the Bulldogs (who are one of the greatest tag teams of all time), but it’s kind of fun to watch them maul this kid knowing he’d go on to win seven more Tag Team Championships than them (8-to-1). And though Davey Boy Smith held the Intercontinental Championship (and one extra tag championship without Dynamite), Foley would end up holding the WWE Championship three times, and be one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time. Funny how that works out.
It was that big pocket on his sheepskin vest, wasn’t it?
Speaking of beloved pro wrestlers who were told they were never WWE Championship material but got there anyway, here’s the also-famous appearance of “Brian Danielson” on Velocity. This is the one where he loses to Yellow Pants John Cena, which you can watch here.
The man who’d become Daniel Bryan — and, arguably more importantly at least to me, Ring of Honor World Champion Bryan Danielson — is known as “Daniel Bryan Danielson” to some, so the “Brian” spelling makes it even more redundant. Brian Daniel Bryan Danielson? Regardless, white trunks white-meat babyface Bryan Danielson is one of the founding fathers of ROH alongside Christopher Daniels and Low Ki, so it’s fun to go way back to 2003 and remember him from a time when even he hadn’t totally figured out what worked yet.
Cedrick Von Haussen
Here’s the first appearance of Liechtenstein Heavyweight Champion, Cedrick Von Wrestling, during a 2007 Smackdown match against Montel Vontavious Porter. You can watch that here. Liechtenstein is a country in Europe between Austria and Switzerland, in case you didn’t know, which ranks Von Haussen somewhere between WALTER and Cesaro. That’s … probably dangerous.
At some point Von Haussen relocated to the United States (or one of his relatives did), put down roots in northern Ohio, and became Johnny Freaking Wrestling. If you want to see a true testament to how well the WWE developmental system can work when it’s done right, compare the Johnny Gargano you see on job duty here against the man who went 2-out-of-3 falls in the main event of NXT TakeOver New York to win the NXT Championship. That’s a journey.
We can’t talk about Cedrick Von Haussen without talking about his former best friend and eternal (central European?) blood rival Tommaso Whitney, seen here looking like a young Bradley Cooper and preparing to take on Jamie Noble (boy). You can watch that match here.
When he’s not wrestling, he’s practicing legal council duties for marginalized people and getting piledriven onto the top of his head by enormous, xenophobic, undead wizards. He’s also anglicizing his name into, “Thomas Whitney, Esquire.” Thankfully for all of us, he’d let his heart grow black and turn into Tommaso Ciampa, quite possibly the most straight-up deranged and evil dude in the history of NXT. I wonder if he’s ever snuck into Liechtenstein with a crutch and tried to attack anybody?
Continuing our trek through the 10-years-too-early NXT tag team division, here’s a young Raymond Rowe getting the shit beaten out of him by The World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry on the June 9, 2006, edition of Smackdown.
This was back before he’d covered up the 216 on his heart with a TRUE TIL DEATH (or, if you play the card games, “EAT EAT”) tattoo and participated in a War Machine. That Machine would eventually break up into a group of Raiders, who would then decide to have a few Viking experiences before settling on raiding exclusively in the style of Vikings. I like going back and watching this match knowing full well Rowe could plant his feet and back drop driver 400-pound Mark Henry in a heartbeat.
Can we find the other Raider somewhere on here?
The winner of the “guy who looks the most different from when he first showed up as a jobber” award, upsetting Tommaso Whitney, is “Todd Hanson.” He eventually drops the “Todd” — good call — and grows out a war beard, and now experiences Viking raids as WWE Superstar Ivar. I still don’t like those names, but at least it cut down tremendously on the “Mmm Bop” jokes.
Here’s Big Todd taking on Brian Black in a Raw dark match, and WWE Network uploaded the episode of Velocity where he faces WWE legend Doug Basham. It’s a shame the timeline never worked out to give us Todd Hanson vs. WCW jobber Terry Richards.
These last two competed in the same match on Smackdown back in 2008 and were mentioned in this week’s Best and Worst of Raw column, but I have to include them.
Big Show was heading into an “I Quit” match, so he looked to prove himself by winning a gauntlet of “I Quit” matches against the least threatening guys in the world. One was Russ Taylor, who shows up again on that aforementioned Raw. The other two ended up being significantly more famous, including this unassuming looking guy with a normal human penis who’d eventually learn to use it as such an effective weapon they’d make a documentary about it.
It’s funny to see Joey Ryan back before he had ANY of the things that make him so Joey Ryan, but I suppose losing to the Big Show turned out to be the gut check he needed.
That match also featured Matt Jackson, one half of a tag team currently popular enough to help run their own competitive big league wrestling promotion and have their own wing at your local Hot Topic, the Young Bucks. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
My only complaint is that the match didn’t feature both Bucks, so they could wear their colorful pre-Crisis Hardy Boyz gear and relive the career of the Hardys a decade later.
That’s it for this week’s look back at some of WWE’s most memorable losers (who became major winners), so remember: anything is possible, and that really terrible guy at your local promotion might end up charging 200 dollars for VIP interactions at WrestleMania Axxess one day. Meet them and hype them up now, when it won’t cost you more than ten bucks.
Make sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know if you remember seeing these guys on TV before they were stars, and let us know if you’d like to see more columns like this. We haven’t even gotten to that random time CM Punk and Mickie James got paired up on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, so there’s plenty more to come.