In the meantime, it's been way too long since I last did a wrestling post. I was really on the fence about this one, as it doesn't have a happy ending. However, the focus is on the gimmick, not the wrestler behind it. And this was definitely one of the dumbest things ever done in pro wrestling. Behold, the Renegade...
In 1995, WCW was signing every former WWF star they could. In less than a year, they brought in Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, John Tenta, the Nasty Boys and announcers Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan, among others. There was one star, however, they couldn't land: Jim Hellwig, a.k.a. The Ultimate Warrior. Despite repeated attempts, Warrior just wasn't interested.
Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, save for one thing: WCW already started promoting the Warrior, claiming that Hulk Hogan had the "Ultimate" surprise in store. Any time you utter the U-word in a wrestling ring you run a severe risk, as fans expect you to deliver. With no other options, WCW reverted to their standard policy of screwing over the fans.
They brought in an indy wrestler named Rick Wilson who was reportedly discovered in a male strip club by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Why Hogan and Bischoff would frequent such a place is anybody's guess, but, eh, I'm not here to judge. Anyway, Wilson bore a close resemblance to Hellwig, so WCW was willing to roll the dice. They painted his face, dressed him in similar tights, and even gave him a knockoff Warrior theme, all in an effort to convince the fans that he was the real deal. And it worked! For about 30 seconds!
His initial appearance got fans excited until he actually started wrestling. It became very obvious very fast that the Renegade was an even worse in ring performer than the real Ultimate Warrior, which is really saying something. WCW did everything to get the guy over. They put him over Arn Anderson for the TV Title, paired him up with Hogan, Savage and Sting, and even had him annihilate countless jobbers in record time to make him seem like the Warrior. But in the end, the fans new better, and would have none of him.
Eventually, Jimmy Hart, who'd been the Renegade's manager, turned on him, costing him his TV Title. After that, the Renegade fell to the wayside. He was pretty much jobbed out for the rest of his run in WCW. Ironically enough, his last televised appearance happened at "War Games '98" where he dressed up as the Ultimate Warrior to help make it appear as if the Warrior had disappeared in a cloud of smoke in the ring, only to appear from the entrance ramp. I'd go into greater detail about this, but it might give you a headache! Come to think of it, the Warrior's WCW run was way stupider than the whole Renegade debacle.
In early 1999, Rick Wilson was fired from WCW. Not long after, he and his girlfriend parted ways as well. Having lost his job and his love, and with the WWF and ECW showing no interest, Wilson killed himself in the Spring of '99. He was only 33.
It's terribly sad that things went the way they did. It's hard to say who's at fault here. Wilson clearly wasn't cut out for the big time. In that same vein though, WCW could have done a little more to prepare the guy for the ring. He may have wrestled on the indy circuit, but by all accounts, stripping was his original bread winner. That's not exactly a great pre-requisite for a wrestling career. Fans hating the poor guy for merely doing as he was told didn't help. Still, you can't blame him for taking a chance at instant fame and notoriety. His legacy isn't particularly good, but perhaps Rick Wilson's soul can take some comfort in knowing that he was part of one of wrestling's most notorious gimmicks.
Well, that's all for now. Can't say for sure if I'll be back next week. In the meantime, take care and I'll catch y'all later!