With the Monday Night Wars heating up in 1996, WWF was forced to abandon a staple of its flagship program: the squash match. No more on Monday Night Raw would the likes of Reno Riggins, Kenny Kendall, and Mike Bell be trotted out for a quick paycheck and a trouncing by WWF superstars. From then on, every match would feature nothing but contracted, name talent.
Well, sort of. Instead of recruiting local wrestlers to take dives whenever Raw came to town, the WWF hired a slew of wrestlers in mid-1996 who would debut as if they were superstars (and appropriately enough, on the syndicated WWF Superstars) with their own entrance music and gimmicks, only to end up counting the lights and putting over bigger stars after a week or two. Pretty clever! There was Tom “Salvatore Sincere” Brandi, Tracy “Freddie Joe Floyd” Smothers, Tony “TL Hopper” Anthony, Bill “The Goon” Irwin, and today’s inductee, Alex “The Pug” Porteau. Unlike the rest of the “Kiss of Death Five,” Porteau got to wrestle under his real name, which, considering his role in the company, may not have been the best career move.
|Porteau’s “Pug” gimmick saw him portray a no-frills amateur wrestler with good sportsmanship (this was around the same time the Steve Austin was becoming Stone Cold). In his promos, he claimed to have experience in the world of amateur “wristling” and looked forward to the competition in the “World Wristling Federation.” While Porteau did in fact wristle (or wrestle) in high school, earning a varsity letter does not exactly qualify you as an elite in the world of sports (although, if teen movies are to be believed, it could earn you a date with the head cheerleader; Francine was not available at the time, though). Rounding out his “amateur athlete” image, the Pug entered the ring to the Steiner Brothers’ old theme.|
Whatever money the WWF saved on music and ring attire, they didn’t invest in a dictionary. When asked exactly what a pug is, Jim Ross responded that it’s “a fighter, someone who’s tenacious that never gives up.”
No, JR. It’s a dog. I know this because my mom happened to be in the room at the time and pointed out this glaring factual error, and to this day I cannot hear the word “pug” or see that particular breed without saying, in a JR voice, “A pug is a fighter!”
|Still, being named after a dog isn’t so bad, except when the dog breed in question looks like this:|
|Porteau claims that he had two ideas for his nickname: “The Pug” and “The Pitbull.” Unfortunately, WCW’s Craig Pittman was already going by “Pitbull,” plus there were the Pitbulls in ECW, so “Pug” it was.|
|And to think that Porteau could have been named not for a wrinkly toy dog breed but for a notoriously vicious breed like a pit bull.|
|Armed with the endorsement of Jim Ross and a nickname suggesting that he could nip at your ankles pretty good, “The Pug” made his auspicious WWF debut (if you ignore various losses as a jobber in the months and years prior) on Superstars against Barry Horowitz. The two had a competitive match and, at the end, Porteau scored a victory with a pinning combination to the surprise of the announcers. McMahon and Perfect were shocked that the newcomer could defeat a formidable veteran like Horowitz (whose gimmick until the previous year had been that he lost every single match). The two then shook hands and hugged following the match, showing what a nice young man Porteau was and how grateful he was for having upset Barry Horowitz.|
|The momentum from this tremendous win would not last long, however. Soon, he would lose to Vader in a handicap match where The Pug would suffer the indignity of having a jobber stacked on top of him before eating a Vader Bomb.|
|Porteau would then be on the losing end of matches against Goldust, Mankind, The Sultan, Justin Hawk Bradshaw, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Faarooq Assad.
Who didn’t beat The Pug?
Who did beat Alex Porteau at a Miami house show.
|After a loss to that big lug, I’m sure The Pug needed a hug.|
|The Pug did get a moment in the spotlight when his tag team partner Bob Holly scored an upset pin to defeat the Smoking Gunns, but he hit rock bottom when, in the Headbangers’ WWF debut, Porteau teamed with Aldo Montoya in a losing effort. A high school sports star like Porteau should never have been made to team up with Aldo, who, with that jock strap on his head, looked like someone being hazed by The Pug’s high school wrestling team.|
All in all, the feisty pug got treated like a run-of-the-mill jobber, despite the fact that he had is own theme music! Well, the Steiners’ own theme music, anyway. After a loss to fellow jobber-to-the-stars Salvatore Sincere, The Pug left the WWF in early 1997, proving that an amateur wrestling-style gimmick would lead a person absolutely nowhere in the new, edgier world of the Federation.