There are some folks in wrestling that, no matter how talented, never seem to catch a break.
Look at poor Mike Shaw. An agile big man, he was stuck with horrible gimmicks like Big Trucker Norm and Bastion Booger, and therefore never really made it anywhere in the business. Other men, such as Terry Taylor, suffered similar fates: a character or angle that typecast them forever.
Sometimes, however, the crime is much more subtle. Example: Nora Greenwald. One of the best women grapplers of the past ten years, the woman known to WWE fans as Molly Holly has been shoved aside time after time. Her biggest “push”, if you can even call it that, was a bit wherein announcers claimed she had a fat ass. This despite obvious evidence that she didn’t.
I’d throw Jerry Lynn into the Molly Holly school of pro wrestling neglect, although he has never been part of an angle that made fun of his butt. (At least not yet – remember, he DOES work for Russo these days.) Lynn is obviously a tremendously talented in-ring competitor, but it seems like he has never really caught that one big break a man of his talent deserves. Sure, he had a stint in WWE, but it was certainly nothing to write home about; in fact, the most notable part of his tenure was a televised segment in which he complained that he wasn’t on PPVs. He main evented for ECW, but that was during a time when the company was on its deathbed. He currently plies his trade in NWA-TNA, although, again, is not featured at the top of their cards.
It was his WCW stint, though, that may have been the most laughable. After finally catching a break thanks to years of great matches on the independent circuit, Lynn no doubt looked forward to his WCW tenure. This would at last be the exposure he needed to get to the big time.
He had to have been discouraged, however, when WCW decided it would be best for him to wear a mask. Now think about that. You’re a new wrestler to the company, and the first thing they say to you is, “That face of yours? Ewww! Cover it up!” What a slap in the (well protected) face.
With his head concealed, WCW asked him to come up with a name. He replied that he would be Phantasm, which may or may not have been taken from a 1979 horror film (available for less than $5 at your local Meijer store). Knowing the little I do about Jerry from interviews, I would conclude that it was definitely his kind of movie. Suffice to say, it was a somewhat interesting name, something that perhaps a luchador might have used.
Upon hearing it, WCW booker Kevin Sullivan thought it was idiotic, and decided that he would be much better served to be known as “Mr. JL.” Now THAT’s inventive. Maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t you expect more from a guy who wore a wizard’s outfit and screamed “Welcome to Oz! Welcome to Oz!” while carting a monkey around ringside?
Despite being given the terrible nickname, Lynn took flight above WCW rings. However, even opponents apparently couldn’t take him seriously with that moniker. I mean, look at the guy in the above shot. JL is flying at him, looking to do some real damage. How does said opponent react? By putting his hands on his hips, looking for all the world like he’s waiting for a bus. This means either a) Jerry is in for a tough landing; or b) the guy doesn’t know understand the basic economic factors of why placing bus stops adjacent to wrestling rings is a really stupid idea.
Actually, the correct answer would be c) he didn’t care. That answer was the same for virtually everyone, including Lynn himself. He headed back to the indy circuit before heading to ECW and winning their top strap.
With his face exposed – as Jerry Lynn.