One of the things the Vince Russo Support Group likes to rally around is the fact that during his WCW tenure, he gave many young guys opportunities that they would have never had under the old regimes. And believe it or not, I agree – guys such as Billy Kidman would have been stuck in the midcard forever had Russo not at least tried to give him a push.
The problem, of course, is that while Russo gave the younger guys a shot, he also more often than not gave them stupid personas that gave them zero chance to ever get over.
Take, for instance, Prince Iaukea. To be fair, the guy had a pretty lame gimmick in which he was an island warrior, a pretty typical persona in the pro wrestling biz. But aside from his blase persona, he really never demonstrated a lot of skill in the ring, or charisma outside it, and for the life of me I cannot remember a single promo the guy ever cut. (In fact, my little crew alternately referred to him as “Prince I-Uh-Suck-Uh” or “Prince Poop-a-Kea”.)
Despite these facts, when Russo invaded WCW, he became something of a pet project, and was given an entirely new character to portray.
Prince Iaukea was dead.
And in his place was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea.
Get it? It’s just like the pop singer Prince, who also changed his name! To that end, Iaukea now had purple lighting, a fancy purple hat, and a valet named Paisley. His entrance music was a direct rip-off of Purple Rain, and he began acting just like the eccentric singer.
Yeah, dude, I’d hide my face too.
Of course, none of this changed the fact that he still wasn’t good in the ring, he still had no charisma, and he still couldn’t cut a promo. He was just a one-note joke, and after the first week with this silly persona, he was back right where he was, and where he would always be: stuck in midcard hell.
Believe it or not, I think he had a chance to make it. Sure, he was just like the “real” Artist, but he was lacking one important element: a symbol. In fact, I have the perfect one in mind:
Somehow, that just seems appropriate.