Hello, Scott, while wondering how the late 90s could have gone differently and rewatching the the early months of Nitro, I found myself thinking about what happened with Marc Mero.
1) at the beginning of the year, he won a decent feud with DDP as TV champ and thing seemed to be going well for him in the mid card until he abruptly dropped the title the Luger and was gone. I recall on two deeper are Nitros where Eric Bischoff takes a shot at Mero and how he headed north or couldn’t handle it on wcw. They even blacked out his face in the old WCW Hotline ads (which I noticed in Nitro viewings since they still have the vintage WCW ads in them). Why did Mero leave wcw, or was he fired for some reason? He seemed to have it set, at least as a midcarder goes.
2) not long after, he is introduced during Wrestlemania XII (something of a marquee intro) and they even tease a feud with Triple H (presumably when he was still on the rise prior to the curtain call) which carries over to Raw. According to Foley’s book, he was signed for a high price. My question is why did WWF sign him so quickly and for so much? Did Vince see the ridiculous Johnny B Badd gimmick (which seemed to be popular due to Mero’s performance) and think ‘this guy is the kind of entertainer we need’ (despite giving him the somewhat lame Wildman gimmick)? Were there other people pushing for Mero to be signed by WWF?
Just seems like an interesting situation as Mero seems to be the first Jump (from WCW to WWF) during the Monday Night Wars era yet played mostly a footnote in the larger story, mostly by his association with Sable.
1) The Mero-Bischoff relationship deteriorated pretty fast at the end and there was a lot of name-calling and accusations both ways, but the upshot from the WCW side was that Bischoff accused Mero of missing a bunch of mandated publicity jobs and fired him. Mero’s side is that his contract expired and he quit after getting lowballed. Most suspect there was some contract tampering from the WWF involved because he had a three-year deal lined up basically the moment he left. Either way, his contract had expired at the end of his WCW run, so there was no non-compete window needed and he was able to jump right away. There was a lot of confusion at the time because the rift came so suddenly and without warning, and got ugly really fast. Bischoff buried him on Nitro on a regular basis afterwards, while Mero openly criticized the company for forcing him to do things that contradicted his religious beliefs. It was a weird deal.
2) WWE absolutely saw big money in him, and more specifically in his wife, and he was really on track in 1997 to break through, but injuries just destroyed him. In particular that stretch between Feb 97 where he got injured as Wildman Mero and then returned months later with a totally different look as Marvellous Marc Mero really derailed his momentum as a potential top guy. The boxer gimmick was a good midcard dick heel one, but not one for a guy who aspired to face Steve Austin.