The secret word of the day is ‘nepotism’.
Nepotism. It’s a word meaning, bluntly, to be treated better than others because you’re a relative of the employer or higher power.
In wrestling, the word gets used around a lot, mostly in cases such as Triple H (who fans claim has great power and no responsibility thanks to being married to Stephanie McMahon) or other smaller cases, like when Road Warrior Animal was given a big push due to his brother, Johnny Laurinaitis (better known to wrestling fans as Johnny Ace) in his last WWE run. And heck, it may just come up frequently here in the pages of FoW.
But the complaint has gone far back in the days of wrestling, maybe even so far back as Greg Gagne in AWA, or even earlier. But today we’re not here to talk about Greg, but rather a wrestler who was pushed to the moon way too soon, which is of course what FoW is about. Today, let’s discuss Erik Watts.
Of course, in order to discuss Erik and why the big word is what starts off this week’s article, we should give a history to his dad, Bill.
Though the name Bill Watts is nothing more than a footnote in today’s history, back in the day he was something to everyone in the southern territories, promoting the Universal Wrestling Federation until it was bought out by Jim Crocket Promotions, which would end up being sold to Ted Turner and become World Championship Wrestling.
Which becomes all the more interesting when Bill Watts was brought into Turner Entertainment as the VP of WCW. In a way, you could argue, he was basically working on his old promotion. And it showed in his booking plans when he went back to basics: Faces and heels couldn’t change in the same locker rooms so as to not break kayfabe, getting rid of the safe padding at ringside so that all the wrestlers had to fall on when they took a bump to the outside was the hard cold concrete floor, all high-flying maneuvers were banned from the ring (though this would be short lived), his friends were pushed further up the card than any of the more deserving new guys, and of course our word of the day, nepotism.
Which brings us back to our main point: Erik had originally been a quarterback for University of Lousiville’s football team, and then his dad would take him under his wing and train him to become a pro wrestler before Bill Watts became part of the WCW.
Three months later.
Yes, the period between Watts’ start in training to being signed by the second biggest wrestling company of the time was a span of three months. Arguably, you could argue that most wrestlers need to take much more time than that to improve and get better. Some start as early as high school to get in pro wrestling shape and take more time to hone their craft. To me, three months is NOT enough time for someone, anyone, even if it’s your own dad, to say “Alright, son, let’s pack our bags to Atlanta!”
And I’d love to get into his WCW run, and how many times he was pushed so hard despite being so green and all, but…I can’t. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s not discussed much. My usual sources, Online World of Wrestling and Wikipedia, speak next to nothing about his time in WCW. I mean…was it that bad that it’s not discussed too much?
Thankfully, i found some videos of those early days on Youtube, notably a match with Arn Anderson, and…well, the less said, the better. Maybe those guys had the right idea.
Though, let’s be honest about something. I could understand why you’d want someone like Arn to try and put over someone like Erik: Guys like Arn or Ric Flair have a tendency to be called ‘ring wizards’, basically making anyone they wrestle with look ten times better than they should (Although it doesn’t work all the time). But to be fair, I don’t think Arn could be able to pull off a good match with someone who only trained for three months. Look at how well that went for Ric when he had to wrestle Giant Gonzalez.
Yeah, maybe that’s a bit of a bad comparison. I apologize to all parties involved.
Well, the least I can do is continue with Erik’s post-WCW career, because both Watts would be taken out of WCW after Bill had said some rather discreet remarks about serving blacks in restaurants. See how old school the guy was? Both would go onto WWF, where Erik would be booked as part of a tag team alongside a man named Chad Fortune, both respectively renamed Troy and Travis. The team name was Tekno Team 2000, apparently billed from the year 2000 as coming from THE FUTURE~!
Their ring attire was nothing more than silver tights and silver zubaz (some form of shorts that expanded along with the body while working out). Oh yeah, and those silly FUTURUSTIC~ jackets you see in the picture. I’d like to know what’s going on there with the left shoulder pads. Was that a prediction of fashion statements in the year 2000?
Suffice to say, Tekno Team never got to make the look trendy, as they only wrestled a small amount of matches, winning their debut against longtime jobbers at the time Barry Horowitz and Brooklyn Brawler. After that…nothing much. A few matches, and they were taken off the road, then brought back nearly an entire YEAR. I’m sure fans thought it was a new team, did a double take, and said, “Wait, those guys are STILL around?!” Even then, they recieved no success, and were quietly released from WWF.
After some years of no wrestling and a short ECW stint and a small return to WCW in it’s later years, Watts would jump onto the TNA ship back in the early days, joining alongside David Flair, son of Ric, and Brian Lawler, son of Raw’s announcer Jerry “The King”, in a stable known as “The New Generation”.
First off…these guys were the next generation a generation ago, and were mostly midcarders. Second, of the three, David and Brian each had success, David with a good momentum teaming with Crowbar and Daffney, and then the storyline with Keibler in WCW, and Brian was one half of the Too Cool tag team as Grandmaster Sexy alongside Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty in WWE’s Attitude era. Watts…aside from being pushed by his dad, had nothing to his name when in TNA, because nobody remembered him save for a few lousy stints thanks to his dad.
Also, allow me to point out the ages of these men: Flair at this time was 23. Brian was just turning 30. Erik was the oldest at age 35. For an idea of how bad that is, that’s the age Dave Batista was at in 2004, two years after finally getting his start in WWE. And Batista’s a month older than Triple H. But even by the time he reached that age, Batista at least garnered fame as part of the Evolution stable. Watts, again, had nothing to list on his resume.
But then things get ridiculous. The “Newt” Generation split up (prolly cuz they figured that was going nowhere…ever), Watts was then given a temporary role as a director of authority, and was put into an angle with his on-screen love, Goldy Locks. And that feud lasted basically a YEAR!
Okay, well, it lasted THROUGH the year of 2004, and interestingly enough, after the two broke up, it was one of Abyss’ earliest angles, and the reason as to why Alex Shelley is in the company today. Simply put, Watts’ contract was going to be sold by Goldy if Watts didn’t win against Abyss, and, well, he lost. She sold the contract, and Shelley was brought in. After that, Watts came back, a six-man tag match was set up, and Abyss turned on Goldy. Goldy then left, and Abyss would go on to fame, as most of his matches were some of the most hardcore that TNA came up with, especially-
…oh yeah, we’re still on Watts. Well, one of Watts’ final matches in TNA was against Raven, which amazingly, he won. Let me repeat that: This nobody, who had failed to make his name in several other companies and even by 2004 hadn’t approved inside the ring, beat the former ECW champion, and future NWA champion. And then got released a month later. That’s just as bad as putting any wrestler over anyone major only for them to split the next day. And there’s plenty of examples there…
As for Watts, he still wrestles on the indy circuit, which not surprisingly seems to be the only place he can win a championship.
Now, I know, I sound pretty harsh to the guy, but given that there seems to be little written history of this guy’s earliest matches, combined with the fact in 1992 Wrestling Observer named him the Most Overrated Wrestler and the Readers’ Least Favorite Wrestler, I think it does say more than enough than a listing of his match history ever would.
The funny thing is, WCW seemed to be the place where Erik was used the most and given a chance to show himself. WWF barely used him, TNA saw him as a guy that shouldn’t really be trying to become the ‘next generation’, but in WCW he was given some sort of push.
But then remember what got him that push in the first place: Nepotism.