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Tenese Sarwieh

Greatest Career Rehabs

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Since leaving WWE Jon Moxley has been doing the best work of his career in AEW and New Japan. He feels rejuvenated and feels like a weight is off his shoulders. Wondering is there any other situations like this? The one that comes to mind for me is Vader after his disastrous run in WWF then killing it in All Japan.

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While I know he did a lot of good/great stuff in TNA, I’d say AJ Styles in New Japan. AJ has never been outright bad, but he got saddled with some really poor storylines that had (IMO) taken the shine off him a bit. In NJ, he got to remind people how good he is. 

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The Miz went from an unbearable midcard heel who was pretty much dead in the water with a meaningless IC Title run into a top of the line heel draw in the course of a single promo.

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Matt Hardy has reinvented himself successfully several times and has become easily the far more relevant Hardy brother, even though Jeff was always the one earmarked for big pushes.

Bradshaw to JBL was also a pretty big leap.

Ditto for Jinder Mahal going from One Man Band, "That Indian Guy," and perennial job duty to becoming the Modern Day Maharaja and WWE Champion. His big push evaporated as quickly as it came, but it's still more than 99% of the roster will ever get.

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While we're in the same vein than Moxley...how about Juice Robinson? He was going nowhere as CJ Parker in NXT and once he leaves, he got a pretty solid restart in Japan.

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Stunning Steve Austin into Stone Cold Steve Austin has to be right up there with Rocky Maivia into The Rock and Hunter Hearst Helmsly into Triple H as a major turning point? From an injury prone star into somebody who defied injury to become the biggest bad-ass on television, it doesn't get much better. Throw in Issac Yankem and The Sultan in there as well.

From an image perspective, Goldberg's return in 2016 helped solidify him as a megastar in the industry. For years, he was portrayed as this flash in the pan who was in the right place at the right time and he couldn't deal with losing. That was put on it's head with the Brock Lesnar storyline which was just a great piece of business from top to bottom.

Johnny Polo into Raven worked out OK as well.

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17 minutes ago, SirEdger said:

While we're in the same vein than Moxley...how about Juice Robinson? He was going nowhere as CJ Parker in NXT and once he leaves, he got a pretty solid restart in Japan.

Sami Callihan, same thing. Left NXT, reinvented himself on the indies and went everywhere from LU, MLW, IMPACT and to me is a MVP everywhere he goes.

The other obvious one : KENTA.

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46 minutes ago, C.S. said:

Ditto for Jinder Mahal going from One Man Band, "That Indian Guy," 

I get a kick that this one is still used on the board. :D Well, I had all the time in the world to get to know him... not sure I really wanted though. Still less dreadful than Baron Corbin, how scary is that ?

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1 hour ago, Big Pete said:

Hunter Hearst Helmsly into Triple H

Don't think this was a big deal. Triple H's biggest leap forward was when he got paired with Stephanie. She was a total heat magnet, and eventually it rubbed off onto him.

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Trip never had to "rehab" his career. He was groomed for big things just as he was signed. Rehab should mean a career went down the tubes (what tubes ?), then got back to be successful, hot, or whatever. 

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Yeah, some of these are just gimmick tweaks, or management deciding to push someone, which doesn't really count as a rehab unless the circumstances are extraordinary. Like, Mahal was just the company giving him the world title for whatever stupid reason. And it didn't really rehab him, since it actually just shone a light even more on how much he sucked. JBL was a bit different because he changed up his whole gimmick, did really well in the role (character-wise at least), and got a several year run as a top act out of it. I'd put Mark Henry in this category too, just for the way he knocked it out of the park during his Hall of Pain run and completely rehabbed his image to where people who always thought he was a waste of space were admitting that he was actually pretty good.

Matt Hardy becoming broken is a good shout, as the guy had become a bit of a punchline in the years before that.

CJ Parker I think was too early in his career to really need rehabbing. It's certainly surprising and to his credit the amount of success he's had in Japan though.

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58 minutes ago, El-P said:

Trip never had to "rehab" his career. He was groomed for big things just as he was signed. Rehab should mean a career went down the tubes (what tubes ?), then got back to be successful, hot, or whatever. 

But there was a point when Triple H was buried for about a year because of the Curtain Call incident, given he was the only one Vince could really punish because of this.

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11 minutes ago, SirEdger said:

But there was a point when Triple H was buried for about a year because of the Curtain Call incident, given he was the only one Vince could really punish because of this.

People accept that as fact, but was he really buried that bad? He lost the King of the Ring victory but he spent most of that year winning midcard feuds.

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14 minutes ago, SirEdger said:

But there was a point when Triple H was buried for about a year because of the Curtain Call incident, given he was the only one Vince could really punish because of this.

Buried is a big word for a simple, short delay of the upcoming big push. He didn't win KOTR in 96, but a few months later he won the IC title anyway, then got Chyna, won his feud with Goldust at Mania then got the KOTR in 97. It was really more of a shortly interrupted push than anything else.

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Think of how differently things might've gone if Trips had won KOTR that year as planned.

- No breakout Stone Cold promo

- Trips probably remains stuck in the dated Hunter Hearst Helmsley gimmick a lot longer, with a cheesy crown added to the act

- He may never meet Chyna or become involved with Steph

- WCW possibly puts WWE out of business, or at least damages it a lot further, if Austin isn't in a position to become the ace, build The Rock up, etc.

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Helmsley did a clean job to Jake's DDT and even got the snake treatment afterward, which almost never happened to pushed talent (even as a kid I noticed when Hercules got Damian at SummerSlam '88 and thought, "Wow, that's rare, Herc must be on his way out.") He also had a countout loss to Freddy Joe Floyd at one point. I do think there was something to the "burial"...but it's also known that he scored a lot of political brownie points for doing all that without complaint (as well as going along with Warrior's late demands to squash him at Mania 12), so it's hard for me to see it as HHH scratching and clawing his way back to the top, either.

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Re: Austin...his real break was Bret asking to work with him upon coming back moreso than winning KOTR. I have a feeling he breaks out anyway and probably either gets another opportunity to drop the Austin 3:16 catchphrase or comes up with something else that catches on in a similar way.

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28 minutes ago, PeteF3 said:

Re: Austin...his real break was Bret asking to work with him upon coming back moreso than winning KOTR. I have a feeling he breaks out anyway and probably either gets another opportunity to drop the Austin 3:16 catchphrase or comes up with something else that catches on in a similar way.

Agreed. When you think that at SummerSlam, Austin was in the pre-show against then JTTS Yokozuna (isn't this Yoko's last match in WWF ? Pretty sad how things turned out for him, he was awesome). Bret made Austin.

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I don't think Cody's rehab started right when he left WWE. He spent quite some time having his indie darling wishlist, and wasn't exactly setting the world on fire. Things really started to change after he went to TNA and his friendship with the Bucks became a thing.

 

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According to profightdb, Yoko's last match was at Survivor Series 1996.

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Yea, I definitely wouldn't put Austin in this category. Sure, he seemed like he'd just be a midcard "mechanic" in WCW and was not ever going to be given a real chance but its not like nobody saw potential in the early 90s or ever thought he sucked. Even pre-internet, he was often described as a "blue chipper" or a promising young talent with a "bad attitude" in the Apter mags. I know among my friends and I, who were like 11-12, we thought he was a good wrestler - but because he was a heel, we wanted to see him lose to Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, etc. I wouldn't call that a rehab.

Mark Henry is a weird one. I'm not sure I'd call it a "rehab" because, to me, his trajectory doesn't fit. He didn't have a career to rehab. He sucked for the first 8-9 years. You can enjoy the comedy (I didn't), but his list of good matches from that time is non-existent. Then, around 05'-06', things started to turn a little bit - but he still mostly sucked. Then, it just clicked. To me, that's not rehab as much as things just "clicking" after a decade. Rehab is more like a guy who had a promising start, maybe a good run, then, for whatever reason (drugs? personal issues? bad marriage? etc.), lost his way and became terrible, a shell of their former self...and then got good again. 

With Moxley, "rehab" works for me because he fits that narrative. His first few years in the WWE were good. But more than anything else, that last run he had was just awful - a complete character nosedive. By that point, he'd been exposed/labeled as a worker who just wanted to "get his shit in" (the rebound lariat, the tornado DDT), make goofy faces, and then cut awful promos. That feud with Rollins was dogshit. His stock had really lowered to the point that even his biggest supporters had to be biting their nails a bit when he left. I mean, now, without the shackles, he had to actually prove he was as good as they wanted/believed him to be and that it was the WWE system that had ruined him. I mean, isn't that essentially what happened with Ken Anderson?  Elijah Burke?

Dustin Rhodes, to me, is a clear case of rehab. One of my favorites in the early 90s, the original Goldust was run was great, and then...things got weird and he was terrible for awhile (with a good performane here or there, but mostly, yeah, he looked like he couldn't care less). I didn't read his book but I'm sure there were specific reasons for the dramatic drop-off. And then, boom, in like 2006, the guy was just completely rejuvenated. The ECW run and matches against Sheamus were terrific. He made me care about Ted DiBiase Jr. for a minute (I loved how that feud teased that he was obsessed with Maryse [who would've been his "new Marlena"] but ended up being about his obsession with the Million Dollar Belt !!!). Teaming with Cody and his dad against The Authority. I think there was a tag team with R-Truth there for a minute that was good. If you told me Dustin Rhodes never worked again after the SeVen bullshit, I would've been like, "Yup, dude really let himself go, so tragic." But 10+ years after his rehab, he's still kicking ass too. 

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Do people consider Hero as an example of career rehabilitation? His 1st NXT stint was ok, and it did give us that awesome Regal match, but then he was let go.

In the following years he managed to have one of the all time great indie runs, and raised his stock to a level I think he didn't reach before, although he was a big name.

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3 hours ago, El-P said:

Sami Callihan, same thing. Left NXT, reinvented himself on the indies and went everywhere from LU, MLW, IMPACT and to me is a MVP everywhere he goes.

The other obvious one : KENTA.

I actually forgot he was in NXT until you mentioned it. He was dead as a fish out of water with that hacker gimmick. Other companies has used him perfectly showing off all if his strengths, he's the most important performer in Impact right now.

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21 minutes ago, KawadaSmile said:

Do people consider Hero as an example of career rehabilitation? His 1st NXT stint was ok, and it did give us that awesome Regal match, but then he was let go.

In the following years he managed to have one of the all time great indie runs, and raised his stock to a level I think he didn't reach before, although he was a big name.

I don't think so. He was in a good place feuding with Regal until his "bad habits" caught up with him. I believe after the Regal stuff he would've been slotted in the NXT title scene.

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