More than two months ago, the first vignettes aired on SmackDown Live, hyping the forthcoming debut of the SAnitY faction from NXT. It took 9 weeks from the first hype video's airing for Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe to pop up on the blue brand. Reportedly, the reason for the considerable delay had to do with licensing and trademark issues regarding the SAnitY name, and the company wanted to have that ironed out before the group debuted.
Young and company aren't the only folks in wrestling to have had their debuts put into a holding pattern. The past few decades have seen a number of other hyped-up characters suffer through lengthy delays, some to comical lengths. Here's a look at a few other wrestling personalities that have been put through that same wringer of time.
10. Brodus Clay
Despite being relatively older for a relatively-new face, the monstrous Clay had a very unique look that would've been welcome in any era of McMahon-ruled WWE. Looking like a cross between King Kong Bundy and Hugh Morrus, Clay was the sort of super-heavyweight fiend that champion Hogan would've gone around the touring loop with in the 80s.
In late-2011, vignettes aired that hyped up the impending debut of the looming ex-bodyguard. Funny thing was, his debut kept getting pushed back a week, week after week, with different hasty excuses as to why Clay hadn't arrived yet. According to Clay in a 2012 interview, one reason why his debut was held off until January 2012 was because Chris Jericho and Kane were making their returns around that time, and WWE didn't want Clay getting lost in the shuffle. His vignettes had already started airing, so they chose to make the most of it. And when he *did* arrive, he was all of a sudden the jovial dancing machine known as The Funkasaurus and, well, yeah.
9. Jesse And Festus
The man known today as Luke Gallows was once a simple-minded goliath named Festus, teaming with energetic good ol' boy Jesse (Ray Gordy, the son of the late Terry "Bamm Bamm" Gordy) as a team apparently inspired by Of Mice and Men. In May 2007, vignettes began airing of the two disparate personalities, but the gimmick and vignettes were reportedly dropped a few weeks later, and the two reported back to Ohio Valley Wrestling.
On camera, the explanation for Jesse and Festus not showing up on SmackDown was that they had "gotten lost on the way to the arena". Apparently, somebody in power had a change of heart because a month after the debut was scrapped for apparent retooling, the vignettes began airing once more in the early summer months. And even then, it wouldn't be until October that the two would finally wrestle on TV.
8. The Boogeyman
Ahhh, he's The Boogeyman, and he's coming to getcha! You can call it WrestleCrap, but it's of the Repo Man variety, where it's truly hard to hate the concept and execution. Marty Wright was highly committed to the role of supernatural worm-eater, hitting the ground running as a novel "special attraction" in 2005. Yeah, he didn't have much to offer beyond the wacky gimmick, but it was certainly memorable.
Originally, Boogeyman was destined to debut on Raw in the summer of 2005, before he was suddenly shifted over to SmackDown. And even then, following several weeks of vignettes, his debut was delayed after he had injured not one but *both* of his knees. Michael Myers can survive revolver rounds plugged into his torso, but this Boogeyman was a wee bit more mortal. He finally rolled around in mid-October, debuting at the behest of kayfabe Network Executive Palmer Canon (hey, remember him?).
More SmackDown-related weirdness! Kizarny was someone that seemed like a decent fit for SAnitY, as his tattooed body, twisted demeanour, and high tolerance for pain (he's had darts thrown into his own torso as part of his act in other promotions) would qualify him. Vignettes aired endlessly throughout the fall of 2008, in which the demented harlequin rhapsodized in carny speak.
He lasted two months on the main roster, before being released in March 2009. Kizarny would later go on to say that McMahon told him to speak only in "carny", which the real-life Nick Cvjetkovich saw as problematic - how was the audience supposed to understand him, and subsequently like him? But he went along with the orders, didn't get over to WWE's liking, and was gone in short order. Another case of a lengthy parade of vignettes that were for nothing.
6. The Desperados
Finally, one from the WCW side of the fence. You've seen Zeb Colter in WWE, and you're likely at least a wee bit familiar with his more distinguished time as "Dirty" Dutch Mantel. By 1990, Mantel was winding down a long and successful career, but this forthcoming act for WCW was certainly long, but not successful.
Mantel was grouped with fellow cowpokes Black Bart and Deadeye Dick (better known as Moondog Spot) as The Desperados, three half-witted hombres that were seeking guidance from the great Stan Hansen. Vignettes aired for months, featuring the three getting into all sorts of harebrained trouble as they searched the Old West for "Stan the Man". It was comedy in name only, as Hansen ultimately refused to take part in such a bush-league angle, and returned to Japan. The Desperados were jobbed out in short order, and quickly forgotten.
Brakkus may well have been the German Tom Magee. Looking like a much shorter Batista with Ken Shamrock's hair, Brakkus began working dark matches for WWE in late-1996, as the company began making big plans for him. By the summer of 1997, simple vignettes aired in which the imposing Brakkus would call out various WWE stars, issuing threats of forthcoming harm.
Thing is, while these vignettes were airing, Brakkus was working in both ECW and Jerry Lawler's USWA, trying to get himself to a presentable level in the ring. Yes, hype videos had begun airing *before* he was considered good enough to wrestle. He wouldn't wrestle on WWE TV for the first time until March 1998 (eight months after videos began), and that was in defeat to Goldust on the weekend Shotgun program. Apparently, any big plans went out the window, chiselled body or no chiselled body. Months later, Savio Vega pummeled Brakkus in the Brawl For All tournament, all but spelling the end of Brakkus' time in WWE. He would retire the following year.
4. Outback Jack
In the mid-eighties, Australia was part of a sudden pop culture craze in the United States, thanks largely to the popularity of the movie Crocodile Dundee. WWE decided to fashion a character based on Paul Hogan's portrayal of Dundee, a cheerfully-strong bushman who struggles to adjust to city life in America. The charm of the Dundee was something that WWE wanted to co-opt in a character of their own.
Enter Outback Jack. Like Brakkus, this good-natured heavyweight from Humpty Doo, Australia (one of the absolute best hometowns ever) was brought into WWE before he was ready. He'd only been wrestling briefly (as in, no more than a few months) before WWE hired him in 1986, solely because of his nationality. Three months of vignettes aired, featuring Jack in his untamed habitat down under. And when the time came for Jack to wrestle, he still wasn't any good between the ropes. His Boomerang finisher (a clothesline, followed by waiting for the guy to get up, then a clothesline to the back of the head) is among the lamest ever. Jack quickly became and underneath guy, and was gone by mid-1988.
"Mind if I....cut in?" If you watched WWE programming between November 2012 and March 2013, you might remember hearing this exact phrase on seemingly a week-to-week basis. That's because the time in which Fandango's debut vignettes began playing, and his actual on-camera debut, was longer than most EPL seasons. It didn't help that the same damn vignettes played over and over again, looping like a CFO$ theme song.
Reportedly, the reason why the delay took so long is because McMahon became such a fan of character's potential as a catty heat-magnet, that he wanted to hold off on "the premiere" until WrestleMania Sunday. That meant five months would pass between the first "cut in" request, and Fandango actually wrestling. Then everything was undone by the Fandango'ing craze that began the following night.
If you thought the Fandango hype train stretched beyond all reason, that was nothing compared to what poor Emma was subjected to. See, you've been so good. And you've waited soooo long (ain't that the truth). The bubbly Australian blonde was going to be reborn as a sex-bomb in the mould of Sable and Sunny before her, we were told.
And we were reminded of this every week, as the same modeling videos at the beach were played over and over again. According to Dave Meltzer, WWE didn't even have a "spot" ready for Emmalina to take, and were just airing the hype videos in perpetuity as a self-indulgent running gag. Matters were made worse when Emmalina finally did debut, only to immediately brush off the character and walk away. Something was accomplished, but damned if I know what it is.
Well, glaciers tend to move very slowly, so there was truth in the name. In the spring of 1996, WCW decided to create a character based on the popularity of fighting video games like Mortal Kombat, and the character Sub-Zero was the clear inspiration for Glacier, a barely thawed-out martial arts warrior who looked to take WCW by storm. The elaborate vignettes were supposed to play for close to three months, before the kick-happy iceman was to be unleashed at Bash at the Beach.
But plans would change. Glacier's debut was shelved, as WCW officials didn't want the grand debut to be overshadowed by Hulk Hogan's paradigm-shifting heel turn, when he joined the nWo. That was on July 7, and Glacier's debut would actually be held off for another *two months*, and would be far more innocuous anyhow. He wouldn't debut on PPV, but rather syndicated TV, beating The Gambler in a nothing match. After defeating Big Bubba Rogers on the ensuing Nitro, he was taken off TV for two more months for reconfiguring. And that's why Glacier, talent and cool appearance aside, is considered one of the biggest busts in wrestling history.