ECW legend The Sandman was one of the top wrestlers in ECW, but runs in WCW and WWE left much to be desired. However, WCW had huge plans for Sandman in the promotion which should have made him a star – if not for anarchy backstage which cost him his push and his job.
The Sandman In WCW
While he made his name wrestling in hardcore matches in ECW The Sandman had a smaller, lesser known run in WCW. He wrestled as Hardcore Hak throughout 1999 for the promotion, although his run was not at all successful.
He debuted under the name Hardcore Hak, losing on his debut in a hardcore match against Bam Bam Bigelow, where his new name was not mentioned at all on screen. To make it worse, he was very rarely given time in the ring, mainly used in backstage segments alongside fellow former ECW talent, like Raven.
He wrestled mainly in hardcore matches, something he excelled in during his time in ECW. He had matches on many PPV’s over his year in the company, although he suffered injuries at Bash at the Beach 1999 which would see the end of his WCW career.
WCW released The Sandman in September 1999 due to “budget cuts” and he soon returned to ECW as a hero to the fans. However, in WCW The Sandman was meant to be something bigger, joining forces with a former rival in what would have been an incredible storyline on Monday Nitro.
He Was Meant To Be Part Of Raven’s Flock
While his run in WCW was considered a failure, The Sandman was meant for bigger and better things in the promotion. The former ECW Champion could have been a big star if the promotion played to his strengths, as Paul Heyman had done in ECW.
In a recent interview on Facebook Live, The Sandman revealed that there were plans for him to be part of Raven’s faction, known as Raven’s Flock, in WCW. The pair had been huge rivals in ECW, with Raven famously turning Sandman’s own son against him in one of the best segments in pro-wrestling history. He even crucified Sandman live on TV which made Kurt Angle take the decision not to sign with the promotion.
Despite the intense history between the two men, WCW failed to capitalise on it. He was flown into Florida to work with Raven with a view of joining his stable, but management changes ended in Kevin Nash being put in charge and Sandman being paid for 6 months to sit at home and do nothing.
“They flew me to Florida to do a couple of things with Raven. I was going to join his Flock. Then Kevin Nash gets the book, and I’m being paid from September 10 to March 6 [to do nothing]. Nash calls me over, I go over for his birthday and he says ‘I just got the book and I want to bring you in.’
“We were taping in Tampa Bay, and I had a house in Clearwater. So they’re paying me like $5000 a week, and they’re also paying me to go down to Florida so I can live in my own house.”
With his admission of being paid $5000 a week, we can extrapolate and work out that The Sandman in WCW was earning about $250,000 a year. This would have been a big raise from his days in ECW with Paul Heyman notorious for writing checks that would never be able to be cashed, due to the lack of cash ECW was bringing in during it’s peak.
With money like that on the table, it’s no surprise The Sandman left ECW for WCW at his peak. He had the opportunity to become a huge star in a major promotion if he was booked as well as he was in WCW. Sadly the company did not know what to do with him or even did not want to do anything with him, due to the constant changes in management limited some superstars who were not the “favourites” of those in charge.
While he was a huge signing for WCW, The Sandman would fail to make an impact. He would be released by the company a year after inking his deal and would swiftly return to ECW, where he became a legend inside the ring and one of the most memorable characters in wrestling history. He won a record five ECW Championships and is regarded as one of, if not the, top stars in the companies history.
He had a short run in WWE as part of the ECW reboot in 2005, but would be released less than 2 years later without winning any titles in the company. However, his legacy remained as the beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking and Singapore Cane-swinging maniac goes down as a hero to many and should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at some point in the future.
He also takes the honour for one of the greatest entrances of all time – check out below to see the video for The Sandman’s ECW One Night Stand 2005 entrance without the awful music dubbed over it like on the WWE Network.
What did you think of Sandman leaving ECW for WCW? Let us know in the comments or click below to read more about Chris Benoit winning the ECW Championship