Executive Director on Monday Night Raw, Bruce Prichard, has taken the plunge and talked about what WWE originally had planned for Ahmed Johnson.
On the November 13, 1995, Raw the powerhouse that was Ahmed Johnson made his official WWF television debut against enhancement talent Jake Steele. Though the physically impressive talent had already competed on live events and in the Dark Match of In Your House 3 against Skip, it became abundantly clear that a lot of work would be needed to turn him into the star the company wanted him to be.
Despite his visible shortcomings between the ropes, Johnson became a fan favourite and was swiftly moved into the WWF Intercontinental Championship picture at the Royal Rumble. Though he fail to capture the gold on his first try, the ‘Pearl River Powerhouse’ captured the strap at the 1996 King of the Ring following a so-so rivalry with Goldust.
However, all was not well and to cover for a real-life kidney problem, he entered into a blood feud with Nation of Domination leader Faarooq who was credited for lacerating the star’s organ and keeping him off of television for the summer of 1996.
According to Bruce Prichard, who sat down to discuss the star on his Something to Wrestle With Podcast, Vince McMahon had very different plans for one of the era’s ultimate babyfaces:
“Yeah, there were big plans for Ahmed Johnson and with him coming in. That son of a b***h just oozed charisma when he came out and looked like he would kill you. So, very athletic. Could do some s**t. Did not know his own strength. Was not the greatest worker in the world by any stretch of the imagination.
However, he was exciting and he was unpredictable. So, those were things that you could harness. We were hopefully going to be able to mold some of the unpredictability about him at least in the ring. Ahmed had the look.”
According to the artist formerly known as Brother Love, there was a point where the then World Wrestling Federation planned to adorn him with the company’s biggest prize:
“Ahmed was one of those guys that were on the shortlist of ‘I could see him as WWE Champion’, and no, he was never promised that. But he was one of those guys that internally, we looked at and down the line, could you get Ahmed as WWE Champion? Yes.”
Those who lived through the era will never forget Ahmed Johnson’s impressive physicality, but will also still have nightmares about his sloppiness between the ropes. Tune into Raw or Superstars and you would regularly see the man in question dropping a wrestler on his head or in some awkward manner.
So who was to blame or indeed credit for his hiring? Bruce Prichard points the finger solely at one man:
“Michael [P.S Hayes] was a big fan. Michael had [experience] with Ahmed in Dallas. Michael had worked with a very green and raw Ahmed and saw a lot of potential in him as well. Michael was singing his praises as he came in.”
Upon his return to the company, Johnson’s career took a turn for the worse when all previous booking plans were scrapped and following his rivalry with the Nation of Domination, he turned heel on The Undertaker and joined the faction credited with his injury.
He would leave the company by early 1998 and pop-up in WCW as Big T, the replacement for Booker T in the notorious feud between Harlem Heat.
Credit for the interview: Something to Wrestle With
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.