Jim Ross has discussed former Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson and says he thought Johnson would have been a bigger player in WWE.
Ahmed Johnson came to the then-World Wrestling Federation in late 1995 and made an immediate impact when he slammed the mighty Yokozuna during his debut appearance. From there Johnson found himself a hit with fans and captured the Intercontinental Title in 1996 – the first African-American to ever hold that belt.
Ahmed Johnson then formed a dream team with the WWF Champion Shawn Michaels and helped the Heartbreak Kid throughout his battles with Camp Cornette.
A cruel twist of fate was to follow for Ahmed Johnson as after he had become the number one contender for the WWF Title, kidney issues forced him onto the shelf for several months. A return to the ring came and a brief alliance with his former nemesis Faarooq in the Nation Of Domination came and went but Johnson never hit the dizzy heights he was seemingly destined for.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com], former Head Of Talent Relations at WWE, Jim Ross, discussed Johnson’s time in the company and says many expected more from him:
“I thought Ahmed Johnson would be a bigger star, simply because of his 8×10 and his gift of gab. He was a terrific BS’er. If you can recall, he had an amazing look. He had everything he needed physically: look, size, height, all jacked up. I think he probably disappointed a lot of people because we had high hopes for him.”
According to Jim Ross, the man briefly in charge of booking in the WWF at the time Johnson came to the company in 1995 ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts saw reflections of another African-American star, Junkyard Dog, in Johnson:
“African-American, big gruff voice that’s distinguishable, looked like a million bucks. Was he a great worker? No. Watts liked him because he reminded Bill of Junkyard Dog because JYD wasn’t a great worker either. He just sold money in merch.”
Ahmed Johnson left the WWF in the spring of 1998 before re-emerging in late 1999 in WCW as Big T, teaming up with former Harlem Heat star Stevie Ray.