They never found that guy and that played a factor in the ratings declining for WWE. Vince McMahon and Co. tried to make Lex Luger the next All-American babyface like Hogan, but the fans never took to him. Bruce Prichard further discussed this time period in WWE during his Something to Wrestle podcast.
"I don't know if it was, 'oh, no,'" Prichard said of ratings being down. It was certainly, 'oh, no. It's not Lex [Luger]' because it was really during a period where Vince McMahon tried to have that replacement for Hulk Hogan. He was looking for so many years where we thought; 'what would you do if it were Hulk Hogan?' Lex Luger was the anointed one, especially during this time. He just wasn't living up to the potential. He wasn't drawing people. They weren't clamoring to see more of Lex Luger. They weren't cheering him and going bananas when he came out, so it was Vince McMahon wanting to show us, and we just kept pushing Lex."
Luger had a golden opportunity to become the top Superstar in the company at SummerSlam of that year. His gimmick was that of an All-American and he was facing Yokozuna who was billed as a foreign heel. The match was for Yokozuna's World Heavyweight Title, however, McMahon decided to only have Luger win via countout and thus he never won the championship.
"This was about the time where the doubt started to come in because we did SummerSlam, and that was what it was. But Vince McMahon wasn't ready to put the championship on him, and now we are going, boy, he didn't come out with that well, and I don't know if this is the guy. There were doubts," said Prichard.
1993 was also the year that Vince McMahon was indicted in federal court for distributing steroids to his wrestlers. With an impending trial, WWE was cautious in not bringing in any new talent which also hurt the company in ratings.
"Limitations were, Vince McMahon did not want to bring on some new talent because of the impending trial," stated Prichard. "Vince did not feel that it was fair to say to the talent that he was going to bring them in but he doesn't know what is going to happen with the outcome of this United States federal government trial.
"We were told, this is the players that you have; this is what you have; make it work. Every once in a while we were able to bring somebody in who understood that and was really ready to come in, but that was few and far between. We didn't have the latitude to just go out and hire people. If you hired someone new it took a lot of time and it cost money, which is what we didn't have to spend at the time. Every dollar had to be accounted for."
Someone new who did get a shot with WWE was Sabu who has a tryout in 1993. He was virtually unknown at that point and had only wrestled on the indie circuit and in Japan. Prichard thought that his look would make a great foil to Lex Luger's all-American gimmick.
"Well, we had heard [of Sabu], and again he didn't have quite the reputation at the time. I had just seen him because he looked like a younger version of The Sheik [Sabu's uncle]. He had a look of a menacing heel that you can pair with just about anybody. We were looking for talent that could work with Lex Luger in the anti-American role," said Prichard.
"He had talent. He being Sabu; we just wanted him. I think everybody liked him from a talent standpoint, but it wasn't a fit at the time. This was before there were some wild, crazy stories about him at the time."
Sabu never signed with WWE and would end up in ECW later that year. He would eventually join WWE but it wasn't until 2006 when WWE attempted to launch their version of the ECW brand.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something to Wrestle with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.