Nicholas Dinsmore, better known by pro wrestling audiences as “Eugene”, spent his years in WWE portraying a kindhearted, intellectually disabled character. The gimmick ended up getting over with audiences, leading to memorable feuds with Eric Bischoff, Triple H, and Kurt Angle, among other stars.
In today’s more politically correct climate, it’s debatable whether or not the character would gain as much success, seeing as Dinsmore is not legitimately disabled in real life. During a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Eugene discussed whether or not the gimmick would get over in 2020.
“One thing I know about WWE is that they can almost always make anything work. You know what I mean?” Eugene said. “When Eugene first started, I didn’t have my first match on TV for two or three weeks. And in those first two or three weeks, some people I had heard, like radio stations or news outlets, were saying, ‘What is WWE going to do with this character?’. But the minute I won my first match, then they know it’s an underdog story of a boy with a dream wanting to be a wrestler, and he’s fulfilling that dream.”
Dinsmore also took some time to consider if it may be offensive to others despite the fact that he was ultimately the underdog that often came out victorious.
“I thought about that going in, but it was my opportunity. But I was either going to sink or swim on it. I had got so much positive affirmation afterwards. So many people said to me, ‘My brother has special needs and he told me that he can do anything because Eugene did it’. I heard that more times than I heard, ‘You’re making fun of people’.
“No, instead I heard, ‘You’re giving them a voice’ or, ‘Oh my God, there’s someone like me’. That’s what I want to be. That’s what WWE should be: a representation of every type of person that there is around the world.”
The former WWE star recognized The Rock as one person that took his character to new heights in WWE. During a 2004 segment on RAW, Jonathan Coachman was harassing Eugene, calling him a “joke”, and demanding he exits the ring before The Rock decided to make an appearance. He proceeded to build Eugene back up and tell him that it would be “an honor” for The Rock to be friends with Eugene.
Dinsmore looks back on that moment as one of the most pivotal in his career, and he thanks The Rock for putting him over the way he did.
“When they put me in the ring with The Rock, that elevated me like, oh my God. Then people knew who I was and then fans really got endeared to me because I was The Rock’s friend. They liked Eugene, and he was funny, and he was building, but that just put it over the top. It went from a slow build to, ‘Oh my God, you’re a top guy now. You’re made.”