When Shane “Hurricane” Helms was coming up in the 1990s, what wrestlers looked like back then was very different than what they look like now. Pro wrestlers, in general, are much smaller now, albeit healthier, and small guys are getting pushed as main eventers which would have never happened in previous eras of pro wrestling.
Helms, himself, is an example as he mainly competed for secondary titles as he won both the WCW and WWE Cruiserweight championships. Now, guys his size such as AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston or Daniel Bryan are competing, and holding, world championships. Helms talked about wrestling perhaps becoming too focused on smaller guys when he joined Talkin’ Sass on VOC Nation.
“There’s definitely been a shift. Almost an overcorrection, because I think we’ve alienated some of the bigger guys in the audience. Wrestling used to be a lot of tough guys that liked wrestling because they understood how tough it was. I think we’ve lost some of those. For so many years it was a big man’s business and no small guys were going to be successful; a lot of that was political,” said Helms.
“There’s been a correction for that, but now it’s almost an overcorrection because now there’s very few big guys that are really given (good) opportunities. Because if they go out there and be a big guy, they’re looked down upon if they don’t bump silly for every teeny tiny guy that comes around. Hopefully one day we’ll find a nice little balance where everybody is equally represented; that’s always been a battle in pro wrestling.”
As being one of the smaller guys of his time, Helms still wanted moves to be believable in a sense that normally someone his size wouldn’t be able to manhandle someone much larger. But his Hurricane character was a superhero so that allowed that gimmick to pull off these moves on much larger wrestlers.
Helms talked about the believability factor that still needs to exist in pro wrestling.
“When I go do shows, people want to see the chokeslam from me because of the character of the Hurricane. Once I chokeslammed the Rock, I’m chokeslamming everybody; that’s just how it is. If you take the character out, somebody my size should not be chokeslamming anybody that big,” stated Helms. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to kind of educate people on that because they go, ‘Well you chokeslammed Billy Gunn.’ I go, ‘Yes, I understand that, but once you get over the rules kind of change a little bit.’ The rules are different for Rey Mysterio. He’s super small, but we’re all going to bump our (butts) off for Rey Mysterio; that’s just how it is.”
Helms’ chokeslam gimmick played into his Hurricane character and he talked about the origins of that move.
“It started with the Big Show? Johnny Ace was the agent for that match. He wanted [Big Show] to gorilla press me, throw me, and (have me) land on the top rope on my feet? I wasn’t sure I could do that; actually, I’m pretty positive that I can’t,” admitted Helms. “I was like ‘Johnny, wherever he throws me I’m going to land, I can’t really fly’? So I (was) trying to get out of doing that spot, ‘What if I drop behind and I try to chokeslam [Big Show]?’ And I only came up with that because I’m trying not to get dropped on that damn turnbuckle? If Big Show didn’t like the idea it wouldn’t have happened? His expression of it is what gets it over.”
Helms started wrestling in the early 90s and worked local promotions in the south for nearly a decade before joining WCW in 1999. One of those was OMEGA which was founded by the Hardy Boyz in North Carolina, and Helms discussed the difficulties in getting recognition as a burgeoning wrestler before the dawn of social media.
“It was really hard to get noticed back then, especially down south. The northeast area (was where) PWI and those magazines were. Some of the (independent promotions) there would get a little bit of recognition in the magazines, but down south it was really hard? You would have to tape stuff and you would send these tapes out with these stupid 8x10s and resumes and all of that, and you most of the time don’t get anything back. It was just word of mouth. You would go to shows without being booked. I would go to shows and not be booked, and then someone (wouldn’t) show up? I would go out and make (talent) look really good,” said Helms.