WWE has gone through several ‘eras'; the era of the seventies and early eighties was the golden era, and then the era where Hulkamania ran wild was the Rock n Wrestling Era, but the transitional era after Hogan lost the title may have been forgotten.
While it may not have been the most fruitful period for the company, the 'New Generation' still included a number of talented men and women who made an impact on the wrestling business. Razor Ramon, Diesel, The Undertaker, Owen Hart, and Yokozuna were all notable names that emerged in the early part of the nineties. However, several wrestlers from that era have slipped under the radar.
These were men and women who played integral parts in WWE's 'New Generation' era. What happened to them? Where did they go, and what are they up to now? Here are six former WWE New Generation wrestlers for whom we asked, where are they now?
#6 WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels has to be one of the biggest stars of the New Generation Era, if not the biggest. His 5-star ladder match against Razor Ramon and the 60-minute Ironmatch against Bret Hart earned HBK the title of Mr. WrestleMania. From his pairing with Diesel to his classics with Triple H, Michaels has never failed to impress. The two-time Hall of Famer was forced to retire after losing a 'Career v/s Streak' match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26.
While he returned to face Brothers of Destruction at the 2018 Crown Jewel pay-per-view, Michaels has taken up a backstage role in NXT. When Triple H had to take time off due to a cardiac arrest in September 2021, it was the Heartbreak Kid who was managing NXT 2.0 behind-the-scenes.
#5 Lex Luger
Thanks to his chiseled physique, the man once known as The Narcissist left an indelible mark on professional wrestling. Fans who witnessed Luger's rise to popularity in the NWA saw exactly why he was called The Total Package.' He was also part of WWE's New Generation for a few years before returning to WCW. However, by that time his mobility was limited due to a motorcycle accident.
After WCW closed its doors in 2001, Luger competed for TNA in late 2003, working with former WCW colleague Jeff Jarrett in a tag team match against Sting and AJ Styles. He then returned in 2006 in an on-camera role to help his old friend Sting prepare for his match against Jarrett. After retiring, Luger worked with WWE in their Wellness Department. His role was to counsel athletes on nutrition and total body wellness.
He has had his own issues with substance abuse in the past and has strived to aid others in hopes that they can avoid the same mistakes he made. A born-again Christian, Luger has worked to rebuild his life and should be applauded for that.
#4 Bret Hart
The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be: for as long as fans can remember, that is how Bret Hart described himself. In the ring, Hart was able to carve up his opponents one sharpshooter at a time. When he first rose to prominence as part of WWE's New Generation Era, Hart had a plethora of classics.
After his career ended due to a concussion, Hart suffered a motorcycle accident, causing a stroke that bound him to a wheelchair for a period of time. He eventually returned to WWE and resolved his issues with Vince McMahon. Soon after, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Some may think that he isn't happy with wrestling anymore, but that couldn't be further from the truth. He continues to make appearances and is still a frequent guest at autograph signings and conventions.
#3 Bart Gunn
As The Smoking Gunns, Bart and his (on-screen) brother Billy competed using a cowboy gimmick. They presented fast-paced action that the women enjoyed watching and the fans certainly appreciated. They captured the WWF Tag Team Championships on three occasions, and Bart also won the NWA Tag Team Championship alongside Bob Holly as part of the New Midnight Express.
Although relatively successful, Gunn never fulfilled his potential as a singles competitor. Many thought his victory in the Brawl for All tournament would have catapulted him forward.
However, the follow-up to that win was a 35-second defeat at the hands of Butterbean. Gunn left the company shortly after and joined All Japan Pro Wrestling, winning their World Tag Team Championship. Gunn decided to retire in 2004 and returned to his initial line of work as a trained electrician.
Tatanka, real name Chris Chavis, became a modern-day Native American hero in the mould of Chief Jay Strongbow and Wahoo McDaniel. While he never captured a championship in WWE, fans will recall that he was initially a face and later a heel as part of the 'Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase's Corporation. He feuded against the likes of Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow, all the while demonstrating a high level of skill in the ring. Chavis has come and gone from WWE several times.
He initially left the promotion in 1997 and didn’t return for another eight years. In fact, during this return, he adopted a new finishing move and became part of the Lakota tribe. At 60 years of age, Chavis is still actively maintaining a career, performing on the independent circuit, attending conventions, and promoting his brand. It doesn’t look like Tatanka will retire anytime soon.
#1 Bob Backlund
It may seem hard to believe, but Bob Backlund was a part of the New Generation era. He wrestled for eleven years in the 70s and early 80s, before walking away from the ring for nearly a decade following his loss to The Iron Shiekh. He lost when his manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel, signaling that he had given up even though he never surrendered to the hold.
During his second run with WWE, Backlund engaged in a pretty spirited feud with Bret ‘Hitman' Hart and captured the WWF Championship. Although he only held the title for a few days, his time with the promotion was the most memorable.
Bob Backlund returned to make "Darren Young great again" in 2016. However, an injury to Young stalled those plans before Young was released by WWE. Backlund has moved to Japan, wrestling in a few matches since then.
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