In North American professional wrestling in the 1990s, there were the unofficial big 3: ECW, WCW and WWF. All peaking in the latter half of the 1990s, they all had a vastly different outputs to each other. Ragging on each other, the competition could be heated but each had the talent to back it up. Yet despite this, some made their way to all 3.
Please note for this list, we will be looking at rather bizarre entries whether they were seemingly faithful to a singular promotion, did little of note or had little reason being there – here are the wrestlers who surprisingly got to all 3. For this, we obviously will not be looking at well-known examples such as Chris Jericho, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Shane Douglas, or Raven.
One of the most underrated athletes of the 1990s, Tracy Smothers made his debut in WCW in 1990 alongside partner Steve Armstrong. Together The Southern Boys (aka The Wild-Eyed Southern Boys and The Young Pistols) were a strong white-meat babyface tag team, donning golden tassels and waving the Confederate flag when both of those things were much more acceptable. The team feuded with the likes of The Midnight Express and Fabulous Freebirds whilst picking up the WCW United States tag titles.
Smothers stumbled his way into the WWF in 1996, as a part of a crossover talent exchange with Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. In a massive rib to The Brisco Brothers, Smothers was renamed Freddie Joe Floyd. He garnered a huge upset win over the future JBL, in a deliberately sloppy ending as a result of Bradshaw refusing to be beaten by a non-shoot pin from the Tennessean. Largely though, FJF was little more than enhancement talent, often putting over top-level stars such as Mankind, Vader, and Steve Austin.
Arguably, Smothers’ best success came in ECW. “The Main Man” Tracy Smothers had an unlikely career renaissance as a faux Italian in the Fully Blooded Italians despite constant portrayal throughout his career as a stereotypical American southerner. Largely there for comedy value, especially for his dancing ‘style’, Smothers did actually win the ECW World Tag Team titles. With a 61.8% loss record, he was good value for his exploits elsewhere even though he often ended up staring at the lights. Smothers certainly seemed a weird signing for ECW but soon found himself fitting right in for the Philadelphia-based promotion.
Neidhart may seem like a WWF-lifer but in reality, he wrestled here, there, and everywhere sandwiched between runs in the Fed.
Neidhart’s WWF days are well-documented but its worth the quick recap. Treading water under the management of Mr Fuji, Neidhart formed a team with Bret Hart: the legendary Hart Foundation. As well as two World Tag title reigns with “The Hitman”, Neidhart had a prominent run in the 1997-era instalment of the group. He also had a run in between as Who – a week excuse to use a half a century-old Abbott and Costello routine – although that is best unspoken about.
As mentioned in a previous article, Neidhart’s first ECW run was briefly after his WWF leave. Jim “The Anvil” traded wins with “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo after his debut in late 1992 and drew with The Sandman at the inaugural edition of flagship event November To Remember. During his 1995 stay, he could not secure a win – losing to Ron Simmons as well as both a lost to and no-contest result against Marty Jannetty.
Neidhart’s first time in WCW was in 1993, where he was largely kept off-camera when not on C-/B-show programming. Neidhart’s later run in 1998 was more memorable, with the powerhouse forming a team alongside The British Bulldog. Neidhart got shots at the Television title held by both Chris Jericho and Finlay on top. “The Anvil” shared matches with some top WCW stars like Bret Hart, Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, and Scott Hall; Neidhart lost to all of them.