Who Better Than Kanyon?
Chris Kanyon was one of my favorite wrestlers to watch during the Monday Night Wars. He was great in the ring and had personality. However, he just never got a major push during his career.
My first memory of Kanyon was when he teamed with Mark Starr to form the team known as Men at Work. They were construction workers and mainly worked on WCW Saturday Night. When I was recently reviewing Saturday Nights from 1995, it became evident that the duo was actually pretty good. They may have been saddled with a dumb gimmick, but they both worked hard to be entertaining in the ring.
Kanyon’s first push came when he was given a mask and went by the name Mortis. The character would be the arch nemesis to the highly promoted Glacier. The feud had a Mortal Kombat feel to it and had the New World Order not been introduced at roughly the same time, it’s believed that WCW would have heavily focused on that direction.
As Mortis, Kanyon teamed with Wrath (Bryan Clark) and mostly feuded with Glacier and Ernest Miller. The angle was quietly dropped in late 1997 to early 1998. Kanyon eventually dropped the Mortis character and joined forces with Raven. He wanted to be part of the Flock, but Raven made it a difficult transition. For many months in 1998, Kanyon was loosely associated with Raven but not officially part of the Flock.
After an angle with Raven in early 1999 was dropped in which Raven was revealed to be a rich brat and would have feuded with Roddy Piper, Kanyon returned to WCW forming an alliance with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam-Bam Bigelow. They would go by the name The Triad.
The summer months of 1999 were the most successful months of Kanyon’s career in WCW. Kanyon won the tag titles with DDP and Bigelow at WCW Great American Bash in June before they lost the titles to Harlem Heat at Road Wild in August. A cause for Kanyon’s start and stop pushes may have been his work as a stunt coordinator for a few movies during his WCW tenure, including his work with the Ready To Rumble film.
Kanyon briefly returned to WCW in late 1999 where he was given a character of “Champagne” Chris Kanyon. He was essentially a ripoff version of The Godfather, which was created by Vince Russo upon his arrival to WCW as writer. The idea of the character was that he had become use to the Hollywood lifestyle and had a few women by his side. The character was dropped by early 2000 when Kevin Sullivan returned to the writing position.
By the spring of 2000, the New Blood was formed and Kanyon aligned himself with Diamond Dallas Page. At Slamboree, Kanyon was tossed off a triple cage structure and crashed through the ramp way. Kanyon would soon turn on DDP and aligned himself with the New Blood, who had caused him to be tossed off the triple cage.
Kanyon would have arguably his most entertaining character during the summer months in 2000 when DDP was kept off television. Kanyon began to promote himself as “Positively” Kanyon. Basically, Kanyon dressed as Page, carried his book around and wore a wig. One of his biggest victories during this time was when he defeated Booker T at Bash at the Beach 2000. It was the same night that Booker T would win the WCW World Championship
Kanyon adopted the Diamond Cutter as his finishing move and would deliver the move to anyone backstage throughout various episodes of Nitro and Thunder. He performed the move on Judy Bagwell, the mother of Buff Bagwell. It led to a match at New Blood Rising with Judy on a forklift. While the match was ridiculous, Kanyon was heavily featured on TV for a few months and was included in main event contests, something he hadn’t achieved prior.
Even with the successful character, Kanyon was kept off television shortly after the pay per view. He wouldn’t return until the early months 2001 and continued his feud with DDP. They would trade victories in February and Kanyon had adapted a new look before the demise of WCW was official in March 2001.
Kanyon made his debut for the WWF in July 2001 as part of the Alliance. By the end of the month, Kanyon was the WCW United States Champion. He accomplished that when WCW World Champion Booker T handed the belt over to him. Kanyon considered himself the “Alliance MVP” now that he was a champion. He became a double champion when alongside DDP won the WWF Tag Team Championships from the APA on the August 9th edition of Smackdown.
Their success as a tag team was short-lived when they lost a steel cage match to Kane and the Undertaker at SummerSlam 2001. A few weeks later, Kanyon lost the WCW United States Championship to Tajiri on RAW.
On October 29th, 2001, Kanyon suffered a serious knee injury and was out of action until May 2002. He got injured again in July 2002 while working a match against Lance Cade. Kanyon had an allergic reaction to medication that nearly caused him to die. Luckily, Kanyon survived and only lost 32 pounds.
Kanyon mostly worked for OVW for the rest of his WWE career. He did appear on Smackdown during a segment to promote the Undertaker/Big Show feud in February 2003. Kanyon appeared out of a large crate dressed as Boy George singing “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” and was promptly destroyed by the Undertaker.
On February 9th, 2004 Kanyon was released from his contract. He worked a PPV match for TNA at Turning Point in December 2005 losing to Raven. He also challenged Joey Ryan for the PWG Heavyweight Championship, but failed to win the title.
After his release from the WWE, Kanyon appeared on the Howard Stern Show to discuss his life as a gay man in professional wrestling. Ric Flair actually called into the program and said that Kanyon wasn’t released because he was gay, but rather because Kanyon didn’t have the skill to perform at the WWE level. Personally, that is a ridiculous claim. Even during the interview it sounded like Flair didn’t know what he was talking about and was being a company man.
Kanyon’s life came to a tragic end when he committed suicide on April 2nd, 2010. He had suffered from bipolar disorder for quite sometime previously. Before his death, Kanyon wrote a book detailing his life as a gay man in the world of professional wrestling, which you can purchase HERE.
What are your memories of Kanyon?
Thanks for reading.