In the early 2000s, the WWE had developed a strong roster of talent that featured some incredible in-ring workers. With the likes of Triple H, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit amongst many others, the WWE had no shortage of talent.
With so many top quality in-ring wrestlers already on the RAW or Smackdown rosters, it left several capable wrestlers left without a spot to fill. One of the men included on that list was one of the most successful wrestlers in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). OVW was the developmental system for WWE prior to the successful NXT brand.
In OVW, a man named Nick Dinsmore competed for several years from 1998 to 2004. During that time, Dinsmore was presented as a top face and regularly held or challenged for the OVW Heavyweight Championship. During that era in OVW, several wrestlers reached the WWE including the likes of John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton. All three men became huge stars in the WWE.
Meanwhile, while those wrestlers were making millions of dollars, Dinsmore remained in OVW for several years making a few hundred dollars a week. It got to the point that Dinsmore wondered what he had to do in order to get to the main roster. At the time, Vince McMahon and producers were looking to develop characters again since the WWE had shifted away from the usage of over the top characters in recent years.
Thus, Nick Dinsmore developed a mentally handicapped character known as Eugene. The idea of Eugene was that he was a special needs wrestler who became a talented wrestler just by watching his favorite wrestlers on television. After pitching the idea of McMahon and producers, it was decided that Eugene would be making his way to WWE television.
On April 5th, 2004, Eugene made his debut on RAW being introduced as the nephew of RAW General Manager, Eric Bischoff. It didn’t take long for it to be made clear that Bischoff was not fond of his overly excited nephew and would look for any opportunity to inflict pain on Eugene.
Eugene began a partnership with William Regal upon his arrival on WWE television and it led to Regal being a very sympathetic face character for the first time that I could ever recall. For the most part, Regal had always been presented as a heel, so it was refreshing to see a different side of him. Regal would train Eugene a few weeks after Eugene’s debut and over the course of a month began to show compassion to Eugene. Eugene has been bullied by Coach and Garrison Cade during the first several weeks of his WWE career.
Coach and Cade tormented Eugene by constantly attacking him or recruiting a monster like Kane to punish him. Eric Bischoff revealed that he put Eugene in a match against Kane in an attempt to deter Eugene from competing in the world of wrestling and just go home. Eugene continually overcame the odds and would be booked in his first pay per view match against his main tormenter, Coach, at Badd Blood 2004. As expected, Eugene was able to beat Coach.
After Badd Blood, Triple H and Evolution began to take an interest in Eugene. By this point, Eugene was still teaming with William Regal and had an association with WWE World Champion Chris Benoit, whom Triple H was feuding with for much of 2004. Leading into Vengeance, Triple H was focused on trying to make Eugene believe that he couldn’t trust Benoit and invited him to join Evolution. Despite having gotten brutally attacked by Triple H in weeks previous, Eugene joined Evolution because Triple H was his favorite wrestler.
On the RAW prior to Vengeance, Eugene told Ric Flair that they were teaming together to challenge Las Resistance for the WWE Tag Team Championships. Flair wasn’t thrilled with the news, but went along with the plan since Triple H was keeping Eugene on their side. At Vengeance, they would lose to La Resistance by disqualification when Eugene shoved the referee. Later on in the main event where Triple H challenged Chris Benoit for the World Championship, Eugene accidentally whacked Triple H with a steel chair allowing Benoit to win the match and retain the title.
The next night on RAW, Evolution wiped out Eugene and his friends and enjoyed every minute of it. It became clear that they didn’t have much use for Eugene after a couple of months of using him. Bischoff was thrilled to not have his nephew around anymore that he awarded Triple H an sixty-minute Iron Man match against Chris Benoit for the WWE World Championship on the July 26th edition of RAW.
After battling for an hour, Benoit was able to retain the championship managing to get four falls to three. Benoit fell behind three fall to one, but made an incredible comeback and was helped by Eugene in the final fall when Eugene hit a Rock Bottom on Triple H, leading to the final pin.
Frustrated with his recently losses, Triple H wrestled William Regal on August 2nd and simply destroyed Regal with brass knuckles and sledgehammer strikes. The attack left Regal bloodied and HHH sent his message to Eugene. Triple H would be meeting Eugene at SummerSlam in a grudge match.
The week before SummerSlam, it was revealed that William Regal kept Eugene away from the arena that RAW was at in order to prepare Eugene for the big match. However, Eugene was able to sneak away and made it to the arena. In a bad turn of events, Triple H ended up at the hotel that Regal was at and viciously attacked Regal and Eugene saw his mentor bloodied on the big screen.
At SummerSlam, Triple H was able to put Eugene away after fourteen minutes of action with a low blow and the Pedigree. However, the feud wouldn’t quite end there. Two weeks later on RAW, Eugene would get a pin-fall victory over HHH on RAW when they had a no disqualification match. Eugene did have some help from the new WWE World Champion Randy Orton, who had been kicked out of Evolution on August 16th.
The next week on RAW, Eugene and HHH had one final battle inside a steel cage that abruptly ended due to an injury to Eugene’s shoulder when HHH came off the top rope to deliver a knee drop. Following the injury, Eugene would primarily team with William Regal as they won the RAW Tag Team Championships in November 2004.
However, Eugene suffered a serious knee injury at New Years Resolution 2005 and would be out of in-ring action until July 2005. He returned at the July 25th edition of RAW and defeated Kurt Angle in a singles action to gain possession of his gold medals. Angle would try to regain possession of his gold medals, but wasn’t able to and that led to the two men squaring off at SummerSlam 2005. At the event, Angle destroyed Eugene in under five minutes to regain his gold medals. Eugene went back to being a mid-card act in the WWE.
The character of Eugene wouldn’t reach much success after this run. In November 2005, Dinsmore was found passed out in a hotel lobby and he admitted to using prescription pills and somas. Eugene would make regular appearances on WWE Heat before his eventual release in 2007.
Personally, I enjoyed the Eugene experiment. Yes, the idea of a mentally handicapped wrestler is kind of ridiculous, but it’s wrestling. It’s a business about telling stories and this was something they hadn’t done prior nor have they done since. Dinsmore was a more than capable wrestler and he played the part better than I think anyone else could have done. I remember actively watching RAW in 2004 to see how the story played out between Eugene, Triple H and Benoit. It may have been a predictable story in hindsight, but the matches were enjoyable and the segments delivered entertainment, as well.
I think Nick Dinsmore is one of the more underrated in-ring wrestlers. I have been watching his work in OVW starting in 2002 and he’s easily one of the best wrestlers there. He was probably “TV ready” long before he made his debut in 2004 for the WWE. Down in OVW, Dinsmore was presented to be their version of John Cena. He was always one of the top guys, but he consistently delivered good matches. He lacked personality and the Eugene was the missing piece in that regard, but the Eugene character likely hid how good Dinsmore truly was in the ring.
What did you think of the Eugene character? Were you a fan of Nick Dinsmore? Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.