After the monumental success that Hulk Hogan proved to be for WWE, the company tried to replicate him many times, looking for replacements for Hulkster.
They had some success, with the likes of John Cena and The Rock proving to be perfect picks to fly the company flag, but there were also several major duds. Lex Luger, we’re looking at you.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that WWE really found a worthy replacement for Hogan, when Stone Cold Steve Austin became the face of the company, but they had actually started looking for his successor in 1986. when they hired a young wrestler named Tom Magee.
Despite a bright start to his wrestling career, Magee never quite rose to stardom, and it wasn’t long before he left the company, and WWE quickly moved on to find the next Hulk Hogan.
He was a bodybuilder… Of course
Anyone who’s a WWE fan knows how in love Vince McMahon is with bodybuilders and the concept of bodybuilding in general. He always favored muscular athletes over others when it came to who he wanted at the forefront of WWE, and Magee was no different.
Before entering the wrestling world, the Canadian was a powerlifting champion in his native country, winning the Canadian National Powerlifting Championship in 1981 and 1982.
He also finished second in the World’s Strongest Man competition in 1982, becoming the first Canadian to achieve this feat. With McMahon’s track record over the years of pushing muscle bodybuilders hard and focusing more on a worker’s physique than his actual abilities in the ring, the experiment to replace Hogan with Magee should come as no surprise to anyone. given his experience in powerlifting.
He genuinely wowed critics with his in-ring work early in his career
While the majority of the big muscle men McMahon was so determined to push seemed to hold almost no wrestling ability, Magee was actually surprisingly good inside the squared circle.
Prior to joining WWE, the Canadian spent time wrestling in Japan for the All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion and garnered critical acclaim for one of his very first matches. In a match against Riki Choshu, Magee impressed so much that Dave Meltzer publicly declared that he was “the greatest combination of strength and agility he had ever seen”.
Over the years, Meltzer has become one of the most respected journalists in the wrestling industry, and his match ratings mean a lot, so for someone like him to praise Magee, he was clear that there should have been a very bright future on the cards for him.
He even finished third in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated “Rookie of the Year” award in 1986. The sky seemed to be the limit for Magee, but unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned for him.
He defeated Bret Hart in one of his first WWE matches
Bret Hart is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time, and his resume in the business is legendary, so the fact that Magee beat him early in his WWE career speaks to the quality of McMahon at the time.
The match apparently also really impressed WWE Chairman Hart and Magee by doing enough to satisfy the boss. The match was recorded for television, but the recording was lost for over three decades before it was discovered.
WWE even produced a documentary about the match, the story of its demise and subsequent remake, titled “Holy Grail: The Search For WWE’s Most Infamous Lost Match”.
His wrestling career only lasted five years before leaving to become an actor
While WWE initially had high hopes for Magee and intended for him to replace Hogan down the line, they quickly died down. He was never really introduced as a prominent figure in the business and decided to leave the wrestling business in 1990, just five years after getting into it.
Magee quietly left WWE in 1990 and would go on to a brief acting career. He appeared in several different movies in 1990 and 1991, but it didn’t turn out anything substantial, and he would end up working as a personal trainer.