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Before He Was Simon, He Was
Super (Nova, That Is)...
September 30, 2004

by Denny Burkholder
Courtesy of WrestleLine.com


Before I begin: I'm holding off on doing a Big Boss Man Circa, in tribute to the late Ray Traylor. It's not out of disrespect... I have very fond memories of watching the Boss Man perform. Although in five years, Circa has grown into one of the main sources for nostalgia and tributes to the deceased, there's just no need for another Boss Man eulogy. WrestleLine has that well-covered already in Zac Hanscom's ongoing six-part tribute... and since Zac was one of the biggest Boss Man fans you'll ever find, I am more than happy to step aside as he eulogizes his performer of choice. 
Those of you reading my column at OO have taken to The Rick's eulogies, which have become something of an ongoing feature. Rick's Boss Man tribute ran last week. Thus, while I certainly applaud the life and career of Ray Traylor, there's simply no need for my two cents on the issue. So I'll just say "rest in peace,"

Big Bubba... you were a fascinating worker in your time, a friend to many, and a helping hand to those in need. We will miss you.

On to this week's Circa topic...

Simon Dean: The Nova Years

Have you all called that number yet? The phone number where you can supposedly order some of the fine products that Simon Dean is selling on WWE TV? The ones that will help you go from a fat, out of shape sack of potatos to a lean, mean (but still ugly and pathetic) fitness machine?

Simon Dean hates you. But he believes in you. Will that be cash or charge?

We've seen the fitness theme rear its head many times over the years. There was the pleasantly-plump "Playboy" Buddy Rose, whose "Blow Away Diet" consisted of dumping a box full of white powder onto his overhanging gut and standing in front of a fan.

There was the excessively-chiseled "Ravishing" Rick Rude, who did not directly make fitness a gimmick, but always took the opportunity to call his crowd a bunch of "fat, out-of-shape Pennsylvania pissants" or another variation depending on what town he was in. Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch got their big break in the WWF as Skip and Sunny, the Bodydonnas... a pair of fitness-obsessed holier-than-thous that enjoyed pointing out the physical flaws of the audience. And let's not forget Stephanie McMahon's personal fitness instructor, Muffy.

Even in ECW, Joel Gertner used to take great pride in introducing the Dudley Boys and revealing with each passing match that D-Von Dudley had dropped a couple of pounds since his previous TV appearance. "Weighing in at a slim, trim, buff, cut, ripped, chiseled and JAAAAACKED~! 210 and one quarter pounds, DEE-VONN DUDLEYYY!"

Remember that? Simon Dean does. He was there, back when he was known as Nova.

For those who never watched ECW, the Nova character could be best described as an early version of The Hurricane. Nova - originally called Super Nova - dressed up like some kind of comic book superhero and gave his moves names like the Kryptonite Krunch and the Nova Blast. Early on, Mike Bucci played the Nova character for comedy, in much the same way that Gregory Helms portrays The Hurricane.

Nova palled around with a gang of equally-mischievous ECW wrestlers. His closest cohort was The Blue Meanie - a large, flabby jokester with died blue hair and sunglasses painted onto his face. The Blue Meanie wore a raggedy half-shirt that drew unneccesary attention to his giant, pasty-white belly. Nova and Meanie became a notable midcard tag team in ECW.

Nova and Meanie eventually paired up with Stevie Richards, who had previously acted as Raven's bumbling lackey that could do no right - and even if he did, Raven would still take advantage of him. While being Raven's punching bag wasn't a very spectacular item on his resume, it still outranked Nova and Meanie. At least Stevie Richards was a MAIN EVENT idiot, as opposed to a midcard, bathroom-break comedy act.

So when Raven cast Richards away, he soon found himself the leader instead of the follower - Nova and Meanie needed guidance, and they looked to the king of ECW jokers to provide that. The three formed a faction in ECW that provided lots of laugh-out-loud moments. This was around the same time that one of pro wrestling's most famous angles was going on in WCW. Ever the first in line to mock the Big Two, ECW turned the Richards-Meanie-Nova group into a mockery of the WCW faction, and christened them the Blue World Order.

Stevie Richards became "Big Stevie Cool" and adopted all the mannerisms of Kevin Nash. The Blue Meanie became "Da Blue GUy," a not-so-subtle satire of Scott Hall. And while he was probably the number three guy in the group, Nova got the duty of mocking the biggest character of all when he became "Hollywood Nova," complete with painted-on beard and weightlifting belt. The BWO T-shirts were a huge success, arguably the most successful merchandise ever produced by ECW. It became common to see blueish-colored NWO-style shirts peppering the crowd at televised WCW and WWF events. Even fans who knew nothing about ECW wanted one of those Blue World Order T-shirts. As Nova, Mike Bucci was part of that fad.

When the Blue World Order passed, Bucci remained Nova, but dropped "Super" from his name. ECW's talent roster fluctuated quite a bit. Now, he found himself tag teaming with Chris Chetti, the cousin of Tazz whom ECW had been putting over as one of the hottest rookies in the business. By this time, Nova had gained a reputation in the wrestling business as a very capable mat wrestler, despite his rather comedic gimmick. He could more than hold his own in the wrestling ring. He was well skilled in classic mat wrestling and could hold up his end of a spotfest, too. Nova began taking great pride in his creativity as a pro wrestler, creating new variations of moves and bringing little-known variations further into the spotlight.

Not only was Bucci actively putting new and different moves into his matches, but he was actively seeking credit for it, which rubbed many people the wrong way. He did some interviews complaining that certain wrestlers "stole" their moves from him, as if he were the only person with the right to use certain spots. He also made a few claims to have invented moves that were dubious at best, as some of the moves were more like modifications than outright inventions. Some of them weren't invented by Bucci at all, but were simply brought to a larger audience by him. Fans on the internet and elsewhere acknowledged Nova's ability, but somewhat rejected his protective attitude, and the sarcastic phrase "Nova Invented Wrestling" began circulating among the "smart" crowd.

Life went on, and the criticism eventually subsided. The Nova character underwent a slight modification. Now recognized as a wrestler that didn't need to be funny to draw a crowd reaction, Nova became a bit more serious. His ring outfit was also changed, now resembling a Green Lantern costume if it were done in shades of black, white and gray. There was no more face paint. He ran through a singles feud with former partner Chetti at the tail end of ECW's existence, and when the company finally went under, Nova branched out to the indies.

It wasn't until a year and a half later, in April of 2002, when WWE decided to get Bucci under a developmental deal. Nova reported to Ohio Valley, which is where he did the bulk of his work until finally getting his call - and the Simon Dean character - from WWE this July.

Let the Simon Dean era begin. Let the return of the fitness gimmick be a plentiful one for Mike Bucci, and let the innovative move set keep at least some of it's uniqueness before WWE chops it up into a fine "WWE style" salad - low carb for sure, but also low on taste.


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