Tuesday, April 23

Wrestling Sidekicks Who Led And Followed

The role of a wrestling sidekick is one of the trickiest spots for anyone to get placed into for any company. Sidekicks must both do a great job as a complimentary piece to a bigger star at the moment. However, they also need to focus on getting over and worrying about their success in the short-term and long-term futures alike.



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Quite a few names to start in that role ended up progressing into a leadership role for a full-circle career story. Others just get viewed like that forever and never break out of fans having that perception of them. WWE and every other major promotion have experienced both sides of the story. The following wrestling sidekicks either evolved into leaders or always followed.

UPDATE: 2024/04/02 14:30 EST BY TEVON KING

The role of a wrestling sidekick is to ensure that their boss/leader has success by winning championships and aiding them in their high-profile feuds. However, some wrestlers are stuck in that role and fail to manage a faction of their own. Furthermore, that isn’t the case for every sidekick as some have done a good job by serving their boss, and they go on to lead a faction themselves. It’s easier said than done as sidekicks have to get themselves over, and some of the best sidekicks have done a fantastic job in that they’ve outgrown their leader and moved on to green pastures.


Triple H Became The Leader Of D-Generation X

The Game Had Success As DX And Evolution Leader


Factions Led

WWE Tenure

Notable Accomplishments For Triple H In The Factions

D-Generation X

1997-1999, 1999-2000, 2006-07, 2009-10

WWE Championship (x3), WWE Intercontinental Championship (x1), WWE European Championship (x2), WWE World Tag Team Championship (x1), WWE Tag Team Championship (x1), WWE Hall of Fame (2019)

The McMahon-Helmsley Faction

1999-2000

WWE Championship (x2)

Evolution

2003-2005, 2014

World Heavyweight Championship (x4)

The Authority

2013-2016

WWE Championship (x1), Royal Rumble match winner (2016)

The career of Triple H was so long and successful that many fans forget that he was Shawn Michaels’ sidekick in the original D-Generation X. Michaels turned heel and started working with his best friend, but Triple H was positioned more as a sidekick than an equal.

The next version of DX when Michaels retired saw Triple H quickly growing into that leadership role with DX now in his vision. WWE witnessed Triple H thriving as a leader with his version of DX, the McMahon Helmsley Regime, Evolution, DX reuniting with Michaels, and The Authority.


Brutus Beefcake Was An Ally Of Hulk Hogan’s

Beefcake Was Unable To Get Over On His Own

Real Name

Date Of Birth

Height

Notable Accomplishments

Edward Harrison Leslie

4/21/1957

6’4″

WWE World Tag Team Championship (x1), WWE Hall of Fame (2019)

WWE loved the use of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake as a novelty character, but Hulk Hogan tried extremely hard to get his best friend over. Beefcake was pushed out of the blue into main event tag team matches with Hogan when Hulk called his own shots.

WCW tried to break that trend by placing them in a short feud, but it flopped horrendously. Beefcake moved back into the sidekick role of Hogan as The Disciple and never did much outside of Hulk’s shadow.


Steven Richards Garnered A Lot Of Heat As The Leader Of Right To Censor

Richards Thrived As A Heel Faction Leader

Factions Led

WWE Tenure

Notable Accomplishments

Right to Censor

2000-01

WWE World Tag Team Championship (x1) (Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather), WWE Women’s Championship (x1) (Ivory)

The Blue World Order

2005

No major championships won

The sidekick role worked well for Stevie Richards in ECW when he was Raven’s lackey. Paul Heyman allowed Raven to come up with his own faction of Raven’s Nest. Richards was the first and most loyal follower of Raven even tapping into the cult follower dynamic.

However, Stevie did eventually level up into leading his own groups. The Blue World Order was a popular act that started by following Raven into becoming its own thing. Richards also led the Right to Censor in WWE getting a lot of consistent promo time during a time when WWE had arguably its greatest roster ever.


The Blue Meanie Had Short Spells In WWE

Meanie Was A Member Of The BWO

Real Name

Date Of Birth

Height

Brian Heffron

5/18/1973

6’1″

The Blue Meanie was a peer to Stevie Richards as they both followed Raven around and did his bidding to get over. However, we never saw Meanie evolve too far from the follower role. The Blue World Order worked well for all three members, but Richards was clearly above Meanie in the pecking order.

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WWE hired Meanie for a short run in the Attitude Era that saw him once again following when being Goldust’s protégé. Meanie stayed in this role throughout his career always playing the zany sidekick since he did a great job in the role.


Randy Orton Had Great Success As The Leader Of Legacy

Orton Was Under Triple H And Ric Flair’s Learning Tree In Evolution

Factions Led

WWE Tenure

Notable Accomplishments

The Legacy

2008-2010

WWE Championship (x3) (Randy Orton), World Tag Team Championship (x2) (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase), Royal Rumble match winner (2009) (Randy Orton)

WWE found the perfect idea for Randy Orton to get over as an instant star in Evolution. Triple H was obviously the leader of the group, but Orton became the second most important member while getting to escape the stresses as a sidekick character.

Evolution thriving meant that Orton was taking off, and it led to him getting removed from the group for his own push. Orton became a legend and led Legacy to show how much he had grown as a performer. WWE placed him in the exact opposite role as the leader of new youngsters like he was in Evolution.


Bob Orton Began Managing His Son In 2005

Cowboy Bob Orton Joined The WWE Hall Of Fame In 2005

Real Name

Date Of Birth

Height

Notable Accomplishments

Robert Keith Orton Jr.

11/10/1950

6’1″

WWE Hall of Fame (2005)

“Cowboy” Bob Orton started the Orton family history in WWE long before his son Randy became a star. However, fate would be humorous as Orton’s sidekick role to Triple H wasn’t all that different from his dad’s spot backing up Roddy Piper when he was the top heel.

Piper was getting massive heat every week, so having a sidekick like Orton was the perfect way to help both guys further get over. Orton never had a noteworthy push outside of the sidekick role since WWE viewed that as his wheelhouse for the rest of his career.


Kevin Nash Stepped Up To The Plate As The Leader Of The NWO

Nash Had Success After Spending Time As Shawn Michaels’ Bodyguard

Factions Led

Tenure

Members

nWo Wolfpac

1998-1999

Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Buff Bagwell, Curt Hennig, Disco Inferno, Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Konnan, Lex Luger, Miss. Elizabeth, Randy Savage, Rick Rude, Scott Steiner, Sting

nWo (WWE)

2002

Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, X-Pac, Big Show, Booker T, Shawn Michaels

WWE debuted Kevin Nash in the perfect role of Diesel as the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels. Nash was able to shed his horrendous previous WCW gimmicks and rebuild his career in an important role working alongside arguably the best wrestler of all time.

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Diesel eventually shed the follower label when he ditched Michaels and won the WWE Championship before him. However, it was the time in the New World Order that showed how great Nash was as a leader. The group would not have worked without him, and his time leading the Wolfpac saw him at his most popular.


Tamina Has Been In WWE For Over A Decade

Tamina Is A Second Generation Wrestler

Real Name

Date Of Birth

Height

Notable Accomplishments

Sarona Moana Marie Reiher Snuka-Polamalu

1/10/1978

5’9″

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship (x1), WWE 24/7 Championship (x9)

Tamina found her best success in the sidekick role as an enforcer character. WWE had Tamina in this role with AJ Lee, Naomi, and Lana all to solid results. However, nothing else came of Tamina getting pushed on her own.

There was a Women’s Tag Team Championship win with Natalya, but Tamina felt like the secondary member before WWE lost interest in their push. WWE preferred Tamina in a specific role backing up others that needed the enforcer and never felt confident enough in her other roles.


Brodie Lee Found Success As The Leader Of Dark Order

Lee Passed Away In December 2020

Factions Led

Tenure

Notable Accomplishments

The Dark Order

2020

AEW TNT Championship (x1)

WWE used Brodie Lee as Luke Harper in the Wyatt Family faction to positive results. Most fans viewed Harper as having the best matches of the group, and he thrived as the top sidekick to Bray Wyatt doing all the talking for the other members.

Harper struggled in the rest of his WWE run and eventually jumped ship to AEW when he was a free agent. AEW pushed Brodie as the leader of the Dark Order to help them get over after various struggles without one. Lee defined his wrestling legacy showing his full potential before his shocking and heartbreaking passing.


Tyson Tomko’s Best Work Was Alongside Christian

Tomko Worked In WWE And TNA

Real Name

Date Of Birth

Height

Notable Accomplishments

Travis David Tomko

3/23/1976

6’6″

TNT World Tag Team Championship (x1)

Tyson Tomko proved that some names should not leave the sidekick role if it works perfectly. Christian adding Tomko as his enforcer and sidekick led to them both working well together. TNA signed Tomko to reunite with Christian a few years later to even more success as a main event act.

AJ Styles and Tomko teamed up and had a great run together since both were Christian’s sidekicks. Tomko continued his sidekick run in New Japan teaming with Giant Bernard aka A-Train. Any push outside of being a follower led to Tomko struggling.


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