-Norton is notorious to me and many others as one of the numerous guys taking up space on Monday Nitro, despite no real push ever materializing. He was well-protected from jobs for YEARS, and stuck around in the nWo, yet never got anywhere resembling over.
-Norton got his start as a professional arm-wrestler (which is apparently a thing- he even got in that Stallone arm-wrestling movie "Over The Top" (which I only know about because I think TBS aired it eons ago). He was approached by New Japan Pro Wrestling to train while he was in Japan, but instead went to the AWA to get trained in 1989. He & John "Berserker" Nord were The Yukon Lumberjacks for a while, and took the "Flash" nickname from his armwrestling victories (because their arms would go down "in a flash", you see). His American career was basically amounting to nothing (no runs in a major company), but all of a sudden he went to Japan and after did a bunch of generic tag team stuff with other guys (like Ludvig Borga/Tony Halme and Hercules Hernandez).
-His push there always mystified me- Japan had a long history of using legit strong Americans as Evil Gaijin characters, but they usually stuck with solid workers like Vader & Steve Williams- by contrast, Norton was just a big, power-wrestling slug. He could wrestle fairly quickly for a round guy, but he had the most generic Power-Based Offense imaginable, and was nowhere approaching a good worker. His biggest advantage seemed to be his physique- with a barrel chest, big gut and large arms, he resembled Williams and other legit power-lifters, giving him real bad-ass cred to those "in the know" about what a REAL powerhouse looked like.
-Norton joined WCW in 1993 (part of their deal with NJPW), but he went nowhere with a boring Sting feud. He couldn't have been a more generic nothing of a guy with zero personality, to be honest, and nobody ever gave a shit about him. He & Ice Train (a failed attempt at creating a strong black babyface by WCW) found respect after a match and became the team "Fire & Ice". Their team was short-lived since both guys sucked, and their mini-feud went nowhere- when the nWo was doing one of their big post-Nitro beatdowns of half the roster, Norton would attack Ice Train from behind, effectively joining the stable.
-Norton joining the nWo is almost the watershed moment for me where I realized they were adding way too many pointless guys to the roster. I mean, Hogan, Nash & Hall were elites. Syxx was a great sidekick. Vincent was a stooge, and DiBiase & Bischoff were tolerable manager types. Buff Bagwell was even going places. But SCOTT NORTON? The blandest guy on the entire roster? He went nowhere, as NJPW was still using him to a major extent, and so all he got was a mid-tier tag team with Bagwell called "Vicious & Delicious".
-It was around this time that Norton finally got the God Foreigner Push in NJPW, actually winning their World Title! The idea of this nothing guy getting the title astonished me as a kid, and left me immediately biased against Japanese wrestling for a while- I couldn't imagine a company being any good with a guy like THIS on top. Getting this push made his WCW run less important, and so he became an nWo "B-Teamer", then left after jobbing to Goldberg, one of very few times he lost on TV (he would annoy the crap out of me by beating guys like Benoit, because his NJPW stuff meant he had to be protected from jobs).
-The 2000s would see Norton lower himself on the card (becoming a midcard Stop-Gap to potential World Champions), and he'd retire in 2004, but return as a freelancer two years later. After that, he basically did Indie Journeyman/Japan Journeyman stuff, especially once Japan split into about a billion mini-promotions. He still occasionally wrestles, but is mostly retired, at 51 years of age.
-Overall, Norton is a weird case of a guy who was a Main Eventer in Japan, yet not very over or popular at all in his home country- usually guys like the Funks, Vader & Dr. Death were at Title Holders at least ONCE in the West, but Norton's lack of charisma or ability never let him get very over in the States. I found him completely annoying because of how protected he was (despite no real position on the card), to the point where I'm probably biased against his wrestling ability- I remember him SUCKING, but less because he was clumsy and slow, and more because he never sold anything and had a generic moveset. I didn't quite know back then that a build like Norton's was probably the LAST one you'd ever want to see in an opponent- the sheer mass would be terrifying, as it provides a ton of power and durability. I actually should see some of his top New Japan stuff to properly assess him- if they can make Albert look like a decent worker, they can obviously polish a turd quite effectively
Bret Hart Categories:
Look: 8.5 (unimpressive until you realize just how tough a guy like that would be in real life- by wrestling standards he was a bit squat and round to be booked as a major powerhouse)
Skill: 3 (totally basic offense, but never sold ANYTHING worth beans, making his matches a bit of a chore. I'd have to see more to judge)
Charisma: 2.5 (couldn't have been more of a backgrounder if he'd tried. Never made the effort, even)
Overall: 14 (a pathetic score for a guy who was a reigning World Champion)