WWE released many pro wrestlers from their roster just recently, and aside from the shocking release of Dolph Ziggler, yet another release was just as puzzling, and that was the release of one Rick Boogs, or rather, Eric Bugenhagen.
It was a few years ago, when Eric Bugenhagen was working his way up the ranks of WWE…still in developmental but not really appearing on any major WWE programming at the time, that I got a tad worried. So I decided to write a piece stating that the company needed to be careful about not letting the incredible talent slip through their fingers.
I had been sold on him and believed in Bugenhagen from what I’d seen by that point—still am in fact—hence the appearance of this piece on your feed today, dear readers.
I believed in him so much because I saw a response to a wrestler’s image that we hadn’t seen in ages perhaps…a pro wrestler that could be cool and hip and at the same time represent that superhero-type character we were used to in the Golden Era of pro wrestling in the early nineties and before.
I mean don’t tell me you couldn’t see Bugenhagen going toe to toe with the likes of Scott Steiner in his heyday, or Bret Hart and even the British Bulldog? I could, and it was that as well as other attributes that got me aboard the Rick Boogs bandwagon.
His history with amateur wrestling got me on board big time in particular. He won a state title back in high school and it didn’t at all stop there. He of course was an NCAA Division I wrestler battling it out for the famed Wisconsin Badgers. He not only did well with the Badgers but ended up coaching after graduating right there at his alma mater.
So to compare him to the likes of epic amateur wrestlers turned pro such as Bobby Lashley, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and Chad Gable would be more than appropriate if you asked me.
So what went wrong? I mean look at what WWE had right in their stable! Boogs had been a presence in NXT…one that made a wee bit of noise…even in Evolve, which WWE had a working relationship with of course.
Now talk about Lex Luger’s old moniker, ‘The Total Package.’ Boogs had it. Great looks, intelligent, strong as almost anybody we’ve ever seen in that ring, and has a really great social media presence. He has a YouTube channel where he gets up to all sorts of weightlifting shenanigans; he is funny and when they gave him a microphone he did very well.
But there always seemed to be a lot more he could do…more to him than met the eye. Just recently, he spoke about his release and what he felt went wrong. It was on his very own aforementioned YouTube channel (video link below) that he said the following:
"“It’s been an interesting time in my life with my job in WWE being terminated due to a backstage political power play, at least, that’s my opinion of it. But now is not the time to talk about that. I will get into detail about that when the time is right, but as far as right now, we’re going to do a gym tour…”"
We have yet to see exactly what he meant by this, but it’s safe to say that once McMahon stepped away, the Bugenhagen star started to fade significantly and perhaps as speculated online, Triple H had no direction for him or no passion to pursue a Rick Boogs line of support for whatever reason.
I do hope some more light is shed on this soon because as a journalist, I feel the public has a right to know about something they care about a great deal, and Rick Boogs, or rather Eric Bugenhagen, had many supporters.
Yet another supporter was none other than a fellow wrestler, who knows a thing or two about being misused in WWE, EC3, and he had this to say about Boogs while speaking to Sportskeeda’s The Wrestling Outlaws show featuring Dr. Chris Featherstone and Vince Russo:
"“If I’m creative and I’m writing for this show and I’m writing for Boogs, my segment’s gonna say, ‘So and so does this, and Rick Boogs does what he does. The end.’ And you just let it go because it’s probably gonna be better than any dumb s**t you’d think of…The dude’s jacked, crazy charisma. I think he does stuff on YouTube where he’s getting millions of views. His Instagram’s very funny. He has a ton of personality. I haven’t really watched much of his work. When I was on the way out, he started, but it seemed like he could get it. He can be something…”-via Sportskeeda (Transcription)"
High praise indeed and well merited. The only thing that remains to be seen is where the talented individual ends up next.
The logical stage is of course AEW, as it is the second biggest stage possible for the likes of such a talented individual as he is, but they need to take the proper care to allow him to have a better character, a character in which more of his true self can be on display. That way, a broader audience can see just what his many fans and I saw in him from the very beginning.
Once there, he might be able to put on wrestling clinics the likes of which many expected him to put on in WWE—really technical matches that would have called to mind the matches from back in the day featuring the aforementioned Angle, Lesnar, and the others…
Even a battle of the mammoths would be possible in AEW. Imagine he and Brian Cage going head to head in quite the feud.
The possibilities are indeed endless, but again the last thing he needs is for a promotion to misuse him, so proper care should be taken to treat this star right. We can only hope for the best. Hope to see him down the line, back doing what he does best…and sooner rather than later, please.