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Time Machine Thursday: Former rising star Sean O’Haire dies

Written By | Sep 11, 2014

The day of the week known as Thursday has worn many hats from major party night in college to last real day of the work in the real world and “TBT” or “Throwback Thursday” in the social media world. Each Thursday for this column, however, shall henceforth be known as Time Machine Thursday, or TMT for short, and will bring you one of professional wrestling’s awesomely forgotten or infamously awful wrestlers or gimmicks which were ahead of their time.

LOS ANGELES, September 11, 2014 — For the first iteration of Time Machine Thursday, Gorilla Position presents to you a man who should have been World Champion in the dying days of WCW and in the WWE. He is one of professional wrestling’s biggest “What Ifs?” His name is Sean Christopher Haire, known in the ring as Sean O’Haire.

Standing at 6’6” and billed at 270 pounds, Sean O’Haire had the size in which wrestling promoters drooled over. If his chiseled physique and model good looks were not enough, O’Haire was also exceptionally skillful as an in-ring performer. He executed an array of aerial moves that most 6’6” wrestlers would never even attempt.

Much like in baseball, Sean O’Haire was a five-tool wrestler. He had the size, the look, and in-ring skill. He could talk on the microphone and he had a boatload of charisma. In short, Sean O’Haire was a sure fire future World Champion. So what happened?

Sean O’Haire debuted, at the age of 29, on the June 26, 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, with his tag team partner Mark Jindrak, where they defeated Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera. Less than three months later, O’Haire and Jindrak, then in a seven man stable known as the Natural Born Thrillers, captured the WCW Tag Team Championship for the first time.

During those three months, O’Haire consistently showcased his strength and agility during matches using a variety of kicks and slams. His finisher was a top rope move called the “Seanton Bomb”, a high angle swan dive and at the last moment he executed the flip onto his fallen opponent. Click here to see a thing of beauty.

O’Haire and his new tag team partner, Chuck Palumbo won their match on the final episode of WCW Nitro on March 26, 2001. O’Haire’s WCW career only lasted a year and a half before WCW went bankrupt and was bought by the WWE. He was a three time tag team champion, twice with Mark Jindrak and once with Palumbo, and was now one of the wayward WCW souls that the WWE picked to continue wrestling for their company.

On the June 28, 2001 episode of WWE Smackdown, they made their debut attacking the Hardy Boyz tag team. O’Haire and Palumbo were part of the WCW Alliance, which was set to feud with the WWE roster in a hostile takeover storyline. “The Invasion” storyline is a tangled web best discussed for another time. For the majority of 2002, O’Haire was sent to the WWE’s “minor leagues”, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) for seasoning and training.

In January 2003, Sean O’Haire reappeared on WWE television. O’Haire was wearing a suit and tie and had a “Devil’s Advocate” gimmick. O’Haire had a series of vignettes in which he spoke to the audience urging them to commit adultery, break the law, not go to church, and not pay taxes. He ended each thought provoking monologue with “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.” This gimmick created massive buzz not only with casual wrestling fans, but with the hardcore wrestling fans on the internet.

The gimmick was something which had never before been seen in the WWE.  It was a gimmick that did not pull punches or dumb itself down. It was raw, realistic, and captivating. Fans felt this gimmick would catch lightning in a bottle and propel O’Haire to the top of the wrestling world. Click for Sean’s views on religion, his views on taxes and the government, his views on infidelity, and Sean’s views on rules and laws.

When he finally re-debuted, O’Haire was sporting a black trench coat, longer hair than before and spider web tattoos on both his wrists. He used his powers of persuasion to convince other wrestlers backstage to do things they normally would not do.

In short, O’Haire morphed into a brilliant manipulative comic book-esque type villain like Lex Luthor. In April 2003, O’Haire was paired with Roddy Piper and was dubbed as his protégé. During that partnership, O’Haire had victories over Rikishi, Eddie Guerrero, and Hulk Hogan, who was masquerading as Mr. America at the time. Both men aligned with Vince McMahon in hopes to putting Mr. American out of the WWE. O’Haire was getting the “rub” from Piper, Hogan, AND Vince! Next stop, World Championship! Right?

Sadly, these associations only seemed to hinder O’Haire’s progress in the WWE. His Devil’s Advocate gimmick, which made O’Haire interesting in the first place, slowly faded away. While the Hogan feud should have been about O’Haire as Piper’s hired gun, the focus morphed back into the long standing Hogan/Piper feud, with O’Haire kind of just being there in the background twiddling his thumbs.

On June 26, 2003, Roddy Piper was officially released from the WWE after his controversial interview on  HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Sean O’Haire was left holding the bag and his push disappeared as quickly as Piper was fired. Even though O’Haire was winning televised wrestling matches, he was not on RAW or Smackdown and the buzz he once had slowly drifted away.

To make matters worse, a few months later O’Haire injured himself in a motorcycle accident. Almost a year after aligning himself with Piper, having screen time with Vince McMahon and matches against Hulk Hogan, Sean O’Haire was released from his contract. When it rains, it pours.

Over the next few years, O’Haire had tries at kickboxing and MMA fighting. He also had troubling run ins with the law from 2006 through 2011 for assaulting a woman in a club, but he was acquitted after she admitted the allegations were false. Also for assaulting a man in another club and getting injured, and assaulting his girlfriend, again, those charges too were dropped. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can rise up.

Recently, O’Haire seemed to have moved on from his past problems and opened a successful barber shop in his home town of Hilton Head, South Carolina and was also working as a personal trainer. That never stopped fans on the internet from constantly wondering how badly the WWE dropped the ball with a “can’t miss talent” like Sean O’Haire.

Sadly, there will be no second act for Sean O’Haire. On September 9, 2014, he was found dead at his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina at the age of 43. It has been reported that his death was an apparent suicide.

The real reason for his death may never be truly known, but possibly the weight of disappointment and frustration of his enormous potential wasted was perhaps too much for him to bear anymore. O’Haire was focused and dedicated to the craft of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts and he had his career derailed. Not by his lack of skills or athleticism, but by the actions and decisions of others around him.

His potential was off the charts and his in ring skills were a sight to behold. Who is to know if his failure in professional wrestling led to a piling frustration, which then led to troubles with the law. We all have our own paths in life, some rockier than others, and it is sad to see how that his path ended as it did. Hopefully, wherever Sean O’Haire is now, he is finally at peace.


James Ryan

James P. Ryan was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California in 2001 with a B.A. in Theater. He has worked off and on in the Television and Commercial Production Industry since he was 18 years old. He is both an actor and a writer. Currently, he is the co-host on his Army of Dorkness podcast. He is also an avid home brewer and he has many leather-bound books.