He’s Got Kids!: The Career of Heath Slater

Heath Miller Slammiversary

He was one of WWE’s most versatile performers, but for years had struggled to find a spot in the storylines on TV. And now, after 14 years in the WWE machine, Heath Slater is now free to control his own destiny. Returning to his real name, Heath Miller, it’s a fresh start for Miller on the independents. One of his first acts was to set up his own store with Pro Wrestling Tees and release a new shirt – which he points out is just the 2nd ever official T-Shirt in his career (he had but one shirt in his entire WWE run, the popular “I’ve Got Kids” T-Shirt).

Originally from Pineville, West Virginia, Heath Miller got his pro wrestling start in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004 at the World Wrestling Alliance 4 (WWA4) School, where he was trained by former WWE and WCW Superstar Curtis Hughes. For two years, he worked his way around the Georgia indie scene, working for NWA Anarchy in Georgia and Georgia Championship Wrestling in Columbus. In December of 2005, he was signed by WWE and sent to their developmental at Deep South Wrestling (DSW), in a class that featured Kenny Omega, Kofi Kingston, MVP, Brian Cage, Luke Gallows, Vladimir Kozlov, and other future Superstars.

In the spring of 2007, WWE would end its association with DSW, moving their developmental to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under the watch of former WWE & WCW Superstar Steve Keirn (who competed as Skinner in WWF in the early 90s). Heath Miller would spend four years at FCW, becoming one of the top stars with the promotion, winning the FCW Heavyweight Championship in 2009 and collecting FCW Tag Team gold with Joe Hennig (Curtis Axel).

At the end of 2009, he would make his main roster debut, working WWE Live Events and dark matches. He would make his WWE TV debut in February of 2010 as part of the first season of NXT (during its beginnings as a reality show), with his new name, Heath Slater. With his WWE Superstar mentor Christian, Slater scored an upset victory over Chris Jericho during one of the episodes, but by May he had been voted off the competition. But that wouldn’t be the end of Heath Slater on WWE television.

On June 7, 2010, following Wade Barrett‘s win of the first season of NXT, the eight NXT rookies interrupted the main event of Monday Night Raw and attacking WWE’s top Superstar John Cena, as well as ringside crew and announcers. Led by Barrett, the group – featuring Slater, Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, Skip Sheffield (Ryback), Darren Young, and David Otunga – called themselves The Nexus, becoming the biggest heel stable in the WWE Universe.

During the Nexus’ feud with Cena, John Cena was forced to join the rogue group in October and at WWE Bragging Rights, Cena and David Otunga defeated Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre for the WWE Tag Team titles. On the following night’s Raw, Barrett ordered a tag team title match, with Otunga & Cena facing Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel, commanding Otunga to lay down for Slater’s pin to crown new WWE Tag Team Champions. But by the end of the year, Nexus’ epic run had been watered down and faded from the main event, only to have CM Punk do a takeover of its leadership. In January of 2011, Slater – along with Justin Gabriel – refused Punk’s offer to remain in Nexus (turning down the required initiation), instead joining Wade Barrett’s new faction, The Corre.

As part of the Corre, the tandem of Gabriel and Slater would win the WWE Tag Team titles on two more occasions, but after Wade Barrett walked out on the two during a 6-man tag against Ezekiel Jackson and The Usos that June, Slater & Gabriel quit The Corre. A month later, the team split up, with the two feuding into 2012 (mostly on WWE Superstars). That summer, in a lead up to Raw’s 1000th episode, Heath Slater was determined to make his name on Raw once again, challenging former WWE Superstars to matches to prove his greatness. Over the ensuing weeks, he challenged – and lost to – Vader, Sid Vicious, Scotty 2 Hotty (on NXT), Rikishi, and Road Warrior Animal. At the June 23 1000th episode, he challenged Lita to an intergender No-Disqualification match. It resulted in Slater getting beaten down by multiple WWE legends, such as Rowdy Roddy Piper, APA (Ron Simmons & Bradshaw), Road Warrior Animal, Diamond Dallas Page, Vader, Sid Vicious, Bob Backlund, Doink the Clown, Sgt. Slaughter, and Rikishi.

In October of 2012, Heath Slater was finally given his own stable to lead, 3MB (Three Man Band) featuring two other Superstars that had creatively dried up in Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal. The three would make their debut on October 15’s Raw when they attacked Zack Ryder following a tag match. The trio would go on to feud with such teams as The Usos and Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel, The Prime Time Players, and Los Matadores, and lasted until June of 2014 when both McIntyre and Mahal were released from WWE.

A month after the dissolution of 3MB, he paired up with Titus O’Neil in Slater-Gator, but the team was primarily used on WWE Superstars. In February of 2015, O’Neil left Slater to reform The Prime Time Players, leaving Slater without direction once again. Slater would spend much of the year trying to answer John Cena’s WWE United States Championship Open Challenge, but was denied repeatedly. In January of 2016, Slater was once again given a new stable to lead, The Social Outcasts, again featuring some of WWE’s least utilized talents – Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, and Adam Rose. For most of 2016, the Social Outcasts feuded with The Dudley Boyz, The Usos, The New Day, and The Prime Time Players. But at that July’s WWE Draft, Heath Slater’s entire squad (minus himself) were drafted to Raw. To make matters worse, by the end of the draft itself, Heath Slater was the only wrestler not drafted to one of the two brands, effectively leaving him without a job.

Heath Slater would begin appearing on both Raw and SmackDown in hopes of landing a contract with either brand but ultimately came up short each time. Things went from bad to worse on July 26, when a returning Rhyno re-debuted and gored Slater for his troubles.

It was out of this desperation that Heath Slater would become a fan favorite for the first time in his career. His desperate pleas of “I’ve got kids!” as he tried to regain employment even lead to his first ever WWE T-Shirt. He would be given another chance to join SmackDown when he was offered a spot in the tournament to crown the first-ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions, with one stipulation – his team had to win it all. He found a partner in the returning Rhyno, who took pity on the unemployed father, and together they did the unlikely – defeating The Usos in the finals of the tournament at WWE Backlash ’16 that September to become the first SmackDown Tag Team Champions.

The team of Rhyno and Slater would remain together until July of 2019, when Rhyno once again left WWE. And once again, Slater was left alone and without a storyline. It would also mark the first year of his career in WWE where he never wrestled on either Raw or SmackDown – he had only four televised matches, all on WWE Main Eventalthough he would make frequent appearances chasing the WWE 24/7 Championship. On June 24, 2019, he would fleetingly hold the title, marking his final taste of gold in WWE. This year wasn’t much better – while he did have two matches on SmackDown (against Daniel Bryan no less), they were the only two matches he would have in all of 2020 so far. And on Black Wednesday, April 15, Heath Slater was released as part of cost-cutting measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ending his 14-year career with WWE.

Now free from WWE, Slater announced on his Instagram that this was merely an “intermission” and that he would be returning to the ring following the outbreak. Returning to Heath Miller, he will now be able to show the world just what he’s capable of outside of the WWE’s creative setbacks. And he’ll also continue to add to his legacy as a trainer, having opened his own wrestling school, Face 2 Face, in Morrow, Georgia in 2017, that includes Ron Simmons and Teddy Long as trainers. Interestingly, both of Slater’s 3MB stablemates Mahal and McIntyre would return to WWE (in 2016 and 2017 respectively) and win the WWE World Championship in their second runs, so maybe Slater has a chance, if he’s ever rehired, to complete the 3MB prophecy. But in the meantime, keep your eyes out for Heath Miller’s return to the independents once the wrestling world picks back up again.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.

 


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