Tonight I was going through photos I’ve previously posted on my Owen Hart tribute page on Facebook, and I came across the article photo and thought I’d share the story behind it.
Eugene, played by Nick Dinsmore, was a special needs wrestler that WWE never quite gave a specific condition. Shackled with a myriad of mental disabilities, the character was the nephew of then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, that Bischoff was ashamed of. Eugene would overcome adversity mimicking his favorite wrestlers of the past, ranging everywhere from The Bushwhackers to Hulk Hogan.
While Eugene worked programs with top stars such as former WWE Champions Triple H and Kurt Angle, his character was regularly manipulated, treated poorly and a glorified enhancement talent. To say that this character was a controversial, even in its run from 2004-2007, which by all means was far more open to an idea such as this one, would be an understatement. This character, however, is based on real-life Eugene Palermo.
Bucky Palermo, who passed away in 2017, spent 70 years in sports in the Pittsburgh area, such as fixing cleats and skates for the Steelers and Penguins. Pirates players, notably Jason Kendall and Dave Parker, would send him equipment to fix, and so would then-divisional rival Astros player, MLB Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. However, Bucky also worked in the wrestling industry as a referee for over three and a half decades. He officiated the first ever match of the legendary Bruno Sammartino and was a referee for a number of organizations, including the WWF, up until the late 1980s. Bucky’s son, Eugene, would attend every show in Pittsburgh and work as a ring boy for the WWF. Eugene, in the feature photo, is wearing the baby blue blazer that looks like it was stolen straight of Vince McMahon’s closet, with the red WWF emblem.
Eugene is a die hard wrestling fan, but also suffers from down-syndrome, which is where the WWE character the mid-2000s gets its basis. In a piece from 1Wrestling.com, it’s noted that Bucky ultimately wanted Eugene to stay a fan and out of the locker room, until WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter asked him to run some of his gear to the back after his entrant, in which Eugene obliged. Eugene ended up doing that for every wrestler for 15 years every time the WWE would come to Pittsburgh.
By the mid-’90s, Bucky was gone from the WWF entirely, but he’s still present on the Pittsburgh local scene, namely as an inductee into the KSWA Hall of Fame, even going in as the same class WWE Hall of Famer Baron Mikel Scicluna.
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