Wrestlers work hard to earn their way onto television screens, and thus into the hearts of fans. While watching Stone Cold Steve Austin opened a can of whoop-ass on the likes of Vince McMahon, The Rock or Triple H, or The Undertaker made opponents rest in peace, fans chose their favorites. And they may have known that their favorites earned their stripes by working their way up through various promotions until receiving the opportunity to be signed by WWE.
Some may also know that a number of men and women who were prominent in WWE were less known for their time in the number two promotion in the world at the time. While it may be defunct now, World Championship Wrestling was credited with having some of the biggest names in wrestling. What may not be known was that a number of WWE favorites at one time or another competed for World Championship Wrestling. Here are 15 wrestlers that you never knew wrestled for WCW.
15. Owen Hart
The late Owen Hart was known for having great matches against some of the best wrestlers in WWE. When he first joined, he competed under a mask, and as many may know was called The Blue Blazer. While under the mask he was able to carve his own niche, and didn’t have the pressure of living up to the legacy of the Hart name, especially with his older brother Bret rising up the ranks of the WWE roster and being a solid mid-card performer.
Although Owen was somewhat successful, he really wasn’t going to be more than a lower tier wrestler that would have entertaining matches, but ultimately lose to the likes of Mr. Perfect. Owen left WWE for a brief time and competed for WCW. There was no mask, simply Owen Hart free of the shackles that bound his character in the WWE. He competed alongside the likes of wrestlers such as Ricky Morton in dark matches.
Before we thought we knew him, Adam Copeland cut his teeth outside WWE. In WWE, the long haired and exuberant Edge carried with him a sense of intrigue, entering the ring from the crowd, and leaving the same way. He earned his way up the ranks, becoming a multi-time tag team champion alongside his good friend Christian, capturing the Intercontinental champion, and earned the moniker as the ultimate opportunist when he captured the WWE championship.
However, before he joined the WWE, he competed briefly for WCW in 1995. His role wasn’t a prominent one since he was more an enhancement talent for the likes of Meng and Kevin Sullivan. While there, he competed under the name Damon Striker. It seemed pretty generic, but for what they needed him for it seemed to fit.
He has been with WWE since 1995, one of their longest tenured performers. His first opportunity was as Isaac Yankem, after which he was the Fake Diesel. For the last twenty years, though, he has been known as the Devil‘s favorite demon. He has raised hell whether it was under a mask or without one. In fact, the man behind the mask, Glen Jacobs has been reinvented many times, and had the Kane character reinvigorated in order for him to be just as threatening as when he first debuted as Kane back in 1997.
There was a time, however, when Jacobs wasn’t synonymous with being a dead man or the devil. In fact, there was a time where Kane didn’t even compete for WWE, but rather WCW. A few years before debuting with WWE, Jacobs competed under the name Bruiser Mastino. It was a fairly generic character, and more than likely enhancement talent for the bigger stars in the company like Sting.
12. Rob Van Dam
He is a former ECW television champion, WWE Intercontinental champion, WWE Champion, and WWE Tag Team Champion. He has done it all as part of WWE. He had incredible matches and feuds with the likes of Jeff Hardy, Triple H and Chris Jericho. His creative move set got the attention of WWE management, and he was featured prominently even before becoming a regular part of the roster, as he was introduced by Jerry “the King” Lawler as Mr. Monday Night during the cross-promotional ECW Invasion angle.
However, Rob Van Dam didn’t initially compete in either WWE or ECW. In fact, before ECW became Extreme Championship Wrestling he competed for World Championship Wrestling. Back in 1992, RVD competed as enhancement talent under the name Robby V. The man that earned a name for himself in both ECW and WWE wasWWE was a far cry from the wrestler he later became.
11. Bob Holly
When he first debuted for the WWE he competed under the name Thurman “Sparky” Plugg. That was short-lived, and his name was changed to Thurman “Spark Plug” Holly. The idea behind the character was that he was a two sport athlete, not only a professional wrestler but also a NASCAR race car driver. The problem with the character was he was simply too jovial to take seriously since you would expect a race car driver to excels on speed and the rush of adrenaline that racing a car would bring. Eventually, he transformed into Hardcore Holly.
However, before becoming a tag team and Hardcore champion, Holly needed to get his feet wet, and did so not in WWE, but in WCW. It was back in 1990, where Holly competed for World Championship Wrestling with the sole purpose of making others look good. Ironically, he was actually a crash test dummy!
10. The Iron Sheik
The Iron Sheik defeated Bob Backlund to capture the WWE championship, and was a former Tag Team champion alongside Nikolai Volkoff. On the downside, after an arrest for a suspected DUI which jeopardized a feud he was having with then rival “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, the Sheik was temporarily released. What isn’t prominently known is that after the Iron Sheik departed WWE, he joined WCW.
In early 1989, the Iron Sheik appeared in Atlanta for a then-NWA taping, and challenged Ricky Steamboat. A couple of months later he challenged Sting, and the two had a match a week or so later in which the Sheik defeated Sting. His time there met with mixed results, but he had a rolled over contract that saw him remain longer than expected, and he crossed paths with Ron Simmons, Brian Pillman, Tom Zenk, Terry Taylor and Vader during his time with the promotion.
9. Honky Tonk Man
He had slicked back hair, and he managed to do his thing in his pink Cadillac, because he was the Honky Tonk Man. For a long time he held the distinction of being the longest running Intercontinental champion ever. When he defeated Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat only a couple of months after Steamboat captured the title, fans at the time were surprised and disappointed that a deserving champion had lost the title so quickly after capturing it.
During his run, HTM managed to irritate the fanbase with his cocky on-screen character that would find a way to win time and time again. While he faced numerous challengers, through underhanded means he ultimately held on to the championship. Perhaps ironically, it was against the Ultimate Warrior that he lost the title, in a record 30 seconds. After departing WWE, he joined WCW in 1994. His time with the company brief and forgettable, though.
He had a creative look and character that resonated with the WWE fanbase during the Attitude era. Originally he was on his own, but as time went on he was aligned with Edge and Christian and collectively they formed The Brood.
What fans may not know was that the man behind the character of Gangrel competed under a few different aliases. For years he was known on the independents as the Vampire Warrior. Fans may also not know that, before joining WWE, he competed for World Championship Wrestling. At the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, he was part of a masked tag team known as the Blackhearts. Their masks were similar to that of mimes, and there was nothing clearly recognizable about whom was behind those characters. On a separate occasion, he competed under his actual name, David Heath, and was used to make his opponents look good during their matches.
He is currently one half of the WWE Smackdown Live tag team champions, having managed to gore his way to another championship. It is incredible how one of ECW’s last world champions has managed to be as relevant today as he was almost two decades ago. He has also competed for TNA, and was an important cog in the Invasion storyline that WWE had rolled out after the purchase of WCW and the closing of ECW.
However, before the wrestler known as the man beast earned a name for himself smashing his way through everyone, he got his feet wet competing as an enhancement talent. All wrestlers need to start somewhere, and in the case of Rhyno somewhere was WCW. In 1995, Rhyno competed in one match for World Championship Wrestling under the name of Terry Richards with a very different look. He was sporting much shorter hair and no facial hair.
6. The Godwinns
Henry O. Godwinn and his cousin Phineas I. Godwinn were a unique tandem during their time in the WWE. They were a couple of pig farmers that dressed in overalls and had a good old boy, down home feel to them. And perhaps when you first saw Henry you thought you had seen him before, but couldn’t quite put your finger on where. Then, his cousin Phineas Godwin joined the WWE, and they formed a tag team.
Mark Canterbury, the man behind Henry O. Godwin, debuted as a singles wrestler, but his prior success prior was as a tag team performer. His partner, prior to joining WWE, was Phineas oddly enough. They competed in WCW with a southern gimmick, only they went by the names of Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce. Canterbury wore a mask during his time in WCW, but that was all forgotten when they were once again aligned in WWE.
5. AJ Styles
He now refers to himself as the face that runs the place. And some fans may have heard that the current WWE World Heavyweight champion competed for WWE over a decade ago. While he wasn’t a known commodity at the time, he certainly lit the world on fire shortly thereafter competing for TNA. He earned notoriety and acclaim with his aerial assault and striking. He has evolved his arsenal of moves over the years, and in the process managed to capture attention from viewers all over the world.
However, while Styles may have built a name for himself in TNA, and continued that success in WWE, neither of these companies was the one that initially gave him a chance. Before WCW closed its doors, a tag team by the name of Air Raid was formed in 2001. Styles was one half of the team, alongside Air Paris.
4. Triple H
He is the Chief Operating Officer of the WWE and a fourteen world champion, combining his WWE and World Championship reigns. Whether it was being squashed by The Ultimate Warrior or putting over younger talent, Triple H has run the gamut in WWE. He has had matches and feuds with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and The Undertaker, and knew he had to work his way up.
Perhaps his first big break was due to being watched by wrestlers in a different company. Shawn Michaels was watching a WCW wrestler by the name of Terra Ryzing, who had all the qualities of a star, but was saddled with an awful name. Michaels mentioned him to Vince McMahon, then reached out to Paul Levesque, and as they say the rest is history. Triple H is now credited with not only being an integral part of WWE’s past, but a vital part in developing the company’s future through NXT.
He was the suicidal, homicidal and genocidal maniac during his time in ECW. However, for all of his death defying risks taken, his time in ECW, or his brief time with either the WWE or TNA, that doesn’t capture his whole career. He had classic matches against the likes of Tazz and Rob Van Dam, but also competed in the least likely of places considering his skill set. After all, he is known for leaping through flaming tables and using steel chairs as key parts of his moves. He is unquestionably a daredevil.
What may not be known is that at one point in his career he competed for World Championship Wrestling. On September 11th, 1995, Sabu left ECW and debuted for World Championship Wrestling, facing the likes of Disco Inferno and Alex Wright. However, after a brief three month stay, he left, returning to the more comfortable climate of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
2. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Fans will remember Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka for a few different things. His high flying style and unique gear certainly made him stand out. He had the infamous leap off the top of the cage in Madison Square Gardens, was on the receiving end of a coconut against his head by Roddy Roddy Piper, and was part of the first main event in WrestleMania history. He had storied feuds with Roddy Piper and the Magnificent Muraco, but he wasn’t known for his career after WWE.
After his time in WWE came to an end, Snuka wrestled in the early nineties for a company known as Eastern Championship Wrestling. That same promotion became known as Extreme Championship Wrestling. Snuka’s time with the company was quite early in its evolution. Furthermore, Snuka appeared for WCW on a couple of different occasions, and during the more recent appearance he delivered a superfly splash to Jeff Jarrett.
1. Andre the Giant
He was the eighth wonder of the world, a seven-foot, 500 lb. giant that had an enormous presence about him. It goes without saying that Andre’s name was synonymous with one company throughout his career. From his feud against Big John Studd and the body slam challenge, to his legendary match at WrestleMania III against Hulk Hogan for the championship, Andre was always best known for his time with the WWF.
What isn’t as well-known about Andre was that he didn’t strictly compete for the WWF. Outside North America he made frequent appearances for local promotions in Japan. And as his career was drawing to a close due to poor health, Andre appeared for WCW at the Clash of Champions XX event in 1992, though he was far from his physical peak. Andre passed away shortly after, in 1993.