Thanks to the limitless check book of Ted Turner and reckless spending habits of Eric Bischoff, the company known as WCW was able to manifest itself as a suitable rival for the dominant company out of New York, the WWE.
Not only did WCW thrive, they managed to defeat the WWE for 84 weeks in a row, an accomplishment that may not be duplicated ever again. Ultimately, WCW’s lack of leadership and company direction was their undoing. The talent was there but the leadership and guidance simply was not. Bischoff did not act like a boss and was more like a buddy; his successors would also fail when they were given the creative keys. The company was finally laid to rest on September 18th 2001, when the WWE purchased the company and its collection of archives.
Today, we take a trip back to those glory days and take a look at some of our favorite WCW stars and how they look today compared to their days with the company. Some are obviously grayer and older, while others still look fantastic. Here are 15 transformation pictures of our favorite WCW stars. Enjoy!
15. Tony Schiavone
During the heat of the Monday Night Wars, this man was the voice of the rival company WCW. Tony began back in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and would later branch out into the big leagues with a short stint in the WWE, and then a lengthy career with WCW.
Following the company’s closing, Tony worked briefly with TNA Wrestling but would later decide to leave the wrestling business permanently. He instead changed his focus on sports, working baseball play-by-play. He also worked on the radio discussing both baseball and football.
Today, the legendary voice of Monday Nitro is 58 years old. In a recent interview he discussed how he still loves to keep busy at all times. With this mind, asides from being the play-by-play announcer for the Gwinnett Braves, Tony also works at Starbucks becoming a barista. Tony states he loves the benefits of the job at Starbucks and wants to have as many things as possible on his plate.
He was a journeyman in the world of pro wrestling; Tonga Fifita wrestled all over the world and back again from 1986 till the 2000s. He even most recently made a surprising return at a New Japan event in January, Wrestle Kingdom 10.
During the prime days with the WWE and WCW, Menga was a great worker but received limited success. He only won a Hardcore Championship in WCW. His biggest accomplishment was winning the Tag Titles alongside Andre The Giant with the WWE.
Tonga was mostly remembered for his insane and barbaric strength outside of the ring. The former wrestler was always caught brawling in bars after shows and rarely would he be on the wrong side of a beatdown. Many former wrestlers call Haku the strongest wrestler in history of the business.
He also made headlines for another reason when The Rock bought him a new truck and put it on social media. The act went viral as Dwayne was repaying his uncle for the tights he gave him when he had a tryout with the WWE. Johnson had no money at the time so his uncle supplied him with a full set of gear. Quite the story.
Who can forget that awkward gimmick Konnan played as Max Moon with the WWE? Man, was that ever brutal. As you know, the Mexican legend was able to rebound from that horrid stint and make a name for himself with WCW starting in 1996 at the peak of the Monday Night Wars. He really found his footing as a member of the nWo Wolfpack and would capture several Championships, including the United States and Tag Team Championships.
After WCW went under he continued in the wrestling business till he began to take up roles backstage for companies like Lucha Underground and AAA Mexico.
Today, Konnan is actually quite the activist speaking about the world of pro wrestling. He uses his Podcast show as a platform to do so; Keepin it 100 with Konnan. The show is co-hosted by another WCW alum in Disco Inferno. Konnan doesn’t shy away from his feelings and is quite critical about the current WWE product, taking shots at some of the more prominent names like John Cena.
12. Steve McMichael
Who can forget the football-guy-turned-pro-wrestler Steve “Mongo” McMichael? It turns out, you can put a “turns-politician” at the end of that sentence nowadays. Back in 2012, Mongo actually ran to be the mayor of Romeoville, Illinois (only to lose). He is still involved in the world of politics today at the age of 58, though. He also still keeps an involvement in the world of football.
Not too surprising that he really doesn’t spend much time doing anything wrestling related as of late. His last involvement came as a special referee for TNA’s Bound For Glory event. His wrestling career was marginal at best; WCW had high hopes for the wrestler who had a tremendous football resume but things just did not work out as planned as he became an afterthought with the Horsemen. His greatest moments were actually in the commentary booth and not in the ring.
11. Lance Storm
Lance Storm was a rare gem during WCW’s worst era ever. When the company was on life support during the 2000s, nothing and nobody seemed to be working; Storm was a huge rarity.
WCW realized they had a technical gem in the Canadian and rewarded the wrestler for it, as he became the first and only ever WCW star to hold three Championships at once (United States, Cruiserweight & Hardcore).
Following his time in WCW, the WWE picked up his contract. A brand that is fully invested in the “entertainment” aspect, Storm struggled to be a real breakout guy but did enjoy some success nonetheless.
Today, at the age of 47, Lance is still looking terrific while running his own wrestling school, the Storm Wrestling Academy. He is also still taking some Indie dates, and why not? He looks great and is still extremely active.
10. Alex Wright
Looking at this side by side picture, it’s hard to believe that is in fact Alex Wright. He seems angrier and balder for some reason; but hey, we’re not judging (or are we?).
Give this guy credit, he was loyal to a tee during his stint as a pro wrestler with WCW. The German started off with the company back in 94’ and stayed on board till the ship finally sank to the bottom. Following the company’s demise, Wright left the North American wrestling scene claiming he needed time away from the “backstage politics”. You honestly can’t blame the guy.
Since leaving, Wright is still all about pro wrestling, this time however, he serves as a mentor and not an active wrestler. The German started his own wrestling promotion; New European Championship Wrestling. He books the shows and is also in charge of training the wrestlers. Wright hopes to bring his new talents as a coach to North America one day, helping out with the Performance Center down in NXT.
9. Norman Smiley
Norman Smiley has literally looked exactly the same for the past 20 years, minus a few wrinkles here and there. Like Alex Wright, Smiley was devoted to WCW, although he got his first major start with Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling. He’d make a name for himself with WCW as a lower card wrestler that provided some comedic relief to the show, he was great at his role but was also a terrific wrestler in the ring which is often forgotten about because of his persona.
When WCW finally went under, Smiley kept active working the Indie scene and some brief stints with Total Non-Stop Action (seriously, who didn’t work for TNA at one point?).
He would eventually leave TNA for the opportunity of a lifetime, to become a trainer with the WWE. He started off with the FCW development in 2010, and would stay on board during the NXT rebranding. He is still in the system today and regarded as one of the most respected trainers. The UK native is 51 today and still looking pretty darn good!
8. Bill DeMott
Bill DeMott is best remembered for two things; his involvement as a WWE trainer and being the wrestler to endure some of the worst names in pro wrestling history. Let’s revisit some of those names, shall we? Captain Hugh G. Rection, General E. Rection, The Laughable Man, The Man of Question, Crash the Terminator and my personal favorite, Hugh Morris.
Not surprising, most of those names were a product of WCW’s “creativity”, or lack thereof. The WWE finally ended the terrible trend by simply calling him Bill DeMott.
He resumed his career as a trainer for the WWE but would get released in controversial fashion when several former Superstars spoke out about Bill’s bullying behind the scenes. This caused his release.
Today, Bill has changed his focus, becoming a public speaker at various schools and conventions following the tragic death of his daughter because of a drunk driving accident. He’s spreading the word as much as he can to prevent this problem from happening again. We applaud the former WWE trainer for this and wish him the best.
7. David Flair
In this instance, “the apple did fall far from the tree”. Poor David Flair is remembered as being one of the worst pro wrestler son’s to ever enter the business. You can’t really blame the guy either, as WCW rushed him into the storylines without any proper wrestling training. This was a typical move by the company that really didn’t care for wrestling whatsoever, which made the product embarrassing to watch when it came to in-ring action. Poor Flair was the poster boy for that.
After he departed from WCW, David stayed in the wrestling business joining forces with TNA and later the Indie scene working with several promotions. He also appeared at wrestling conventions prominently during that time frame.
6. Juventud Guerrera
If you go on his Twitter page it seems like there’s nothing this guy can’t do. Under his bio, Juventud is a self-proclaimed Icon Champion, MC, designer, actor, host, founder of some entertainment company and our personal favorite, “Freekin Cool DJ!!!”. In case you were wondering, yes, he did put three exclamation marks.
Although his current bio reads like one of an 18 year old’s bio, we can’t discount his tremendous contributions to the world of pro wrestling, especially with WCW. Guerrera was an instant hit back in 96’. He would later enjoy even greater success once he unmasked. His accomplishments were quite noteworthy, winning the Cruiserweight Championship on three different occasions. His work in the division was superb and something that is still talked bout to this very day.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of DDP’s success since leaving the wrestling industry.
At the age of 60, believe it or not, Page is having the time of his life and being credited for it with his groundbreaking DDP Yoga, which has not only transformed lives but saved them as well.
Page got his first breakthrough story when he rehabilitated a disabled war veteran. Arthur Boorman was the man who was told he’d never walk again by doctors. Instead, with the help of Page and his yoga, the said veteran would drop 140 pounds in ten months and later, regain the ability to walk with a brace.
After the story went viral, Page continued his success, saving the lives of various others including former pro wrestlers Jake Roberts and Scott Hall. The two men credit Page for saving them in more ways than one.
4. Torrie Wilson
Not sure how it’s even possible, but Torrie somehow looks better today at the age of 41. With a net worth of $18 million, she’s probably had the time to do so away from the wrestling ring.
Wilson was a rare gem with WCW during the company’s dying days. Along with Stacy Keibler, the two were very popular and the WWE would later pounce on this bringing them both into the company. Torrie’s stock blew up with the WWE. Despite her lack of in-ring skills, Wilson was tremendously popular and connected with the WWE crowds on a huge level. She later branched out into Playboy, which would skyrocket her stock even higher.
In 2008, Wilson finally left the business and it didn’t really surprise many of us. Her most noticeable headline away from the WWE came with the announcement of her relationship with MLB megastar Alex Rodriguez. The couple dated between 2011 and 2015.
3. Vince Russo
Just recently on September 25th, the world of pro wrestling celebrated the 16 year anniversary of Vince Russo slapping the WCW in the face by winning the company’s World Heavyweight Championship. Hard to believe the disturbing act happened already more than a decade and a half ago. Man, does time fly!
Visually, Russo looks much grayer than he did in his WCW days, though his mentality hasn’t changed one bit. Russo still spends most of his time bashing the WWE’s current product and constantly defending himself and his failed stint during the late 90s and 2000s with World Championship Wrestling. At times, it seems like the guy’s soul is still locked into that era.
Nonetheless, at the age of 55 he is still covering the world of pro wrestling through his podcast, which you have to apparently pay for. He constantly bashes the WWE but claims that he would still take a job with the company and help to change the business for the better. After crowning David Arquette as Champion and winning the title himself, wrestling fans beg to differ…
2. Eric Bischoff
Love him or hate him, you have to give props to the 61 year old Michigan native who did something that pretty much nobody else can say they’ve done: beat Vince McMahon. Not only did he do it, but he did so for 84 straight weeks, an accomplishment that will go unmatched for a very long time.
Ultimately Bischoff’s undoing was his leadership skills, or lack thereof. In terms of authority figure, Bischoff was viewed more so as a buddy than a boss. This was the biggest difference between himself and Vince. WCW shows were usually a mess backstage with no one having a clue what they were doing. That plagued the company dearly.
1. Ted Turner
The formula is quite simple: without the paychecks of Ted Turner, there would be no WCW. The company managed to stay afloat for so long because of an endless supply of money. The company had terrible direction but managed to stay relevant because of their constant signing of new stars (which they would basically just throw money at to get).
Ted’s formula worked for a certain amount of time but it later began to falter and hurt his stock. Once Turner had enough and his company wanted to depart from pro wrestling, WCW basically faced extinction and later closed its doors for good.
Today, at the age of 77, the billionaire tycoon is doing pretty darn well sitting on his savings of $2.2 billion. If you’re keeping track, that’s a billion more than his former rival Vince McMahon, who has a net worth of $1.2 billion. I think we can all agree, Turner’s checks made for some interesting television during the 90s!