Despite WCW closing its doors for good in 2001, fans still celebrate the company’s legacy to this day. Wisely, the WWE bought the rights to their content and wrestling fans have access to everything WCW related from back in the day. Despite all of the bad, WCW had a lot of great things going for it, and for that reason, fans still search for the company religiously these days.
In this article, we give WCW fans a little bit of nostalgia taking a look at past stars from the company and what they look like today. For the most part, you won’t be able to recognize these wrestlers unless you were a hardcore fan of the company. We’ll also touch base on what they’re up to these days along with some recent quotes they dropped, whether it’s pertaining to their WCW run or their failed WWE run that followed.
Enjoy the article folks and like always, be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado, here are 15 former WCW stars you would never be able to recognize today. We begin with a wrestler that signed a huge contract and had lots of potential to rival Goldberg. However, that hype quickly faded. Let’s get started!
15 Tank Abbott
“He was horrible in WCW” – Scott Steiner
Yup, Scott Steiner tends to be brutally honest when it comes to his views on the wrestling business. He might be a little too over the top at times, however when it came to his opinion about Tank Abbott, most of us can agree he was right on the money. With a background in MMA, Abbott joined WCW in 1999. On paper, this should have worked and really could have been something special, reminiscent to what we see with Brock Lesnar today. However, despite the early push and making him feud against Goldberg, he just didn’t turn into a draw. He’s remembered for his spot on the roster as a comedic act alongside 3 Count.
The guy was getting paid a boatload of money, so putting him in such a role was quite the waste. He was released by the company in 2000 and not surprisingly, he wouldn’t return to the wrestling business.
Nowadays, at the age of 53, Abbott looks completely unrecognizable and he hasn’t aged gracefully either. Among his most notable work in the recent years was a rumored bout against Ronda Rousey. Yes, the current WWE star was offered $100,000 to take on Abbott.
14 Ultimo Dragon
When you compare the WCW and WWE products, World Championship Wrestling was clearly ahead of Vince’s company when it came to the utilization of smaller wrestlers. McMahon tried to match WCW’s Cruiserweights with a Light Heavyweight Division, though once again an emphasis on cheesy characters ruined the possibility of legitimately competing with WCW’s luchadors. Among the driving names in WCW’s division was the great Ultimo Dragon. He was among the more popular wrestlers of the division and his talents extended to the main roster as well, winning the TV Title. He ended his WCW run as a two-time Cruiserweight Champion and two-time TV Champion.
Just after the signing of Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon was brought into the WWE with a world of hype. The company ran vignettes for weeks hyping up the debut. Dragon joined the company with the goal of getting featured at a WrestleMania event and taking part in a show at the great MSG venue. Despite all the hype, he just didn’t adjust to the WWE style and it caused him to move down the pecking order in a hurry. He requested his own release in 2004 and returned to Japan.
Dragon still looks fantastic today, however few would even recognize him without the mask in the photo above. The Japanese wrestler was devoted to his gimmick throughout his run in the industry.
13 Alex Wright
If you haven’t seen Alex Wright since his days in the mid-90s as Das Wunderkind, boy oh boy, are you in for a surprise! He wasn’t the most heavily pushed face with the company, however he was devoted to WCW staying on board from 1994 all the way to when they closed their doors in 2001. Among his most notable accomplishments include a Cruiserweight Title, TV Title and Tag Title run alongside Disco Inferno. If you didn’t perform his taunt endlessly in WCW Vs NWO revenge, shame on you!
Surprisingly, Wright didn’t join the WWE following the buyout, and he opened up as to why;
“After they bought WCW they approached me a couple of times. One time they wanted to give me a buyout of my contract, as I was one of the few wrestlers that had direct contracts with Time Warner, so WWE couldn't buy that contract. They offered me a buyout but it wasn't good so I said no and I sat out my contract. After that they approached me twice and there were talks. I was very honored that they asked me and wanted to give me the chance, but I am the kind of they guy that wants to give 100% when I'm in the ring. I knew I couldn't do that at the time because I was burnt out."
Looking unrecognizable these days, Wright has his own school and is affiliated with NXT’s recruiters.
12 Chris Harris
Before his run with TNA, Harris joined WCW in 2000 working alongside tag team partner James Storm. They had a brief run together with the company but they would really find their form with TNA. Both Harris and Storm became major stars, though Harris was the one with a World Championship label.
Sadly, Chris became an early example of how success outside of the WWE really doesn’t mean much. He was squashed with the company using an awful gimmick. Instead of banking off of his TNA name, Harris was changed to Braden Walker and that only made things worse. As for Storm, he would be the one to shine. Given his partner's horrendous run with the WWE - perhaps that created the hesitation to join the company as well.
Harris discussed his run with Vince’s company and here’s what he had to say;
"When they debuted me, nobody knew who Braden Walker was and I think some people would know who I was or with a name change, I could deal with that. I knew that there was a good chance that they weren't going to use "Wildcat" but the way they presented me was like a bag of crap. There was nothing for the people to care. Some of these bad one liners they were giving me and vignettes were ridiculous, it was just a bad combination. It is hard to find the words. What I saw there, I wasn't impressed. It was a billion dollar company and they didn't know what the hell they were doing from one minute to the next."
11 Tony Schiavone
One of the most popular faces in WCW was the voice of the broadcast, the great Tony Schiavone. We still recall some his great play-by-plays; who can forget his voice during the epic Goldberg versus Hogan match on Nitro? It was one of the most chilling moments in company history. Sadly, the later part of his run was embarrassing as the company would change plans in the blink of an eye and normally, it seemed as though Tony wasn’t informed at all.
These days, Schiavone is still working his craft with minor league baseball affiliates. He’s also scheduled to appear during the All In festivities; the WCW commentator is scheduled as a guest on the Starrcast meet and greet prior to the show.
Being that Cody Rhodes was a WCW kid growing up, Tony’s involvement isn’t too shocking. He did express some regret in leaving WWE however. Here’s what he had to say pertaining to his WWE departure;
“When I went to Vince and told him I was leaving WWE he asked, 'do you think Turner Broadcasting is going to care about your family and take care of your family like we do?' And I said, 'no I don't.' I was right because WWE was very much a family atmosphere. When it comes to Vince McMahon, I've always liked the guy and still have a fond place in my heart for him. I still say of all the years, and I love the Crocketts because they meant so much to me, I had some great years financially in WCW, but one year in the WWF back then was my finest year in pro wrestling. The one where I learned more about wrestling, television production and one where I enjoyed working more than any time ever!"
10 Johnny The Bull
Hugger surprisingly enjoyed decent success with WCW and some say a lot of that had to do with his background as a fellow Italian (like Vince Russo). Despite limited abilities, he won the Hardcore Title and was a two-time Tag Champion alongside Big Vito.
Following the buyout, the duo joined the WWE, however along with Hugger, Chuck Palumbo initially joined the faction instead of Vito. Over on SmackDown, they were given a decent run with the company.
Vito and Nunzio look pretty similar these days, however most wouldn’t be able to identity Hugger in comparison to his days with WCW. He’s kept quiet pertaining to his career and current matters, however former partner Nunzio remains vocal, recently discussing the WWE’s new Cruiserweight Division;
"Half those guys that are there now I wrestled on the independents when I left WWE. When I left WWE it was Tony Nese and all of the guys that are there now. I love Tony and I love watching them and am glad they are there. They are great talents and they belong there. Tony Nese belonged there three years ago. I see what goes on with them and I think it is good. When I was there we always thought the Cruiserweights should have a part in the show and unfortunately you were right we were on Velocity and Heat and we were on SmackDown here or there.”
9 Major Gunns
She joined WCW in the late 90s and with Vince Russo wanting to push edgy content, Gunns became a major part of the programming during the 2000s. A forgotten stable called the Misfits in Action was given a huge push by the company; Russo had actually envisioned the group to become something similar to Degeneration-X. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Gunns was an attraction manager to the act and given her look, Russo was hoping she would add more eyeballs to the program. It was a wise move but one that didn’t work as wrestling was starting to evolve... of course, Russo didn’t get that memo and it caused the company’s demise.
Gunns also worked alongside Lance Storm and feuded with the likes of Earnest The Cat Miller.
Just prior to the merger, Gunns was released by WCW. She joined the indie scene for a little bit working with promotions Xtreme Pro Wrestling and Double Trouble Wrestling. She would leave the world of wrestling for 'a different kind' of entertainment.
Nowadays, the 46 year old isn’t looking too bad, though few would recognize her as the same person that was a part of WCW’s Team Canada. The former WCW star remains active on Twitter promoting her current occupation.
8 Larry Zbyszko
One of the greats in the wrestling business, Larry had a lengthy run before joining the commentary booth with WCW. Among his pit stops, he started with the WWE in the mid-70s; he would later join NWA, AWA and return to both before heading towards a career with WCW.
90s fans remember Larry as the color commentator with the company. Nowadays, he’s 66 years old and we can say he’s aged pretty darn well. You can still find him as a mainstay at wrestling conventions, not to mention he’s been working some shoot interviews in the last couple of years.
One of the main topics he discusses tends to be Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff and what they were like during his company run. Larry basically echoed the sentiment lots of wrestlers felt at the time;
“I didn’t really deal with him… Hulk we were getting him ready for the Goldberg transition thing. I never really dealt with Hulk, Hulk was a good manipulator and [Eric] Bischoff kinda fell for it. Unfortunately Hulk kind of swerved Bischoff into giving the farm away where too many guys got not only a big contract, but the clauses were they could do whatever they wanted. So they killed the programming.”
Despite a short-run with WCW, Crowbar made quite the impact. He joined the company on-screen alongside Daffney and David Flair. The trio enjoyed success winning the Tag Team Championships. He would also enjoy a run with the Hardcore Title and Cruiserweight Championship. His run with the company came to an end shortly after the merger and he entered the field of physical therapy (he would later return to the indie scene).
Surprisingly, at the age of 44, the Jersey native still competes in the ring from time to time, he was recently booked for an indie event called Rescue Mania. He’s also featured at wrestling conventions pretty commonly. Unless you were a hardcore WCW fan, chances are you wouldn't recognize the performer these days.
He spoke about his time with the company and credits DDP for his success. Here is what he had to say;
“I became very friendly with Dallas Page,” Ford said. “He said, ‘It’s great you’re down here, you have potential, but if you don’t [get out of the losing ways], you’re never going to break out of the typecast.’ He told me to go finish school and give him a call when I was done and if he could help me out, he would.”
Another major part of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, Psicosis became a two-time champion in the division and he was one of the most over acts. Everything about him was so different. His biggest moment with the company came on an episode of Nitro when he defeated Juventud, Mysterio and Blitzkrieg (who?) to capture his first ever Cruiserweight Championship with the company. It was the prime run of his North American wrestling career.
His WCW run was a lot better than his WWE run. Everything that made him distinct and special with World Championship Wrestling was thrown out the window with WWE. Instead, he took off the mask and was slapped with an awful gimmick alongside Super Crazy and Juventud, the trio was known as the Mexicools. It was a massive waste of their talents; the three could have been so much more. He was released by the company in 2006 ending his lackluster run, the reasoning for the release was an arrest in Mexico.
At 46 years of age, few would recognize the masked wrestler these days unless you watched his WWE run, of course. You can still find him performing on the indie scene sporadically; he’s also a mainstay when it comes to wrestling conventions.
5 Lance Storm
Lance Storm was one of the few new faces WCW actually booked properly for quite some time. He was labelled as a massive star early on winning and holding three championships at once: the US, Cruiserweight and Hardcore Titles (he was the first wrestler in company history to hold three championships at once). He was one of the few bright spots in the final days of the company, though despite his success Storm is no fool when it comes to the business and has taken numerous shots at WCW’s legacy. He even recently put up a picture to his Twitter account featuring Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell’s mother asking fans how WCW lost the war....
These days, the 49 year old is still in great shape, though he’s changed his look a little bit from his prior days, rocking no hair today. You can hear his thoughts on the business regularly, as he has his own Podcast show. Lance is also a successful trainer, providing the WWE with lots of talent in the past (including Tyler Breeze and Emma).
You can find Lance performing on the indie scene sporadically these days. Despite inching closer to his 50s, the guy can still go in the ring. He’s also featured at conventions from time to time.
4 Lex Luger
Hogan joining the NWO is viewed as the unofficial launch of the Monday Night Wars by some, however pure wrestling fans would debate that notion. Instead, Luger shocking the world and showing up on WCW programming is viewed as the launch of the Wars. Little did anyone in the WWE know, but his contract had expired and he joined WCW. It’s a moment that’ll live on forever in wrestling history.
Fans are mixed when it comes to his legacy in the business, however there is no denying his impressive accomplishments as a two-time WCW World Champion and Royal Rumble winner. However, it was his life outside of the ring that hurt him and it has made him pretty unrecognizable these days;
“Well, in the end, I didn't get through too well. As far as the PED's, as they’re referred to now, they were very prevalent at the time, as they are so today. I thought I had a hold on that. Proper cycling and medical blood tests and things like that. There's ways around the testing at the time. Obviously, there still is. So, I thought, at the time, I had a good grip on that. Outside of wrestling, most of my career, I never really felt I had a problem with it. I thought the drinking and the pills were more of a social thing that I did with the rest of the guys. Back then, it was a work hard, play hard mentality.”
Raven was a huge talent with WCW and one of the most memorable names. His gimmick was very unique and it led to impressive runs with the US and Tag Championships. He would leave for WWE and unfortunately, he just couldn’t capture that same magic with Vince’s company. To this very day, Raven regrets leaving WCW;
"I really wish I would've stayed. That's one of my regrets. I didn't stay because the idea he told me did nothing for me. I was gonna lose stock as a character, so I didn't but I wish I would've [stayed] because the way things worked out with [Vince] Russo coming in six months later and Russo being a huge fan of mine, I probably would've been in the world title mix. I know I would've got way, way more money on my contract on my next deal because it was a year from being up, so I would've probably doubled what I was already making. So it really was a stupid idea of me to go, but I wasn't having fun. It's still a huge regret."
These days, the 53 year old looks unrecognizable. You can find him podcasting and at a wrestling convention from time to time.
2 David Flair
Poor David Flair was an early example that wrestling and bloodlines don’t always go hand-in-hand. However, WCW rushed him into the ring with a limited amount of training; you can also blame the company for his lackluster skill more than the actual performer.
Despite his minimal in-ring talent, he was given quite the push due to his family name. Hell, he even won the US Title, a championship that was held by greats in the business such as Sting, Goldberg and even current stars like John Cena, Seth Rollins and the current title holder, Jeff Hardy.
Following the buyout, WWE surprisingly picked up David’s contract, perhaps as a solid to Ric. He was wisely sent to OVW but nothing would ever come from it aside from a beat down by The Undertaker on route to his dad's WrestleMania bout against The Deadman.
He continued on following his WWE release with the likes of TNA - wisely, he would leave the business and is now the owner of a seal wire company. We’ve seen sporadic photos of David posted by his sister Charlotte from time to time. He looks unrecognizable today compared to his prime run with WCW as the US Champion.
1 The Steiner Brothers
Both brothers had great runs with WCW, particularly Scott during the early 2000s. He was the World Champion and his gimmick was extremely over with the audience. Steiner entered the WWE with a great amount of hype though it was completely squandered. Steiner still holds ill will against the company. He even refuses to enter the Hall Of Fame;
"I am already in a couple Hall of Fames like the Michigan Hall of Fame and the Dan Gable Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame so my accolades speak for themselves. Let's just say I'm not losing any sleep over any Hall of Fame induction. The one Hall of Fame that I refuse to go in is the WWE Hall of Fame because do you know where it's at? Where is it? Do you have an address? It's a bunch of bulls---. If they called me up, I wouldn't go because there's no address; you can't go see it, so, where is it?”
These days, you can still find Steiner in the ring from time to time; he recently appeared on an episode of Impact. At the age of 55, Steiner and his brother Rick have aged, looking unrecognizable compared to their WCW run.