We miss those times so much that to this day, almost two decades later, we still recall the events that took place during this glorious era of pro wrestling.
Not only was the product superior on-screen, but outside of it, behind the curtains, it was absolute chaos. Something we wrestling fans absolutely adore. It’s pretty much like gossip, but for dudes.
Particularly WCW was an absolute mess during this era, the inmates were running the asylum while Bischoff looked on and watched. Along with his watching skills, Bischoff had an unlimited checkbook at his disposal. With this, came some of the very worst contracts we’d ever laid eyes on. Following the purchase of WCW, the terms and documents were made public years later and man, did they ever cause a reaction.
In celebration of those awful contracts we present to you the 15 most shocking WCW contracts that will make you sick. Please do not eat during this article.
15 Konnan: $620,000
No disrespect to Konnan who was a great mid-carder during his WCW days, but man is this contract brutal for a guy that never fought nowhere near the upper-card at any point throughout his WCW run.
We assume the merit for such a deal came from his longevity in the WCW ranks. During the 90s, it was very rare for a wrestler to stay with one organization and while Konnan did jump ship before, he stayed the majority of the time with WCW.
His contributions were pretty marginal at best. His best run featured his contributions with the nWo red and black Wolfpack faction. In terms of title runs, Konnan did enjoy a prestigious reign as the US Champion. Aside from that title reign, the other championships were relegated to the Tag Titles and Television Championship. His career wasn’t all that bad, but these terms are absolutely ridiculous no matter how you look at it.
14 Kimberly: $200,000
Everybody brace yourselves for this one. Kimberly Page, the ex-wife of Diamond Dallas Page and lead Nitro Girl Dancer, made an insane $200,000 per year at one point despite having zero type of in-ring involvement and being limited to a brief dancing segment every show.
She began as a valet for DDP and later branched out into the “Nitro Girl” persona. WCW was actually fully invested in the girls and began a storyline at one point separating the girls in two factions of heels and babyfaces. As you can imagine, that entire ordeal was rather short-lived and brushed underneath the rug shortly after.
The company would later involve her as a valet feuding with the likes of Miss Hancock (aka Stacy Keibler) and the late Miss Elizabeth. The company even paired her with Mike Awesome just before she left the company and divorced WCW star DDP a year later.
13 nWo Sting: $150,000
Only in WCW would a knock-off wrestler be given such a contract. Not even prominent mid-carders in the WWE like Xavier Woods, make that kind of money nowadays just to give you an idea of how ridiculous this contract term really is. To make matters worse, the WCW books have this deal down for two years at this amount of money. Good heavens.
Jeff Farmer was chosen to play the role of “Fake Sting”. He initially made his debut with the company in 95’ under the alias of Cobra. This changed shortly after when he was brought in as the nWo’s version of Sting. He spent time with both WCW and Japan as he became a popular face overseas in a market that was booming abroad. He did back and forth till the WCW finally decided to part ways with the wrestler. He would spend the majority of his career in New Japan and later toured the independent circuit with his lackluster impersonation gimmick.
12 Tank Abbott: $650,000
When you open the WCW archives payroll book, the first name listed alphabetically is Tank Abbott. Instantly when reading his terms, your stomach begins to feel weak with a mixture of disgust and anger.
WCW’s intent was good; signing a combat performer is a recipe that has worked wonders in today’s pro wrestling landscape. The biggest difference however, is that guys like Brock that did succeed knew what they were doing in the ring.
Poor Abbott just didn’t have a damn clue. Like we said, the idea had potential but Abbott as a performer simply did not. Throughout his career, he was basically a “deer in the headlights” type of worker. His in-ring work was terrible and his persona was even worse. At one point, Abbott went as far as pulling out a knife following a WCW bout. Man, was that ever brutal. Shortly after, the company changed his gimmick into a comedic role making it a well spent $650K...
11 Miss Elizabeth: $150,000
After it became brutally obvious that the WCW didn’t have a clue on how to manage certain stars, the ship began to sink. With a plethora of performers at their disposal, the company missed out on so many great opportunities with wrestlers and managers that were basically paid to do absolutely nothing.
During the mid to late 80s, Miss Elizabeth exploded onto the scene and became one of the most beloved females in WWE history. Still to this very day, she is remembered as the “first lady” in pro wrestling.
When things began to get sour with the WWE, Elizabeth jumped ship to WCW at a chance at more money. Although it seemed like the right decision at the time, it ultimately destroyed her career.
She was given insane amounts of money for pretty much doing nothing throughout the company’s run. She stayed on board till August of 2000 (if you can believe it). That very year she wrestled her first official match against Daffney which wasn’t very good to put it nicely.
10 Lex Luger: $1.5 Million
By 1999, Luger was well passed the one million per year mark. He enjoyed massive contracts till the company finally closed its doors. His final year saw the Total Package make $1.5 million (which is disturbing on almost every level when you assess that he was one of the top paid performers at the time).
He was labelled as the Total Package but his contributions were nowhere near what they should have been. Incomplete Package seemed like a better name for the big man throughout his time with the WWE and WCW.
Luger just simply happened to be at the right place, at the right time. Despite Bischoff not liking Luger, the company threw him some big bucks to appear on Nitro without the WWE even knowing. The plan worked to perfection and the WCW certainly stamped their legitimacy with the move. It arguably changed the landscape of professional wrestling forever. Aside from that however, his impact was marginal and nowhere near a one-million-dollars-per-year salary.
9 Curt Hennig: $425,000
The late great Curt Hennig was truly one of the best performers of all-time. Even before HBK and Bret Hart broke out as smaller wrestlers, Hennig was already thriving ahead of his time as a smaller guy.
Injuries constantly slowed down his momentum, and during his final days with the WWE he was put as a commentator due to the fact that he also had tremendous charisma on the microphone.
Once his time was up, Curt signed a mega deal worth almost half a million dollars (per year) with WCW. His run was certainly made a mess of by the WCW creative heads. Hennig became just another stable guy aligning himself with the likes of the Four Horsemen, the nWo and the West Texas Rednecks.
During his WCW run, Curt failed to become an upper-card talent and claimed only two title runs during his stint which included a Tag Team Championship alongside Barry Windham and a US Title run as well.
8 Disco Inferno: $350,000
The disturbing payout was probably due to the fact that Gilbertti was extremely loyal to the company during his lackluster lower-card run. Inferno stayed with the company from 1995 till its final days in 2001, when the WWE finally acquired the dying company.
Despite such a long term in the company, Disco failed to impress fans at any point and was really just a comedic wrestler for so many years. You’d figure he’d move up at some point but that just wasn’t the case. WCW was content with his role and increased his pay because of his constant loyalty to the brand.
In terms of championships, his big accomplishment was becoming a one-time Cruiserweight Champion. He also enjoyed stints with the WCW Tag Titles alongside Alex Wright and a TV Title which was pretty much useless at the time. With all this in mind, his contract was certainly not worth the price that WCW had to pay.
7 Rick Steiner: $750,000
Deep breaths everyone; the Steiner brothers made a combined $1.5 million in salary per year at one point and that’s not counting Scott’s ridiculous performance and merchandise bonuses.
The brothers somehow, some way, managed to make a salary of $750,000 per year EACH. You can make the argument for Scott who was a multiple time champion at one point, but Rick? Come on now, that’s just pushing the envelope way too far. When looking at how much Rick made compared to others, it’s really quite sickening.
The salary seriously makes no sense whatsoever and is regarded as one of the very worst on this entire list. Rick was making upper-card wrestler money but the only thing is, he was wrestling in the lower/mid-card. He won championships but the audience never took him serious enough in comparison to his brother who was actually over at one point in time.
The conclusion we made from this sickening deal? He made a lot of money for his last name.
6 Roddy Piper: $800,000
The late great Roddy Piper was one of the greatest heels to ever step foot in the squared circle. Roddy revolutionized what it meant to be a heel and pushed the envelope further than ever before.
If you just watched his work with WCW, chances are you missed out on the better days of Piper. Not only did the company throw him a boat load of money, but they failed to utilize him properly making him merely an afterthought.
To make matters even worse, Piper’s contract terms were littered with restrictions and contingencies. Piper only had a certain amount of appearances he was entitled to per year along with a 60 day notice for any other types of supplemental appearances. Despite all these restrictions in the contract, Piper was seemingly non-existent despite the fact that he stayed with the company from 96’ till 2000. His most noteworthy accomplishments included victories over Hulk Hogan, a US Title reign and a role as WCW’s Commissioner.
5 Dustin Rhodes: $700,000
At the age of 47, Dustin Rhodes’ career finally seems to be winding down and rightfully so. The Journeyman started wrestling back in the late 80s joining Championship Wrestling down in Florida. He’d later branch out to both WWE and WCW companies.
Following his prime WWE stint in the 90s, Dustin left the company and signed on with WCW in 1999. The move shocked many people, especially when you consider WCW was struggling at the time. However, when looking at the terms of the deal, you get a better understanding of why Goldust left the WWE.
WCW simply gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. In his first year during 1999, Rhodes made half a million in salary. During his final year of a three year contract, Dustin was making $700K per year, which is disturbing considering how awful his run was with WCW, failing to sustain any type of momentum.
4 Sid Vicious: $900,000
Along with PPV bonuses, the contract almost came out to $1 million per year during the last year of a lucrative deal which saw Sid earn some big bucks.
Despite all the money he made, the move to sign him to such a deal for a wrestler who was already over the hill at that point backfired really badly. Sid quickly became a laughing stock despite his scary look and size. Sid was known more for his awful botches than anything else when looking back at his final WCW run from 99’ to 01’. The blooper reel included a variety of failed in-ring botches, promos that were messed up to the point that you had to look away and to top it all off, one of the most gruesome injuries in pro wrestling history which saw his leg pretty much snap after a top rope boot went terribly wrong.
If you’re looking at it in terms of a comedic standpoint, the deal was very good.
3 Horace Hogan: $250,000
The name Michael Bollea stands out for one reason (the last name Bollea). Sound familiar? Well, it should because that’s the same last name as the great Hulk Hogan. Michael was the nephew of Hulk trying to walk in the same footsteps as his legendary uncle.
Now, Michael did have some experience prior to joining WCW. He began back in 1990 and spent time just about everywhere wrestling with the WWE, New Japan, ECW and eventually joining Hulk with WCW in 1998.
As if signing with the company wasn’t enough, Bollea was given a quarter of a million per year, which was a lot better than average. In addition, the company labelled him as Horace Hogan, which gave him a huge boost right off the bat.
Despite the big bucks and name value, his stock plummeted rather quickly as the audience was simply uninterested in the entire demeanor of Horace. Shortly after, Horace left the company when his uncle had a falling out.
2 Ernest Miller: $450,000
Without any prior pro wrestling experience, Eric Bischoff decided to sign his son’s karate instructor. As bizarre as this sounds, things would only get worse. Not only was he signed to a deal without any prior experience, but he was given almost half a million dollars, if you could actually believe it.
Miller had the charisma and talent to his credit, but he was nowhere close to deserving that kind of money. The guy feuded with the likes of Disco Inferno and Buff Bagwell at one point. To make matters worse, the company soon lost all faith in him and made the former karate teacher a glorified enhancement talent.
He’d bounce back eventually and would stay on board till WCW closed its doors. Luckily for Miller, he had a guaranteed contract which allowed him to stay home with his kids and get paid for two years.
Not bad for a former karate school instructor....
1 Chris Jericho: $142,000 (Average)
To end this article off, we turn the list upside down and look at a contract that was ridiculous for the opposite reason.
From 1996 to 1999, Chris Jericho averaged a salary of $142,000 per year. Look at all the names on this list and it's unfathomable how Jericho made less than all these performers during that time. The likes of Abbott, Inferno and even the darn Nitro Girl made more than Chris, which is absolutely ludicrous.
Despite his awful terms, Y2J was set on becoming a polished performer given the opportunity. His work shined in comparison to everyone else but WCW failed to push him because of his size. Jericho would eventually leave the company and pursue a greater opportunity with the WWE. He would ultimately elevate his character to newer heights and became an upper-card performer within a couple of years.
In and out of the ring, this was a sickening blunder by WCW.
Sources: uproxx.com, thesportster.com
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