WCW was a very unusual wrestling promotion. On one hand, it had the resources and reach of Ted Turner behind it, and thus had a huge budget and the television reach to more or less match (if not exceed) WWE. On the other hand, it was a largely mismanaged company, headed by billionaire without real wrestling expertise who delegated primary responsibilities for his operations to a mix of wrestling veterans, hapless businessmen from outside the wrestling world, and all points in between.
The results were mixed, but many WCW alumni have less than positive things to say about how the company was run, in particular suggesting there was a dynamic of “the inmates running the asylum.” Indeed, there are quite a few stories of talents making strange choices, ranging from unprofessional to dangerous. There was harmless ribbing, sure, but also more pointed hazing and political machinations. Moreover, there was a lot more than meets to eye for a lot of WCW’s highest profile stars, from people who were unhappy, to ones whose point of view was very much at odds with the characters they played on screen.
This article takes a look at 15 particularly surprising tidbits that came out about WCW and its employees after the company folded and was bought out by WWE. While we fans may never know the full story, and some of these points are up for debate, they nonetheless shed light on how at least some of WCW’s best and brightest saw life under the WCW banner at the time.
15 Ric Flair Didn’t Want To Wrestle On The Last Episode Of Nitro
Ric Flair is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but by the time WCW was wrapping up its run, he was a shell of his former self. After butting heads repeatedly with management and seeing himself devalued and demoted, his confidence was largely shot. Hand-in-hand, he let his body go.
When Vince McMahon bought out WCW, he effectively booked the final episode of Monday Nitro, which included demanding that the show wrap up with WCW’s two icons—Sting and Flair—squaring off, not to mention that it was rematch from the first episode of Nitro that brought the show full circle.
Flair wound up wrestling in a t-shirt to hide his body. The match itself was fine for what it was, as a TV main event more about nostalgia than substance. It wouldn’t be until Flair had worked under the WWE banner for a couple years that he would hit his stride again.
14 Bobby Heenan Reported For Work Drunk
In a recent interview, former WCW color commentator Mark Madden spoke out about how he wound up with a WCW contract. According to Madden, his predecessor, the legendary Bobby Heenan who’d risen to fame in WWE before he came to WCW, had got into the habit of showing up for his commentary duties drunk, and management had had enough of it, so they brought in Madden to replace him.
While there’s little concrete confirmation that Madden’s claims are true, Heenan never pulled any punches after WCW went out of business. In interviews, he make it clear he was miserable with the disorganization and perceived disrespect he had while working for WCW, and only hung around as long as he did for a good paycheck. It’s not outside possibility that he would show up for work drunk under those circumstances.
13 Scotty Riggs, Buff Bagwell's Former Tag Partner, Got Sabotaged
Casual fans may take a moment to remember Scotty Riggs. At one point, he looked to have a bright future as a young up and comer, and particularly in his tag team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell—The American Males—which won the WCW tag titles. Riggs would go on to be a part of Raven’s Flock stable.
According to Riggs, he saw his opportunities with the company cut short after an incident on an airplane. He was offered a free upgrade to first class. Terry Taylor—an agent and creative contributor at the time, didn’t appreciate that Riggs didn’t offer his spot to Taylor or someone else with more seniority. Riggs claims that from that point forward, he was booked to look bad on any show that Taylor was running.
12 Kevin Nash Only Took On Booking Duties For The Money
Kevin Nash tends to get a bad rap from fans, in particular for claims that he politicked a lot in WCW. It’s well known that he was given control as the head booker for a time, and the timeline is fuzzy about when he had control over what. Regardless, fans tend to suggest he put himself over when he had the chance, including possibly booking himself to end Goldberg’s undefeated streak.
Nash has generally denied booking into his own self interest so much as booking what he thought was best, despite not really wanting to be the booker. In an interview on the Legends with JBL show on the WWE Network, Nash cited the big payday WCW offered him to head up creative, suggesting that it was too much money for him to consider passing it up and that he had no regrets about taking it.
11 Chavo Guerrero Was On The Phone With Eddie In WWE Throughout The Last Episode Of Nitro
The final episode of Monday Nitro represented a moment of supreme uncertainty for wrestling talents in WCW and WWE alike. With the news that Vince McMahon had bought his competition, cemented by McMahon actually appearing via satellite at the opening of Nitro, there was a lot of concern about whether all of WCW’s stars were out of a job, or if WWE guys were going to lose their spots amidst an influx of WCW talents.
Included amongst all of this were uncle and nephew, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo. A number of parities report Chavo was on the phone looking for reports of what was being said and what was happening behind the scenes at WWE. In this instance, the Guerreros demonstrated loyalty to family over brand. Fortunately, Eddie would remain a star and even progress in WWE, while Chavo would ultimately get a job there, too.
10 Disco Inferno Suggested The Idea Of An Invisible Wrestler
For better or for worse, WCW offered a lot of guys a seat at the table when it came to being creative contributors to the company. Names like Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Kevin Sullivan, and Kevin Nash tend to jump to the front of people’s minds when they think of WCW bookers, but Disco Inferno also had his shot.
Disco was notorious for outlandish ideas that leaked to the public, including alien characters and, perhaps most infamously of all, the idea of an invisible wrestler. Disco has spoken later about the value of spitballing and offering up absurd ideas to shake up the process or at least get the room laughing. He’s never denied his most outlandish ideas and now seems mostly indignant about Internet fans who are too literal in assuming he really meant every idea associated with him.
9 Curt Hennig "Left A Deposit" Under A Ring
The exact details vary. Who was under the ring with Curt Hennig, waiting for surprise spots, and when exactly it happened. Whether Hennig truly had an accident, or took a dump for the purpose of ribbing his coworkers. The reality that there is a consensus for? Hennig left a deposit under a ring during a show.
Hennig was a notorious ribber, who often pushed boundaries. Legends go that this rib went so far that it caused other workers—The Ultimate Warrior is most often cited—to vomit and make the situation beneath the mat even more absurd and disgusting, not to mention miserable as Warrior waited to make his own surprise appearance. While wrestlers have done a lot of absurd things to one another for a laugh over the years, few have ever gone to this extreme, facilitated under the disorganization of WCW.
8 Eric Bischoff Thought Brian Pillman Was his Double Agent
Eric Bischoff has spoken and written about Brian Pillman’s Loose Cannon gimmick at length. According to Bischoff, the two of them came up with the concept together of Pillman engaging in increasingly outlandish stunts, first within the confines of WCW programming, before pushing the envelope and engaging with the public, including the idea of handcuffing himself to the goal post at an NFL game.
While Pillman didn’t go as mainstream as they conceived of, he did wind up getting his release from WCW to expand his brand to ECW and then WWE. Bischoff claimed that the intention was for him to grow his legend and his sense of chaos around him, before returning to WCW a bigger star than ever. Most critics find this claim absurd—that Bischoff may have believed in the plan, but Pillman was more likely just playing Bischoff to get himself out of his WCW contract.
7 Hulk Hogan Refused To Turn Heel At First
According to Kevin Sullivan—the creative head in charge when Hulk Hogan first came to WCW—he tried cater to Hogan’s ego and interests. This started with gaining Hogan’s trust by booking him to defeat a series of heels, and particularly monsters via the Dungeon of Doom stable. Sullivan indicates that he could see the writing on the wall, however, that fans were tiring of Hogan, and were particularly apathetic during angle that saw his heel antagonists shave his moustache in 1995.
Sullivan started to campaign for Hogan to turn heel then, only for Hogan and his agent to outright and emotionally refuse, saying it would never work. Sullivan would seemingly be proven right the following year, when Hogan did turn heel to launch the New World Order and garnered nuclear heat for it.
6 Sid Vicious Blew What Would Have Been His First World Title Push
Sid Vicious was a major star for the better part of a decade before he was primed to get his first true world championship reign. Many parties agree on the plan—that after teaming with Big Van Vader throughout 1993, he was to turn face and wind up unseating The Mastodon for the WCW Championship at the biggest show of the year, Starrcade.
In a shocking turn of events, however, Vicious would wind up in a real life altercation with Arn Anderson. All parties agree that it started with Vicious, at a hotel bar, speaking poorly of Ric Flair as an old man who needed to step aside to leave main event opportunities for others. Details are a bit fuzzier about what followed, but Anderson and Vicious wound up in a hotel room brawl that included the busted off leg of a chair, and Vicious wielding a pair of scissors that he used to stab Anderson a number of times.
The ugly situation took Vicious from the heir apparent to the world title to being fired from WCW altogether. Remarkably, he would remain a major player in wrestling, and wind up winning world titles in both WWE and WCW over the years to follow.
5 Chris Benoit Wouldn’t Go With Diamond Dallas Page’s Plan
In a recent episode of the Talk is Jericho podcast, Chris Jericho discussed his experience with Chris Benoit as a wrestler, long before the tragic events at the end of the Rabid Wolverine’s life. Jericho sounded particularly amused to discuss Benoit’s work with Diamond Dallas Page. He cited that Page was adamant about planning his matches carefully, and knowing exactly what would happen in the ring. Benoit, the more experienced performer, was comfortable calling matches on the fly. In what seems to have been about equal parts a rib and getting his way creatively, Jericho told the tale of Benoit disappearing and dodging Page at an arena, only to reappear just before their match—forcing them not to plan it out.
According to Jericho, the match went well despite Page flipping out backstage before they went on.
4 Vince Russo Devalued Jeff Jarrett
In 2004, Jerry Jarrett published a book about the founding of TNA in the form of series of journal entries he’d amassed when the he and his son were just starting the enterprise. One interesting tidbit from the project is that he recounts butting heads with Jeff early on about the use of more modern tropes in professional wrestling, like booking main event stars to appear early in a show. More to the point, they were at cross purposes when they came whether and how to employ Vince Russo.
The older Jarrett thought Russo was a hack, and particularly cited that Russo hadn’t successfully booked his son as a main event talent in the past. According to Jerry’s account, he even caught Russo admitting to as much, citing that he didn’t think Jeff would be a credible main eventer based on how he’d been used in WCW (not to mention WWE before that). According to Jerry, the moment did give Jeff pause about how committed he was to Russo steering the ship for TNA.
3 DDP Was In Talks With Vince McMahon Before The Buyout
In more than one shoot interview, Diamond Dallas Page has spoken about the final days of WCW, and how he experienced. According to Page, he’d seen the end coming, and so didn’t waste any time answering Vince McMahon’s call when he reached out to him, before the final Nitro had occurred. Page indicates that while there was a lot of panic around him during that final Monday night about different guys’ future, he sat at ease, knowing that he was going to have a job waiting for him.
Of course, DDP’s run with WWE wasn’t exactly stellar and didn’t exactly last long, but he had a year to collect WWE money and get his name out to fans who may have never crossed the line to WCW, besides working his first WrestleMania in 2002. From there, Page would mostly ride out his career working with smaller promotions before shifting his resources and energy to the yoga business.
2 Kevin Nash Lied His Way Out Of His Original WCW Contract
Kevin Nash is a former WCW Champion, and wound up one of the company’s most iconic stars for his work with the New World Order and ending Goldberg’s streak. You’d never have predicted all of these accolades and notoriety, however, from his initial run with the company. During that era, he was cast in roles including Vinnie Vegas, Oz, and Master Blaster Steel. In each gimmick, it was difficult to take the big man seriously.
Nash earned one fan in Shawn Michaels, he saw earmarked him as an ideal heater for his rising mid-card character. The only trouble was that Michaels worked for WWE, and Nash was under contract to WCW. In a surprisingly simple scenario, Nash would tell his bosses at WCW that wrestling wasn’t really working for him and he planned to go back to bouncing at clubs, and they actually let him go. In those simpler times without non-compete clauses, he was on WWE TV within a few weeks and on his way to the stardom that would set him up to be a main eventer when he came back to WCW three years later.
1 Hulk Hogan Sent The Big Show From WCW To WWE
In quite a few interviews, The Big Show has spoken about his path from WCW to WWE. In a rare instance of foresight, WCW saw what they had in him as a rookie and immediately booked him as a main eventer. When it came time to sign a new contract, however, the giant asked Hulk Hogan for advice. Though Hogan worked for WCW, he shot straight with his young colleague, telling him that if he really wanted to be a star, he needed to go work for Vince McMahon.
The Big Show would take a demotion pretty shortly after signing with WWE, as he was exposed as an unpolished worker and inconsistent in his work ethic. In the long term, however, he’s enjoyed a long and celebrated career on account of taking The Hulkster’s advice and becoming a WWE mainstay.