When the WWE bought WCW in 2001, many fans thought that the company they loved and admired for years would be washed away and never be seen again. It’s true, for a while many stars and the ideas they brought to television were never given their proper due. WCW started the Power Plant which is what WWE’s Performance Center is today. They used “reality television” angles before people started to use the term as loosely as we do today.
With almost two decades past since the WCW stood on its own, many may have forgotten the stars who sacrificed their bodies for our entertainment. Some of them have stayed in the industry, while others have gone off to do their own thing. With the WWE Network, you can watch these stars make their debuts, witness their triumphs and failures, which is quite awesome if you’re a WCW fan. For some clarification, we did included wrestlers who were also a part of Jim Crockett’s NWA promotions because of the close relationship between the two companies. Now without further interruptions, unless you want to beat up John Cena, we welcome you to WCW’s forgotten stars.
15 Barry Windham: Wrestling Conventions
The son of Blackjack Mulligan carved his own path in the wrestling industry working for the WWE, NWA and WCW during his career. His legacy took a step in the right direction when he betrayed his tag team partner, Lex Luger, and became the newest member of Ric Flair’s Four Horsemen in the late 80s. The heel turn was as vitriolic as can be and made for a great story. His run in WCW in the early 90s was pretty impressive, tagging with Arn Anderson, becoming involved in the main storylines, and receiving a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match against Luger at The Great American Bash in '91.
His second stint with WCW in the late 90s wasn’t as successful, but he was still involved in many angles. He would turn on Ric Flair and win the WCW World Tag Team Titles several times. Years after retirement, Windham had a heart attack in 2011 and would survive the ordeal. A year later he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with the Four Horseman stable. Windham still appears at wrestling conventions and events to this day.
14 Billy Kidman: WWE Producer
He was coached by wrestling royalty, Afa Anoa’i, and quickly made a name for himself in the industry. His high flying maneuvers matched well with his ground game, giving him one of more entertaining styles in WCW during his career. He could also cut a promo which doesn’t hurt. A constant contender for the Cruiserweight belt, Kidman would feud with the best of the best, including Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis, and Dean Malenko. He was also in the nefarious stable, Raven’s Flock, which grew a following of hardcore fans.
When WCW began to falter, they looked for fresh faces to hold up the company, Kidman was one of them. After the company was swallowed by Vince McMahon, Kidman was still in the mid-card picture. He became a Tag Team Champion with Paul London and won the Cruiserweight Championship several more times.
After his retirement, he became a trainer for WWE’s former development organization, Florida Championship Wrestling. He wrote a book about his career in 2014 called, Billy Kidman: The Shooting Star, and currently works as a producer for the WWE.
13 The Great Muta: Wrestle-1
Most of his work has been based out of Japan, but The Great Muta was quiet the talent for WCW as well. He debuted on WCW Saturday Night in 1989 and instantly became a hit with the American fan base. He was paired with manager Gary Hart and went on to win the NWA World Television Championship. He would continue to work in Japan as well as WCW for many years to come. His wild face paint and unorthodox maneuvers were a staple of his character.
He would perform in some of the biggest events WCW had to offer, such as Clash of Champions, The Great American Bash, and Starrcade. Muta would tangle with the cream of the crop, which included Sting, Lex Luger, the Steiner Brothers, Steve Austin, and Ric Flair. Although he didn’t win many titles in the company, his signature Asian Mist and Muta Lock always was and still is entertaining for the crowds. Today, Muta still wrestles under the Wrestle-1 banner in Japan. Even at the age of 53-years old, Muta still works a great match.
12 Dean Malenko: WWE Road Agent
“The Man of 1,000 Holds” is as legendary as they come in professional wrestling. Arguably one of the greatest in-ring technicians in the game, Malenko helped revolutionize and rejuvenate the cruiserweight scene in American wrestling. After touring the world, Malenko started to receive attention under the ECW banner. He then left the company for greener pastures, signing a deal with Ted Turner’s WCW. When the company became a sinking ship, he made the decision to jump to the WWE.
He’s had notable feuds throughout his career, locking up with Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio. He also was a part of the notorious Four Horsemen stable before leaving the WCW. His success wouldn’t be as great in WWE as it was in WCW, however, he still has relations with the company today.
After quietly retiring in 2001, Malenko has participated in several skits for the WWE over the years and also works for the company as a road agent.
11 Psicosis: AAA Mexico
After showcasing his talents in ECW with Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis was then hired by WCW to help spark the cruiserweight division. Mysterio, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Jericho are the bigger names to jump from ECW to WCW, however, Psicosis should get as much credit as his peers for the outstanding work he did for the promotion. His first match was against Guerrero on Monday Nitro and he quickly became a favorite before tuning heel in a feud with Último Dragón. He wrestled the best of the best but only captured the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship twice. After WCW couldn’t afford to keep Psicosis around, he hit the independent circuit before coming to the WWE in 2005.
His stay was short-lived after an arrest in 2006, however, he would continue his wrestling career in Mexico. The luchador still performs today, working with several organizations, most notably Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion.
10 Norman Smiley: NXT Trainer
If you never saw “The Big Wiggle” and his showmanship, then watch him when you can, and if you don’t appreciate the awesomeness in his gimmick, then eat a bowl of Booty O’s. Wrestling can be pretty serious and dramatic, but every time Smiley came out it was always fun to watch. He truly seemed to enjoy himself and had some entertaining matches. Who came out in a catcher’s chest protector and knee pads for a hardcore match against Terry Funk? Smiley did. Who walked out with football pads and a jersey? Smiley did.
He made his debut for WCW in 1997 and lasted until the company was sold in 2001. During his tenure he won the WCW Hardcore Championship twice, however, today he is more important to wrestling than ever before.
Smiley is shaping and molding the next generation of wrestlers as a trainer for WWE’s NXT brand. So next time you see some hijinks being pulled by someone in NXT, Smiley might have had a hand in it.
9 Bill DeMott: Working With Celeb VM
He used several names during his time with ECW, WCW and WWE but everyone may know DeMott as Hugh Morrus. After a stint with ECW under the name of Crash the Terminator, DeMott made his way into WCW in 1995. For almost five years he was used a jobber to mid-carder talent at most. Maybe he didn’t have the “it” factor but DeMott was definitely one tough SOB, working the hardcore scene in the promotion. He will also be known by many as the first wrestler to ever be squashed by Bill Goldberg on national television.
His hard work did pay off and he became a WCW United States Heavyweight Champion twice. When they company was sold, he went over to WWE but didn’t have much success. After leaving for the independent circuit, he would return to the WWE Universe as a head trainer in 2011.
Unfortunately, he would have to quit the job in 2015 due to allegations of misconduct and abuse from former co-workers and students. Today, you can have DeMott leave you a personal message though CelebVM.com. He also has a working relationship with the UCF police department in Orlando, Florida.
8 Juventud Guerrera: Independent Circuit
If you watch shoot videos, you know many in the industry might not like Juventud Guerrera, otherwise known as “The Juice.” Just watch a Konnan interview and you’ll get the drift. With that said, there’s no denying that Guerrera helped transcend the cruiserweight division as well as the Lucha Libre style during his tenure with the WCW. Just like many others on this list, Guerrera was noticed in America when he worked for ECW in 1996. He followed Rey Mysterio Jr., La Parka, and Konnan to WCW and instantly became a hit. His feuds with Mysterio, Chris Jericho, and Psicosis are epic, so if you have the WWE Network, check out the warfare and carnage.
For four years, Guerrera worked for WCW, winning the Cruiserweight Title three times. Sadly, he was let go by WCW after an altercation with police. He allegedly attacked a police officer naked while high on PCP. He would get a shot in the WWE in 2006 but only lasted a year before bounces back to Mexico and in the independent circuit.
He still wrestles on the independent circuit today and was recently seen in the news hanging with Paul Heyman at his one-man show in London.
7 Madusa: Monster Truck Driver
Known as the WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze, Madusa made her WCW debut in ’91 as a valet to Rick Rude. Joining the WWE a few years later, she was a beacon of hope for the women’s division and won the Woman's Championship, a title which was vacant since 1990. Due to financial constraints, she was released from the company, however, she still had the WWE Women’s Title in her possession.
In front of a live audience and thousands watching on television, Madusa’s second stint with WCW started with a despicable act, as she threw the title into a trash can, a scene that is infamous for helping to launch The Monday Night Wars. This stunt made the WWE blacklist her for two decades. Fortunately, for all her fans, she was embraced by the WWE and became a Hall of Famer this year.
What does she do in her spare time now? She is a professional Monster Jam driver and motivational speaker.
6 Steve McMichael: Radio Guest Spots
After a lengthy career in the NFL, Steve McMichael got his first taste of being involved in wrestling when he was seen at ringside for the Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow match at WrestleMania XI. McMichael would have one knock off performance with Kama Mustafa (The Godfather) before being hired by the WCW in ’95. Even though he was greener than the country of Ireland, McMichael trained at the famous Power House Gym before stepping into the ring with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Not bad for a debut, especially for someone who never was a great technician at wrestling.
Throughout his career, he would hover around the mid-card and be a part of some great storylines. He won the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship once by defeating Jeff Jarrett at Clash of Champions and was also a member of the legendary Four Horseman. Even though McMichael did have success in the WCW, his greatest achievements came in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears in 1985.
He still appears in interviews and radio shows discussing football and the Bears today. He also ran for Mayor at one point but fell short.
5 Buff Bagwell: Gigolo
What do Channing Tatum and Buff Bagwell have in common? Both were strippers before becoming known commodities in the crazy world of life. Bagwell had the look and wasn’t half bad on the mic, however, his wrestling skills were limited at best. He was the guy you wanted to hate, maybe it was something about his face, or maybe he just gave you the wrong vibes. His high top hats looked cool but his gimmick became staler than a piece of bread left out for several days. When you think of Bagwell, you may think of the several Tag Team Championships he won or his mother on a forklift. Thank you Vince Russo.
To be fair, Bagwell did take a few harsh bumps as a professional and he earned his due for sacrificing his body for entertainment purposes. In 2012, he was involved in a horrific car accident which left him unable to walk and eat his food through a straw. After some serious rehab and four plates surgically inserted in his face, Bagwell started to walk and move around freely again.
In 2014 he was interviewed by TMZ and said he became a successful gigolo. He also appeared on Showtime’s reality television show, Gigolos. So for $8,000, you can spend a weekend with Mr. Bagwell himself.
4 Vampiro: Lucha Underground Announcer
His trademark face paint could scare the willies out of the kids and his rough style was something to watch. He looked and acted like a guy that could really beat the living daylights out of you. Before coming to WCW in 1998, Vampiro was lighting up the Mexican wrestling circuit, performing for the top companies in the country. When he did reach WCW, his most memorable feud came against the greatest wrestler in the company, Sting.
After forming a partnership, he would betray Sting, leading to a human torch match. He would win this match and you would think he would be pushed to the sky but that wasn’t the case. Vampiro never made it to the WWE and may be considered the greatest wrestler from his era never to work for the company. Today, you can catch Vampiro on Lucha Underground as an announcer and part-time wrestler.
3 Konnan: Lucha Underground & Podcast Host
He made his debut in WCW with mentor and teacher, Rey Sr. in 1990. He wouldn’t return to the organization that made him famous across America until 1996 and quickly got other wrestlers in the Mexican scene to follow his footsteps. In his first year, he won the United States Title and feuded with the legend, Ric Flair. He would then have a short-lived alliance with The Dungeon of Doom before becoming a member of the nWo in ’97.
He would go on to win Tag Team Titles and WCW’s World Television Championship before the company was sold. Another great wrestler that never made it to the WWE after WCW was sold (he had a brief run from '91-'93), Konnan would work for TNA and then AAA before becoming a member of the Lucha Underground brand. Today, Konnan still works for LU and has his own podcast called Keepin it 100 with Konnan.
2 Kevin Sullivan: Radio Host
Whether he was The Gamemaster, the Taskmaster, Masked Lucifer, The Great Wizard, or just Kevin Sullivan, you have to admit, he pulled off the heel gimmick quite well for looking like your junior high gym coach. The guy tried to orchestrate the death of Hulkamania and might've succeeded if not for The Hulkster’s unbelievable resilience. Known for his hardcore style and perturbed promos, Sullivan made himself out to be a monster without having the actual body to back it up. His first tenure with WCW lasted from ’87 to ’92 before he returned to the company in ’94.
He would be involved with the company on many levels, both in the ring and backstage. He ended up becoming the head booker of the company which made a lot of talents angry in 2000. It became one of the reasons why so many wrestlers left before WCW was sold to Vince McMahon.
Throughout the years, Sullivan would work a few independent matches while hosting a radio show on MLW Radio called Kevin Sullivan’s Helluva Deal. Wrestling wise, he was last seen working an NWA Blue Collar Wrestling match in May.
1 Alex Wright: Banker, Fitness Instructor & Wrestling School
It was in 1994 when Wright was noticed by the WCW during a tour through Germany. Weeks later he was training at WCW’s Power Plant facility. He was billed as “Das Wunderkind” and was supposed to be the hip, techno, baby face character that all the girls ate up and all the guys wanted to be. When many pointed out that the WCW didn’t have any young talent to their name, he was the answer. He even made his debut against someone we all know, Jean-Paul Levesque or HHH, at Starrcade ’94. He went on to win the match and was pushed for several years, winning the Cruiserweight Championship and World Television Championship. After his single run, he was pushed into a dancing tag team with Disco Inferno and his character fell into the abyss. Think of Breezango. He was so close to becoming a top star but it just never happened. Maybe backstage politics had something to do with it.
He wouldn’t join WWE when they bought WCW and would rarely wrestle after. He became a banker, fitness instructor, started his wrestling school and even opened his own wrestling promotion called New European Championship Wrestling in 2009.