It feels like WCW went out of business a while ago. WWE’s portrayal of the brand and the huge changes in the wrestling industry since Vince McMahon purchased WCW has made it seem like ancient history. The company has been defunct for over fifteen years now. Sadly, the fact that no promotion has risen to challenge WWE since the end of WCW makes us miss it more than ever, as we hang onto the memory of the Monday Night Wars. The purchase of the company forced most former WCW stars to either retire from the business or find work in other fields, due to a lack of options out there to make a living in the world of pro wrestling.
Some former stars from the company, however, are still going at it within various promotions all over the world today. WCW’s name value allowed them opportunities to continue working and some of these guys absolutely thrived. Their ability to easily make huge money during the Monday Night Wars ended, but their ability to hustle and get out there did open doors for a few of the performers. We’ll take a look across the wrestling landscape to find former talents from the defunct company who are still working these days. These are the top fifteen “where are they now?” stories for ex-WCW stars that continue to wrestle today.
15 Chris Jericho
The biggest criticism against WCW was they always looked to sign older stars from the WWE rather than building homegrown talent. Chris Jericho had every skill you would want from a pro wrestler. As a young talent making his name in WCW, Jericho would have arguably the best matches on the card every night and showed a great deal of personality. WCW didn’t care about his potential and left him in the mid-card and cruiserweight divisions, putting a ceiling on his talent.
Jericho took a huge risk and went to the WWE in 1999 for less money. The move paid off as he became one of the biggest stars in the wrestling industry. Through various ups and downs, WWE allowed him the opportunity to actually get over and move into the main event picture when he proved he was ready for it. Jericho is still a top performer on WWE TV today. Many would say he’s the top performer on Raw along with Kevin Owens as their segments together are always must-see television.
14 Buff Bagwell
WCW’s backstage "drama queen" has always been known to be Buff Bagwell. The controversial figure complained frequently about his position and believed he should have been in the main event picture. Was Bagwell really all that upset though? WCW paid him a lot of money and highlighted him on television for over a decade despite him never delivering in the ring. His ring work, attitude and lack of star power all made Bagwell a huge disappointment during his time in the company.
WWE picked up Buff’s contract following the purchase of WCW in 2001, but Bagwell instantly blew his chances. His immature antics would no longer fly and the two parties split after a couple of weeks. Bagwell has worked in other fields outside of wrestling over the past fifteen years, with his most surprising job being a male gigolo. You can still find Buff wrestling at various smaller independent wrestling shows around the country. Bagwell’s most recent relevant appearance saw him participate in the AIW JT Lightning Invitational Tournament.
13 Kevin Sullivan
The influence of Kevin Sullivan was felt in WCW for many years. Aside from his many years as an active wrestler, Sullivan spent quite a few years working as one of the head bookers, writing the shows every week. His in-ring career of Sullivan ended in WCW considering his older age, but he continued to work within the wrestling business on different projects. Various independent promotions have used Sullivan in different roles and he has worked matches as well, but as more of an attraction where he did very little in tag matches.
Sullivan most recently started working for Ring of Honor as a manager. Dubbed as the "Master Of Evil," Sullivan aligned with B.J. Whitmer in a big PPV match by turning on former friend Steve Corino. ROH is using him as a manager alongside Whitmer and Punisher Martinez going forward. Sullivan also hosts his own weekly podcast named MSL & Sullivan on the MLW Network with co-host Mister Saint Laurent. Kudos to the 66 year old for continuing to find work in the wrestling world.
12 Mark Jindrak
The final year of WCW saw the company desperately try to create new stars before it was too late. A youth movement saw many new faces from the Power Plant farm system get chances on television with noteworthy pushes. Mark Jindrak was one of the most promising prospects and received a spot in The Natural Born Thrillers faction with Chuck Palumbo, Sean O’Haire and Shawn Stasiak. The talent of Jindrak earned him a WWE contract following the death of WCW.
Jindrak failed to impress during his four year stint with the WWE and it proved to be a poor fit for both sides. His career finally picked up when the company released him, forcing him to find work in new promotions. Jindrak moved to Mexico and started wrestling under the new name of Marco Corleone. CMLL signed Corleone to make him one of the biggest stars of their promotion over the past five years and the former flop has rejuvenated his career finding success in another country.
11 Kaz Hayashi
WCW did a great job at finding foreign talent to showcase on their program, as many talents from Mexico and Japan found their way into the major North American promotion. Kaz Hayashi was signed to WCW in the late 90s and he received the biggest push of his WCW career in the Jung Dragons team with Jamie-San and Yang. The trio delivered outstanding ladder matches against 3-Count and they were arguably the only bouts worth watching during the company’s final few months.
Hayashi continued wrestling following the end of WCW. His Japanese background allowed him to move back home and continue his career. WCW gave him added name value and his career took off in Japan working with All Japan Pro Wrestling for eleven years. Hayashi won many titles in All Japan before finding a new home in 2013. Keiji Mutoh (The Great Muta) started a new promotion called Wrestle-1 and Hayashi signed to be one of their bigger stars. Hayashi continues to thrive as a top name in the promotion to this day.
10 The Giant
One young star WCW decided to take a chance on in the mid-90s was The Giant. Hulk Hogan spotted him and told him to try his luck in the world of pro wrestling. Little did The Giant know, he would win the WCW Championship in his first match against Hogan. The Giant achieved great success during his WCW career but was never allowed to grow as a performer. WWE signed him in 1999 and eventually renamed him as the man we know today, the Big Show.
Big Show's run with the company has lasted over seventeen years with him accomplishing just about everything in the promotion. Show has main evented a WrestleMania, held various World Championships and even competed in a special attraction match against Floyd Mayweather. It's easy to argue his career underachieved given his size and potential, but the big man is still happily employed with the WWE today.
9 Chavo Guerrero
The cruiserweight division in WCW created several future stars for the WWE. Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero all went on to become massive performers in the wrestling industry, while WCW viewed them as being too small to draw money. That led to all of the cruiserweights being relatively underused with a ceiling that limited their potential. Chavo Guerrero was one of the most consistent cruiserweights in the division. As the nephew of Eddie, Chavo learned from the best and improved through instant feedback.
Guerrero moved to the WWE when Vince McMahon purchased WCW. Chavo held a job for many years due to his work ethic and ability to do anything the company asked of him. There were times when he had a relevant role teaming up with uncle Eddie and other times they used him as a joke, like when he played Kerwin White gimmick.
Today, Chavo works for Lucha Underground in many respects. Guerrero wrestles on television and is one of the bigger voices backstage helping to set up matches.
8 Jushin Thunder Liger
Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the biggest stars in Japanese wrestling history. The pageantry of his mask, gear and entrance matched his superb in-ring style as an outstanding all-around performer. Liger dominated in New Japan and came over to WCW as part of the working relationship between the two companies. WCW brought him over on a couple of occasions to have quite a few attraction matches against the likes of Brian Pillman, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit.
The presence of Liger helped make the cruiserweight division more relevant and it allowed the foreign talent to be viewed as credible. A cool memory on Liger’s resume is the fact that he wrestled the first match in Nitro history against Pillman.
At the age of 51, Liger still works full-time for New Japan and can deliver great matches despite his age. Liger has also branched out by appearing in American promotions like ROH, PWG and even NXT in recent memory. As a true legend of the sport, Liger is still creating memories and performing like a star.
7 Shane Helms
The work of Shane Helms added a new talent to pay attention to at the end of WCW’s run. Helms was by far the most talented member of 3 Count and shined on his own as a singles star in the cruiserweight division. WCW made Helms the final Cruiserweight Champion and that allowed him to move to WWE with his gold. Helms instantly fit in on the WWE roster as one of the few members of the Invasion to achieve success in the new company.
WWE employed him for many years with various characters. The Hurricane, where Helms played a comical superhero, made him a great deal of money and he was a beloved act among fans.
Currently, Helms works for TNA as an agent and the on-air manager of young North Carolina X-Division stars Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett. Helms also wrestles occasionally on rare shows like WrestleCon and OMEGA, meaning he can still compete if needed.
6 Dustin Rhodes
WCW employed Dustin Rhodes on multiple occasions. His debut with them saw him wrestle as a white-meat face dubbed “The Natural,” playing off the fact that he was the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes. Dustin actually was a natural at the sport of pro wrestling but lacked the character to get over during his run. A successful run as Goldust in WWE raised his value and WCW brought him back towards the end of their existence when Vince Russo had power.
Following another poor run in WCW, the company was later sold to WWE abd Rhodes would have a long on again, off again relationship with the WWE. The Goldust character has afforded him many opportunities and he is still currently working as a full-time wrestler on the main roster. Goldust teams with R-Truth and frequently appears in comedic Raw segments. He also typically performs on Superstars or Main Event. We will likely see Rhodes in the WWE as an agent or trainer when he does eventually retire as an active performer.
5 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner is in the discussion for the greatest WCW star of all time. The tag team of Scott and Rick Steiner dominated the company with outstanding matches and title reigns as a duo. WCW then decided it was time to split them up in the late 90s and it ended up being the best thing for Scott’s career. With a new look and character, Steiner earned the nickname Big Poppa Pump and joined the New World Order.
Steiner progressed into one of the top heels in the business and was a rare bright spot in WCW when the company went out of business. His post-WCW career saw him have lackluster tenures in WWE and TNA that both ended terribly with Steiner ranting about people in both companies. Big Poppa Pump still works once in a while on the independent wrestling scene. Recent matches saw him compete for Global Force Wrestling and on the Legends of Wrestling tour. Steiner spends most of his time running a "Shoney’s" restaurant in his local area of Michigan.
WCW pushed Vader as one of their bigger heel stars during the early to mid-90s. The physically intimidating big man earned a reputation in Japan for being a legitimate monster heel that fans viewed as a threat. WCW tapped into that by making him their top villain and a World Champion along with the legendary Harley Race as his manager. Vader put on tremendous matches with great storytelling against top faces such as Sting and Ric Flair.
Following a poor run with the WWE, Vader returned to Japan for a couple of years. Vader has continued working on the independent wrestling scene and refuses to retire. The legend resurfaced this year when he criticized the controversial New Japan match between high-fliers Will Ospreay and Ricochet. Vader entered a social media war with Ospreay and it culminated with a match between the two at Revolution Pro Wrestling. Despite being 61, Vader is hoping to continue his career.
3 Juventud Guerrera
Juventud Guerrera was one of the better cruiserweights in the history of WCW. Guerrera had classic matches against fellow Mexican wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and meshed well with the North American stars such as Chris Jericho. If Guerrera was in the ring in a cruiserweight match, you knew you were in for something special. Juventud held the WCW Cruiserweight Championship on three occasions and remained employed for many years.
Guerrera had a short stint in the WWE as a member of The Mexicools, but the weak gimmick and stable flopped. The majority of his career has taken place back home, in Mexico. Guerrera still works for the Mexican promotion AAA and is viewed as a legend by the fans in his country. Unfortunately, his personal demons have always prevented him from achieving his full potential. Aside from AAA, Guerrera still appears on independent wrestling shows in North America, so you might be able to find him locally.
2 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett spent the Monday Night Wars jumping back and forth from WWE and WCW. However, his more noteworthy accomplishments in WCW made it more of a home for Jarrett. Sadly, he burned all bridges with the WWE when jumping back to WCW for the final time, as Jarrett was Intercontinental Champion when his contract with WWE expired and he demanded more money from Vince McMahon to lose the title to Chyna at a PPV. McMahon paid him the money to do the job but held a grudge for many years, refusing to do business with him.
WCW put the World Championship on Jarrett multiple times making him a main event star but the company could not survive and the decision was a poor one. Jarrett realized he would not be able to return to the WWE and later founded TNA. Unfortunately for him, that ended poorly too, with TNA owner Dixie Carter basically booting him out of his own company. Jarrett is now trying to get his new promotion Global Force Wrestling running, but it looks like a complete failure right now. His in-ring career will continue there if he could ever get the company to actually run shows.
1 Rey Mysterio
One cruiserweight stood out above the rest and that was Rey Mysterio. The small Mysterio appeared to lack the size to succeed in the American wrestling promotions but he proved everyone wrong. Mysterio dominated the cruiserweight division in WCW winning the Cruiserweight Championship on five occasions and holding a relevant spot on the roster until they eventually went under.
WWE eventually signed Mysterio and his career went to another level. With the ability to actually move up the card and work with the top stars, Mysterio became a respected main eventer. Fans wanted to see him and he rewarded WWE with outstanding matches, making him a true legend in the business.
Mysterio decided to leave the WWE for more time at home. Today, Rey spends the majority of his time working as the face of Lucha Underground, as the show is heavily marketed around the legendary luachdor. Mysterio also appears on various independent wrestling events, keeping an active schedule to entertain the fans.