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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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