Though the belt has been defunct for nearly two decades now, the WCW Championship was the Holy Grail to many professional wrestlers. Winning the championship meant you had become one of the greatest wrestling performers in the world, and that you had earned it.
Okay, maybe not every WCW Champion deserved it (we'll get there later), but you know what I mean. A large portion of the greatest wrestlers ever held the WCW Championship at least once -- many winning it multiple times. Very few wrestlers who have a WCW Championship on their resume wrestle any more, but they've found different life styles, careers, directions, etc. since their times in the ring ended.
Some of you may forgot a handful of the wrestlers who held the championship, and you may be interested to see what they're up to today. Here, we take a look at all 22 WCW Champions (ranked in order of success as wrestlers), and see where they are now.
22 David Arquette: Acting
A prime reason why WCW went down the drain was because the creative team thought having Hollywood actor David Arquette hold the WCW Championship belt would be a great idea. Spoiler alert -- it became one of the silliest booking decisions in the history of professional wrestling.
So about this Arquette guy, as you know, he was into Hollywood and all. Though not quite as "big" as ex-wife Courteney Cox from Friends, Arquette has appeared in many films and television shows since the end of his wrestling days.
Among them, he's appeared in Scream 4 and in one episode of My Name is Earl. Arquette has three children now from two different marriages, and he even got into a fight with Justin Bieber back in 2015. That may have won some love over from millions across the world.
21 Vince Russo: Independent Circuit
Vince Russo had one of the more interesting careers in professional wrestling. He went from one of the top guys on the creative control team in the WWE to become one of the top writers for WCW. Russo had awful booking decisions (see Bash at the Beach 2000), and even got to become the WCW Champion. All he had to do was let Goldberg hit him through a steel cage -- when it busted open -- meaning Russo had escaped the cage first. That made him champion.
So any who, Russo decided to leave the sinking ship that was WCW. He returned to WWE briefly before ending up with TNA. But in 2015, Russo joined International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom to become the next Executive in Power. It's been quite a long journey for one of the most accomplished writers in professional wrestling history.
20 Chris Benoit: Deceased
Chris Benoit was the WCW Champion for one day, defeating Sid Vicious at the Souled Out event in 2000. However, a disgruntled Benoit immediately jumped the WCW ship and joined the WWE instead. WCW refused to ever grant Benoit's reign, but one day as champion is one day as champion.
Any who, we hate going into the details about the Benoit tragedy. One of the most beloved WWE superstars of The Attitude Era, Benoit's brain suffered severe trauma and damage, and it led to him killing wife Nancy and son Daniel before he took his own life. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies in the history of professional wrestling. After examining his body, doctors compared Benoit's brain to that of someone in their '80s with Alzheimer's.
19 Kurt Angle: WWE Return?
Kurt Angle held the WCW Championship for six days while he was actually in the WWE. He embarked on a remarkable run during the WWE's Attitude Era, winning the WCW, United States, World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, Hardcore, European and Tag Team Championship.
But Angle had a relatively short run with the company and left in 2006, before spending about a decade in TNA. Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017, as he continues to wrestle in the independent circuit.
As every fan is aware of, Angle has been widely rumored to be returning into the WWE ring before long. All signs point to it, and we can probably expect to hear fans sing "YOU SUCK", at least one more time. It's also worth mentioning that Angle is happily married to second wife Giovanna Yannotti and has three children with her.
18 Scott Steiner: Independent Circuit/Twitter Bashing
Scott Steiner was one of the main stars in WCW that never reached his full potential thanks to Eric Bischoff's obsession of using the nWo to highlight every show. That being said, Steiner did hold the WCW Championship for 120 days -- one of the longest reigns the title ever saw.
When WCW was bought out, Steiner was one of the many superstars to head over to WWE. Steiner was a disappointment there and spent time in TNA. For the better parts of this decade, Steiner has been in the independent circuit, having recently competed for Global Force Wrestling.
Steiner also keeps his name well known by bashing fellow wrestlers on social media -- most namely Goldberg. He also got in hot water for threatening to kill Hulk Hogan days before WrestleMania 31 took place. We'll see if Steiner tries to make headlines in better ways.
17 The Rock: Hollywood and Sporadic WWE Appearances
This is an easy one. Who doesn't know Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, a two-time WCW Champion?
He hasn't been a full-time wrestler in the WWE for a decade-and-a-half, but that's because he's now one of Hollywood's biggest stars. He's appeared in blockbuster films like Walking Tall, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Fast and Furious series and Central Intelligence, among others. The Rock has done awesome job staying in the spotlight and will be starring in many more blockbuster movies.
What also makes him great? The Rock appears on WWE programming at least once a year, having appeared at many of the last few WrestleMania events. It's a sign how much he cres about the fans that made him a legend.
No superstar has done so well since leaving WWE the way The Rock has. He's always been an entertaining figure and will continue to be for the long run.
16 Sid Vicious: Just Chilling
Sid Vicious was a two-time WCW Champion, but just as he was starting to emerge as one of the company's top stars, it started to fall apart -- and it would go on to derail the momentum Sid was building for himself.
When WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon and the WWE, Vicious didn't go back to the latter company and found work in multiple promotions. He appeared on the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw, and lasted wrestled a match in 2009 for the Memphis Wrestling promotion.
It's not known what Vicious is specifically up to today, as he has drifted away from the spotlight. His son, Frank, appeared on two seasons of the American reality show, Big Brother. He was also arrested in 2011 on drug-related charges.
Vicious appears to just be soaking in and embracing the retirement life at the moment. Hopefully all is well with him.
15 Bret Hart: Television, Radio
Bret Hart owned the WCW World Heavyweight Championship for two stints for a grand total of 56 days -- both in 1999. Sadly, The Hitman had to retire following a severe concussion in a match against Goldberg.
The hardships didn't end there, as his brother Owen died while performing a stunt at the Over the Edge pay-per-view in 1999. Last year, Hart also mentioned he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but has since made a full recovery from it.
Hart has made occasional appearances with the company since and recently came out with his own podcast, The Sharpshooter Show. Hart has also been married to Stephanie Washington since 2010, and the couple remain happily together. Hart has been knocked down a few times since retirement, but he's gotten up stronger every time.
14 Chris Jericho: Music and Making a List
Chris Jericho was the hidden gem of WCW in the late '90s, but he was one of the many wrestlers that never got his shot because the nWo just had to dominate every single storyline and main event. Y2J, the last WCW Champion before the belt was re-branded, made a career-changing decision by joining the WWE in 1999. He has since become one of the most accomplished wrestlers of all-time.
Jericho is the main vocalist for popular heavy metal rockband, Fozzy. And as everyone knows today, he's a key part of the Raw roster. Since rejoining the WWE early in 2016, Jericho has helped put the likes of A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins over. He also went on arguably his greatest run ever when he created The List of Jericho -- drink it in maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
Y2J has found a way to balance out two incredible yet extremely busy careers. We WWE fans need to be thankful that Jericho continues to devote a large part of his life to wrestling, given how he has nothing left to prove or win at this point.
13 The Giant: Still in the WWE
The Big Show was once among the top superstars that WCW had -- though he was simply known as 'The Giant' at the time. Giant won the WCW Championship twice -- with the reigns lasting a total of 118 days. But he got fed up with being under the nWo time and time again, making his debut with the WWE in 1999.
Big Show, known as The World's Largest Athlete, has become one of the most decorated superstars of his generation. The two-time World Heavyweight Champion and three-time WWE Tag Team Champion has been involved in many excellent storylines-- feuding with Mark Henry, forming a partnership with Chris Jericho (known as Jeri-Show) against D-Generation X and teaming up with The Authority.
At this point, Big Show has slowed down and has hinted at hanging up the in-ring career boots when his contract expires next year. But given the tremendous respect he and Vince McMahon have for one another, it's easy to see Big Show staying on with the company in an office role of some sort.
12 Lex Luger: Working for WWE's Wellness Policy
When Mr. McMahon and Hulk Hogan cut ties, the former pushed Lex Luger to be the next big face of WWE. However, Luger's inability to put on a great match and his limited ability in the ring prevented him from reaching his full potential. Though widely regarded as a disappointment in WCW, Luger won the WCW Championship twice -- including a 230-day reign before he lost it to Sting.
Sadly, Luger ran into problems with the law after his tenure in WCW. He was arrested after attacking real-life girlfriend, Miss Elizabeth. She would die shortly after the incident, absolutely devastating Luger.
Luger also suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed, but he made a full recovery. Luger now works for the WWE's wellness policy, trying to help former and current wrestlers avoid the troubles that he got into. Luger found a light at the end of the tunnel after going through many tragedies and hardships.
11 Diamond Dallas Page: Yoga Trainer
Despite winning over the crowd and being one of the best talents produced by WCW, Eric Bischoff and the company didn't value Diamond Dallas Page that much. He was a three-time WCW Champion, but his reigns only combined to last 29 days. It's numbers like that which help you understand how and why WCW failed miserably.
So after WCW went out of business, DDP had a solid tenure with the WWE and found himself in other promotions like TNA afterwards. Though no longer a full-time wrestler, he does make occasional appearances for the WWE -- appearing in the WrestleMania 32 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
DDP also founded his own yoga program and has released a number of videos and programs to help others enjoy the benefits and results of the exercise. He's another happy story and inspiring story for retired wrestlers.
10 Jeff Jarrett: Wrestler/Running Impact Wrestling
You may often forget Jeff Jarrett's name in the list of the greatest WCW superstars, but the man really was a world class talent. Jarrett won a total of four WCW Championships, though they would only combine to last 58 days. Sadly, Jarrett's success in TNA is overshadowed by the Bash at the Beach controversy in 2000 with Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo.
After WCW, Jarrett co-founded TNA, now known as Impact Wrestling. Though the company hasn't come close to reaching the success level of WWE, it's Vince McMahon's biggest competitor and the second largest wrestling promotion in the country. Jarrett has obviously found success as a wrestler and owner of another company. Though Impact Wrestling is on the rocks right now, Jarrett at least cemented his legacy by founding another powerhouse wrestling company.
9 Ron Simmons: Part-Time Appearances in WWE
The infamous catch phrase used by one of the top superstars of his generation. Ron Simmons held the WCW Championship just once, though the reign would last 150 days. The reign is often forgotten since it took place at a house show, and Simmons eventually struggled to remain a big name in WCW once the nWo began to take over.
Simmons was in ECW for a couple of years before spending time with the WWE. He has since made sporadic appearances with the company, showing up briefly during WrestleMania 31. Simmons was also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012, an honour that was well deserved.
But besides his occasional popups on WWE programming, Simmons has stayed away from the spotlight for the most part. It seems like the hard-working machine has embraced a more laid back life style since retirement. You can't blame him for that.
8 Big Van Vader: Retired From Wrestling
Big Van Vader was hands down one of the most talented wrestlers to ever step foot in a WCW ring. A three-time WCW Champion, Vader's reigns combined to last a remarkable for 377 days. One of his reigns even lasted 285 days.
After leaving WCW in 1998, Vader competed in multiple promotions that included time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, TNA and the WWE. Most recently, he appeared in XWA -- a promotion in Britain. But it appears as though Big Van Vader's career in the ring is all but over at this point.
Tragically, Vader recently revealed that he is dying from heart disease and has two years to live. Though he's one of the most successful wrestlers of all-time, Vader's storied career is probably finished. Here's hoping the rest of his life brings nothing but peace and happiness.
7 Goldberg: Wrestling in WWE
Goldberg was arguably WCW's greatest homegrown star, holding onto the WCW Championship for 174 days. His incredible streak made Goldberg one of the top wrestling stars in the world, even though the man only had two moves in the ring and couldn't put on a decent match nor a bout that could last over two minutes.
So any who, Goldberg came to WWE after WCW was bought out, but he had a rather forgettable first tenure there. Over a decade later, Vince McMahon brought him back and Goldberg sits here as the WWE Universal Champion. Goldberg crushed Brock Lesnar at this past year's Survivor Series and squashed Kevin Owens to win the Universal Championship. He's set to defend his title against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32.
Love or hate his wrestling style, Goldberg has been a huge draw and moneymaker since returning. It looks like the 50-year-old is here to stay for a while.
6 Randy Savage: Deceased
The Macho Man was one of the reasons Vince McMahon's WWE started to boom in the first place during the '80s and early '90s. After Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage was the biggest name in professional wrestling. His epic promos, charisma and all-around swagger made The Macho Man an icon in professional wrestling.
After a fallout with McMahon, Savage went to WCW and won the championship four times. He joined the nWo as well, but often struggled to replicate the success he had in WWE. Savage spent time in TNA before eventually marrying his high school sweet heart. Sadly, Savage died of a heart attack while driving in 2011. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, insuring the wrestling world never forgets his legendary status.
5 Booker T: WWE Commentator/Analyst
One of the few wrestlers that was able to experience mega success in BOTH WCW and WWE (let's throw in TNA while we're at it), Booker T really has had a decorated career that most wrestlers could only dream of. He won the WCW Championship five times for a grand total of 253 days.
But Booker T's championship reigns came in the early 2000s, just as WCW was free-falling, so he didn't quite get the legacy there that he deserved. However, Booker T became one of the top WWE Superstars in the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras, winning one World Heavyweight Championship and three United States Championships.
Since 2015, Booker T has worked on WWE's broadcasting team, and currently works as an analyst that previews pay-per-view events and appears on some of the WWE Network's programming. He's even hinted at a possible return in the squared circle, so we'll just have to stay tuned in the meantime.
4 Kevin Nash: Under WWE Legends Contract
When Kevin Nash formed the New World Order with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan, the wrestling world changed forever. It put WCW on another level and made them the most watched wrestling promotion for much of the mid and late '90s. However, Nash's creative control also led to the downfall of WCW. He kept booking himself to be champion, and let's not get into The Fingerpoke of Doom.
But hey, the man is a five-time WCW Champion, so we have to give respect where it's due. Nash spent time in both the WWE and TNA once WCW went out of business. He is now signed under the WWE Legends Program, where he makes appearances from time-to-time.
Nash works out frequently with Scott Hall, as can be seen on Instagram. The Hall of Famer last appeared on WWE programming at WrestleMania 32, as the nWo reunited to help Sting in his fight against Triple H. Nash appears to be doing well post-wrestling, to say the least.
3 Hulk Hogan: Enjoying a HUGE Payday
The six-time WCW Champion held the title for a grand total of 1,177 days -- the most in the title's history. Hogan's lived an interesting life since the end of his days in WCW and as a full-timer in WWE, to say the least.
His wife Linda divorced him a decade ago and took most of his fortunes, and Hogan admitted to nearly committing the suicide some years ago until a friend called him and saved his life. Hogan was under a legend's contract with WWE but was fired in 2015 after leaked tapes caught him using racial slurs towards black people.
After years of dealing with personal struggles, Hogan won $115 million in a lawsuit against Gawker for publishing a sex tape of him. Hogan and Gawker then reached a $31 million lawsuit, meaning The Hulkster has more than enough money to live out his retirement days.
As for a possible return to the WWE? It's been speculated for over a year, but nobody knows what to expect at this point.
2 Sting: Retired
The face of WCW became a hero to wrestling fans -- thanks to his constant battles and feuds with the New World Order. Sting won six WCW Championships, cementing his name as arguably the greatest in the company's history. Many fans were disappointed when he refused to join WWE after they bought out WCW, and The Icon took his talents to TNA.
After years and years of waiting, Sting finally appeared on WWE programming when he took out Triple H and The Authority at Survivor Series 2014. Sting fought The Game in a losing effort at WrestleMania 32 and wrestled Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions, 2015.
Sadly, Sting suffered a neck injury that essentially ended his career. Rollins pinned him for the title, and The Icon retired before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. He's reported having a desire for one more match, but it appears as though Sting is fully retired.
Not that he hasn't earned it or anything.
1 Ric Flair: Under WWE Legends Contract
The Nature Boy is widely recognized as the greatest wrestler of all-time, and it's hard to argue against that. Ric Flair holds the record for most WCW Championships with eight -- totaling 501 days. He infamously said "To be the man, you gotta beat the man", and nobody ever beat his record of eight WCW championships.
Flair spent nearly a decade in the WWE as one of its top performers once WCW was bought out, and he had a forgetful tenure in TNA as well. WWE stayed loyal to Flair by giving him a legends contract that he remains under today. His daughter, Charlotte, has become the best female superstar in the WWE. Flair helped get her over by accompanying her to the ring.
Flair is engaged to girlfriend Wendy Barlow, who is set to be his fifth wife. Here's hoping life treats The Nature Boy well from here on out.