It’s hard to believe that at one point, World Championship Wrestling was the number one wrestling company when it came to television views. For 84 weeks, starting on June 6th, 1996, WCW trounced the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the ratings. This was thanks in part to some of the most interesting storytelling the audience had ever seen. For their bigger angles, they began to focus more on storytelling, opting for longer, character-driven promos than actual wrestling matches. They would constantly swerve the audience, to keep them guessing what would happen next. Also, if you wanted quality matches, they had that too. Their cruiserweight division, with wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero, was constantly putting on some of the best wrestling on television.
This all worked brilliantly during this time, but it wasn’t all Hogan forming the New World Order, cruiserweight barn burners, and Goldberg winning the big one. No, WCW was actually filled with a lot of garbage, and not just towards the end, but throughout its entire existence as well. Not only could you find some of the worst gimmicks of all time, but you could also find some of the most truly terrible angles to ever take place in a wrestling promotion.
Here are 15 of the worst storylines to ever take place in Ted Turner’s legendary wrestling promotion that will have you asking yourself “WCW-TF?!”
15. Blood Runs Cold
In the early ’90s, you couldn’t go to any arcade without seeing a bunch of kids crowding around a Mortal Kombat cabinet. The violent fighting was all the rage. WCW decided to cash in on the craze by creating the character Glacier. An obvious rip-off of Sub-Zero, Glacier was a martial arts master who traveled to Japan to hone his craft. Promos for the new grappler began airing in April of 1996, but Glacier didn’t make his in-ring debut until September of that year. WCW made the audience wait almost half a year for his debut. Had he debuted sooner, Glacier would have fit in perfectly with over the top, cartoony characters like the Dungeon of Doom. However, by the time Glacier was wrestling, the nWo had already formed and fans were no longer interested in gimmicks like this. That didn’t stop WCW from creating two more MK-inspired brawlers who were also dead on arrival, the Reptile-Scorpion hybrid Mortis (Chris Kanyon) and the generic ninja mixed with a little Shao Kahn known as Wrath (Bryan Clark).
14. Goldberg Turns Heel
From September 22, 1997, through December 27, 1999, Bill Goldberg’s undefeated streak of 173-0 (kayfabe, of course) was unheard of. Then, thanks to a cattle prod, his streak was broken. A career-threatening arm injury kept Goldberg on the shelf for a few months and at 2000’s Great American Bash, WCW tried to shock the world by turning Goldberg heel. He united with Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo’s New Blood faction, but the turn didn’t get over. First, the crowds didn’t want anything to do with a bad guy Goldberg. No matter what he did, whether it be attacking Sting from behind or assaulting a sickly Jim Duggan, the new attitude was forced and unwanted from the crowd. Second, the man himself didn’t want any part of it. Goldberg enjoyed being the hero and refused to fully get behind the new persona. If a wrestler isn’t behind their character, it’s never going to work.
13. The Black Scorpion
Hands down, the greatest feud in the history of WCW is the one between Ric Flair and Sting. From 1988 through the very last Monday Nitro in 2001, the Nature Boy and the Icon had countless matches against one another. One month after the Stinger dethroned Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, a new challenger appeared. The masked Black Scorpion was alleged to be a former friend of Sting who was out to exact revenge on his former friend.This led to rumors of Scorpion being Sting’s former Blade Runner parter the Ultimate Warrior. There was one thing for sure, it wasn’t Ric Flair. Except, it was. After four grueling months of amateur magic tricks, terrible head games, and the same voice modulation that would later be used for the Shockmaster, Sting finally got his hands on his forced rival. At the 1990 edition of Starrcade, the two wrestled in a steel cage match where Sting defeated and unmasked the Black Scorpion revealing him to be Ric Flair, shocking absolutely nobody.
12. The Saga Of Judy Bagwell
Despite being one of the most over guys on their roster, Buff Bagwell had developed a reputation behind the scenes as a real momma’s boy. This lead WCW to actually bring his mother, Judy, in for a storyline. At first, she was brought in as Rick Steiner’s newest tag partner when he was allowed to choose who to share his Tag Team Titles with after Buff Bagwell turned on him. For better or worse, not much came from the pairing as Rick suffered an injury that forced the duo to relinquish their gold. This wasn’t the last we saw of Judy Bagwell. She was later stalked by Chris Kanyon, whom Buff was feuding with at the time. Kanyon even went as far as kidnapping Mrs. Bagwell. This lead to the now-infamous Judy Bagwell on a Pole match, where the matriarch of the Bagwell family was placed on a forklift. Buff won the match, the feud, and his mother’s affection.
11. Hogan/Warrior Part 2
One of the biggest WrestleMania main events of the 1990s would have to be when the Intercontinental Champion, the Ultimate Warrior, took on World Champion Hulk Hogan in a title vs. title match. Warrior won and was all set to be the new face of the WWE. That never really happened, but Warrior was the one man with a win over Hogan who never lost to the Hulkster. That all changed in 1998 when the Ultimate Warrior signed with WCW. The much-anticipated rematch turned out to be an excuse for Hulk to get his win back. The build to it was also terrible, filled with Black Scorpion-level parlor tricks like a one-way mirror where Warrior was invisible to Eric Bischoff but could be seen by Hogan (and everybody else). The match itself is regarded as one of the worst in all of wrestling. It had everything you wouldn’t want to see like botched fireballs and Horace Hogan run-ins. It was a boring and plodding bout that brought shame to their initial encounter.
10. Ric Flair Goes Insane
The last few years of WCW weren’t very kind to Ric Flair. The 16-time world champ was constantly ridiculed for his age and passed over for younger or less deserving talent. He was also caught in many nonsensical and terrible storylines. The worst of all was when he was admitted to an insane asylum. The story goes that Ric, who was president of WCW at the time, was going crazier by the day. He was eventually found to be unfit for his position and was sentenced to a mental institution. What followed next was a series of segments that placed Flair, wearing only his robe and boxers, in his very own production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Oh, and Scott Hall was there too because he was battling a crippling alcohol addiction. Comedy! Another downside to these shorts was that they introduced the Chyna knock-off Asya.
9. Cactus Jack’s Amnesia
Cactus Jack and Vader were known for having some of the hardest hitting matches in all of professional wrestling. One of them was so intense that it caused Jack to lose his ear. In a follow-up match, Vader powerbombed Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy outside of the ring and onto the exposed concrete. This gave WCW a great opportunity to film a series of vignettes to garner sympathy for the injured Foley. Too bad that’s not what happened. The series of shorts, which total about 16 unwatchable minutes in length, went on to include a terrible imitation of Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man character, a town full of homeless people, and Cactus’ girlfriend, aptly named “Bang Bang.” The videos, titled Lost in Cleveland, were supposed to be comedic in nature but ended up lacking any semblance of humor. Thankfully, after the two put on an incredible Texas Death match, the amnesia angle had been all but forgotten.
8. Chucky Takes On The Dog Faced Gremlin
For weeks leading up to October of 1998, episodes of Monday Nitro were interrupted with sounds of terrifying laughter playing over the speaker system. Nobody knew what to except. Since it was leading up to that year’s Halloween Havoc, many speculated that this was designed to introduce a new and potentially supernatural heel. Is that what we got? Of course not. That laughter lead to Chucky, the villainous doll from the Child’s Play franchise, appearing on the Turnertron to promote his upcoming movie and ridicule Rick Steiner. The killer doll also urged Rick to stay away from his brother Scott Steiner because Big Poppa Pump was scheduled to be in Chucky’s next film. And that was it. No physical altercation (you know, the basis of pro-wrestling), no follow up, and worst of all, we never got Scotty in a single Child’s Play movie!
7. La Parka’s Voice Over
During this time in WCW, La Parker was one of the most interesting luchadores. He couldn’t fly like Rey Mysterio and Psicosis. He didn’t have the technical acumen of Eddie Guerrero. What he did have, was an awesome look and a boatload of charisma. Due to his penchant for strutting to the ring with a steel chair in hand, the wrestling skeleton was ridiculously over with WCW’s audience. In 1999, WCW added another trait on of all of this. Ed Ferrara, one-half of creative at the time, thought it would be hilarious to dub over Parka’s promos with his own voice disrespecting the competition. Spouting off dated lingo like, “…and one for my homies” and “hiz-ouse,” La Parka would be confused as to where the voice was coming from while trying to avoid taking a beating for his insults. There was never a payoff to this awful story. We never found out who was pulling the strings and La Parka was gone within the year.
6. The KISS Demon
One would think KISS would be the perfect rock band to join up with a wrestling company. Their makeup, over the top characters, and larger than life presence seems like it would fit perfectly inside a wrestling ring. I’m sure that would have been true if this was done in the late ’70s or early ’80s when KISS was on top of the world. This right here is a prime example of the people behind the scenes having no clue what their audience wanted. In 1999, the world wasn’t clamoring for a wrestler based on grimy, old Gene Simmons. The Demon would even get his own contractually obligated “main event” match, where he was squashed by the Wall at Superbrawl 2000. The Demon was supposed to be the first in a stable of four called the “Warriors of KISS,” with each band member getting their own wrestler. Thankfully, this never happened.
5. nWo Reforms Again… And Again
When the nWo formed at Bash at the Beach 1996, it breathed life into wrestling. It took Hulk Hogan from tired, aging good guy to the biggest heel in the entire sport. With the help of newfound teammates Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, the nWo quickly went from hated villains to cool heels. Eventually, the faction got too big for its britches by adding c-list member after c-list member and split into nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac, with the latter getting a much better roster. Scott Norton, Stevie Ray, and Horace Hogan had nothing on Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, and Sting. The warring groups grew stale. To rectify that, WCW staged the awful “Fingerpoke of Doom” to bring the group back together. The kayfabe-breaking angle that saw Kevin Nash lay down for Hulk Hogan, was an insult to wrestling fans. The former hottest act in wrestling, now known as nWo Elite never recovered from this travesty. I suppose it wasn’t as bad as nWo 2000 that featured Bret Hart, Jeff Jarrett, and the Harris twins.
4. Capital Combat: Return of RoboCop
Here we have WCW once again wasting everybody’s time to promote another movie. RoboCop 2, not even the good RoboCop, was set to be released in June of 1990. To piggyback on that, WCW managed to book the titular cyborg for their Capital Combat pay-per-view. For weeks, WCW bragged and boasted the arrival of the fictional RoboCop who was brought in as backup for Sting who was feuding with the Four Horsemen. Sting entered the arena to a great pop from the audience, but before his futuristic crimefighting friend could join him, the Stinger was locked in a shark cage by the Horsemen. All hope was seemingly lost. Before any dramatic tension could be played up, RoboCop awkwardly made his way down to the aisle and removed the obviously rubber door from its hinges. The Horsemen fled, and that was that. Maybe it was for the best that Chucky never appeared in person… in puppet?
3. The Dungeon of Doom
I’ve recently written about how the Dungeon of Doom was just a rip-off of Hulk Hogan’s entire WWE run condensed to two years. Behind the scenes, the DoD was set up by WCW’s lead producer Kevin Sullivan to gain Hulk Hogans trust. In an interview with WWE.com Sullivan said, “I saw quite early that the clientele and fanbase had changed and Hogan couldn’t fit into that style of wrestling at the time with the other guys who could really move in WCW.” So, not only was the stable created simply because it worked in WWF, but it was also created at a time where it knowingly didn’t work. Mission accomplished! The gimmicky cabal, filled with cornball no-talent wrestlers like Braun the Leprechaun, the Zodiac, Loch Ness, and the Yeti, never amounted to anything and looked like even bigger jokes when Hogan turned Heel and formed the nWo.
2. “Last Call” Scott Hall
When talking about characters like The Rock or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, it is generally believed that the strongest gimmicks are simply someone’s personality turned up to eleven. That’s probably not the best idea if they’re playing off of a wrestler’s real-life addiction to build their persona. In 1998, Scott Hall was battling alcoholism and, at the behest of his wife, WCW forced him to go to rehab. A few months later, Hall was out of rehab and back on TV. Unfortunately, he was definitely not clean and sober. His new character, “Last Call” Scott Hall, was more often than not drunk. He would drink on his way to the ring, in the ring, and any other chance he got. One particular segment saw him vomit on Eric Bischoff. It was some of the trashiest television WCW had produced and did nothing to help Hall. Eventually, Hall was taken off TV until his contract ran out in 2000.
1. David Arquette: WCW Champion
For the rest of history, no matter what we do, when we look at the list of former WCW World Heavyweight Champions, the name David Arquette will always be there. Number 42. Right between Diamond Dallas Page and Jeff Jarrett. All to promote the movie Ready to Rumble. A fluke victory in a tag match where the title was on the line lead to Deputy Dewey winning the title. Although it only lasted 12 days, Arquette’s championship reign was full of the greatest hits of WCW’s worst. Movie promotion? Check. Celebrity involvement? Check. Swerves on swerves on swerves? Check. An undeserving person winning the Big Gold Belt? Check. But hey, I’m sure it was all worth it in the end. Let’s do the math. The film cost $24 million and when it was all said and done, made $12.5 million at the box office. So, ugh. No. It wasn’t. It was trash.
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