In 1988, Jim Crockett Promotions and by extension the Crockett family sold their stake in JCP to Ted Turner. World Championship Wrestling was born. Following in the trajectory of trying to provide an alternative to the WWE, WCW kept giving fans a more “realistic” product. Unfortunately for the first few years, Turner execs had little to no interest in having a “wrestling guy” with product knowledge at the helm of the ship. It wasn’t until AWA alum, Eric Bischoff came in and presented himself more of an ad sales guy and less of a wrestling guy, that WCW finally had someone in charge that could help grow the brand.
Both before and after Bischoff, WCW was able to grow some stars, which was an impressive feat. On one hand, guys like Jim Herd wanted Hunchbacks as wrestlers. On the other hand, Bischoff had used a lot of ex-WWE talent at the top of the card; both instances made it harder for homegrown talent to shine through. But when they did, they mostly made WCW a better place. This list for those superstars - The 10 Best WCW Stars Of all Time, Ranked. Don’t get all uppity about not seeing guys like Hulk on this list - they had to make their bones in WCW as a homegrown talent (or be part of the remnants of JCP) to be a part of this list.
At the very first Clash Of Champions, WCW was making their very first name brand, home grown star - The Man Called Sting. Although he didn’t beat Ric Flair on this night, he took the Nature Boy to the limit and helped make himself a star in the process. From this night on, he was WCW’s biggest star.
By the time the nWo rolled around, Surfer Sting became Crow Sting and was still the biggest star. Up until 2014, he was only WCW holdout to not make a WWE appearance, when he did - it instantly became one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history.
9 Ric Flair
Indicative of WCW’s mismanagement of all of its talent, Ric Flair was arguably the biggest star in all of wrestling, but the marketing gurus and EVPs in charge of WCW just had zero ideas how to maximize that fact.
Herd wanted to call the guy Spartacus. Bischoff wanted to sue the guy into bankruptcy over a misunderstanding. His one year in the WWE was proof of concept of how to push Flair as the tippytop guy and WCW couldn’t even copy that properly. It’s a testament to how great “Naitch” truly was - he didn’t the machine behind him to get over.
8 Booker T
Whether it was as a member of WCW’s greatest tag team, the Harlem Heat or as a single putting on good matches, Booker T was always respected by plenty of fans. It was actually Vince Russo of all people who finally pulled the trigger and set Booker up to become WCW champion.
The future King would have his greatest success in WWE, but that’s only because he only hit it big in WCW during the promotion’s decline. The fans never got to see how far Booker would have really gone.
7 Diamond Dallas Page
DDP, the hardest working man in wrestling did all he could to become a big time professional wrestler. Once he achieved a modicum of success, he kicked the door wide open and never let anyone close it on him.
He was coming up so fast that the Macho Man not only handpicked Dallas to work with but decided that he would happily take a Diamond Cutter. To further cement his status, when DDP finally the man, he defeated Flair, Sting, and Hogan all in one match. He was also responsible for bringing Karl “The Mailman” Malone to WCW.
While plenty of guys made their mark and were made famous in WCW, Goldberg might be the only, truly homegrown WCW Star. He got his start, training in the Power Plant.
He never wrestled anywhere else, and despite being pushed far too hard, far too soon, the WCW fans took to Goldberg like gangbusters. The Streak, defeating Hogan in the Georgia dome both remain epic moments in WCW history.
5 Big Van Vader
The best and most hard-hitting big man ever in the history of WCW was Big Van Vader. The Mastodon was also one of the rare superstars that had a harder time getting over in the WWE than he did in WCW.
But in Atlanta, no one could touch the man they call Vader. He debuted with one of the most ominous and iconic head pieces in wrestling history. He had hard hitting wars with Flair and Sting. But his biggest and most brutal battles would come against the hardcore icon, Cactus Jack.
4 Rey Mysterio, Jr.
From the biggest superstar to the smallest. The legendary Luchador, Rey Mysterio, like many achieved greater success during his WWE run. But he had plenty of his greatest years in WCW.
It was here where the future WWE champion was made amazing memories in classic matches with Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho. His greatest match however came at Halloween Havoc 1997, against Eddie Guerrero.
3 Brian Pillman
One of the few WCW superstars who was over no matter what he did, Brian Pillman helped to revolutionize light heavyweight wrestling and become WCW’s first ever Light Heavyweight Champion.
Pillman was always factored into the mix somewhere, he was that versatile. He might be the only guy in WCW history to completely reinvent his character and still be over with the fans. While The Loose Cannon was a fixture in ECW and WWE, Pillman started it in WCW.
2 Scott Steiner
For years, he was Scotty Steiner, proud University of Michigan graduate and part of the universally beloved Steiner Brothers. But then he decided to write the book on how to shed one character completely and become a full-fledged heel. The already monstrous looking Steiner, sheared off his hair, bleached it and became as big as a house rebranded himself Big Poppa Pump. The result - Steiner became one of the best heels in the business and a lightning rod for controversy.
1 Lex Luger
His WWE run was one of the most lackluster runs in all of WWE history, but the Total Package in WCW was where he truly excelled. Whether it was as a babyface chasing Ric Flair or as a heel turning on his best friend, Sting, or fending off the nWo, Lex Luger was a top star for WCW for most of the company’s entire existence.
Luger and Sting had a great storyline thread all throughout WCW, usually with Sting being the face trying to defend his friend Luger, who was a heel through and through.