The legacy of WCW is still strong today thanks to a plethora of tremendous stars to shine in the defunct promotion. WCW found great success in the '90s when going head to head with WWE in the Monday Night Wars. No other promotion aside from WCW can say they passed WWE as the top promotion in the world at any point. WCW did this for a couple of years in the '90s thanks to making huge moves. Eric Bischoff added huge names and the roster turned into a hit list. One criticism is that most of the main eventers were over the hill veterans. That just added even more legendary names to the history of the WCW Championship.
The title for WCW truly was a prize worth winning as the “big gold” design signified being a champion. Major names in the industry held the title as a huge moment for their careers. A few young stars would make the jump from rising star to legitimate superstar with the win. History has seen many things happen to these wrestlers as they grow older. Many of them are still performing in the wrestling industry on some level today. Others have retired, and a few are no longer with us. We will update you on all the major names from the title’s linage. Find out what has happened to all of WCW's former champions.
20 Jeff Jarrett: AAA
The WCW run of Jeff Jarrett is forgettable even though he is a former Heavyweight Champion. Jarrett jumped back and forth between WWE and WCW throughout the Monday Night War. The final move came towards the end when Vince Russo convinced Jarrett to jump ship to WCW with a guarantee for a main event run.
Jarrett would win the WCW Championship multiple times, but he never was considered a great champion. Almost two decades later, Jarrett is still competing all over the world. Despite getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Jarrett is an active performer at United States indie shows and AAA events in Mexico.
19 Vince Russo: Podcaster
Vince Russo is arguably the worst WCW Champion of all time when you remember that he booked the title win for himself. A drastic move saw Russo leave WWE to get full creative control running WCW. With Russo as head booker, WCW spun out of control and never returned to relevance.
Russo’s worst decision may have been making himself the WCW Champion. The hope was that he would find similar heel success as Vince McMahon did as a character. Russo’s title reign was viewed as an embarrassment. Today, he hosts a podcast and mostly spews negative opinions on the state of the wrestling business.
18 The Giant: WWE
The Giant was a huge addition to WCW’s roster in the mid-'90s. Hulk Hogan saw him at a gym and recruited him to make the jump to wrestling. Hogan's idea featured Giant debuting in WCW as the long-lost son of Andre the Giant wanting to get revenge for his late father.
It was stunning to see The Giant win the WCW Championship early into his career. The main event run didn’t last long as he fell lower down the card once the New World Order took over. WWE signed him away from WCW towards the end of the '90s and made him the Big Show. Big Show is still a WWE mainstay despite his age, as he recently helped The Bar win the SmackDown Tag Team titles from The New Day.
17 Kurt Angle: WWE
WWE purchasing WCW led to an instant storyline in 2001. Many wrestlers from WCW made the jump to WWE representing WCW. The program featured two promotions going head to head as the WCW Championship became a recognized title on WWE television.
Kurt Angle won the WCW Championship from Booker T for a short reign. This is one of the few cases of a former WCW Champion never actually wrestling in WCW. Angle was one of the top performers during the Invasion storyline, and WWE felt he deserved to hold WCW gold even for a short time. A relatively recent return to WWE as Raw GM should see Angle ending his career in the promotion that made him.
16 Goldberg: Retired Hall of Famer
Goldberg became the face of WCW towards the end of the run. Most of the main event stars for WCW during the Monday Night Wars were former WWE main eventers past their prime. Goldberg was among the few exceptions of a superstar being made by WCW to represent the present and future.
Goldberg's WCW Championship win over Hulk Hogan remains a top-tier moment in Nitro history. Goldberg was the last major superstar WCW created before going out of business. The WWE career of Goldberg looked like a flop after a failed run in 2003. Goldberg returned in 2016 to end his career in grand fashion with a Universal Championship run. He is unofficially retired after entering the WWE Hall of Fame.
15 Bret Hart: Retired
Bret Hart joining WCW should have been a huge move, but it ended up being a huge regret for both sides. The Montreal Screwjob ended Hart’s WWE run in the most controversial fashion possible. WCW, however, did not want to push him in a major way when joining the promotion.
Bret's WCW Championships did not come until the company was at the point of no return. Hart does not have any fond memories of his WCW Championship reigns and believed Eric Bischoff tried to sabotage him. An injury suffered in WCW ended Bret’s career. Today, he lives a happily retired life with his family away from the ring.
14 Sid Vicious: Independent wrestler
The career of Sid Vicious/Sid Justice/Sycho Sid is forgotten today despite him being a main eventer for both WWE and WCW during the Monday Night Wars. Sid joined WCW once more in 1999 to become a main event fixture as the company wanted to make some changes.
The addition of Sid saw him start an undefeated streak as the Millennium Man, leading to a showdown with Goldberg. Sid ended up getting multiple WCW Championship reigns in the final few years of the company. The wrestling career of Sid has been irrelevant since WCW went out of business. He still wrestles on the independent circuit today, but fans criticize him for not giving much effort.
13 Ron Simmons: Retired Hall of Famer
Ron Simmons has one of the most important WCW Championship wins in wrestling history. The early '90s featured Simmons making history as the first black wrestler to win the top prize in WCW. It was a great moment that made Simmons start his reign in impressive fashion by defeating Vader.
Simmons would fall lower down the card once his title run ended and made the move to WWE, where he wrestled as Faarooq and under his real name. Many fans remember him more for his WWE stints in the APA and Nation of Domination than the WCW Championship reign. Simmons got inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and is retired today.
12 Lex Luger: Retired WWE employee
Lex Luger was one of the most popular wrestlers in WCW history. Luger found success in the early '90s and became an even bigger star when returning during the Monday Night Wars. One of the greatest moments in Nitro history featured Luger defeating Hulk Hogan to win the WCW Championship.
Luger was not considered a great worker, but that didn’t stop him from getting over with the WWE fan base. The success made him a true WCW legend. Luger has retired from the ring due to various injuries and illnesses, but he does work for WWE in a different capacity today. WWE has Luger on staff as someone that helps out with the Wellness Policy.
11 Sting: Retired Hall of Famer
Sting is in the conversation when discussing the greatest WCW star of all-time. His run saw him as one of the few wrestlers to never leave WCW once during the Monday Night Wars. Sting became the face of WCW, and his WCW Championship over Hulk Hogan at Starrcade 1997 still stands out as a classic WCW memory.
The end of WCW led to Sting still avoiding WCW by working for Impact Wrestling. Sting finally joined WWE in 2014 and had two major matches against Triple H and Seth Rollins. An injury in his match with Rollins led to Sting retiring from the ring. WWE inducted Sting into the Hall of Fame and he still works with WWE in a Legends contract capacity.
10 The Rock: Movie star
The Rock was one of the WWE wrestlers to win the WCW Championship during the Invasion era. Despite never working for WCW, Rock did respect the company for their input in the industry. The Rock's mindset had him paying attention to every promotion and the talented wrestlers that worked elsewhere.
Booker T lost the WCW Championship to The Rock in the main event of SummerSlam 2001. Rock would hold the big gold belt with honor even though he wasn’t technically a WCW wrestler. Life has been kind to The Rock since that time as he’s evolved into one of the biggest blockbuster movie stars in the world today.
9 Kevin Nash: Occasional independent wrestler
Kevin Nash became one of the top stars in WCW the second he walked in the door. The emergence of the New World Order gave Nash power that matched his confidence entering the new promotion. Following the split of the nWo, Nash became arguably the most popular guy in WCW while leading the Wolfpac.
Another backstage change even allowed Nash to get control booking the show. One of his decisions featured him ending Goldberg’s undefeated streak to become WCW Champion. Nash had a few title reigns before WCW went out of business. Nash's career is all but over today following many injuries. However, he still takes occasional bookings and wrestled in a match with James Ellsworth, of all people, during the summer of 2018.
8 Chris Jericho: New Japan/rock musician
The goal of Chris Jericho during the mid-'90s was to become WCW Champion after signing there. Fate would play out in hilarious fashion. Jericho never won the title while working for WCW and was primarily used as a mid-carder, never able to break out until he switched companies.
WWE signed Jericho in 1999 and the rest is history. Jericho was a top WWE star by the time Vince McMahon purchased WCW. The goal of Jericho to become WCW Champion was finally accomplished when he defeated The Rock. Jericho would have a legendary WWE career. Today, he works for New Japan as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion and is enjoying his time away from WWE. He also remains active as the lead singer of the heavy metal band Fozzy.
7 Scott Steiner: Occasional independent wrestler
Scott Steiner had success all throughout the '90s in both WCW and WWE. The majority of his success was initally in the tag team division. Scott and his brother Rick Steiner were arguably the greatest duo in WCW history and one of the top teams in WWE. An end to their tag team culminated in Scott getting pushed as a singles star.
Steiner became the top heel in WCW during its final year of existence. Scott's success as "Big Poppa Pump" allowed him to win the WCW Championship. A flopped run in WWE prevented him from finding future success there. Scott became known for his unintentionally comedic promos in Impact Wrestling. He is a part-time wrestler today, making rare appearances at independent shows.
6 Hulk Hogan: WWE ambassador
Hulk Hogan joining WCW was among the biggest moments in company history. However, it wasn’t until he turned heel and formed the New World Order that fans started to tune in. WCW became the top promotion passing WWE once Hogan turned heel and switched to his "Hollywood" gimmick.
Hogan had many WCW Championship reigns and was the primary champion throughout the better days of WCW’s ratings dominance. All in all, his legendary career landed him in the WWE Hall of Fame. A recent exile from the company ended when Hogan returned at Crown Jewel. He is expected to be an ambassador for WWE moving forward.
5 David Arquette: Independent wrestler
The most embarrassing moment for WCW took place when actor David Arquette won the WCW Championship. Arquette was making appearances for WCW to promote Ready to Rumble, a movie they did together. It led to Vince Russo coming up with an idea that would doom the company.
Arquette won the WCW Championship for a few weeks with the hopes of receiving mainstream media coverage. The ratings and overall numbers continued to fail, and many fans quit on WCW for this. Arquette decided to attempt to change his legacy this past year by training to become a wrestler for real this time around. He currently wrestles on the independent circuit and is filming a documentary about it.
4 Ric Flair: Retired Hall of Famer
Ric Flair is the first name mentioned by many people when discussing the legacy of the WCW Championship. Flair held the Big Gold Belt during many important transitioning periods for WCW. The title was always respected when Flair was the man wearing it.
Many fans were surprised to find out that Flair disliked his time in WCW towards the end of the run and was happy when the company went out of business. It certainly worked out for Ric, as he went on to have another strong run in WWE as a wrestler and manager. His success in WCW with the Four Horsemen and his success in singles led to two inductions into the Hall of Fame. Today, he is retired and watches his daughter Charlotte Flair compete.
3 Booker T: Trainer/WWE broadcaster
Booker T was the final real WCW Champion before WWE purchased the company. The catchphrase of Booker still has him referencing being a five-time champion, which he became after he worked his way up the ladder in WCW. An incredible tag team run with his brother Stevie Ray in Harlem Heat would have made most wrestlers content, but Booker wanted more.
The first WCW Championship win of Booker T led to the crowd losing their minds in joy for him. Booker continued to have a great main event run and became one of the few WCW success stories to move to WWE. The in-ring career of Booker is over today, but he still contributes to the business in many ways. Booker works for WWE as a broadcaster, runs his own wrestling school, and hosts a weekly radio show.
2 Diamond Dallas Page: Semi-retired Hall of Famer/DDP Yoga
The WCW career of Diamond Dallas Page led to him winning over fans at a later age. Page entered the industry older than most, but he had the passion and talent to get over. Fans forced WCW management to push DDP to the top of the card during the peak of the Monday Night Wars.
Page would have multiple WCW Championship reigns to cement himself as a top superstar. The in-ring career of DDP is over today, but he still helps many wrestlers. DDP Yoga is a workout routine that has helped wrestlers recover from injuries and turn their life around. Page may not wrestle matches, but he does make the occasional appearances at WWE events or special occasions like All In.
1 Randy Savage And Vader
Randy Savage joining WCW in the '90s came as a big coup for the company. Savage's prior success made him the second biggest WWE star of the '80s after Hulk Hogan. After WCW, Savage attempted to enter the rap scene while also appearing briefly in TNA.
Big Van Vader was an underrated main event heel throughout the '90s. Vader became a relevant name in the industry with an incredible run in Japan. WCW would double down on him by having him win the WCW Championship. After WCW, Vader would continue to perform on the independent circuit.