WCW has been put to rest for a decade and a half now, but given how the WWE has continued to slide in attendance, television ratings, and overall interest, us fans can't help but live in the past sometimes.
Thanks to awful booking and underusing the most talented stars on the roster, many pro wrestling fans have been longing for the old days to come back. By old days, we mean something like epic championship reigns. That was something we always got to see in WCW.
Just look at all of the Hall of Famers who held the WCW Championship: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Sting, Randy Savage, and others. Those epic championship reigns changed the history and direction of professional wrestling and it's safe to assume the WWE wouldn't have seen such success if their old rivals from WCW didn't have these iconic and historic champions.
WCW provided way too many great moments for fans. Yes, Vince McMahon won the Monday Night War, but during the '90s, there was a time when WCW Champions were far more special and exciting than any championship won in WWE. That's the way it worked until WCW self-destructed to the ground.
22 men held the WCW Championship. Some winners were complete disasters as champions, others were average, others used it as a starting point to rise to the top, and others cemented their incredible careers by winning it all.
Some WCW Champions have stood out from the rest. As such, here's a look at our rankings for all 22 WCW Champions.
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22 David Arquette
Must we even mention him on this list? Sure, because he did TECHNICALLY win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but the booking decision cost WCW dearly and they never recovered.
The whole thing was stupid: Why was a Hollywood actor brought in to wrestle in the first place? Simply to promote a movie? He pinned Eric Bischoff on WCW Thunder (of all venues) to win the title. Arquette's career in WCW was a joke, but the punch line was winning this title in the first place. Who knows if things could have been different had he never have won the title.
21 Vince Russo
Ah yes, the WWE legend who came to WCW to destroy his old boss in Vince McMahon, only to really bring down WCW with his horrible decisions.
Yup, Vince Russo, a writer for both wrestling powerhouses, decided it'd be a great idea to book himself as champion. He captured the title against Goldberg in a cage match, though it's widely alleged to have occurred by accident.
Can anyone imagine Paul Heyman being an ECW Champion? It wouldn't make any sense. And that's what it was like for fans to see Russo win.
20 Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit could be last on this list, but at least he was actually a talented professional wrestler. It made complete sense for him to actually be booked into winning the WCW Championship.
The only problem? It lasted one full day. As he was growing agitated with management, they pulled a desperation move to keep him by letting him beat Sid Vicious for the championship. However, Benoit, in support of his friend Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn, left the company and would join WWE shortly after.
As such, he forfeited the title.
19 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle could have been one of the greatest WCW Champions ever, but like Benoit, his one-time reign was way too short to mean anything significant.
During The Invasion storyline, Angle won the WCW Championship, but he only held onto it for six days, losing it the next week. On the bright side, this storyline had Angle turn heel after failing to regain the title, leading to a great version of Angle in WWE.
18 Scott Steiner
It's rather hard to believe that one of WCW's biggest stars only won the championship once. Scott Steiner was criminally underused by WCW in favour of the nWo (then again, who wasn't).
Steiner won his lone WCW Championship at WCW Mayhem in 2000, defeating Booker T. The reign would last a respectable 120 days, but it wasn't a tenure that brought that much excitement for the company and it occurred at a time when WCW was sinking, not swimming.
17 The Rock
Yes, it's hard to envision The Rock being a mediocre WCW Champion at best, but it was as a WWE Champion that cemented his legacy.
His two WCW reigns weren't anything we'd like to remember. He first won it at SummerSlam 2001 against Booker T and would win it a second time a few months later on Monday Night Raw.
His two reigns combined to last a mere 97 days.
16 Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious held the championship twice and the combined reigns would last 77 days.
His first championship win was against Hall of Famer Kevin Nash on a 2000 edition of Nitro. Sadly for him, this was also near a time when WCW was falling apart, so it didn't get the recognition it deserved. But the second reign was....odd. On WCW Thunder (the day after winning it), Nash gave the title back to himself, until Vicious beat him later that night to recapture it.
Terrible booking and he "lost" the title after Russo and Eric Bischoff decided to vacate all titles by giving WCW a makeover. Vicious' reign was solid, but ridiculous booking mistakes overshadowed his success.
15 Bret Hart
I'll admit I was surprised to see that Bret Hart was a two-time WCW Champion despite the rather disappointing tenure he had with the company, but The Hitman was still one of the better champions WCW saw.
His first reign came in his home country in Toronto, Ontario in Mayhem 1999. He defeated Chris Benoit, but he would later vacate it, only to win it once again a month later against Goldberg. Hart's reigns lasted 56 days, but they were rather unique and interesting storylines.
And let's face it, he had a more storied career than most other WCW champions.
14 Chris Jericho
Y2J found every way to stick it to WCW.
Chris Jericho left them after being underused and eventually became one of the WWE's top stars that helped Vince McMahon and co. win the Monday Night War. Then, when WWE bought out WCW, he won their title twice.
He won it at the 2001 edition of No Mercy and would win it at Vengeance months later. Jericho was actually the last official WCW Champion until it was unified to become the Undisputed WWE Championship.
13 The Giant
For those of you kids born in the past 10 years, The Giant was who we better know today as "Big Show," in WWE. It didn't take long for a man in his early 20s to become one of WCW's top stars, hence why he was a two-time champion.
Mind you, his first championship came under the most lame circumstances: He won the title from Hulk Hogan in 1995 when Jimmy Hart interfered, giving Giant the championship.
His second reign came on a 1996 edition of Nitro. His two championship runs lasted a full 118 days, cementing The Giant's status as one of the world's top wrestlers and he would never look back.
12 Lex Luger
It turns out that The Total Package truly was a dominant WCW Champion, even though there's a high probability your uncles told you that his run with the company wasn't all that spectacular.
Lex Luger was the second person to win the WCW Championship, after defeating Barry Windham for the vacated title due to Ric Flair leaving for WWE. He held the championship for a remarkable 230 days before Sting took it and went on an epic run of his own. Luger won the title again in 1997, but it lasted nothing more than five days.
But his first run is enough to take a solid spot on our list.
11 Diamond Dallas Page
One of the biggest late-bloomers in professional wrestling, Diamond Dallas Page deserved more recognition in WCW, but of course he was a victim of being in the shadow of all ten thousand members of the nWo.
But at least the company rewarded him for his hard work by making him champion. He won the championship three times....but you guessed it: Bischoff and co. booked it horribly. His three reigns combined to last 29 days. So basically 10 days per reign. Great.
Three titles is three titles and at least he was a convincing champion, unlike the first two guys we mentioned on our list.
10 Jeff Jarrett
Forget the controversy with Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 2000.
Yes, that was the second worst moment for WCW (after The Fingerpoke of Doom), but Jeff Jarrett was absolutely a top-notch WCW Champion. He won the title an incredible four times, though the tenures combined to last just 58 days.
Like just about everyone on our list, his title reigns would have earned more exposure if he had the right bookkeepers.
9 Ron Simmons
Ron Simmons held the WCW Championship just once and it lasted 150 days. it was special, but nothing to really brag about.
Still, his lone championship reign made history in the fact he became the first African-American to win the title. It wasn't as remembered as it should have been, given it occurred in 1992 at a house show (later broadcast on WCW Main Event).
But his lone championship reign made history and was one of the greatest feel-good moments in pro wrestling.
8 Big Van Vader
Three championship reigns that lasted 377 days.
It was a solid run for Big Van Vader and although his first run with the title was short, his second would cause his star to rise, while his third would solidify Vader as a main event champion.
Vader won his first WCW title at The Great American Bash in 1992, lasting 21 days. He took it a few months later, holding onto it for 150 days. He took it one last time in March, 1993 and kept it for 285 days.
He was definitely one of the better champions WCW had.
Yes, he absolutely was one of WCW's biggest stars and is a key reason why they almost put an end to the Monday Night War in Ted Turner's favour, but Goldberg was only a one-time champion. Yes, WCW should have done so much more with this title reign but they dropped the ball.
He took the title on a 1998 episode of Nitro and it would last a respectable 174 days. But again, WCW didn't go anywhere with it, and decided to allow Kevin Nash to not only take the title, but become the first man to beat Goldberg.
6 Randy Savage
The Macho Man's last years in WCW were something we'd love to forget, but he certainly was one of their better champions.
Randy Savage held the title four times, though the title was only around his belt for 53 total days. He first won it in 1995 at World War 3, before stealing it again on Nitro in 1996. Savage's third reign came at Spring Stampede in 1998 and the last one took place at Bash of the Beach in 1999.
Again, the reigns weren't long, but four tenures is impressive,= and he certainly did appeal more than most wrestlers who were a WCW Champion.
5 Booker T
Without his terrific runs as WCW Champion, who knows if Booker T really would have been a top Superstar in the WWE. He really made a name for himself once he took the title for the first time.
He actually didn't capture the title until 2000, at Bash at the Beach, following the controversial Hogan and Jarrett match. He would win it again at Fall Brawl that same year, and again at a 2000 Nitro show.
Booker T won the title twice more in 2001, the last one being on an episode of Raw is War. His five championship reigns lasted for 253 days, making him easily one of the best WCW Champions of all-time.
4 Kevin Nash
If his ego, creative control, and employment of being able to write the storylines didn't exist, perhaps things could have worked out better for Kevin Nash and WCW as a whole. But what can you do?
He did everything in his own power to make himself WCW Champion whenever he could, but it can't be denied that he was one of the best to don the belt. He won the championship a remarkable five times. Nash first won the title at the 1998 edition of Starrcade, with his final victory being on a 2000 episode of Nitro.
3 Hulk Hogan
Without Hulk Hogan's WCW Championship reigns, there would be no talk about the nWo or WCW today. His epic heel turn and long-time runs as the champion made history and the Monday Night War one of the most incredible battles in sports entertainment.
Hogan first won the title at the 1994 edition of Bash at the Beach, which lasted an incredible 469 days. He would win it a second time at Hog Wild in 1996 under the Hollywood Hogan gimmick. That reign would last 359 days.
Then, he won it AGAIN at Road Wild in 1997, holding the title for another 141 days. Hogan would then win the championship another three times, making him a six-time WCW Champion. Nobody held onto the title for as long as he did: 1,177 days.
You need all of the pieces to complete a puzzle.
Yes, Hogan held the title for more days, but without Sting's emergence as WCW Champion, where would his rivalry with Hogan go? How would his feud with the nWo really turn out?
Sting's first title came in 1992 at SuperBrawl II, holding onto it for 134 days. He won it again in 1993, though it lasted just six days. It wasn't until 1997 where he'd win his first WCW Championship under The Crow gimmick.
He wound up winning the luxurious title six times, but perhaps none was more bigger than when he defeated Hogan at Starrcade 1997. That cemented his legacy as he took down the biggest name in pro wrestling, helping WCW take down the nWo (at least for the night).
1 Ric Flair
The Nature Boy has always said "To be the man, you gotta beat the man!"
Well, he is the man, because nobody could beat him in the fact he's a 16-time World Champion. He held the WCW Championship eight times, easily a record that nobody could ever match.
He held the title for a total of 501 days. He was the first WCW Champion when he won it at a 1991 house show, keeping it for 171 days. His second tenure lasted 111 days, and the next was 87.
The Nature Boy's legacy is cemented as the man with the most World titles. Even if John Cena manages to surpass him, Flair's incredible eight runs as WCW Champion helped put the company on the map.
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