WCW was a special company that provided great entertainment for wrestling fans. The industry would be a completely different place if WCW never ascended in the mid-90s to surpass WWE in starting the Monday Night Wars. Everyone benefited from the business becoming a hot product due to two competing brands. Wrestlers made more money, the shows were more entertaining and the future was impacted for the positive. Without WCW’s rise, WWE may not have changed their ways in finally presenting a product fans would passionately follow. There’s no debate WCW has a rich legacy in pro wrestling and it deserves the credit for its importance to the industry.
It has been over fifteen years since WCW officially went out of business after being purchased by Vince McMahon. WWE won the war and only utilized WCW for the library after the poorly done Invasion angle failed. Many of the WCW stars eventually migrated to WWE, some went to TNA, others wrestled on the independent wrestling circuit, while some just flat out retired. The stories of the talent following WCW’s demise are varying but many of them have aged dramatically in the past twenty years. The physical toll, stress associated with the job and the overall aging process has seen the one time television Superstars become nearly tough to recognize.
Many of the former wrestling stars look like completely different people as the years go by. This is more an effect of human nature rather than anything else. Very few of us will look the same in our 50s as we did in our 30s. A few wrestlers from that time period have somehow made a deal with Father Time to keep their distinct looks. Booker T, Sting and Goldberg all look nearly identical to how they did in the 90s but not everyone is that lucky. We’ll look at the unfortunate stories of the opposite spectrum. These are the top WCW stars you wouldn’t recognize today.
15. Scotty Riggs
The American Males tag team mostly catapulted Buff Bagwell into a singles star when he joined the New World Order, but Scotty Riggs was actually the more talented member. They worked fairly effectively together in the team but Riggs was lost in the busy WCW world when the team split. Riggs would become a forgotten man in the wrestling industry despite his talent. You can find him on social media interacting with fans about the current product, however it would be quite difficult for WCW fans to recognize Riggs today given the noticeable changes.
14. Big Show
On the surface, this seems like a reach, but think about someone that only watched The Giant in WCW. The realization of what he looks like today as Big Show would be absolutely staggering. It would be hard to believe the long haired, lean Giant in WCW and the bald knockout artist of today are the same person. Big Show has become a fixture in WWE for almost two decades and has achieved a great deal of success. The big man is bound for retirement in the near future, but he will go down as one of the men to win about both WWE and WCW Titles.
13. Sonny Onoo
Sonny Onoo spent the most successful years of his career as a manager in WCW for the likes of Ultimo Dragon, Yuji Nagata and Ernest Miller. The comical heel character of Onoo was quite entertaining and helped add to the acts of performers that couldn’t speak English or worked under a mask. Onoo’s biggest win may have been getting big money out of Turner Broadcasting after settling a lawsuit out of court. The suit saw Onoo claim he dealt with racial discrimination in WCW. You will only see Onoo at the rare wrestling convention at this point and he looks like a completely different man. Sonny Onoo is noticeably older and rocking grey hair.
12. Shane Douglas
The aging process will eventually hit us all and it’s impossible to escape it, even if you’re The Franchise. Shane Douglas made a name for himself by trashing many of the older men who were still holding a spot in pro wrestling. Well, The Franchise is now one of those older wrestling personalities. Douglas has been transitioning outside of pro wrestling but still works the occasional independent wrestling show. A weight gain and hairstyle change will have fans doing a double take before realizing it’s Shane Douglas.
11. Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko’s in-ring work during his prime was among the best in the wrestling business. Malenko earned the nickname of “The Man of 1,000 Holds” through his spectacular array of maneuvers in the ring. An early retirement saw Malenko find a new career as a producer backstage for WWE, helping agent the matches on both television and live events. Malenko works with the wrestlers in structuring the match and how to go about telling the correct story with their time. Malenko’s physical look has changed drastically and it’s understandable. After years of working an intense style, we would all want to devolve into an average Joe.
10. Tony Schiavone
The voice of WCW will always be Tony Schiavone for his years of service as the play-by-play commentator. Schiavone was the lead announcer for the most successful years of WCW and called their most memorable moments. WWE wanted nothing to do with him following the demise of WCW, which caused Schiavone to leave the industry to work as a commentator for minor league baseball games along with hosting radio shows for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network. Schiavone’s appearance has changed with a new hairstyle, beard and the aging process all making him hard to recognize.
Bryan Clark had a career full of ridiculous wrestling names as The Nightstalker in AWA, Adam Bomb in WWE and Wrath in WCW. The physically imposing badass delivered a great deal of entertainment in WCW with his Mortal Kombat inspired character and many believe he would have entered the main event scene if booked better, rather than jobbing to Kevin Nash to end his undefeated streak. That’s all in the past and so is Wrath’s former look. Anyone spotting Bryan Clark these days would be stunned to see how different he looks, despite having the same hairstyle and beard. Wrath looks like an old but very tough man today.
Raven’s work was always impressive but he was stuck in the midcard purgatory for his entire stint in WCW. Raven delivered the goods as a main eventer in ECW but still found ways to steal the show during the WCW days. It is staggering how different Raven looks today with a weight gain and the aging process not being incredibly friendly to him. Raven looks pretty bad compared to his prime, but that’s sadly what happens as we grow older. You can still find Raven trying to make a buck at small independent wrestling shows but he will not be anything like what you remembered.
It may be tough to believe, but Konnan was the biggest star of the luchadors to make the jump to WCW from Mexico early on. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio would eventually pass him but Konnan was the first one to get over as a singles star. WCW showed enough confidence in Konnan to have him join the New World Order and still get promo time. His glory days are over and Konnan unfortunately looks nothing like what he used to. Various physical ailments have impacted his appearance and he can be a little hard to recognize. Konnan is still having fun talking a big game on his podcast on the MLW Network, while also commentating for Lucha Underground
6. Scott Hall
Everyone remembers the legendary moment that saw Scott Hall debut in WCW to start the industry-changing nWo angle. Hall made a great deal of money and was a big star for WCW during the majority of the Monday Night Wars. Unfortunately, Hall’s downfall with addiction to alcohol and drugs would begin to surface in WCW and continue for many years. Fellow WCW legend Diamond Dallas Page helped clean up Hall’s act with DDP Yoga and Hall is doing much better now. Hall just happens to look quite old, but he still makes it work. The physical differences with Hall are shown with one glance, but he still has the same personality that he did in the 90s.
Vampiro was a last ditch effort to salvage things in WCW as a “new era” wrestler. His gimmick was surprisingly over and many pegged him as the next Sting. After the WWE purchased WCW, McMahon shockingly had no plans for the upcoming Superstar. After his release, Vampiro wrestled everywhere from CMLL, All Japan Pro Wrestling, TNA, XPW, AAA Mexico, Wrestling Society X and Juggalo Championship Wrestling. Ya, we weren’t kidding when we said they guy has been everywhere. Today, at the age of 49, Vampiro is wrestling with Lucha Underground, looking nothing like his days from WCW.
4. Billy Kidman
The Cruiserweight division arguably left the biggest impact on the wrestling business when looking at what WCW brought to the industry. Many of today’s stars were influenced by those exciting matches and Billy Kidman was an important aspect of that. Kidman dazzled with outstanding matches while wearing ‘jorts’. Kidman’s wrestling career continues today as a backstage producer with the WWE. Kidman helps run the show in the gorilla position as a pivotal part of the WWE television aspect. Kidman’s look is relatively the same but he’s noticeably older. There’s no way he would still be able to pull off the Shooting Star Press if you take one look at him and fans may need to do a double take to notice him on the street.
3. Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff’s bold decision making and risk taking led WCW to overtake WWE for a few years in the 90s. No one burned as many bridges as Bischoff but it changed the wrestling industry and created excitement. Bischoff has had various ups and downs following his WCW career, but still holds a memorable legacy. Bischoff’s look today is completely different with his years catching up to him, as he’s rocking a head full of grey hair today. The years of managing the egos of WCW’s top talent likely contributed to that. Fans that only know Bischoff from his recent time in TNA or on WWE Network shows would be stunned to find out how he looked during the WCW glory days.
2. Alex Wright
The underrated Alex Wright will always be remembered for three things in WCW – his German heritage, his glorious dancing and his wonderful hair. Wright never rose out of the midcard tier but he was still highly entertaining in his role while delivering comedy and good wrestling. No one knew what Wright was doing for years following the death of WCW but he recently resurfaced as a guest trainer at the WWE Performance Center. This was the first time he stepped foot in the United States in over 12 years and he looked very different from the prior trip. Wright is sporting a bald head and has strayed far away from the days of Das Wunderkind.
1. Lex Luger
Lex Luger was a main event level Superstar for WCW as one of the biggest names of the 90s. The Total Package had arguably the best physique in the business, but things have dramatically changed over the years. Following his wrestling career, Luger’s health has been on the decline. The wrestling great suffered temporary paralysis in his neck and left him in a quadriplegic state. Luckily, Luger was able to walk and drive again but he still looks pretty beat up. The one-time strongest man in the business looks like a drastically different person. Luger still does seem to be in good spirits and enjoys talking to wrestlers and wrestling fans at conventions
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