Before WWE became the true heavyweight of professional wrestling, and long before Vincent Kennedy McMahon made a name for himself, wrestling was a completely different scene.
Every die hard wrestling fan recalls he Monday Night War and the fact that WWE eventually ended up buying out WCW. But before WWE and WCW were competing against each other, WCW was the stand out promotion.
WCW came out on top many times during the Monday Night War as well, but not enough to save the promotion. Before the company made an enemy of what eventually became WWE they were home to many wrestlers who later became well known stars for the latter company.
11-time World Champion Edge was first introduced to the wrestling world on WCW Pro as Damon Striker, long before The Rated R Superstar had even been pitched.
Many stars were known under very different names as part of the company in the early years up until 2001 when the curtain was finally drawn on the long standing promotion.
It was a fantastic way for many Superstars to begin in the business with the likes of Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson easily securing jobs with the company based upon the way they looked alone. Contracts weren’t as water tight back then so more Superstars were allowed to wrestle professionally under their own names and as the following list shows, some may come as a surprise.
15. Eric Bischoff
The former WCW President became one of the best known General Managers of Raw during the early 2000s before his ill-fated run with TNA. An all round intelligent man when it comes to the wrestling business, Bischoff made a name for himself in WCW as an announcer before being promoted to the position of Executive Producer.
Bischoff was promoted a few times in the years that followed until his hard work paid off in 1995 and WCW turned a profit for the first time in the company’s history, by this time Bischoff was known as President of WCW. Bischoff was hired to WWE as their first ever General Manager in 2002 where he was able to resurrect his on-screen smarmy character that he had made famous as part of the nWo in WCW.
14. Brad Armstrong
Brad Armstrong is best known for his second stint with WCW in 1996. He has been known by many ring names throughout his wrestling career with him being repackaged by both WCW and NWA many times while being a part of both companies.
One of the problems with Bard was the fact that he failed to connect with the audience. This may have contributed to his jobber role within the company where he would help put over Superstars on the rise. Brad sadly passed away back in 2012 with the speculation surrounding his death stating that it was a heart attack. Brad is best remembered for his later stint with WWE where he participated during house shows for the company’s version of ECW, even serving as a guest commentator a few times for the defunct brand.
13. Torrie Wilson
Torrie Wilson debuted in WCW in 1999 after she attended an event with her boyfriend and officials liked the look of her. She then began accompanying Scott Steiner to the ring while also being given her own storylines.
Torrie then made the switch over to WWE when the company brought out WCW in 2001. Although she never won a title during her WWE career she still became one of the most popular women on the brand. Torrie posed for Playboy magazine in 2003 which helped her popularity within the company. She would then join Candice Michelle and Victoria as part of Vince’s Devils. She left WWE in 2008 when she was released from her contract after failing to return following an injury.
12. Bryan Clark
Bryan Clark (Pictured Left) made his debut in WCW under the ring name Wrath. He was a part of the group known collectively as Blood Runs Cold but he left the group after he suffered a legitimate injury.
He returned to the company in 2000 under his real name. Clark and Brian Adams formed a tag team known as KroniK, and the group won the Tag Team Championships not long after their debut. The group went on to win another tag team Championship during their run with the company before Clarke was sidelined due to a facial injury while Adams suffered from Appendicitis. While the duo were out injured the company was brought out by WWE and the pair made the switch over the the superior brand for a short while.
11. Curt Hennig
Mr. Perfect himself signed for WCW in 1997. Since his name was trademarked to WWE he was no longer allowed to be billed as under the ring name so instead Hennig made his debut under his real name for the first time since the 1980s.
Hennig stayed with WCW until the year 200o and even though Hennig failed to find the same success in WCW he once had in WWE under the Mr. Perfect gimmick, his run with the company remains memorable as Hennig was simply a fantastic wrestler. He eventually made the switch back over to WWE, making a surprise appearance in the 2002 Royal Rumble match. Curt later had a stint in TNA before his tragic death in 2003.
10. Scott Norton
Scott Norton is another Superstar who had a brief wrestling career, but managed to maintain his real name throughout. He signed for WCW in 1993 and was originally set up to be one of the promotion’s biggest heels when he was given a storyline with Sting.
Sting was one of the faces of the company and this could have really worked in his favour, but the fans never accepted the rivalry and the whole plan was scrapped. It was only when he finally joined the nWo a few years later that his career was fully given direction. This lead to a fantastic feud with The Steiner Brothers even though he was denied the Tag Team Championship. He left WCW in 1999 when the company was gaining a lot of exposure and instead headed over to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
9. Alex Wright
Known for his incredible dancing gimmick throughout his WCW career, Alex Wright set the WCW Universe alight when he debuted a new and fresh character that eventually led him to gold within the company.
Alex is a one-time Cruiserweight Champion, World Television Champion, and Tag Team Champion along with Disco Inferno. Shockingly throughout his seven year tenure with WCW he was always kept inside the mid-card where he was given many Championship opportunities but rarely pushed towards the main event picture. Alex semi-retired from wrestling when WCW was brought out by WWE and his contract was not purchased by the company. Wright decided to only wrestle sporadically following his WCW tenure and has since opened his own promotion, New European Championship Wrestling.
8. Ernest Miller
Ernest Miller is a former Professional Wrestler who is best remembered for his time in WCW. It is is here that he was known by his ring name Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller. Shockingly throughout his four year career with the aforementioned company between 1997 and 2001 Ernest never managed to hold gold of any type.
He is best remembered for his villain character which mirrored Muhammad Ali. Miller would refer to himself as “The Greatest” and state that he could beat any opponent in a short amount of time (less than two minutes). This led him to many high profile matches for the company despite never being thought of as a main event calibre Superstar. Ernest along with many stars in WCW made the switch over WWE after the company was bought out and he had a somewhat brief stint on their roster before considering retirement.
7. Gregory Helms
‘The Hurricane’ Gregory Helms signed with WCW in 1999 when the company was beginning to suffer in the Monday Night War. Along with real life friend Shannon Moore and Evan Karagias he became part of the stable known as 3 Count. The group would parody boybands from the 1990s and sing songs before their matches. It was a fantastic gimmick that was sadly short lived.
The stable won the Hardcore Championship collectively not long after, but still disbanded a few months later. Helms went on to win the Cruiserweight Championship just before WWE brought out WCW but his contract was one of 25 that were included in the purchase of the company. It was not long after his WWE debut that Helms finally became as ‘The Hurricane’ and began dressing as a superhero.
6. Ted DiBiase
‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase is one of the best known characters in all of wrestling. He held numerous Championships for numerous promotions in his lengthy career and is best known for his stint in WWE. This is where his Million Dollar character really took off and the company even gave him his own Championship that was obviously rarely defended.
DiBiase headlined the 2010 Hall of Fame and was inducted by his two sons Ted and Brett who were also wrestlers on the circuit and as part of WWE. During his career Ted was known by his given name as well as being a part of the first ever SummerSlam in 1988 and is now recognized as one of the best wrestling technicians in history. In WCW, DiBiase was brought in to manage/fund the nWo and while he became known as ‘Trillionaire Ted,’ DiBiase also retained his real name.
5. Terry Funk
The ECW Original himself, the legendary Terry Funk has always been known throughout his wrestling career by his given name. His career has spanned a phenomenal 50 years and despite the fact that he has announced his retirement many times, he is still technically only a semi-retired wrestler.
Funk has wrestled at many major wrestling promotions over the past five decades including All Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and the National Wrestling Alliance. Funk has also held numerous Championships for many of these brands and is considered the pioneer of the hardcore wrestling style, which he helped introduce during his career. Funk’s last major appearance on TV was when he gave Dean Ambrose some advice before his match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32.
4. Chris Adams
‘Gentleman’ Christopher Adams is the only English Professional Wrestler on this list and joins it after a two year career with WCW under his given name. Chris was brought into the company to be a part of the all British group The Blue Bloods with Steven Regal and David Taylor. When real life problems with Regal forced these plans to be changed Adams was then basically surplus to requirements in WCW.
The company kept him for the two years and mostly used him as a jobber to push up-and-coming stars before he asked for his release after it was reported that he was unsatisfied with his role. Sadly, Adams was fatally shot after a brawl with his friend in October 2001 while planning to create a wresting documentary.
Goldberg is a former two-time World Champion, having one title run with both WCW and WWE throughout his somewhat short wrestling career.Goldberg had a mildly successful career as an NFL football player before he was signed to WCW in 1997.
This could be one of the main reasons he was able to retain his real name during this time. Goldberg’s NFL career ended after he tore his lower abdomen off his pelvis, this then allowed him to make the switch to wrestling where he went on an early undefeated streak which was recorded at an incredible 173 victories. Goldberg signed a one year contract with WWE in 2003 and left in 2004. hE has recently been included in WWE2K17 which has begun rumours that he could be set to return to the company soon.
2. Kevin Nash
‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel or Kevin Nash has had an incredible career in wrestling over the past few decades. As Diesel he won the WWE Championship and overall he has won an outstanding 21 Championships during his career. Perhaps most impressive is Nash’s five WCW World Heavyweight Championship victories.
Nash was a part of both the nWo in WCW and The Kliq in WWE which were two of the biggest groups of their time. Nash was one of the biggest stars of the 1990s and even made the shocking switch from WWE to WCW in 1996 to join up with real life friend Scott Hall. Nash was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 by his long-time friend Shawn Michaels.
1. Scott Hall
WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall made his biggest impact on the wrestling world when he returned to WCW in 1996 as a storyline “invader.” Hall was joined by both Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan to form the New World Order.
The group stormed WCW and took over the company in the coming years, winning the company’s Championships and turning them into nWo gold. The nWo were the biggest reasons that WCW were able to compete with WWE during the Monday Night War. Hall left WCW in the year 2000 before he returned briefly to WWE in 2002 with the aforementioned Nash and Hogan. He then turned his attention to TNA following an uneventful few months with Vince McMahon’s company but Scott returned to WWE in 2014 when he took his rightful place in WWE’s Hall of Fame.
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