World Championship Wrestling was once an undeniable force in the world of professional wrestling, going toe-to-toe with WWE in the mid-nineties and igniting the Monday Night Wars. It was during this time that WCW rose to the top and manged to defeat WWE in the ratings battle for a substantial period of time establishing WCW as the top wrestling company... at least for the time being.
WCW was a root which had grown out of the Nation Wrestling Alliance as a regional promotion under the name Jim Crockett Promotions. In 1988, under the new ownership of Ted Turner, the Universal Wrestling Corporation was born – a name which didn't stick and it wasn't long before World Championship Wrestling was introduced to the audience.
The promotion began to take a complete left turn when Eric Bischoff was promoted to Executive Producer. Along with the hiring of wrestling's mega-star, Hulk Hogan, WCW began to make waves in the media and soon enough, the word was out about World Championship Wrestling. From that point on, it was all about taking down Vince McMahon and the WWE.
But the fairy tale wouldn't last and eventually WCW began what would be considered an ugly downward spiral into extinction. The ratings battle had been in the favor of WWE for quite some time and WCW were growing ever more desperate to compete that they completely lost focus. In the end; WCW was purchased by WWE in 2001, officially declaring Vince McMahon the victor of the war.
This would mark the end of competitive wrestling promotions. No more ratings wars to be had as all the power was with WWE. However, we must not forget what WCW brought to the world of wrestling. Without Bischoff and his crazy antics, there would have been no Attitude Era. Meaning, no DX, no Rock, and worst of all, no Stone Cold.
World Championship Wrestling played a great role in the invention of these characters whether they meant to or not and for that we are grateful. Nowadays, the WWE remains as the top wrestling company in the world and the bored, jaded fans are left hoping for another WCW to come along and start another ratings war.
In this article we will look at those who helped WCW become what it was in its glory days as we countdown the top 20 greatest WCW superstars of all time …
20 Eric Bischoff
All right, so Eric Bischoff was not an active wrestler in WCW but he did sit in on commentary for a number of years and there is no real way to begin this list without his inclusion. If not for Eric Bischoff, WCW may have never reached the heights it had reached. Bischoff was deliberate, defiant, and devious. He was a constant string on controversy who might have had a slight biker gang fetish but that's a topic for another day. He was the guy who almost pushed Vince McMahon over the edge. And in the end, WCW is not Bischoff's failure but his greatest accolade.
19 Big Van Vader
Here we have a guy who looked like a dump-truck running you over in the ring. Big Van Vader won the WCW Heavyweight Championship three times during his run with the promotion. Vader was a big, big, bad man and took no mercy on his opponent. He became a monster in the ring while inflicting his aggression. Vader was a unique super-heavyweight, as although he weighed-in at around four-hundred-and-fifty pound, he was capable of performing dropkicks and even more impressive than that, moonsaults from the top-rope. Great agility for such a big man.
18 Buff Bagwell
These days, Buff Bagwell may be a successful gigolo but there was once a time when Bagwell was a successful competitor in World Championship Wrestling where he was a multiple-time World Tag-Team Champion. Bagwell made history on the July 2nd, 2001 edition of Monday Night Raw when he faced-off against Booker T for the WCW Heavyweight Championship. This would be the very first WCW title match on WWE TV. In fact, the final twenty minutes of Raw were broadcast under the banner of WCW. However, the match itself was met with a seething response from the live crowd.
17 Lord Steven Regal
Before there was Commissioner Regal or General Manager Regal or Color-Commentator Regal or tag-team partner of Eugene Regal, there was Lord Steven Regal; a dignified master of the squared-circle. In WCW, Regal was used properly and was presented as a true technical wrestler. A hard-nose Englishman with traditional wrestling values and a clear understanding of the sometimes perplexing sport. While Regal has won a number of championships throughout his career, he has never managed to win a world title in any promotion and that is an unjust shame.
16 Dean Malenko
“The Man of 1,000 Holds,” Dean Malenko was one of the best cruiserweights to emerge from the exciting and energizing division that was proudly exhibited by WCW. Malenko was also known as “The Ice Man,” a reference to his cold demeanor. He wrestled a calculating style of wrestling with great submission abilities. In 1998, Malenko was welcomed into the final incarnation of the legendary Four Horsemen. A fitting stable for a guy like Malenko, who much like the Horsemen, was a pure embodiment of professional wrestling.
15 Eddie Guerrero
When Eddie Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004, he had finally reached the top of the wrestling mountain. It was one of the most emotional title victories in recent memory. Of course, on his way to the mountain top, Guerrero spent years wrestling all over the world establishing his own name while protecting the legacy of his family. In WCW, Guerrero worked hard to achieve any level of success. Putting on one great match after another and gaining more and more recognition by the day. Eddie Guerrero was taken too soon but has never been forgotten.
14 Rey Mysterio
Perhaps the best cruiserweight of them all, Rey Mysterio helped jump-start the cruiserweight revolution in the United States during his time in WCW back in the late-nineties. This style of wrestling was foreign to the American crowds but the high-flying, death-defying, Rey Mysterio helped to solidify the style as a most exciting style of wrestling. Mysterio has long been a fan favorite in any promotion. During a Rey Mysterio match it becomes difficult to take yours eyes off of him because there is no telling what he will do next.
13 The Outsiders
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall left the WWE in 1996 under controversial circumstances after taking part in the infamous Madison Square Garden “Curtain”Call” incident along with Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Their next venture was returning to WCW (both were employed by the company prior to WWE) where they were originally seen as “invaders” from the rival company. The storyline was superb initially as it was The Outsiders who were seen as the true architects of the nWo. The tag-team were new and cooler than ever before.
12 Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page was brought into WCW in 1991 originally as a manger to The Fabulous Freebirds, even doing color-commentary for a while. At the age of thirty-five he decided to enter the WCW Power Plant; the company’s training facility and would soon debut in WCW as an active wrestler. Despite his age, DDP went on to become a triple-crown champion in WCW by winning the World Heavyweight, Tag-Team, United States, and championships. DDP spent a decade in WCW, turning himself into one of their top superstars.
11 Ron Simmons
Ron Simmons may be best remembered as Faarooq, the outspoken leader of The Nation of Domination or as one half of The Acolytes/APA along with his tag-team partner Bradshaw. Or even as the guy who randomly appears backstage during outlandish and ridiculous sketches to simply scream the word, “DAMN!” But, on August 2, 1992, Ron Simmons made history in WCW by becoming the first ever African-American World Heavyweight Champion in professional wrestling history. This event will forever enshrine Ron Simmons in the record books.
10 "Macho Man" Randy Savage
“Macho Man” Randy Savage was already one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling before he ever stepped foot in a WCW ring, having already been a two-time WWE champion and a headliner at WrestleMania. However, Savage was designated to commentary in the early-nineties while the WWE embarked on The New Generation Era. Savage, now in his forties, still had a lot of gas left in the tank and would leave WWE for WCW where he would once again flourish as a professional wrestler, winning their Heavyweight Championship four times.
9 Lex Luger
The premiere episode of Monday Nitro was a historic night in the wrestling business for a number of reasons but the most shocking moment of that very first episode came when Lex Luger, who had just wrestled a house show for WWE the night prior, showed up under contract and made his triumphant return to WCW. While Luger has never been the best all-around technical wrestler, he did hold the WCW title on two separate occasions and has played some very important roles along the way and was involved in a lot of major storylines.
8 Scott Steiner
Along with his older brother Rick, Scott Steiner was once a part of the acclaimed Steiner Brothers tag-team before breaking away and transforming into “Big Poppa Pump,” one of the baddest men to ever come out of WCW. Steiner is less of a man and more of a beast and an impressive one at that. Even with all his body mass, Steiner was able to perform top-rope hurricanranas with ease. While Steiner was crude and sometimes down right obnoxious, he did spend a great deal of time in the main-event picture while performing as a singles competitor in WCW.
7 Barry Windham
Barry Windham's affiliation with WCW goes way back to the days of Jim Crockett Promotions where Windham was used in a mid-card position. However, it was during this period when Windham would wrestle Ric Flair on numerous occasion and put on a great spectacle, having hour-long matches and showcasing the kind of wrestling fans can only dream of today. Eventually, Windham would join forces with Flair and become an established member of The Four Horsemen. Barry Windham is old-school WCW. (Interesting fact: Barry Windham is the uncle of Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas)
6 Arn Anderson
“The Enforcer,” Arn Anderson. Yet another prestigious member of The Four Horsemen. If you like watching Triple H pull off his explosive spinebuster, you have Arn Anderson to thank for that, as Triple H has adopted the move from the man who once performed it with such precision. Anderson had a lot going for him back in his time; the look, the talent, and the mic skills. Arn Anderson is another one of those guys who was never awarded the promotion's top championship and you have to wonder why? He had all the makings to be a Heavyweight Champion.
5 Booker T
The five time, five time, five time, five time, five time WCW Champion (sorry, I couldn't resist). Booker T first made strides in WCW as a member of Harlem Heat. The tag-team proved effective and successful but Booker T seemed destined for more. On the final episode of Monday Nitro, Booker T won his fifth WCW World Heavyweight Championship while also holding the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Making him a double title holder on the final night of WCW and going out in style.
4 "Hollywood" Hogan
WCW can lay claim to the greatest heel turn in the history of professional wrestling when Hulk Hogan became “Hollywood” Hogan as a member of their roster. Steve Austin's heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven was close but Austin turning heel was not that far a stretch considering his personality. With Hogan, he was never supposed to be a “bad guy.” Never! This was a side of Hogan that nobody knew existed. Naturally, Hogan would have been the top guy in WCW even if he hadn't turned heel but it gave Hogan new legs at a time when the whole “Hulkamania” thing was growing stale.
Until he was tasered by Scott Hall and pinned by Kevin Nash, Goldberg's undefeated streak in WCW was an unprecedented 173-0. With Goldberg the formula was simple. Knock on the locker room door, walk out with the security guards, step through the pyro, blow the smoke, head down to the ring, smash the opponent, and leave. Simple but effective. Goldberg was the most organic thing to ever sprout out of WCW. The fans absolutely adored him as he was undoubtedly a major soldier for WCW during the Monday Night Wars.
2 Ric Flair
What can you say about Ric Flair that hasn't already been said? Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, let's go for it anyway. Ric Flair is the greatest performer in the history of professional wrestling. The sixteen-time world champion is unmatched by anybody else, past or present. Flair has had many a-great feud with many a-great wrestler (we can name them all day). It seems as though every one of the greats has at one time or another worked a program with Flair as he is the true measuring stick in the business. Long live the “Nature Boy.”
If Shawn Michales is “Mr. WrestleMania,” and Rob Van Dam is “Mr. Pay-Per-View,” then that makes Sting “Mr. WCW.” Sting was the franchise player, loyal to the end. The guy who wouldn't even jump off of the sinking ship when everybody else was searching for rafts and rescue boats. When one recollects about WCW, the painted face of Sting will enter the mind. That facts are all there. Sting is the greatest superstar in the history of WCW.