World Championship Wrestling holds the rare distinction of being the only professional wrestling promotion in history to have David Arquette as its World Heavyweight Champion and produce a Viagra on a Pole match. Two moments that will live within the annals of wrestling forever, never to be reproduced again … and for damn good reason.
The downfall of WCW was a horrible sight. The company had taken a long and hard fall from atop the wrestling mountain only to end up a disfigured mess and a mere shell of its former self. WCW, despite honest efforts from some, was an organization that simply could not be saved; finally brought out behind the barn and put to rest in March of 2001.
Those were the bad days. The times which are discussed and mocked frequently. However, it wasn’t always that bad. There were good times for WCW … great times. The company was once the most successful professional wrestling organization in the world, toppling even the mighty WWE.
This piece is a retrospective of the good times in WCW. The times that made the fans feel great. The times that shocked. The times that drew out the deepest emotions of wrestling fans. The times which remind us that WCW was once hotter than hell and that the rival of WWE would help shape the future of its competition.
Within this list a number of matches, moments, and situations will be presented as pleasant memories from a gloomier generation. Those WCW moments that will not and cannot be forgotten, some of which have helped revolutionize professional wrestling in the process.
This will provide a steady kick of nostalgia to the guts of WCW fans as we look back at what once was; a time of great hope in professional wrestling. The hope that was provided by World Championship Wrestling.
These are the 25 greatest moments in WCW history:
25. Owen Hart Tribute Match
This moment makes our list for one very specific reason: it proved that somewhere deep down inside and beneath all of that pure and uncut WWE hatred was some sense of dignity and some form of a heart within WCW.
On the October 4th, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro, Bret Hart would take on Chris Benoit in a match that was dedicated to the memory of Hart’s late brother Owen, who had passed away tragically months earlier.
For all the sleazy things WCW had done over the years, this was actually a classy move on their part.
24. Chris Jericho: Man of 1004 Holds
The career Highlight Reel of Chris Jericho (intentional pun) is filled with WWE clips as his greatest success has undoubtedly come while working for Vince McMahon. However. Jericho had some moments in WCW as well.
During a feud with Dean Malenko – a wrestler known as the “Man of 1000 Holds” – Chris Jericho would take it upon himself to not one up but four up Malenko as the “Man of 1004 Holds.”
In a most memorable reading on Monday Nitro, Chris Jericho would read out his list of holds (as much as possible, anyway) in front of the live crowd.
23. Booker T Becomes WCW Champion
The year 2000 would turn out to be the final full year of existence for WCW. Needless to say, the year was full of bad ideas, bad gimmicks, and bad production all around. The stench of death was in the air.
However, there was a lone bright spot in the year 2000 at the Bash at the Beach Pay-Per-View. The very event where Jeff Jarrett literally laid down for Hulk Hogan in the middle of the ring; disgracing the WCW Championship all together.
Later that same night, Jeff Jarrett would actually compete for the title in a match against Booker T who would capture his first of five WCW World Heavyweight Championships … a well deserved victory.
22. WWE Property in the WCW Trash Can
In December of 1995, Alundra Blayze would show up on Monday Nitro with a piece of WWE property. This of course being the WWE Women’s Championship. Known as Madusa in the rival company, she was persuaded to cause some heavy controversy.
With Eric Bischoff in her ear, Madusa would actually toss the WWE Women’s Championship belt in the trash in a move that was designed strictly as a jab at WWE. However, it was a stiff jab.
This constitutes as a great WCW moment as it has survived the test of time as perhaps the most replayed female wrestling clip ever.
21. Chris Jericho Goes to Washington
A second Chris Jericho moment on a WCW themed list? Absolutely. While Jericho was definitely misused in WCW, he would manage to use his frustrations to his advantage in an art-imitating-life segment.
Chris Jericho – feeling as though he was the victim of a company wide conspiracy to hold him down – would take his act to Washington where he would act like many hard-pressed political activists.
While this moment didn’t even take place inside of a live WCW taping, it would still prove to be a hilarious and fantastic bit from Chris Jericho.
20. Rey Misterio Jr. Wins Cruiserweight Championship from Eddie Guerrero
Halloween Havoc 1997: WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero would place his title on the line against the most exciting young talent in the company: Rey Misterio Jr. However, this was not a “nothing to lose and everything to gain situation” for Misterio Jr.
The death-defying wrestler would place his identity on the line as well by putting his mask up as a prize for Eddie Guerrero to attain. The very mask that defined Rey Misterio Jr. That night, the fans were treated to arguably the best Cruiserweight match of all time.
The move set which was executed throughout this bout was off the charts; never before seen action with Rey Misterio Jr. capturing his second WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
19. Ric Flair Goes Crazy in the Ring
There are certain performers (Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan Sting) who could comprise an entire list of great WCW moments based on their careers with the company. However, we are here to spread the love around and give credit where it is rightly due.
That being said, let’s discuss a Ric Flair moment; particularity an absolutely insane/brilliant/intense/ballistic moment involving “The Nature Boy.” Now, Flair has lost his cool more than once over the years in the WCW ring but this one tops them all.
The infamous strip down, strut, and handcuff on Monday Nitro. Ric Flair wanted Eric Bischoff and for some reason losing his clothing was the way to do this. Why? Who knows … great moment though.
18. Eric Bischoff “Defeats” Vince McMahon
Throughout his reign as Ratings Kings of Monday Night, Eric Bischoff would often take verbal shots at Vince McMahon and WWE. Bischoff loved to rattle McMahon as much as possible and he was succeeding despite what McMahon might say to the contrary.
On the go-home edition of Monday Nitro prior to Slamboree 1998, Eric Bischoff would make a bold move and challenge Vince McMahon to a match at the event. For the six days leading up to Slamboree, the entire wrestling world speculated as to whether or not McMahon would accept.
With hopeful fans awaiting, Vince McMahon would not appear at the Pay-Per-View. Thus, Eric Bischoff would order the referee to start the match and count McMahon out; awarding the bout to Bischoff via count out victory.
17. “Macho Man” Randy Savage Revitalizes His Career
In the early ’90s, the WWE youth movement was well under way as the company began looking towards the future and growing a new crop of Superstars. This would lead to one of the all time greats, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, being relegated to a color commentator role.
However, Randy Savage felt as though he was far from done with in-ring action and longed to get back into the competitive swing of things; a situation that would not be rectified in WWE. Therefore, Savage made a decision to leave the company.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage would head over to WCW and make his official on-screen debut on the December 3rd, 1994 edition of Saturday Night.
16. Eric Bischoff Joins the nWo
If there is one thing Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff have in common, it’s the fact that they both enjoyed playing the on-air boss villain. Both men would assume this role during the Monday Night War as they battled over numbers.
In the fall of 1996, the nWo had already established itself as the most dominant faction in professional wrestling. The boys in black and white were taking over WCW and taking out anybody who stood in their way as talent either fought along side or directly against the group.
On an episode of Monday Nitro, the nWo would cement themselves as the powerhouse faction when Eric Bischoff officially joined the group in a shocking and memorable WCW moment.
15. Sting Wins Inaugural Battlebowl
Starrcade 1991 would produce a different kind of concept for WCW as the first ever Battlebowl would highlight the event. Forty wrestlers were placed into a “Lethal Lottery” to form twenty tag teams who would then compete in qualifying matches.
From there, the ten winning teams (twenty men in total) would compete at night’s end in an over-the-top-rope Battle Royal to determine the first ever Battlebowl Champion in the main event contest.
That night, Sting – the man who is now synonymous with WCW – would last eliminate Lex Luger to win the inaugural Battlebowl.
14. Bret Hart Arrives
The November night in Montreal that seemingly pops up everywhere in regards to wrestling-related stories is a tale that will never grow old in the wrestling community. In fact, there are some who remain bitter about the events of that evening.
Once the incident happened, it was clear that Bret Hart was heading to WCW as he would sign the three letters to the crowd, indicating with certainty that his days in WWE had come to a hasty conclusion.
While fans were aware of Bret Hart’s impending arrival in WCW, it wasn’t until “The Hitman” actually showed up on Monday Nitro that the situation felt real.
13. Randy Savage Wins the WCW Championship
“Macho Man” Randy Savage didn’t join WCW to simply wrestle again; he joined the company to be the best and in 1995 at the World War 3 Pay-Per-View, Savage would achieve excellence.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage would fight through and outlast every other competitor in the three ring, sixty-man Battle Royal main event for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
While the youth movement continued over in WWE, Randy Savage would prove to his former employer that an old dog can still bite with the best.
11. Arn Anderson Retires
Everybody loved D-Generation X and the nWo but the reality of wrestling stables is that only one truly ruled the industry: The Four Horsemen. Nothing before or since has ever compared in terms of faction greatness.
When The Four Horsemen were brought back into the mix, WCW fans were treated to the presence of an old familiar friend. However, it wasn’t long before the years caught up to Arn Anderson as his wrestling boots were destined for the shelf.
With his final act as the “Enforcer,” Arn Anderson would offer his spot in The Four Horsemen to Curt Hennig in another fantastic WCW moment.
11. Ron Simmons Becomes World Champion
The wrestling industry has long displayed its champions as a pale breed. However, in 1992, Ron Simmons would change that statistic as the WCW World Heavyweight Championship was set to change hands.
In a match against then-champion Big Van Vader, Ron Simmons would shock the wrestling world when he defeated the big man for his strap to become the first ever African-American Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.
Ron Simmons would never again find this level of success, but on that night, Simmons would place his name firmly in the wrestling record books.
10. Debut of Monday Nitro
WCW was once considered something regional; a Southern taste of professional wrestling. However, Eric Bischoff would change this vision of the company with a vision of his own in place.
On September 4th, 1995, the company would place WWE and the rest of the wrestling world on notice that WCW was to be taken seriously when they launched their very own prime time Monday Night program.
WCW Monday Nitro would prove successful for quite some time before its demise at the turn of the century.
9. Hulk Hogan Signs
In the summer of 1994, young music fans were still morning the loss of their disheveled hero Kurt Cobain. Meanwhile, young wrestling fans were rejoicing in the fact that Hulk Hogan was ready to step back into the ring.
Hulk Hogan had left WWE and his wrestling future was uncertain. Hogan would continue to bomb at acting and eventually had no other alternative but to return to the industry that made him famous.
And with that, the chequebook of Ted Turner would help lure the legend back to the business as Hulk Hogan signed with WCW.
8. The Four Horsemen Reunite
Ric Flair has an infamous past in professional wrestling and has experienced his share of issues with a number of people involved with the business. One of those people was Flair’s former boss, Eric Bischoff.
When Ric Flair no-showed an episode of Thunder in 1998, a lawsuit filed by Eric Bischoff against the legend would keep Flair off of WCW television for a number of months; leaving fans to call out for the return of “The Nature Boy.”
Fast forward to September and the wait was over as Ric Flair made an emotionally-charged return to WCW to join his friends and reunite The Four Horsemen.
7. Sting Wins the World Championship for WCW
One of the biggest problems facing today’s wrestling product is the lack of build towards main event, top level matches. Perhaps this is a direct result of the modern minuscule attention span of the digital generation.
Nevertheless, the build-up used to be a grand thing in wrestling and WCW played this perfectly with its build towards Hollywood Hogan and Sting. The Crow didn’t say anything directly to Hogan but simply spoke with a stare.
When the match was finally booked, it was set to go down at Starrcade 1997 where the leader of the nWo would place the World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Sting – with the weight of WCW on his shoulders – would proceed to reclaim the gold.
6. Scott Hall Invades
Monday Ntiro (May 17th, 1996): The night felt calm as WCW presented another episode of its weekly program until a disruption from the crowd would disturb the tranquility and alter the future of the company.
Scott Hall would make his way through the audience as he officially “invaded” WCW on behalf of a different organization. With the internet not quite being what it is today, fans of both WCW and WWE were baffled.
Scott Hall would grab a mic and make his intentions clear: “You want a war? You’re gonna get one.”
5. Kevin Nash Joins the Invasion
Monday Nitro (June 10th, 1996): For two weeks Scott Hall been proving a thorn in the side of WCW as the unwanted visitor continued to pop up throughout the program and enforce his will.
Then suddenly, Scott Hall was no longer alone in his efforts as his good buddy Kevin Nash would arrive in WCW to join the “invasion” and jump start the hostile takeover that would soon engulf the company.
Once again fans were left confused and questioning the validity of the angle: “are they really sent from WWE?”
4. Goldberg Wins the World Heavyweight Championship
There has been a lot said in regards to the rise of Goldberg within WCW. The former football player was certainly not “one of the boys” who traveled the roads taking bumps on the smaller wrestling circuit.
However, that didn’t stop WCW officials from placing Goldberg in a prime spot; positioned to become the company’s next mega-star. Goldberg was “The Next Big Thing” years before Brock Lesnar.
On the July 6th, 1998 edition of Monday Nitro – live from the Georgia Dome – Goldberg would challenge Hollywood Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship and in a monumental moment, would defeat Hogan and claim the championship.
3. Going Out in Style
Depending on how you look at it, March 26th, 2001 was either a great day or a sad day for professional wrestling. Regardless, you can likely recall the final episode of Monday Nitro.
In a night packed with emotions, the plug was finally pulled from life support as fans stood by and watch WCW slowly fade away into the oblivion but not without one last final moment to define the death with dignity.
The last Monday Nitro would end in the same manner of the first episode with a match between Ric Flair and Sting. While Sting won the match, it didn’t really matter as the warm embrace between Flair and Sting sent WCW off with style.
2. Hulk Hogan Turns Heel
Nothing is certain in the real world. In the wrestling world, for the longest time, there was a sense of certainty that came along with Hulk Hogan; a sense that “The Hulkster” would always be the “good guy.”
Then one night in Florida, at the Bash at the Beach Pay-Per-View, all of that certainly would be lost as the biggest and most shocking heel turn in the history of professional wrestling would take place.
Hulk Hogan would join Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the New World Order of wrestling in a moved that rattled the lives of Hogan fans.
1. Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan
Twenty-odd-years ago, the biggest professional wrestling match that could have been conceived was a bout between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan; the two biggest names in the industry.
When Ric Flair arrived in WWE back in 1992, all signs pointed to a Flair/Hogan showdown. However, the match that should have been the main event of WrestleMania VIII would never take place… opportunity squandered.
In 1994, this opportunity would present itself again in WCW when Ric Flair wore the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist and Hulk Hogan joined the company. This time around, the match that needed to happen was going to take place.
Ric Flair would place the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the line against Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 1994 where Hogan – in his first match for the company – would capture the gold and usher in a new era for Word Championship Wrestling.
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