The WCW roster was full of names throughout the late '90s, as Eric Bischoff tried to put together a dream team. Ted Turner’s money allowed Bischoff to sign strange names that fans may not have expected. WCW went all-in with adding celebrities, special guests, and unexpected wrestlers to continue their goal of trying to win the Monday Night Wars. One of the reasons they ultimately lost was due to overspending on too many people.
We will look at some of the most surprising talents signed during WCW's history. The list features people that weren’t part of the wrestling business or were forgotten members of the roster. These are ten people we can’t believe WCW booked or employed.
The legendary rock band KISS has been relevant for decades and remain popular to this day. WCW hoped that booking KISS to perform on Nitro would have been a game-changer as the ratings were trending downhill in a dangerous way.
Eric Bischoff overestimated the drawing power of having KISS perform on a wrestling show. WCW even created the character of The KISS Demon, but it was a huge flop. Bischoff wasted money on booking KISS for a return that did not provide anything positive.
9 Lanny Poffo
A wrestler that was surprisingly on the roster was Randy Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo. The wrestling career of Lanny is mostly remembered for his WWE run as The Genius. WCW wanted to appease Savage and decided to hire Lanny as well.
The strange thing is that WCW never cared to use Poffo on television despite having him under contract for five years with six-figures coming in each year. WCW also signed Hulk Hogan’s nephew Horace Hogan and Ric Flair’s son David Flair, but they at least appeared on television.
8 Dennis Rodman
WCW tried expanding their audience by bringing in relevant athletes. Dennis Rodman was the most important basketball player to appear in WCW. Rodman's friendship with Hulk Hogan would see the basketball star become a member of the New World Order and wrestle a few matches.
Rodman even skipped his Chicago Bulls practice ahead of the 1998 NBA Finals to attend an episode of Nitro. In hindsight, WCW probably benefited from having Rodman appear during the peak of his career.
7 Karl Malone
Dennis Rodman would face off against his basketball rival Karl Malone in a WCW ring. Both basketball players utilized their history of going back and forth in two consecutive NBA Finals to bring the story to the wrestling world during the summer of 1998.
Rodman and Hulk Hogan defeated the team of Diamond Dallas Page and Malone at Bash at the Beach 1998. The appearance of Malone on a prior Nitro also helped Goldberg win the WCW Championship. Malone treated the wrestling business seriously and looked solid in the ring.
6 Shaquille O'Neal
Arguably, the most forgotten appearance from a major basketball star on WCW television was Shaquille O'Neal. Unlike his peers, O’Neal appeared in WCW before it was a hot product. WCW had Shaq stay in Hulk Hogan's corner during an important match against Ric Flair.
The presence of O’Neal prevented Flair’s friends from getting involved, permitting Hogan to score the win. Shaq was still in the early days of his NBA career, but he was famous enough for WCW to sign. WWE convinced O’Neal to make a few appearances many years later.
5 Master P
Once WWE surpassed WCW in 1999, Eric Bischoff struggled to regain momentum for the latter. Consequently, the promotion would continue to bring in celebrities. Bischoff believed the popularity of hip hop among young adults would make Master P a genius signing.
The rapper joined WCW with Konnan and Rey Mysterio representing him in the No Limit Soldiers. Unfortunately for Bischoff, WCW fans hated Master P and booed him out of the building most weeks. The heel faction of the West Texas Rednecks received cheers over Master P and his faction.
Ralphus provided one of the more memorable experiences of Chris Jericho’s time in WCW. Jericho was desperately trying to break out by starting his own feud with Goldberg. The ring entrance of Goldberg was mocked, with Ralphus serving as Jericho’s version of security.
Ralphus was a random backstage employee who was asked to hit the ring every week and serve as the least threatening enforcer ever. WCW found comedy gold with Ralphus.
3 Jay Leno
With the ratings and buy rates soaring, WCW was doing well in 1998. Road Wild 1998 would see another major attraction match involving a well-known celebrity. Talk show host Jay Leno started feuding with Eric Bischoff, with segments airing on both The Tonight Show and Nitro.
Leno and Diamond Dallas Page defeated Hogan and Bischoff to get revenge on the dastardly heels. Many wrestling critics were upset at Hogan selling moves for Leno, but it’s hard to argue with an angle that got positive attention and provided box office success.
2 Jeremy Borash
Jeremy Borash is known for his long run in TNA Wrestling and his current job as a producer for WWE on the NXT side of things. Borash's talent allows him to help in all areas that provide crucial little tidbits that add to the product.
Most fans fail to remember that Borash started his wrestling career in WCW. Borash revealed on Edge and Christian’s podcast that he joined WCW to host the internet radio show due to his background in radio. WCW did have Borash appear in a few segments in the final year of the company’s existence, but this was after most fans stopped watching.
1 James Brown
One of the strangest celebrity appearances in wrestling history featured legendary singer James Brown appearing at SuperBrawl 2000. Ernest “The Cat” Miller bragged about his dancing skills and often cited Brown among other legendary names as his friends.
WCW paid Brown big bucks to appear at the show and join in on the post-match celebration dance from Miller. The visual of Brown and The Cat dancing together was quite entertaining, but it did not provide much overall success given the ratings stayed low following this PPV.