If you were to ask any professional wrestling fan what the best time to watch wrestling was, they’d likely tell you that it was during the late 1990s. Starting in 1995, the WWE and WCW were engaged in a ratings battle that was known as the Monday Night Wars. At the time, WWE was pretty complacent with their product, putting out lukewarm wrestlers and goofy gimmicks, while WCW played to a more mature crowd that boosted their ratings.
In a response to WCW’s change, WWE learned to adapt and brought out some great characters and storylines, boosting their ratings and ultimately winning the Monday Night Wars when Vince McMahon purchased WCW in March 2001. While there were some great wrestlers from that time period, many were completely forgotten due to short stints on the lower card. There were even some wrestlers that would go on to become big names that you likely forgot were participating in the Monday Night Wars. When you were a child though, these were the wild characters that you loved.
Let’s see what some of them are up to now, as we take a look at 15 members of the Monday Night Wars, and see where their careers ultimately took them.
18 Buff Bagwell
During the height of WCW, Buff Bagwell was one of the most over wrestlers on the roster. Bagwell was known for his goofy catchphrases and enormous biceps, similar to how we remember Scott Steiner (though he hasn’t really gone away fully). Bagwell won five WCW World Tag Team Championships, and had his contract bought out to make the move to WWE in 2001.
However, Bagwell wouldn’t last long, and was accused of faking an injury for which he was ultimately fired. Bagwell would have a few short stints with TNA, as well, though none of them really stuck and he spent most of his time on the independent circuit. If you’ve been paying close enough attention to Bagwell, you likely know that he’s also working as a male escort. That’s not a joke, either.
There certainly were some interesting names during the Monday Night Wars, and Christopher Ford had two of them. Ford made his debut in WWE as Devon Storm, who was basically a jobber for two years, putting over midcard guys that needed a push. Ford would leave WWE in 1999 to join WCW, where his name was changed to Crowbar. The high flyer would end up winning a Tag Team Championship with David Flair in 2000.
Crowbar would also add a Cruiserweight Championship and Hardcore Championship to his resume, but wasn’t brought in by WWE during the buyout in 2001. Crowbar became Devon Storm once again, and has been wrestling part-time on the independent circuit ever since. For the most part, Ford is working as a physical therapist, and opened a clinic with his wife, which has been just as lucrative as his wrestling career.
16 Fake Razor Ramon
Rick Bognar started wrestling professionally in the late 1980s with Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, and got his big chance in 1996 with ECW as Big Titan. That same year, Bognar would enter the WWE as the fake Razor Ramon, while Glenn Jacobs (who went on to become Kane) was Fake Diesel. The storyline was odd, and was quickly forgotten by fans as Bognar lasted just one year in the WWE.
Bognar went to Japan to wrestle with NJPW for a brief time, and retired due to injuries and too much partying. Bognar started to study religion once his wrestling career was over after finding Buddhism. Since then, Bognar has been working as a life coach and motivational speaker around the world, and is based out Calgary, so the “Fake” versions of WWE wrestlers from 1996 both ended up finding success.
If you remember the WWE stables from the 1990s known as The Truth Commission and The Oddities, you’ll likely remember Jackal. Jackal had been a wrestler before his time with WWE, but was brought in as a manager with the backstory of helping a group of people that escaped the Gulf War and became pro wrestlers (because we were all so gullible back then). In 1998, Jackal was fired after managing The Acolytes, and he claims the firing was for trying to get himself over.
Jackal then joined ECW as Cyrus the Virus, working mostly on the microphone, but left the company once they declared bankruptcy. There was a short stint in TNA for Jackal afterward, but he retired from wrestling to work in international trading and hosted his own radio show. In 2017, Jackal returned to pro wrestling, joining NJPW as a commentator.
12 J.C. Ice
Long before John Cena had the white rapper gimmick that would become a big hit with fans, Jamie Cruikshanks had already given it a shot in USWA. Working with Wolfie D, Ice would form the tag team known as PG-13 that was at the top of the card in the smaller promotion. In 1995, the tag team looked for success in the WWE, but had just one brief storyline before being taken off of television.
The two came back with the Nation of Domination, but again didn’t last long. PG-13 went to ECW from there and then WCW, but neither would endure. Ice went back on the independent circuit, where he’s been making appearances ever since. He’s had his troubles trying to make it big, sadly, and was kicked out of one of Mick Foley’s one man shows for being belligerent.
11 Vic Grimes
On the advice of Jim Cornette, Vic Grimes landed a job with the WWE in 1999 when executives thought that he had what it took to be a star. Unfortunately, they gave Grimes a drug dealer gimmick under the name Key (like Kilo, get it?) which was doomed to fail. Key had a feud with some of the wrestlers on the midcard, but was removed from television when creative didn’t have any plans for him.
Grimes then packed up for ECW at Vince McMahon’s advice, and had the memorable match against New Jack where the two men fell, causing brain damage for New Jack. Grimes took off for Xtreme Pro Wrestling and later joined Wrestling Society X, only to see the company fold. The 54 year old is now enjoying retirement after some brutal matches throughout his career.
9 Johnny the Bull
Diamond Dallas Page got Jon Hugger started in pro wrestling, succeeding in his tryout with WCW and getting the name Johnny the Bull, teaming up with Big Vito to form The Mamalukes. The pair would win two Tag Team Championships during their time with WCW, while Johnny himself won a Hardcore Championship. There was some decent success for Hugger until WCW was purchased by the WWE.
Hugger was brought over to WWE and returned under the Johnny The Bull name, winning a trio of Hardcore Championships before being released in 2004. Hugger has been busy since then, wrestling with AJPW, TNA and recently Lucha Libre USA. Now working as Johnny Stamboli, Hugger is still in the independent circuit at just 40 years old, meaning he has plenty of time left in the business.
At the beginning of the Monday Night Wars, the WWE got into some early trouble by bringing Mike Halac into the promotion as Mantaur. It was as stupid as it sounds, as Mantaur came to the ring wearing the head and shoulders of a bull. Mantaur was given a big push pretty early, but lost his momentum quickly and was taken off of television within just a year of his strange debut.
Halac would bounce between lower promotions and the WWE, working in a couple of different gimmicks including Tank (with The Truth Commission) and as Goldust’s bodyguard. In 1998, Halac ultimately stuck around on the independent circuit, and has been wrestling there since including with American Heritage Wrestling.
7 Horace Hogan
Just like pretty much every other family in wrestling history, there are certain members that seem to have “it” compared to others. Hulk Hogan’s nephew Michael Bollea was signed by the WWE in 1993 and had just one match as The Predator before working short stints with NJPW and ECW. Finally, in 1998, Bollea joined his uncle in WCW under the name Horace Boulder before becoming Horace Hogan.
Hogan got involved in storylines that many people seem to forget, but then he ended up on the lower card in the tag team circuit. When Hulk Hogan left in 2000, Horace went along with him and signed briefly with WWE after the Monday Night Wars ended. He would retire shortly thereafter without any televised matches, and has since been working in construction.
6 Johnny Swinger
If you blinked during the time that Johnny Swinger was having matches with WCW, you probably would have missed it. Swinger was on the low end of the card during his entire time, lasting from 1996 to 1999. Swinger jumped ship from the company during the peak of the Monday Night Wars, and wound up with ECW known simply as “Swinger” before the company ultimately shut down in 2001.
Swinger came back to WCW for one last stint just before the end of the Monday Night Wars, and his contract was bought out by WWE, making him a free agent. He did come back as a developmental talent, but never caught on and has been wrestling independently ever since then. At just 42 years old, Swinger still has some wrestling left in him though you might know him better from Raven’s podcast these days.
5 Air Styles
Don’t laugh, but at one point one of the best wrestlers in the world was wearing a G-suit to the ring during the Monday Night Wars. Allen Jones signed with WCW in 2001 and was given the name Air Styles, teaming up with Air Paris to form Air Raid. The tag team didn’t gain much traction, and Air Styles would head to WWE for a brief period of time as a singles competitor that never got a push.
The rest of the story, you probably know. Styles would become A.J. Styles, competing in Ring of Honor, TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles became massively popular because of his run through those companies, and got his second chance at the WWE in 2016. Ever since then, Styles has been at the top of the card and is frequently regarded among the best current wrestlers around the globe.
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon absolutely loves having bodybuilders in the WWE, and there’s been a long list that have either succeeded or floundered. In the latter group, you’ll find Brakkus, which was the ring name of Achim Albrecht. Albrecht is a German that competed in the biggest bodybuilding contests like Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic, signing with WWE in 1996. We didn’t see him in the ring that often, mostly relegated to house shows and in vignettes where he threatened main eventers.
Brakkus wouldn’t make it that far, as he ended up with USWA shortly thereafter and then with ECW per WWE’s request. Brakkus was part of the WWF versus ECW storyline in 1997, and he returned to WWE the next year. Brakkus would leave WWE once again in 1999, and ultimately chose to retire due to injuries. Ever since then, Albrecht has been working as a strength and fitness coach in San Francisco.
3 Bull Nakano
We've seen pro wrestlers come from a background of football or bodybuilding, but we haven't seen many come from the world of golf. Keiko Nakano was a rare exception, and she started wrestling in Japan as a teenager in the 1980s. By the mid 1990s, she headed to North America and was set to be part of the Monday Night Wars, debuting with the WWE and even getting a title shot against Alundra Blayze.
Nakano won the WWE Women's Championship, but then dropped the title and was eventually fired for being busted with cocaine. With that, she joined WCW for a brief period and feuded with Blayze again when she also jumped ship to Ted Turner's promotion. Nakano retired in 1997 and joined professional golf, competing with the LPGA on a lower level. Now, she's retired from wrestling at 49 years old, having held her last match in 2012.
In the interest of establishing a great cruiserweight division, WCW decided in 1996 to bring in a lot of different luchadores from Mexico. One of them was Leonardo Carrera, who wrestled both as Damian and Galaxy, though most people didn’t know Carrera was working both gimmicks at the same time. Damian struggled to get as much television time as the likes of Rey Mysterio, though he found himself in the Latino World Order.
Carrera wouldn’t last long in the WCW, but has been active ever since leaving the company in 2000. Now known as Damian 666, he’s wrestling around the world, including a stop with AAA. Carrera had announced his retirement after his time with AAA ended, but he’s still active with small promotions and is part of the Los Perros del Mal stable.
1 Chad Fortune
After going undrafted by the NFL out of Louisville and failing to make an NFL roster, Chad Fortune turned his attention to pro wrestling. Under the name Travis, he would team up with pal Troy as Tekno Team 2000 (in 1995), getting a very minor push before fading in and out of obscurity. Fortune left for the WCW in 1997, and actually beat Goldberg in a one-on-one match in 1997, but it wasn’t aired on television.
Fortune spent most of his time on the lower card, and was released in 1999. Fortune has been keeping busy ever since his time with wrestling came to an end, as he actually went into driving monster trucks. Fortune is one of the drivers with Monster Jam, and is still with the company these days. Pro football, pro wrestling and monster truck driving all in one career is straight out of a child’s dream, and Fortune has been living it.
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