It may be because of WWE’s definite anti-WCW slant in documentaries on the Monday Night Wars or featuring the onetime rival promotion in other ways, shapes, or forms. It may also be because of books such as R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez’s The Death of WCW. But many of today’s fans don’t have a very favorable view of Ted Turner’s old wrestling company. And while one can always point to the Fingerpoke of Doom and most of WCW’s last two years as classic examples of how not to run a wrestling promotion, that doesn’t mean WCW didn’t achieve some good things in the business.
With that out of the way, it’s very easy to remember many of WCW’s biggest stars – Ric Flair, Sting, nWo founders Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan, Diamond Dallas Page. Or what about WCW guys like Steve Austin and Mick Foley who became much better deals in the WWE than they ever did in Atlanta? You may even remember goofy characters such as The Yeti, or any one of Ed Leslie’s many WCW gimmicks. But with WCW’s roster often bloated to the point of exaggeration, there are so many forgotten mid-carders and lower-carders in the company’s history whom you might not remember anymore. (Spoiler alert: That also includes guys mostly known for their WWE tenures whose WCW runs were far less memorable.)
For this list, we’re going to be listing 20 of these forgotten names from the ’90s, jogging your memory on what they did back in WCW, and seeing how they look like these days, and what they’ve been up to in recent years.
20. Mike Rotunda
Here’s someone who definitely isn’t forgotten to WWE fans, but may not be as memorable for his time wrestling for the competition. Who’s even aware that Mike Rotunda was, for some time, part of the nWo alongside his former WWE stablemate, Ted DiBiase? Indeed, the former Irwin R. Schyster did spend some time in WCW, working a variety of other gimmicks – legitimate amateur wrestler (with the Varsity Club), sea captain (yes, that did happen), and evil businessman (as V.K. Wallstreet, the initials being a reference to a certain Vincent Kennedy McMahon). Yet he’s still best remembered by far for his WWE stints as a kayfabe taxman.
Of course, there’s no need to remind you that Rotunda’s sons Windham and Taylor are active WWE wrestlers Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, respectively. It’s also common knowledge that he remains involved with the WWE, working for the company as a road agent and occasionally busting out the IRS gimmick. He might need to give his sons’ pushes an audit, though, because Wyatt’s push has gone totally south since his brief WWE Championship run, and Miztourage member Dallas is a virtual punching bag for The Miz’s babyface rivals.
19. Johnny The Bull
The youngest wrestler in this list, Johnny the Bull was only 22-years-old when WCW teamed him up with Vito LoGrasso (or Big Vito, as he was known) in late 1999, as the two formed a Mafia-themed tag team called The Mamalukes. As one-half of The Mamalukes, Johnny won two WCW World Tag Team Championships in the company’s final years, and also won one Hardcore Championship, albeit as “co-champion” with Big Vito, before the latter beat him to become the undisputed Hardcore champ. Oh, those wacky latter-day WCW years.
Unlike many underneath guys who got cut after WWE signed them to post-buyout developmental deals, Johnny the Bull (now Johnny Stamboli) made it to WWE’s main roster, as he and Big Vito became part of the Full Blooded Italians stable. He’s still far less-remembered than the dress-wearing Vito, and while he remains active in the Indies (he was last seen working a darker gimmick as Redrum), he also joined several other ex-WWE Superstars in suing the company over traumatic brain injuries allegedly suffered while working for the company.
18. Sick Boy
No two ways about it – heroin is no joke. But with the drug having contributed to the deaths and personal issues of many a 1990s rock star, not the least of these being Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, ECW and WCW’s original Cobain-expy, Raven, had to have an implied heroin addict in his Flock, and that was Sick Boy. Portrayed by WCW Power Plant graduate Scott Vick, Sick Boy dressed like your average rock ‘n’ roll washout, and was one of the lower men of the Flock, mostly ending up on the losing end of feuds against higher-tier stars like Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Benoit, and Goldberg.
While Vick retired from pro wrestling before the age of 30, he made a brief comeback in 2014 and 2015, teaming up with Lodi to win the WrestleForce Tag Team Championship. As seen in the picture of above, he certainly looks much “healthier” than he ever did during his lower-card run in WCW.
It’s an annoying trend here in my home country, and one that reminded me of the oft-forgotten WCW guy of the same name – the word “Lodi,” or “idol” in reverse, is now used by Filipinos as a term to refer to someone you admire, or as a substitute for “dude” or “man.” And while I always thought Brad Cain’s ring name came from the California city, it actually did come from “idol” in reverse, due to his resemblance to 1980s rocker Billy Idol. He’s best known to WCW fans for his partnership with Lenny Lane in the Billy and Chuck-predating West Hollywood Blondes, and prior to that, his membership in Raven’s stable, the Flock.
Despite being in his late 40s and fresh off neck surgery, Lodi’s career survived injuries and past substance addictions and he was, as of earlier this year, still active in the indie wrestling scene. While he did tell fans “never say never,” doctors apparently advised him that his third and most recent neck surgery means that he may never wrestle again.
16. Kwee Wee
Contrary to what some of you may think, Allan Funk is not in any way related to Terry or Dory. But unlike the hard-hitting machismo Texas natives Terry and Dory Funk have long been known for, Ohio native Allan Funk gained notoriety in WCW for playing Kwee Wee, a flamboyant, allegedly gay gimmick which had him managed by Booker T’s future wife Sharmell. This was back when she was still using the name Paisley, a carryover from her time managing The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea.
After WCW folded, Funk became one of TNA’s first wrestlers, using the ring name “Bruce” and teaming up with fellow kayfabe gay man and WCW alumnus Lenny Lane. And while he is, by all accounts, a straight man, Funk is still pigeonholed in decidedly non-macho gimmicks, as he remains active in Lucha Libre USA, where he wrestles as the Lady Gaga-inspired exotico called Chi Chi.
15. Alex Wright
Together with the more memorable Disco Inferno, “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright ensured that there was a lot of dancing to be had in WCW’s mid-card for most of the ’90s. Debuting at just 19-years-old in 1994, the German youngster did indeed spend some time feuding with Disco Inferno, and by 1998, both men had become allies, teaming up to win a WCW World Tag Team Championship as the appropriately named Dancing Fools. Then Berlyn happened, as WCW failed to reinvent Wright as a darker take on the age-old “evil foreigner” gimmick.
After Berlyn was dropped, Wright returned to his old gimmick and partnership alongside Disqo (because Sisqo’s “Thong Song” was a huge hit in WCW’s dying years). He then disappeared from the spotlight after the death of WCW, enjoying semi-retirement as a banker and fitness instructor. He did, however, open New European Championship Wrestling in 2009, while running his own wrestling school in his native Germany.
Pardon us if you’ve heard this before, but it was too little, too late when WCW injected some youth into its roster in those rough post-Fingerpoke of Doom years. Crowbar, who was previously known as Devon Storm during his stint as a WWE light heavyweight, became a completely different character, often acting certifiably nuts as he teamed up with Daffney (a good pairing) and David Flair (never mind). He won one Cruiserweight, Hardcore, and Tag Team Championship each during his WCW run, then spent the next decade-plus in the indies, while having a cup of coffee in TNA as part of Father James Mitchell’s New Church stable.
While not officially retired as a wrestler, Crowbar, real name Chris Ford, is now in a completely different, far saner line of work together with his wife of 13 years. He and his wife Dina run their own health care facility in New Jersey, with the former WCW madman now putting his college education to use as a physical therapist.
13. Bobby Eaton
By the time WCW officially became known as such in 1988, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton was only 30-years-old, but already a grizzled veteran of more than a decade. Best known for his time with The Midnight Express, Eaton also ventured out into singles competition, winning one WCW TV Championship, and had a one-year stint in Paul Heyman’s WCW faction, the Dangerous Alliance. You may also remember that odd-couple partnership he had with “Lord” Steven (later William) Regal, where the snobby Brit transformed him into the more genteel “Earl” Robert Eaton.
Often regarded as one of the genuine nice guys of the business, Eaton was essentially semi-retired from 2000 to 2015, when he lost to Ricky Morton of longtime Midnights rivals The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Unfortunately, he’s battled his share of health problems, particularly heart-related issues, and was reported missing by his sister last year, only to be found at the Atlanta airport eating by himself and in a “confused” state of mind.
12. Elix Skipper
Yes, believe it or not, that happens to be his real name. Originally known under the rather ridiculous-sounding ring name Skip Over, Elix Skipper made his WCW debut toward the end of 1999, and became one of several younger talents pushed in 2000 as the company struggled to stay afloat. Despite being American, he was drafted into Lance Storm’s Team Canada faction, and later became a one-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion, and one-half of the first (and second-to-last) Cruiserweight Tag Team Champions alongside Kid Romeo, just one week before WWE bought out WCW.
After a six-year stint in TNA and a year in the indies, Skipper retired from professional wrestling, with his final match on record being against Tyler Black in his home state of Iowa. (You should know that guy better these days as Seth Rollins.) Skipper has been keeping a low profile since retirement, though sadly, he also had to deal with personal tragedy, as his 22-year-old son was killed in a home invasion in 2009.
With WCW on its deathbed, the company made a few unsuccessful efforts to push some of the younger guys in a roster that was either old, stale, or horribly booked. These efforts included the Natural Born Thrillers, who debuted in August 2000 and stuck around until a month prior to WWE’s buyout of WCW. In a lineup that also included Mark Jindrak, Chuck Palumbo, Mike Sanders (who’s also in this list), and the late Sean O’Haire, Reno is arguably the least memorable, despite his unusual bald head/ponytail combo. And this kayfabe Nevada shoot fighter does somehow qualify as a ’90s WCW wrestler, as he was originally booked in 1999 as a jobber known by his real name, Rick Cornell.
Like many WCW lower- and mid-carders who were absorbed when WWE bought out the company in March 2001, Reno got signed to a developmental contract, but never made the main roster. He retired from wrestling in 2003, and is quietly living in Nevada with his wife and children, with further details mostly unavailable.
10. Dick Slater
Although he was a big star in the territories, Dick Slater’s WWE run was a) politically incorrect, as he was the Confederate flag-sporting “Rebel,” and b) an utter bust, as he was ultimately demoted to jobber status. He enjoyed a much longer run in WCW, but due to the fact that he was an aging vet for most of that run, he was mostly a lower-card fixture, teaming with former Beverly Brother Mike Enos as “Rough ‘N Ready,” but repeatedly failing to win WCW’s World Tag Team Championships from Harlem Heat.
Unfortunately, many fans are more aware of Slater as someone who repeatedly lived up to his first name, due to a plethora of violent outside-the-ring incidents that included the stabbing of his ex-girlfriend in the early 2000s. In 2015, Ric Flair said on his podcast that Slater is living in a Clearwater, Florida nursing home, adding that the former Rebel now looks unrecognizable from his old wrestling days.
9. Paul Orndorff
As he is best associated with his WWE run in the 1980s, especially his friendship with, and ultimate betrayal of Hulk Hogan, it’s easy for fans to forget that Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff wrestled for WCW in the first half of the 1990s. By that time, he was already in his 40s and not quite the same master of the piledriver he was in his WWE heyday, and while he did win a TV Championship and Tag Team Championship in WCW, he’s arguably better-known to WCW fans for the real-life backstage altercation he had with Big Van Vader, which took place shortly after he retired to become a road agent.
Despite never winning a main event title in either WWE or WCW, Orndorff was deservingly inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Unfortunately, he looks even older than his actual age of 68-years-old, mainly on account of health issues he’s had in the past decade, including a bout with cancer in 2011 which he’s since recovered from.
8. The Demon/KISS Demon
As the tall and well-built son of former MLB player and manager Jeff Torborg, Dale Torborg was expected to follow in his dad’s footsteps and makes his name in professional baseball. Not long after a career-ending injury, he was on WCW television, dressed up as KISS bassist, singer, and supreme overlord Gene Simmons as “The KISS Demon,” supposedly the first member of a KISS-themed stable Eric Bischoff had cooked up with cooperation from the band. Of course, Simmons had to insist that his wrestling namesake had to main event a WCW PPV. He didn’t, due to Bischoff getting canned in late 1999, and we never got to see wrestling equivalents of Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss.
After his underwhelming WCW run ended, The Demon made a couple cameos on TNA, but wisely decided to focus on the “family business” of baseball after retiring as a full-time wrestler in 2002. He’s been married since 2000 to his onetime valet, Christi “Asya” Wolf, and still works for the Chicago White Sox as their conditioning coordinator.
KISS were enjoying a successful comeback in the late ’90s when the Demon was introduced to WCW fans, but the band’s popularity, for all intents and purposes, peaked two decades earlier. Mortal Kombat, on the other hand, was clearly one of the hottest video games of the era when WCW decided to capitalize on its popularity and debut Raymond Lloyd as Glacier, an obvious ripoff of Mortal Kombat character Sub-Zero. He was given an elaborate backstory, an even more elaborate ring entrance, a one-year winning streak, and a Mortal Kombat-esque feud against Mortis, aka Chris Kanyon. Yet it all amounted to nothing, as Glacier was essentially on job duty in 1998, two years after his debut.
Despite how the Glacier gimmick was so poorly-received by WCW fans in an era when the nWo and its associated storylines reigned supreme, Lloyd continues to embrace the gimmick, and even wrestle under it when he heads to the ring. He remains active in the independent scene at the age of 53, and has even made a few guest appearances on TV series and made-for-TV movies.
6. Van Hammer
It didn’t take a trained musician to notice – the big guy with the Gibson Flying V knew just as much about playing the guitar as he probably did about brain surgery. Yet WCW was serious on pushing raw 300-pounder Mark Hildreth as “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer, much to the chagrin of many of his more experienced colleagues. After his initial push disappeared and he was released from the company, he just kept coming back, with the returns diminishing with each gimmick tweak – member of Raven’s Flock, hippie, hippie-hater, military man with the punny name of “Major Stash.”
Yes indeed – a look at the above “now” photo from 2013 suggests that Van Hammer, now in his 50s, looks like the type of person who frowns at long hair and refers to heavy metal as an “infernal racket” or “that g**damn noise.” Having since come clean about his past steroid use, he was based in Boynton Beach, Florida in 2013, running a home improvement company and helping recovering addicts get clean.
5. P.N. News
More than one decade before John Cena got over with his Doctor of Thuganomics rapper gimmick in the WWE, 400-pound youngster Paul Neu returned home to the U.S. after a stint in Europe, joining WCW in 1991 and getting renamed as P.N. News, a rapper inspired by hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn. But before you set adrift on memory bliss and look back fondly on News’ WCW run, we should let you know that it ended very poorly, as he was pushed down the card after inadvertently injuring another wrestler in a house show. So much for the feud he had at the time, which was against one “Stunning” Steve Austin.
After he left WCW in 1992, News reverted to his original Cannonball Grizzly gimmick, and save for a brief ECW stint in 1999, he’s mostly been enjoying success in the European wrestling scene, where he remains active at the age of 51. His most recent match of note took place in 2012, where he wrestled Fit Finlay in a no-contest as he defended his European Wrestling Promotion World Heavyweight Championship.
4. Bill Kazmaier
No, Mark Henry was not the only wrestler to call himself the “World’s Strongest Man.” Before him, you had guys like Ken Patera and Ted Arcidi parlaying their real-world successes in powerlifting into wrestling gimmicks. Then you had Bill Kazmaier, who was closer to Arcidi than Patera in terms of actually achieving success in the squared circle. Debuting in WCW in 1991 with great hype, Kaz tried multiple times to defeat Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, only to fall short while looking hopelessly overmatched in the ring.
Despite his obvious lack of skill and finesse in the ring, Kazmaier got a good push in WCW, all things considered, and also competed in NJPW, and prior to that, WWE and Stampede Wrestling. He now runs his own gym in Alabama, and still remains involved in strongman competitions, this time as a commentator and not a competitor. Recent years have also seen him active as a motivational speaker.
3. nWo Sting
Theres’s virtually no way even a casual wrestling fan who came of age in the ’90s doesn’t recognize Sting. He was the Icon of WCW, a main event talent in TNA, and as for his WWE run? The less said about that, the better. But he is, for what it’s worth, a WWE Hall of Famer and one of the most recognizable names in wrestling history. But what about the time when he seemingly turned his back on WCW to join the nefarious New World Order?
Of course, the “nWo Sting” who pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, Lex Luger included, was not Steve Borden, but rather a wrestler named Jeff Farmer. Even when the jig was up, Farmer kept wrestling as nWo Sting, even when he left WCW and competed in Japan in the late ’90s as a babyface. He continued using the gimmick until he retired in the mid-2000s, and he’s since moved on to a rather surprising career as a scientist at the University of Miami in Florida.
2. Mike Sanders
Although he only became a featured WCW wrestler in the company’s last year or so, Mike Sanders appeared on the company’s B-shows in 1998 and 1999 as a jobber. A year later, the onetime light-counter was repackaged as “Above Average” Mike Sanders, and he soon took over as the mouthpiece of the Natural Born Thrillers faction, a mid-card stable that also featured Chuck Palumbo, Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak, and other young up-and-comers whose names weren’t Hogan, Sting, Nash, or Goldberg.
After a brief stint in WWE developmental and a few years in the indies, Sanders retired from professional wrestling in 2005, and embarked on an acting and stand-up comedy career. He also runs a talent agency and mobile DJ business in his hometown of Atlanta, and while he’s far removed these days from the world of wrestling, he remains friends with ex-Natural Born Thrillers Palumbo, Jindrak, and Disco Inferno, and believe it or not – Vince Russo.
1. Paul Roma
Try as WWE did, they just couldn’t even make an upper mid-card star out of Paul Roma. Originally an enhancement talent, Roma had some (emphasis on some) tag team success with Jim Powers in The Young Stallions and Hercules Hernandez in Power and Glory. That’s why it was a shock – and an insult – to many when Roma joined WCW and almost immediately replaced Tully Blanchard in The Four Horsemen. After leaving the Horsemen, he then teamed with a past-his-prime Paul Orndorff in Pretty Wonderful, and spent the remainder of his wrestling career in the indies after he left WCW in 1995.
Though Roma gets a lot of flak from wrestling fans for being one of the two least-deserving Four Horsemen of all-time (an “honor” he shares with Steve “Mongo” McMichael), he wasn’t as bad as some made him out to be. He remains active in the business, running Paradise Alley Wrestling School in his home state of Connecticut and looking quite youthful for a man who turned 57 earlier this year.
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