It was almost 16 years ago to this day that WCW viewers were shocked to see both McMahon men on their television screens, with Vince announcing that he had, in real life, purchased WCW and effectively vanquished the competition, and Shane later on saying that he was, in storyline, the one who had purchased the company. With that, the Monday Night Wars had ended, though they were, for all intents and purposes, over some time back, as WCW storylines kept going to mush in the aftermath of the Fingerpoke of Doom.
It was a sad and sorry end for a company that had once dominated WWE in the ratings for more than a year, and as fans soon found out, there were very few big names crossing over to WWE in the aftermath of the buyout, at least at first. But even to this day, many wrestling fans still look back at “Billionaire” Ted Turner’s once-impressive, once-expansive roster of talents, and wonder which of these talents aged well and which ones didn’t, and what they’re up to at the moment.
While we won’t necessarily go all-out obscure in this list, we also won’t be listing some rather obvious examples of ex-WCW stars, e.g. people like Big Show who still wrestles for WWE and Ric Flair who is often on Monday Night RAW in non-wrestling appearances, or even the nWo’s original threesome of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan. That said, we’re going to take a random sampling of 20 former WCW wrestlers and other personalities, as we recall how they looked like then, and take a look at how they appear now, with several tidbits on what they’re currently doing 16 years after the death of WCW.
THEN: How we remember, or would rather not remember those vignettes. With Mortal Kombat being all the rage with the kids (this writer included), WCW decided to capitalize on the video game’s popularity in 1996 by repackaging undercard guy Ray Lloyd as Glacier, a character obviously based on Sub-Zero. He had a fittingly flashy (and expensive) entrance to match his gimmick and real-life martial arts skills, but in the end, it wasn’t worth it, as crowd reception to Glacier was more than a bit frigid.
NOW: Glacier kept using the ill-fated gimmick long after WCW folded, and to be fair with the man, he doesn’t seem to mind it that much, even if he didn’t like it at first. He is now 52 years old, and as of a few years ago, he still had the slightly spiky, short brown hairdo, and seems to have aged quite well. Looks like having a good sense of humor about playing a Sub-Zero ripoff and being one of WCW’s all-time busts has helped.
19. Sid Vicious
THEN: A lot of us remember Sid Eudy’s yo-yo act in the ‘90s, where he bounced from WCW to WWE and back for most of the decade, proving to be a handful because of his volatile temper and flaky nature. But what we probably remember more than the drunken scissor fight with Arn Anderson and his occasional reigns as a main event champion are his promos. As Sycho Sid in the WWE, he asked Jim Ross if he could redo his promo after flubbing his lines, before being told on air that they were live. And as Sid Vicious in WCW, he cut this promo on Scott Hall – “You are half the man that I am, and I have half the brains that you do!” — as WCW’s few remaining fans, not to mention Hall and Kevin Nash on live TV, doubled up in laughter.
NOW: Back in the day, Sid Vicious was just the kind of tall and muscular behemoth who had the look and charisma of a star, but not necessarily the in-ring and promo skills. (Unless you consider shouting a promo skill.) He’s still got the curly mop of blonde hair and while he has predictably grown a bit of a dad-bod as many retired wrestlers do, 56-year-old Sid still looks like he can kick people’s butts…while hopefully not screwing up another promo.
THEN: In 1999, Melinda McCullum was hired by WCW as one of several fitness models who would work as the company’s “nWo Girls,” because you know, the company still wanted to milk the super-faction for all it was worth. Billed under her middle name Midajah, she would team up with Shakira (not the singer, but fellow fitness model Kim Kanner) as one of Scott Steiner’s “freaks,” but when Shakira left WCW, Midajah remained as the Big Bad Booty Daddy’s arm candy, oftentimes helping him win matches through illegal shenanigans.
NOW: Midajah was one of the few women who stuck around with WCW until the end came in March 2001, and retired from pro wrestling in 2003 after a few brief stints in smaller promotions. As she prepares to turn 47 later this month, she works as a personal trainer and makeup artist, and in terms of appearance, she looks every bit her almost 47 years. In other words, she hasn’t aged too well, as she arguably looked about five years younger during her days managing Steiner.
17. The Yeti (a.k.a. Reese)
THEN: An undrafted 7’1” center from Santa Clara who could have potentially found himself as someone’s backup center in the NBA, Ron Reis was far more interested in pro wrestling than he was in shooting hoops. Too bad he wasn’t too good at it, but we’ll always remember how Tony Schiavone introduced him as he entered the ring for the first time in 1995, wrapped in what looked like toilet paper and looking more like a mummy than an abominable snowman – “IT’S THE YET-TAY!”
NOW: The Yet-Tay wasn’t long for the gimmick, and became the masked Super Giant Ninja before showing his thickly-bearded face and using a modified spelling of his real surname – Reese. His success as part of Raven’s Flock was as limited as his skill set, and wrestled a few more years in the indies after WCW cut him loose in 1998. He’s now 46 years old and looking a bit older than his actual age, now sporting a shaved head as he works for the wine industry in WCW’s home city of Atlanta.
THEN: Canadian wrestler Vampiro first made his name in pro wrestling in Mexico, and while he often proved difficult to work with (just ask Chris Jericho and Konnan), his talent made him a major WCW signing back in 1998. Unfortunately, what many of us remember now are his bad matches, including his Human Torch match against Sting in 2000, as well as how his punk rock fandom introduced WCW fans to The Misfits, and the unlikely match between singer/bassist Jerry Only and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. (Inexplicably, the rock star won.) There’s also his distinctive black dreadlocks, white facepaint, and myriad tattoos – he was supposed to be a dark, goth/punk-influenced wrestler, and he looked the part.
NOW: Now nearing his 50th birthday, Vampiro looks like your typical punk rock uncle – bald head, black t-shirt and jacket, and a few extra pounds in the middle. And for something you won’t normally see in punk rock uncles, he’s got several souvenirs of his wrestling days on his forehead – “gig marks” from years of blading. He remains very much active in the wrestling scene, and you may know him now as one of the commentators on Lucha Underground.
THEN: He was never supposed to be a WCW wrestler. But Vince Russo’s good friend Ed Ferrara was with him when they both joined the company’s creative team in October 1999, and immediately proceeded to insert themselves into storylines. We’re familiar with Russo’s antics, but for those who don’t remember, Ferrara was in some pretty tasteless and/or nonsensical angles, mocking Jim Ross’ Bell’s Palsy, Southern twang, and announcing quirks as “Oklahoma,” and being the portly 260-pound guy who beat female wrestler Madusa for the Cruiserweight Championship. Yes, those things really happened.
NOW: As Oklahoma, the then-33-year-old Ferrara still had a full head of hair to match his moustache and goatee. Now that he’s bald, still bespectacled, and just about as stocky as he used to be on WCW television, Ferrara arguably looks even older than his old pal Vinny Ru, despite the fact that he’s five years younger. As of 2014, he was teaching creative writing at Full Sail University, though for better or for worse (likely worse), he hasn’t gotten himself involved in NXT’s creative process.
14. Billy Kidman
THEN: The high-flying Kidman, or Billy Kidman as he was later known, debuted in 1996 as a scrawny, grungy 22-year-old jobber, later to join Raven’s Flock working a heroin addict gimmick. He would later go solo and compete in the Cruiserweight Division, then go on to join a few other WCW stables, most notably the New Blood. With the heroin addict gimmick gone, he grew his hair out and typically entered the ring wearing a white tank top and jorts. Oh, and he also ended up marrying his onscreen, later on real-life girlfriend Torrie Wilson, at least for a while.
NOW: A look at present-day Billy Kidman makes this writer remember the Kayfabe News satire article about how he now wants to be called “William Manman.” Except for his salt-and-pepper hairdo which he’s been wearing short for the past several years, he looks younger than his 42 years, and has put some pounds on that once-skinny frame of his, but not too many. He now works backstage for WWE, and can occasionally be seen pulling wrestlers apart during those post-match brawls.
THEN: It was a case of WWE shooting the messenger, but the company was royally pissed at the former Alundra Blayze when she dumped her Women’s Championship belt into a trash can as part of her debut angle in WCW. This was, of course, Eric Bischoff’s idea, and Madusa later on admitted that she wasn’t onboard with the idea to begin with. As she didn’t win any titles when WCW had some half-assed attempts at having a women’s division, she had to settle for the (men’s) Cruiserweight Championship, engaging in a ridiculous feud with Ed “Oklahoma” Ferrara for the title.
NOW: Due to the above-mentioned belt-dumping incident, Madusa was on the outs with WWE for almost two decades, and when WCW folded, she focused on her second career as a monster truck driver. While we wouldn’t say that the stress of being blacklisted by the WWE for so long had taken a toll on her, Madusa/Alundra Blayze’s 2015 Hall of Fame induction saw her looking like a woman of about 60, rather than her actual age at that time of 51.
12. Mikey Whipwreck
THEN: Though he’s best-known for being the pint-sized underdog who enjoyed great success in ECW despite often not getting much offense in, Mikey Whipwreck did spend a few months in WCW in 1999, floundering in the similarly-floundering company’s lower card. Back then, he was only 26 years old yet already showing some signs of balding, and if you don’t take that balding head into account, he still looked like your average college kid who miraculously found his way into the pro wrestling business.
NOW: Whipwreck is 43 years old as of this writing, but looking at his recent pictures, he looks like a man in his 50s, with his hair all gone and at least 70 pounds added to his 5’9”-190 frame, mostly in the gut area. The man known in real life as John Watson has also recently been trying to distance himself from his old Mikey Whipwreck character, yet adding in that same PWInsider guest op-ed that he’s thankful for the opportunities he got in wrestling while using that ring name.
11. Stevie Ray
THEN: As most of us are quite familiar with how Booker T looks like now, we’re not including him, but we are including his older, beefier, less-talented brother Stevie Ray. Standing 6’5” and weighing close to 300 pounds, Stevie Ray had a menacing physique, and his wrestling deficiencies were often covered up sufficiently back when he was teaming with his brother. But as a singles wrestler, as leader of the “Harlem Heat, Inc.” stable, and as a color commentator, he left a whole lot to be desired.
NOW: Obviously, the real-life Lash Huffman has lived a much lower-profile post-WCW life than his brother Booker. Three years ago, he appeared in an interview conducted during tapings for Reality of Wrestling (Booker’s indie promotion), and looked decent – not too youthful nor weathered-looking – for someone who was, at that time, almost 56 years old. Aside from Reality of Wrestling, Stevie is active in business in his native Houston, and is an avid motorcycle and car enthusiast.
10. Tony Schiavone
THEN: We did mention above that “WCW stars” doesn’t just mean wrestlers, but also non-wrestling personalities. And for our token announcer entry, we’re going to go with someone who was almost exclusively associated with WCW throughout his announcing career – Tony Schiavone. After losing his oh-so-‘80s mullet and ‘stache, he stood out as the fresh-faced, youthful-looking announcer we now know for his introduction of “The Yet-Tay” (who’s also in this list), his sarcastic proclamation that Mick Foley’s taped WWE Championship win will put a lot of butts in the seats, and how he told a recently-turned Hulk Hogan to “go to hell” at Bash at the Beach 1996.
NOW: While he now sports a salt-and-pepper beard and a pair of eyeglasses, Schiavone still looks like a man in his 40s, despite the fact he turns 60 this year. He’s since left the wrestling business after a failed 2003 stint in the now-former TNA, and he now covers morning sports for two Georgia radio station, also calling games for the Atlanta Braves’ AAA affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves.
9. Buff Bagwell
THEN: He was a good-looking, powerfully-built young man who loved his mother so much, he didn’t mind it when WCW had her ride a forklift in one of Vince Russo’s much-lambasted “on-a-pole” matches. And as one-half of a tag team with Scotty Riggs, he had one of the most inane, most dated-sounding ring themes ever. Of course, we’re referring to Marcus Alexander “Buff” Bagwell, and we’re sure you remember those things – the Judy Bagwell on a Pole match, the American Males ring theme, and we should also add his god-awful one-match-long stint in WWE after the WCW buyout.
NOW: To be completely fair with “The Stuff,” he looks like he’s in fantastic shape for a man who just turned 47, while also looking about a decade younger. He’s clearly been taking good care of himself, and as of 2014, he was still wrestling on occasion in the independent scene. Not bad for someone who suffered life-threatening injuries in a 2012 car accident. But you probably know him now as the wrestler who, in 2014, was revealed to have taken up Deuce Bigalow’s trade, as he took part in the fifth season of the reality show Gigolos.
8. Ernest Miller
THEN: Originally, he was young Garett Bischoff’s karate instructor and quite a good one at that, having been a three-time world champion. But when papa Eric realized he’d make a good fit for the world of pro wrestling, “The Cat” was off to WCW, debuting 1997 as an audience plant. And it didn’t take long for Miller to distinguish himself as an entertaining character, even if fans would soon find out that good martial arts skills (and dancing skills) didn’t always equate with good pro wrestling skills.
NOW: Aside from being a colorful fixture of WCW’s lower midcard and the promotion’s biggest James Brown fan ever, Miller also served as one of the company’s last commissioners, and he would wrestle and commentate in a two-year WWE run from 2002 to 2004. He would then earn praise for his role as heel wrestler The Ayatollah in Mickey Rourke’s excellent 2008 film The Wrestler. The 53-year-old Miller, who alternated between bald and bleached-blonde in his WCW days, currently favors the clean-shaven look, and was still active in the karate scene as of 2013.
7. Steve McMichael
THEN: WWE fans can be thankful that Steve “Mongo” McMichael wasn’t lured into the company after he was among Lawrence Taylor’s cornermen for his match against Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI. Instead, he joined WCW’s commentary team, proved absolutely annoying, to say little of his Chihuahua Pepe’s unnecessary broadcast booth appearances, and soon became a Four Horseman. Yes, this former NFL star with precious little wrestling training became part of a legendary faction, and for many, an embarrassment to the stable’s legacy due to his in-ring ineptitude.
NOW: Although he was great on the gridiron, McMichael was absolutely awful in every wrestling-related endeavor he entered – wrestling, commentating, and even refereeing, as we saw in TNA back in 2008. Save for that appearance at Bound for Glory, Mongo has mostly stayed away from wrestling. He’s also one of the wrestlers in this list who have aged nicely, looking about half a decade younger than his actual age of 59 despite his much shorter, grayer present-day hairdo.
6. Kevin Sullivan
THEN: He was mostly booked as a midcarder and as a stable leader in WCW. But the short, stocky, and then-blonde-mulleted Kevin Sullivan is well-remembered by many old WCW fans for three things. One, he had lots of backstage power at times as the company’s on-and-off head booker. Two, he leveraged his alleged real-life Satanism to work dark gimmicks for the most part, including his role as the Dungeon of Doom’s “Taskmaster.” Three, he was once married to Nancy Toffoloni, whose onscreen affair with Chris Benoit became a real-life one, and later resulted in their ultimately tragic marriage.
NOW: At 67 years of age, Sullivan is one of the older wrestlers in this list. But one can say that he looks slightly older, now that he’s almost completely bald with white hair and goatee, is often seen with a pair of glasses, and has grown a little soft around the middle. He had recently made a guest appearance on a Ring of Honor show, and now hosts two podcasts, including a free show featuring Mister Saint Laurent as his co-host.
5. Barry Windham
THEN: He’s known for his multiple WWE stints, which included a Tag Team Championship run as one-half of The U.S. Express with Mike “IRS” Rotunda, a promising, yet short run as The Widowmaker, a goofy cup of coffee as The Stalker, and an ill-conceived ripoff of his dad Blackjack Mulligan’s gimmick as one-half of The New Blackjacks. Fortunately, Barry Windham enjoyed far more success in his WCW stints, mostly standing out as a tall, handsome upper midcard talent with long blonde hair and great wrestling bloodlines.
NOW: Now 56 years old, Windham hasn’t aged too well. Like many of the wrestlers in this list, he sort-of let himself go after his wrestling career was over, and a recent shoot interview that also featured the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express’ Ricky Morton saw him with his still-long hair tied back in a ponytail, and a thick white beard. He did, however, successfully recover from a serious heart attack suffered in October 2011.
4. Nikita Koloff
THEN: Previously an all-conference tight end at Division II Moorhead State University, Minnesota native Scott Simpson debuted for the future WCW in 1984 as “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff, and was billed accordingly as Ivan Koloff’s nephew. As such, he had to shave his head and grow facial hair similar to that of his kayfabe uncle, and he would eventually be teamed up with his old Robbinsdale HS buddy Barry Darsow (a.k.a. Demolition Smash and Repo Man in WWE), who was given the faux-Russian name and gimmick Krusher Kruschev. All in all, he was a solid midcard “foreign heel” who feuded with the Four Horsemen, and later on in his career, Lex Luger and Sting.
NOW: Koloff was a known steroid user during his days with Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW, but by 1993, he had become a born-again Christian, remaining committed to his faith up to this day and appearing with his kids in a reality series called Preacher’s Daughters. He also valued kayfabe so much that he legally changed his name to Nikita Koloff in 1988, and at 57, he still shaves his head up and wears the same goatee, not looking too radically different from how he did during his wrestling days.
3. Tully Blanchard
THEN: Tully Blanchard was a good athlete in his youth, having made the now-highly unusual switch from quarterback to defensive end while at West Texas State. And in his wrestling days, he was far from being ugly, with his usually-short, curly brown hair and clean-shaven face complementing that of the blonde and bearded Arn Anderson. He kept wrestling well after he left WCW and the iconic Four Horsemen, and was actively wrestling as recently as 2007, when he was 53 years old.
NOW: You would be shocked to see Blanchard now if you’re used to remembering how he looked like as part of the Four Horsemen. With his balding, silvered-out head of hair, occasional beard, and outwardly scrawny appearance, he seems to have aged over four decades since his career peaked in the ‘80s. We can only hope his daughter Tessa, who is engaged to indie standout Ricochet and a recent entry to the world of pro wrestling, doesn’t follow in her daddy’s footsteps by aging badly.
2. Scott Steiner
THEN: It depends on which version of Scott Steiner you’re talking about. The comparatively soft-spoken guy who competed in WCW before and for a few years after The Steiner Brothers’ WWE run was a jacked dude with a brown mullet. But the guy whom we probably recognize better from WCW’s final years was an even more jacked dude with a bleached-blonde buzzcut and barely-understandable promos, not to mention diminishing real-life “sympy” for wrestlers like Ric Flair and Diamond Dallas Page.
NOW: Now that he’s approaching his 55th birthday, we have to say that “Big Poppa Pump” hasn’t aged too poorly at all, though you can’t say he’s aged very well either. His bleached-blonde hair and facial hair remains, and so does his impressive physique. But he’s went ahead and gotten himself substantially inked, and continues to add to the chest tattoo he had gotten relatively late in his life. And while it’s neither here nor there, he’s always one shoot interview or temper tantrum away from dropping controversial comments like he used to in his WCW promos.
1. Lex Luger
THEN: They used to call him the Total Package, and while the mat skills and charisma weren’t always there for this former Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman, Lex Luger was completely ripped back in his days wrestling for WCW, WWE, then WCW once again. WWE wanted him to replace Hulk Hogan as their new All-American babyface, and while that didn’t work, he enjoyed far more success in WCW, sticking around till the bitter end and never making his way back to WWE because of how he secretly jumped the New Generation’s sinking ship in the summer of 1995.
NOW: Luger battled more than his fair share of personal demons, and will probably never live down the fact that, in his drug-addled state back then, he was the last person to see Miss Elizabeth alive. He suffered a spinal stroke in 2007, and while the good thing is that he found God shortly before that unfortunate stroke, the sad thing is that because of these medical issues, he looks like he carries no more than 170 pounds on his 6’3” frame, while looking closer to 70 than his actual age of 58.
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