The only company in the history of wrestling that has not only been able to give the WWE a run for its money, WCW actually beat Vince McMahon at his own game for a while. Owned by Ted Turner and possessing a roster full of absolute legends, even though it went out of business in 2001 WCW still holds a place in wrestling history. As such, old fans and new are likely to be pretty familiar with some of its biggest moments. For instance, if you consider yourself a wrestling fan and you have not seen the images of Hulk Hogan joining the nWo then you have a lot to learn. However, there were a lot of photos taken during the company’s run that are remarkable but have somehow flown under the radar. Realizing that inspired us to put together this list of twenty-one rare WCW pictures even hardcore fans haven’t seen.
In order for an image to be up for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to feature a WCW performer or have been taken at one of their events. On top of that, it has to seem like the majority of wrestling fans would not be familiar with it. Of course, each individual person is aware of different things so there may be some readers that have seen some of these pictures but we think that would be a rarity. Furthermore, as far as backstage photos of performers go, as far as we know these shots were taken at a WCW show but we can’t say that is a certainty as we weren’t present when they were taken. Finally, pictures from the previous iteration of the company when they were known as the NWA are fair game as well.
21 Scott Steiner’s Doctor
A wrestler that at various times seemed to have everything going for him, early on in his career Scott Steiner was incredibly agile for someone as muscular as he was. In fact, he popularized the Frankensteiner, a top rope aerial move, in North America despite being as large as several wrestlers whose matches were slow and plodding. Then, years later when his body began to break down and his speed began to diminish; his in-ring character became much more colorful. Undergoing a transformation that has remained in place ever since, Steiner looked very little like he had years earlier.
A photo from the final years of WCW, here we see Scott Steiner after he’d begun calling himself Big Poppa Pump.
More muscular than ever before and now sporting blonde hair aside from a single strip of his goatee, by this point he was so visually remarkable that it was practically impossible to ignore him. On top of that, whenever he was given a microphone he began angrily yelling some pretty outrageous, and at times confusing, things. Despite knowing that, we have no idea at all why he came down to the ring one night alongside someone with crazy hair that was also dressed up to look like a doctor. Whatever the reason, however, it seems pretty obvious that the storyline was likely dumb so we’re happy to have no memory of it.
20 AJ Styles As Part Of Air Raid
Currently one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world, as of this writing AJ Styles is in the midst of his second run as the WWE Champion. A title that most people never dreamed he would hold, for a long time it seemed extremely clear that the WWE had no interest in even hiring Styles, let alone focusing one of their brands around him. Still, many of the company’s most loyal fans have followed his career for many years and have always felt like he was capable of becoming a star just about anywhere. Still, it is completely understandable if anyone presumed that Styles would spend most of his career working elsewhere.
A performer that has worked for a long list of high profile companies, just prior to signing with the WWE AJ Styles had an extremely impressive run in New Japan. However, other than his current WWE role Styles is best remembered for spending many years working for arguably the second most powerful North American wrestling company at the time, TNA.
For that reason, even some of his longest running fans may not realize that he was a part of WCW’s programming just before it was sold to the WWE.
At that time known as Air Styles, he and Air Paris, the other person seen here, entered a tournament to win the short-lived WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship.
19 Final Nitro Production
A night that will live in infamy for most wrestling fans, when WCW aired its final episode of Monday Night Nitro it marked the end of an era. The final broadcast of a company that introduced loads of now-beloved wrestlers to the masses and helped create a number of stars, it really was devastating to see WCW shutter its doors. On top of that, even though the Monday Night Wars had long been lost there were still a lot of fans that hoped the competition may commence someday in the future. Of course, all of that is to say nothing about the stranglehold the WWE had on the North American wrestling scene as a result.
Not only the night a lot changed in the wrestling world, the final WCW broadcast was also remarkable for airing some truly incredible moments.
For instance, when Vince and Shane McMahon both appeared on two networks simultaneously it was pretty mind-blowing. A feat that was made possible by a lot of people working behind the scenes, considering the WWE was now in charge that meant their production staff oversaw their WCW counterparts. Something that is captured in this photo of Bruce Prichard, who was employed by the WWE at the time, looking over the shoulder of WCW’s Jimmy Hart, this photo is simply historic. Of course, that doesn’t mean that many fans have seen it, which makes sense as it doesn’t necessarily show the WWE in the best light.
18 Crazy, Crazy Chavo
A wrestler that at times doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Chavo Guerrero is sometimes compared to his uncle Eddie, which is a shame given that few people were as great as Latino Heat. However, when you look at Chavo’s career on its own merits the guy has had one hell of a run. Continuing to wrestle to this day, including as a part of Lucha Underground, he has been competing for more than twenty years. Best remembered for his run as one-half of the Tag Team Champion duo known as Los Guerreros, he was incredibly entertaining during that time. That said, it was far from the first time he fully committed to a fun character.
Introduced to many North American wrestling fans during his time in WCW, like many people that worked for that company his character went through some real peaks and valleys. However, arguably his most memorable storyline came about when he seemed to lose his mind. Seemingly in the midst of that when this photo was included in an issue of WCW’s magazine, you have to give Chavo credit for the crazed look on his face. Still, we have to admit that we are a little bit disappointed that he isn’t carrying Pepe, the hobby horse his character became obsessed with around this point in his career.
17 Steven Regal and Sir William
A company that often seemed to mess up even the simplest things, this is the first of several images clearly taken to promote WCW stars that appear on this list. Designed to garner attention, it is an utter failure for the company that people are unaware of photos like these but that is clearly the case. A wrestler that has become most associated with his run working for the WWE, this shot features Lord Steven Regal, as he was known at the time, during his WCW days.
Accompanied by his faithful manager Sir William, a wrestler better known as Bill Dundee, the two of them make a pretty incredible pair.
An image that is made all the better by the decision to keep it in black and white, you can just imagine these guys lecturing you about how things were more beautiful in the past. Exuding snootiness from their every pore, everything from the expressions on their faces to the clothes they are wearing scream that they think they are better than everyone around them. An image that perfectly encapsulates what their characters were at the time, it really is a shame that WCW was not able to have more fans lay an eye on it.
16 David Flair and Stacy Keibler
Someone that entered the wrestling world after she won a competition to become a part of the WCW Nitro Girls dance troupe, Stacy Keibler seemed destined to play a background role. However, that was not the case at all as she eventually found herself placed in the middle of WCW’s storylines. Able to make a big enough impact on fans and WWE management that they hired her when they bought out WCW, she then worked for them for years. Eventually chosen to compete in a season of Dancing with the Stars, Keibler was able to become a pretty big mainstream star for a while largely due to her time on that show.
The focus of a lot of tabloid headlines throughout her life, Stacy Keibler must be very used to having people discuss her romantic relationships at this point. We say that because it is an understatement to say that people were interested when she dated George Clooney for several years. However, not all of her relationships were created equally as few people seem to know that she used to date David Flair, the son of the wrestling legend Ric Flair. Both a part of WCW’s talent roster when this photo was taken, this image is a relic of two long-gone things, a romantic relationship and WCW.
15 Canadian Hacksaw
A wrestler that spent much of his career near and dear to the hearts of wrestling fans, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan has mostly been seen fighting on the right side of things. Added to the WWE’s roster in 1987, he fought some of the most vicious wrestling villains of the eighties and nineties like The Iron Sheik, Ted DiBiase, Yokozuna, and Shawn Michaels. Prone to coming down to the ring clutching the American flag and his trusty two by four, no matter what country you grew up in there was something about the man that made you want to root for him. Of course, in wrestling, most storylines are given a chance so during his WCW run he underwent a dramatic transformation.
Feuding with a villainous WCW faction known as Team Canada, Jim Duggan at first passionately fought against the way they insulted the country he was so proud of.
However, at the time it seemed like the company loved swerving its fans at every turn so out of nowhere he turned on his allies and America itself. Repackaged as a member of Team Canada, he began coming to the ring wearing the colors of his adopted country. A time in his career that did not work to put it nicely, before too long Duggan was gone from the company entirely. Arguably the worst storyline of his career, now that Duggan is a WWE Hall of Famer it is safe to say that everyone involved wants to see it and this photo be forgotten.
14 Arm Wrestling Sid Vicious
A wrestler whose career was incredible to watch from afar, time and time again it was clear that the people in power believed Sid had the potential to be a superstar. As such, he was included as a part of arguably the most influential wrestling faction of all-time, the Four Horseman. Far from the greatest achievement of his career, Sid then went on to sign with the WWE where he feuded against the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker and over the years had two runs as the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. However, despite all of that success, Sid could come off as pretty cartoonish from time to time.
Considered one of the biggest stars in WCW throughout most of the years in which he wrestled for them, if they had a major storyline going on there was a good chance Sid would take part in it. An example of just that, when the company put together the Jesse Ventura Arm Wrestling Invitational he was included in the brackets. A horrible way to eat up WCW TV time that in no way helped turn any wrestler into a larger star, the tournament did have some value as it gives us this image. Featuring Sid in the midst of arm wrestling Maxx Payne, we find the look on Sid’s face here hilarious and for that reason, we are amazed that most wrestling fans have not seen it.
13 Rob Van Dam
One of the most unique wrestlers in the business throughout much of his career, Rob Van Dam has created an incredibly loyal fan base for a number of reasons. An extremely athletic person that is capable of doing things in the ring that few of his peers could even imagine, his in-ring style has also been heavily influenced by martial arts. On top of that, everything about the guy seems so sincere even though he has spent a huge portion of his life playing a fictionalized version of himself. We say that because he has always managed to seem effortlessly cool, especially when compared to many of his peers that scream every word they say.
Introduced to most wrestling fans during his tenure in ECW, Rob Van Dam came into his own while working for Paul Heyman. From there, hired by the WWE and brought in as a part of their joint ECW and WCW Invasion storyline, at that time it was clear that he belonged on the ECW side of the ledger. However, many fans had no idea that he was a performer for WCW prior to rising to true international stardom. Known as Robbie V during his WCW tenure, he may have been excited when he was first hired by them but his time there amounted to next to nothing. As a result, this photo that was taken during his time in WCW has been almost entirely forgotten.
12 Jimmy Hart Loud as Always
One of only a handful of managers ever inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Jimmy Hart is included alongside people like Bobby Heenan, James J. Dillon, and Paul Bearer. A very memorable part of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era, Hart was able to stand out among outrageous characters by wearing crazy jackets and yelling into a megaphone. A prop that worked fantastically for him, despite that, a lot of the time it didn’t seem to be necessary as Hart was so loud enough he could probably communicate with an entire arena all by himself. Most associated for his lengthy run in the WWE, Hart actually worked for WCW for seven years and had a big impact there.
Hired by the WCW at the same time they brought in Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart served as his manager which always seemed silly as The Hulkster clearly didn’t need someone to speak for him. As such, it didn’t take too long for Hart to turn on his man and side with the evil faction known as the Dungeon of Doom. As such, he spent much of his onscreen time in WCW representing bad guys and we can only assume that was the case when this photo was taken. After all, he appears to be in the midst of the kind of diabolical laugh that only mustache twisting, over the top villain types can be seen doing.
11 Piñata On a Pole
One of the most controversial figures in wrestling history, Vince Russo spent the majority of his career in a backstage role that meant he rarely appeared on camera. Despite that, his reputation began to grow while he was the head WWE writer in the midst of their most popular years, the Attitude Era. A role that saw him working with some of the biggest stars in the business and helping to shepherd some legendary storylines, WCW thought he might have the Midas touch. As such, they hired him away from the WWE in an effort to help their ratings rebound and gave him a level of control over storylines a control freak like Vince McMahon could never offer.
Ever so briefly seen as being the key to WCW’s return to glory, it took very little time for the company to pull back on Vince Russo’s reign of power.
A decision that was informed by some truly horrible moments he created, most people believe he needed a filter like Vince McMahon to scale back his outlandish ideas. For instance, he took five Mexican wrestlers and put them in a “Piñata On a Pole” match. So awful and racist that those that saw the match are unlikely to forget about it, this angle of its finale has still mostly gone unseen. A shot of Juventud Guerrera holding the Piñata up in success, to see anyone saddled by having to compete in such a ridiculous match makes us sad.
10 The Flock and Wade Boggs
From one wrestler that is heavily associated with ECW to another, this time around we are looking at the former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Raven, and the group he led. A faction that existed under many names in a number of companies, Raven’s group was known as The Flock during his best years in WCW. A group that perfectly fit the nineties, a decade in which grunge music was immensely popular and the disaffected youth were taking over pop culture, The Flock became pretty popular.
An influential act in a company that ruled in the weekly rating for more than a year during the hottest era in wrestling history, millions of people watched The Flock in awe each week. As such, they were able to share moments with some pretty big celebrities, a fact that is evidenced by an image like this one. A photo that features four Flock members dressed in character and Wade Boggs, a third baseman that played Major League Baseball for many years, one of these things is not like the others. For that reason, even though there is a certain cache in posing for a photograph with a mainstream star, it was a good thing this image was seen by very few fans. After all, it goes against everything The Flock was supposed to stand for.
9 Disco Inferno Getting Ready
A business that prides itself on featuring something for pretty much everyone, if you tune into wrestling in hopes that you’ll get to have a few laughs there are some characters meant to give you just that. For instance, we’ve seen performers like Santino Marella, Heath Slater, Colt Cabana, The Hurricane, Crash Holly, and Norman Smiley elicit many laughs. Written to make wrestling fans laugh week after week, many of these performers are quite skilled in the ring but their comedic talents have overridden all of that. A trait the performer also plays into most of the time, playing the court jester in wrestling can be very financially rewarding.
A character that made his WCW debut in 1995, Disco Inferno at first seemed like a totally one-note joke that would become stale enough for him to be fired before too long.
Despite that, he managed to stick around until the company shuttered its doors and he also took part in several high profile and serious storylines. In fact, he was a member of the popular Filthy Animals faction alongside Konnan, Billy Kidman, and Rey Mysterio, and he also became an associate member of the nWo Wolfpac. Despite all of that success, Disco has still gone down in history as the most outlandish version of his character. Pictured here applying product to his hair in order to get into character, with his eyes closed like that it plays into his goofy side once again.
8 The Giant Hamming it Up
A wrestler that is unlike any other in the history of the business, next year Paul Wight will mark his twentieth year under contract to the WWE, a company that named him The Big Show. A surefire future WWE Hall of Famer, his mind-blowing size alone would have been enough to make him a legend during the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era. However, he rose to prominence during the height of The Attitude Era, a period of time in which a performer needed to be a lot more than just huge. Fortunately for The Big Show, however, he also has a highly developed sense of humor and his comedy timing is impeccable.
Debuting in the business as a part of WCW’s roster, during his time with that company Paul Wight had a very fitting name, The Giant. A massive man that at first, the company claimed was the biological son of André the Giant, during that time his character was a deadly serious one. In fact, when he threw Hulk Hogan off the top of a building it was played completely seriously by the show, despite it somehow not seriously injuring his would-be victim. That said, judging by a photo like this one it was clear that The Giant was nowhere near as serious, at that time behind the scenes. However, had most WCW fans realized that, it would have undercut his storylines which is probably why this shot was kept mostly secret.
7 Judy Bagwell: Tag Team Champion
A company with a history that is endlessly fascinating among many fans, for years WCW made one business mistake after another. Said to have never even turned a profit throughout much of its history, it was a good thing it was bankrolled by Ted Turner, a man whose billions allowed him to not worry about that. However, once Eric Bischoff was given authority over the company he instituted many business changes and storylines that allowed WCW to succeed like it never had before. In fact, it even briefly usurped the WWE’s position as the top company in the business. Yet, somehow, only a few years later the WCW was sold to the WWE after it incurred staggering loses.
A company whose ascent and then complete failure gave many observers figurative whiplash, WCW viewers knew a major aspect of its downturn in fortunes was its horrible writing. For instance, decisions like making both David Arquette and Vince Russo the WCW World Heavyweight Champion tarnished that legendary title and were symbolic of everything wrong with the company. While those two title reigns are legendarily stupid, some people have forgotten that Judy Bagwell, the out of shape mother of Buff Bagwell, is a former WCW Tag Team Champion. A move that took away that belt’s credibility too, even if you remember this event taking place you likely never saw this specific photo of her wearing the belt.
6 Super Excited Sid Vicious
A wrestler that is at the heart of two images featured on this list, earlier we looked at some of the highlights of Sid’s career. However, we never touched on the fact that he won one of the most legendary prizes in wrestling history, the Big Gold Belt. A two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, he has won the same title that other men like Harley Race, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Goldberg were all proud to have acquired. Not exactly the same level of star as any of those wrestlers, instead, Sid had to rely on both his large size and unique personality to make his place at the top of the card make sense.
Seen here clutching the WCW World Heavyweight Champion in his hand, it seems abundantly clear that he was pretty stoked to hold the legendary title.
An image that was printed in an issue of WCW’s magazine, since those issues mostly no longer exist or are barely ever looked at by those that have held onto them this image has mostly disappeared. A bit of a shame as this is another hilarious Sid photo, we think that many people should be relieved by that fact. After all, in order for this shot to be included in the magazine it means that people thought to themselves, yes, we want the representative of our entire company to come off like this.
5 Paul Heyman and Larry Zbysko
Currently famous for being the “advocate” of arguably is the biggest star in the WWE, Brock Lesnar, that is just the latest chapter in the career of Paul Heyman. After all, he first became an onscreen wrestling manager decades ago and he also had several runs as a commentator alongside men like Jim Ross. Of course, in the eyes of most fans, his greatest accomplishment was as the owner, promoter, and onscreen authority figure for ECW. However, we’re guessing that many people are not aware that his career in the wrestling business had a completely different first chapter.
An avid wrestling fan from an early age, when Paul Heyman was thirteen years old he made his first forays into the business.
Able to find a way to stand at ringside among men many years his senior, Heyman became one of a select few people that were able to make a living through taking photos of the wrestlers. In fact, according to his fellow photographers at that time, Heyman was known for jumping in front of their cameras and stealing their shots at the last second. On top of marking the beginnings of his career in wrestling, during his time as a photographer, Heyman was also able to meet many people he looked up to, including Larry Zbysko. A shot of the moment those two met, Heyman kept this shot in his private collection, except for the time he was profiled by WCW’s Magazine and he allowed them to publish it.
4 Crazed Crow Cover
An industry that is unlike any other in the entertainment business, wrestlers are often called upon to play a single character week after week for years on end. However, there are a few exceptions in which someone is completely repackaged in terms of both look and demeanor. A wrestler that somehow managed to belong to both of those categories, Sting wrestled under that name for years and portrayed the same guy throughout that time. However, he also began acting and looking completely different after the people his character thought of as friends stopped trusting him during the height of the nWo storyline.
An image of Sting from the height of his battle against the nWo, long gone was the happy go lucky surfer character he’d been for years. Printed on the cover of a 1997 issue of WCW Magazine, for a while fans around the world would have focused on this shot, yet somehow it has since been forgotten. Unlike the other images on this list, we don’t understand how that was ever allowed to happen. After all, Sting looked about as intense and cool as he ever has, in our opinion. If that isn’t enough reason for this image to be plastered all over WWE.com, at least, then we don’t know what is.
3 Rey Mysterio With Horns
A company with a well-documented preference for promoting massive men, for years the WWE was known as the land of the giants. Despite that, Rey Mysterio whose height is in the mid-five foot range, is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion and a former WWE Champion as well. Able to win the biggest WWE prizes three separate times, that proves that Rey Mysterio is such a big star that he changed the mind of the notoriously stubborn Vince McMahon. In fact, McMahon sees enough value in Mysterio that he has been wrestled at two recent WWE events as of this writing, despite not being signed by the company. That means the WWE sees him in the same light as someone like Chris Jericho.
A huge box office draw in countries all over the world, Rey Mysterio’s persona electrifies fans and his mask has become recognizable to people from all different age groups.
Despite that, when he worked for WCW they made the foolish decision to have him lose his mask in a match and wrestle for years without it. Far less marketable after that, as he looks so young that it was impossible for many people to see him as a threat, to his credit he experimented with ways to change his image during that run. However, this pink hair and fake horn combo was such a huge mistake for him that it is marvelous that most people have forgotten about it and this photo, though clearly we haven’t.
2 Dave Sullivan Hulk Hogan Fan
A well-known concept in professional wrestling, throughout the history of the business, performers have built their reputations up with fans before being signed by one of the industry’s leaders. However, once they debut with a better-known company, their original fans are stunned to realize that the character they’d come to love has been replaced by something much more cartoonish. A pretty amazing concept, at times this has actually taken place on a much larger scale as well. By that, we mean that a wrestler debuts with an internationally known company like WCW to a lackluster response, only to then undergo a complete transformation.
Introduced to many wrestling fans when he performed for various smaller promotions, early in his career this wrestler was known as The Equalizer. A name that communicated that he was meant to be feared, he wrestled for a long list of companies and teamed with The Grappler, a man some feel is worthy of being called a living legend. Then signed by WCW, people assumed his career would take off even though his new name, Dave Sullivan, was far less intimidating. Repackaged as the dyslexic brother of Kevin Sullivan, his WCW character never reached the heights that many had hoped. However, when he became obsessed with Hulk Hogan onscreen, it turned him into a total joke, unfortunately.
1 Sting Needs Some Fibre...
Often called the Icon of WCW, unlike most of the company’s biggest stars Sting never opted to perform for their competition. A decision we certainly respect, even if we would have loved to see him feud with The Undertaker during both of their primes, this allowed him to remain one of the biggest stars. That is probably why he held a championship belt fifteen times during his time there, including being a seven-time Heavyweight Champion. If that weren’t enough, during the height of the nWo vs WCW storyline it was Sting that was seen as the last great hope of the good guys. However, he, of course, had some pretty big lowlights while working for WCW.
A shot of Sting that ran in the company’s magazine back when they were a part of the NWA, here they explained to uninformed fans what made him such a talented performer.
Already very much on the rise at that time, the writer of this article let readers know about some of the wrestlers he’d already battled and also described the Scorpion Death Lock, his finishing move. A great idea if you ask us, it is just a shame that it was all undercut by the choice of photo that was included alongside this article. Evidently trying to look intense when this shot was taken, if you ask us it is instantly clear that Sting looks constipated instead.