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The Best Homegrown WCW Wrestlers, According to the Wrestling Classic

Hey everyone! It’s “The Wrestling Classic” Justin here with another article for ONE37PM. For this article, I wanted to do something for the more casual or younger fans who were not around for World Championship Wrestling. I grew up a huge WCW fan as a kid during the Monday Night Wars. I still find myself watching WCW/JCP a lot on the WWE Network/Peacock. Therefore, I wanted to write an article about a handful of superstars and legends I consider to be homegrown WCW talent. These are the superstars I associate with World Championship Wrestling more so than any other company they might have worked for after, such as the WWE.

These superstars made their names in WCW or Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP would become WCW in 1988), unlike talent such as Scott Hall and Kevin Nash who might have come through WCW first but really made their name in the WWE as Razor Ramon and Diesel before returning to WCW. If you were born before the mid 90s, many of your first memories would be of these superstars in WCW or JCP too. Enjoy!

Ric Flair
WWE

Ric Flair may have spent an equal amount (or even more time) in the WWE after WCW closed their doors. However, I think many of us will remember Ric Flair as one of the greatest superstars of Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling. If Hulk Hogan represented the WWE in the 80s as their top guy, then Ric Flair represented WCW/JCP as their top guy and world champion. Flair started in JCP during its inception in 1986 and wrestled on the last Nitro against longtime rival Sting. When Flair appeared in the WWF in 1991 to 1993, he still felt like an outsider who came from down south. It wasn’t until WCW was no longer in business Ric Flair could finally feel like a WWE guy. Regardless, he spent most of his best years, won most of his world titles and cut some of his most memorable promos under the JCP/WCW banners.

Sting
WWE

There was nobody more synonymous with World Championship Wrestling than the “Icon” Sting. He found his major success in WCW feuding with Ric Flair. He was the dark knight who stood for WCW during the NWO takeover. He was a member of Wolfpac at the height of their popularity. He won the World Championship multiple times. The Stinger was also the only one to never jump ship to the WWE during his tenure with WCW and didn’t appear in the WWE until 13 years after WCW closed their doors. People questioned for years if Sting would ever make an appearance in the WWE and his long refusal to do so made you think of Sting as a WCW star for even longer. Although he had a long run in TNA, it still felt like it was WCW’s Sting in the Impact Zone. This was because he was the franchise and conscious of World Championship Wrestling and I think that is his legacy.

Harlem Heat
WWE

Harlem Heat consisted of the real-life brothers Stevie Ray and Booker T. They were a homegrown tag team for WCW and they became ten time tag team champions in the promotion. Harlem Heat was another team that never left for the WWE or any other company during their time together as they were a staple for the tag division for the brand. They feuded with all the major tag teams in WCW including the Steiners, Road Warriors and Outsiders. They excelled too when they split to pursue singles careers, especially Booker T who became a multiple time Television Champion, United States Champion and World Champion by the time the doors closed for WCW. Stevie Ray became a member of the New World Order and even formed his own Harlem Heat 2000 stable during his singles run. Booker T would go on to become a major star in the WWE and everywhere else he appeared, but we all know where he perfected his craft.

Goldberg
WWE

We believed the hype. When Goldberg hit the scene on Nitro fresh out of the WCW’s Powerplant development facility, he came in like an unstoppable force. He was 15-0 before he even appeared on television. The streak continued every week as Goldberg would put opponent after opponent away with a spear and jackhammer. It even led to him defeating “Hollywood” Hogan in the Georgia Dome for the World Championship. The streak went 173-0 before it ended, but the hype was real for Bill Goldberg. Goldberg continued to be a top star in the company after his streak ended and a force to be reckoned with. Bill Goldberg was one of, if not the biggest homegrown WCW star of the late 90s that people still get excited to see today in the WWE.

DDP
WWE

Diamond Dallas Page transitioned from being a personality/manager to a wrestler in his mid-30s which is considered late in the wrestling world. However, he was able to break out as one of WCW’s big names in the late 90s with his real-life wife Kimberly in his corner. DDP hit the next level of popularity when he opposed joining his friends in the New World Order and found himself embroiled in a rivalry with the legendary “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Randy Savage even put over DDP at Spring Stampede 1997, which Page states was the moment that really solidified him as a top star. He would go on to win the World Championship in 1999 and formed his own Jersey Triad Stable with Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Kanyon at one point. Although the fans loved to see him in other companies, he never reached the heights he did in WCW anywhere else.

Arn Anderson
WWE

Arn Anderson is one of those wrestlers that most people realized was really good after he was no longer wrestling anymore. He had been around in Jim Crockett Promotions since 1984 and was a founding member of the legendary Four Horsemen. Arn Anderson could arguably be considered one of the greatest Television Champions of all time. He was a staple in WCW for all those years except for the year Tully Blanchard and himself left for the WWF before coming back. Double A even picked up a victory over Hulk Hogan, which many wrestlers can’t claim they have done. Although Anderson was forced to retire in 1997 due to extensive neck and back injuries, he remained with the company until the very end.

Road Warriors
WWE

I personally first remember the Road Warriors in the WWE as the Legion of Doom, they never felt like WWE guys. As I got older I got to go back to watch their stuff in Jim Crockett Promotions and World Championship Wrestling. This was when I realized it was there (GCW and in Japan too) where they really got over as one of the most dominant tag teams in wrestling prior to showing up in the WWE. The face paint, the spikes and their entire look was unforgettable. Their intensity and power as a duo was unmatched. The Road Warriors are arguably one of the greatest tag teams of all time and they cut their teeth in WCW, eventually coming to WWE with an already established reputation.

Lex Luger
WWE

Lex Luger got his first major opportunity in wrestling in World Championship Wrestling in 1987 as an associate of the Four Horsemen before becoming a full time member. The Total Package won the tag titles, the United States Championship and the World Championship in WCW before leaving the company for the WWE for three years. Luger returned to the WCW on the first edition of Nitro in 1995, shocking the world and remained one of their top stars until the company closed their doors. He always felt more like a WCW guy than a WWE guy. Even though he had some memorable moments in the WWE too, he never reached the heights he did as a World Champion in WCW.

Magnum TA
WWE

Terry Allen aka Magnum TA is the greatest “what if” story from Jim Crockett Promotions. He came into the company in 1984 and soon won the United States Championship from Wahoo McDaniels. He went on to have a legendary feud against Tully Blanchard and the Four Horsemen. Magnum was one of the most over babyface superstars in the promotion, but his career was cut short due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident. A lot of people believed Magnum TA was going to be the Hulk Hogan of JCP, but we will never know. He continued to appear in WCW in the years that followed but never laced up those boots again.

The Giant
WWE

Listen, I know most of you see Paul Wight aka The Big Show as a WWE guy since he spent way more time in the WWE as the Big Show than he spent anywhere else, but my first exposure to the Big Show was in WCW where he was known as The Giant. In 1995, The Giant was introduced as Andre the Giant’s son by the Dungeon of Doom. Their main goal was to end Hulkamania, and this was Hogan’s way of relieving one of his greatest feuds. The Giant became a two time World Champion, was an early member of the New World Order and worked with some of the biggest names in the business such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Arn Anderson, Sting and many others in WCW before making the jump to the WWE. It was my first exposure to the big man.

Ron Simmons
WWE

DAMN! Many wrestling fans remember Ron Simmons as Farooq in WWE. Most fans remember Farooq as the leader of the Nation of Domination or as half of the APA with Bradshaw. However, prior to that, Ron Simmons was making history in WCW by becoming the first ever African American WCW World Champion, and is recognized by the WWE as the first black world champion in professional wrestling history. Simmons joined JCP in 1986 and stayed with the company until 1994. Simmons was also one half of the first ever WCW World Tag Team Champions alongside Butch Reed in the tag team of Doom. Ron Simmons definitely made his mark in WCW, which led to bigger opportunities.

Steiner Brothers
WWE

The Steiner Brothers dominated the wrestling scene in their day. They kicked off their careers in WCW as a tag team in 1988. In their first four years with WCW, they became multiple time tag team champions and established their names very quickly as one of the best tag teams in the industry. They eventually went to the WWE for a little under 2 years and even had a short stint in ECW before returning to WCW in 1996. They never felt more at home than they did in WCW. The Seiners would have memorable feuds with Harlem Heat and the Outsiders of the New World Order. Scott Steiner would eventually join the NWO and slowly transform into his “Big Poppa Pump” character while the “Dog Faced Gremlin” Rick Steiner stayed loyal to WCW. They would reunite throughout the years following their split, but Rick and Scott Steiner both will be remembered as two of WCW’s greatest wrestlers. 

Rey Mysterio Jr.
WWE

Rey Mysterio made his debut in 1996 for the cruiserweight division and captured all of our imaginations. The legendary masked superstar was able to obtain the Cruiserweight Championship only weeks after his debut. Mysterio would win the championship a few more times and have unforgettable matches against the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Konnan, Juventud Guerrea and many other great cruiserweight superstars. Later in his career, he would be forced to unmask while still picking up unpredictable wins against larger opponents such as Kevin Nash. Rey Mysterio was the ultimate underdog. Whether he was alone or in a group like the Filthy Animals, we first fell in love with Rey in WCW.

Chris Jericho
WWE

Listen, I know that Jericho is another of those that you may think of as a WWE guy over a WCW guy. However, I think Jericho did some of his best work in WCW before jumping ship to the WWE by finding a way to stand out in a company where he wasn’t a major priority. Jericho made his debut in 1996 and didn’t capture the Cruiserweight Championship until 1997. Although the Lionheart was having great matches, things really turned up when he turned heel. The skills of Jericho as an entertainer and character really began to shine. He had some really funny and memorable angles during this time. He even introduced us to his personal bodyguard, Ralphus. Jericho would win the Television Championship too, but he never truly reached the heights he would eventually reach in WWE. Regardless, I just can’t count out Jericho’s WCW run for helping him get noticed by the WWE because it was just that good.

Dean Malenko
WWE

“The Ice Man” Dean Malenko was a second generation wrestler who had his highest level of success in WCW. He was a multiple time Cruiserweight Champion, a United States Champion and a tag team champion in the company. Malenko was also a member of the legendary Four Horsemen during its final incarnation in 1998. Dean had many memorable matches with Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and many others during his time in WCW. Malenko would wind up in the WWE when the Radicalz made the jump, but his time there was forgettable compared to his run in WCW during the peak of the Monday Night Wars.

Eddie Guerrero
WWE

Viva La Raza! I first remember seeing Eddie Guerrero in WCW. Eddie wore a singlet and had a thick moustache. It was an interesting look, but during that time he feuded with the likes of Ric Flair and DDP, eventually winning the United States Championship. Later down the road, he would focus on the cruiserweight division in which he would win the championship multiple times, leaving us with classic matches like the one against Rey Mysterio at Halloween Havoc in 1997. The popular Guerrero would begin to get frustrated with his spot in the company, which would eventually lead to him leaving. However, before his exit, he formed his own NWO parody faction called the Latino World Order and was a founder of the Filthy Animals. The mainstream wrestling fans became well-aware of Eddie due to his run in WCW, which allowed him to reach new heights during his run in the WWE.

Billy Kidman
WWE

Billy Kidman was one of the first wrestlers I associated the shooting star press with. Kidman really established himself in WCW in the five years that he was there. Billy made his debut in 1996, but didn’t really gain any recognition until he joined Raven’s Flock as Sickboy in 1997. After the group disbanded, Kidman would go on to win the Cruiserweight Championship and the World Tag Team Titles in his WCW tenure. Kidman would also join the Filthy Animals and the New Blood in the final years of WCW. He had the biggest rivalry of his life against Hulk Hogan, where he was able to pick up three victories against the icon. Billy Kidman even met his ex-wife Torrie Wilson in WCW. Kidman never reached the same level of success in the WWE, even though he was very successful, but you could only imagine what Kidman could have become if WCW never shut its doors.

Konnan
WWE

Konnan was a huge star in Mexico prior to coming to World Championship Wrestling full time in 1996. During his time in WCW, he was known to be the main liaison between WCW and the organizations in Mexico for bringing more talent into WCW. Aside from that, he is a former United States Champion, Television Champion and multiple time tag team champion. Konnan also was a member of the New World Order, the Wolfpac and the Filthy Animals. He went from being a traditional Mexican wrestler to a more hip-hop related gimmick going by K-Dawg, which allowed him to connect with fans who chanted along with the opening of his promos. He did a lot for WCW, both in front of and behind the camera. I’m not sure if I would have ever known who Konnan was if it wasn’t for WCW.

Juventud Guerrera
WWE

Juventud Guerrera doesn’t get the love he deserves as one of the more charismatic and memorable cruiserweight competitors in WCW. Breaking in the business in AAA and having a brief stint in ECW, Juventud found himself in WCW like many others who followed a similar path. He became a multiple time Cruiserweight Champion by the end of 1998 and was forced to remove his mask in a feud with Chris Jericho. However, it was after he was unmasked that we learned Juvi had more charisma than we expected. He joined the Filthy Animals, where he would win the tag titles with Rey Mysterio. He even had a funny phase where he would parody The Rock’s mannerisms and catchphrases while referring to himself as The Juice in third person. Juventud Guerrera is up there with La Parka and Psychosis as the cruiserweight competitors that really stood out to me in WCW growing up.

Buff Bagwell
WWE

The American Males theme is still one of the most under-appreciated catchy themes in professional wrestling. My earliest memories of Marcus Bagwell come from when he was one half of the American Males in 1996 with Scotty Riggs and then the time he spent as a member of the New World Order. However, he had been with the company since 1991. Bagwell was a mainstay in the mid card, whether in singles wrestling or tag team wrestling on WCW television. He won the tag team titles on five occasions with four different partners. Buff was a self conceited and properly annoying heel and it always felt weird when he was a babyface following his association with the NWO. Buff Bagwell didn’t last long in the WWE and before we knew it, he wasn’t seen that frequently on national television besides a once in a blue moon appearance. That being said, Buff Bagwell will always remind me of WCW.

Scott Norton
WWE

Scott Norton was a big deal in Japan, having a ton of success in the NJPW tag division, teaming with Hercules Hernandes and even winning the IWGP Tag Team Titles. He had a brief run in WCW in 1993 before quitting, but then returned in 1995. It was this run in WCW of Norton’s that I remember the most. He teamed with Ice Train in a tag team called “Fire & Ice” before eventually becoming a mainstay member in the New World Order. Norton would go back and forth between WCW and New Japan where he would win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship while representing the NWO. Norton eventually left WCW to focus on his career more in Japan after his role in the company continued to move down in the ranks. Scott Norton went on to have a lot more success in Japan, but his time in WCW was the peak of his success in North America. 

Chris Kanyon
WWE

Kanyon entered WCW in 1995 as an enhancement talent and briefly was in a tag team called “Men at Work” with Mark Starr. It started off with Mortis who fought against other Mortal Kombat like characters such as Glacier, Wrath and Ernest Miller, but he was eventually out of the mask when the angle was quietly dropped. Kanyon finally got to be more of a reality-based character again when he entered an angle with Raven and the Flock. Chris’s “Who Better Than Kanyon?” catchphrase is something a lot of us older fans remember. He had another memorable feud with DDP, which led to an off and on relationship between the two until WCW went out of business. Kanyon did make the jump to WWE after, but nothing was as relevant as the stuff he did in WCW.

Glacier
WWE

The “Blood Run Cold” vignettes aired for what felt like a year until the big debut of Glacier in WCW in 1997. In a period when WCW was focused more on reality-based characters and storylines, there was Glacier smack dab in the middle, feuding with characters such as Mortis and Wrath. This was all to take advantage of the popularity surrounding the Mortal Kombat franchise at the time, but it just felt so out of place. He was actually fun to watch in the ring due to his martial arts background, but at the same time it was an over the top character with an over the top entrance debuting at the wrong time. He was repackaged as the forgettable Coach Buzz Stern character before eventually being released. Regardless, years later us wrestling fans infamously remember the Glacier character and it’ll always remind us of WCW.

Disco Inferno
WWE

Disco Fever! Disco Fever! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Disco Inferno made his WCW debut in 1995, portraying an annoying disco dancing gimmick that was a call back to the 70s to aggravate the fans. Disco started off as enhancement talent until he started getting pushed as a babyface. Disco was a former Television Champion, Cruiserweight Champion and tag team champion in his brief time teaming with Alex Wright. They teamed twice under two different tag team names, the Dancing Fools and Boogie Knights. He was also a member of other factions such as The Mamalukes, NWO Wolfpac and the Filthy Animals. Disco Inferno’s best years were in WCW and when he was a fan favorite, he had everyone doing a little disco.

Alex Wright
WWE

“Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright spent seven years in WCW starting in 1994. Prior to that, he worked in Japan and Germany. It was in Germany where the WCW discovered Alex Wright. Wright had techno music and had a signature dance that he would do on his way to the ring. Alex was a staple in the mid card for WCW the entire time he was on the roster. Later in his WCW tenure, he would drop dancing and techno music for a more dark German character under the name Beryln (a play on Berlin) with an entirely different look, only to eventually revert back to the Alex Wright character. I remember not being a fan of his as a kid, but watching back now I am really starting to appreciate his work. He was a former Television, Cruiserweight and tag team champion. When I think of Alex Wright, I think about WCW and vice versa. 

Torrie Wilson
WWE

Torrie Wilson’s start in the business was all by chance. Torrie attended a show with her then boyfriend in 1999 only to be noticed and asked to walk out to the ring with Scott Steiner. The New World Order then used Torrie to seduce David Flair to turn on his father Ric Flair, and then she became a mainstay in the company, initially with David Flair. Wilson would eventually turn on David to join Billy Kidman, who she ended up in a real-life relationship with. Almost everything Torrie did would involve Kidman. During this time, she was also a member of the Filthy Animals. Although she was there so briefly, she made such an impact that when WWE purchased WCW, Torrie Wilson also joined the WWE as one of the women from WCW. Torrie Wilson would become a mainstay in WWE, but it would have never happened if she never attended that WCW show.

Stacy Keibler
WWE

Stacy Keibler was first seen as a fan in the crowd in a Nitro shirt, rooting for Bret Hart, and in Starrcade 1998 dancing in the crowd in a Wolfpac shirt. I don’t think anyone saw the former Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader entering the business. Stacy then entered a nationwide contest held by WCW to find the next Nitro Girl. Keibler won the contest and officially joined WCW in 1999. Eventually she transitioned from being a Nitro Girl to being an on-air valet under the name Miss Hancock. Stacy would dance sensually,—even though she would be in business attire—to distract wrestlers and also entered a storyline pairing her with real-life boyfriend David Flair in an angle that went until the end of days for WCW. If it wasn’t for WCW and their Nitro Girl contest, we might have never had Stacy Keibler in the world of wrestling. Therefore, we’ve gotta be grateful for WCW.

I hope you all enjoyed this article and let me know if there is anyone you think I forgot!

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