Today, when you say wrestling, the first promotion that comes to mind is, no doubt, World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE. However, back in the day, there were other promotions that truly managed to contend WWE’s right to the wrestling throne. World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began its life as the Jim Crocket Promotions, but was in 1988 sold to Ted Turner who changed its name and propelled it to stardom with the help of a well-known wrestling personality – Eric Bischoff. During the 90’s, WCW became one of the best known and beloved wrestling promotions in the USA and beyond. Its high-quality series like Monday Nitro and Monday Night Wars (taking on the competitor’s Monday Night Raw) helped it overshadow WWF and rise as the ultimate wrestling show. In its short run of only 13 years, before it went down and got sold to WWF, WCW introduced or further developed the careers of numerous wrestling stars. Here are just some of them.
Big Van Vader
One of the most memorable wrestlers that performed for the WCW in the first half of the 90’s is certainly Big Van Vader. He attracted the attention of many wrestling fans when he took on Sting in an attempt to take his title in 1992. Although he was disqualified, he made quite a show and managed to crack a couple of Sting’s ribs and puncture his spleen. Fans soon realized that the “Vader Bomb” is a move not to be trifled with. Later that year, he continued to cause havoc, breaking Joe Thurman’s back and paralyzing him for a few hours. All the way till his departure in 1996, he took on some of the biggest stars like Cactus Jack (played by Mick Foley) and none other than Hulk Hogan. Vader was certainly one of the people that made WCW great.
The late Eddie Guerrero, often dubbed one of the greatest wrestlers in all its history, is another testament to WCW’s greatness. This beloved heel managed to show everything he’s got in WCW’s most popular category – cruiserweight championship, a category that relied on thrilling acrobatics and lucha libre style of wrestling. He won numerous titles, including the United States Heavyweight Championship title and the Cruiserweight title, which he got by defeating Chris Jericho. Although Guerrero had many substance abuse problems that eventually led to his untimely death in the later period, he gave WCW some of his best years and fortified his position at the top of the wrestling chain.
Now, Hogan is an old-school wrestler that started his career back in 1977 and achieved fame early on. Hulk Hogan became so popular that he was at one point the first thing people thought about when someone mentioned wrestling. However, in time, his popularity plummeted and he felt it was a time for a change. WCW gave him this opportunity. In 1996, Hogan made quite a turn, changing his appearance, forming nWO and becoming a villain. This entirely new Hulk was named “Hollywood” Hogan and helped him find his glory days again. He stick to the WCW until its end, giving some mind-blowing performances against stars like Randy Savage, Ric Flair and others. After WCW’s end, he had to return to WWF and continue his career there.
One of WCW’s finest performers is, of course, “Nature Boy,” Ric Flair. Active for nearly 40 years, Ric made quite a name for himself as one of the most beloved wrestlers of all times. Flair started his career in American Wrestling Association, way back in 1972, and worked his way through numerous promotions, arriving to WCW in 1986 and then again in 1993. During his first run, Ric had some notable matches against Ricky Steamboat, Terry Funk, and the controversial match against Tatsumi Fujinami. Flair went to history as the first official WCW World Heavyweight Champion. During his second run, Flair justified his fame with exciting matches against Rick Rude, Sting and well-promoted feud with Hogan’s nWO. In WCW’s last years, Ric Flair was still at the top of his game, winning two Heavyweight titles and forming a villainous group called the Magnificent Seven. According to various interviews, Flair was happy about WCW’s final demise, possibly due to management’s bad decisions that ruined the promotion.
The recently retired giant of wrestling, Sting, owes a lot of its fame to WCW/Jim Crocket Promotions. In 1988, Sting drew attention to himself by challenging the mighty Ric Flair for the title. Although it ended in a draw and was followed by a number of defeats, Sting became a fan-favorite who took on the Road Warriors, turning them heel. Later on, in an exciting turn of events, Sting helped Ric Flair defeat the members of the J-Tex Corporation, and firmly established himself as a beloved face. Sometime in 1996, he changed his appearance and adopted a darker style, that most people recognize today. Up until WCW’s end in 2001, Sting remained active and relevant in the world of wrestling with various feuds and tag teams like the one with his old friend Lex Luger. Without Sting, WCW wouldn’t have had such an impact, and without WCW, Sting perhaps wouldn’t have achieved such a great fame. Together, however, they changed the world of wrestling and entertained millions.
WCW’s demise is a tragic story. Many of its greatest stars claimed that they could have saved the promotion easily if only they knew about all of the problems. After it was acquired by WWF, WCW slowly faded away, leaving us with great memories of some of the best wrestling matches in all its history. We can’t do much but thank WCW for the marvelous experience.