The WWE Hall of Fame was conceived in 1993 as a tribute to the recently departed, Andre The Giant. From there, WWE legends were inducted each year until the Hall of Fame was shelved after the 1996 ceremony. In 2004, the Hall of Fame was revived to commemorate the twentieth edition of WrestleMania.
World champions old and new from all over the world have been inducted, however, several remain conspicuous by their absence, not least of those wrestlers who have held the WCW world crown. The WCW World Heavyweight Championship has a proud history dating back to 1991. Many of its champions already have Hall of Fame rings. However, as this feature attests, many are still overdue for induction.
Lex Luger (2-time, 1991-92 & 1997)
The ‘Total Package’ Lex Luger was, for many years, the bridesmaid and not the bride when it came to the world title. Luger was on the losing end of several high profile World Championship Wrestling contests at 1988’s Great American Bash and Starrcade as well as 1990’s WrestleWar and Capital Combat. By the time Luger was granted a World title run, the once dynamic and athletic performer had lost his enthusiasm for wrestling and entered his comfort zone.
Luger defeated Barry Windham for the vacant WCW World title at The Great American Bash on July 14, 1991 after reigning champion Ric Flair had jumped ship to the WWF.
It was an inauspicious start as champ for Luger who had continually failed to defeat Flair in major matches and was denied the opportunity to wrest the belt from him. Luger’s 1991-92 title reign was a disaster. His in-ring work nose-dived and he entered some of the worst performances of his career. In particular, his match versus Ron Simmons at Halloween Havoc 1991 was one of the most embarrassing of the decade as he lumbered around the ring like a zombie and made no effort to sell or make his offence look remotely convincing.
Luger lost the title to Sting at SuperBrawl II on February 29, 1992 and left WCW to join Vince McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation. After WBF folded, Luger began wrestling for the WWF in 1993 but his main event career was short lived and he re-joined WCW in September 1995.
Established as a player once more, Luger confronted WCW World Champion, Hulk Hogan on the debut episode of Monday Nitro. Whilst Luger was reinvigorated, Vince McMahon was incensed. Luger had been working on a handshake deal with the WWF after his contract expired. ‘The Total Package’ appeared live on Nitro, one day after wrestling on a WWF house show.
A rewarding period of his career between 1995-97 culminated in Luger winning his final WCW World title. Luger defeated nWo leader Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the belt on the August 4, 1997 Nitro before dropping it back to Hogan six days later at Road Wild.
Luger was never close to the World title picture again and when WCW folded in 2001, he fell off the radar of mainstream wrestling.
The manner of his departure from the WWF damaged Luger’s chances of induction into the WWE Hall of Fame for many years. However, Luger and WWE are currently on good terms as the former World Champion has assisted in the running of their Wellness Policy in recent years. Therefore, his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame seems assured in future.
Vader (3-time, 1992 & 1993)
Big Van Vader took WCW by storm when the fearsome, masked Superstar debuted in the company in 1990. Ripping through the competition with his stiff, brutal and combative style, Vader won his first WCW World Championship at 1992’s The Great American Bash.
Shockingly, Vader’s reign lasted a mere 21 days and he dropped the strap to long time mid-carder Ron Simmons.
When the Simmons experiment failed, Vader was selected as WCW’s figurehead once more. His second title run which commenced on December 30, 1992 lasted 71 days before he was dethroned by Sting on a house show during WCW’s tour of the UK in spring 1993. Vader reclaimed the belt later on the tour and reigned as champion for the rest of the year.
His third title run encompassed classic matches with Cactus Jack, Davey Boy Smith and others before he was dethroned by Ric Flair in the famous Starrcade 1993 headliner. Vader remained in the title picture and unsuccessfully challenged Flair and later Hulk Hogan for the title. He never regained the gold and joined the WWF in January 1996.
It is perplexing that Vader is not already in the WWE Hall of Fame. Surely, he will be inducted in the near future.
The Giant (2-time, 1995 & 1996)
Not many wrestlers win the world championship in their first professional wrestling match, but that is precisely what The Giant accomplished at Halloween Havoc 1995.
The Giant apparently plunged to his death from the roof of Kobo Hall, shortly before the main event. However, the 7-foot monster made a miraculous recovery to wrest the gold from ‘The Hulkster’ in the headliner.
The Giant’s win was not without controversy. Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart had sneakily added a clause to the title contract wherein the champion could lose the title via disqualification. When Hart interjected himself in the match, he cost his client both the bout and the World title.
However, The Giant’s title win didn’t stick and he was stripped of the belt. He would regain it from Ric Flair, six months later on Nitro. This time his reign lasted until late summer, when Hogan, now the leader of the nWo, defeated him for the gold at Hog Wild. The Giant never regained the title and joined the WWF in February 1999, where he remained for the next 22 years. Wrestling as The Big Show, the man behind the character, Paul Wight was seemingly a WWE lifer.
A Hall of Fame induction seemed assured in the next few years. However, Wight’s recent acquisition by WWE’s rival, AEW would seemingly preclude him from a WWE Hall of Fame induction in the near future.
Chris Benoit (1-time, 2000)
Chris Benoit first wrestled for WCW in the early nineties and joined the company full time in 1995 after hugely successful stints in Japan and ECW.
Benoit joined the legendary Four Horsemen stable and was an integral member until he left the group in 1999 and won two United States titles.
‘The Crippler’ became dissatisfied with the glass ceiling in WCW and the lack of opportunities in the main event scene. However, he was finally afforded a shot at the World crown when reigning champion, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart was forced to relinquish the gold due to a career ending concussion.
Benoit defeated Sid Vicious for the vacant strap at Souled Out on January 16, 2000. However, he left the company the very next day and joined the WWF, along with Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero.
In the WWF, Benoit was pushed as a major player from the off and enjoyed numerous title wins and classic matches and a World title win in the WrestleMania XX headliner.
However, despite his incredible two decade career, the tragic events of June 22 to June 24, 2007 preclude Benoit from ever entering the WWE Hall of Fame. That weekend, Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy and their son, Daniel. He then committed suicide.
Therefore, this is a title reign that will never receive airtime on WWE television and rightfully so.
Sid Vicious (2-time, 2000)
In late 1999, Sid Vicious was dubbed, ‘The Millennium Man’ and so it proved when Sid won the vacant WCW World Championship in a bout with Kevin Nash, on the January 24, 2000, Nitro.
In typical WCW fashion, Sid was stripped of the belt the next day due to the usual nonsensical shenanigans that plagued the last two years of the company’s existence. Sid regained the belt on the January 25, 2000 Thunder in a rematch with Nash and would be the longest of 2000, as he held the belt until the April 10 Nitro when he was once again stripped of the belt.
WCW’s new bosses, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff vacated the belt and put it up for grabs in a tournament. Sid would never regain the WCW World title, although he did received notable cracks at the gold at Starrcade 2000 and Sin 2001.
Despite successful tenures in WCW and the WWF, Sid is conspicuous by his absence from the Hall of Fame. A WWE Hall of Fame induction is guaranteed. It’s just a question of when.
David Arquette (1-time, 2000)
David Arquette is perhaps the most infamous, WCW World Champion of all time. The Scream actor began making appearances in WCW in the spring of 2000, to publicise the WCW movie, Ready to Rumble, in which he starred.
Any residual hope that WCW could be saved was torpedoed on the April 26, Thunder when Arquette pinned Eric Bischoff in a specially stipulated tag team match-up.
The rules made little sense. Arquette teamed with WCW World Champion, Diamond Dallas Page to take on Jeff Jarrett and Bischoff. Whomever scored the pinfall, would be declared champion. So, when Arquette defeated Bischoff, he somehow won the World crown despite it being held by his partner.
Those die-hard WCW fans who had stuck with the company ever since the terminal decline began in spring 1999 finally abandoned the company en masse. WCW never recovered.
Arquette’s run was mercifully truncated when he dropped the belt to Jarrett in the main event of Slamboree on May 7, 2000. However, even this title loss was not celebrated as Arquette swerve turned on DDP in a triple threat bout, handing the title to Jarrett in another damaging booking decision.
It is safe to say, that no world champion has had a more damaging effect on any wrestling company. However, despite the ignominy of his World title run, Arquette has a more substantial claim to the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame than the likes of Drew Carey and Snoop Dog.
Arquette’s recent infamy in his documentary film, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” wherein he returned to pro-wrestling in a series of dramatic matches ensures that a Hall of Fame berth for the former movie star is assured. WrestleMania 39 hailing from Los Angeles, California seems a likely bet.
Vince Russo (1-time, 2000)
A rival for David Arquette’s place in WCW infamy, Vince Russo booked himself to become WCW World Champion in the dying days of the company.
This title run would have been more damaging had any one seen it or cared about the former number one wrestling organisation in the world in late 2000.
Russo ended Booker T’s second WCW World title reign in a Steel Cage match on the September 25, 2000 episode of Nitro. Russo won, when an interfering Goldberg speared Russo through the cage wall into the barricade. As the WCW boss technically exited the cage before the champion, he was declared the winner.
Mercifully, Russo vacated the WCW World title a week later. However, the permanent damage to WCW’s top prize had already been done.
Despite Russo’s success as a booker in the WWF from 1997-99, the controversial figure is unlikely to be a candidate for Hall of Fame induction.
Scott Steiner(1-time, 2000-01)
For a decade, Scott Steiner and his brother Rick dominated WCW’s tag team division. The Steiner Brothers won WCW’s Tag Team titles seven times between 1989 and 1998.
At SuperBrawl VIII on February 22, 1998, Steiner turned on his brother Rick and joined the nWo. Reborn as the outrageous ‘Big Poppa Pump’, Steiner quickly ascended the singles ranks by winning the TV and United States titles on numerous occasions.
He finally claimed the world crown, when he toppled Booker T at Mayhem on November 26, 2000. Steiner would dominate the dying days of WCW, crushing everyone in his path. ‘Big Poppa Pump’ turned back the challenges of Sid Vicious, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page and others before dropping the title on the final broadcast of Nitro on March 26, 2001.
WCW had been purchased by the WWF three days earlier and Steiner’s contract had not been bought out. Therefore, Booker T, who was WWF bound was chosen to dethrone him. Steiner did eventually show up in WWE in November 2002, a decade after his previous stint in the company. However, after a main event run with Triple H tanked in early 2003, Steiner was relegated to the mid-card, where he remained until he departed the following year.
The 58-year-old is an outspoken critic of WWE, but his nephew Bronson Rechsteiner has recently signed with the company – dramatically increasing his Hall Of Fame prospects.
Steiner is one of the most decorated champions in WCW history and at his peak was an outstanding talent. He and his brother Rick definitely warrant a spot in the Hall of the Fame.
The Rock (2-time, 2001)
Post-WWF buyout, the WCW World title remained active throughout 2001. WCW World Champion Booker T brought the belt to the WWF as WCW and ECW forces invaded. WWF mainstay The Rock challenged Booker T for the gold in the main event of SummerSlam that year and won his first WCW World title.
A heated feud with fellow WWF star Chris Jericho followed. The Rock dropped the belt to Jericho at No Mercy 2001, which gave ‘Y2J’ his first ever world title. However, ‘The People’s Champion’ would regain the belt just two weeks later on RAW. That reign also ended at the hands of Jericho at Vengeance on December 9, 2001.
It is a no-brainer that former 8-time WWE Champion The Rock, one of the most recognisable wrestlers of all time, will be enshrined into the WWE Hall of Fame one day.
WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles, California seems a likely destination to host The Rock’s long overdue induction.
Chris Jericho (2-time, 2001)
Chris Jericho was the last-ever recognised WCW World Champion.
‘Y2J’ won his first ever world title when he dethroned The Rock for the WCW title at No Mercy 2001. His reign was a short one but Jericho bounced back to win his second WCW world crown in another rematch with ‘The People’s Champion’ at Vengeance 2001.
Jericho defeated The Rock to win the WCW World title, then upended Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWF World title to unify the belts to become the first ever Undisputed World Champion in WWF history. Jericho’s achievement was a monumental one, although he was assisted by Vince McMahon and Booker T to gain the victory.
The WCW World title was deactivated and its lineage ended with Jericho’s win on December 9, 2001.
‘Y2J’ is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. However, his current tenure in AEW would seemingly preclude his Hall of Fame entry any time soon. However, one would imagine when his AEW contract expires, he will return to the WWE fold and receive his well-deserved induction.
The 2021 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony is expected to take place during WrestleMania weekend. You can relive, all these WCW World title reigns by subscribing to the WWE Network.