Imagine if you will, WCW doesn’t fold. It lands on another network like the WB or USA Network. The roster reshapes around the younger stars as guys like Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, and others get let go. The company remodels itself around Rey Mysterio, Booker T, Shane Douglas, Goldberg, Lance Storm and Scott Steiner; while using Sting and Ric Flair as legends to put the roster over.
But imagine that guys like Hugh Morrus, The Wall, and other mid-upper card guys who weren’t homegrown were let go. Freed up to allow the Mike Awesome’s of the company more opportunity. Less impressive wrestlers and overpaid veterans were let go.
Forced to utilize the younger among the roster in more key spots. Who would they be? Who would the stars of “tomorrow” of been? Who would of been winding down their career in 2018? That’s what we’re going to look at today, who would the next crop of legends be for WCW?
I do want to emphasize that this is strictly rookies and or underused young talent as of 2000-2001. Guys like Shane Douglas, Lance Storm and Mike Awesome aren’t eligible due to their name value and guys like Goldberg, Steiner and Booker are already on their road to being “future legends” at this point in time. Sting, Flair and others like them are obvious. So if they’re pushing 30 as of 2001, and have any type of name value, they won’t be considered.
– Jamie Noble could of been the next Dean Malenko. He was put under a mask and wasn’t given much in the way of mic time due to his thick southern accent. Something the WWE would really emphasize with their “red neck trash” gimmick. Had WCW plied the same booking techniques to Noble that they did to Malenko, Nobel could of been something.
– Maybe Mike Sanders wasn’t the best wrestler or the best athlete but he was a heat magnet. He was easily the best promo guy of the Natural Born Thrillers, and was utilized pretty well at the time. Some guys on this list would need a manager type, or a tag team partner, and Sanders could of fit both those roles.
– The folks at WCW had a thing for legacy talents, and Stasiak was no different. Though he was 30-31 at the time of his big push in WCW, but the Mecca of Manhood was paired with the next individual on this list and the duo could of gotten over as a great mid card heel act had they been given time.
– Keibler was a former Nitro Girl and was barely into her 20’s at the time of her WCW run. She was never a great worker, or that athletic but she was charismatic enough to be a legendary valet or manager. She may not have the same presence as Woman or Sherri Martel but I’d say that her run in wrestling was more relevant than someone like Miss Elizabeth, and had she been a bigger focus of the product then who knows what would of happened with her career.
Elix Skipper, Christopher Daniels, Low Ki
– This is one that might not happen. Daniels and Skipper had worked or were working in the company at the time, and Low Ki was gaining some notoriety in the WWE working as a free agent on shows liked Jakked and Metal, so the possibility of Ki coming into WCW exists. It’s made even more possible for the fact that the people who signed Ki during TNA’s early days were also working in some high spots within WCW at the time. So they clearly had eyes on Ki even at this time. However, they’re not in the top ten because Daniels and Ki weren’t officially signed as of March 2001.
10) Bob Sapp
– People often forget that Bob Sapp was in WCW’s Power Plant at this point. I can’t think of one guy who had his size, his look and his charisma. The only issue is that Sapp was never the greatest worker. However, much like a Goldberg or a Big Show, he didn’t need to be. Most of Sapp would of been squash matches or short matches, with the occasional long match to help legitimize some opponents.
9) Air Paris
– Now most don’t remember Air Paris, but I do. I can’t help but imagine had WCW not collapsed and they stuck around that Paris and partner AJ Styles would of not just been the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Champions but also the WCW World Tag Team Champions at several points. How far could Paris of gotten? Well he had a great look, but would that of been enough to propel him up the card? He wasn’t the best worker, and he certainly wasn’t the best in his own tag team. However, with the overhaul in the Cruiserweight Division, Paris may of found a long run in the division.
8) Chris Harris and James Storm
– It’s not hard to imagine that these two would do the exact same thing in WCW that they did in TNA. Both men were signed to developmental deals and wrestled on WCW Saturday Night quite a bit before the show was cancelled. It seems fitting though that in the year where AMW reunites for the first time in over a decade, that I put them together on this list. Both men were singles wrestlers early in their careers but it was America’s Most Wanted that caused them to gain recognition and fame. The same guys that saw the potential in them in TNA as a tag team were in WCW at the time, so to think that Harris, and Storm couldn’t reduplicate their success in WCW given the chance isn’t far fetch. Again, a lot of TNA’s staffers and decision makers were doing that in WCW at the time. So it stands to reason that America’s Most Wanted would of defeated Kronik or whoever for the tag titles sometime soon after uniting.
7) Evan Karagias
– He looked like Shawn Michaels and even moved like him to a degree. Yet Karagias never found the post WCW success his look almost guaranteed him for. Part of that issue is that he never found his voice as a wrestler. When he started he had stupid hair and generic trunks, and then was paired with Madusa – much better with the promos than he was at the time – and then transitioned into 3 Count where Helms and Tank Abbott took over as the mouth guys. However, in time I feel he would of found his voice, coupled that with his natural athleticism and learning from some of the best in WCW at the time, I feel he could of been a big deal in time. Maybe not a world champ, but I could see him around the U.S. title every now and again. Plus, coupled with someone like Stacey Kiebler or Mike Sanders and he could of found his niche as a main eventer.
6) Mark Jindrak
– Here’s a sad stat, only Jindrak, the honorable mentioned Christopher Daniels and this list’s #1 are still active regularly. Mark Jindrak at 40 is still making history down in CMLL as their World Heavyweight Champion. The Lucha Legend was every bit the athlete then in 2001 as he is today. He’s got the look, the charisma, and the ability to of been a big name in WCW. He’s shown that in Mexico, with the oldest pro wrestling promotion in North America that he has the tools to be a headliner; and that’s after having to learn a whole new language in order to do so. That’s an obstacle he wouldn’t of had to overcome in WCW. Plus, his pairing with Sean O’Haire was netting good traction. The two should of never of been split apart from one another for O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo. Given some time, some mic work development, and a steady feud with his former Natural Born Thriller tag partner and Jindrak would of been on the fast track to the main event scene.
5) Shane Helms
– I made the remark about Karagias that he was a lot like HBK, but then again so is Shane Helms. Say what you will about him today, but Shane Helms in WCW was charismatic, energetic and one of the best hands the company had to offer. He, Jamie Noble and Kaz Hayashi really made those Jung Dragons/3 Count tag matches pop off the page. Helms would go on to win the Cruiserweight Championship in WCW but never reached the heights in the WWE that his talent level was capable of. A neck injury in 2007 really derailed his chances of breaking out past the Cruiserweight Division, and his fate was sealed in the company soon after. Yet, you have to wonder in a company that was devoid of athleticism and charisma at the top of the card, what could someone of Helm’s stature of done in WCW? Would he of become WCW’s Shawn Michaels, or flame out?
4) Johnny the Bull
– Who didn’t love Johnny The Bull? Ok, maybe a lot of you. However, I thought he was the cat’s pajamas. Johnny was stacked, the most athletic guy for his size on the roster, and had a true on baby face. With his daredevil abilities and his looks, he would of been a huge star if someone had used him correctly. He spent most of his time with dead weight partner Vito, and never gained the traction he deserved. The Bull would of been a fantastic face, with Goldberg’s look and Rey Mysterio’s agility, blended in with a dash of Terry Funk’s craziness and you have yourself the makings of a top star in all of wrestling. His promos weren’t bad, and once you stopped forcing Italian stereotypes onto him, I’m sure the fans would of leapt at the chance to support this daredevil in the making.
3) Sean O’Haire
– Talk about wasted potential. This guy was everything you’d want in a wrestler circa 2001. He was tall, muscular, charismatic, and had a look that he owned. He had one of the best swanton bombs in the business, and had a legit background in marital arts that helped him stand apart at the time. The WWE didn’t know what to do with him, but I really feel like if he had someone with a clue that he would’ve been a huge star. I’m talking Undertaker 2018 sized star. Think about him being some demonic character, with his athleticism and taking on guys like Sting and Flair he would of been a sure fired world champion. It’s beyond sad that he’s gone, and that he never caught on in pro wrestling like we all hoped he would but the potential will forever be there.
2) Torrie Wilson
– In 2001 she was young, athletic and highly marketable (*sexy as fuck*). Wilson may not of been the best athlete going but she was and is a workout fiend. Had she trained in pro wrestling for a few years consistently, she could of been at the forefront of a women’s division revival alongside Madusa and maybe someone else like Midajah. Torrie may not of been the best talker but over time she became tolerable in the WWE and they never focused on really developing her. So imagine if you prepped her, trained her and didn’t just use her for her sexy-bits? She would of been huge and highly marketable.