It’s been over two decades since WCW went out of business, yet we still cannot believe some of the ridiculous moments that came out of the company. Nothing promotions like WWE, TNA and AEW have done can come close to sheer stupidity and tastelessness (and downright dangerousness) as some of WCW’s worst moments.
It has been difficult to choose just ten of the worst moments in World Championship Wrestling’s storied history. With innumerable tales of backstage issues, Hogan’s creative control blunders and just generally terrible booking, WCW was a treasure trove of bad decisions and terrible wrestling.
10. Ultimate Warrior’s Trap Door Injures British Bulldog’s Back
The Ultimate Warrior’s run in WCW was terrible to say the least, but the worst part of this short run was a match he wasn’t even involved in. Warrior wrestled his first match at Fall Brawl 1998, participating in a War Games match against a team also involving Hulk Hogan.
Warrior’s performance in that match, while terrible, has little relevance. However, it was an under-card match involving British Bulldog that showed just how bad of an environment working in WCW was at the time. Warrior entered into his match through a trapdoor in the ring, something nobody had warned the other wrestlers about.
Not knowing to not avoid the door, British Bulldog took a back bump onto The Ultimate Warrior’s trapdoor, which was said to be “like concrete” by WCW star Alex Wright. This caused a horrendous injury for Bulldog that ended up getting infected, causing him to spend six months in a hospital and starting him on the road to a pill addiction that would contribute to his death, four years later.
9. Viagra on a Pole & Torrie Wilson Appreciation Night
Where do I even start to explain this one? Billy Kidman’s storyline rivalry with Torrie Wilson was a long and convoluted one, which saw multiple matches between Kidman and Shane Douglas which included the absolutely ridiculous “viagra on a pole” match (because yes, this was the era where WCW were obsessed with “on a pole” matches).
Torrie Wilson was the manager of Billy Kidman (whom she betrayed Ric Flair to join up with), as well as being romantically involved with him. She eventually left him for Shane Douglas, starting a dreadful rivalry between Kidman and “The Franchise”. This led to some horrible moments, which included videos of Kidman & Wilson, and Wilson and Douglas, in bed together being shown live on TV. Of course, it didn’t really show anything, but the videos did show that Douglas “couldn’t get it up” (who this was meant to help, I don’t know).
This led to Billy Kidman vs Shane Douglas in a “Viagra on a Pole” match, which ended in Torrie Wilson rubbing the pills into the face of Kidman. Billy Kidman got his revenge by hosting a terrible segment known as “Torrie Wilson Appreciation Night”, where Kidman showed old, less-than flattering photos of Wilson, before being attacked and wrestling Douglas again.
8. Robocop Saves Sting
While David Arquette’s World Championship victory (more on that later in this list) was the worst of WCW’s attempt to incorporate Hollywood into WCW, Sting’s infamous relationship with Robocop comes in a close second.
At Capital Combat 1990 (promoted as “Return of Robocop”), Sting (then with his bleached hair as “Surfer Sting”) was attacked by The Four Horseman and locked in a cage early on in the show. This stopped him from joining his friend Lex Luger in the main event for his match against Ric Flair for the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship.
Luckily, Robocop came to his aid and rescued Sting from the cage. Not the actor who played Robocop – it was the character of Robocop, brought in to promote the second movie in the series. He ripped the door of the hinges, rescuing Sting from the cage and embarrassing WCW fans all over the world.
Even Sting called it “the most embarrassing thing to endure”, so you know that the Sting and Robocop moment has to be one of the worst in WCW history.
7. Ric Flair’s Heart Attack Angle
It was no secret that Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff did not like each other. The pair butted heads both on and off-screen in WCW, with Bischoff not knowing how to book Flair, forcing him into a strange amount of retirement matches and forcing him to lose them (more than once is too many).
The pair were set to wrestle at Starrcade 1998, but disaster struck just two weeks before the event. After cutting an impassioned promo about Bischoff, Flair fell to the ground and clutched his left arm. Medics ran to the ring and helped Flair to the back, leading fans to believe that The Nature Boy had suffered a heart attack live on TV.
Not only did the fans not know it was fake, neither did the boys in the back. WCW only told a select few about the angle, leading to Flair’s friends and family going into a panic at what they had seen. This was just one of WCW disgusting promotional tactics, and was one that Flair called back to in his final match in 2022.
6. Vince Russo Makes Himself The WCW World Heavyweight Champion
There is no doubt in my mind that one of the worst moments in WCW was Vince Russo winning the WCW Championship. As if a non-wrestler winning the title wasn’t bad enough (don’t worry David Arquette, we’ll come to you later), the way Russo won the bout made this moment even worse.
In an unbelievable turn of events during a wrestling match, Vince Russo appeared in a full football uniform, including a helmet, and initiated the bout by sneakily striking Booker T with a baseball bat. Chaos ensued when several WCW undercard wrestlers intervened to prevent Russo from winning the title by escaping the cage. Russo attempted to climb a ladder to exit from the top, but Sting descended from the rafters to thwart his escape.
After a series of twists, including Lex Luger providing Russo with a lead pipe, and Ric Flair disguising himself as an EMT to attack Russo, the match became a wild brawl involving multiple undercard wrestlers. Just when it seemed Booker T would win by climbing out of the cage, Goldberg entered and ultimately secured victory by spearing Russo through the cage, becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. These astonishing events unfolded in a mere nine minutes.
No, I’m not making this up. If the company was not all-but dead at that moment, it would surely be closer to being WCW’s worst moment, but the fact this match surrounded some of the worst television in history makes it look slightly less terrible in comparison.
5. Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior Wrestle One Of The Worst Matches Ever
Not all wrestling matches can be great, but some are just offensively bad. While Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler is considered the worst match in WWE history, WCW rivaled that clash with this horrific display in the rematch between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior.
Warrior beat Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania VI, so obviously Hogan needed to bring him into WCW to get his win back. This was a common theme for Hogan, who even tried to bring a 800lb Yokozuna into the company to avenge his loss from King of the Ring 1993. Considering how bad Warrior was in his wrestling prime, by 1998 he was somehow even worse to watch in the ring.
Taking place at Halloween Havoc 1998, Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior had no less than five separate run-ins in just 15-minutes. It also saw Hogan mess up throwing a fireball at Warrior, multiple blatant attacks on the referee, and even an attempted murder by Hulk Hogan after the bout.
Learn more about Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior in WCW
4. Bash At The Beach 2000
There are a few things at Bash at the Beach 2000 which helped to end WCW’s reign as a major wrestling promotion, so we’ll add them all together in one horrendous moment in the company’s history.
The match saw Jeff Jarrett defend his WCW Championship against Hulk Hogan. For one reason or another, some combination of Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo refused to let Jarrett win, determined to put the world title back on Hogan. The parties all agreed that Jarrett would literally lay down in the ring and let Hogan pin him, much to the shock and anger of the fans.
Later in the night, Russo got on the mic and began to “shoot” on Hogan. He claimed that “nobody would see Hulk Hogan again” in WCW, while also booking a bout between Jeff Jarrett and Booker T later that night for the now-vacant championship.
Hulk Hogan, who claimed to be unaware of the promo, later sued WCW for defamation of character for the unplanned promo. His short match with Jeff Jarrett was Hulk Hogan’s last match in WCW, and the awkward and confusing series of events at WCW Bash at the Beach 2000 have gone down as some of the worst moments in WCW history.
3. Dave Arquette Wins The WCW Championship
While Vince Russo putting the WCW Championship on himself was egregious, at least he was a wrestling personality at the time. Meanwhile, David Arquette was a hollywood actor who had no experience in the business, and had no place holding one of the most historic championships in wrestling.
It wasn’t just the fact that David Arquette won the WCW Championship that made it terrible. It was also the way he did it, which was not at all befitting of a champion. While titles had changed hands in tag matches before (Randy Savage beat Kevin Nash in a tag team match to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship), never had such an event happened with two non-wrestlers in the match (with one walking away as champion).
On the April 26, 2000 edition of WCW’s Thunder, Arquette teamed with then-WCW Champion DDP to take on the duo of Jeff Jarrett and Eric Bischoff. The stipulation of the match told that whoever scored the winning pin fall or submission would walk away as champion – and that’s just what happened.
At the end of the match, Arquette hit a huge spear on Eric Bischoff, just seconds before Jarrett clocked DDP with the title belt. Both men pinned their respective opponents, but the referee only counted David Arquette’s pin fall, awarding him the WCW Championship. DDP and Arquette celebrated together in the ring, despite Page having just lost the title to Arquette.
The whole situation was to promote the “Ready to Rumble” movie that starred Arquette and a number of WCW stars, and cast a huge black cloud over WCW during a tumultuous time in their history.
2. The Finger Poke Of Doom
Just one week after Goldberg’s streak was ended by Kevin Nash and a cattle prod, WCW put on one of the worst matches in wrestling history. Ignoring the potential for a Hogan vs Goldberg rematch, they decided to end any interest in an intra-NWO rivalry and instead reform the group, as NWO Elite (which has nothing to do with The Elite or All Elite Wrestling).
New WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash, who was the leader of NWO Wolfpac, defended his title against the NWO Hollywood’s “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. This could have been a huge pay per view main event that saw two sides of the same faction alive, and start a storyline that could have given the company months and months of storytelling opportunity.
Instead, the pair got into the ring and stood face to face. Hogan simply prodded Nash in the chest, causing the seven-foot tall champion to throw himself to the ground, and allow himself to be pinned. After ending Goldberg’s 187-0 win streak (which itself was total rubbish), Kevin Nash threw away any momentum he had by handing the belt the Hollywood Hogan. The pair celebrated in the ring together, announcing the reformation of the full NWO.
While the moment actually helped WCW business in the short term (over 2 million people switched over from Raw to see the fallout, and their next pay per view was one of the highest bought pay per views in company history, the moment was so ridiculous and damaging that it was part of the start of the downfall of WCW (which actually began at Starrcade 1997).
Even Hulk Hogan hated the Finger Poke of Doom! He called it “Negative Toxic Waste”, and blamed Vince Russo for the whole thing (clearly he didn’t know Russo was a future World Champion in the making!)
1. Hulk Hogan vs Sting At Starrcade 1997
The worst moment in WCW history, and perhaps the biggest booking mistake in the history of professional wrestling, was the ending of Sting vs Hulk Hogan at Starrcade 1997. It should have been the culmination of a year-long feud, and start the clock on the ending of the long-running NWO angle.
However, for a number of reasons (including Sting not being tanned enough), WCW decided that this should not be the case. Of course, they couldn’t have Sting losing the match, but they had to make him look as bad as possible and try to kill as much of his momentum as they could (as well as new signing Bret Hart’s too), in order to appease the incredible ego of Hollywood Hogan.
Referee Nick Patrick counted a three count during the match, and awarded Hulk Hogan the win. This was supposed to be a fast count, screwing over Sting and forcing the decision to be reversed by Bret Hart, who had already worked as a referee earlier that night (despite it being his first pay per view appearance since the Montreal Screwjob). Sting would then come back and win the match fairly, bringing the WCW Championship back from the NWO’s clutches.
This is what happened, but with one key difference – there was no fast count. Patrick simply counted normally, making it look like Sting had just lost cleanly to Hulk Hogan. A year of build up was ruined, and the mystique of The Stinger, who had spent the last year sulking in the rafters, waiting for his chance to get at Hogan, was gone in an instant.
Bret Hart also looked like an idiot. He came out and forced a restart of the match, despite Sting losing fair square. It make the good guys look like idiots, and just served to put Hogan over even more. This caused huge damage to WCW’s reputation. Just a few months later, Steve Austin beat Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XV, and they would soon overtake WCW in the ratings for good.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.