Last week’s inaugural Job Opportunities pro wrestling jobber retrospective took a look at ten former enhancement talents who’d go on to be big stars in WWE. WWE hasn’t always been the only game in town, however, so this week we’re looking at ten former jobber journeymen who started in WCW before making it big.
WWE Network makes it easy to hunt through the archive for rare gems, but if you see a particularly grainy and janky image, know I had to shovel it from the bowels of YouTube. So let’s get started and take a look at ten faces you would’ve never guessed would become some of the biggest stars in pro wrestling and sports-entertainment: World Championship Wrestling flavor.
First and foremost on any, “can you believe this guy was in WCW?” list is the hilariously named TERRA RYZING, famous pro wrestling son of Theo and Memo. In true WCW fashion, they didn’t realize “Terra Ryzing” was supposed to be wordplay and originally named him Terror Risin’, complete with an apostrophe on the end. I think he’s supposed to be a French-Canadian Lex Luger?
Midway through his rookie year, the name gets dropped completely in favor of Jean Paul Levesque, a snooty Frenchman who speaks in a cartoonish French accent because he can’t actually speak French. He’d head to the World Wrestling Federation a few months later, get repackaged as a Connecticut Blueblood, and within 25 years would be pretty much running the entire company with an iron fist, a sledgehammer, and a garage full of increasingly embarrassing vehicles. Funny how that works out.
One of Terra Ryzing’s earliest opponents was this Georgian Justin Timberlake of the ’90s, the youngest of the famous-in-the-south Armstrong wrestling family. His dad is the legendary Bullet Bob Armstrong, and if you watched enough WCW in the ’80s and ’90s you saw his brothers Scott, Steve, and Brad.
Not too long after this, Brian — now with a fresh new hairstyle — would run afoul Terra’s French twin, Jean Paul Levesque. Eventually he’d find his way to the World Wrestling Federation as well, and start hanging out with Jean Paul as one half of the rarely talked about tag team the New Age Outlaws, part of the oft-forgotten faction D-Generation X. He’d also have a role in running the company for a while, possibly because of his experience as a country music road technician and performer.
Getting away from the members of D-Generation X for a minute, here’s … [squints] holy shit, is that Billy Gunn?
Meet KIP MONTANA, a wrestler with a name only a college football quarterback or male porn star could have, looking like Lex Luger’s skeleton while being Torture Racked by the rest. Believe it or not, Gunn (real name Monty “Kip” Sopp) (seriously) debuted way the hell back in 1985, competing on local shows and as a jobber for the NWA until signing with WWE in 1993. He also suddenly gained a shit-ton of muscles, somehow! Crazy!
Kippy would work for WWE for the next 20 years and even brawl with Sabrina the Teenage Witch until he was fired for cheating at a power lifting meet. He recently took a job at All Elite Wrestling and got inducted into the Hall of Fame.
For more on former WCW jobbers who took interesting paths in life, Bruiser Mastoni, seen here in his best shiny gold animal-print vest moments before losing badly to Sting, is currently the real-life mayor of Knox County, TN, and is best known for his role as the father-murdering, girlfriend-assaulting-and-or-manslaugthering, 7-foot tall fire demon who holds favor with the Literal Christian Devil and can pull them to Actual Hell via holes in wrestling rings.
Yes, somewhere between being a wrestling Christmas tree and being a wrestling dentist, Kane wrestled one match as a fancy Italian street thug (?) in WCW. If only he’d stuck around long enough to run into Mean Mark Callous.
By the way, THIS “Bruiser Mastino” shouldn’t be confused with the OTHER “Bruiser Mastino,” who was half man, half Minotaur.
For someone who stuck around longer than one match — a whole F’n year! — look no farther than Robby V, not to be confused with Robbie E. The young martial arts master who may or may not have been high at the time showed up to WCW Saturday Night as a fan favorite, and even made it to the second round of a World Television Championship tournament before losing to Vinnie Vegas.
Vinnie would soon discover his love of driving big rigs and eventually develop Monster Truck Madness, and Robby V would resurface in Paul E. Dangerously’s gritty reboot of Eastern Championship Wrestling as Rob Van Dam. He’d go on to hold the WWE Championship and ECW World Heavyweight Championship at the same time, and hold every title both companies had to offer.
Not bad for a poor mark who got his start kissing millionaires’ feet for cash.
As mentioned in the previous column, here’s WCW’s own Terry Richards, looking like Chad Gable if he’d ever eaten a carb. Richards was a regular on the weekend shows until Paul Heyman had the great idea of booking him as a wrestling phallus, and The Man Beast Rhino was born. “Rhyno” if you’re looking for a unique trademark.
This poor nobody would get thicc enough to hold the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the WWF Hardcore Championship (three times!), be one half of the first Smackdown Tag Team Champions alongside Heath Slater, and add the yelling of “GORE” to the pro wres lexicon. Plus, he nearly joined fellow jobber Bruiser Mastino on the exclusive list of WWE Superstars in local government.
Before he was the “Face That Runs The Place,” AJ Styles and his also pretty great tag team partner Air Paris teamed up as AIR RAID in the final days of WCW. They only wrestled in four matches, losing three out of the four, but made enough of an impression to get Styles in on the ground floor of the Jarrett Family’s Total Nonstop Action. From there, Styles would prove himself time and again and grow into the best wrestlers in the world, before finally making everyone and their mothers recognize it during a stint in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Someone in Japan told him to grow a beard and get some soccer mom hair, and the rest is history. They don’t want none.
It’s honestly funny to know how many current WWE fans that love AJ Styles never got to see him looking like this, because this is the Styles we watched for over a decade. But then again, I’m the lone wolf that thinks Daniel Bryan should shave his head and beard and going back to looking like a little translucent Bob Backlund in burgundy underpants.
Popping up for a grand total of one WCW Monday Nitro episode to compete in a WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship tournament — no, you aren’t confused, that was a real championship they introduced and immediately forgot/ignored as part of a division they never had any intention of supporting — is Meiko Satomura. Young Girl Meiko is a far cry from the version who showed up as a living legend in the 2018 Mae Young Classic tournament, and if you aren’t aware/a fan of her work, do some aggressive googling and discover one of the best workers walking the damn Earth.
Here she is doing … not so great against an also very young Toshie Uematsu while the announce team talks about literally anything else.
This one’s fun. If you recognize his name, don’t spoil it. Can you guess who this bad Glacier create-a-wrestler from the late days of the NWA is? No? How about after a haircut?
Still no? How about now?
Yes, meet the human David Heath, who was bitten by a vampire at some point in the early ’90s and transformed into the White Wolf Publishing approved GANGREL, owner of the best entrance and entrance theme of the Attitude Era. For fun, go watch this clip of him wrestling the Spider-Man variant of Rey Mysterio Jr. on WCW Worldwide in June of 1997, right before Gangrel’s WWF debut. For want of a nail. In a coffin, I guess.
And check out this smooth transition!
From Gangrel to someone who has the blood of Gangrel flowing through their veins forever, here’s an instantly recognizable Damon Striker getting ready to get rekt by The Monster Meng on WCW Pro. This is shortly after getting beaten up by Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan on a different episode, so maybe he’s just here to get shitted on by the Dungeon of Doom?
You think you know him, but who could’ve guessed Damon Striker would go on to be an 11-time World Champion, a WWE Hall of Famer with nearly every accolade a Superstar can have on his resume, and a “live sex celebration” on Raw?
That’s it for this week’s look back at some of WCW’s most memorable losers (who became major winners), so remember: anything is possible, and that really terrible guy losing to Meng at the WCW Pro taping might end up in the Hall of Fame one day. Meet them and hype them up now, when it won’t cost you more than ten bucks.
Make sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know if you remember seeing these guys on TV before they were stars, and let us know if you’d like to see more columns like this. We haven’t even gotten to the treasure trove of TNA randos and generation one WWECW stars, so there’s plenty more to come.