If you ask your average wrestling fan who’s the greatest wrestler of all time, you may just get the answer of The Undertaker. The Deadman has endured as the most consistent and enigmatic talent in the WWE today. While other performers make a point to break kayfabe left and right, it’s the old school attitude of the Taker that keeps his persona going at almost every turn. You aren’t likely to see him out of character if the cameras are rolling. Undertaker is still one of the biggest names in the WWE today, because he has earned the respect of the WWE Universe. He has never left the company and he remains the one mainstay from the childhood of many fans.
Taker stuck with the WWE during the trying financial times of the 1990s and the intense competition, resisting WCW’s large guaranteed contracts. The Monday Night Wars are fondly remembered as a golden era of competition by the fans who were fortunate enough to view it. It was through this era that wrestling would change forever and the types of stars that could emerge would morph into something modern, while carrying the industry into the coming decades. The Undertaker is a legend, there is no doubt about it, but he was far from the biggest draw during the Monday Night Wars. Here we present to you fifteen wrestlers who were more popular than the Undertaker during the Monday Night Wars!
15. Triple H
Today’s views of the WWE know Triple H as the husband of Stephanie McMahon, the guy in the suit and the co-leader of The Authority. During the Monday Night Wars we were treated to a very different side of the “King of Kings”. Triple H was a head member of D-Generation X and helped carrying the company on his massive shoulders with an intensity and attitude that was desperately needed at the time.
“The Game” earned his name during this era, with epic battles against names like The Rock, Mankind, Mr. McMahon and Steve Austin. When you had Trips on the screen, you never knew whether you were going to get an intense, hard-fought match or a silly skit with adult humor, or even a straight-up WCW invasion while riding a tank!
14. Scott Hall
He began his career as Razor Ramon, WWE’s version of Scarface. The character was a huge draw and kept Hall popular until he made the jump over to WCW with Nash. The attraction of guaranteed contracts, more days off and more money was just too much to resist. The Outsiders tag team was formed and the nWo soon followed. Hall fell out of favor with Nash and Hogan at one point, dubbing himself “The Long Wolf”.
Scott Hall helped Nash defeat Goldberg’s streak and would go on to take part in numerous main event battles against Lex Luger, Goldberg and Bret Hart. He even remained with the company through the disastrous nWo 2000 revival. Hall’s struggle with addiction, coupled with a failed relationship, saw him fall out of favor with the company towards the end of WCW.
Rena Marlette Greek, better known to fans as Sable, was a huge draw during the Monday Night Wars. You may know her know as the wife of Brock Lesnar, but she was a major star back in the 1990s. WCW focused on more universal entertainment, while the WWE pulled out all the stops with the Attitude Era by amping up the sexually suggestive content.
Suddenly, there were women in bikinis and revealing clothing. Sable was one of the most popular of these Divas, with her mainstream attention in Playboy and TV Guide. She brought sex appeal and drama to the screen during an era when the “Jerry Springer: Too Hot for TV” mentality was king.
12. Vince McMahon
We all knew Vince McMahon as one of the main commentators in the WWE, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it became clear to all viewers that he was the boss, as well. Once it was clear that Vinnie Mac was the main man, a new character began to be born on-screen…Mr. McMahon. This new bit would lead to some of the most legendary storylines of the Monday Night Wars, allowing McMahon to be the worst heel version of himself when dealing with the competition on the air.
McMahon brought in his kids, Shane and Stephanie, and started the evil Corporation. He would have an epic feud with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that was so popular that they still try desperately to recapture the same magic in storylines today. Mr. McMahon would also orchestrate the “Montreal Screwjob” and go down in history as one of the top heels in wrestling history.
11. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Ooooh Yeah! When he wasn’t snapping into Slim Jim, Randy Savage was still dominating as a main event draw for WCW. Hogan may have turned on him to form the nWo with the Outsiders, but soon Macho had joined the ranks of the black and white bullies. His “Madness cage” merchandise was a big seller and he would eventually split off with Kevin Nash to create the nWo Wolfpac.
When Macho returned after recovering from injuries, he was again revitalized with a smooth new look, bulging muscles and a young valet that he dubbed “Gorgeous George”. Savage remained a big draw in WCW, after having spent some time as a commentator in WWE before making the jump.
10. Shawn Michaels
“The Heartbreak Kid” had been a major part of the WWE since the late 1980s, when he was a part of the tag team duo, “The Rockers”. Michaels would turn on his partner in the ultimate vicious heel move. He held multiple championships throughout the decade, but none so often as the tag team championships, which he held five times. He would eventually become the co-founder of D-Generation X along with Triple H.
Michaels would go on to dominate the show, not only with his extreme amount of in-ring talent, but also through his mockery and raunchy humor. Michaels stayed at the top of the roster, until his first retirement in 1998. His matches against Bret Hart and The Undertaker during the era are still the thing of legends.
9. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
Bret Hart had been a huge star in the WWE since the 1980s, when he would tag with Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart to “The Hart Foundation” days. When the tough times in the 1990s hit and talent started to migrate over to WCW, Bret Hart was finally given a more prominent main event spotlight. In 1992, Hart won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair.
He would go on to become the top babyface in the WWE for a good part of the 1990s. Hart would eventually be lured to WCW and the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” would take place at his final appearance with WWE that decade. Hart would eventually make it on-screen at WCW, feuding with Sting and Goldberg.
Joanie Laurer, aka “Chyna”, may have had a difficult life after her time in the WWE, but her time with the company was epic. Chyna would start her career as a bodyguard for Triple H, a role that made her stand-out as a female talent. She would become a vital member of D-Generation X and would end up facing many of the male talents in the company.
Chyna quickly became a huge draw and was even billed as the “Ninth Wonder of the World”. Her impressive physique and in-ring talent shot her quickly to the top of the roster and gained her an immense amount of popularity with the fans. Chyna was such a unique talent that the WCW couldn’t find any way to copy or reproduce her persona on their programming, making Chyna a completely unique WWE draw.
7. Mick Foley
Mick Foley is the man that goes by many names. You may know him as Cactus Jack, Mankind or Dude Love, but no matter which Foley personality you got, things were about to get hardcore! Foley was so daring and such a big draw that standing toe-to-toe on the top of a steel cage with Undertaker is still the part of the match that everyone talks about. Taker tossed Foley off the side, but it was Foley that took the bump. Taker slammed him through the top of the cage down to the ring below, but again it was Foley that took the bump.
The signs used to read “Foley is God” and there is a very good reason for that. Foley was one of the most impressive, entertaining and unlikely Superstars of the Monday Night Wars. It was the moment that Foley would win the WWE Championship that turned the tides of the ratings war, when viewers all switched over from WCW, thanks to spoilers from announcer Tony Schiavone.
6. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash had a good run in the WWE as Diesel before he jumped over to WCW. The move would set the Monday Night Wars into full-swing. The fans in the WWE didn’t realize that the contracts of Razor Ramon and Diesel were up, so when they showed up in the WCW, and appeared to be “invading”, it made for must-see television. The invasion and the creation of the nWo would put Nash at the top of the main event, where he would stay for the rest of his time with the company.
He was so popular that he was able to split off and form his own red and black Wolfpac faction of the nWo, in opposition to Hogan, and find an entirely new level of popularity. The infamous Fingerpoke of Doom and the ending of Goldberg’s streak would signal changes in the reputation of Nash in the industry, and with smarks, but its impossible to mention the nWo or the Monday Night Wars without his name attached.
The Stinger may finally have a place with the WWE, but it was his time in the WCW that made him a legend. He began his career in the era of Hulkamania, and he even started out tag teaming with the man that would become the Ultimate Warrior. It was WCW where Sting would make his home, taking his place as the “company man”, the brand that was as WCW’s answer to Hogan and Ultimate Warrior.
He started as the blonde surfer guy with loud colors and a flat top, but he would morph with the times. During the Monday Night Wars, he became “Crow” Sting, donning black ring gear and make-up that mirrored the gothic look of the popular film, “The Crow”.
4. The Rock
This one almost doesn’t need any explanation. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become an international superstar that has far exceeded his draw as a wrestler, but it was his role as “The Great One” that would help the WWE win the Monday Night Wars. The Rock brought the charisma, look and in-ring skill that would elevate him, and the company, into the mainstream.
He began his career as a typical 1990s WWE misfire, but with the inception of the Attitude Era, The Rock was born and he was allowed to take the reigns and create one of the funniest and most intense characters in WWE history. The Rock became, and remains, so popular that the live audience (along with you at home..admit it!) know and repeat all of his signature catchphrases.
3. Bill Goldberg
Goldberg! Gooooldberg! The chants would ring through every auditorium, even if they were fed through a loudspeaker at first, the audience would eventually catch-on. To this day, when Bills shows up in the WWE, the Goldberg chants fill the rafters. The man that defeated Brock Lesnar in 1:24 at the 2016 Survivor Series began his career by taking on dozens of squash matches against lesser opponents. Eventually, he speared his way through the lower tiers up to the main event.
The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak may have been the talk of the last decade, but before that it was Goldberg’s streak on everyone’s mind. Goldberg was one of the few original characters to come out of WCW and he made a huge impact, at least until Kevin Nash destroyed his momentum at Starrcade.
2. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan
Don’t call it a comeback! The man we love to hate, the Hulkster, was all but done for by the mid-1990s. The initial excitement from fans about his return to the squared circle, quickly began to dissolve and by the time that the Outsiders “invaded” WCW, Hulk was getting \booed like Roman Reigns! The next step in Hogan’s career shocked the world and still remains one of the biggest surprise turns of all time.
Hogan revealed himself to be the third member of the new nWo faction and with that he transformed into the ultimate heel, the dyed stubbled “Hollywood” Hogan. Hulk remained in the main event in WCW for most of the 1990s. The revitalization of his character would bring back his popularity with the generation that grew-up with him, but were now looking for anti-heroes to follow.
1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Monday Night Wars were the perfect place for “The Texas Rattlesnake” to shine. The eras prior to Steve Austin, and even Austin himself, had been all about glorious hair. Suddenly, there was this beer guzzling, bird-flipping bald man in plain black trunks…and he took the world by storm. He should have been a heel, in fact he was billed that way, but Stone Cold could do no wrong with the fans.
The teen angst of the 1990s carried over into wrestling and the “Attitude” that followed was the ultimate playground for a character like Austin 3:16. His epic battles with the Rock, Mr. McMahon and Mike Tyson solidified him as a household name and the hottest star in wrestling.
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