The world championships in WWE and WCW were the prizes every wrestler wanted to hold in the 90s. Only the biggest names would be in contention for a world title reign, as it truly signified someone was at the top of their respective company. The WWE legends fans still talk about today from the era include Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, while talents like Ric Flair, Sting and Goldberg dominated the WCW title picture.
Both titles had great representatives, but they missed the mark on certain talents on their respective rosters. WWE and WCW each failed to use quite a few wrestlers to the best of their abilities. Many tremendous top-level performers never had a fair chance to showcase their championship-worthy skills. We will break down the scenarios of each company, with the five best wrestlers never to win the WWE Championship and the five best to never win the WCW Championship.
10 WWE: Owen Hart
The incredible work of Owen Hart for WWE in the 90s featured great runs as the Intercontinental Champion and Tag Team Champion with various partners. Owen had the perfect combination of superb in-ring skills with a tremendous heel character that got the fans to boo him.
The WWE Championship was the one prize Owen was never able to win in his career. Title shots against Shawn Michaels, Diesel and his brother Bret Hart all saw him put up impressive performances before falling short. Owen would have been a great champion, too, given his ability to thrive in every role.
9 WCW: Brian Pillman
The underrated work of Brian Pillman in WCW would see the company miss out on a potential top star. Pillman had a tremendous look, great personality and delivered spectacular matches whenever he was put in a position to showcase his strengths.
Sadly, WCW would keep him lower down on the card in the early to mid-90s, when he was at his peak. Pillman had great runs with the Tag Team Championship and Light Heavyweight Championship at different points in his WCW career. If he ever received a fair chance, he could have been a great world champion for a company that needed new stars.
8 WWE: Ted DiBiase
Ted DiBiase was often the top heel for WWE in the 80s, even though he never won the WWE Championship. The arrogant wealthy heel gimmick for DiBiase would see him introduce his own Million Dollar Title, but he still tried to win the WWE Championship on multiple occasions against Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
DiBiase main-evented WrestleMania IV, losing in the tournament finals to Savage for the vacated championship. There were a few occasions of DiBiase trying to buy the title from wrestlers that represented him, but it never happened. DiBiase missed out on a deserving title run.
7 WCW: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio made his name in WCW as a major star. The young luchador was a popular performer in Mexico, but the world was in awe of his matches in WCW. Fans fell in love with him more than the other cruiserweights and luchadors due to his smaller stature, his position as an underdog and his striking mask designs.
Mysterio would find greater success in WWE, winning the big gold belt as the World Champion, but he never would reach the top of the mountain in WCW. One short-lived push saw him defeat giants Kevin Nash, Scott Norton and Bam Bam Bigelow to earn a title shot against Ric Flair. Mysterio won by DQ, but never received another title shot.
6 WWE: Jake Roberts
Jake Roberts was arguably the most underrated WWE performer of the 80s, never a legitimate contender for the world title. No heel had the intensity or promo skills of Roberts at the time, which allowed him to have great feuds with Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage.
There was a major plan for Roberts to feud with Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship at one point. The house show matches to test the waters ended those plans, when fans started cheering for the heel Roberts to hit the DDT. WWE would never book him to win the world title, despite his greatness.
5 WCW: Steve Austin
The potential of Steve Austin in WCW suggested a future main-eventer. Austin had some of the best matches on the card and was thriving in the mid-card. Many expected him to move into a main event role eventually, but that ended when Hulk Hogan joined the company.
Hogan brought over his friends, who all received pushes right away. Jim Duggan defeated Austin within seconds to win the United States Championship, crushing all of Austin’s momentum. WCW never pushed him once the changes started and he went on to become the biggest star of all time in WWE.
4 WWE: Mr. Perfect
The name Mr. Perfect was given to Curt Hennig due to his ability to do anything athletic with relative ease. Perfect became an instant success in WWE as one of the top mid-carders for the company. His reputation continued to rise, with great matches against Bret Hart, Ric Flair and many others.
Perfect flirted with the main event picture at certain points, but he never had a WWE Championship reign during his time there. The legend settled for being one of the all-time great Intercontinental Champions, who helped established that as the workhorse title.
3 WCW: Scott Hall
Scott Hall could be on either side of the list since he never won the WCW Championship or WWE Championship, but WCW was the place it should have happened. The popularity of Hall made him a mega-star as the original wrestler to start the New World Order.
Kevin Nash eventually surpassed Hulk Hogan to get his run as the world champion on multiple occasions. Hall could have been credible in the same world, given his great charisma and in-ring ability. The personal demons of Hall ended his time in WCW faster than expected, or it may have happened.
2 WWE: Roddy Piper
It is still surprising to look back and realize that Roddy Piper never won the WWE Championship. Many fans and pundits would argue Piper was the second-most important star to WWE in the 80s, behind Hulk Hogan. The heel work of Piper made fans genuinely hate him while cheering anyone he faced.
Hogan claims he wanted to lose the title to Piper and win it back in a long storyline, but Piper refused to lose to him at any point. Piper would have been a tremendous champion, given how effective his promos were without a title to brag about holding.
1 WCW: Arn Anderson
Arn Anderson would be one of the first wrestlers most fans reference when looking back at the people that represented WCW the best. The association with Ric Flair in the Four Horsemen would see Anderson trying to help Flair win and retain the WCW Championship, instead of going after it himself.
There was enough time to make it happen in the early 90s, when the company needed new people in the main event picture. Anderson was one of the best in the ring, with an intimidating presence on the character side. No-one contributed more to WCW without ever winning the world title once.