WCW was known for having a historic roster in the late 90s, one that helped them pass WWE for a short time. The big names in the main event picture featured icons past their prime, but the mid-card and cruiserweight divisions each held future stars. Many of these performers showed great potential during their time in WCW. The right booking or foresight could have allowed them to break out.
There were a few noteworthy missed opportunities in general for the company, especially when it came to the world title picture. The same few names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting dominated the WCW Championship, while other stars never received a single reign. Let's take a look at the wrestlers who could have made an impact in the role.
The legacy of Eddie Guerrero is fondly remembered for his work in every promotion he worked for, but the best is his main event run in WWE. Guerrero showed flashes of brilliance in WCW, during his run as a dastardly heel feuding with Rey Mysterio and others.
The youth of Guerrero would have made him a great talent to build around, but WCW didn't want him to move into the main event picture. Guerrero jumped ship to WWE with the hope of making a bigger splash. An eventual reign as WWE Champion showed just how much WCW missed the boat.
Brian Pillman was one of the new stars for WCW in the early 90s, after making the jump to professional wrestling from the NFL. Pillman's matches in the cruiserweight division against international star Jushin Thunder Liger showed just how talented he was in the ring.
Pillman’s short time in the Four Horsemen showcased his character skills, as he became known for his wild card antics and unpredictability. The potential for this character could have made Pillman a top star in any era. WCW, unfortunately, never viewed him in such a light, which caused him to leave like other young talents of the time.
The incredible tag team run of the Steiner Brothers gave WCW a great act for the division. Rick and Scott spent most of their best years in WCW, as the WWE run did not have the same success. A lengthy tag reign ended when WCW decided to push Scott in a singles role.
The success of Scott as a WCW Champion would see Rick get left behind in a less respected singles act. Rick, however, arguably had more potential in the early 90s when WCW was struggling for new talent. It is surprising that Rick didn’t receive a chance during his prime when the company flirted with a singles push.
Curt Hennig is among the all-time great wrestlers to never win a world championship in WWE or WCW. Both companies would feature Hennig as a dominant mid-card champion, but the glass ceiling would never be opened for him to have a reign as a top champ.
Hennig did have a few WCW Championship title shots during Goldberg’s reign and helped the limited performer shine in the bouts. Unfortunately, fans would never get to see what Hennig could have done with his own WCW Championship reign during his time in the promotion.
Multiple stints in WCW would have Dustin Rhodes feature with a higher profile than his time in WWE. WCW often had him working with his dad Dusty Rhodes, since Dusty was a beloved and important part of the WCW landscape.
There appeared to be plans for Dustin to become a main event, with his starting gimmick as The Natural. A later return towards the end of WCW had him back in the main event spot, feuding with Jeff Jarrett and Ric Flair. If WCW lasted another year, Dustin might have had his first and only world title run.
Rey Mysterio is rightfully viewed as a legend today, as he has one more run with WWE. The incredible work of Mysterio made him a huge player for WWE in the 2000s. An underdog's rise to the top even allowed him to win the World Championship and WWE Championship.
WCW had Mysterio as part of the roster for most of the Monday Night Wars, but never viewed him as a top star. The size of Rey is what hurt him in WCW, but he still often stole the show with the best matches. Looking back, it's a shame that Mysterio never had a fairy tale reign as WCW Champion.
Ricky Steamboat's run in various promotions consistently saw him as a candidate for the best wrestler in the world throughout his prime. An argument can be made his matches with Ric Flair were the best in WCW history, while his WrestleMania 3 match with Randy Savage could be the best in WWE history.
Steamboat had a strong opportunity to become a world champion for WCW, but it just never happened. The company believed in other rising stars. Steamboat could have had an iconic reign as champion, too, given his ability to have amazing matches with most opponents.
The signing of Raven in the mid-90s for WCW was a huge deal in the wrestling world. Raven was coming off incredible title reigns as the ECW Champion and was the promotion’s biggest asset. WCW signing Raven gave fans hope that he could break out in a bigger promotion.
Unfortunately, WCW only used him in the mid-card picture. Raven did have classic matches against Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Benoit and a few other mid-card opponents. Sadly, while some of his peers received bigger opportunities, Raven didn’t even come close to the main event picture, with zero WCW Championship title shots.
The addition of Scott Hall was a huge moment for WCW, as he was the person to create an interest in the early stages of the New World Order. If Hall flopped here, the faction would not have become the success that led to fans tuning in for record ratings as things started to get going.
There were a few moments where Hall found his way into the WCW Championship picture, but he never won it, unlike his team-mates Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash. Hall is considered one of the greatest wrestlers to never win a world title in either WWE or WCW.
Arn Anderson is one of the most important wrestlers in WCW history. The role of Anderson in the Four Horsemen helped the company during various points of growing pains when trying to find an identity. Anderson had main event potential, despite mostly serving as a sidekick to Ric Flair.
The great in-ring skills and intimidating persona of Anderson could have made him a great champion for WCW in the early 90s. Anderson would never win the WCW Championship, though, and instead goes down in history as another top WCW legend that never got to the top of the mountain.