ECW created a history that changed the wrestling business forever in the '90s. Paul Heyman presented a different style of wrestling with edgier storylines, violent matches and a more diverse style of talents. WWE and WCW started raiding the ECW roster in the '90s when the Monday Night Wars crew competitive and each promotion needed stronger talents moving forward. The talents signed by each company would see some break out on the major league level.
We will both success stories from WWE and WCW when looking at how well they did after leaving ECW. Quite a few had legendary runs in WWE to add a bigger chapter to their careers. WCW would see some step up to add to the overall product. Find out which company inspired former extreme stars more. These are five ECW wrestlers that thrived in WWE and five that thrived in WCW.
10 WWE: Rob Van Dam
The move to WWE from Rob Van Dam came shortly after ECW went out of business and WWE started the Invasion storyline. Of all the wrestlers from WCW and ECW in the Alliance faction, Van Dam was the one to most win over the WWE audience with his incredible wrestling style.
The WWE stint of RVD was successful enough to make him worthy of joining the Hall of Fame one day. Van Dam was among the most popular wrestlers of the 2000s and even won the WWE Championship from John Cena to have the peak WWE run for an ECW singles star.
9 WCW: Dean Malenko
Paul Heyman tried to add some of the better technical wrestlers in the world to the ECW roster as the company started to grow in popularity. Dean Malenko had a few great matches before he and a couple of his peers were offered contracts by WCW.
The career of Malenko would see his best days come in WCW’s cruiserweight division. Malenko had stellar matches against Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, and many others. The outstanding matches of Malenko helped him create a legacy that inspired many future wrestlers.
8 WWE: Tazz
The in-ring career of Tazz peaked in ECW as WWE never trusted his in-ring style. Tazz had a great debut against Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble 2000, but WWE never did anything more with him. A transition into a new role would save Tazz’s career in WWE.
Tazz became a color commentator after injuries removed him from the ring and placed him on Smackdown with Michael Cole following the brand split. The run of Cole and Tazz found success together as Tazz became one of the top commentators in company history.
7 WCW: Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow had a highly underrated career for his time in all three promotions of WWE, WCW, and ECW in the '90s. The best run for Bigelow came in ECW winning the ECW Championship shortly after leaving WWE for a new chapter in his career.
WCW added Bigelow to the roster in 1998 to enter a feud with Goldberg. The presence of Bam Bam certainly provided a credible threat to the undefeated superstar. Bigelow had a successful overall WCW run. Even though he didn’t have a long run in the main event picture, the trio of Bigelow, Chris Kanyon, and Diamond Dallas Page were tremendous together as the Jersey Triad.
6 WWE: The Dudley Boyz
The tag team of Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley dominated the ECW tag division for many years. WWE finally added them to the roster in 1999 as the duo had tremendous potential. The Dudley Boyz became known for the weapon of tables in the Attitude Era making them beloved by the fans.
Classic matches with the Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian led to them all becoming iconic teams in WWE history. Bubba Ray and D-Von won tag titles in WWE a total of ten times as they always had relevance together after coming over from ECW.
5 WCW: Perry Saturn
An unlikely wrestler to find more success in WCW after leaving ECW was Perry Saturn. ECW fans knew Saturn was one half of the Eliminators tag team with John Kronus. This duo was a top team in ECW, but Saturn had more singles potential and landed a WCW contract.
WCW used Saturn in a singles capacity as one of the more heavily featured mid-carders for many years. Saturn had memorable matches against Raven, Chris Kanyon, Chris Benoit, and many others. ECW likely regretted not using Saturn more in singles matches after watching his WCW run.
4 WWE: Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman was not an actual wrestler, but he was among the most important people to jump ship from ECW to WWE. The manner in which he did it was quite controversial. Heyman reportedly didn’t inform most of the ECW roster that ECW was going out of business.
WWE found great success with Heyman as a commentator, manager, and backstage writer. Heyman had his peak run as the manager of Brock Lesnar helping WWE create a new top star. The relationship with WWE is still alive all these years later as Heyman manages Lesnar on screen and is the lead creative mind for Raw behind the scenes.
3 WCW: Lance Storm
The technical wrestling skill of Lance Storm made him a rising star for ECW. Storm and Justin Credible found great success together with Dawn Marie as their manager in the Impact Players team. WCW signed Storm to a bigger contract when trying to rebuild with younger stars.
Storm had a tremendous run as one of the rare bright spots for WCW in its final year of existence. The heel work of Storm leading a Team Canada faction was quite entertaining. Storm held a few different titles at the same time proving he could thrive in WCW.
2 WWE: Mick Foley
Mick Foley’s time in ECW put him on the radar of WWE. Fans of WCW did enjoy his work as Cactus Jack, but the ECW run allowed him to showcase his incredible promo ability and character depth. WWE signed Foley for the new character of Mankind.
Everything Foley did in WWE hit a home run with the early run of Mankind, transition to Dude Love, debut of Cactus Jack and eventually playing a version of himself. WWE found one of their biggest stars in company history when Foley made the move from ECW.
1 WCW: Raven
Raven was the dominant ECW Champion for the company’s first few years of relevance rising in profile. The character work of Raven was unlike anything else in wrestling to make him such an impressive performer. WCW came calling with a big contract to steal Raven away.
The character of Raven was essentially the same with his faction of The Flock and mysterious promos. Raven had superb matches with the likes of Chris Benoit, Diamond Dallas Page, and others. It was disappointing that Raven never had the main event opportunity, but he thrived as a top-tier mid-carder for WCW.