It was recently announced that the WWE would be going back to a brand split between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, which will be moved to Tuesday nights and aired live. It’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan and it reminds people of how the rosters used to be completely divided into two. Before the first ever brand split, though, there was the matter of the Monday Night Wars as Raw took on Nitro in a ratings clash every week.
Imagine, if you will, a pool of talented professional wrestlers that were available for both the WWE and WCW, and that there were no contract auctions to obtain the best talent. It would have been amazing to see the two completely separate organizations meet one Monday night and have a draft where they get to poach each other’s talent. So what would that draft look like and how much different would the rosters be?
We’re going to do a mock draft as if we were drafting wrestlers from the 1998-2000 era when the war was in full gear and the entertainment was some of the best around. We’ll be doing the draft just like most other sports, where the winner has to pick last, that way WCW would get a better chance of surviving with their new roster.
Would the WCW have come out on top and corner the market on American professional wrestling like the WWE has? Without further delay, here are what the top 20 picks might have looked like in a Monday Night Wars draft for WCW and WWE, giving 10 picks to each promotion.
20 WCW #1 - Stone Cold Steve Austin
WCW had their chance with Steve Austin from 1991 to 1995 when he was known as “Stunning” Steve Austin. It wasn’t until he left for the WWE that he really hit his stride, got the moniker of “Stone Cold” and really took off with it. Austin was the biggest star during The Attitude Era and helped the WWE win the Monday Night Wars as people tuned in to see the rivalry between Austin and Vince McMahon. In this draft, Austin would have already been an established star and the biggest poach of talent in pro wrestling history as he would have instantly boosted WCW ratings.
19 WWE #1 - The Rock
Even after losing their biggest star with the first overall pick, not all hope would have been lost for the WWE, as they would be able to hang onto their second star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Not only would Johnson have been a great pick because of his charisma and connection to the audience, but also because he was so young in the late 1990s (and he’s still only 44 years old). Johnson has mainstream popularity that will get eyes on the screens whenever he appears, so WWE wouldn’t have been completely lost if Austin was a member of the WCW.
18 WCW #2 - The Undertaker
Eric Bischoff would be drooling at the chance in the 1990s to take away not only WWE’s biggest star, but also their most loyal one. The Undertaker is extremely close with the McMahon family and probably would have been heartbroken to hear his name called by the WCW in this draft, so they could possibly use him as a big trade chip. The Undertaker spent a year in WCW before making his way to the WWE in 1990 and has been with the company ever since. It’s hard to find such a long-term drawing power in pro wrestling, which is what they could have gotten in the form of The Undertaker.
17 WWE #2 - Hulk Hogan
The Monday Night Wars started in earnest when Hulk Hogan signed a big contract with WCW in June 1994. The move dealt a huge blow to WWE and it took years for them to recover. In this draft, the WWE would have loved to return the favor by poaching away the man that almost sunk them by taking more money. The best part about WWE taking Hogan with their second pick would have been not having to wait until WrestleMania X8 to see him take on The Rock, which was dubbed as the Match of the Year in 2002.
16 WCW #3 - Sting
Sting was the franchise player for WCW for a long time until Hulk Hogan was acquired by the promotion and took over as their head honcho. Still, Sting was with the WCW for 15 years, dating back to when it was Jim Crockett Promotions. Sting opted not to go to the WWE after his WCW contract expired and instead went to TNA before finally making his WWE debut in 2014. If given the chance to take Sting all over again, WCW probably would have done it in a heartbeat, especially considering how popular he was with the younger crowd.
15 WWE #3 - Triple H
Another wrestler that WCW had a chance with making a star, but couldn’t pull the trigger, Triple H would be a natural pick to go back to the WWE in this draft. Not only did Triple H have more than a decade of experience as a main event talent, but he’s become part of the McMahon family. Triple H has also helped the WWE grow in recent years, establishing NXT as its own brand as a developmental promotion. His run at the top might have been a bit tiresome for a lot of fans, but his importance to WWE overall clearly makes him an easy pick at this point in the draft.
14 WCW #4 - Goldberg
Goldberg was one of the biggest attractions in WCW history, as he had an undefeated streak that lasted for (a WCW listed) 173 matches. Goldberg was so popular for the WCW that it spawned a parody gimmick known as Gillberg in the WWE. If you’re popular enough to have the rival organization make a parody character of you, you know that you’re doing something right. The only downside of picking Goldberg this early is that he retired only a few years after The Attitude Era ending, finishing his mainstream career in a very forgettable match with Brock Lesnar.
13 WWE #4 - Kevin Nash
Naturally, the next pick for WWE after taking Triple H and Shawn Michaels would be re-acquiring his good pal Kevin Nash to help get the band back together. Nash wrestled with WCW for a few years in the early 1990s, then went to the WWE, then back to the WCW to become part of the nWo that would almost help the company win the Monday Night Wars. Nash returned to WWE for a brief period after WCW disbanded and has been back a couple of times since then. Just imagine the possibilities of The Rock vs. The Kliq.
12 WCW #5 - Chris Jericho
We’re not sure if WCW knew what they were missing out on with Chris Jericho when he left the company to join the WWE in June of 1999. His hyped debut would last for months until he finally premiered in front of a raucous crowd to start a feud with The Rock. Had WCW known how much of a long-term success Jericho would be in the WWE, they probably wouldn’t let him get away. In this scenario, Jericho goes back to where he got his start and hopefully he would have been given the same range to let him cut some of his memorable promos.
11 WWE #5 - Mick Foley
One of the biggest moments in the history of the Monday Night Wars was when Mick Foley defeated The Rock on Monday Night Raw for the WWE Championship. Many viewers switched over from Nitro that night, once the result was announced by the WCW announcers. Foley was an underdog that people could really get behind and his willingness to sacrifice his body for the fans was certainly appreciated. Foley’s feuds with The Rock were also some of the best in WWE history and reuniting those two would have been a huge get for WWE in this draft.
10 WCW #6 - Rey Mysterio, Jr.
Rey Mysterio, Jr. got his chance to become a main event level talent in the late 1990s with WCW when he became known as The Giant Killer and had some very memorable feuds, while also helping the cruiserweight division gain some credibility. Mysterio was one of the few wrestlers that had long-term success with WWE after they acquired WCW and there is no doubt that WCW would want him back in the fold. At only 41 years old, Mysterio is still wrestling (now with Lucha Underground), so they would have been getting many years of value with this pick.
9 WWE #6 - Kurt Angle
While he isn’t a huge drawing power as an individual, Kurt Angle was a big part of WWE for his incredible feuds with the likes of Brock Lesnar and John Cena, which would help establish the two as some of the top wrestlers in the company. Angle put on some of the greatest matches in WWE history, while his promos and behind the scenes clips were incredibly funny, even years after the fact. A wrestler as versatile as Kurt Angle doesn’t come around very often and his staying in WWE would have been very important for them in this draft.
8 WCW #7 - Kane
Earlier in the draft, WCW picked The Undertaker, so it only makes sense that they also scoop up the guy that was billed as his brother, Kane. The Demon surprisingly never wrestled for WCW and has been with the WWE for more than 20 years. It’s another one of those high value picks due to the longevity you’re getting out of the wrestler, and it would have made sense at the time. Although he does not have a huge drawing power these days, The Attitude Era version of Kane was still a must-see wrestler.
7 WWE #7 - Edge
Edge didn’t make his debut with the WWE until 1998 and was quickly put into a feud with Gangrel and Christian, eventually becoming part of their faction known as The Brood. It didn’t take long for Edge and Christian to separate from the pack and establish themselves as great tag team stars, before Edge became a huge singles star. He would go onto wrestle until 2011 for the WWE, putting on some of the most memorable extreme rules/ladder/TLC matches and won four WWE Championships and another seven World Heavyweight Championships. If it weren’t for an injury, Edge might still be wrestling today, but he was still able to put together more than a decade of production.
6 WCW #8 - The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz were the most popular tag team in ECW during the mid-to-late 1990s and were acquired as a package by the WWE in 1999. Assuming that the two would want to be drafted together, the WCW seems like it would have been a good fit for The Dudley Boyz, as they hope to establish their tag team division. If it weren’t for The Dudley Boyz, the tag division in WWE never would have been as good as it was thanks to the ladder and table matches that they were able to put on for years.
5 WWE #8 - The Big Show
It’s easy to ignore Big Show now that he flip flops between being a babyface and heel seemingly every week and gets chants of “Please Retire” from the crowd. Still, there was a time (especially in the late 1990s) when Big Show was a main event talent that could really wrestle. The way that Big Show was used when he made his debut for the WWE hints that they really saw a lot in him and they wouldn’t hesitate to keep him around in the draft after acquiring him in 1999.
4 WCW #9 - Booker T
Booker T was treated better in WCW than he was in WWE as a wrestler, especially when you consider that he won four World Heavyweight Championships, 10 Tag Team Championships and six World Television Championships. Booker T was a main event talent that really got over with the crowd in WCW, but he was knocked down a bit lower on the card after moving over to WWE (despite winning one World Title). Booker T could have kept his status with WCW and eventually become a broadcaster like he is with WWE had the WCW won the Monday Night Wars.
3 WWE #9 - Lita
We didn’t want to ignore the women in this draft and it was tough to figure out who would have gone first. Trish Stratus would have been a fine pick, but she wasn’t as established at the point that the draft would have taken place as Lita was. Lita proved that she could hang with anyone in the ring, even with the likes of some of the male talent on the roster. Lita also helped establish the women’s division in WWE as more than a showcase for models, which really helped pave the way for what it is today.
2 WCW #10 - Sable
While Lita was admired as a legitimate professional wrestler, there were still women there that were used more for showing off their bodies than their wrestling abilities. Sable was one of those wrestlers and some of the younger fans don’t realize just how big of a draw she was for the WWE. Despite not putting on many memorable matches while with WWE from 1996 to 1999 (and then returning in 2003), people were tuning in to see what she was going to do next. Plus, she would have been right up WCW’s alley as they tried to get as provocative as WWE for a time.
1 WWE #10 - The Hardy Boyz
The final pick of the draft is another tag team that helped WWE become more extreme, as that really resonated with the younger audience. Matt and Jeff Hardy made their original debut with WWE back in 1998 and quickly became a popular tag team thanks to their insane spots. Plus, in this draft, the WCW already snatched The Dudley Boyz, so the WWE would have had to respond with a tag team of their own and The Hardy Boyz certainly would have fit the bill.
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