What was perceived to be a glorious day back in March of 2001 by WWE fans, when Vince McMahon announced his purchase and ultimate victory over WCW, was really a dark day for professional wrestling. The day the competition died was certainly not a cause for celebration as a WCW fan, general wrestling fan, or even a WWE fan who loathed WCW for all the years of the Monday Night War. There was nobody left to push WWE creative and the steady slope of decline had begun.
However, what if things had turned out differently? Let's flip the script and pretend WCW had defeated WWE. That their ship had never sunk and it was Vince McMahon who had gone out of business. Where would the wrestling world be today? Better yet; the wrestlers – where would they be if WCW had reigned supreme?
The two mega-stars produced by the WWE would have been just fine. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock would have remained crowd favorites and large draws in WCW. Austin would still be regarded as the greatest superstar of all the time and Rock would have still gone on to become a massive Hollywood movie star.
Longtime WWE loyalists such as The Undertaker and Kane would have also fared well in WCW. The gimmick associated with Kane worked and could have easily translated onto WCW television. The Undertaker, whose character was going through a transitional period as “Big Evil,” could have been brought into WCW with the original “Dead Man” gimmick and go on to dominant the promotion. Of course, this would mean that the WrestleMania undefeated streak would have been stopped in its tracks (Starrcade undefeated streak, perhaps?).
What about the former WCW stars who left the company for WWE during the Monday Night War because they felt as though WCW was inevitably going to lose? Guys like Big Show, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, etc... Would they have been welcomed back with open arms?
Then comes the ECW factor, would WCW had purchased the company when it was going out of business? If so. who from the extreme circle would have flourished in WCW? The obvious choice being RVD but what would have become of some of the other ECW greats?
In this article, we will re-write history and take a look at where some of today's top superstars would have been had WWE failed back in 2001. These are the top 10 superstars who would not be where they are today had WCW won the Monday Night War:
Over the course of his WWE career, Edge managed to capture thirty-one championships – eleven of which were world titles. Edge rose from the ranks of tag-team specialist to main event superstar. While his career was cut short by a life-threatening neck injury, Edge remains one of the best WWE-produced talents of all time.
So, how successful would Edge have been in WCW? … In 2001, Edge was miles away from superstardom but was still recognized as a young and promising performer. That year, Edge would win the King of the Ring and solidify himself as a singles competitor.
However, in 2003, Edge would suffer a neck injury that would alter the rest of his life. While returning the following year, he would continue on his singles path and in 2006, capture his first WWE Championship. The next five years would be plentiful for Edge but the ride would not last much longer. In 2011, at the age of thirty-seven, Edge was forced to retire from WWE due to his health issues.
If WCW had won the war and Edge was brought over to the company, the feeling is that Edge would have remained a mid-card talent or pushed back into the tag-team division, never becoming a big-name superstar and perhaps never getting injured due to lesser expectations.
WCW may not have made Edge a star but may have in a weird way kept in better health.
9 Kurt Angle
One night long ago in ECW, Raven crucified The Sandman in what was viewed as a highly offensive storyline. That same night, a young Olympic wrestler named Kurt Angle was on hand and considering signing a contract with the company. This act offended Angle who would opt not to dwell in the land of extreme.
Eventually, Angle made his way to WWE where he quickly rose to prominence. His natural wrestling abilities were put on display for the WWE audience to enjoy. While the fans grew to hate Angle, their hatred was directed with overtones of admiration. Even as a face, fans would chant “You suck,” as Angle made his way to the ring.
If WCW had won the Monday Night War, would they have taken Kurt Angle along as a new talent? Absolutely. The feeling here is that Angle could thrive anywhere. If he had gone to ECW, he would have been a top-tier talent. In WCW, much of the same.
Today Angle is employed by TNA. If WCW had defeated WWE more than a decade ago, perhaps Angle would not have undergone the same strain and grind that a WWE schedule entails. Thus, avoiding his own set of injuries and personal pain and remaining on top of the wrestling world with the top-dog company.
8 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is not only a legendary WWE superstar, he is also a rock star and multi-media personality. Jericho used his WWE platform to find success in many other endeavors.
However, one must believe that the star of Chris Jericho would not be shinning nearly as bright today had WCW won the Monday Night War. In 1999, Jericho left WCW for a spot in WWE, feeling as though – and rightfully so – he was underutilized in WCW.
In March 2001, if the roles were reversed and WCW where declaring their victory over WWE, what would that have meant for Jericho? Would he have gone back to the promotion that mistreated him for so many years? Would they have even welcomed him back?
Chris Jericho became the first ever undisputed WWE Champion in December of 2001 when the WWE and WCW titles were officially merged. Something similar probably would have taken place in WCW but the undisputed championship would not have been given to Chris Jericho.
I think we all know who would have been the man to merge both titles… BROTHER!
7 The Divas
The WWE Divas past and present have always provided the audience with an insurmountable display of beauty and brawn. The current Divas division is far away from the days of Trish and Lita, but the ladies of WWE still manage to entertain in their own right – particularly on reality television.
Total Divas is a hit program on the E! Network which showcases the daily lives and backstage happenings of the WWE Divas. The cast of which continues to grow each season. Do not be surprised if the cast eventually includes the entire Divas locker room (excluding AJ Lee).
In WCW, there was once a group of women known as the Nitro Girls. While WWE definitely produced better female athletes during the Monday Night War, what would have become of these woman in WCW? Would Trish and Lita have been asked to dance around with the Nitro Girls or would WCW have improved on their weak female division?
Many of today's girls might have been brought in as valets as WCW hardly seemed to place too much focus on their women actually competing. Would a reality show exist? Perhaps if Ted Turner felt the need to throw one together.
The WWE Divas may at times be the laughing stock of the company, but they are better off where they stand.
6 Brock Lesnar
This next entry will go out on a limb but we have to wonder where “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar would be today had WCW won the epic war of the Mondays.
Lesnar was brought into WWE as “The Next Big Thing.” However, would WCW management have felt the same way? One of the biggest factors in the early success of Lesnar was Paul Heyman. In 2001, Heyman was employed by WWE but if the company had gone out of business, would there have been a role for Heyman over at WCW?
If not, Brock Lesnar could have flown under the radar or eventually been brought in as a second-string Goldberg but he definitely would not have won the WCW Championship at the age of twenty-five like he did in WWE.
Thus, without his wrestling success, would Lesnar had been able to move on to the UFC and capture their championship? There is no denying the toughness of Lesnar, so he may have still found glory in UFC but one thing is for sure, he would not be the wrestling champion, making a massive amount of money, and performing a limited number of dates in WCW if the promotion were alive today.
5 CM Punk
CM Punk was the hottest topic of 2014 among the wrestling community. His unexplained departure from WWE following the 2014 Royal Rumble left fans with more questions than answers – until Punk finally broke his silence on Colt Cabana's podcast.
Punk aired a lot of dirty laundry when discussing his situation with the WWE but Punk's next step may have come as more of a shock when he announced that he would be trying his hand at UFC. The former WWE Champion has found both support and criticism with this announcement and only time will tell just how well Punk can handle himself in the cage.
However, CM Punk is another “Paul Heyman Guy,” who may have never been brought up to prime time television had WCW been the company in charge. Punk is a gifted wrestler who at one time loved the business, but Punk and WCW may have not fit well together.
The kind of look Punk has is something WCW would have gone for in the '90s but if they had won the war at the start of the new millennium, the grungy decade would have been left in the past and Punk may have never been seen on mainstream wrestling.
Where would that have left CM Punk? Well, the independents of course. While he may not have been as financially endowed, he may have ended up as a happier man – less bitter and simply wrestling because he loves to wrestle.
4 Randy Orton
Randy Orton is a third generation superstar who was afforded many opportunities within WWE at a very young age. Today, Orton is a former twelve-time WWE Champion – a well-accomplished superstar who some may call one of the greatest of all time while others may disagree.
Randy Orton is good, but is he really that great? According to the standards of today's WWE;, yes, but what if he were competing in WCW right now? Randy Orton had an “in” with WWE. In WCW, he may not have been given as much room to become a star.
Orton is a solid in-ring performer who is sub-par on the microphone. In 2001, Orton was not a member of the main WWE Roster. Therefore, he would present no track record other than his lineage. Which could have earned him a spot on the WCW roster but not a top spot.
Randy Orton is a pure-bred WWE guy who should be thankful that WCW did not win the Monday Night War.
Another WWE pure-bred who should be thankful for his time in WWE is “The Animal” and former six-time World Champion, Batista.
Here we have another guy who was not around during the Monday Night War and who made his WWE debut north of thirty-years-old. In WCW, Batista would have been just another jacked-up dude who would have to take a backseat to guys like Goldberg and Scott Steiner.
To further the case that Batista would not work out in WCW, he has been known for a negative backstage attitude, feeling as though he is entitled to more than he has already received. WCW already had enough backstage politicians – guys who had been around a lot longer than Batista.
Nevertheless, he made it big in WWE and has even gone on to do some work in Hollywood. Good thing for Batista that Vince McMahon pulled out that victory.
2 John Cena
Over the past decade, the WWE spotlight has belonged to one man: John Cena – hated by many and constantly scrutinized – but always on top of the game.
John Cena has often been called out on his actual wrestling abilities, which at times have been sloppy but have also improved over the years. Now, is Cena the best wrestler on the roster? Hell no! In fact, he doesn't even qualify in the top five. However, he is the face of WWE and has maintained a steady smile for the company for a long time.
Cena was introduced in 2002 when the Monday Night War was already over and WWE was in control of the entire wrestling world. Steve Austin was approaching the end of his career and John Cena was selected to become the next top guy in WWE.
Would this have been the path paved for Cena had he been in WCW? Highly unlikely. John Cena was elevated to where he is today because of the McMahon family. In WCW, Cena would not have been regarded as main event talent – perhaps not even brought into the company.
1 Triple H
Triple H is one of best to ever grace a WWE ring and having already established himself as a star by 2001, WCW would have undoubtedly offered him a contract. “The Game” would have blazed trails in WCW and continued his successful wrestling career.
While he managed to become a thirteen-time World Champion in WWE, there is no saying that he could not have accomplished the same thing in WCW. What Triple H would have had working to his advantage was the backstage influence of his longtime Kliq buddies; Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
The reason Triple H tops this list is not because of his wrestling career – he would have done great and earned big money as a performer in WCW. The reason Triple H tops this list is from a business standpoint.
Triple H is a higher up executive at WWE – a man who gets to make decisions and a man who is set to one day inherit the company from Vince McMahon. If we compare the money he would have made strictly as a wrestler in WCW compared to the money he is making and stands to make in the future as a WWE executive; the numbers would not even compare.
If WCW had won the Monday Night War, Triple H would be a superstar wrestler but nothing more.