WWE and WCW created the greatest stars that +wrestling has ever seen and today we’re all witnessing how difficult it is to create a main event superstar. Wrestling was at its most healthy when two powerhouse companies were competing against each other on a national stage. Ever since WCW went out of business, WWE has struggled to create new stars at a high level. Both companies pushed each other to do their best and put out the best product. However, with all the pros that the rivalry of WWE vs. WCW brought to wrestling, there was also the fair share of negatives.
The landscape was completely different and egos were much more in play. Wrestlers had a tougher time getting the freedom and opportunity to showcase their talent and were handcuffed by the shackles of booking. This list is focusing on wrestlers who were unable to achieve the success they expected to in both companies. With respected wrestlers going back and forth between WWE and WCW during that era, most of the wrestlers were hired at some point by both companies. The general majority of the wrestlers to work for both companies succeeded in one more than the other.
There are a small percentage of wrestlers to succeed in both companies but an even smaller percentage of wrestlers to fail in both. Keep in mind this isn’t an indictment of the talent of the wrestlers selected but rather the facts about how things played out. The stories on this list vary from wrestlers who weren’t given opportunities, some who had bad attitudes, a few with bad timing and a couple that were downright terrible. Wrestling is subjective so not all of these guys were complete failures but all of them were unable to live up to expectations and failed in both WWE and WCW.
15 Brian Adams
Debuting as Crush in WWE, Brian Adams had a decent career up north but never lived up to his potential. He always had a great look and impressive presence to him yet couldn’t find a way to connect with the crowd to become more than a midcarder. Eventually joining WCW and becoming a part of the New World Order with a new fat contract, Adams had a forgettable run despite facing high profile names. Forming the tag team Kronik with Bryan Clark would lead to his greatest success in WCW, but that was during their dying days and they still weren’t anything remarkable.
14 Scott Hudson
During the Monday Night Wars, WCW had a great commentary trio with Tony Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Mike Tenay, along with the occasional Larry Zbyszko appearance in place of Heenan. The company felt it need to make big changes in the final years after losing millions upon millions of dollars. Part of the re-branding was making Scott Hudson the new face of the commentary team, but he was very unimpressive. After WCW ended, Hudson was the only commentator retained and announced the first WCW vs. WCW test match on Raw of Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell along with Arn Anderson. Further exposed, Hudson was quickly removed from WWE television.
13 Bryan Clark
WWE signed the mammoth of a man known as Bryan Clark and gave him the name Adam Bomb. With the look Vince McMahon usually loves in a wrestler, Bomb somehow flopped despite the assumed great fit in WWE. After a couple of years away from the WWE following his tenure ending, Clark joined WCW as Wrath. Clark was impressive in short spurts but never had a sustainable run on WCW television until he formed Kronik with Brian Adams, as alluded to earlier. When Vince McMahon purchased WCW, Adams and Clark were given another chance in WWE but failed to impress in their sole match vs. The Undertaker and Kane and they were never used again.
12 Bill DeMott
With his large size and agile ability in the ring, Bill DeMott was a long tenured member of WCW as the humorously named Hugh Morrus. Mostly remembered for his great moonsault finisher, DeMott was always an enhancement talent until the dying days when turning into a comedy character. When WWE purchased WCW, DeMott was one of the talents brought over and failed to do anything memorable as a wrestler. Even worse, WWE used DeMott as the head trainer for their performance center as recent as this year and he was removed due to numerous former wrestlers claiming he abused power and was a bully.
Sabu was one of the most innovative wrestlers of all time, utilizing new styles and aerial displays to leave the audience in awe on his way to becoming a huge star in ECW. Trying his luck in WCW, Sabu had a few good moments on WCW television but was quickly out of the company as the fit wasn’t very good for either party. In 2006, Sabu received his first opportunity with WWE as the company re-launched the ECW brand. Sabu was given a push but never could bring back the magic from his best days and his WWE run further fell apart when he and Rob Van Dam were pulled over and arrested for possession of drugs.
10 Marc Mero
Despite having small stints of success in both companies, Marc Mero turned into a failure for each. As Johnny B. Badd in WCW, Mero was one of the more highlighted midcarders but didn’t have what was needed to move up the card, so the company let the WWE sign him when he became a free agent. Hoping to build Mero as a star of the future, “The Marvelous One” was lackluster until his wife at the time, Sable, made her debut as his valet. It worked for a while but eventually, Sable became the star of the act and no one wanted to see Mero.
9 Marty Jannetty
Yes, Marty Jannetty was extremely successful with The Rockers as a tag team wrestler with Shawn Michaels, but after the two split, his career completely fell apart. There’s this notion that WWE only wanted Michaels to succeed and while they rightfully did prefer Michaels' talent, Jannetty was given multiple chances and failed every time, partly due to his personal demons. In the late 90s when Eric Bischoff was just handing out contracts to former WWE talent, WCW signed Jannetty but never did anything with him to the point that even big fans of the era forget Jannetty was in the company.
8 Mike Awesome
After an incredible run in both Japan and ECW, WCW signed Mike Awesome while he was the ECW Champion as part of their re-branding with new young stars. The athletically gifted big man was one of the most unique talents of the time but in WCW, he never was able to showcase it with over the top gimmicks such as “That 70s Guy” and “The Fat Chick Thrilla” causing him to have a very disappointing run. Awesome was one of the talents who came to WWE during the Invasion storyline, but he was rarely used and once again forgotten. No wrestling mind in America understood how to use Awesome aside from Paul Heyman in ECW.
7 The Sandman
Another ECW alum but less talented than Awesome, The Sandman had very lackluster stints in both WCW and WWE. Leaving ECW for more money in WCW, The Sandman went by Hak and was just used in the occasional hardcore match, which to be fair is all he could really contribute. Years later in 2006 when WWE tried to bring back the ECW brand, The Sandman was hired and employed for a few years. Though he used his ECW character, WWE couldn’t secure the rights to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” song which erased any chances of his spectacular entrance working and he looked like another guy that sucked at wrestling.
Currently one of the most outlandish wrestling personalities on social media, Virgil’s time as a pro wrestler was equally annoying. Spending his most successful years as the lackey for Ted DiBiase, WWE tried to push Virgil in a feud against “The Million Dollar Man” but Virgil just wasn’t talented enough to get over as a singles wrestler. As mentioned earlier, WCW loved signing ex-WWE talent to big contracts and that resulted in Virgil becoming a member of the New World Order. Virgil rarely wrestled but when he did, it was terrible as usual and worst of all, his presence was among the first few to start to make people stop caring about the nWo, as it seemed like any scrub could join.
5 David Flair
One of the worst examples of nepotism in pro wrestling was WCW signing Ric Flair’s son, David, and attempting to push him despite having one of the most loaded rosters of all time. David Flair’s first big storyline saw him turn on his dad and join the New World Order. Proving wrestling skills and charisma weren't genetic, David was nowhere near as talented as Ric. After WCW ended, WWE picked up David’s contract and wanted to give him a chance to develop his skills in Ohio Valley Wrestling, their developmental program at the time, but he was so bad that they had to cut bait quickly.
4 Jerry Lynn
Arguably the most underrated wrestler of the last 20 years, Jerry Lynn made his first big break as the masked luchador Mr. JL on WCW. Despite a couple of standout matches during the early days of Nitro vs. Sabu, WCW didn’t work out for Lynn who became a star for ECW afterwards. With his stellar work and reputation as one of the best in-ring talents in the industry, Lynn was signed by WWE in 2001 following the death of ECW but never was given a chance to do much. Lynn won the Light Heavyweight Championship in his WWE debut on Sunday Night Heat but lost it shortly after and was released within a year.
3 Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak entered the wrestling business with a world of expectations as the son of legend and former WWE Champion, Stan “The Man” Stasiak. During his first short run in WWE, Stasiak’s highlights were playing a comedic character named “Meat” and going down in the trivia books as the person to take the loss in Kurt Angle’s debut match. Stasiak migrated to WCW where he was mostly a tag team wrestler but never impressed as much as the other young WCW stars he worked with. With another chance in the WWE after they purchased WCW, Stasiak’s only eventful moments were humorously running into walls and getting beat up often.
2 Buff Bagwell
It’s hard to say Buff Bagwell was a failure on the surface when thinking back to how long he kept a job in WCW, but he was given so many chances and failed every time. Whether his early days as a white meat babyface or his later days joining the New World Order, the powers in charge always saw potential in Bagwell and he never delivered when counted on. The biggest instance of this was Bagwell facing Booker T in the first WCW match on WWE TV. That match was so bad it killed the original idea of WCW being its own show to compete with WWE and Bagwell was the main culprit.
1 Shane Douglas
A theme for this list is that many wrestlers who were main event stars in ECW couldn’t achieve success in WWE or WCW. With a great look, many expected Shane Douglas to become a huge star in one of the two big companies from an early age. Douglas had a solid run during the early 90s with WCW but blamed Ric Flair’s political power for preventing him from being a bigger star. In WWE, Douglas was signed and repackaged as Dean Douglas but once again failed to move up the card and this time blamed Shawn Michaels’ political power in WWE. With one more chance in WCW in the later days as a top heel, Douglas couldn’t deliver, adding another failed run to his WCW and WWE tenures.