Any long time wrestling fan has fond memories of watching both WWE and WCW and having the luxury of enjoying two top wrestling promotions. WWE is still as powerful as ever and controls the entire wrestling landscape but WCW has been gone for over 14 years now and the void is still felt. Most top wrestlers would switch companies at some point, as the leverage was in their favor with two high paying and mainstream promotions competing against each other. While most worked for both companies at some point through their careers, very few wrestlers succeeded in both.
Many had better times in WWE such as Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho. WCW was known for not wanting to give younger wrestlers a chance to move up the card and acclimate themselves into the main event picture so they were stuck in the midcard. That led to an abundance wrestlers becoming frustrated about their inability to move into the higher spots on the card where the money was much better. A lot of those wrestlers were given new chances in WWE and made the best of it, succeeding much more with Vince McMahon than Ted Turner.
On the other side of the former pro wrestling dynamic, WWE has always had the reputation of not wanting to give a credible push to wrestlers that were very popular in WCW. Guys like Scott Steiner, Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page were never used to the best of their abilities and dealt with questionable booking decisions. The rumor mill believes Vince McMahon doesn’t like pushing stars he didn’t create, so many established WCW stars completely flopped in WWE. This list will break down the very select few to do the impossible as these are the top 15 wrestling stars to succeed in both WWE and WCW.
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Arguably the greatest WCW star of all time based on longevity, accomplishments and sticking with the company until its final day, Sting debuted in WWE in 2014 after years of hope from wrestling fans. While it may be a little late into his career as he’s currently 56 years old, the Stinger debuted in a top storyline leading to a big WrestleMania match against Triple H and has embraced a role as a legend, even getting a title match against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. Between appearances, merchandise deals and working occasional big matches, Sting has created a successful role in WWE for himself. It will always be disappointing he never came to WWE in his prime but he still has excelled in his time there, even if he's currently 0-2 in matches.
14 Eric Bischoff
Becoming famous and successful in WCW for running the show with a cutthroat style to try to put WWE out of business during the Monday Night Wars, Eric Bischoff is one of the most successful non-wrestlers to make it in the wrestling industry. Following his run on top of WCW, Bischoff was hired by Vince McMahon despite the former bad blood and became an on-screen character as the evil general manager of Raw. During the era of the brand split where Raw and SmackDown each needed an authority figure, Bischoff was the most successful GM, continuing as Raw GM for years as SmackDown made many changes during that time period.
13 Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was among the most talented in-ring performers, creating a reputation as a supreme technician during his WCW days. Benoit was always associated with the guys in the midcard that never received a break to move up the card such as Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho and others but Benoit was treated better than his peers as an occasional main eventer, especially in his final days before joining WWE. In WWE, Benoit became a World Champio,n winning the big gold belt for the first time at WrestleMania 20. With a very good career in WCW and a tremendous career in WWE, Benoit succeeded in both companies.
12 Ricky Steamboat
Ricky Steamboat was a wrestler who managed to become a star due to his excellence in the ring as a pure wrestler, which is an impressive feat. While he was in great shape and had a good look, Steamboat was never the guy who looked like Hulk Hogan or The Ultimate Warrior but he found a way to be remembered as well as those two. Steamboat’s match at WrestleMania 3 with Randy Savage is considered by many as the first truly great WWE match from a work rate perspective. A few years later in WCW, Steamboat had many masterpieces with Ric Flair and was a main eventer for the company.
11 The Road Warriors
Whether you know them as The Road Warriors or The Legion of Doom, the very memorable tag team stood out and was a successful act anywhere they went. In WWE, they had multiple stints as The Legion of Doom and were always a top tag team thanks to their incredible look and intense style. In WCW and NWA, they went by The Road Warriors and had great times there as well. From the days of dominance in the NWA to the great matches with Sting and Lex Luger later in the WCW, they were a stellar tag team. No other tag team was as successful in both WCW and WWE as The Road Warriors.
10 Scott Hall
Making a name for himself as Razor Ramon, Scott Hall was one of the biggest defections from WWE to WCW. He was one of the most important members of the WWE product in the 90s, succeeding there as one of the better Intercontinental Champions in the company’s history. Choosing to go to WCW for more money, Hall was spotlighted even more as an original member of the New World Order. If not for his personal demons, Hall may have been pushed towards a WCW World Championship reign but even without it, he was one of the biggest stars in the company, holding the WCW Tag Team Championship with Kevin Nash as well as the WCW TV Championship.
9 Sycho Sid
When you’re discussing the most successful wrestlers in the 90s for WWE or WCW, Sid somehow never comes up despite excelling in both companies. Going back and forth through both companies, the big man main evented two WrestleMania shows for WWE (one at WrestleMania 8 vs. Hulk Hogan and another at WrestleMania 13 vs. The Undertaker). As Sycho Sid, he would have two WWE Championship reigns and as Sid Vicious in WCW, he would have another two reigns as their World Champ. Perhaps it’s due to his matches never being anything special, but Sid is easily forgotten despite being one of the most successful wrestlers of his era.
8 Bobby Heenan
Wrestling pundits often refer to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan as the greatest non-wrestler of all time for his work as a manager and commentator. In the WWE, Heenan did his best work as a tremendous heel manager and transitioned into a role as a color commentator which he was equally great at, displaying excellent chemistry with Gorilla Monsoon. Like many at the time, Heenan moved to the WCW for a bigger contract and was mostly used as a full time commentator there. Heenan would work perfectly with Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay, developing yet another superb commentary team.
7 Rick Rude
Jumping back and forth between WCW and WWE throughout his career, Rick Rude was one of the best heels in the late 80s and early 90s era of pro wrestling. Using the gimmick of an arrogant ladies man, Rude provided great work in the ring and on the microphone with memorable feuds against Randy Savage, Jake Roberts and The Ultimate Warrior. Spending time in WCW during the first few years of the 90s, Rude was a main event act with Paul Heyman as his manager in The Dangerous Alliance and would have great matches with the likes of Ric Flair and Sting. Even when he retired, Rude had stints in both companies as a manager, including appearing on a taped Raw and live Nitro on the same night in one of the most memorable moments.
6 Ric Flair
When you’re discussing the great wrestlers of WCW, Ric Flair would likely be the first name mentioned as he was the standard bearer for the company. With the most title reigns and even more classic matches, Flair was the heart and soul of WCW. “The Nature Boy” would have two runs in the WWE. First, in the early 90s, Flair made the move and wasn’t used as well but did have a couple of title reigns, including winning at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Flair made another return to WWE after WCW went out of business and was very successful as a part time wrestler and full time character, contributing to the work of Triple H and Evolution.
5 Randy Savage
Aside from Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage was the most successful and beloved WWE wrestling personality from the glory days of the 1980s. Whether working as a face or heel, and regardless of his place on the card as a main eventer or midcarder, Savage left an impact and was adored for it. For that reason, WCW singing Savage WE was one of their biggest signings in company history. Savage would serve as a main eventer and a multiple time world champion despite never achieving the same popularity he did in WWE. Regardless, he was one of the top acts in WCW and any fan of the Monday Night Wars remembers his time there fondly.
4 Big Show
One match into his professional wrestling career Big Show, then known as The Giant, defeated Hulk Hogan to become the WCW Champion. As The Giant, he would have a small run as a top main eventer before the New World Order was formed. During his last couple of years in WCW, The Giant was used in lesser role but was always close to the top of the card. Coming to WWE as The Big Show, he was introduced in a big storyline with Steve Austin and Vince McMahon. 16 years later, Big Show is still a member of the WWE roster and has been one of their most successful wrestlers with multiple title reigns and a future spot in the Hall of Fame.
3 Kevin Nash
After an original failed run in WCW, Kevin Nash migrated to the WWE as Shawn Michaels bodyguard and became the character Diesel. Nash would actually go on to win the WWE Championship before Michaels did and have a very long run with the title. Establishing himself as a WWE star, Nash joined Scott Hall in defecting to WCW as they started the New World Order. Nash achieved even more success in WCW than he did in WWE, becoming a multiple time world champion and one of the most popular wrestlers in the entire company. At one point, Nash was even named head booker in charge of the show/
2 Booker T
For most of his run in WCW, Booker T was a member of one of the most popular tag teams in company history with brother Steve Ray as the Harlem Heat. After years of tag team success, Booker became a very good singles performer holding the United States title and TV title respectively. In the final years, Booker was one of the rare bright spots and was a five time WCW champion, including the final title holder when the company was purchased by WWE. In WWE, Booker T was one of the very few members of WCW to successfully make the jump and become a star in the company for many years, still being employed today as a commentator.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan’s best work in WWE is arguably the greatest run by a face in wrestling history. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan’s best work in WCW is arguably the greatest run by a heel in wrestling history. In the 80s, Hogan was the face of the WWE and took the company to new heights in mainstream entertainment, including being the star of the first few WrestleMania events. Making the move to WCW, Hogan would turn heel in shocking fashion by being the most important member of the newly formed nWo and would cause WCW to achieve the most success in its existence. As great as many were for both companies, no wrestler achieved as much success in both WWE and WCW as Hulk Hogan did.
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