In the late 1980s, Ted Turner took over the National Wrestling Alliance/Jim Crockett Promotions territory and re-dubbed it World Championship Wrestling. WCW would become a global brand that would compete with the WWE as the top dog in the professional wrestling business and it made the 1990s must-see TV.
At one point in the late 90s, WCW was dominating in the ratings thanks to more interesting personalities, more engaging storylines and faster paced wrestling. It wasn’t until the WWE's Attitude Era that the company started to gain more traction to reclaim the title. Eventually, WCW was acquired by WWE and many of the WCW talent came over to the WWE as a result.
Before that, though, there were plenty of wrestlers that bounced back and forth between the two massive promotions and some wrestlers were better off in the WCW, whether it be in the 1990s or after the merger (in that they shouldn't have moved over to the WWE). Which ones would have had more significant careers if they stayed in WCW during their heyday, received better treatment from WCW instead of WWE or were fumbled after the merger? Here are 15 of those wrestlers that wish their WCW careers lasted longer.
15 Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash started out in WCW back in 1990, but couldn't find much success until he went into the WWE to be in a team with his pal Shawn Michaels. Nash would find success in the WWE, winning the Tag Team Championship and Intercontinental Championship after just a little more than a year. Nash would add a WWE Championship reign that lasted nearly a year, but he left on a bad note thanks to The Kliq's infamous "Curtain Call." Somehow, Nash would find even more success in his return to WCW as he won the World Heavyweight Championship five times and nine Tag Team Championships. Nash's career was accomplished in both companies, but his run in WCW was more memorable and netted him a better contract.
14 Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell didn’t have to wait too long after his wrestling training to be acquired by WCW in 1991 and over his first five years there, he won four World Tag Team Championships. Bagwell was a fan favorite that would go on to win yet another tag title, and was involved in some of the biggest storylines in the company during his decade long run. After WWE purchased WCW, he was offered a contract buyout to sign with WWE. After requesting time off (depending on who you believe), Bagwell was released from his contract just a short while after making his debut.
13 Dean Malenko
He wasn’t very big, but "The Man of 1,000 Holds” had an intimidating presence about him that resonated well with wrestling fans. Dean Malenko made his debut in WCW back in 1995 and his time there included a memorable feud with Chris Jericho and a run as part of the new Four Horsemen stable. Malenko won the Cruiserweight Championship four times, while also adding United States Championship and Tag Team Championship reigns, as well. Malenko went to WWE shortly before WCW was acquired and was part of The Radicalz in his debut. After Chris Benoit broke away, Malenko didn’t get much of a push, and was relegated to being just a two-time Light Heavyweight Champion.
12 Terry Taylor
Even if Terry Taylor’s WCW career wasn’t all that great, and even if he is now a trainer for NXT, nobody should ever be subjected to the gimmick that Taylor went through with WWE. In 1988, Taylor made his debut with the WWE and was quickly re-cast as...The Red Rooster. Taylor’s gimmick was one of the worst in the company’s history and he left for WCW in 1990. Taylor went between the two companies, but at least while in WCW, he won a United States Tag Team Championship and a World Six-Man Tag Team Championship and he didn’t have to be The Red Rooster.
Raven started out his career in 1992 with WCW, but under the ridiculous gimmick of Scotty Flamingo, a surfer from Florida. After a year, he was in the WWE, but left after a short time to land in ECW. It was there that Raven established his character as a slick talking psychological heel that returned to WCW to establish The Flock. Raven remained with WCW until 1999, when he was the only one that took the offer to be released from his contract, returning to ECW and then going to WWE again. While his most popular days were in ECW, the most exposure that he received was in WCW, even if he didn’t like being there that much.
10 Booker T
Booker T is likely happy now with his role in WWE as an analyst and he had a pretty solid career there as a wrestler, but it was nothing compared to his prime years in WCW. Booker T was a United States Champion, four time World Heavyweight Champion, six time World Television Champion and 10 time World Tag Team Champion while in WCW. He still won titles in WWE, but he only held the World Heavyweight Championship once. Booker T’s most memorable roles in WWE, though, were being part of suggested racism from Triple H and getting hit with groceries by Stone Cold Steve Austin.
9 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner is perhaps the most entertaining wrestler to hear with a microphone, if only for the fact that he makes absolutely no sense when he talks and constantly stumbles over his words. Despite that, Steiner was a legitimate threat in WCW and was over with the crowd during the late 1990s. Steiner had main event feuds and won the World Heavyweight Championship, along with a pair of United States and Television Championships. Steiner went to the WWE in 2002 after nearly a decade away from the company and only had one memorable feud (with Triple H) in which he couldn’t win a title off of the younger superstar.
8 Arn Anderson
Arn Anderson is another one of the wrestlers that is happily employed behind the scenes by WWE and is even a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. However, Anderson’s best days as a wrestler were most certainly in WCW. After becoming part of The Four Horsemen in 1985, Anderson spent three years in WCW before leaving for the WWE, quickly winning the Tag Team Championship. It didn’t take long for Anderson to leave, though, as he was back in WCW the next year. Anderson stayed with WCW until he retired in 1997, even though he came back for a brief period in 2000 before the WWE acquisition.
At the beginning of her wrestling career, Debrah Miceli spent five years with the AWA and All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling before becoming a member of the WCW in 1991. While there, Miceli became Madusa and was part of The Dangerous Alliance that was managed by Paul Heyman. After two years, she went to WWR and became Women’s Champion as Alundra Blayze, but left to WCW and threw Vince McMahon’s belt in a trash can on Raw. Madusa had a long and successful career with WCW that would last another six years, but she was blacklisted by WWE until she finally joined the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Having to watch legends basically fade into obscurity, only to come back way past their prime just to put someone else over is depressing and it likely never would have happened to Sting if not for WWE’s acquisition of WCW. Sting was the face of the WCW until Hulk Hogan arrived. Still, Sting was a fan favorite and was with WCW until they were finally put out of business. Sting talked contracts with WWE, but didn’t join the company, opting instead to go to TNA for a decade. Sting then finally joined the WWE in 2014, but it was already too late. Sting lost matches to Triple H and Seth Rollins before retiring and being put into the Hall of Fame. It just didn’t seem like the right ending to a fine career.
5 Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page signed with WCW back in 1991 as a manager and soon became a wrestler of his own. It was the right decision, as Page became a huge success throughout the 1990s, winning three World Heavyweight Championships, two United States titles, four Tag Team Championships and a World Television Championships. Page was a staple of the WCW during their prime days, but was mishandled famously after being acquired by WWE. Page was introduced as a stalker of The Undertaker’s wife, launching a feud that was lost on people. Page only lasted in the WWE until 2002 and has thankfully found a successful career as a yoga instructor, changing the lives of many people, including famous former pro wrestlers.
4 Bret Hart
Out of all of the wrestlers on our list, none had more success in the WWE than Bret Hart. Hart was a five time WWE Champion, while adding two Intercontinental Titles, a U.S. Championship, two tag titles and two King of the Ring titles. Hart wasn’t better off in WCW because he was getting more popularity, but because of his contract. Hart received a huge increase in his salary (an extra $1 million per year), creative control and an easy work schedule. Hart was just as popular in WCW as he was in WWE, making it all the better. The money that WCW paid him gave Hart an opportunity to be set for life when WWE was struggling to afford his contract and you can’t blame him for taking that.
For a guy that was 6’5” and over 400 pounds, Big Van Vader could certainly move and put on some good matches. Vader was a popular name in the AWA and New Japan Pro Wrestling before debuting with WCW in 1990, but didn’t make a splash until 1992 after having feuds with Sting, Cactus Jack and many more. In 1995, Vader left for a brief run in NJPW, and then was with the WWE the next year. Vader was supposed to be the next big thing, but after feuds that saw him win no titles, Vader left once again for Japan. Vader’s title runs in NJPW and WCW show that he was taken more seriously there.
2 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn is pretty much in the same boat as Terry Taylor, but Saturn had a much more memorable career in WCW. Saturn came from ECW to WCW in 1997 and was an imposing threat that would end up winning a World Television Championship while winning Tag Team Championships with both Raven and Chris Benoit. Saturn was given his release and became a part of WWE with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero in 2000. Saturn soon split with the group and floundered in the midcard while wearing a dress and talking to a mop (yes, that happened). Saturn injured his ACL in 2002 and was eventually released before retiring in 2004.
1 Dusty Rhodes
The late, great Dusty Rhodes is a wrestling icon that resonated with common people across the country as “The American Dream.” Rhodes won a multitude of titles with NWA/Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW that included U.S. Championships, Television Championships and Tag Team Championships. Rhodes spent two years in WWE and Vince McMahon tried to embarrass him for being a part of WCW by making him wear polka dots. Instead, Rhodes got over with the crowd and he left in 1991 after retiring from being a full time wrestler. Rhodes returned to WCW and would stay there for nearly a decade. Rhodes would return to WWE behind the scenes and occasionally in front of the camera in 2005, spending his final 10 years there before passing away in 2015.
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