The legacy of World Championship Wrestling still lives on today. Between the WWE Network’s rich library, various DVD releases and occasional references on the current product, old fans remember the glory days of WCW, while new fans watch the content for the first time. WCW was the only promotion to compete with WWE on a legitimate level and the wrestling business has been starved for a replacement since it went out of business. Sadly, the mentality to swing for the fences and open the checkbooks sunk WCW just as quickly as it made the company a mainstream sensation.
Following the purchase of WCW by Vince McMahon, many wrestlers would try their luck in WWE but it would almost always result in failure. Were these wrestlers extremely overrated or did WWE just not give them a fair chance? It depends on the situation but logic would lean towards the latter. The popular belief in the wrestling industry is that McMahon does not like putting his faith or investment into entities that he did not create. Wrestlers that made their name in WCW were made by the powers that be in that company or on their own, instead of the WWE machine. Fans, experts and employees have stated they felt WCW wrestlers were typically not given a fair chance due to this.
There were many wrestlers that made the jump before WCW went out of business and the results were the same. The wrestlers who were held down in WCW ended up being the best stories of wrestlers coming to WWE. Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio were not allowed to break the glass ceiling in WCW but all became world champions in WWE. While the success stories are fascinating and deserving, they were few compared to the tales of the other end of the spectrum. Many careers suffered death trying to make the jump. These are the twenty wrestlers that WCW actually used better than WWE.
Sting gets an early placement on the list due to the variables. You can’t blame WWE too much for not getting more out of Sting considering he made his in-ring debut for the company at the age of 56. The match and storyline wasn’t bad in a big WrestleMania program with Triple H but WWE failed to capture the magic of his appeal. Sting was the most loved performer in WCW for his showmanship and unique presence. The lazy concet of a vigilante trying to stop Triple H from abusing his power was not what most hoped for when fantasy booking a long-awaited Sting WWE debut.
19 Bill DeMott
Whether you know him as Hugh Morrus or Bill DeMott, he's a controversial figure but did showcase some talent in the ring. DeMott was one of the more agile workers for a big man and presented himself as the last person you would want to face in a real fight. Both companies put him in lower card roles on television but WCW at least let him have matches and move sets deep enough to remind us he was talented. His limited WWE television matches featured him beating up cruiserweights or serving as an enhancement talent. DeMott’s most memorable, though terrible, WWE moments came from accusations of being an abusive bully while training young wrestlers.
Brian Adams and Bryan Clark had interesting stints in both WCW and WCW. Each man had runs as singles performers but their most successful time came together as Kronik. They were never considered to have the work rate of an Eddie Guerrero or Chris Jericho but their jacked look with an intense ring style of power moves was fascinating. Unfortunately, their best run came during the dying days of WCW. WWE tried the tag team act during the Invasion storyline but they let Kronik go after one lackluster match against The Undertaker and Kane. Adams and Clark were also utilized poorly as singles wrestlers in the early 90s with WWE as Adam Bomb and Crush.
17 Juventud Guerrera
The cruiserweight division and influx of luchadors gave WCW an extra edge during the Monday Night War, as they offered something new and unique to North American wrestling fans. Juventud Guerrera was one of the more memorable members of the division with an exciting in-ring style and cool look. WCW would eventually unmask him and use him poorly, but he was still able to entertain the audience. Guerrera would get a shot in WWE with The Mexicools faction but he failed to do anything noteworthy. The wrestlers was saddled with a borderline racist gimmick and they weren’t put in situations to have great matches. Many forget Juventud was even in WWE and that says it all.
Chris Kanyon was one of the more underrated WCW wrestlers of the late 90s. We all remember the main eventers like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting, as well as the future stars such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio. There were many others that fell in the middle tier between those levels and Kanyon was in that mix. You could always count on him for a solid match or humorous promo. His work under a mask as Mortis was also very good in a tough spot. WWE only used him for minor comedy during the Invasion era, but would send him down to developmental and waste away his talent.
The Radicalz jumping ship from WCW to WWE was one of the most shocking moments from the final days of the Monday Night Wars. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn all showed up in WWE together after having enough of the politics in WCW. Benoit and Guerrero had Hall of Fame worthy careers with WWE but Malenko and Saturn struggled to have noteworthy runs. Saturn was one of the strong midcarders for WCW and gave good matches in the midcard title picture. WWE didn’t give him much of a chance to replicate that as his most memorable run came from losing his mind and falling in love with a mop.
14 Ron Simmons
Ron Simmons had an underappreciated career when you look at all he accomplished. WCW made Simmons the first African-American to win the World Championship and it was a tremendous moment. Simmons did his best and was a solid champion. WWE would sign him a few years later and rename him Faarooq. The Nation of Domination faction and APA tag team saw Simmons used in credible roles but he was always a midcarder with limited upside. His work in WCW saw him break the glass ceiling and become a credible champion option. WWE could have used him as a true top heel when The Nation of Domination was at its hottest but they let the opportunity pass by.
WCW's cruiserweight division created many memorable matches and talents. Psychosis was the most underrated asset in the division. Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko were always credited as top talents that the company didn’t know how to elevate but a guy like Psychosis was never put on the same pedestal by fans or the company. Psychosis was a guaranteed good match on any show and his work with Mysterio led to some of the best matches in company history. WWE signed him to be a member of The Mexicools faction and it was a train wreck. Aside from negative things in the stereotype gimmick such as riding a lawnmower to the ring, Psychosis was not allowed to do anything of note.
12 Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman showed great improvement over his WCW career. After serving as a forgettable member of The Flock, Kidman became one of the most popular members of the cruiserweight division. Kidman was a rare homegrown talent and he had an upside. WCW tried putting him against Hulk Hogan at one point but the political struggle for young, undersized talents was impossible to overcome at the time. Still, Kidman had a great WCW career that he could not duplicate in WWE. He was introduced during the Invasion era and stayed employed for a few years on the Smackdown brand. Despite a few good matches, Kidman was just another guy on the roster that came off as bland and insignificant.
With stints in WWE, WCW and ECW, Raven bounced around during the hot 90s period of wrestling. Raven definitely achieved his greatest creative success in ECW but he did an underrated job in WCW. Between his mysterious promos with The Flock and his great matches with Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Benoit, Raven gave WCW viewers a good run. WWE tried to get something out of the Raven character in the early 2000s but they just couldn’t understand him. Raven was put in the position to be a lower card act with his place being in the hardcore division or on secondary shows like Sunday Night Heat.
10 Ultimo Dragon
Ultimo Dragon may have been the most underappreciated WCW talent because he was unable to have a successful run in WWE. Dragon was as impressive as Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho in WCW for a few years but no one recalls him being that great due to the perception about him changing since he was a flop in WWE. After holding countless titles all over the world, including WCW, he was signed by WWE. Mysterio was recently acquired by WWE and a huge success so they tried to get similar results from Dragon. It didn’t work. Dragon looked uncomfortable in the WWE style and is most remembered for almost slipping during his WrestleMania XX entrance.
9 Booker T
Booker T was one of the rare wrestlers to achieve success in both WWE and WCW, as Booker was the only WCW wrestler to survive the company being purchased by WWE. Almost all of the wrestlers were fired, demoted or put in lower card spots but Booker found a way to get through it and become a real part of the WWE. Booker had a great WWE run and was once again a world champion, but it was on the secondary SmackDown brand. Despite having the same momentum behind him in 2003 that he showed in WCW as a face, WWE didn’t pull the trigger and had Booker lose to Triple H in a questionable decision at WrestleMania XIX.
8 Dean Malenko
There was no one more technically sound in the ring than Dean Malenko. The cruiserweight was a machine in the ring and delivered a tremendous match every time he was put into the ring with a decent opponent. Malenko was one of The Radicalz to make the jump from WCW during its dying days to the WWE. The move was the right one considering the poor state of WCW, but WWE dropped the ball with him. Malenko’s early matches were fine but he then entered a feud with Lita, with the gimmick of being a creepy stalker obsessed with her. Lita would get the better of him and he looked like a joke in every way imaginable.
7 Diamond Dallas Page
The rise of Diamond Dallas Page was fascinating to watch unfold in WCW. Starting his in-ring career at a late age, DDP showcased great skills and rapid improvement on a weekly basis. Fans started to love him and he became one of the first faces to stand against the New World Order heel faction. Page was truly the people’s choice and found his way into the main event picture as one of the biggest stars in the company. WWE brought him over after purchasing WCW but used him in the worst way possible. DDP was introduced as the stalker of The Undertaker’s wife Sara. This was followed up with The Undertaker beating him up every week until he was relegated to the lower card.
6 Kevin Nash
It would be hard to argue Kevin Nash wasn’t successful in WWE because he did win the WWE Championship as Diesel and had a long title reign. Still, Nash was never truly positioned as a top guy. His run with the title was one of the worst in company history from both a financial and entertainment aspect. WCW signed him to be one of the founding members of the New World Order and it was a great decision. Nash achieved more success in WCW due to actually getting to show personality. WWE had him play a character that spoke very little, while WCW let him be one of the most charismatic stars in the business.
5 Ric Flair
The career of Ric Flair is obviously most associated with his work in WCW, but he did have a few runs in WWE. WWE signed him in the early 90s for a run that everyone speculated would result in a big Hulk Hogan match at WrestleMania. While Flair did win the WWE Championship, it was in the Royal Rumble battle royal and he instead faced Randy Savage at WrestleMania. Flair did a good job but was not allowed to be the same top tier legendary performer he was in WCW. WWE did nice work helping Flair end his career in impressive fashion in 2008, but they completely dropped the ball in his prime.
4 Scott Steiner
As both a tag team and singles performer, Scott Steiner was a great talent with potential to become a huge star in the wrestling business. Steiner would develop a large physique, new look and more terrifying personality in the later years of WCW. The unpredictable Steiner became WCW World Champion and a fascinating figure in wrestling. WWE brought him over in 2002 and gave him an instant push but it was done in a way that ruined his chance at success. Steiner entered a terrible program with Triple H that resulted in some of the worst wrestling matches of all time, before he wallowed in obscurity until leaving the company. To this day, Steiner still rants about Triple H holding him down.
3 Lex Luger
You can say what you want about Lex Luger’s in-ring work because it did leave a lot to be desired but he was a great asset for WCW. Luger played a big role in WCW’s success, especially in the late 90s, and the fans loved him. In a shocking moment, Luger defeating "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan on an episode of Nitro was one of the most memorable world title changes in WCW history. WWE desperately tried to make a star out of Luger around 1993-1994 but it was a disaster. Vince McMahon was hoping Luger would be the “next Hulk Hogan” but the character and push felt like a cheap knockoff of Hulkamania. Fans didn’t buy into it and Luger was shoved aside for the organic Bret Hart push.
Vader's work is up there with any big man in wrestling history. Between Japan and WCW, Vader was established as a monster heel who would deliver outstanding matches. WCW’s early 90s period saw Vader as one of the better world champions in great matches against Ric Flair and Sting. WWE hoped for the same results but it was not meant to be, or maybe Vince McMahon wouldn’t allow it to be. There are many stories out there that McMahon despised Vader’s look and did not have any faith in him. Aside from a good SummerSlam 1996 main event with Shawn Michaels, Vader was used in a secondary role compared to his time in WCW.
Bill Goldberg had a tremendous run in WCW because they booked him perfectly. Goldberg would enter from the back with his security team, power through the pyro on stage, pose, snarl, beat up his opponents in a few minutes, win and snarl again. The man won just about every match in his WCW career and that led to the fans buying into the act of an unbeatable badass. WWE clearly would not protect him the same way and it exposed him. Goldberg was put in longer matches that made fans realize how boring a wrestler he was and he suffered a pin fall loss to Triple H during his hottest stretch in the company. The run ultimately became a flop and Goldberg was the best example of a star being used better in WCW than WWE.