WCW was the second most noteworthy wrestling promotion in American history. World Championship Wrestling was most known for its war with WWE during the mid-90s causing the wrestling industry to reach its most successful stage with records breaking every week. While there are numerous things the company did that will cause any fan to shake their head in embarrassment, there’s no way you can deny the historical significance WCW has in the world of pro wrestling. Unfortunately, bad decisions caused the promotion to go out of business and have the company be sold to Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE.
McMahon bought his own competition and the most depressing thing about it was the change in the industry meant less jobs and less opportunities for wrestlers. With WCW now owned by WWE, very few wrestlers were carried over and of the ones that were, very few of them reached the success they achieved in WCW. Many pundits believe Vince McMahon holds it against talent if they were created in another organization such as WCW. McMahon’s ego will often sabotage or sacrifice the potential of making more money off of a wrestler if the talent wasn’t made in WWE and that was the case for many WCW wrestlers.
Some of the wrestlers were given the opportunity and actually utilized better in WWE than WCW such as Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit. Those, however, were the minority as most of the stars in WCW weren’t able to perform in the dream matches or main event feuds wrestling fans would fantasy book. All 20 of the talents on this list had some sort of role in WWE, some bigger than others, so their tenures weren’t failures but these are the WCW wrestlers that WWE definitely dropped the ball on and should have done more with.
One of the best things WCW did during its successful days was find some of the great talent traveling the world and bring them to America. The masked Psicosis was one of the cornerstones of the cruiserweight division WCW built when bringing over many luchadors from Mexico. Years after his successful run in WCW, WWE decided to bring him on as a part of a new faction. “The Mexicools” would consist of an unmasked Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera and Super Crazy. The gimmick was full of stereotypes and many considered it borderline racist, as the act would fail in a very short time.
Many know the late Chris Kanyon most for being one of the first openly gay pro wrestlers in the business but he was also a very talented wrestler in his own right. Kanyon’s best times in WCW were playing the Mortal Kombat inspired character “Mortis” and then later, teaming with friends Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow. When WWE purchased WCW, Kanyon was one of the wrestlers brought over to start the invasion storyline. Kanyon delivered a few funny moments referring to himself as the “MVP” of the WCW rebels but other than that, it’s difficult to remember a noteworthy moment of his in WWE.
18 Chavo Guerrero
Unlike many wrestlers on this list, Chavo Guerrero actually had a successful tenure in WWE. With stints holding the Cruiserweight title, tag titles and ECW (WWE’s version) title, Guerrero was given opportunities and noteworthy storylines against Rey Mysterio and his uncle Eddie Guerrero. Even with those moments, he was never presented as a performer the audience should take note of and was always more of a sidekick or “the other guy” at his best. In WCW, Chavo was able to show more of his wrestling ability that may have helped move him further up the ladder in WWE.
Not a single performer but rather a tag team act that was made in WCW but died in WWE. WCW formed Kronik in 2000 and consisted of Brian Adams and Bryan Clark, formerly known respectively as Crush and Adam Bomb in the early 90s days of WWE. The premise behind the tag team was simple – two huge men that can kick anyone’s ass with ease and do it with intensity. During the invasion storyline, the team joined the angle to have a match against The Undertaker and Kane. The match failed to deliver and the duo was never seen in WWE again.
16 Perry Saturn
Originally joining WWE with real life friends Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko as they all defected from WCW together; Saturn was kind of lost in the shuffle. Benoit and Guerrero instantly got over with WWE and they went on to have world title runs and legendary careers. Saturn and Malenko were just there. WWE’s best idea of a long term storyline for Saturn was having him fall in love with a mop, cleverly named “Moppy.” Things never got going for Saturn in WWE and he was quickly forgotten and released.
15 William Regal
William Regal currently has an important role as a talent scout for WWE developmental and does on-air work with NXT. Regal even had great moments as the commissioner for a few years and is a beloved figure by many WWE fans but he could have been so much more. Considering how successful Daniel Bryan went on to become and how much of Bryan’s work was influenced by the style of Regal, WWE could have utilized Regal more significantly in a role where his in ring work shined more. For a wrestler of Regal’s talent, there should be more memorable WWE matches and storylines in his career.
14 Ultimo Dragon
Ultimo Dragon was a Japanese wrestler who learned to wrestle in Mexico and WCW scooped him up to become one of the most skilled performers in the cruiserweight division. During WCW’s best years from 1996 to 1998, Dragon was one of the most consistent sources of great matches on WCW Nitro and monthly PPVs. In 2003, WWE decided to sign Ultimo Dragon after seeing how big of a success Rey Mysterio’s debut in the company was and expected similar results. It didn’t work out as well for Dragon, as his run was most known for an embarrassing botch at WrestleMania 20 and his contract wasn’t even renewed in 2004.
13 Ron Simmons
History was made in 1992 when Ron Simmons became the first ever African-American WCW World Champion. With such an accolade and an impressive body of work, WWE signed Simmons in 1996 and expected big success. Newly named Faarooq, Simmons had a lackluster debut portraying a gladiator but fans didn’t take to it. Faarooq then formed the Nation of Domination, a stable playing off the Black Panther party’s extremism of a pro-black movement. The group was very successful but The Rock became the breakout star before the former WCW champion became relegated to the tag team division with Bradshaw as the APA.
People in the wrestling industry view Raven as a polarizing figure because there’s two popular opinions about him – he’s one of the most brilliant minds the wrestling business has seen and he’s one of the most obnoxious personalities. The brilliance could be seen in his work as his feud with Diamond Dallas Page in WCW was spectacular and ahead of its time. Unfortunately when Raven returned to WWE in 2001, his stint was less than stellar, consisting of lower card work and eventually being forced to compete on Sunday Night Heat every week rather than Raw and Smackdown.
11 Billy Kidman
One of the wrestlers that not only stands the test of time but looks better when you watch his matches today is Billy Kidman. The Cruiserweight division standout was one of the better homegrown talents the company introduced towards the end of the glory days. Kidman was brought over to WWE and delivered some very good matches vs. Tajiri, Paul London and even teamed with his old WCW partner Rey Mysterio vs. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. Kidman didn’t do much else and was released from the company for a few years before returning as a trainer and, now, a producer for WWE.
10 Sean O'Haire
Trained in WCW’s school known as The Power Plant, Sean O’Haire debuted in 2000 as the company finally tried a youth movement, but it was too late. WCW folded a few months later but O’Haire was a standout and one of the wrestlers coming over that WWE wanted to invest in. WWE sent O’Haire down to their developmental company (OVW) to get more seasoning before coming back up with a unique gimmick of a Devil’s advocate character who manipulated others into making poor choices. Despite the interesting gimmick and his athletic gifts, things never got going for O’Haire in WWE as he was treading water until parting ways with the company in 2004.
9 Eric Bischoff
The only non-wrestler on this list, Eric Bischoff was the man running WCW as he carried a cutthroat attitude of trying to put WWE out of business. Bischoff had a personal vendetta with Vince McMahon, so taking a job with WWE in 2003 was quite the swallowing of pride and led to a surreal moment of his debut on Raw. Bischoff had a solid run but there never was a great Bischoff vs. McMahon storyline that should have come with him joining the company based off their real life rivalry.
8 Dean Malenko
When you discuss the backbone of WCW, it was the hard working talent that delivered great matches in the Cruiserweight and mid-card division with little to no appreciation and that started with Dean Malenko. Very accomplished but being booked stagnant in WCW, Malenko was one of The Radicalz to leave for WWE. Unfortunately, Malenko’s on-air talents would be wasted even more there, as he never was able to utilize his strong points. Malenko’s most memorable WWE moment was getting beat up by Lita. Towards the end of 2001, Malenko would retire from the ring and now works in WWE as an agent helping to put together matches for the talent.
7 Diamond Dallas Page
There was never a story quite like Diamond Dallas Page's journey to the top in WCW. Already nearing his 40s, Page was beginning to pick up steam as the fans organically fell in love with him. A feud with the nWo and Randy Savage turned DDP into the people’s hero in WCW and he would go on to become one of the most successful wrestlers in the company. When WWE purchased WCW, Page was one of the first guys to have a storyline in the invasionm but it was quite terrible as he stalked The Undertaker’s wife before ‘Taker would beat him up many times. Following that, Page was a low card act before his contract expired a year later.
For years, fans would fantasize about dream matches involving Sting debuting in WWE. Sting was the flag bearer for WCW and he stayed with the company until its final day. Unfortunately, Sting didn’t join WWE until 2014 as a 55 year old having his first match at WrestleMania 31 in a loss to Triple H. The match was fun but fans wanted the dream match of Sting vs. The Undertaker and WrestleMania 31 was the right card to do it. Even following his WM loss, Sting has been in segments with Bo Dallas and is rumored to be in a SummerSlam tag match feuding with Bray Wyatt. Not impressive.
5 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner was one of the most decorated athletes in WCW as his tag team with brother Rick Steiner was arguably the best duo in the company’s history. Steiner would go on to have a very successful run at the end of WCW, changing his look and persona into an intimidating and unstable heel. When he returned to WWE at Survivor Series 2002 in MSG, the crowd exploded and it felt like a new star was there. Just a few months later, Steiner would have an atrocious feud with Triple H leading to some of the worst PPV title matches before being exiled from relevancy. To this day, many, including Steiner, believe Triple H wanted to bury him.
4 Ric Flair
This is about Ric Flair’s run in WWE during the early ‘90s rather than his tenure as a legend following the end of WCW. Flair was a wrestling God in the world of WCW as he carried the promotion on his back from the NWA days to the WCW days. In 1991, Flair left the company as the World Champion and took the belt and his talents to WWE. At the time, the dream match was the Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan in a battle of iconic world champions. Aside from house shows, WWE never went with the big Hogan vs. Flair dream match and completely dropped the ball on what would have been an iconic WrestleMania main event.
Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall all had amazing careers in WWE. All three men are celebrated today as Hall of Fame legends. Sadly, they weren’t used correctly when bringing the nWo act to WWE. The New World Order was the birth of the Monday Night Wars causing WCW’s popularity to explode and overtake WWE for a few years. Unfortunately, the egos of the three would ultimately play a role in harming WCW as well. WWE tried bringing both art and life stories to the company as the nWo debuted in WWE with the mission to take over. They failed to become a credible threat and fans just wanted Hulkamania back within a month without caring about Hall and Nash.
Bill Goldberg was one of the most beloved WCW stars because of his formula of winning matches in short and dominant fashion with uncharted intensity. Years after WCW was purchased, WWE decided to sign Goldberg in 2003. A debut match against The Rock was supposed to make fans love him but the magic wasn’t there. His music was different, his trunks were different and he was wrestling long matches. Goldberg’s chance at success ended when Triple H pinned him at SummerSlam 2003 just a few months after his debut. The dominant force Goldberg was known as didn’t exist and he parted ways with WWE less than a year later.
Vader was a large beast of a man that made every hit he delivered in a wrestling ring look like a fatal blow. After making a name for himself in Japan, Vader had an extremely successful stint in WCW, having extraordinary feuds with Ric Flair and Sting as the company’s top heel. When Vader signed with WWE in 1996, many were hopeful of a great run but it never panned out. Vader had some good matches with Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and The Undertaker but his potential was never reached and his run was cut short after just two years. Over the years, many stories have been shared by wrestlers about Vince McMahon disliking Vader and his physical appearance.