The 1990s were a historic and incredible decade for the professional wrestling business. Vince McMahon built the World Wrestling Federation into an international phenomenon that had plenty of ups and downs during that ten-year span. World Championship Wrestling, meanwhile, experienced a revolution that saw the company go from being a former National Wrestling Alliance product to the top wrestling organization in the world. WCW was falling apart by the end of the 1990s, though, so much so that one could already see the writing on the wall regarding the company's dark future. The company went out of business for good in March 2001.
Some of the greatest workers in the history of WCW have worked for the WWE at one time or another. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair jumped ship from WCW to the WWE in the 1990s and Flair then linked back up with WWE after WCW shut its door. Sting was known as “The Franchise” and the face of WCW, and he stayed with the company until its death. It took some time and plenty of negotiating, but the time eventually came when Sting appeared on WWE television. He has since worked on a WrestleMania card and even been involved in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Not all of the ex-WCW talents who joined up with WWE during their careers were hits. Included in this list is a former member of the legendary group the Four Horsemen, a big man who was pushed to the top of cards in both WWE and WCW. He was, however, not all that great on the microphone or in the ring. Then, there are the wrestlers who joined up with the WWE during the supposed “Invasion” storyline that was a disaster in practically every way. That feud will forever be the reason that 2001 is one of the worst years in the history of North American professional wrestling, as it was the beginning of the end of a tremendous era for the industry.
19 Scott Hall
To understand why this list begins with Scott Hall, you have to erase the man who played the Razor Ramon gimmick and who was part of the New World Order from your minds. You have to instead think of Hall from 2002 when he rejoined the WWE. Hall was, at that point of his life, dealing with personal demons that affected him when he was working in WCW and he was quickly an afterthought following a brief feud with Steve Austin. Hall was released from the company following his involvement in incidents that occurred during the “Plane Ride From Hell.”
18 Hulk Hogan
Just as with Hall, you have to forget about the version of Hulk Hogan who was a superstar in the WWE and WCW. By the time that Hogan rejoined the WWE in 2002, the Hulkster was a shell of his former self and a wrestler who had been betrayed by his body. The encounter involving Hogan and The Rock was epic, but the actual match itself has been overrated by some. Hogan then had one of the worst WWE World Heavyweight Championship matches you will ever see when he dropped the title that he probably should not have had in the first place to The Undertaker.
17 Mr. Hughes
Fans who were watching WCW and the WWE in the 1990s may remember Mr. Hughes for being a guy who once stole the urn of The Undertaker. Hughes did well to land multiple gigs for companies such as WCW and the WWE in the '90s. He was once even involved in a feud with Chris Jericho. You likely do not have to think all that hard to guess the winner of that feud. It was great for performers that companies such as WCW and the WWE were willing to give jobs to wrestlers during this era. With that said, it would be understood if you do not recall his runs in either company.
16 Dok Hendrix
The WWE hired a talented talker when the company signed the man commonly known as “P.S. Hayes.” Hayes was then turned into Dok Hendrix, an annoying host who sometimes interviewed wrestlers and who was involved in commercials for “Super Soaker” water cannons. The WWE eventually abandoned the original Hendrix gimmick and he went on to manage The Hardy Boyz for a time. Hayes was then hired by the WWE to work behind the scenes. When looking back at his great wrestling career, one would be wise to ignore the time when Hayes was Hendrix.
All kinds of talent found work in national wrestling promotions in the 1990s. Included on that list is Sandman, who went by the name “Hak” during his brief run in WCW. The WWE then chose to give Sandman a chance following multiple One Night Stand pay-per-view events. It turned out that the character who was a brawler and who drank beer before and after matches was not something that the WWE was all that interested in pushing. So much about that era of the WWE boggles the mind if one was to really think about it. At least Sandman got paid some solid money.
What you think of Sabu as a WWE performer may depend on how much you watched the character in the 1990s. While he had a short run in WCW, Sabu was pushed as one of the top stars of Extreme Championship Wrestling. When the WWE decided to revive the ECW brand, the company chose to sign wrestlers such as Sabu. It did not work out all that well and not just because of certain lifestyle choices that Sabu made when not wrestling. Sabu and the WWE were just not a good mix, and he was more often than not buried during his run in the company.
13 Public Enemy
Public Enemy was a fun act in Extreme Championship Wrestling. The team was also somewhat popular among WCW audiences for a time. The act had run its course by the time that Public Enemy signed for the WWE. It has been rumored that Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were not popular among some of the wrestlers in the WWE locker room, particularly with John Bradshaw Layfield. Whether or not that was true, it is not as if Public Enemy was going to become the next great WWE tag team. Some of their matches in WCW are, looking back, brutal to watch.
12 Stacy Keibler
There is no denying that Stacy Keibler is a proven star. The beautiful model has done well to make the transition from wrestling to other forms of entertainment. Keibler once participated in a Dancing With The Stars competition and has earned acting gigs since leaving the WWE. The former WCW valet was not, however, all that great inside of the ring. Keibler wisely used the fame that she earned while working for the WWE to obtain other projects outside of the wrestling business. It is not crazy to suggest, however, that she would not be hired by the company today if she tried to make it at the start of her career.
11 Sean O'Haire
Diehard wrestling fans may remember those awesome video promos in which Sean O'Haire played a Devil's advocate gimmick that encouraged fans to cheat on their spouses and not pay their taxes. There was just one problem: The character eventually had to perform in front of audiences and in matches. O'Haire did not work out in the WWE and pairing his character with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper did not help him out. Maybe this is a case of the WWE failing to cash in on a good idea and on a talent who could have become something meaningful while with the company. Then again, maybe O'Haire was not what the company was looking for at the time.
This is not a knock on the wrestling talents had by Raven. His character was one that was perfect and ideal for Extreme Championship Wrestling, but it had been weakened by a run in WCW. By the time that Raven joined up with the WWE before the “Invasion” storyline, he was largely just another guy on the roster who feuded over the Hardcore Championship. His time in the WWE did not result in many memorable matches, but Raven did go on to have success working in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Go out of the way to check out some of Raven's TNA matches if you missed them the first time around.
9 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett may very well be the smartest man in the wrestling industry. He had multiple runs in both WCW and the WWE. Jarrett went on to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. His involvement with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is praiseworthy in that others would have failed to keep that company afloat for as long as TNA Wrestling has existed. Jarrett has built a new wrestling company known as Global Force Wrestling. He was never a main event wrestler while working for the WWE, but Jarrett did well to make good money during his career.
You almost have to feel somewhat sorry for the talent known as X-Pac. His name is associated with the term “X-Pac Heat,” which refers to the fact that fans booed and turned on the performer because they were genuinely sick of seeing the actual individual and not the character. X-Pac was part of the WWE roster before he joined WCW and was made a member of the New World Order. He then returned to the WWE as one of the original members of D-Generation-X 2.0. You have to give the guy credit for being a smart businessman and for finding work throughout the Attitude Era.
Bryan Clark is one of several wrestlers mentioned in this piece who had multiple runs in the WWE. Clark once played the “Adam Bomb” character during the 1990s. He eventually made the jump to WCW, where he became “Wrath.” Clark then linked up with Brian Adams for the tag team “KroniK,” a duo that had some success in WCW. That team did not last long in the WWE, though. Clark and Adams were squashed by The Undertaker and Kane in a match that did no favors to the former WCW talents and Clark quickly became just a footnote in WWE history.
There are two things that stand out from Brian Adams' run in WCW. The first is that awful generic theme that Adams and other New World Order “B-team” members had associated with them. Second is Adams and Clark being in KroniK. KroniK, for younger wrestling fans who may not have gone back and watched the dying days of WCW, was similar to The Ascension, who are currently part of the WWE roster. The Ascension has failed to get over with WWE fans. That is exactly what happened with KroniK over a decade ago and the team had a short run in the company.
7. Scott Steiner
Remember how awesome it was when Scott Steiner made his "debut" as a singles act at the 2002 edition of Survivor Series? The former WCW champion known as "Big Poppa Pump" cleaned house, dropped an f-bomb and received maybe the loudest pop of the night. That, outside of a few memorable promos that he cut, was about as good as things would get for Steiner after he joined the WWE. Steiner became just another victim of the unstoppable Triple H in a title feud and he was eventually linked up with Test in what would have to be considered to be one of the worst tag teams of the time. At least Steiner can always claim that he was the last ever WCW champion before the company was bought by the WWE.
6 Mark Jindrak
The pro wrestling industry can be cruel to performers. Mark Jindrak is just one example of this. Jindrak was a former WCW talent who joined the WWE after WCW went under. After he spent some time working in developmental, Jindrak was originally set to be part of the “Evolution” group that featured Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton. That, of course, did not happen, as Jindrak was replaced by Batista. Batista became one of the biggest stars in the WWE for a time and he is now a Hollywood actor who is in summer blockbusters. Jindrak, meanwhile, had a forgettable run in the WWE.
The WWE has done well to somewhat erase the original Goldust gimmick from the minds of current fans. Use the WWE Network or a website that has the required videos to remind yourself of Goldust's first run in the company. You may find yourself believing that WWE writers were trying to get fans to chant homophobic slurs at the wrestler during matches and interview segments. That does not even include the time when he was the “Artist Formerly Known as Goldust.” While he would eventually have several great matches as a member of the “Dust Brothers” when his real-life brother played the original version of Stardust, the 1990s version of Goldust was far from good.
4 Chuck Palumbo
You have to give the WWE credit. The company tried to push Chuck Palumbo as a potential star wrestler on multiple occasions. It simply did not work out for the performer or the company for multiple reasons. Palumbo joining up with the WWE after the death of WCW was not a total loss. His doing so did provide us with the “Chuck and Billy” tag team. Odds are that fans remember that team because Palumbo and Billy Gunn were presented as a couple that were not really a couple. The team also provided fans with some memorable and entertaining matches.
3 Buff Bagwell
Of all of the stories involving former WCW wrestlers linking up with the WWE, this one may be the most humorous. Buff Bagwell was one of the original members of the crew of WCW talent that worked in WWE after WCW went out of business in 2001. Bagwell and Booker T even had a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match on an edition of Raw. While Booker T remained on the roster as a member of the “Alliance” group, Bagwell was released from the company after his one match. It was as if the Bagwell-Booker T encounter never happened in the first place.
Fans who were not watching WCW and the WWE during the 1990s may struggle to understand why Sid got over among fans as he did while working in both companies. Sid was presented as a “psychotic” wrestler who had the size to destroy smaller opponents such as Shawn Michaels. The big man who once had a stint as a member of the Four Horsemen was also not all that good when cutting promos or when wrestling. Sid came along at the right time, when wrestling promoters looked to push athletes who were larger than life. One has to wonder what Sid would be if he entered the industry today.
1 Shawn Stasiak
We are sure that Shawn Stasiak is a good guy and that he tried his best during his pro wrestling career. Stasiak simply was not all that great of a pro wrestler. He had multiple runs in the WWE, neither of which were all that memorable other than some segments in which Stasiak was featured as a comedic character. Unlike so many others who have worked in the business, Stasiak found a second life outside of wrestling. He ultimately became a licensed chiropractor and a motivational speaker. Good for Stasiak for achieving so much success after deciding to hang up his wrestling boots for good.