Entire books have been written about the fall of WCW and how a company that seemed ready to rule the wrestling world collapsed in a stunningly short amount of time. WCW’s history is littered with bad mistakes which includes overinflated contacts, stupid booking moves and other problems that all added up to their final end. A major problem was the way they used stars. Or rather, the way they often didn’t. No company has been so foolish giving away guys who later turned into superstars. They cut Paul Levesque as nothing and he became HHH while Scott Hall and Kevin Nash could have been stars much earlier if WCW had used them right.
The company also kept on various guys who didn’t deserve a place with the company. Even worse was how some of those guys were being paid outrageous sums of money for some frankly terrible work. As amazing as the future stars WCW let go is, there’s also the guys they kept on who should have been cut. Here are 5 releases WCW majorly regretted and 5 guys that should have cut a lot sooner.
10 SHOULD HAVE: Ernest Miller
Ernest Miller wasn’t too bad a guy. In fact, “The Cat” could often be one of the better reasons to tune in to WCW in its last year with his various antics. So why should he have been released? We can give you 1.17 million reasons.
Yes, at a time when WCW was facing huge money issues and scores of workers underpaid, Miller earned that much money in his last three years with the company. That’s a total of 259 matches for an insane amount of cash for a healthy company, let alone one on death’s door. “The Cat” should have been neutered.
9 REGRETTED: The Undertaker
“Mean” Mark Callous was a very impressive figure with his height and had some serious promise. He was part of the Skyscrapers tag team and it looked like he might be able to get ahead. But WCW was rather messy in 1990 and thought Callous was just another big guy who could be easily replaced.
After being cut, Callous went to WWE where he was given the gimmick of an undead zombie in funeral clothes. Somehow, Callous made it work as the Undertaker is not just a star but an icon of WWE and WCW must have seriously regretted letting him go.
8 SHOULD HAVE: Ed Leslie
Brutus Beefcake did have some potential but a terrible parasailing accident hurt him majorly. Ed Leslie was brought into WCW simply because he was Hulk Hogan’s old buddy. He was put front and center in a feud with betraying Hogan which led to the laughable sight of this long-time midcarder challenging for the WCW title in the main event of Starrcade.
From there, Leslie was in one horrible gimmick after another as Zodiac, the Man With No Name, the Booty Man and more. He was a total waste on the show who avoided a deserving pink slip simply for being Hogan’s friend.
7 REGRETTED: Mick Foley
While he was never a superb athlete, Mick Foley was winning over fans in WCW as Cactus Jack. His inhuman ability to take punishment got attention and Foley seemed ready to rise up. Sadly, WCW saddled him with such things as the terrible “Lost in Cleveland” skits. The last straw was when Foley took a power bomb on the concrete which the announcers completely no-sold.
Knowing there was no future there, Foley asked for his release and after a stint in ECW, made his way to WWE. It reached its height when WCW foolishly told “Nitro” fans how Foley was going to win the WWE title, causing thousands to switch the channel. Hard to regret a release more than this.
6 SHOULD HAVE: Tank Abbott
After one of the worst UFC records ever, Tank Abbott joined WCW with a contract that still blows the mind. He earned $81,000 in his first year which had four matches then $650,000 the next year. The man was a disaster in the ring and fans never liked him but WCW kept him on.
When Vince Russo suggested making Abbott World champion, he was let go from the company on the spot. Abbott continued to have horrible stuff like the “bodyguard” for 3 Count and continued to be a huge waste of money for little output. WCW keeping this guy on is just amazing.
5 REGRETTED: Chris Jericho
Throughout 1998, Chris Jericho was taking off as a truly arrogant heel who could back it up with great ring work. He was sensational in the ring and fans expected him to take off with a feud against Goldberg and become a main-eventer. Instead, Jericho was basically told to lose like it was nothing and realized he wasn’t going to get ahead any further in the company.
He accepted an offer to WWE and made a fantastic debut that instantly got him over. Jericho would become one of WWE’s biggest stars to prove how badly WCW dropped the ball on him.
4 SHOULD HAVE: Glacier
No one watching WCW in 1995 can forget those famous promos of a guy dressed like Sub-Zero doing fancy moves and the line “Blood runs cold.” He finally made his debut and it became obvious that outside of the outfit and some kicks, the guy just wasn’t that good.
WCW kept pushing him but fans weren’t buying it. Worse was how between the costume, the snow machine and lighting, WCW was paying tens of thousands of dollars every time this guy came to the ring. That alone should have made him an early cut.
3 REGRETTED: The Radicalz
This really was one of the biggest nails in the coffin of WCW. They still had a chance to catch up to WWE in 1999 but wasted it on bad moves and terrible booking. By early 2000, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn were tired of the politics and all asked for a release. Foolishly, WCW gave it to them.
The quartet debuted in WWE as the Radicalz and soon each finding some great success. This robbed WCW of four amazing workers at a time they needed all the help they could get and sent the company further on their tailspin.
2 SHOULD HAVE: The Renegade
One has to feel sorry for Rick Wilson. He wasn’t a horrible guy but sadly was saddled with one of the worst gimmicks of all time. In 1995, Hulk Hogan was talking of the “Ultimate Surprise” at Uncensored ‘95 and naturally, everyone assumed it was the Ultimate Warrior showing up.
Out came Wilson as the Renegade, one of the most blatant ripoffs of all time. He tried but he was even worse in the ring than the Warrior and a run as TV champ didn’t make it better. The man should have been cut a lot earlier to save WCW some pain.
1 REGRETTED: Steve Austin
From his debut in 1990, Steve Austin had “future superstar” written all over him. He was the full package, a master in the ring and great on the mic and WCW did have good stuff for him. He was TV and US champion and he and Brian Pillman were great as the Hollywood Blondes.
But Austin suffered when Hulk Hogan took over and shoved down the card as it was felt he wasn’t “marketable.” He was finally fired by courier when rehabbing an injury. Naturally outraged, Austin found his way to WWE and, after a slow start, exploded into the biggest star in the business. Yep, that one still hurts WCW majorly.