After hiring Eric Bischoff to run WCW, Ted Turner's company embarked on the heated "Monday Night Wars" with Vince McMahon and WWE. In a short time, WCW had become the top wrestling promotion in the world, and it looked like Vince was on the verge of being put out of business.
But bundles and bundles of giant mistakes began to add up over time, and by 2001, WCW had closed its doors before Vince bought them out. Here's a look at the 10 biggest "what ifs" in the history of WCW.
10 Triple H Stays In WCW
Before he was Triple H, this man performed as Jean-Paul Levesque for WCW in 1994. Levesque was assigned the role of a French aristocrat and formed a tag team with Lord Steven Regal. However, WCW had no interest in giving him much of a push, so Levesque left to join WWE in 1995.
Well, Vince McMahon treated Triple H much better upon arrival. He quickly moved up in the ranks and formed the iconic Kliq and D-Generation X stables. Triple H was a pivotal part of helping WWE put away WCW in the wars. Don't forget that time where he and the DX army "invaded' WCW.
You can only imagine how things could have played out if WCW had kept Triple H around. DX wouldn't have been the same without him, that's for sure. Also, where would the WWE even stand today if Triple H never married Stephanie McMahon, which led to him co-running WWE with his father-in-law?
9 Goldberg's Undefeated Streak Stays Alive
Even though he had a limited skill set in the ring, former pro football player Bill Goldberg quickly became a huge fan favorite in WCW. He squashed his opponents and embarked on a historic undefeated streak.
Goldberg took his 173-0 streak into the 1998 Starrcade pay-per-view, where he clashed with Kevin Nash in the main event for the World Heavyweight Championship. But Scott Hall interfered and attacked Goldberg with a taser, helping Nash score the pinfall victory.
Goldberg's character lost plenty of momentum after this loss, and the fans weren't fully behind him anymore. If his streak had lasted longer, Goldberg's legend would have grown even more. And who knows where that could have gone?
8 Hulk Hogan Puts Jeff Jarrett Over
Hulk Hogan signed a heavy bonus-laden contract with WCW in 1998 that gave him full creative control of his character. Vince Russo - who had left WWE to join WCW's writing team - wanted Hogan to lose to World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett at the 2000 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view.
However, Hogan used his creative control and refused to lose to Jarrett. Russo instructed Jarrett to lie down in the ring and let Hogan pin him for the title. An angry Hogan grabbed the mic and berated Russo, who later came out and "fired" The Hulkster. This marked Hogan's final appearance in WCW.
This incident marked the time and place where WCW was no longer sustainable. If Hogan had put Jarrett over and stuck around longer, maybe WCW wouldn't have met its demise a year later.
7 WCW Developed More Homegrown Talents
The Monday Night Wars took off after WCW began recruiting WWE's major veteran talents; namely, Hogan, Nash, Hall, Lex Luger, Bret Hart, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, and Ultimate Warrior.
Vince happily gave these guys away while building up the next generation of WWE legends, including Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Triple H, Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels. WCW probably should have followed this recipe, because their continued over-reliance on the ageing veterans led to a stale product that just got worse and worse over time.
WCW did build up the legends of Sting and Goldberg, but they otherwise crafted their product around former WWE stars. Imagine if Eric Bischoff and co. invested more money and time in the WCW Power Plant?
6 The Cruiserweights Don't Leave For WWE
WCW didn't seem to notice it, but they had plenty of world-class wrestlers and up-and-comers in the Cruiserweight division. This included Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, and future Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero.
Sadly, WCW didn't do much with either of these guys on television. Again, they simply spent all of their energy on the aging veteran stars. All of the Cruiserweights mentioned above left WCW and signed for WWE, with the vast majority becoming main eventers and future World Champions.
5 Sting Turns Heel Instead Of Hogan
Hulk Hogan changed the wrestling world forever when he ditched Hulkamania and turned heel at the 1996 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, aligning himself with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the New World Order.
But in a 2013 interview, Hall revealed that Sting would have been the third man if Hogan were a no-show for Bash at the Beach. Of course, Sting was the main babyface of WCW up to that point - and he was the top main event star to clash with the nWo during the Monday Night Wars.
Imagine if Sting joined the nWo instead, while Hogan stayed on as a face. Would the stable have endured even more historic success? Less? We'll never really know, but Hogan and Bischoff will never complain about how things turned out.
4 Vince McMahon Gets Sent To Prison
The WWE chairman had to give control of the company to Linda McMahon during his steroid trial in 1994. Vince was being charged with distributing steroids to his superstars, and a guilty verdict could have very well destroyed his wrestling empire.
However, Hogan saved Vince when he testified that the chairman didn't tell him to take the steroids. Vince was acquitted and took back control of WWE.
If Vince had gone to prison, maybe there wouldn't have been any competition for WCW. They could have easily stepped up as the No. 1 wrestling promotion in the world, and perhaps we'd be watching the WCW product today.
3 Undertaker Comes Aboard
Undertaker briefly worked in WCW from 1989 to 1990, but his career really took off when he joined the WWE soon after. The thing is, Undertaker was one of Vince's few main event stars that never jumped ship to join WCW, unlike Hogan, Nash, Hall, Luger, etc.
In a 2015 interview with Sports Illustrated, Nash said that WCW was "close" to getting Undertaker in 2000. Nash claimed that he tried "to get guys paid," but Vince was able to keep Undertaker and Shawn Michaels after giving them lucrative dollars.
If Undertaker ended up joining WCW a year before their demise, perhaps he would have saved them. Plus, we could have witnessed that dream feud against Sting as well.
2 Steve Austin Stays & Receives a Push
Before he became the face of WWE, Austin worked in WCW from 1991 to '95. The strong personality and charisma were on display, but Eric Bischoff fired Austin in 1995 - believing he didn't have what it took to be a main event star.
WCW probably should have been more patient with Austin, because he joined WWE in 1995 and became their top money draw at the start of the Attitude Era. Austin's rivalry with Mr. McMahon became the ultimate game-changer that helped WWE gain significant momentum.
Without Austin, WWE probably doesn't win the wars. WCW really let an all-time great slip through its fingers. It'd be like if the Chicago Bulls traded Michael Jordan before he reached his full prime.
1 Fingerpoke Of Doom Disaster Is Avoided
For all of WCW mistakes, nothing was worse than the Fingerpoke of Doom incident. Fans at the Georgia Dome couldn't wait to see Nash and Hogan square off for the World Heavyweight Championship.
In what turned out to be a giant insult to the fans intelligence, Hogan simply poked Nash in the chest and pinned him to win the title. With that, the nWo faction was reunited once again.
Worse yet, WCW announcer Tony Schiavone told the TV audience that Mankind was about to defeat The Rock for the WWF Championship on Raw. This actually backfired on WCW, because a reported 600,000 switched the channel to see Mankind's monumental victory.
WWE would run away in the wars from here on out, and WCW began to fall apart entirely from here. That one spoiler simply changed the direction of the wars forever.