The legacy of the WCW Championship featured mostly great wrestlers that had legendary careers. WCW did a good job protecting the title by only having major names hold it for most of the '90s until Vince Russo came into the company. Russo’s era would see the title switch back and forth weekly with non-wrestlers even holding it. However, the title remains respected based on the history that came before it.
We will look at the WCW Champions that had future stints in WWE. There is a stigma that most WCW wrestlers couldn’t hang in WWE against tougher competition. That wasn’t always the case, as some WCW wrestlers would have credible runs with WWE that even pushed them into the Hall of Fame. There is a mixed bag of results for the WCW stars that made the move to WWE. These are five WCW Champions that succeeded in WWE along with five that floundered.
10 Succeeded: Ric Flair
The success of Ric Flair in WWE was not as strong as WCW, but he did enough to build a stronger fanbase. Flair’s first stint in WWE took place in the early '90s when he won the WWE Championship and had an impressive run as a top heel feuding with Randy Savage.
The end of WCW would give Flair another chance in WWE, where he spent a few years as part of the active roster. Flair would see new fans fall in love with his promos along with a few more classic feuds added to his legacy involving Triple H, Mick Foley, and Shawn Michaels.
9 Floundered: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner joined WWE in 2002 about a year after WCW went out of business. The final few years of WCW would see Steiner thrive as a singles star after a long run in a tag team with his brother Rick Steiner.
Wrestling fans fondly remembered the WCW run of Steiner when he made the jump to WWE, debuting at the Survivor Series 2002 event. Sadly, the run turned into a flop weeks after the successful debut with an awful feud against Triple H. Steiner believed Triple H tried to make him look bad as his career took a huge decline after the program ended.
8 Succeeded: Goldberg
The legacy of Goldberg in WWE looked to be a flop for many years until a return later in his career. Goldberg will always be remembered more for his WCW run with an undefeated streak, culminating in him winning the WCW Championship.
WWE’s first attempt to push Goldberg in 2003 floundered, as he wasn’t portrayed in the same fashion as WCW. Goldberg returned in 2016 for one more opportunity and it was a huge success for him. The run would see an unexpected Universal Championship reign, leading to a huge match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Goldberg would turn his WWE legacy into a success and headline the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
7 Floundered: Ron Simmons
WWE signed Ron Simmons away from WCW as a major free agent acquisition following his run as the WCW Champion. Simmons made history as the first African American WCW Champion in a moment that featured fans enjoying every second of him dethroning Vader.
The hope for a similar run at the top of WWE was not met with success. Simmons primarily worked in the mid-card with a solid run in the Nation of Domination until The Rock surpassed him. Most of his run came in the tag team division as part of the APA, which was a step down from the WCW Championship.
6 Succeeded: Big Show
Big Show was one of the few WCW young wrestlers to receive a main event push in WCW. Under the name of The Giant, he would win the WCW Championship on two occasions. The role of a top star allowed him to face off with top names like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Randy Savage.
Things would slow down for him when the New World Order formed, and he had a smaller spot on the show. A move to WWE as Big Show was successful, as he is still part of the company two decades later. Big Show became a WWE legend with the move.
5 Floundered: Lex Luger
The physique of Lex Luger impressed Vince McMahon enough to sign him away from WCW. Luger was a top WCW star along with Ric Flair and Sting as the three building blocks until WWE offered him a big contract. The hope was that he could become a top WWE star.
McMahon wanted Luger to replace Hulk Hogan as the face of the company in 1993. Luger flopped in the role and fans wanted Bret Hart pushed to the top instead. WWE gave up on Luger, which led to him returning home to WCW.
4 Succeeded: Sting
The use of Sting in WWE has been met with polarizing results. Many felt Sting deserved better than one WrestleMania appearance losing to Triple H. However, the presentation of Sting did show that WWE viewed him as an icon.
Sting’s match with Triple H was billed as the top attraction match at WrestleMania, and he even went to have a world title match against Seth Rollins. WWE inducted Sting into the Hall of Fame along with a legend’s deal that sees him still involved in the company. Sting did not match the run as WCW Champion, but he proved his star power in WWE.
3 Floundered: Vader
Vince McMahon loved utilizing the monster heel in the '90s and Vader was viewed as the top monster heel during his run in WCW. An incredible run with Harley Race as his manager featured Vader having classic feuds against Sting and Ric Flair.
WWE signed Vader in the mid-90s with huge expectations to become a top star. Vader floundered right away in WWE, as McMahon did not like the style of the big man. The perception was that Vader was out of shape and sloppy in the ring, which led to him being a mid-carder.
2 Succeeded: Booker T
Booker T had a hard path to the top of WCW after working in just about every role. Following a great run in the Harlem Heat tag team with his brother Stevie Ray, Booker received an opportunity as a singles star. He would become the WCW Champion and the final star elevated as the face of the company.
WWE brought over Booker after purchasing WCW and he became one of the few success stories in WWE. Booker won the World Championship as King Booker and went on to become a two-time Hall of Famer while remaining part of the company today.
1 Floundered: Diamond Dallas Page
The great run of Diamond Dallas Page in WCW allowed him to break out in the main event picture with feuds against Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Page became known as the people’s champion in WCW before officially winning the WCW Championship.
WWE would sign DDP after purchasing WCW and introduced him as a heel stalking The Undertaker’s wife. Page was buried when Undertaker destroyed him in every match. The run in WWE was lackluster following that before he left the company within one year as he floundered outside of WCW.