WCW began to go to war with WWE in the mid-'90s once they recruited plenty of Vince McMahon's top veteran talents. This included Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger, among others.
But while WCW gave all the screen time and main event opportunities to its veteran talents, they made a grave mistake in mismanaging plenty of young superstars that wound up becoming legends in WWE.
10 Wasted: Rey Mysterio
The Master of the 619 debuted for WCW when he was just 21 years of age in 1996, and he displayed world-class in-ring skills from the very beginning. But Rey Mysterio was among the many superb Cruiserweight talents that never got a chance in WCW.
As you'll learn on this list, the company simply rolled with its top veteran talents - mainly the nWo members. Mysterio was buried by members of the villainous stable, and Eric Bischoff obviously didn't see much in him. After working in multiple promotions across the world, Mysterio landed with WWE in 2002, where he'd embark on a Hall of Fame-like career.
9 Overused: Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell had limited talents in the ring, and he reportedly had a lot of problems with fellow superstars backstage. But Bischoff and WCW officials saw a lot in Bagwell, and he was given plenty of time in the main event spotlight.
Bagwell joined the nWo in 1996, as the stable began to welcome countless superstars into the circle. It was clear to fans that he wasn't going to get over as a main event star, but WCW kept on giving him the opportunities in favor of other underused talents that we'll continue to address on this list.
8 Wasted: Triple H
Before he became a legend in WWE, Triple H was forced to portray a couple of campy gimmicks in WCW. He started out as Terror Risin' before they repackaged him as a French aristocrat named Jean-Paul Levesque.
Levesque used a French accent (it wasn't very convincing, by the way), and he later formed a partnership with Lord Steven Regal. However, WCW had no interest in giving him a push, so he joined WWE in 1995. And the rest, as they say, is history.
7 Overused: Lex Luger
When Hulk Hogan left WWE in 1993, Vince McMahon turned to Lex Luger to take over as the next face of the company. But the fans wouldn't fully accept Luger "the guy," and it didn't help that he was extremely limited as an in-ring performer.
Luger left WWE in 1995 and signed with WCW, much to the surprise of Vince McMahon and other company officials. Luger regularly clashed with the nWo and endured one reign with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Luger was pushed into the main event scene in favor of other young and superior in-ring superstars, and Luger's character dried up over time. WCW made a major mistake in giving veterans like Luger all the love in the world while allowing some of their younger stars to join WWE.
6 Wasted: Eddie Guerrero
Guerrero began working with WCW in his early 20s, and he bounced around numerous promotions before returning on a full-time basis in 1995. Guerrero was used as a Cruiserweight and mid-card performer during his time there, even though he had all the makings to be a main event star.
Few wrestlers in WCW could match his phenomenal in-ring work, and Guerrero had overlooked charisma and microphone skills. He made the wise choice to leave WCW in 2000 before signing with WWE. Guerrero became a main event star and retained that status until his untimely death in 2005. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
5 Overused: Kevin Nash
There's no doubting that Nash was instrumental in helping WCW compete with WWE in the Monday Night Wars. He was one of the three core members of the nWo, after all, along with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan.
But when the nWo began losing steam and popularity, Nash continued to receive all the perks from Eric Bischoff. Eventually, Nash became a top writer in WCW and it gave him plenty of say in the creative direction of his character.
This marked a time where WCW went downhill. Bischoff gave too much power to his veteran stars. The Fingerpoke of Doom followed. Then the disastrous Bash at the Beach pay-per-view in 2000. A year later, the company met its demise and was bought out by WWE.
4 Wasted: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho debuted for WCW in 1996, and he quickly made a name for himself with elite mic and trash-talking skills. Remember when he said he was "the Man of 1,004 Holds?" Good times, indeed.
Jericho also displayed phenomenal wrestling skills, but for whatever reason, WCW wouldn't give him that main event push. As usual, they just leaned on the veteran stars to carry the way.
Y2J would leave WCW in 1999, debuting for WWE on the August 9 episode of Raw Is War that same year, where he interrupted The Rock during one of his signature promos. Jericho, of course, embarked on a Hall of Fame-caliber career himself in WWE. WCW's trash became Vince McMahon's treasure.
3 Overused: Goldberg
The former professional football player joined WCW in 1997, and it didn't take long for him to get over. Goldberg would squash the majority of his opponents in short time, and he emerged as a top babyface and rare homegrown main event talent in the company.
Goldberg would embark on a year-long undefeated streak, reaching a reported 173-0 before losing to Kevin Nash. Thing is, Goldberg's character quickly lost some of his momentum and popularity in a short time, since his character never really adapted. A serious hand injury sustained during a 1999 episode of Nitro set him back further.
Goldberg was among the highest-paid superstars in WCW, but the company just didn't understand that his character had grown stale.
2 Wasted: Steve Austin
Steve Austin joined WCW in 1991 and stayed there for four years, winning the company's World Television Championship as well as the United States Championship two times apiece. But WCW just didn't think he was cut out to be a main event player, and Bischoff fired him in 1995.
Austin joined WWE a short time later and became the face of the company during the Attitude Era. Austin's feud with Mr. McMahon changed the wrestling industry forever, helping WWE eventually win against WCW. Oh, how different things could have been if Bischoff gave Austin a chance.
1 Overused: "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan
Sure, The Hulkster put WCW on the map when he joined the company in 1994, and his decision to turn heel in 1996 completely changed the direction of professional wrestling. But at the end of it, WCW's overreliance on Hogan also led to its downfall.
Think about it. WCW gave him all the money in the world (not actually, but it was a lot), plus full creative control. Hogan would use this to his advantage and even refused to put Jeff Jarrett and other talents over. He clashed with writer Vince Russo, which led to legitimate on-screen beef at Bash at the Beach 2000.
In fact, that event marked Hogan's last day in WCW. The company would continue to fall apart from then on out before Vince purchased his "competition" in 2001. If WCW didn't put all of their eggs into Hogan's basket, maybe they would still be standing today.