The legacy of WCW featured the top stars of the '80s and '90s having strong runs there. Wrestling was completely different decades ago, with talents having limitations on how far they could be pushed. Future legends like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio had no chances of moving up the card due to their size and lack of established star power. Meanwhile, some limited performers received bigger pushes due to their look and size.
We will look at how things would have worked today for former WCW stars. Both the names that would be bigger deals and those that achieve less will be examined. The legacy of these performers would be completely different if they were put in a time machine and started their wrestling careers right now. Find out how much things would change with five WCW wrestlers that would have better careers today along with five that would be worse.
10 Better: Dean Malenko
The technical wrestling skills of Dean Malenko played a role in the influence of future top stars like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and many others. Malenko had a great run in the cruiserweight division, but WCW never could find more success for him competing against other talents.
The lack of microphone skills would still hold Malenko back, but it wouldn’t be a career killer in terms of his opportunities. Many wrestlers are just average to below average in promos today. Malenko’s smaller size would also not be a flaw since the smaller athletes are tearing it up in WWE today.
9 Worse: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner found success as a top singles star towards the end of WCW. A change to the Big Poppa Pump character would see a new look and over the top heel character. Steiner is still beloved today, but this is due to the unintentionally comedic promos he’s delivered in the later years of his career.
The limitations of Steiner in the ring especially after his physique grew larger would see him struggle to have a top spot today. Steiner would not get over since the main event talents in most relevant promotions are expected to have good matches.
8 Better: Chris Kanyon
Chris Kanyon was one of the more underrated wrestlers in WCW throughout his career. The run as Mortis under a mask showed he could play a character with more versatility. Kanyon found more success ditching the mask and playing a heel role.
The best run for Kanyon came as part of the Triad faction with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow. Kanyon and Page had an underrated run together in tag team action. The character work and impressive matches of Kanyon would have seen him achieve more success in the current environment.
7 Worse: Sid Justice
The career of Sid Justice would see success in both WWE and WCW. Sid was one of the few men to win the world championship in both promotions during the Monday Night Wars. The in-ring work of Sid often disappointed unless he was in there with a top worker like Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels.
Sid’s main event status was more consistent in WCW when returning to the company in 1999. The work rate, promos and issue of no-showing dates would see Sid struggling to make a name in the current landscape. Wrestling has changed with names like Sid getting left in the past.
6 Better: Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman had a strong run in WCW as part of the cruiserweight division. The tag team with Rey Mysterio added more credibility to Kidman thriving in two different roles. WWE added Kidman after purchasing WCW and did little of note with him.
The smaller size of Kidman held him back during the time he was having his best years. WWE’s current roster features mostly wrestlers that have the same stature of Kidman. His talent would have made him a bigger star today with the incredible matches likely only improving.
5 Worse: Buff Bagwell
The WCW run of Buff Bagwell earned him a comfortable spot on the roster along with a big payday for many years. WCW viewed Bagwell as one of their future main eventers due to potential that would never be fulfilled.
Buff struggled any time he was given a singles push and often just got by in the mid-card, especially during his time in the New World Order. The look of Bagwell would not carry him in today’s landscape due to how disappointing he was in any big match scenario. Buff is lucky to have had his career peak in the '90s.
4 Better: William Regal
The respect shown for William Regal today in WWE as a backstage employee tells you how much he’d be valued wrestling today. One strong positive for the wrestling industry today is that various wrestling styles are accepted, especially for those with an international flair.
Wrestlers from the United Kingdom are thriving with many in WWE, AEW and making the indie scene there strong. Regal was often working with a lower ceiling of him never having a chance to make the main event picture in WCW and WWE. Today’s climate would see him have a chance to become a world champion.
3 Worse: Lex Luger
Lex Luger was one of the more heavily pushed wrestlers in WCW history. A stint in the early '90s made Luger a top name thanks to Ric Flair putting him over. Luger returned to WCW to start the Monday Night Wars after a failed run during the WWE chapter of his career.
The jacked physique and long hair of Luger gave him the ideal look for top stars of the time. Luger is a WCW icon, but the lack of in-ring skills and versatility as a character would have held him back today. Almost everyone on WWE’s roster is a better worker than Luger was at his peak.
2 Better: Brian Pillman
Brian Pillman remains one of the most underrated performers in the history of the wrestling business. The move from the NFL to WCW would see Pillman pick up the wrestling skills quickly. Incredible matches against Jushin Thunder Liger showed just how tremendous Pillman could be.
A bold character change as the Loose Cannon just made Pillman even more ahead of his time as a performer. The shorter height of Pillman for the time held him back from ever becoming a main eventer. Pillman at his best would be among the biggest stars in the industry today and a multiple-time world champion.
1 Worse: Goldberg
The undefeated streak of Goldberg made him a huge star for WCW. Goldberg got pushed right away without having to become a good worker. The matches of his streak often featured him destroying his opponents in dominating fashion within a few minutes at most.
WWE has tried to make stars with the same guideline, but it never works out. Fans turned against Ryback for how hard he was being pushed. Goldberg would never gain the fan support today if he came up with an undefeated streak that saw the booking protect him by squashing the fans’ favorite talents.