The Monday Night Wars still get referenced occasionally in the wrestling world today. It was the greatest time to be a wrestling fan with two massive promotions thriving while competing against each other. Both WWE and WCW would easily get millions of viewers for their television shows and PPVs. The record-setting ratings back still have not been touched as today’s product gets just a fraction of the viewership.
WWE winning the war meant that WCW wrestlers had to find new places to work. Unfortunately for some, WWE was the only viable option to make a great living like they did in WCW since no other promotions would rise to a higher level for over fifteen years. Almost every major WCW star would get an opportunity in WWE at some point. Vince McMahon however had the reputation of not wanting the WCW talent to thrive in the new world. These are ten wrestlers from WCW that WWE did not want to succeed.
10 Diamond Dallas Page
The incredible run of Diamond Dallas Page made him a top star with multiple stints as WCW Champion. Page was among the most beloved performers in the entire company and developed a reputation as “The People’s Champion.” The Rock had that moniker in WWE which led to a new character for DDP.
A gimmick of stalking the wives of other wrestlers is how WWE introduced Page to the new audience. It flopped right away as The Undertaker and his wife Sara easily destroyed DDP whenever they interacted. Page would fall towards the lower card within a few months and left WWE in under a year.
9 Ultimo Dragon
The cruiserweights were an important part of the WCW landscape to provide the depth needed to succeed. A few of the smaller wrestlers would find success in WWE like Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
The success of Mysterio led to fans showing excitement at fellow masked star Ultimo Dragon joining the company. WWE did nothing of note with the talented international star. Following weeks of hype videos, Dragon would lose his spot on Smackdown quickly and wrestled primarily on the secondary show Velocity. Unfortunately, the most notable thing he did was trip during his entrance at WrestleMania 20.
8 Public Enemy
The tag team of Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock made up the Public Enemy duo. This act found great success in ECW and had a solid run in WCW. Despite never topping the elite teams like the Steiner Brothers or Harlem Heat, Public Enemy developed enough momentum to land a good deal with WWE.
However, people in the office did not like what Grunge and Rocco looked like as unconventional wrestlers that wrestled in street clothes. WWE buried them right away with their only noteworthy moment coming when the APA brutally destroyed them in a match on Sunday Night Heat.
7 Billy Kidman
Billy Kidman was the Cruiserweight Champion when making the jump from WWE to WCW. The title did not mean much since WCW was getting faded out within a few months. Kidman did impress enough to remain under contract and have a few years on the WWE roster.
Unlike his former partner Rey Mysterio, Kidman never broke out of the tag team or cruiserweight picture. WWE did not see much potential in him to rise higher up the card and the booking clearly did him no favors. Bruce Prichard revealed on his podcast that he had backstage heat for his relationship with Torrie Wilson which seems like a cop-out excuse for a wrestler you already want to fail.
The run of Raven in ECW made him a top free agent on the market in the mid-90s. WCW signed him over WWE and utilized him as one of the more impressive mid-carders on the show. Raven would eventually end up back in WWE come 2001.
Fans hoped that Raven would get the chance to showcase his character skills, but it would never happen. Raven was used primarily in the hardcore division with little spotlight. WWE did not care to push him from the start of this run as another missed opportunity with a talented performer.
Goldberg is currently viewed as a top tier legend in the WWE world since he’s coming back to the ring to face The Undertaker in a dream match and had a Universal Championship reign in 2017. However, the first run of Goldberg was nowhere near the same situation in terms of the booking.
WWE removed the element of dominance for Goldberg winning matches within a few seconds. The change in his portrayal ended his mystique and made the run a bust. Goldberg left WWE after just one year since WWE did not want him to have the same success as his WCW days. Luckily, he had another chance over a decade later.
4 Shane Douglas
The potential of Shane Douglas made him a top prospect for WCW in the early 90s. Despite some success in the tag team division, an upset Douglas left WCW due to feeling held back by Ric Flair. WWE signed him with the questionable gimmick of Dean Douglas.
The character of an arrogant dean did not cut it in the wrestling world, and he was viewed as a joke. Douglas left WWE relatively quickly into his run and often buried them for the poor booking. It was obvious they did not want him to thrive with such a character.
3 Dusty Rhodes
The iconic Dusty Rhodes became a beloved figure in WWE after retiring from the ring. Most of today’s stars were coached by him during their stint at the Performance Center. WWE views Dusty with love and respect now, but that was not always the case.
In between his stints in the NWA and WCW, Rhodes was used as a comedic character in WWE. Vince McMahon reportedly wanted to humble him with the embarrassing nature of wearing polka dots. It was a shame to see WWE miss out on utilizing such a great wrestler in his prime.
The outstanding run of Vader in WCW and Japan made him arguably the top big man wrestler in the 90s. An ability to brawl with his fellow larger wrestlers but also deliver agile moves led to huge success. WWE would sign Vader in the mid-90s with huge expectations.
Vince McMahon was disappointed in Vader’s conditioning and gave up on him within a few months. Following a Summerslam title match vs Shawn Michaels, Vader was not portrayed as a main eventer again. WWE moved him lower down the card for the rest of his run in the company.
1 Scott Steiner
The signing of Scott Steiner in 2002 gave WWE a popular character that thrived in the final years of WCW. Steiner had a successful WCW Championship reign and was one of the few bright spots for the company with his heel character.
WWE pushed him right away into a main event program with Triple H, but the matches were designed to make him look weaker. Steiner still holds a grudge against Triple H today for the booking of their feud. WWE never utilized Steiner in another relevant program after the feud with Triple H. It perfectly showcased just how little they wanted WCW stars to succeed.