The legacy of WCW is always met with mixed emotions. There is no argument that the company created huge success that helped push the wrestling industry forward. The competition between WCW and WWE during the Monday Night Wars caused wrestling to surge into the mainstream with record breaking ratings and buyrates. WCW did many great things and gave opportunities to many future stars, but they were also responsible for a few terrible things. The regime of Eric Bischoff was controversial, but successful until things came crashing down on him. WCW handed out big contracts like Halloween candy and it forced many talents to see heartbreak.
Television time wasn’t guaranteed and many of the credible performers were relegated to lower card work or off the card altogether, due to the same names dominating the main event picture. The booking also lacked depth beyond the golden boys like Hulk Hogan, Sting or Goldberg being the only ones to be protected. Most of the roster was underutilized or flat out ruined. This caused WCW to become a graveyard of careers meeting their end. Some men decided they no longer wanted to be in the industry and others just lost any relevancy. We’ll look at all of the stories of the top fifteen wrestlers that saw their careers go to WCW to die.
15 15. Davey Boy Smith
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith was one of the most underrated stars of the 90s and delivered outstanding performances in the ring on a weekly basis. WWE spotlighted Bulldog to showcase his skills as a top tier in-ring worker. Davey Boy entered the main event picture every once in a while when the company needed a respectable contender to face off against Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart.
14 14. Jim Duggan
WCW signed many veterans to their roster in the 90s. It was a strategy for getting new viewers by utilizing faces they were familiar with and Hacksaw Jim Duggan joined the company for that very reason. Duggan was one of the most beloved wrestlers in the industry for years and entered WCW with a pretty good push. The combination of Duggan’s age beginning to show and the roster becoming deeper than ever led to him being relegated into a lower card act.
13 13. Mike Awesome
ECW created a culture change in pro wrestling and had a strong fan base of diehard fans. Paul Heyman gave a chance to many talented wrestlers from all over the world who were looking for a break outside of WWE or WCW. Mike Awesome delivered incredible matches and a unique style as a big man that could fly all over the ring. ECW made him their World Champion and he turned his back on them to join WCW.
12 12. Marty Jannetty
The Rockers are always rightfully discussed when breaking down the most entertaining and influential tag teams in wrestling history. Shawn Michaels was clearly the star of the duo with an ability to connect with the crowd at a higher level. Their tag team split is fondly remembered and referenced as the most popular instance of one member excelling and the other flopping. Michaels blossomed into one of the biggest stars in WWE history and Marty Jannetty fell flat on his face.
11 11. Rick Martel
The character work of Rick Martel in the WWE delivered great entertainment as he portrayed an arrogant male model. Martel was an effective midcard heel and earned a spot in the promotion for years. His in-ring work was also quite underrated. WWE went as far as they could with him and decided to let him go as the times started to change. Vince McMahon wanted to evolve into The Attitude Era and older performers from the prior days of hokey gimmicks were shown the door.
10 10. The Nasty Boys
No one will ever accuse Brian Knobbs or Jerry Sags of being the most athletic performers in the wrestling industry, but they definitely have achieved success. Knobbs benefited from being one of Hulk Hogan’s best friends and his tag team with Jerry Sags achieved notoriety in the WWE. The Nasty Boys were among the most memorable tag team acts of the time frame and used their brawling strengths to add to the “nasty” gimmick.
9 9. Jim Neidhart
Much like the story of Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart made the decision to join WCW after Bret Hart was screwed in Montreal on his way out of the WWE. The bond between Neidhart and Bret went beyond family, as the brothers-in-law teamed together in The Hart Foundation during their early stages before Bret moved on to bigger things. This led to Bret making sure Neidhart was taken care of with a new job in WCW.
8 8. Brian Adams
WWE originally hoped Brian Adams would mature into a big star for them. Vince McMahon always has a soft spot for physically intimidating, tough guys and Adams fit the bill under the name of Crush. The high point of Crush’s career featured him facing Randy Savage in a Falls Count Anywhere Match at WrestleMania X in Savage’s final WrestleMania match. Following a few different character changes and none of them panning out, WWE let Crush walk to WCW.
7 7. Bryan Clark
Brian Adams's tag team partner also saw his career die a sudden death in WCW. Bryan Clark made his WWE debut under the persona of Adam Bomb, but never could break through to get a noteworthy spot on the roster. His eventual split from WWE would lead to him signing with WCW to portray Wrath, a character inspired from Eric Bischoff’s fascination with the Mortal Kombat video game franchise.
6 6. Curt Hennig
Every longtime wrestling fan has an adoration of Curt Hennig for his pristine in-ring work throughout his career. Very few could come close to matching the ability of Hennig and his deep library of stellar matches provides the proof. The name Mr. Perfect was apropos for how spectacular of a performer he truly was. WCW signed him to a lucrative contract following a falling out with the WWE which made him a free agent.
5 5. Tammy Sytch
The popularity of Tammy Sytch dominated the 90s when it came to female performers in the wrestling business. A perfect combination of stunning good looks and inherent charisma helped her succeed as Sunny in the WWE. The fact that she was the most downloaded woman on the internet showed just how popular of a name she became. Her poor attitude and personal demons created issues for her reputation in the WWE, causing her to leave the company that made her a star.
4 4. Randy Savage
The acquisition of Randy Savage by WCW is often forgotten due to Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall all providing bigger changes in the industrym but it was a huge one at the time. Savage contributed to WWE’s massive success during the golden era but was somehow released and allowed to make the jump to WCW. The presence of the Macho Man helped the company become more presentable to longtime fans giving WCW a try.
3 3. Ahmed Johnson
Many would have predicted that Ahmed Johnson would become a future WWE Champion due to his huge push and popularity in 1995-1996. The big man had the strength to match anyone on the roster but lacked just about every other criteria that a wrestling star should possess. Johnson was atrocious in the ring with very few passable matches in his library. His absolutely unbearable promos had to be his biggest flaw and WWE ended up quitting on the experiment after Ahmed suffered a few injuries.
2 2. The Ultimate Warrior
WCW desperately wanted any former WWE main eventer that had a falling out with Vince McMahon. Hulk Hogan called the shots in WCW, as he held great influence over Eric Bischoff during the rise of the New World Order. Many believe Hogan was responsible for bringing The Ultimate Warrior into WCW for a big rematch of their WrestleMania VI classic. The match between the two at Halloween Havoc 1998 was a disaster and went down among the worst spectacles in wrestling history.
1 1. Bret Hart
Bret Hart's signing could have gone down as the biggest acquisition in WCW history, but it instead turned into one of the worst. Hart left WWE in the most controversial of ways thanks to The Montreal Screwjob. He literally punched Vince McMahon in the face on his path to WCW and everyone expected them to capitalize on the buzz. Sadly, they had no idea how to utilize his greatness and booked him in the most inept of ways.
Hart debuted as a referee in a horribly booked match at Starrcade 1997 and entered secondary feuds with Ric Flair. His name value and recent momentum should have landed him in the upper echelon of WCW, but he mostly served as a glorified midcarder having good matches in the lower tier of the roster. Hart eventually received a bigger push in the dying days of WCW after Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were off television. Unfortunately, his career ended on a stiff kick from Goldberg, which injured him badly. Everything went wrong for Bret Hart in WCW and it forced him to stop wrestling forever.
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