The Monday Night Wars allowed most relevant wrestlers in the 90s to work for both WWE and WCW. Big contracts were offered whenever new free agents hit the market as each company wanted to have a deeper and better roster than the other. There were instances of talents having a better fit in one promotion over the other. WCW was often criticized for not using new stars to the best of their abilities.
WWE started to chase the younger rising stars while WCW was content banking on the established legends from the 80s. It worked out better for WWE in the end as countless new stars would reach incredible success for the company after having lukewarm runs in WCW. The vision of Vince McMahon was to win in the long run, and he did just that. We will look at the ten most significant instances of WWE using talents better than WCW did.
10 Steve Austin
One of the biggest instances of WCW missing the boat with a wrestler that WWE found success with was Steve Austin. The work of Austin in WCW was impressive with superb matches in the mid-card, but WCW never gave him a fair chance to get into the main event picture.
WWE added Austin as multiple wrestlers in the company knew how talented he was and wanted to work with him. Austin’s King of the Ring followed by an incredible promo that made him skyrocket to the top of WWE. The run as the face of the company made Austin a huge star that helped WWE defeat WCW in the Monday Night Wars.
9 Big Show
WCW gave Big Show his start in the wrestling industry as The Giant. Hulk Hogan discovered him and wanted to work with someone of his size and look. WCW introduced Big Show as the son of Andre the Giant for a long feud with Hogan.
The use of The Giant eventually dwindled down into a mid-card role when he got lost in the shuffle of the New World Order. WWE signed him away with the new name of Big Show. There were many ups and downs along the way, but Big Show had a legendary career with WWE that’s now winding down towards the end.
8 Shane Helms
The talent of Shane Helms allowed him to contribute in many ways as a wrestler. Helms first found success as part of the heel boy band group 3 Count in WCW. The skills of Helms were showcased in a couple ladder matches and he ended the company’s run as the final Cruiserweight Champion.
WWE would add Helms to their roster after purchasing WCW and it led to a tremendous character change. Helms’ fascination with superheroes would land him the character of The Hurricane. He found success as one of the top comedic characters in WWE history and had memorable moments with big names like Steve Austin and The Rock.
7 Triple H
WCW did see potential in Triple H during the early portion of the 90s. A tag team run with William Regal and an impressive singles match with Alex Wright were the high points of his WCW career with the names Terra Ryzing and Jean-Paul Levesque.
The dream of Triple H was to work for WWE, and he made the move when a contract was offered. WWE started pushing Triple H as a wealthy heel character. Things would only improve when D-Generation X was formed, and he was on the path to having a legendary career. Triple H leaving WCW for WWE turned out to be the greatest career change given the results today.
6 Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero was one of the most underrated performers in WCW during his time there. Almost every match and storyline involving Guerrero provided entertainment. The match between Eddie and Rey Mysterio at Halloween Havoc 1997 is in the conversation for the greatest bout in WCW history.
Guerrero unfortunately never could get a chance to move out of the cruiserweight and mid-card tiers of the card. WCW only pushed the bigger names with the younger talents struggling to break out. A move to WWE with the rest of the Radicalz was a huge success for Eddie. WWE allowed him to reach his potential with a legendary run culminating with a WWE Championship reign.
5 Mick Foley
WCW did find some success with Mick Foley playing the Cactus Jack character in the early 90s. Some of the brutal matches with Vader, Sting and the Nasty Boys showed the potential of Foley as an elite hardcore style wrestler. WWE signed him in the mid-90s to play the Mankind character.
An instant feud with The Undertaker usually tested the skills of a new talent. Foley proved he belonged in WWE by becoming one of the top Undertaker rivals in his entire career. The depth of Foley allowed him to play Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love and his own self as he became a WWE legend.
4 Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes started his career in WCW with a nearly impossible scenario. WCW pushed him right away as The Natural trying to make him a star based on being the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes. Dustin had most of his best matches in WCW, but he never achieved strong success.
WWE signing him to play the Goldust character is what made his name in the industry. Goldust was a controversial character in the 90s that Rhodes played to perfection to become a relevant name. The run of Goldust recently just ended for his move to AEW, but it remains the strongest run of his career.
3 Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio’s smaller size held him back from ever receiving a major push in WCW. The fan support for Mysterio made him the most popular cruiserweight on the roster. WCW experimented with pushing him as an underdog hero facing off against giant wrestlers, but the push ended within a month.
Mysterio joined WWE in 2002 when the company started to add the former WCW names after their contracts with AOL/Time Warner expired. The instant success of Mysterio saw fans fall in love with him. His incredible matches, ability to sell merchandise and general greatness as a performer made him a WWE legend still going strong today.
2 Bret Hart
WCW made it a habit to sign former WWE main eventers and push them to the top of the company. Bret Hart was the latest one in 1997 to make the jump coming over with a wave of momentum after the controversial Montreal Screwjob made him an even bigger name.
WCW did nothing with this gift as Hart was an upper mid-carder and secondary main eventer for the first few months. Bret lost all momentum and never could break out as a credible top star for WCW. To make matters worse, his career ended there due to a reckless kick from Goldberg.
1 Chris Jericho
The potential of Chris Jericho was shown in WCW with amazing work during his time there. Jericho had superb matches in the cruiserweight division and started to make steps forward as a character. The heel character of Jericho started running down Goldberg to make him a tad more relevant.
Goldberg however refused to work a singles match with Jericho viewing him as a comedic lower card act beneath him. This played a huge role in Jericho making the jump for his dream job in WWE. Following a few hiccups along the way, Jericho got over huge and would become one of the top legends in WWE history winning almost every major title.