There are those professional wrestlers who can successfully work both sides of the face and heel line. However, a change of scenery—including working for a different company—can bring out the very best in a performer in a very different role. There are those times when a well-established character from one wrestling promotion can strike gold working a completely different gimmick after moving on to a different company.
This article takes a look back to when WWE and WCW were on comparable footing as the truly national promotions dominating the pro wrestling scene. The Monday Night War era, in particular, led to a number of stars hopping back and forth between the two companies, and this article considers five WWE faces who made better heels in WCW and five WCW heels who made better faces in WWE.
10 Better Heel In WCW: Scott Hall
In a number of shoot interviews, Scott Hall has described his role in mid-1990s WWE as the Tito Santana spot. He was one of the most prominent faces in the company but was locked into a mid-card role, orbiting the Intercontinental Championship and working heels on their way up or down from the main event picture.
While Razor Ramon’s charisma and noteworthy in-ring skills for a man his size made him a success in that role, he did the best work of his career when he transitioned to WCW. Under his real name, he created intrigue in the early stages of the Outsiders angle, before becoming a staple upper card heel for the New World Order.
9 Better Face In WWE: William Regal
William Regal was an outstanding in-ring technician whose heel mannerisms were some of the best in the business. He spent the entirety of his WCW run playing an arrogant British character that in many ways transitioned to his work in WWE as well.
One could certainly argue Regal was a better and more natural heel over the course of his career. However, when WWE experimented with him playing face, particularly in his unlikely partnerships with Tajiri and later Eugene, they unlocked a surprisingly lovable father figure of a veteran wrestler. His work in this capacity got over nicely and was better than anything he ever had the opportunity to contribute in WCW.
8 Better Heel In WCW: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner had two runs with WWE, first as part of the face Steiner Brothers tag team with his brother Rick, and later in what started as a main event face run opposite Triple H, after WCW had closed. Steiner worked most of his WCW years as a face, too, but may be best remembered for when he broke off as a solo heel.
Billed as Big Poppa Pump, Steiner worked a dominating physical style and cut loud-mouthed promos that have largely defined his legacy. While his work rate may have already started to fall off in that period when his look and personality got him so over, he nonetheless made the most of his opportunities as a legitimate main eventer and world champion.
7 Better Face In WWE: Chris Jericho
In WCW, Chris Jericho stood out for making the most of his opportunities. Yes, he was one in a cast of excellent in-ring workers representing the Cruiserweight division. More so, he was memorable for cutting excellent promos opposite the likes of Dean Malenko and Goldberg.
Jericho never got to break out of the mid-card in WCW, but in WWE, he immediately got the chance to intermingle with top stars. While his very best work may have been as a heel in WWE, he also starred as a face including his early run that included him chasing Triple H, and later Steve Austin for the WWE Championship, as well work way down the line opposite Kevin Owens.
6 Better Heel In WCW: Alundra Blayze
Alundra Blayze was the cornerstone of WWE’s mid-1990s women’s division as she spent a period of years focused on battling monster heel challengers like Bull Nakano and Bertha Faye. The women’s division was too small, with too little focus for her to make much of a dent, though, in WWE’s bigger picture.
As Madusa, she made an immediate splash returning to WCW and dropping her WWE title in a wastebasket. While WCW was quite arguably guilty of under-utilizing Madusa just as WWE, she nonetheless had her moments both in that Monday Night War era run, as well as in a featured spot earlier on, pre-WWE, as a unique addition to Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance faction.
5 Better Face In WWE: Hurricane Helms
In WCW, Shane Helms had the opportunity to demonstrate his tremendous athleticism and in-ring skill, making him a compelling prospect for WWE to do something with down the road. While his WCW work lent Helms a solid foundation, it was in WWE that he took flight.
Taking the Hurricane nickname to the extreme, in WWE Helms became a cult favorite in his super hero persona. While he may never have reached past the mid-card and tag team ranks, he nonetheless played a memorable character that was easy to get behind. The Hurricane gimmick made him a character who could continue to show up in WWE and elsewhere decades down the road and pop a crowd.
4 Better Heel In WCW: Kevin Nash
While Diesel was, at times, a heel character in WWE, he is best remembered there for his run as the face of the company. The big man played a heroic champion who fended off challenges from the likes of Shawn Michaels, Sid, Mabel, and The British Bulldog.
Pundits tend to dismiss Diesel’s run on top for his limitations in the ring (particularly at that relatively inexperienced point in his career) and lack of heated storylines. In WCW, however, Kevin Nash had the opportunity to shine as a leading figure for the New World Order. His swagger paired with his mean streak made him one of the most compelling heel characters in WCW history.
3 Better Face In WWE: Molly Holly
Miss Madness wasn’t exactly an iconic character for WCW, though the veteran performer beneath the gimmick performed well as a part of Randy Savage’s entourage. It was in WWE where she’d really define her legacy.
Billed as Molly Holly, Holly was an immediately compelling aerial artist and never say die face character alongside kayfabe cousins Hardcore and Crash Holly. Molly would have a rock-solid run as a stern heel as well, but even her face initial face work far exceeded what she had the opportunity to do as a heel in WCW.
2 Better Heel In WCW: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was one of the most successful face characters of all time during his original Hulkamania run, but when WWE tried to go back to the well with character in 1993, the bucket came back dry. Fans were over Hogan’s old school style. The Hulkster persona didn’t get over much better when he first tried to carry it forward in WCW either.
However, when Hogan turned heel as the leader of the New World Order, he utterly redefined his legacy. In a white-hot period for wrestling, he became quite arguably the most over heel character in the business. He was a bully when he’d once been a hero, cowardly where he’d once been brave, and overall brilliant as a villain.
1 Better Face In WWE: The Undertaker
Mean Mark Callous, never amounted to much in WCW. Sure, he was half of an imposing tag team alongside Dan Spivey, and by sheer virtue of his size he could get plugged into matches against top faces like Sting. He was never a serious title contender, though, and would hardly be in Hall of Fame consideration for that stint of his career.
WWE rebranded Callous as The Undertaker, and in so doing invented one of the most iconic wrestling characters ever. The Dead Man was a compelling monster heel. All the more so, he developed into a dominating force for justice as a face. The Undertaker evolved and transcended wrestling generations, an all-time great hero in the WWE ranks.