Whenever we go to a new workplace, the experiences will be different from how they were at previous places of employment. Wrestlers earn notoriety because of what they have achieved, whether the feuds they’ve had or the championships they’ve won. However, for some wrestlers, it is almost as if their careers were split in half. While wrestlers will move from promotion to promotion in search of success and greater wealth, in the case of a number of past and present wrestlers, their success in one promotion didn’t carry over to another promotion.
During WCW’s time, they boasted some of the greatest names in the history of wrestling, people who today are in the WWE Hall of Fame. Some achieved greater success in WCW, some achieved greater success in WWE. Who stood out as having a more successful career in WWE, and who had a more successful career in the WCW? Here is our assessment of who stood out the most.
Did you know that any or all of these wrestlers were more successful in either WCW or the WWE? If so, let us know. Feel free to share comment below.
8. Wrestlers That Were More Successful In WWE
15. Rey Mysterio
When Rey Mysterio joined WWE, he was easily a fan favorite that fans appreciated. During his time in WCW, it seemed as though all that had earned him respect as proud luchador was stripped away. He was tossed around by the likes of Kevin Nash, and held back as part of mid-card factions. He was even forced to remove his mask. However, after he joined the WWE, he captured the Intercontinental, Tag Team and, remarkably, the World Championship.
He was booked well, but his in-ring work was a testament to the hard work and dedication leading up to that point. Fans were able to get behind him even though he was under six feet and under 200 lbs. As it turned out, Mysterio’s career will not be defined by his time in WCW, since it was greatly surpassed by his time in WWE.
14. Eddie Guerrero
He lied, he cheated and stole, but when he was part of WCW, Eddie Guerrero wasn’t used as a major focal point for the company. While there, he took part in notable feuds with his nephew Chavo, Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko, but it was clear he was only going to be used as part of a mid-card talent, a light heavyweight, and nothing more. So when Guerrero, along with Malenko, Benoit and Saturn all left WCW to join WWE, it was clear that greater pastures lay ahead for the second generation wrestler.
While with WWE, Guerrero showed us he had “latino heat,” and during his time captured the Intercontinental, Tag Team and World Championships. Guerrero was beloved by many, and passed away far too soon in 2005. It is clear that had he not left WCW and traveled to Connecticut a main event push would never have been in the cards for him.
Not only do we think we know him, we most definitely like him! Much like a number of other WWE Hall of Famers, Edge first rose to success as part of a tag team, and then became a singles champion. While he may be infamous for his tag team with Christian, he was amongst the top guys for the company at a point when wrestlers needed to step up and capture the brass ring! However, it wasn’t all so nice for Edge prior to coming to WWE.
While in WCW he competed under the name of Damon Striker, but his tenure was so brief that it is largely forgotten. Once he was a part of the WWE, Edge fought through injury and personal drama to become a WWE Heavyweight and World Champion on multiple occasions.
12. Chris Jericho
He is the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla, and bragged that Raw is Jericho, but when Kevin Owens’ best friend was in WCW he wasn’t seen in the same light. During the Monday Night Wars, Chris Jericho sought time to shine and demonstrate his creative nature, but WCW management simply weren’t as receptive as they should have been. His debut with WWE in 1999 to this day remains one of the most notable ever, as he arrived with fireworks and fanfare, all while interrupting The Rock.
Despite taking a back seat initially, Jericho was given time to flourish, and flourish he did. He is a multi-time Intercontinental, World and Tag Team Champion. Jericho has been with the WWE for roughly 17 years, and during his time he has managed to continue to reinvent himself. It is something that may have never happened had he remained with the company down south.
11. Mick Foley
During his run in WCW, Mick Foley was known as Cactus Jack. As the madman who hailed from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Foley was known for taking brutal beatings. It was during this time where he earned notoriety because of feuds with the likes of Vader and Sting. He could deliver clever promos that seemed to push the envelope, having many question his sanity in the process.
If anything Foley’s promos in WCW may have been ahead of their time. However, when he came to WWE and became Mankind, it was as though Foley was given free rein to completely go off the deep end. It was also during this time that Foley captured the WWE Heavyweight and Tag Team Championship. These were opportunities that weren’t presented while he was in WCW.
10. Triple H
It’s all about the game and how you play it. In WWE, Triple H was a singles wrestler that saw his share of hardships, but worked his way up the card until he was the longstanding champion everyone has come to know. While he may receive and accusations of backstage politics, he still ultimately needed to perform when he stepped into the ring. During his brief time in WCW, it was almost as if fans didn’t knew he was there.
In comparison, he has captured multiple championships, both singles and tag team, and ultimately has helped shape the direction of the WWE moving forward. It was without question something fans couldn’t have envisioned for him during his time down south.
9. Stone Cold Steve Austin
He was “stunning” and he was a “Hollywood Blond,” but while he was in WCW, Steve Austin, though incredibly talented, wasn’t booked to achieve anything greater than the United States Championship, or to be one half of the Tag Team Champions. It wasn’t until he went to WWE where he defined his legacy and became one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history.
When Austin became Stone Cold Steve Austin, the wrestling world was knocked on its ear, as one of the toughest, no nonsense wrestlers to ever step into the ring took control of the main event and held the WWE Championship on multiple occasions. He was cemented as a Hall of Famer, something that may not have happened had he remained in WCW.
8. The Undertaker
While he may be famous for helping opponents rest in peace for the last quarter century that wasn’t always how The Undertaker was known during his wrestling career. When he first competed for WCW, he competed under his own name with a touch of heightened alliteration. “Mean” Mark Calloway, later “Mean” Mark Callous, was just as physically imposing, but he just scratched the surface on what many believed was out there for him.
When he joined the WWF, The Undertaker immediately turned heads, as his physically imposing look and stature along with his ominous presence made many a fan shudder. He has main evented WrestleManias, captured numerous World and Tag Team Championships, and was a perennial threat each time he stood in the ring. The WWE Hall of Fame is undoubtedly in his future, but one has to wonder if that would ever had been in the cards had he remained with WCW.
7. Wrestlers That Were More Successful In WCW
The man they call Vader was a feared and imposing wrestler during his time in the ring. While he was with WCW, he captured the WCW World Championship on a few occasions. He was a known main eventer, and had high profile matches against the likes of Cactus Jack, Sting and Ric Flair. However, as they say, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
When Vader came to WWE the belief was that a World Championship run was something he was going to be primed for. However, that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, he was part of WWE at a time when the likes of Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were the focal point of the company. Vader’s career isn’t defined by what he did in the WWE, but his career accomplishments.
6. Lex Luger
It could be for a combination of reasons, but during Lex Luger‘s time in the WWE Championship gold was never situated around his waist. Whether as “The Narcissist” or leading the Lex Express, he came close, and even competed against Yokozuna for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but came up short. However, while with WCW, the Total Package reigned supreme, as he was a WCW World Champion and United States Champion.
He was also a member of the storied Four Horsemen faction. WWE never seemed like the right fit, and his time was filled with characters that were a poorer fit than what awaited him in WCW. One of the most disappointing things to note is that injuries really affected Luger’s overall mobility and ability to work a match convincingly. Luger’s time in WCW was the most successful period of his career.
5. Jeff Jarrett
He may have been known as J-e-double F, J-a-double r, e-double t during his time in WWE, but it was during Jarrett’s time in WCW where he was elevated and used as a perennial main eventer. While in WWE, Jarrett wore flashy ring gear, but didn’t appear a true fit for his character.
When he joined WCW, Jarrett still used the guitar that he was saddled with early in his career, but incorporated it into an edgier character, full of “listen up, slapnutz” bravado. Jarrett was part of the nWo and was a WCW World Champion. While he held titles in the WWE, overall he was positioned better while in WCW. He even faced off against the likes of Hulk Hogan for the World championship.
He captured the imagination of the WCW fan base, but Sting’s brief time in the WWE was clearly too far removed from his peak to be considered of true relevance. He competed in a total of three matches during his time in the WWE, winning a tag match on Raw while being unsuccessful in both solo matches – much to the chagrin of fans. The problem is that after WCW closed its doors in 2002, Sting didn’t join the WWE to create a new legacy there.
Instead, he waited 12 years before competing for the opposition. Sting was no doubt the lifeblood of WCW, as he captured championship after championship and had epic match after epic match against the likes of Ric Flair and Lex Luger. Sting was known as the franchise during his time in WCW, and it is there that his greatest career achievements occurred.
3. Harley Race
Fans may recall that during the late 1980s, Harley Race was employed by the WWE and participated in a few feuds, but nothing of any real note. If anything stood out, it was Race‘s feud with the Junk Yard Dog. During his time in the promotion, he went under the moniker “The King,” and was as managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
This wasn’t a true reflection of what Race had achieved earlier in his career. When Race was with WCW, and the NWA before that, he captured the world championship on multiple occasions. He had legendary matches against men such as Ric Flair, but that meant nothing in WWE and his time there was squandered.
2. Dusty Rhodes
“The American Dream” may have been a common man, but he was never a common wrestler. While a part of WCW and the NWA, Rhodes wasn’t simply on the card, he went hold for hold against the likes of Harley Race, Lex Luger, Ric Flair and Nikita Koloff. Rhodes was beloved and was consistently a part of the promotions main event. However, when he joined the WWE, Rhodes was saddled with polka dots and was never positioned to capture a championship.
He may have feuded with the legendary Randy Savage, but not a lot was done with that. The feud is a notable mark, but Rhodes should have been positioned for more when he was in WWE. While Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, that is more of a reflection of his achievements in WCW rather than WWE.
1. Ricky Steamboat
“The Dragon” was always a personal favorite, and while he may have captured the Intercontinental Championship and had one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, it pales in comparison to what he accomplished in WCW and the NWA. As part of WCW, Steamboat not only captured the world championship multiple times, but had some of the greatest matches in wrestling history when we think of his epic encounters with the Nature Boy, Ric Flair.
He faced the likes of Barry Windham, Rick Rude, and Steve Austin, and was committed to putting on a great match every time. The stories Steamboat told in WCW were always enthralling, and made fans look forward to his next match while enjoying his current one. Steamboat’s hall of fame career is a reflection of a complete body of work. However, it was his time in WCW that best represents Steamboat’s career.