One of the most well-known stories in the history of North American professional wrestling is how World Championship Wrestling squandered the talents of Steve Austin. WCW, specifically company vice president Eric Bischoff, did not envision Austin as being a main-event player, and thus he happily sent the wrestler on his way in the middle of the 1990s. The rest, as they say, is history. Austin became the biggest draw in the history of North American pro wrestling and he helped the World Wrestling Federation defeat WCW in the “Monday Night Wars.” WCW, meanwhile, folded in March of 2001.
Austin is hardly the only individual to have worked at WCW either before or after also wrestling under the WWF/World Wrestling Entertainment umbrella. That list includes multiple individuals who won championships all over the world, and also wrestlers who even participated in the main event of a WrestleMania. This piece begins with the tale of a man who, like Austin, found a home in Extreme Championship Wrestling for a time. Unlike Austin, however, this particular wrestler never found fame and fortune while working for Vince McMahon and the WWE.
Sabu was one of the many established ECW superstars who took advantage of an opportunity awarded by WCW when that company was attempting to defeat the WWF in the battle for Monday night television ratings. Not too shockingly, Sabu and his style of work was not a massive hit in the national promotion. It also did not help matters that his uncle The Original Sheik hit Mr. JL with a fireball at an event, an incident that allegedly did not make Sabu a favorite among those running WCW. You likely missed the short stint the ECW performer had in WCW if you blinked during the 90s.
9. The Iron Sheik
Gone were the days of the Iron Sheik being one of the top heels in all of pro wrestling capable of working a money storyline with the likes of Hulk Hogan when he linked up with the National Wrestling Alliance and WCW in the late 1980s. His feud over the Television Championship with Sting is not well-remembered and for good reasons, as that was not a high point in the career of either superstar. Sheik returned to the WWF in the spring of 1991, while Sting eventually became the top babyface in WCW and the man who would serve as the franchise of that company until its demise.
There was a time in the 1990s when ECW billed Rhino as being the top rookie in that organization and perhaps in all of pro wrestling. That was a nice story and all, but the truth of the matter is that the ECW Champion had worked in WCW earlier in the decade. Working under the name Terry Richards, Rhino’s initial run in WCW was filled with forgettable matches that aired on WCW Saturday Night. He would later adopt a much better name and much better gimmick en route to becoming one of the best performers that ECW featured during the dying days of that organization.
7. Marty Jannetty
The moment that Marty Jannetty was put through the window of “The Barbershop” during that famous WWF segment was the beginning of the end of his runs at the top of cards. While Shawn Michaels evolved into the “Heartbreak Kid” and one of the best wrestlers in history, Jannetty became an afterthought who did not captivate the hearts and minds of fans as a singles act. His run in WCW was mostly about Jannetty having solid matches with other opponents whom he put over, and he did not make it to the death of the company before the two sides parted ways.
6. Rob Van Dam
Things sometimes work out as the fates have deemed to be appropriate. Rob Van Dam was a wide-eyed young wrestler going by the name Robbie V in the early stages of his career when he made what were, for the most part, unnoticed appearances on WCW television. Failing to catch on as a babyface or a heel, Van Dam parted ways with the company after roughly a year before wrestling in other companies. He eventually, of course, found his feet and a home in ECW, where Van Dam became known as “Mr. Monday Night” and the “Whole F’N Show.”
5. Barry Horowitz
Remember that time when the WWF decided to give enhancement talent Barry Horowitz a brief run as an ultimate underdog babyface in the 1990s? Here is a spoiler alert for those who are not away of how the story ends: Horowitz did not become a superstar in that company. He eventually, as did so many others during that decade, made his way over to WCW, where he was mostly used on shows such as WCW Saturday Night and as a guy made to put top acts over. You can, thanks to the beauty of the WWE Network and WWE.com, relive Horowitz getting pinned by Goldberg. Fun times.
4. Jimmy Snuka
Odds are that most casual wrestling fans remember Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka for his famous leap off of a cage during a WWF match that occurred at Madison Square Garden. Snuka worked for numerous wrestling organizations during his career, and he had multiple stints in WCW. His first occurred in 1993 when Snuka made an appearance at that year’s Slamboree show. Snuka would then show up on WCW Monday Nitro in 2000, and it was during a segment on that program when he hit heel Jeff Jarrett with a “Superfly Splash” off of the top of a steel cage.
The wrestler who played the dancing big man and who linked up with the tag team “Too Cool” during the “Attitude Era” was hardly a rookie to the industry when he appeared on WWF television in the 1990s. Rikishi was known as Fatu when he was paired with real-life cousin Samu to form the Samoan Swat Team that worked in multiple organizations before getting the call up to WCW in the 1980s. That pair would not win gold until joining the WWF, where they were renamed “The Headshrinkers,” and Rikishi would ultimately get a chance to show what he could do as a singles act.
2. Andre the Giant
Andre the Giant was physically in rough shape in September of 1992 when he made a very brief appearance at the WCW show Clash of the Champions XX. Andre was clearly not the athlete of old during the segment that was to be his last ever United States television appearance, requiring a cane in order to remain on his feet. The beloved figure of the industry who had also branched out and worked multiple acting roles passed away in January of 1993 due to the wear and tear that his massive size put on his heart. He remains, to this day, one of the most famous entertainers in the history of the business.
You know him for being part of one of the top tag team acts of the “Attitude Era” and for becoming the “Rated-R Superstar” and a WWE Champion. Before anybody could guess that Edge would evolve into a star worthy of being inducted into any wrestling hall of fame, he appeared on an edition of WCW Pro as the young up-and-comer known as Damon Striker. Mr. Striker did not have much luck in WCW, being defeated by “Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan and also Ming. Edge got away from the Dungeon and Doom and from WCW, and he made his WWE television debut 1997. Things worked out well for him from there.