The impact of the Monday Night Wars is rather obvious. The WWE Network features the era as a prominent part of their programming and we here on The Richest, love to discuss and relive some epic moments from that glorious era of pro wrestling. Legacies were created in both companies; some fared better with the WWE, while there were some cases of wrestlers who actually did greater work with WCW.
We have left some names off this list; most notably, Triple H, Stone Cold, Edge and The Undertaker are a few names that we decided to leave off because of their minimal time and impact when in WCW. The same goes with Sting, who just was not with the WWE long enough to assess.
With this in mind, everyone else who wrestled for both promotions are in play. This article will feature some of the most prominent players from the Monday Night Wars who served in both banners at one time. Without further ado, let’s begin. Here are eight wrestlers who were better with the WWE, and seven who were better with WCW. Enjoy!
15) WWE: Sunny
Her popularity was immense at a time where pro wrestling was on a rise. You can argue that Sunny was the most popular female in WWE history and perhaps all of pro wrestling. Her mainstream status reached new heights in the 90s when it was announced that she was the most searched for female on the planet; a pretty big accomplishment.
Her peak was undoubtedly with the WWE. Her run with the company began in 1995 all the way till 1998. She’s remembered for her run as a manager and being regarded as the first “Diva” type character in McMahon’s company. When Sable came along and rose to stardom, problems began to arise between the old guard Sunny and the new guard Sable. Like we’ve seen countless times in the business, it was out with the old and in with the new. Sunny was released while Sable was kept and flourished. Sunny would struggle away from the company, and her worst run was with WCW managing Chris Candido. The company attempted to recapture her magic but failed miserably. They even tried to make her wrestle at one point, which was quite the disaster.
14) WCW: Lance Storm
Ultimately, WCW went out of business for several reasons, with one of the biggest being their constant inability to build new stars from the ground up. They instead had a constant reliance on the old guard which eventually caused the audience to lose interest.
Lance Storm was a rare case of the company successfully building a talented performer, as the Ontario native had previously spent three years with ECW before making the move. The company did a great job at booking Lance and he quickly became one of the most dominant performers on the roster. His technical prowess (in comparison to the others) was quite obvious, so WCW decided to reward him with several Championship runs which included Storm carrying both the United States and Cruiserweight Championships.
Following the purchase of WCW, Storm was brought in by the WWE. The company failed to pounce on such a great performer and instead used his technical abilities in the under-card for comedic relief. He had some huge victories which included a victory against The Rock, but ultimately he sustained a far greater rundown in WCW.
13) WWE: Mr. Perfect
One of the most recognizable faces in the early 90s, Curt quickly rose to fame with the WWE going on an undefeated streak. He was later rewarded with his first Championship run claiming the Intercontinental Title. His in-ring work was truly breathtaking to watch, as everything he did seemed so smooth and effortless. Unfortunately for Hennig, he’d bounce around different roles with the company throughout his run which featured one being a color commentator and another managing a future star in Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
Like so many older veteran faces, Curt made the jump to WCW in July of 1997. His run with the company did not fair very well and despite his talent, Hennig quickly became a background player with the nWo. The run was forgettable, but it wouldn’t be the last fans would see of the Hall of Famer. Curt made an unexpected cameo during the 2002 Royal Rumble under his old gimmick: Mr. Perfect. His performance was spectacular and the Atlanta crowd was in absolute awe of him. This would later land him a WWE contract. Noted, it was short lived, but his WWE career certainly surpassed anything he did with WCW.
12) WCW: Buff Bagwell
Bagwell tanking with the WWE was a clear indication of how weak the WCW roster truly was at that point in comparison to the WWE’s. During WCW’s final days, Buff became a big player feuding with the likes of Goldberg and joining forces with the legendary Nature Boy Ric Flair. Though, like so many new era WCW talents, Bagwell looked the part, but could not act it out in the ring. This became extremely apparent after one match with the WWE.
During the WCW Invasion angle, Vince McMahon gave the main event slot to a pair of WCW stars in Booker T and Buff Bagwell. The match was terribly received by the WWE crowd and showed just how out of place Buff really was. The very next week, Bagwell showed up to the Raw tapings only to hear that he was getting released from his contract. The company blamed it on his attitude and an apparent dispute with Shane Helms. Others believe that it was just a nice way of the company saying, “you’re not good enough”. Regardless, after one on-screen WWE match Buff was released. His legacy will certainly be remembered as a WCW guy.
11) WWE: William Regal
Judging by his first failed WWE run, you’d never believe that Regal’s career was better with the WWE than with WCW. Perhaps no wrestler in the world went through more ups and downs than William Regal. His rise to mainstream pro wrestling began back in 1992 with WCW under a Blue Blood gimmick. As an outstanding in-ring technician, Regal quickly made a name for himself and captured the WCW Television Champion. Later on, in 1998 Regal would see his run come to an end after a controversial match with Bill Goldberg. The incident is still being disputed today, but according to WCW, Regal went out to show the world just how silly Goldberg looked in the ring when fighting a technical wrestling match. Regal denied the allegations, claiming he was told by the WCW staff to have a “competitive” six-minute match. Nonetheless, the damage was done and Regal was released.
He would jump ship and join the WWE under a “Real Man’s Man” gimmick which is still being discussed today. Regal was in a dark place at the time and claims he doesn’t remember anything from that era. He would leave the company in order to go to rehab for his substance abuse problems.
After rehab, Regal returned to WCW and later was given another shot at the WWE under the condition that he worked developmental first. Regal would thrive, becoming arguably the greatest Commissioner in WWE history while unlocking a comedic side nobody ever saw coming. In addition, William also found success in the ring winning two Intercontinental Championships, four European Title reigns and a King of the Ring victory. He is still employed with the company serving as NXT’s on-screen Commissioner and the most respected face behind the scenes with the developmental brand today.
10) WCW: Raven
His work was so ahead of its time, and this factor might have prohibited more success. Raven created some tremendous hype for himself during the mid-90s, wrestling as a prominent player with ECW. After a brilliant stint, Raven was shipped off to WCW and became the leader of the infamous “Flock” stable. His promos were great and the company succeeded in creating a great mystique factor around his gimmick. Raven’s WCW career was a success, capturing the World Tag Team Championships along with a United States Heavyweight Title run which was a pretty big deal with Bischoff’s company. He would also go on to feud with the likes of DDP and Goldberg.
His WCW reign ended on a bitter note after Bischoff told his talent that whoever wasn’t happy could leave. Ultimately, frustrated with the direction and his character, The Flock leader was the only wrestler to stand up and leave. He went back to ECW for a short stint and later signed on with the WWE. His potential was there, but the company failed to see him as a prominent player. His WWE run was minimized to a Hardcore Division wrestler capturing the championship 27 times. Clearly, his WWE run was a flop.
9) WWE: Big Show
Recognizing that the WCW was a sinking ship, Big Show became the first significant face to jump ship from WCW to WWE. After a blazing WCW start as The Giant, he slowly got lost in the shuffle and left the company following his contract’s expiration. He signed with the WWE way back in 1999 and 17 years later, he is still employed; safe to assume his run was far greater on WWE television. Things began on rocky terms however, as Show was an outcast in the locker room being classified as a “WCW guy”. Wrestlers were also very displeased with his in-ring work, claiming he was too slow for the company. After some criticisms by Steve Austin, the former WCW Champion worked harder than ever to meet the WWE requirements.
He would ultimately improve and go on to enjoy two WWE Championship reigns, along with another two World Heavyweight Title runs. At the age of 44, Show is still working a part-time schedule with the company. There is no doubt we’ll be seeing his name in the Hall of Fame one day, something that seemed like a long shot at one point in time.
8) WCW: Scott Steiner
In 1996, Scott Steiner made his return to World Championship Wrestling, and this time his run would last all the way till WCW’s final days in 2001. He spent the majority of his first half run as a member of the nWo and predominantly a Tag Team wrestler. In 1999, Steiner would finally get a big push, feuding with the likes of DDP and Goldberg. He would later capture his first major Championships, winning the United States and World Television Titles. In 2000, Scott would reach his peak winning the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time at the WCW Mayhem PPV, defeating Booker T.
After WCW was bought out, Steiner did not report to McMahon’s company and instead waited for his contract to expire. In 2002, Scott finally made his WWE debut in front of a massive Madison Square Garden ovation. At that point, his WWE run seemed like it was going to be a home-run. However, that was not the case. Scott had a terrible feud with Triple H for the Championship that buried his WWE career. He didn’t win a single belt during his run and still claims the company sabotaged him during his run. Safe to say that he will be remembered predominantly as a WCW guy.
7) WWE: Macho Man
He will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time and forever remembered as a pioneer in the wrestling industry. Randy’s WWE run was legendary to say the least. He entered the company in 1985, and was billed as the “top free agent” in all of wrestling. He won his first major championship that year winning the Intercontinental Title, defeating Tito Santana.
Savage hit his peak in 1987 after winning the King of the Ring. Macho Man became one of the first wrestlers in history to receive a heel pop, something that was a rarity at that point. The company had no other choice but to crown him as the WWE Champion, a title he would hold for over a year.
With a youth movement in place, the company decided the put Macho Man as a commentator. Believing he still had something left in the tank, Randy was forced out of the company and into the WCW waters. He had some memorable moments, which included four World Championship reigns, however he was generally casted as a background player with the nWo. His most notable contributions at the time were served outside of the ring as the face of Slim Jim. At the end of that day, Macho Man will forever be remembered as a WWE guy and one of the greatest of all time.
6) WCW: DDP
A true underdog story to say the least, DDP is a perfect example of someone who never quit on his dreams. He began as a manager and later transitioned into a commentator, though Page saw himself as a prominent in-ring performer. After training with the WCW Power Plan for years, Page made an unlikely WCW debut which seemed like a long shot at one point in time. He would go on to enjoy a tremendous career becoming one of the company’s best babyfaces. His accomplishments included teaming with the likes of Jay Leno and Karl Malone. He would also go onto win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on three separate occasions.
The WWE had a history of messing up WCW wrestlers, and DDP became yet another casualty. Page was turned into a lower-card player that provided comedic relief under a weird motivational speaker gimmick that would smile a lot. His run was a major fail and yet another example of the WWE dropping the ball with a major WCW talent.
5) WWE: Eddie Guerrero
Since his WCW days, you just had a feeling that Eddie was going to be a huge star one day. Many believed that was going to occur with WCW, as he instantly made an impact defeating DDP at Starrcade 96’ and claiming the United States Championship. Following his title run, Eddie changed focus and became a prominent fixture in the Cruiserweight Division. He would never climb further up the charts, thus making him jump ship to the WWE, his best career decision.
Eddie’s work rate and fast pace fit the WWE model perfectly. After years of working the mid-card, the company rewarded Eddie in 2004 by making him win his first WWE Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar at No Way Out. His star power from then on rose. He became the face of SmackDown and had some tremendous upper-card feuds with the likes of JBL and Rey Mysterio. His legacy is still being celebrated to this day. What a run the late great Eddie Guerrero had with the WWE.
4) WCW: Goldberg
Probably the most obvious entrants on this list, Bill Goldberg will most certainly be remembered as a WCW guy and not for his failed WWE run. Goldberg was without a doubt the greatest WCW homegrown product. He came in, destroyed his opponent, spear, jackhammer, one, two, three and it was back to the locker room. What made the gimmick work was the fact that Goldberg lived it. He literally showed up, kept quiet, did his work and clocked out once his match was done. It was certainly exaggerated, but Goldberg left his mark with a tremendous “173-0” streak. The streak was a major factor in cementing WCW’s dominance on the WWE product for 84 weeks in a row.
Without the streak, Goldberg struggled and the crowd eventually turned on him, even booing him at times.
His lack of persona without the streak was rather evident, especially during his WWE run. The talent pool was far superior than WCW’s, making it impossible for Goldberg to recreate such a streak in the WWE ranks. His run failed miserably and was a perfect example of why so many former faces (like Sting) feared to join the WWE ranks because of the fact that it was not the same playing field, and that the company would most probably drop the ball like they did with Bill.
3) WWE: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio forged a similar path to the one of his good friend Eddie Guerrero. Mysterio started in Mexico and later made the mainstream transition joining WCW. During his time, Rey became the face of the Cruiserweight Division and a massive fan favorite. His career highlight with the company featured Mysterio claiming the Cruiserweight Championship on five different occasions.
His WWE debut in July of 2002 was met with a significant degree of hype; it was clear that the company instantly had big plans for Mysterio, matching him up with Kurt Angle at SummerSlam for his first major feud with the company. After a couple of years, Rey was given a huge push and won the 2006 Royal Rumble Match, lasting 62 minutes. In ultimate underdog-like fashion, Rey would go on to capture the World Heavyweight Championship, defeating major WWE stars Kurt Angle and Randy Orton, at WrestleMania 22. That was only the beginning for Rey, who enjoyed other runs with both WWE and World Heavyweight Championships.
2) WCW: nWo
Their WCW run speaks for itself, as the group reinvented the business and made it cool to be a heel. The group will forever be regarded as the greatest in pro wrestling history for various reasons.
With a WCW legacy safely solidified, in 2002 it was time for the group to take their talents to a WWE stage. The group made their debut at No Way Out that very year and quickly targeted mega WWE stars Steve Austin and The Rock. It all seemed like a perfect start. Weeks later, building towards WrestleMania, the group lost its way with emphasis being put on a Rock-Hogan dream match. The nWo was inexplicably put on the backburner and would never recover. After an epic Rock and Hogan clash at WrestleMania X-8, the group disbanded, lasting only a couple of weeks. You can’t help but to wonder how things would have played out had the group been brought in after WrestleMania. The group was a major fail with the WWE and perhaps the biggest missed opportunity.
1) WWE: Chris Jericho
Hard to find a wrester that enjoyed more success under the WWE banner than they did with WCW. His WCW journey began as a babyface jobber being lost in the shuffle. Things finally changed for Jericho once he was given the green light to turn heel. Chris was a draw, but the company just had no interest in pushing him any further. Once it was obvious that Jericho wasn’t moving up the card, he left the company for the WWE.
His debut is still greatly celebrated to this day and regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Although, many tend to forget that Chris had a hard time falling into place after that memorable debut. Y2J was an outcast backstage, labelled as a “WCW guy” and his in-ring work suffered as well. He was quickly moved down the card.
Just as it looked like another WCW wrestler failing with the WWE, Y2J regained focus and became a big time player. Following a thunderous ovation defeating Triple H for the WWE Title on Raw (which was later reversed), it was clear Chris was going to be a huge star. Becoming the first ever Undisputed Champion and defeating The Rock and Stone Cold on the same night, it was clear; Chris was going to be great for a long time. What a story.