The legacy of WCW lives on today as longtime fans remember the old days of competition between promotions. Both WWE and WCW were at war with each other in hopes of becoming the top promotion in the wrestling industry. WCW gets chastised for wasting the talents of many future stars in favor of overpaying older stars to dominate the main event scene. The company did many more great things that sadly get overlooked due to WWE changing the narrative of the history. While Vince McMahon wants you to think otherwise, WCW gave us great moments and matches to spotlight tremendous wrestling talents.
WWE owns the library of WCW due to winning the Monday Night Wars and purchasing their competition. 2001 spelled the end of WCW and McMahon monopolized the wrestling world. Sadly, his ego got in the way and he would go on to treat many WCW talents poorly when they came over to join or re-join his empire. There’s an impressive list of great performers that did well in the WCW environment but couldn’t replicate it in WWE. We’ll look at some of the better names to fall victim to that predicament following their career. Here are the top fifteen superstars that were much better in WCW than WWE.
The career of Sting will always be remembered for becoming most synonymous with the WCW brand. Most of the top wrestlers of 90s went back and forth between both WWE and WCW but Sting was the exception. No one remained as loyal to WCW or provided as many great moments as Sting. There’s a reason he was the only person fans bought into as being able to stop the New World Order all on his own.
Sting spent the majority of his career after WCW by choosing to work in TNA. The legend saw how many of his peers from WCW were treated in WWE and didn’t feel comfortable working under Vince McMahon. Reaching the end of his career, Sting finally made the jump and joined WWE in 2014. Fans hoped for a dream match vs The Undertaker, but instead Sting lost his only WrestleMania outing to Triple H. The story brought back the old WWE vs. WCW days and naturally WCW had to take the loss.
14 Ron Simmons
We often overlook the accomplishments of Ron Simmons during his WCW career. Simmons made history by becoming the first African-American World Champion when defeating Vader to win the WCW Championship. The moment was truly special and cemented him as a pioneer in the sport. Simmons played a straight laced face character that actually got over quite well. Fans reacted with excitement when he won the title but WCW didn’t commit to him being a main-eventer going forward.
WWE offered a better contract and new opportunity that caused Simmons to make the jump. Simmons wrestled under the name of Faarooq and achieved success as the leader of the Nation of Domination. The Rock joined the faction and made him completely irrelevant by usurping Simmons to become the new leader. Simmons would wallow away in forgettable lower card for the remainder of his career. The days of winning gold and making history in WCW definitely stood out more than anything he did in WWE.
13 Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff is rightfully criticized for the decisions he made and the reputation he holds in the wrestling business. Most wrestlers claim he was a complete jerk to deal with and he showed very little respect to his employees during his time in WCW. Despite the negatives, you can’t argue with the success created by Bischoff. WCW was a sinking ship until he made drastic changes and big moves to start the Monday Night Wars.
The character of Bischoff was money and arguably a better heel authority figure than Vince McMahon at times. Bischoff turning heel and joining the New World Order was a perfect fit. The next stage of Bischoff’s on-screen career came when WWE hired him a year after purchasing WCW. As a natural heel, he did well as the original Raw General Manager following the brand split. Bischoff’s excellence sadly would get limited rather quickly due to WWE micro-managing his promos and having him show a decline from his days in WCW.
The career of Raven never truly hit its potential in WCW or WWE but it was still a tale of the former being able to showcase his talent better at times. Nothing could compare to his time in ECW but Raven thrived in the mid-card scene in WCW as one of the more compelling characters in the company. The Flock stable and his promos added a lot to Raven’s appeal with mainstream wrestling fans getting an insight into his talents.
WWE tried to find the magic with Raven in 2000 by bringing him in as an ally of Taz. The stint instantly went downhill with Raven doing very little in his first few weeks. Taz and Raven were a lower tier tag team for a few weeks before Raven was relegated to the hardcore division. We rarely saw any promos from Raven and his lack of a push caused fans to remain silent during most of his matches.
11 Perry Saturn
Another talented mid-card act that had a better body of work in WCW than WWE was Perry Saturn. WCW signed Saturn away from ECW and positioned him as part of Raven’s Flock faction. Saturn stood out among the names behind Raven and would get a bigger push. The in-ring work made Saturn one of the better performers in the company leaving it all in the ring. WCW unfortunately never elevated him but he at least had a great career in the mid-card.
Saturn was one of The Radicalz to make the jump from WCW to WWE out of frustration along with Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Benoit and Guerrero would blossom into stars for the company but Saturn failed to get any big opportunities. Saturn was a lower card act and entered a silly gimmick where he fell in love with a mop, aptly named Moppy. The WWE stint turned into a joke and made fans forget how legitimate Saturn was in WCW.
10 Ric Flair
Many would argue Ric Flair is the greatest all around performer in the history of pro wrestling. The matches of Flair were second to none in his era and the promos still live on today through fans of many generations. Flair is synonymous with greatness in the NWA and later WCW. A respectable poll would see Flair and Sting battle for the accolade of greatest WCW star of all time. Every WCW fan appreciated the work of Flair.
WWE have made Flair a part of their family following the end of WCW and he still has a place in the company. This selection on the list comes from his earlier stint in WWE during the early 90s. Flair made the big jump to WWE while still holding possession of the WCW Championship. Everyone had hopes of Flair putting his title on the line against Hulk Hogan. The dream match of the two icons competing in a Champion vs. Champion match should have taken place at WrestleMania but it just never happened. Flair’s first run in WWE disappointed and paled in comparison to what he could have delivered.
The work of Vader makes him one of the greatest big men ever in wrestling. Most of the guys his size would have basic matches that saw them move around very little. Vader was an exception to the rule and pulled some of the coolest moves you’ll ever watch. The best time of Vader’s career was serving as the top heel in WCW. Vader was a credible World Champion with Harley Race as his manager. His matches with Ric Flair told some of the best stories in the history of WCW.
Like most of his peers, Vader made the jump to WWE and tried his luck under Vince McMahon. The relationship didn’t pan out as well as planned. Rumors have circulated that McMahon hated the look of Vader and didn’t believe in him. Vader had one big push that resulted in an unsuccessful title shot against Shawn Michaels and he went back down to the mid-card. Most importantly, Vader wasn’t put in a position to stand out as the special talent that he is.
8 Billy Kidman
The cruiserweight division in WCW is arguably the greatest concept that fans still fondly talk about today. Billy Kidman became a fixture on the shows thanks to getting the opportunity to showcase his skills against other great talents like Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and La Parka. There were many stars in the division but Kidman deserves to be in the conversation among the elite performers to compete for the title.
WWE brought Kidman over during the Invasion era and tried to position him as a credible cruiserweight. The problem is Vince McMahon didn’t take the cruiserweight style serious at the time and many of the smaller wrestlers suffered for it. Kidman did little of note during his WWE career aside from working in a less relevant cruiserweight division, along with some tag team work. The appearances of Kidman would downgrade from Smackdown storylines to Velocity matches and many fans weren’t even aware when WWE released him.
7 Lex Luger
Lex Luger had the prototypical look that wrestling promotions wanted of their performers in the 90s. The wrestling career of Luger started hot with a big push in WCW due to his bodybuilding physique. Luger had impressive matches against Ric Flair and Sting but still lacked something special. WWE snatched him away with Vince McMahon desperately wanting him to become the next big star and a replacement for the departing Hulk Hogan.
The mega-babyface push for Luger in WWE came with him traveling around the country with the Lex Express. WWE put a lot of time and money into Luger becoming a patriotic star opposing WWE Champion Yokozuna. Fans reacted negatively to Luger’s push and WWE decided to cut bait on him as a main-eventer. This led to Luger heading back to WCW where he would do the best work of his career as a top tier face. Luger stands out most for being one of the most popular stars standing up against the New World Order.
6 Kevin Nash
There’s no doubt Kevin Nash is one of the most successful stars of the Monday Night Wars. Nash achieved great success in WWE as Diesel but was never truly a top star. He would win the WWE Championship but it never felt like he was above Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels in the eyes of the fans. The title reign of Diesel failed horribly and he decided to leave for WCW after being moved lower down the card.
Eric Bischoff offered Nash a massive contract and he took the offer to form the New World Order. Nash instantly became one of the biggest stars in the company and would only get more popular as time went on. As the fans grew tired of Hulk Hogan as champion, Nash became a face as the nWo split. Nash was actually a credible champion this time and one of the most popular stars in wrestling. The charisma and personality allowed him to stand out in a way that WWE didn’t showcase.
5 Ultimo Dragon
Ultimo Dragon is never remembered with the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero when breaking down the top cruiserweights from WCW. The division was loaded with outstanding talent and Dragon may have very well been the best in-ring worker. Dragon was at his peak during the late 90s and delivered an outstanding match any time he was given enough time. Success all over the world led to him earning as a reputation among the elite in-ring workers and it showed in WCW.
WWE tried to get some mileage out of Dragon by signing him for Smackdown during the brand split. Mysterio became a huge star and money maker for WWE. This led to the company hoping other masked talents like Ultimo Dragon could follow the blueprint. It didn’t work nearly as well for him and he was moved from Smackdown to Velocity after just a few weeks into his debut. WWE just didn’t believe in Dragon for whatever reason and it was a terrible tenure.
4 Scott Steiner
If there were a WCW Hall of Fame, Scott Steiner would be a first ballot induction. Steiner had outstanding stints in both singles action as the Big Poppa Pump character and tag team work with his brother Ric. They could easily be argued as the greatest tag team in wrestling history but they split up when Scott appeared ready for a singles push. The muscle head Steiner completely changed his look with a larger physique and bleach blonde hair.
Steiner became the top heel in WCW for his legitimately unpredictable demeanor. That didn’t fly in WWE years later when he signed as a big free agent. Everyone expected Steiner to become an instant main event star and he did enter the world title picture right away against Triple H. The two would go on to have horrendous matches that sunk the momentum of Steiner. WWE did nothing of note with him following the flop and his stint went down among the biggest misuses of talent in the past fifteen years.
The rise of Bill Goldberg in WCW gave us a rare instance of a new young star arriving on the scene and becoming a credible main-eventer. Most of the stars in the world title picture were in their 40s but Goldberg provided a fresh face to liven up the product. Fans fell in love with the undefeated streak that would make him a huge draw for WCW. The in-ring work of Goldberg left a lot to be desired but the money gave the necessary results to make up for it.
Wrestling fans were ecstatic to find out Goldberg made the decision to sign with WWE. There were a few dream matches on the table and Goldberg returned to the big stage. We found out rather quickly that Goldberg wasn’t a good fit in his new surroundings. WWE requires long matches from their main-eventers and Goldberg was instantly exposed. Lackluster matches against The Rock, Triple H and Chris Jericho spelled doom for Goldberg who still rants about how WWE used him to this day.
2 Dean Malenko
Many cruiserweights have been discussed here and Dean Malenko can easily be considered the best of the entire division. Malenko’s matches always impressed with unbelievable in-ring work that was ahead of its time. Many of the top WWE stars today name Malenko as one of the major influences in shaping their work. The Master of A Thousand Holds lived up to his moniker but putting on a technical display any time he stepped foot in the squared circle.
WWE acquired the services of Malenko when The Radicalz all made the jump to WWE together. Malenko was pristine in the ring but severely lacked the charisma that is typically needed to thrive in WWE. We rarely would get to see the greatness of Malenko due to his matches being short and meaningless. WWE’s lack of a credible cruiserweight division made Malenko rather pointless until he decided to end his time in the ring. For all the criticism WCW gets, we should appreciate them for giving guys like Malenko a platform to perform.
1 Diamond Dallas Page
The most drastic difference of a star’s use in WWE and WCW would be the career of Diamond Dallas Page. WCW started pushing him at an older age due to DDP getting in the game later than most. Fans adopted Page as their favorite wrestler and WCW was gifted with an organic story. The ascension of DDP followed with the fans loving him as more and more of them got on board for the ride. Page became a multiple-time WCW Champion and one of the most beloved stars in company history.
WWE purchasing WCW and starting the Invasion angle saw Booker T and Page participate as the only legitimate main-eventers coming over. The other stars waited on their fat contracts to expire before doing business with WWE. You’d have assumed this meant Page would get a big opportunity to make up for the weaknesses of WCW. Instead, he was used as the stalker of Undertaker’s wife and was buried instantly. DDP was treated as a lower card performer and did very little of note during his time in WWE despite his name value.