World Championship Wrestling has been dead and gone for over twelve years. Throughout its history they messed up their chances with several talents who would end up going to other promotions and achieve greatness or they simply never reached their highest level of success. Here are ten wrestlers that come to mind that could have done so much more in WCW, but never did.
Perhaps the character that had the most to offer for World Championship Wrestling and achieved much less than he could have is Raven. Don’t get me wrong, Raven had a good run with the promotion from his debut in 1997 to about April 1998. However, once he dropped the WCW United States Championship to Goldberg on April 20th, Raven was just a midcarder who never rose up the card. He would get frustrated and quit the promotion in the summer of 1999 and return to ECW.
I wish that Raven didn’t quit and remained with WCW. Vince Russo was a fan of Raven’s, as a apparent by both the booking of Russo in the early days of TNA and interviews I’ve listened to. I believe Raven would have been a huge star for the promotion during the New Blood era. There were several main event feuds that Raven could have competed in that would have been fresh and money making feuds for the promotion. Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting and Booker T. I think Raven would’ve been able to produce top quality programs with those four men. A man can dream.
Another ECW guy who first got success in WCW. He had a breakout match with Sting at Beach Blast 1992 but wouldn’t rise up the card in the promotion again until he turned face in early 1993 and had a feud with Vader in 1993. During 1993 Jack and Vader had some brutal matches on television that got Cactus over huge with the crowd. They had a match at Havoc 1993 which Vader won. After that, Jack would be simply placed in the tag division where he teamed with Maxx Payne and Kevin Sullivan. Cactus would leave in September 1994 and would arrive in the WWF in March 1996.
WCW wasted Jack after Havoc 1993. From everything that I’ve watched of WCW in the mid 1990s the fans were eating up Cactus and enjoyed his hardcore style. There are several feuds that Cactus could have still done in WCW. Especially a deranged Cactus feuding with a babyface Flair or Hogan. Those two feuds would have appealed to internet fans along with the general public. Instead, WCW tossed Jack to the side and let the WWF snatch up a great performer.
Without question Bret Hart was horribly misused in WCW. Yeah, the Montreal Screw job really ruined Bret, but the booking of Hart in WCW is head scratching and makes you wonder how could a company use someone so poorly. When it came to in-ring action Hart was active from 1998-1999 in WCW. So, that is twenty four pay per views. Out of twenty four pay per views Bret wrestled on eleven pay per views. There was a stretch from November ’98 to October ’99 where Hart didn’t compete on pay per view. Of course, in May 1999 Bret’s younger brother Owen Hart passed away so he took time away from the promotion. Regardless of that from November 98 to April 1999 Bret didn’t appear on pay per view. Actually, he wasn’t even regularly used on television.
Bret was a victim of Eric Bischoff just looking to sign wrestlers with a name to take out the World Wrestling Federation. Besides, working with guys like Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall who either didn’t want to work with Bret are felt insulted by him in the WWF. Bret was doomed from the start in WCW. At least he made a lot of money in WCW for the time he was there.
I am a big fan of what Mike Awesome did in ECW. Paul Heyman was able to book Awesome very well and the guys in ECW bumped liked crazy to make Awesome look even better. Then, he took the money and ran to WCW in April 2000. Sadly, Awesome never got the big push that people probably expected. He had a brief feud with Scott Steiner and a feud with Lance Storm where they had a few good matches despite their limited time given. I remember their match at New Blood Rising where Awesome beat Storm several times but the referee found ways to continue the match. The referee was Jacques Rougeau helping Storm. Then, Storm won the match after the referee knocked Awesome out. It ruined both men in that match.
Awesome was the perfect bad-ass for WCW but they never got behind him 100%. So, they made him into that 70s Guy and the Fat Chick Thriller. Neither character lasted longer than two months. Towards the end he became Canadian and associated himself with Team Canada get a more serious look after cutting his hair. The year or so he was in WCW damaged his career and was never the same due to that and injuries he would suffer. Mike Awesome could have been a huge heel for the company and delivered a fun feud with Goldberg.
Not everyone is a big fan of Vampiro, but I am. Vampiro really started to establish himself as a babyface in late 1999 and in early 2000 he was becoming one of the most popular acts WCW had to offer. WCW aligned Vampiro with Sting in early 2000 and the association would make people believe that maybe Vampiro would become the new face of the company that Sting had held for over a decade. Instead, WCW turned Vampiro heel and had him lose to Sting every single time they wrestled from April to September 2000.
At a time when WCW needed to create new stars, they had that chance with Vampiro and decided to squash it by turning Vampiro into a heel. They had plenty of heels already but not nearly enough guys the crowd could get behind. I may be in the minority but Vampiro could have succeeded as a babyface in 2000.
Yes, I’m aware that Booker T was a five time WCW World Heavyweight Champion. But, lets look at it this way. He won the championship in July 2000 and the company was out of business by March 2001. That right there shows me that Booker was never given an opportunity to run with the championship. The constant title changes ruined the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and also hurt Booker in the main event scene.
Besides, Booker being given a shot in the main event scene in 2000 is at least two years too late. Booker and Chris Benoit had a best of seven series in 1998 that were some of the best television matches in wrestling. You’d think that after those matches they would rise up the ranks but that never happened. Could you imagine Booker vs. Benoit in 1999 feuding over the WCW World Heavyweight Championship? That was never going to happen with guys like Flair and Hogan hogging the main event picture. So, despite his success in the dying days of the promotion Booker was largely misused and elevated up the card far too late.
1998 was a year that saw Chris Jericho become a household name and provide some of the most entertaining stuff to ever happen in WCW. His feud with Dean Malenko provided a great emotional attachment to Malenko as the fans itched for Malenko to get his revenge on Jericho. All this happened while Dean wasn’t on television. That shows you how talented Jericho was at the time and still is.
The fact that WCW couldn’t see Jericho as the main event player that he would become in the WWF is baffling. Jericho proved that he could have advanced up the card with his feud with Goldberg in the fall and winter of 1998. As Jericho said in his book, their match would have been the greatest squash match in wrestling history. Jericho was young, could wrestle great matches and had charisma through the rough. How WCW just allowed him to leave is incredible.
Three years prior to Jericho, Steve Austin was going through the same situation with WCW. Austin had plenty of success in WCW by winning the United States, Television and Tag Team Championships. However, once Hulk Hogan arrived to WCW Austin’s push was derailed in favor of promoting Jim Duggan who would beat Austin in less than thirty five seconds at Fall Brawl 1994. At that point, Austin would never earn any notable wins and less than a year later he was gone from WCW.
Austin was a main event guy just waiting to rise up the card in 1993. Himself and Brian Pillman had a great little feud with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson during the summer of ’93 but they would be split up by October of that year, which was a shame. Personally, I wish there was a lengthy program between Austin and Flair in 1994 where Austin would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Perhaps if Hogan hadn’t arrived to WCW that could have happened. But, Austin could have worked a program with Hogan as well, which he has said he had pitched but Eric Bischoff decided against doing. For as smart as Eric Bischoff claims to be, he really let some great wrestlers or ideas fall through the cracks.
There may be some people who find this selection to be confusing, but I always thought that Norton had a look and ability that was never used very well by WCW. Norton was a massive guy who was hardly ever used much by WCW after he joined the New World Order. Norton should have been used as an enforcer for the New World Order better and worked with the top babyfaces of the company. The idea of a feud between Norton and Hogan interests me to this day. Hogan always worked well with big guys and with Norton having an incredible body, I feel like fans could have bought into Norton had he been pushed strongly. Norton is a unique pick, I know.
For a few months in 1998 Bryan Clarke was really starting to make a splash in WCW under the name Wrath. He was going through a similar angle that Goldberg had done where he had a lengthy win streak going for him. However, during the build up for the Nash/Goldberg at Starrcade 1998, Nash decided to beat Wrath on Nitro in roughly five minutes to kill any momentum that Clarke had going for himself. Clarke could have been a another face that got over big time in WCW, but was killed off before he got too hot. He had the look and intensity to make a name for himself. Who knows what could have happened had Wrath maintained a push. I think some kind of alliance between Goldberg and Wrath taking on the New World Order would have been neat. He did get more success in the form of a tag team named Kronik with Brian Adams, though. He just could have gotten much more in the late 1990s.
Those are some names that came to mind when it came to guys who were misused by WCW. Feel free to share your own thoughts on this list and other wrestlers that weren’t used well by the company below.
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.