5 WCW rejects who became megastars in WWE
The March 26th, 2001 edition of Monday Night RAW was a moment that has been etched in the minds of professional wrestling fans. The special edition of the red brand was presented as a RAW and Nitro simulcast, with Vince McMahon announcing that he had finally won the Monday Night Wars.
Taking over the competition hadn't come easy for Vince, as he had to endure years of trauma and fear of losing to WCW. There was a time during the Attitude Era when WWE was registering poor ratings on a regular basis, while WCW was knocking it out of the park.
Thankfully, a string of decisions resulted in McMahon being able to fend off the rival and win the Monday Night Wars. Perhaps the most significant decision of them all was to push a bunch of Superstars who were nothing more than jobbers to the stars in WCW. The practice didn't stop after WCW folded, and Vince went on to create popular Superstars out of WCW rejects.
Let's take a look at five Superstars who failed in WCW, but went on to become pro-wrestling legends in WWE.
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#5 Mick Foley
In WCW, Mick Foley once lost sensation in his left foot after a match against Vader. His absence was explained by an angle which stated that he had gone crazy and was institutionalized. Foley was hoping for a serious angle and was upset with what had transpired. In his book Have A Nice Day, he went on to bash WCW executives for poorly handling his character.
In an infamous match against Vader in Germany, Foley lost his ear and wanted WCW to build an angle around it, which they refused. Foley never got past the mid-card in WCW and won the Tag Team Title on one occasion. Post-departure, Foley had a brief stint in ECW and went on to become WWE Champion in Vince McMahon's promotion.
You can call it coincidence or karma, but it was Foley's WWE championship win against the Rock on RAW which tilted the television ratings in WWE's favor. WCW made the blunder of announcing the result of Foley's pretaped encounter with the Rock on air. This prompted fans around the world to switch channels to witness Foley making history.
WCW never quite recovered, eventually surrendering the advantage to WWE.
#4 AJ Styles
Years before becoming a global superstar in WWE, AJ Styles competed in WCW for a brief period of time. Styles spent the majority of his early career wrestling with indie promotions. His incredible athleticism hadn't gone unnoticed, and World Championship Wrestling offered him a contract in early 2001. This was a time when WCW was desperately trying to create new stars and was on its last legs.
Styles was put in a tag team called Air Raid alongside Air Paris, who had worked with Styles before coming to WCW. The duo have appeared on three occasions on WCW's B-show, Thunder. Later, they were eliminated in the first round of a tournament to determine the first-ever Cruiserweight Tag Team Champions. WCW was bought off weeks later and Styles went on to carve a niche for himself in TNA and eventually WWE, where he became a legit main eventer and multi-time WWE Champion.
Styles is an industry veteran who plied his trade in promotions around the world before getting his due with WWE.
Edge wrestled in the Canadian independent circuit for a while before making his way to WWE. Amidst this switch, Edge wrestled in WCW for an extremely brief period of time. This was when WCW was chock full of WWE veterans, and the up-and-coming Superstars weren't getting the spotlight at all.
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A rare clip shows Edge going at it against Meng on an episode of WCW Pro. Meng made quick work of the rookie and defeated him via submission. WCW didn't do much with Edge after this appearance. Later, WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart trained Edge and Christian for a while at his house and was impressed enough to put on a good word for both wrestlers in WWE.
Edge went on to become a multi-time WWE Champion and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012. Even though he was a part of WCW's setup, it was during his rookie years as a wrestler. And like most of his contemporaries during that period, the Rated R Superstar was overlooked, forcing him to ply his trade elsewhere.
If the WCW ever made a list of superstars they regretted releasing owing to a lack of talent back in the day, Edge would be one of the guys taking top honors.
#2 Triple H
This might come as a surprise to many, but 'The Game' Triple H wrestled in WCW before he came into the WWE. In 1994, he signed a one-year contract with the promotion. Initially, he was referred to as Terra Ryzing, but was later renamed Jean-Paul Lévesque, a French aristocrat. He had a brief feud with Alex Wright, which ended with Wright pinning him at Starrcade.
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Later, Triple H was put into a tag team alongside William Regal, who also donned a gimmick similar to The Game's. The association didn't go anywhere as Triple H requested WCW to be pushed as a singles star, which was denied. He eventually left for WWE and became one of the biggest superstars in professional wrestling history. Triple H is currently the Executive Vice President of WWE and is all set to take the helm from Vince McMahon in the near future.
Triple H also takes a fair share of credit for making Monday Night wars what it was. As a member of the coveted anti-authority faction DX, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna and other superstars invaded the WCW arenas declaring war on the rival brand.
DX was given complete creative freedom and they put it to good use week after week, putting RAW in the driver's seat.
#1 Stone Cold Steve Austin
When fans talk about the 'Mount Rushmore' of pro-wrestling, Stone Cold's name is bound to be somewhere on top.
Initially, he became a part of Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance. Later, Austin formed a tag team with Brian Pillman, named The Hollywood Blonds.
In 1995, Eric Bischoff fired Austin, citing reasons that he didn't see him as a marketable star and that he was difficult to work with.
Austin failed to move past the mid-card in WCW. Apparently, Hulk Hogan refused to wrestle him once in WCW because he wasn't a big enough star. Stone Cold was later signed by WWE, where he became incredibly successful and is now considered one of the greatest Superstars of all time.
WCW made a lot of glaring errors that contributed to their own downfall. Amongst all of those, however, letting Stone Cold move to the WWE is something that would still give Ted Turner nightmares.