Friday, February 23

10 Most Surprising Departures In WCW History

Since the launch of AEW in 2019, fans have seen several big-name performers jump from WWE to AEW and vice versa. This takes many fans back to the 90s when stars would regularly shock the wrestling world by jumping between WWE, WCW, and even ECW. Before the advent of the internet, it was harder to track performers’ contracts which kept the element of surprise in play.


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10 Best WCW Debuts Ever, Ranked

WCW had its problems when it came to booking some of these stars, but that isn’t to say that the debuts themselves weren’t amazing.

The 90s saw some huge names jump from WWE to WCW and change the pro wrestling landscape. WCW did lose their fair share of stars to WWE and ECW, however. In hindsight, some of those departures were pretty surprising.


10 Lex Luger To The WBF

Year Of Departure: 1992

WCW Career Highlights

WCW World Champion, WCW United States Champion, WCW World Tag Team Champion, WCW World Television Champion

Final WCW Appearance

WCW SuperBrawl 2

Reason For Leaving

Contract Dispute

In the late 80s, Lex Luger hit the wrestling scene and quickly became one of the NWA’s and Jim Crockett Promotions’ building blocks for the future. When JCP became WCW, the promotion continued to heavily push Luger. In 1991, Luger would even be crowned WCW World Heavyweight Champion. “The Total Package” seemed like a made-man in WCW.

To the surprise of many fans, in 1992, Luger negotiated his release from WCW and signed with Vince McMahon’s start-up bodybuilding promotion, the WBF. After the WBF folded, Luger would debut in WWE in 1993. He’d become a big star in the promotion but would ultimately go back to WCW in 1995.

9 The Steiner Brothers To WWE

Year Of Departure: 1992

WCW Career Highlights

WCW World Tag Team Champions, NWA World Tag Team Champions, NWA United States Tag Team Champions

Final WCW Appearance

WCW House Show 9/20/1992

Reason For Leaving

Contract Dispute

Similar to Lex Luger, The Steiner Brothers were viewed as building blocks for WCW in the early 90s. The pair was arguably the best tag team on that planet at the time. Additionally, both competitors had pretty strong stand-alone value which made them that much more appealing. In late 1992, however, a contract dispute would see The Steiners depart WCW.

It wouldn’t take the pair long to pop up in WWE. The brothers would experience some success in WWE, winning the WWE Tag Team Championships twice. Despite that, they never seemed to fully fit in with the rest of the WWE roster. They would leave the company in 1994 and eventually end up back in WCW.

8 Cactus Jack To ECW

Year Of Departure: 1994

WCW Career Highlights

Former WCW World Tag Team Champion, Marquee Feud With Sting, Marquee Feud With Big Van Vader

Final WCW Appearance

WCW House Show 7/30/1994

Reason For Leaving

Creative Differences

In pro wrestling, you rarely ever see a performer voluntarily take a step backward. That’s exactly what Cactus Jack did in 1994, however. Cactus had grown tired of the backstage politics in WCW and jumped at the opportunity to work in a promotion where he had a lot more creative input.

The future Hardcore Legend would soon find himself working in ECW. It would be a financial step back from WCW but it allowed Cactus to grow significantly from a character standpoint. Eventually, he turned his strong ECW run into an opportunity with WWE in 1996, which he fully took advantage of.

7 Raven To ECW

Year Of Departure: 1999

WCW Career Highlights

WCW United States Champion, Leader Of Raven’s Flock

Final WCW Appearance

WCW Monday Nitro 5/17/1999

Reason For Leaving

Creative Differences

While most wrestling fans focused on WWE and WCW during the 90s, hardcore fans know that ECW played a huge role in reshaping wrestling during the 90s. One of the main reasons was ECW’s foresight in pushing counterculture antiheroes like Raven. The former “Johnny Polo” would become a main event star during his time in ECW and eventually leverage his success into a big-money contract with WCW.

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Raven was among the most consistent WCW wrestlers, having good matches and receiving great crowd reactions from his various rivalries.

After moderate success in WCW, Raven would reportedly walk out on the promotion during a backstage meeting with Eric Bischoff and the rest of the WCW roster. Apparently, Raven wasn’t happy with his character’s creative direction. When Bischoff made a comment about anyone who wasn’t happy with their role being able to leave, Raven took him up on his offer and made his way back to ECW.

6 Brian Pillman To ECW/WWE

Year Of Departure: 1996

WCW Career Highlights

WCW Light Heavyweight Champion, NWA United States Tag Team Champion, WCW World Tag Team Champion, Competed In First WCW Monday Nitro Match

Final WCW Appearance

WCW SuperBrawl 6

Reason For Leaving

Tricked Eric Bischoff For Release

Before the internet became such a prominent part of the wrestling community, it was a lot harder to distinguish kayfabe from real life. In that confusing chaos, Brian Pillman thrived. In late 1995, Pillman developed his “Loose Cannon” persona and started to blur the lines of reality. In 1996, Pillman finessed Eric Bischoff into releasing him from his WCW contract.

Bischoff was led to believe he and Pillman were in cahoots and that Pillman would eventually return to WCW to pay off the angle. “Easy E” would be mistaken though. Pillman would take his release and surprisingly pop up in ECW before signing a lucrative deal with WWE.

5 The Giant To WWE

Year Of Departure: 1999

WCW Career Highlights

WCW World Champion, WCW World Tag Team Champion, nWo Member

Final WCW Appearance

WCW Monday Nitro 1/11/1999

Reason For Leaving

Wanted More Money

Athletic big men have always been a hot commodity in pro wrestling. This is why despite having zero prior experience, The Giant was pushed so heavily after joining WCW. He would eventually become WCW Champion and rub shoulders with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, and many more legends.

In early 1999, The Giant would disappear from WCW television and sit out the rest of his WCW contract due to dissatisfaction with his pay. At St. Valentine’s Massacre, the wrestling world would be shocked when The Giant would pop up in WWE under his real name and attack “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. After a bit of a rocky start, The Big Show would become a pivotal piece of the WWE puzzle for the next decade and a half.

4 Chris Jericho To WWE

Year Of Departure: 1999

WCW Career Highlights

WCW Cruiserweight Champion, WCW World Television Champion

Final WCW Appearance

WCW House Show 7/21/1999

Reason For Leaving

Grossly Underutilized By WCW

From 1996 to 1998, WCW and their flagship stable, The nWo, were red hot, turning everything they touched into gold. Anyone with foresight could’ve probably seen that eventually, the good times would end. WCW management didn’t see that though. If they had, then maybe they would’ve given stars like Chris Jericho more opportunities.

In 1999, an underutilized Jericho would surprisingly debut in WWE and immediately be presented as a bigger star than at any point during his WCW career. Jericho’s departure would start a trend of underutilized WCW talent jumping to WWE. In hindsight, all those defections hurt WCW’s roster depth and eventually contributed to the company’s demise.

3 Syxx To WWE

Year Of Departure: 1999

WCW Career Highlights

WCW Cruiserweight Champion, WCW World Tag Team Champion, nWo Member

Final WCW Appearance

WCW Saturday Night 10/14/1997

Reason For Leaving

Contract Dispute

In early 1998, Shawn Michaels suffered a career-threatening back injury and was forced to step away from wrestling. This left the future of D-Generation-X in question since Michaels was the leader and the group’s driving force. Triple H would take the helm of the group and immediately add a new member to essentially replace Michaels.

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10 Things Fans Forget About Sean Waltman (Syxx) In WCW

Sean Waltman’s time in WCW as Syxx may have been short-lived, but he provided plenty of memorable moments for the nWo.

To the shock of many fans, X-Pac would be revealed as the new DX member. He had recently been fired by Eric Bischoff over a contract dispute and wasted little time finding employment. Bischoff has gone on record saying X-Pac’s defection was a bigger blow to WCW and The nWo than it seemed at the time.

2 The Radicalz To WWE

Year Of Departure: 2000

WCW Career Highlights

WCW United States Champion, WCW Cruiserweight Champion (Guerrero, Malenko), WCW World Tag Team Champion (Saturn, Malenko), WCW World Television Champion (Saturn)

Final WCW Appearance

WCW Souled Out 2000

Reason For Leaving

Grossly Underutilized By WCW

One or two performers leaving a promotion for another one isn’t anything out of the ordinary. An entire stable of performers though, that’s something totally unexpected. In early 2000 though, that’s exactly what happened when The Radicalz jumped from WCW to WWE. In WCW, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and their comrade were treated like afterthoughts.

The group would be presented in a much better light immediately upon arriving in WWE. Sure, it would take the group some time to find serious success in WWE but that day would’ve never come in WCW. The defection of four young up-and-coming stars crippled WCW at a time when the company was already on wobbly legs.

1 Ric Flair To WWE

Year Of Departure: 1991

WCW Career Highlights

WCW World Champion, NWA World Champion, NWA United States Champion, NWA World Tag Team Champion

Final WCW Appearance

WCW House Show 6/23/1991

Reason For Leaving

Creative Differences With Jim Herd

During the 80s and early 90s, Ric Flair was the heart and soul of the NWA, Jim Crockett Promotions, and WCW. He was the unquestioned top draw in the company and the top of the food chain. In 1991, however, Flair would have a falling out with WCW management and would abruptly leave the company as the reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

In a shocking turn of events, Flair would pop up in WWE in late 1991 and even bring the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt with him. Flair would show off the belt on WWE programming until a cease and desist order prevented him from doing so. Flair in WWE is something that many JCP and WCW fans thought they’d never see.

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