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WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

A Mark's Eye View

A Mark’s Eye View: Wrestlers who were bigger stars outside the WWF/WWE

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince’s world.

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A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling. 

A wrestler has not truly made it big until they have made their mark in the World Wrestling Federation. Critics of Vince McMahon may disagree, but by virtue of being the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, casual fans will not accept a wrestler who has not succeeded in the WWF. To many, a wrestler’s WWF run is the apex of their career. Here are some wrestlers whose best moments were outside of the WWF.

Rick Rude

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

The Ravishing One may be the poster child for finding more success outside of the WWF. During his career, Rude won belts wherever he went. He was also a regular in the Apter mags. But it was not until he went up North that casual fans heard of him. His run included him being the first person to pin the Ultimate Warrior — and winning the Intercontinental Championship in the process — and a memorable feud with Jake Roberts.

However, it was not until Rude went to WCW that his full main event potential was unlocked. He was a key member of the Dangerous Alliance and was constantly feuding against that top names in the promotion. He had matches against Sting, Ric Flair, and Rick Steamboat. Rude held the U.S Heavyweight Title from November 1991 to December 1992, a reign that is still the second longest in the history of the belt. He was also a three time WCW International World Heavyweight Champion. Rude was positioned to be a regular part of the main event scene before an injury forced him to retire in 1994.

Road Warriors

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

Vince McMahon finally got Hawk and Animal to sign to the WWF in 1990. Unfortunately for Vince, he got the Legion of Doom and not the Road Warriors. The LOD would go on to become the only team to win the AWA, NWA, and WWF World Tag Team Titles, but otherwise their run was unremarkable. Before entering the Fed, the Roadies were the most feared, respected, and revolutionary team in wrestling. They were seen as the most dominant and unbeatable team in the sport. By the time the two got to the WWF, much of their aura had disappeared. This led a historic, but completely unimpressive run.

Kerry Von Erich

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

While he was in World Class Championship Wrestling, Kerry was at the top of the promotion. He never lost cleanly, was always involved in the top programs, and was consistently in the title picture. At the peak of his popularity, Kerry beat Ric Flair in 1984. It was a short reign that ironically may have been the worst thing to happen to Kerry and World Class, but it is also the most iconic moment in the Modern Day Warrior’s career.

By the time he signed to the WWF his old stomping grounds were gone, he had faced a number of tragedies, and his foot had been amputated. He was still given a run with the Intercontinental title. It is one of the most embarrassing in the history of the belt. Kerry would constantly lose by countout or disqualification to former champion Curt Hennig. When he did win, he was usually the victim of a visual pinfall. After dropping the belt, he became an afterthought in the company and wrestling.

(Big Van) Vader

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

 

Vader was one of the most intimidating heels in wrestling, raising hell in New Japan, Mexico, and WCW. He won belts wherever he competed and left fans with memorable moments. Whether nearly causing a riot in Japan or practically squashing Sting at The Great American Bash to win the WCW World Title, Vader’s exploits were legendary. When he entered the WWF, fans could not wait to see what he would accomplish.

The answer was nothing. Vader was a part of some high profile angles and even received a WWF Title shot against Shawn Michaels, which ended up being the peak of his WWF run. He was involved in various feuds before becoming a jobber to the stars. Vader left the company having never done anything of note — unless you count one Slammy victory.

The Big Show

WWE is the big time, but some wrestlers were far more successful outside of Vince's world.

This was a close one, but after close examination it makes sense. In WCW, the Giant was a multiple time World Champion. He held various secondary titles and was part of the Tag Champs. It sounds a lot like his WWF stint. The difference is in WCW he was constantly positioned as a credible heel. He was always a serious threat to capturing any title he competed for and seemed near impossible to defeat.

In the WWF/WWE, he was a joke. From his debut costing Vince McMahon a match to his anticlimactic first WWF Championship victory, Show never really connected with WWF fans. He was seemingly plugged in to angles for no reason and took part in many skits that involved crap. His best WWF moments never lived up to when he was at the top of his game in WCW.

Next week: The most polarizing match ever.


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