->''WCW: 1988 - 2001 -- Where the Big Boys Played''

World Championship Wrestling (WCW) is a defunct [[ProfessionalWrestling professional wrestling promotion]] that operated under the corporate umbrella of Turner Broadcasting (a Time Warner company after 1996) from 1988 until 2001. They're most notable for doing something that nobody else in the business had done before, or has done since: namely, they, as former WCW president Wrestling/EricBischoff famously put it, beat the [[Wrestling/{{WWE}} World Wrestling Federation]] at their own game for 84 weeks in a row. Naturally, this success didn't come right away.

WCW started as a regional promotion, Jim Crockett Promotions (which was affiliated with the Wrestling/NationalWrestlingAlliance). The "World Championship Wrestling" name was used in various forms by various promotions affiliated with the NWA. When Ted Turner purchased JCP, the company began using the WCW name full-time. Turner was bought out by Time Warner in 1996; WCW's association with the NWA was dissolved in 1991 (and fully ended in 1993), which resulted in the NWA's World Heavyweight Championship becoming a WCW belt, as WCW owned it (the "Big Gold Belt", as it came to be known; it is now known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship).

In the promotion's early years as WCW, it was horribly mismanaged and badly written by people who had no idea what wrestling fans wanted to see, and devised [[GimmickMatches stunts and gimmicks]] intending (and failing) to capture the glamor and flash of the WWF: such as a live appearance by Franchise/RoboCop(!) at a pay-per-view event, or the infamous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Scorpion_(professional_wrestling) Black Scorpion]] storyline. Jim Herd, a former TV station manager and Pizza Hut executive with no experience in the wrestling industry, ended up making the biggest mistake in the company's early years when he asked Wrestling/RicFlair to drop the "Nature Boy" persona, shave his head, and take up a gladiator gimmick. On top of that, he wanted to move Flair, the company's biggest draw, away from the main event, and he wanted Flair to drop the WCW World Title to Wrestling/LexLuger (Flair refused, because he wanted to drop the belt to Wrestling/{{Sting}}). This led to WCW officially firing Flair prior to the Great American Bash in summer 1991. Flair jumped to the WWF, taking the Big Gold Belt with him (since WCW didn't return the deposit he'd paid on it, he felt he didn't have to return it). Herd was fired not too long after this. Unfortunately, he was replaced by "Cowboy" Bill Watts, who, among other poor decisions, made top-rope moves illegal, severely restricting some wrestlers' movesets.

Watts was replaced by Eric Bischoff in 1993 (whose promotion from announcer to '''[[PointyHairedBoss Executive Vice President]]''' of the company led announcer Wrestling/JimRoss to leave WCW and join the WWF, a decision that very few would question these days). Bischoff eagerly set about trying to build the promotion into a juggernaut, and he did so by poaching away the WWF's biggest names with lucrative contracts (all backed by the money of Turner Broadcasting) and pairing them with both old WCW/NWA mainstays and the hottest young talent that they could lure away from a fledgling upstart promotion by the name of [[Wrestling/{{ECW}} Extreme Championship Wrestling]]. He also started populating the roster with international wrestlers through working arrangements with Mexico's Wrestling/{{AAA}} promotion and Wrestling/NewJapanProWrestling (mainly high-flying "cruiserweights" like Wrestling/UltimoDragon, Wrestling/ReyMysterioJr, and Wrestling/EddieGuerrero). Bischoff took the fight right to the WWF's front doorstep, asking Turner (who owned WCW as well as the TBS and TNT networks, which aired WCW programming) to give them a timeslot right alongside the WWF's ''[[Wrestling/WWERaw Monday Night Raw]]''. Turner relented, and WCW debuted ''[[Wrestling/WCWMondayNitro Monday Nitro]]'' in 1995; Bischoff decided to take advantage of the timeslot by airing the show live every week and, in several instances, giving away the results of WWF shows which were often taped weeks in advance.

WCW's fortunes didn't really pick up, however, until they came up with an idea that was as simple as it was brilliant. When Wrestling/ScottHall and Wrestling/KevinNash (Razor Ramon and Diesel in the WWF) defected to WCW, people wondered if they were actually under contract to WCW or if they'd been sent by the WWF to "invade" the promotion. Bischoff ran with this and labeled Hall and Nash "The Outsiders", booking it as though they were looking to destroy WCW from the inside out. But they weren't alone: leading up to the 1996 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, Hall and Nash teased a "third member" of their group. At the event, the Outsiders (and their "third man") were booked to face Lex Luger, Wrestling/RandySavage, and Sting, but the Outsiders chose not to reveal their third man just yet, leaving them in a 2-on-3 situation. During the match, Luger was incapacitated, leaving it as a 2-on-2 match; eventually, Wrestling/HulkHogan came out to the ring, looking as if he was going to aid Sting and Savage. [[FaceHeelTurn Instead, he turned on them]], thus revealing that he was the third member of the group. From this moment, and Hogan's now-famous post-match promo, the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder nWo]] was born.

Naturally, fans were shocked.[[note]]The show itself only got a pathetic 0.71 buyrate and drew 8,300 people for a gate of $72,000, the lowest for a ''Bash at the Beach'' where WCW charged admission. The year before, it had been held at Huntington Beach, CA, where the "audience" was whoever happened to have been at the beach at the time.[[/note]] Hulk Hogan (now calling himself "Hollywood" Hogan) had been the Franchise/{{Superman}} of pro wrestling for over a decade. He was the colorful, muscle-bound superhero who told kids they could do anything as long as they trained, said their prayers, took their vitamins, and believed in themselves. How on Earth could they play him as a villain? More and more fans tuned in to watch as the entire promotion went to war, the soap opera wheel being abandoned as WCW's entire roster all found themselves in the sights of the ever-growing nWo. The fans must have liked what they saw, since the WWF began hemorrhaging viewers while WCW swept them up. WCW even temporarily displaced the WWF as the biggest wrestling promotion in the world (as partially stated above, ''Nitro'' defeated ''Raw'' in the ratings for 84 straight weeks, thanks mainly to the strength of the [=nWo=] angle). There was even a point where the WWF was seriously looking at bankruptcy. This period, known as the Wrestling/MondayNightWars, resulted in the biggest success for the professional wrestling industry in years, as the nWo angle for WCW, and the WWF's answer in the Wrestling/AttitudeEra, led to a huge surge in popularity (and financial success) for both promotions in the late 1990s.

Unfortunately for WCW, their success didn't last. As the WWF reinvented itself with a new darker and edgier image [[FollowTheLeader lifted in part from ECW]], WCW kept [[ArcFatigue milking the nWo for all it was worth]]. The group was originally planned to dissolve after Starrcade 1997, where WCW mainstay Sting defeated Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Instead, the group split into two factions (the "original" nWo, led by Hogan, and the nWo Wolfpac, led by Kevin Nash), which [[EvilVsEvil feuded with each other]] throughout 1998--fitting for the era, but not very scintillating to watch. Things were looking up, though. WCW not only managed to secure a second major show in ''Thunder'', but it was building up a new megastar in Wrestling/{{Goldberg}}. Booked as a near-invincible human wrecking machine, Goldberg's undefeated streak became legendary. His biggest victory was during the ''Nitro'' on July 6, 1998, where he defeated "Hollywood" Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship; while the match helped give WCW its last major ratings victory against the WWF, it cost them potentially millions in pay-per-view revenue. 1998 also saw several other bad moves by the company that led into its decline, such as several pay-per-view matches with non-wrestlers (including Jay Leno and Karl Malone) and [[Wrestling/UltimateWarrior The Ultimate Warrior]]'s short WCW tenure (which culminated in one of the worst matches ever as he faced "Hollywood" Hogan at Halloween Havoc 1998). Their biggest mistake, however, was yet to come.

At Starrcade 1998, Nash defeated Goldberg for the the World Title, which also ended Goldberg's undefeated streak; two weeks later on ''Monday Nitro'', Nash and Hogan were scheduled to have a match for the World Title, but instead, Nash [[FingerpokeOfDoom took a poke to the chest from Hogan and sold it like he'd been shot with a cannon]], lying down on the mat. After the pinfall, the two [=nWo=] factions reformed and ended up beating down an enraged Goldberg, who had been kept out of the arena for most of the show by nWo trickery. This incident came to be known as the Fingerpoke of Doom; in addition to the main event swerve, announcer Tony Schiavone, per Bischoff's orders, revealed prior to ''Nitro'''s main event that fan-favorite [[Wrestling/MickFoley Mick "Mankind" Foley]] would be winning the WWF Championship on a pre-taped edition of ''Raw'' [[ItWillNeverCatchOn ("That's gonna put some butts in the seats, heh.")]], essentially inviting over ''half a million viewers to change the channel'' -- [[DidntThinkThisThrough which they did.]] The debacle ended up turning many fans away from WCW and towards the WWF (you can read all about the incident, and its impact on both WCW and the WWF, on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fingerpoke_of_Doom That Other Wiki]]).

Following the Fingerpoke of Doom, WCW tried desperately to reinvent itself. After several botched attempts to cross-promote musicians such as Music/{{KISS}} and the rap group No Limit Soldiers in 1999, Time Warner took control of the company away from Bischoff and brought in former WWF writers Wrestling/VinceRusso and Ed Ferrara (who had built themselves up as the "brains" behind the Attitude Era). Russo and Ferrara tried to turn the image of the company around, but they were met with several setbacks, including Wrestling/BretHart suffering a career-ending injury at the hands (or, more accurately, foot) of Goldberg - who then accidentally injured himself during a backstage segment on ''Nitro'' two weeks later. Less than three months after they'd come into the promotion, Russo and Ferrara were suspended, and Wrestling/KevinSullivan was placed in charge of the promotion's booking. This change led to several wrestlers wishing to leave the company. In an attempt to appease these wrestlers, Wrestling/ChrisBenoit was booked to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Souled Out 2000. However, this didn't do enough to appease them, and Benoit gave the belt back, leaving WCW and signing with the WWF the very next day; Wrestling/PerrySaturn, Wrestling/DeanMalenko, and Eddie Guerrero followed Benoit, and all four debuted on ''Raw'' two weeks later as "The Radicalz".

WCW eventually reinstated both Russo and Bischoff, and the duo "reset" the company in April 2000, splitting the company into two factions: the "New Blood" (younger, newer stars) and the "Millionaires' Club" (older stars such as Nash and Hogan). Unfortunately, this was perceived as [[ItsTheSameNowItSucks a rehash of the nWo vs. WCW feud]], and many fans never got it. Unorthodox, illogical, and just plain stupid angles continued as WCW degenerated into so bad it's horrible territory, with the final straw for many fans being the crowning of actor David Arquette as the company's world champion. After Time Warner merged with AOL and discovered that WCW had become little more than a colossal money pit (and Turner was no longer in a position to protect the promotion), they started immediately cutting budgets. Eventually, WCW found itself on the chopping block, and it was ultimately sold to the WWF in early 2001 (weeks before [[Wrestling/WrestleMania WrestleMania X-Seven]]) at what amounted to fire-sale prices just days before the final ''Monday Nitro''. With both WCW and ECW (which had gone out of business just a couple of months prior) in their back pockets, the WWF was left as the lone major professional wrestling promotion in the United States.

Following the company's sale, the WWF made tentative plans to revive it as a wholly separate "promotion" that was still covered by the WWF umbrella. Unfortunately, following the appearances of WCW midcarders on WWF programming, these plans were scrapped, and the "[=InVasion=]" angle was born. After the angle ended, WCW stuck around in name only as the company's titles were all eventually unified with their WWF counterparts, ending with the unification of the WCW and WWF Championships at Vengeance 2001 into the WWF Undisputed Championship. Ironically, the man who unified the titles was the first major WCW-to-WWF defection during the Monday Night Wars: Wrestling/ChrisJericho (who defeated both [[Wrestling/DwayneJohnson The Rock]] and Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin in the same night - in back-to-back matches, no less! - to unify the two titles).

While WCW is often talked about in hushed tones by marks and smart marks alike, many choose to remember the classic moments and genuine superstars that the company produced in its heydey. A 2004 book titled ''[[Literature/TheDeathOfWCW The Death of WCW]]'' leans heavily on the former, chronicling the company's struggles in the eighties and ([[HopeSpot temporary, alas]]) resurgence as it neared the new millennium.

By the time WCW closed down, they had the following Championships:
* WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It was defended on WWE programming until it was merged with the WWE Championship to become the Undisputed WWE Championship.
* The WCW Cruiserweight Championsip. It was defended in WWE before its retirement in 2008.
* The WCW United States Championship. It is currently being used in WWE.
* The WCW World Tag Team Championship. Were defended on WWE programming, and later retired when merged with the WWE (World) Tag Team Titles
* The WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship. After WWE's purchase of WCW, this was one of two titles to be abandoned and never be defended on WWE programming.
* The WCW Hardcore Championship. Much like the Cruiserweight Tag Team titles, after WCW closed, it was also abandoned and never be defended on WWE programming.

!!Tropes associated with WCW:
* AmazonBrigade: WCW had two women's championships, though they were rarely showcased on television and almost exclusively defended outside of the United States, mostly in Japan (just like in Wrestling/{{A|merican Wrestling Association}}WA) so most viewers just saw Nitro Girls and [=nWo=] Girls, who were mostly there to dance for the crowd during the commercial break.
* AntiHeroSubstitute: The nWo ''never'' lose, to the point that in the ''Nitro'' prior to Starrcade 1997, the nWo [[HostileShowTakeover took over the show]] and renamed it ''nWo Monday Nitro''.
* BShow: ''Thunder'' and ''WCW Saturday Night'' (the latter was originally WCW's flagship program before ''Nitro'').
* BatDeduction: Used to explain Sting's [[FaceHeelTurn face heel turn]] in a [[http://youtu.be/Vwifa3PVPIM truly amazing hype video.]]
** In a nutshell someone in a white hummer tried to run over Kevin Nash. On a different show Sting was seen coming out of a black hummer. So Sting must have been the one who ran over Kevin Nash.
* BatFamilyCrossover: Regarding its "farm leagues", such as the Heartland Wrestling Association, which one could say remained as a remnant of WCW after it went under.
* CardboardBoxes: There were always plenty of them backstage for someone to be knocked into. Clangy poles were also featured, which served no other purpose than to be knocked down and make noise (at least the boxes could be {{justified|trope}} as emptied of equipment used during the show).
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: The Four Horsemen, Lex Luger and the [=nWo=] were all subject to this. Especially when it involved Sting.
* ContinuityReboot: A rare in-company example of this took place in April 2000.
-->'''Dave Meltzer:''' The changes in ''Nitro'' remind me of putting a nice, fresh coat of paint on a house that had just been hit by a Tornado.
* CrushingHandshake: Played with at WCW Bash at the Beach 1998. Stevie Ray faced Wrestling/ChavoGuerreroJr, with the stipulation that if Chavo didn't win the match, he had to face Eddie Guerrero in a "loser gets their head shaved" match immediately following. Chavo, wanting to be fresh for the next match (and ''really'' wanting to get to Eddie after weeks of abuse at his hands) offers Stevie a pre-match handshake and immediately taps out once a shocked-looking Stevie takes his hand. [[EpicFail Chavo would proceed to lose to Eddie and shave his own head,]] [[AxCrazy then try to shave Eddie's head while shrieking, "WE CAN BE TWINS, EDDIE!"]]
* CuckoolanderCommentator: The voice of WCW, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5oU1w8_lq8 Tony Schiavone]]. It was like listening to Cave Johnson call the match. He's no [[Wrestling/MikeAdamle Adamle]] when it comes to gaffes, but he's pretty close.
* DontTouchItYouIdiot:
-->'''Tony Schiavone:''' That's gonna put some butts in the seats!
** Once again, Bischoff's obsession with tearing down the WWE backfired on him here. Much earlier, Bischoff had made Vince s**t bricks by spoiling pre-taped WWE matches at his own live events. Where he miscalculated on Jan. 4, 1999 was that Mankind was no Shawn Michaels. To put it another way, Mick was the underdog garbage wrestler, the long-shot contender. Fans were '''less''' likely to tune into ''Raw'' before Tony's comments. Even Russo, crazy and meta as he is, would have warned Bischoff not to do this.
* {{Expy}}: Glacier for [[Franchise/MortalKombat Sub-Zero]].
** Mortis also seemed to be a combination of Reptile and Scorpion, and Wrath's entrance attire was somewhat Shao Kahn inspired.
** Arachnaman was such a blatant Franchise/{{Spider-Man}} ripoff that Creator/MarvelComics threatened legal action, and the character was quickly abandoned.
* FaceHeelTurn: When Hulk Hogan joined the nWo. It is one of the most memorable and well done turns in wrestling.
* FakeBand: The West Texas Rednecks (which included Minnesota native, Wrestling/CurtHennig). Despite being pushed as {{heel}}s against Master P's No Limit Soldiers, they were cheered anyways and actually received airtime on Southern radio stations.
** 3 Count, a parody of the [[BoyBand boy band]] phenomenon.
* [[FingerpokeOfDoom Fingerpoke of Doom]]: The {{trope namer|s}}. Kevin Nash laid down for Hulk Hogan after receiving a gentle poke in the chest, effectively making Hogan the World Heavyweight Champion again, as well as mocking the audience.
* HeelFaceRevolvingDoor: Bret Hart for his entire WCW career; arguably a pretty good reason why he couldn't get over as well as he did in the WWF.
** Lex Luger, 1998-99.
** Ric Flair. Full stop.
** ''Everybody'' had this problem in the Vince Russo era.
* HostileShowTakeover: The nWo existed to take over WCW and make it their own playground. They had some amount of success at this; they took over ''Nitro'' on two separate occasions, and put on their own pay-per-view event once.
* IncompetenceInc: This had always been present to some degree. But WCW from mid-1999 until the bitter end took this into new heights. For the year of 2000, WCW managed to lose ''$80 million''. This is what lead to WCW getting sold to main rival the WWF for about $3 million.
** Previously, Ted Turner had been able to tell anyone who suggested closing or selling WCW to stuff it, but after the AOL Time Warner merger, he was put in a figurehead position where he had no real power, which lead to an exec who'd never been part of the wrestling business named Jamie Kellner cancelling all WCW related programming and Turner being unable to do anything about it. Kellner himself was a great example of incompetence, and was forced out of his AOL Time Warner job in 2003. For that matter, AOL Time Warner wasn't exactly not incompetent. As ''The Death of WCW'' phrased it, "Sure, WCW may have lost $62 million in one year, but did they ever lose ''$54 billion'' in ''one quarter''?
** [[http://www.wackbag.com/showthread.php/80399-The-Stupidity-of-WCW The opening post of this thread highlights many of the fuck-ups that led to the company's demise.]]
* InsistentTerminology: Bischoff insisted on the term "Cruiserweight" instead of "Light Heavyweight" because he felt the latter made the smaller wrestlers seem less important.
** There was also a period of time which Turner handed down a mandate that [[PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad banned the word "foreign" from being used on his network in favor of the word "international."]] As such, [[ScunthorpeProblem foreign objects became "international objects" on WCW television]].
* InsultBackfire: How many times has this actually killed a company? WCW might well be the first when they revealed that Mick Foley would win the WWF Championship, which caused over half a million fans to switched over to ''Raw'' after WCW insulted him.
** Among the various people that WCW thought weren't worth a main event push were "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Triple H, and Rey Mysterio, Jr. ''All'' of these guys became celebrated world champions when they went to WWE. WCW also let Jim Ross go because they thought he wouldn't go over well with mainstream America. Whoops.
** Hell, they screwed up with the guy who would become ''[[Wrestling/TheUndertaker The Undertaker]]''. Uhm... how the hell do you do that? He was practically the image of everything people wanted in wrestling at the time. After toiling around for a few months as unremarkable mid-card heel "Mean" Mark Callous, he gave his notice, went to the WWF and never looked back.
** Inverted with Bret Hart: He ''had'' caught on in the WWF, but WCW didn't have a clue what to do with him. Hart was even warned about this by Vince [=McMahon=] after giving his notice and Hart realized almost immediately after he debuted that [=McMahon=] was right.
** In fact, this and the shocking swerve are the two main reasons why WCW went out of business in the first place.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: At its height, WCW had over 240 wrestlers on its roster. Unlike most examples, though, only perhaps half of them were ever actually seen on television. This was both a deliberate plan and a grievous error on WCW's part. Part of their plan on competing with the WWF was to buy up competing talent for the sole purpose of keeping them from signing with the competition. While some were given spots on WCW programming, most others (mostly CListFodder) simply got to lay back and collect paychecks while "working" under a non-compete agreement. Unfortunately for WCW, even this plan got away from them, as the sheer number of wrestlers became unmanageable on a week to week basis. At the time, wrestlers were paid on a per-show basis, whether or not they actually worked on that show. Attendance was taken by signing your own name in on a clipboard. A fair number of [[GenreSavvy genre savvy]] workers, knowing full well that WCW didn't have any intention of actually using them, simply stayed at home and had friends of theirs on the roster sign in their names in their place.
** There were also many who would still travel in a full-time schedule on the company's dime without working any matches. Only in 2000 did they start to only fly out any talent who were actually regularly being booked.
* TheMovie: ''[[Film/ReadyToRumble Ready to Rumble]]'', as much as fans would rather not acknowledge this.
* NonIndicativeName: On March 8, 1999, Kevin Nash had the brilliant idea to not book any wrestling matches for the first hour of ''Nitro''. This, predictably, lead to ''Raw'' slaughtering ''Nitro'' that night.
* PartsUnknown:
** Various members of the Wrestling/DungeonOfDoom including "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan, from "The Iron Gates of Fate" and [[Wrestling/BrutusBeefcake The Zodiac (Brutus Beefcake)]], from "The Land of Yin and Yang".
** Masked wrestler Blitzkrieg, who had a brief run in 1999, from "The Cosmos".
** The Patriots (Firebreaker Chip and Todd Champion), from "WCW Special Forces".
** The Yellow Dog (Wrestling/BrianPillman under a mask), from "The Kennel Club".
* PowerStable: Four Horsemen (the UrExample), New World Order (and its various spinoffs), and the New Blood.
* RememberTheNewGuy: Related to the enforced method acting during the late 1990s and 2000s, WCW would sometimes debut new wrestlers or teams with no debut vignettes or promos, just as though they expected everyone to already know who they were and what they were about. Even David Arquette was introduced by feuding with Jeff Jarrett, whom he had never met.
* ShooOutTheClowns: ''"Where the big boys play." But look at the adjective: play. We're not here to play!''
** Kevin Nash has professed to be many things, but never claimed to be [[YouMakeMeSic an English major.]]
** The [=nWo=] didn't have room for the Nature Boy since, well, Bischoff sort of '''[[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute already was]]''' their Nature Boy--updated for the edgy nineties.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Wrestling/{{TNA}}, both in some good ways, like the early focus on the X-Division / cruiserweights, and bad, like the heavy emphasis on kayfabe-breaking storylines and constant turns. It was also founded to replace WCW in the first place.
* SpringtimeForHitler: ''Nitro'' was originally supposed to be this, according to Matt Randazzo. The idea was, by going head-to-head, WCW would screw up so badly that Turner would be forced to pull the plug on it. It only took them six years.
* SquashMatch: An example of both TropesAreNotGood ''and'' TropesAreNotBad. The abundance of squash matches on WWF programming lead viewers to jump ship to watch WCW, which mostly showcased competitive matches. WCW did use squash matches to create its top draw, Goldberg, though.
* SureLetsGoWithThat: Bischoff was put on the spot when asked what WCW needed to turn the tide by Turner. After some nervous stammering, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind: [[Wrestling/MondayNightWars a Monday night time slot to compete head-to-head with RAW]].
* TakeThat: Especially during the Monday Night Wars. Notably, revealing who would win the WWF matches and then tearing strips over their wrestlers, which in Mick Foley's case led to the [[InsultBackfire insult backfire]] to end all insult backfires.
* UnrelatedBrothers: Subverted with the Steiner Brothers and Harlem Heat.