"If, as the saying goes, an infinite number of monkeys, given an infinite amount of time, could sit at an infinite number of typewriters and eventually write Shakespeare's Hamlet, then two of them, in a half an hour, could book Nitro and Thunder."WCW was once the second-most popular wrestling/sports-entertainment promotion in the United States (and even beat its chief rival, WWE, for a decent stretch of time), but it made so many mistakes that WrestleCrap and Figure Four Weekly were able to write a book about the company's downfall, The Death of WCW. The sheer number of terrible angles, terrible Gimmick Matches, backstage politics, horrendous business decisions, bi-yearly fatalities, and Vince Russo's booking led to a company worth $500,000,000 and backed by Ted Turner becoming, in a few short years, a hollow shell of a promotion bought by Vince McMahon for just $3,000,000.
—DDT Digest on WCW Monday Nitro, 5.9.99
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- To promote the film Ready to Rumble, WCW allowed actor David Arquette to win their heavyweight title, keep it for a good clip of time, then turn heel for the sake of one giant, overpriced swerve (with overzealous announcer Tony Schiavone branding it "the ultimate swerve!!"). So, to recap:
Jim Ross in 1998: BAH GAWD they killed him! As God is my witness, he is BROKEN IN HALF!
Vince McMahon in 1999: It's ME, Austin! It's ME Austin! It was MEEEEE all along, Austin!
David Arquette in 2000: SHAAAAAAAAAAADAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHP!
- This was the angle that cemented booker Vince Russo as being certifiably insane amongst wrestling fans. Even Arquette protested it, since he knew it would infuriate the fans, but it was in his contract. Arquette also quietly donated the paychecks he received during his WCW tenure to the families of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Bobby Duncum Jr., Brian "Mark Curtis" Hildebrand (all deceased), and Darren "Droz" Drozdov (paralyzed from the waist down following an in-ring accident), so at least some good came of it.
- As bad as David Arquette as WCW champion was, it was only the second most idiotic championship reign in WCW history — second only to Vince Russo's. Yes, Russo gave himself the WCW Championship not long after he gave it to Arquette. Unlike Arquette, he feels absolutely no regret for doing it and could've stopped it from happening at any time because he was one of the bookers. Vince Russo is, to this day, one of the most despised figures in wrestling somehow. Funny, that.
The Death of WCW: The mere thought of Russo booking an angle that saw him having sex with the hottest girl in the company was annoying enough, but on top of that, Russo had somehow now become the number-one contender for the WCW title.
- The only good thing about Arquette and Russo's title runs were that they were mercifully short. According to Wikipedia's list of WCW World Heavyweight Champion title holders, Arquette held the belt for 12 days, and Russo only held it for one week. This, of course, begs the question of why they went through with this in the first place, but that's for another day...
- Eric Bischoff himself held the WCW Hardcore Championship at one point. He gave it up a day later, but he defeated Terry Funk to win it in the first place. Although to be fair, even he didn't have the ego of either Vince (Russo or McMahon) to crown himself the world champion of the company he was booking.
- These two insane championship wins revealed what is probably at the root of all Russo's ineptitude: because of his contempt for "fake wrestling", he genuinely believes that any schmuck can wrestle, that there's no skill or artistry involved with putting on a good match (or even that the quality of the matches matters at all), and that if you can smack a guy with a baseball bat then lie on top of him for 3 seconds then you're worthy of winning a world championship. And that's why Vince Russo is one of the worst bookers in the world.
- South Carolina was a recipient of the infamous Sting v. Hart match in October of '98. The "match" took place entirely in the back, displayed on the Titantron, and with a Dusty Finish to boot. The audience rightly booed it and many of them likely never paid $40 to see Nitro again. A shame because Columbia was a stronghold for WCW when it was still the Mid-Atlantic NWA region. Oh, and despite what Schiavone said (from under his flat rock), there would be no U.S. Title changing hands that night.
- Toward the end, WCW was drifting further and further away from its southern base. JR was one of many good people Eric foolishly discarded for being too "southern" and who, poetically enough, would be used (as WWE Head of Talent Relations) to deliver the death blow to WCW.
- Of almost equal importance was the fate of the WCW Television title. True, it was secondary silver in the championship hierarchy, but it had an uninterrupted history of over twenty-five years dating back to the company's NWA days, longer even than WWE's Intercontinental title. It was abandoned on November 29, 1999 by Scott Hall, who literally threw it in a dumpster after he decided on-screen that it was not worth defending. Acts taken with the World Championship above reduced its value to that of scrap metal, but never before has a title belt been treated literally as garbage. It was fished out of the garbage by "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan a few months later, but he never defended it again before the belt itself was deactivated.
- A few months before that skit, Chris Benoit was on FAN 590 (original call letters of CJCL, owned by Rogers Media; now titled Sportsnet Radio 590-The FAN) in Toronto and was asked if he thought that there was a conspiracy to destroy the company from within. He said, "It appears that way".
- The WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. This "title" was created from the ashes from WCW's ill fated partnership with the NWA. When they broke up, the current NWA Champion, Ric Flair was stripped of the title, but retained the belt because WCW actually owned it. So "WCW International", a completely fictitious subsidiary, was created and Flair was recognized as it's World Champion (not to be confused with the actual WCW World Championship, held at the time by Vader). The whole thing was a mess and while the International title did have some top caliber champions (Sting, Flair, Rick Rude), it was mercifully ended in 1994 with a unification match with the WCW title.
- The Great American Bash 1991, which had the entire Baltimore audience switching back and forth between two reactions—sitting on their hands and chanting "WE WANT FLAIR!" (especially during the main event) to protest Ric Flair's firing from WCW just days before the event. Flair, meanwhile, would join the WWF, taking the NWA World Heavyweight Championship with him (because he wasn't paid back the $25,000 deposit he put down on the belt when he received it for the first time) and calling himself "The Real World's Heavyweight Champion" (a Take That! aimed at then-WWF champ Hulk Hogan and at booker Jim Herd, who was running WCW at the time).
- Uncensored 1995 and 1996. The entire concept of these PPVs was that they would be "unsanctioned" shows where gimmick matches that wouldn't be on any other show would take place:
- The 1995 show featured great bouts like Dustin Rhodes vs Blacktop Bully (Demolition Smash/Repo Man) in a King of the Road match, which was a match taking place in an open air, moving semi truck full of hay. The winner would be the first one to ring a bell at the front of the truck. Other matches would include Meng vs Jim Duggan in a karate match, Johnny B. Badd vs Arn Anderson in a boxer vs wrestler match, and Hulk Hogan vs Vader in a strap match where Hogan's title was inexplicably NOT on the line, and he defeated Ric Flair to win.
- 1996 featured a weird man-vs-woman match between Col. Robert Parker and Madusa (see Angles and Gimmicks folder) and a boring street fight between The Road Warriors and the team of Booker T and Sting, but most infamously the Doomsday Cage match, where Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage would defeat 8 men from the Dungeon of Doom and Four Horsemen note inside of a 3 tiered giant cage. Blind Hare Krishnas couldn't have booked this as poorly. In a shoot, Kevin Sullivan said that this was the match which really killed Hulkamania. So many legends on the card, spinning their wheels and lying motionless like they're in a turn-based JRPG, ducking miscued punches, and taking frying pan shots instead of using the space to their advantage. Not only was the PPV completely insane, but this match was so shambaholic that even Bischoff realized something had to be done. Hogan took a needed sabbatical, and about two months later Scott Hall would appear on Nitro as a palette cleanser.
- Spring Stampede 2000 is about as bad as it gets. It took place 6 days after the reboot, meaning that that all the storylines heading into the show had one night to build note . Since all titles were vacated, there were tournaments for the US and Tag Team Championships, a tournament finals for the WCW Championship, a multi-man match for the Cruiserweight Championship that had more men than minutes allotted, and a Hardcore Championship match. What fans ended up getting was a 14 matches show with only one match going more than 9 minutes. Almost every match had interference and there was also a match between Jimmy Hart and radio shockjock Mancow Muller.
- The entirety of Hog Wild/Road Wild was a huge clusterfuck. Bischoff was a huge Harley fan (so was Hogan) and so chose the giant Sturgis rally as the place for a new PPV. But this meant there was no live gate proceeds (typically several hundred thousand dollars for a PPV) and the ring was surrounded by a bunch of drunk, racist bikers who didn't really give a damn about wrestling. They kept revving their bikes during the matches, making both the in-ring action and the announcers difficult to hear. At the first one, not only was the best match of the night (Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit) viciously booed, the bikers heaped racist verbal abuse on Harlem Heat.
- Not to mention the reason for the name change was the threat of a lawsuit by the Harley Owners Group. They couldn't even choose a name without fucking it up.
Angles and Gimmicks
- The Shockmaster, a wrestler whose career literally ended in seconds. For weeks, a mystery man had been built up as the difference maker in a huge WCW feud. During the much-hyped reveal (on Clash of the Champions XXIV), Shockmaster plowed through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man after a bender and tripped over a two-by-four some stagehand nailed to its edge. The wrestler fell flat on his face and his purple glittery Stormtrooper helmet fell off, revealing Fred Ottman, aka Tugboat or Typhoon. The applause (and Ottman's career) ended right then and there, but the promo had barely started, so he had to recite the rest of his leaden diatribe (actually voiced by Ole Anderson, who snickered into the mic before composing himself). Flair and Davey Boy Smith had to flee the stage to keep from corpsing; only Sid Vicious could keep any sense of composure during it all, and, despite trying his best to save the segment, it was already dead in the water at that point.
- Russo and Ed Ferrara's angle of "Oklahoma", which consisted of Ferrara dressing up as a parody of Jim Ross complete with BBQ sauce and mocking JR's Bell's palsy (and calling matches just by yelling things repeatedly), was a completely tasteless gag that nobody thought was funny; many people within the company (including Ric Flair) were livid at Russo and Ferrara for cooking this one up. You can even hear Tony Schiavone utter a legitimately shocked "Oh, no..." the first time Oklahoma came out during Mayhem 1999, and he seems beside himself the whole time the mockery is going on. Even Ed Ferrara has since admitted that the whole thing was in horrible taste, and when Jim Cornette slapped him across the face for it, he admitted that he deserved it rather than retaliating.
- The (in)famous attempt to restyle Booker T and his brother Stevie Ray as what appeared to be slaves (they were called "The Posse" and supposed to be convicts). Stevie was to be called "Kole" and Booker was to be called "Kane". This was tried at a house show and met with such vehemence that it never made it to TV, as the image of two black men in shackles led to the ring by Col. Rob Parker (a rich white Southerner) raised way too many red flags. Booker and Stevie did initially come out as Kane and Kole, just not with the slave gimmick.
- The Django Unchained gimmick, while ridiculous, pales in comparison to WCW Uncensored '96: the Sherri-Madusa-Colonel Parker love triangle. Where to even begin? It all started when Parker got it in his head that what Sister Sherri (who burned through more boy toys than Jennifer Lopez) really needed was a grey-haired, overweight gambling addict to come sweep her off her feet. He planted a sloppy kiss on Sherri, who belted him, because that's what happens when you try to kiss Sensational Sherri without permission. After suffering a blow to the head, however, the concussed Sherri suddenly developed feelings for the Colonel, and they were almost married in a drive-thru chapel. The ceremony was interrupted by Parker's other "fried pie", 4x women's champ Madusa, leading into a not-bad street brawl with Sherri and a deplorable man v. woman match with the Colonel. Three things:
- This was WCW's genuine attempt at re-building a women's division.
- Madusa burned all her bridges and put her career on the line for WCW with the promise that women wrestlers would be taken seriously.
- Ed Ferrara had no hand in this, surprisingly.
- The infamous "Drunk Scott Hall" angle from 1998 is seen as this by many now, though unlike WWF's treatment of Jake Roberts, the company didn't know the depths of Hall's disease before the mockery began. Lowlights included Hall juking and stumbling around like a Parkinson's patient (often while slurring promos), some very awkward "acting" from other wrestlers (especially Kevin Nash) and, of course, Hall "vomiting" all over Eric Bischoff. Hall's ex-wife went so far as to write an open letter on the subject.
- It seems odd that WCW tried to regain the lead in the Monday Night Wars by un-retiring someone whom WWE had already un-retired earlier, with little success: The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior's stint in WCW did not go well, from a needlessly long and confusing introduction packed with iconography stolen from Batman, to his paucity of in-ring skills, fans were treated to a show more bush league than ever. The climax was a notoriously bad match between Warrior and Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc 1998, which Hogan won after a cheap run-in. Just to twist the knife a little more, Hellwig's contract included a number of perks and salary hardly proportionate with his lax workload. The only draw in seeing Warrior was he's the only WWF champ Hogan never bea— ah. note
- WCW stands for World Championship Wrestling, but on March 8, 1999, Nash had the brilliant idea to not book any wrestling matches for the first hour of Nitro. You read that right: He truly believed wrestling matches were passé, and that people would pay to see him and his friends banter and having a relaxing time for three hours. You want a war, Vince? YOU GOT IT! (Raw slaughtered Nitro that night.)
- In the summer of 2000, WCW began advertising something that would happen at The Great American Bash pay per view that would "change the face of professional wrestling forever". What it turned out to be was turning Goldberg heel. Goldberg was the top drawing wrestler and top face in the company at the time, and the massive credibility loss from their thing that would change the face of wrestling forever being a simple heel turn didn't boost the company at all — only Hogan and Nash. As an added bonus, Goldberg dragged his feet from start to last, and when it came time to do anything heelish (as much as could be expected of him, anyway), it paled in comparison to some of the stunts the nWo had pulled, so the fans weren't inclined to start booing. When Goldberg suffered an injury the whole thing got cut short, and when he came back he was back to being a face.
- In 1999, legendary punk rock group The Misfits appeared on several weeks' worth of WCW programming...not to perform or promote their album but to wrestle. Never mind the fact the fact that none of the members had any wrestling experience and were all approaching 40. Interestingly, the idea didn't come from any Executive Meddling, but from Vampiro, who was a fan of the band. He had originally asked them write his new theme song, but then pitched them actually being on the show to executives. Bassist and leader Jerry Only was very into the idea...but the rest of the band was not. Needless to say, fans never really bought the gimmick, which seemed like an incredibly forced excuse for Vampiro to pal around with his real-life favorite band. The group stopped appearing after Only was injured during a cage match with Dr. Death Steve Williams.
- If you haven't noticed, 2000 is considered one of the worst years in WCW's history, and is often called the catalyst of the company's death a year later. Horrible booking decisions, a stale product and the constant shafting of the cruiserweight division, which had been getting largely positive reactions, all conspired to the company's demise. It didn't help them that some of their most talented wrestlers were in said cruiserweight division, and had left the company to join the WWF; only to gain massive success there. Chris Jericho left in 1999 and was Intercontinental Champion within months of debuting in WWF. Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn all jumped ship soon after in 2000 as "The Radicalz". While Malenko and Saturn had a bit of success, Benoit and Gurrerro exploded in popularity in WWF thanks to their technical skill and excellent ring psychology, with both becoming long-term world champions. Those heavy losses, combined with all the terrible booking choices that WCW made in 2000, ultimately led to WCW crumbling in 2001.
- Jim Herd was the president of WCW during the early part of the 1990s. He had no previous experience with wrestling, and despite Ric Flair being a world-famous World Champion, was convinced that Flair was too old to draw. First he tried to retool Flair into a Roman gladiator named Spartacus (to which Kevin Sullivan famously replied "while we're doing this, why don't we go down to Yankee Stadium and change Mickey Mantle's number?"). Then he simply fired Flair. The problem? Flair was WCW World Heavyweight Champion at the time. And since he had put down a $25,000 deposit on the belt, which WCW did not refund to him after he was fired, Flair decided he owned the physical title belt. He then showed up on WWF television with the WCW belt. Flair went on to be promoted as "The Real World Champion" by heel manager Bobby Heenan and work a critically and financially successful program with Hulk Hogan. WCW, on the other hand, was devastated by the loss of their top draw and their inability to find anyone to replace him. At the nadir, fans were ignoring the actual matches and chanting "We Want Flair". Herd would eventually resign in disgrace.
- On top of the Ric Flair situation, Herd attempted to make WCW into a product similar to the WWE that created over-the-top, cartoon-ish characters. His efforts led to several horrible gimmicks with short shelf lives to be introduced during his time as WCW President that included the bell-ringing tag team known as the Ding Dongs, lumberjack Big Josh note , a comedic cowboy stable called the Desperados and an insane asylum patient called Norman the Lunatic note .
- In the 1990s, Tony Schiavone was an adequate, if not good, commentator with a pair of bad habits in irrational exuberance and calling just about every move he didn't know the name of either a "sidewalk slam" or a "face jam". But as WCW hit the skids and management began to fall apart, so did Schiavone's commentary. Part of this was due to the Enforced Method Acting that WCW used on the commentators to keep their commentary "more spontaneous" - they never allowed them to see the pre-taped segments, so they would then not know how to sell them and resort to verbal diarrhea. Left to his devices, however, Schiavone was uniquely bad all on his own: He proclaimed every episode of Nitro to be "the greatest (moment/night/event) in the history of our sport!", for which he (and the phrase) was mocked mercilessly.
- According to Bret Hart, the Power Plant itself had some moments of horrible decisions; it was the Plant not training Goldberg about pulling his punches (or mule kicks) that led to Bret's career-ending injury.