Literature: The Death of WCW
The Death of WCW
is a book released in 2004 about the professional wrestling promotion World Championship Wrestling
. It's written by WrestleCrap
contributor RD Reynolds and figure4online.com
radio host/dirt sheet writer Bryan Alvarez.
The book is an in-depth look at some of the terrible booking and business decisions that saw WCW go from having the most-watched show on cable TV in 1997, and being the most successful professional wrestling promotion in the world in the process, to becoming little more than a laughingstock of a promotion that folded in 2001. The authors tend to blame the horrible booking decisions of Vince Russo
and Eric Bischoff
, and the egos of Hulk Hogan
, Kevin Nash
and a few other backstage personalities (ultimately, the authors blame Time Warner management for finally deciding to pull the plug on the company just as it was starting to show signs of life again).
In January 2013, RD and Alvarez announced on f4wonline.com that a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition would be released in 2014 in hardcover and e-book formats, expanding on some of the WCW-related topics that the original book missed such as the Wolfpac.
This book contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Kevin Nash was apparently very popular amongst his fellow wrestlers, even while he was booking their burials.
- Yet he rejected being awarded the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Souled Out 2000, because he feared negative backlash by the locker room.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bill Busch, Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, or, at the very least, Incompetent and Egotistical Corporate Executive. Jamie Kellner also gets some flack for being the Turner executive that ultimately cancelled WCW, though it's hard to blame him when the company was losing $67 million a year on a product no one seemed to like.
- The authors of the book have firmly stated that they believe the reason for Kellner cancelling WCW wasn't due simply to the loss of money (especially considering that WCW was actually beginning to rise from the ashes when Kellner came in) but due simply to the fact that he hated wrestling in general. Even if ratings shot up overnight and WCW became a billion dollar business, it still wouldn't have pulled in the demographic that he wanted. He's known for this kind of thing, after all; This is the same man who cancelled Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, Road Rovers, and Histeria, and had Pinky and the Brain retooled when they were pulling in critical acclaim and strong ratings, but not from their supposed demographic.
- Deadpan Snarker: Used frequently, especially when the writers are pointing out stupidity in the booking, angles, and business practices. For example, Goldberg couldn't make it back to the arena in time for the main event after his infamous arrest, even though the police station was shown to be across the street. The authors suggest "Perhaps the crosswalk light was broken".
- Distant Finale: The 2014 edition contains several "Lessons Not Learned" interludes in which mistakes made by WCW were later emulated by WWE and TNA, and ends on an epilogue that catalogues the missteps made by TNA over the years.
- Demoted to Extra: Despite his immense popularity (and the huge paychecks WCW wrote for him), Bret Hart floundered in WCW after his arrival due to poor booking. Goldberg was buried after his initial rise to the top by Hogan and Nash's backstage pull.
- In perhaps a foreshadowing of this, Vince McMahon allegedly told Hart that if he ever went to WCW, they wouldn't know what to do with him. Which is pretty much exactly what happened.
- Fingerpoke of Doom: The trope naming incident is cited as one of the beginnings of the end for WCW.
- Follow the Leader: WCW tried (and failed) to emulate WWF Raw as close as possible after it started beating Monday Nitro in the ratings war (which was ironic, since Raw had been following the lead of both ECW and WCW to get to that point).
- Foreshadowing: This book points out a lot the things that have befallen TNA.
- Incompetence, Inc.: The whole book is about WCW being this.
- Insistent Terminology: There was actually a period of time when the word "foreign" was banned from Turner networks. This led to foreign objects being referred to as "international objects".
- Ironic Echo: Whereas the dedication in the original book reads "To Hunter and Steph", the dedication of the 2014 edition is "To Dixie and Bob".
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: They theorize that Bischoff slowly went crazy trying to beat the World Wrestling Federation.
- Mis-blamed: Invoked. The authors argue that the "guaranteed contracts" that so many blame weren't the reason WCW went under. As they argue, wrestlers had guaranteed contracts even when the company was making tens of millions at its peak, and were probably under-paid. They only were perceived to be over-paid once ratings fell, the result of horrible booking decisions, the reluctance to push new talent, and general behind the scenes chaos.
- The Moral Substitute: Bischoff thought that WWF's edgier product would get them in trouble with sponsors and that WCW would be better off staying more family friendly (TV-PG rather than TV-14) and capitalizing once WWF's troubles began. He was technically right. It just took a few years longer than he thought it would, and by the time it happened, WCW was long gone and owned by WWE.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The releases of Chris Jericho and the Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko), Mick Foley and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin were all downplayed by WCW until they all became huge stars in the WWF (well, not so much Saturn and Malenko, but still).
- Pet the Dog: There's a few such moments in the book.
- As much as the authors clearly dislike Vince Russo's booking, they go out of their way to say he's a human being who was geniunely putting his health, and even his life, on the line in WCW's later days, if foolishly. They even say his booking strategy is great for a short while, it's just that things fall to pieces the longer the angle goes.
- The authors also clearly don't like Bischoff, but give him credit for the initial nWo idea, and talk about Bischoff's attempts to comfort Bret Hart after the death of his brother Owen.
- Photo Op with the Dog: The authors insist Kevin Nash lost to Rey Mysterio Jr to improve his standing among the other wrestlers and to bolster his image as a "company man".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: It happened from time to time, such as Bret Hart's career-ending concussion.
- Shocking Swerve: Mostly mocked, though the "ultimate swerve" is WCW going out of business for good in 2001. It didn't help that WCW was occasionally being written while it was on the air live.
- Small Name, Big Ego: This is cited as one of the causes of WCW's downfall. Creative control and backstage power given to a few wrestlers (like Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash) prevented newer, younger talent from being pushed when the company very badly needed to do so to compete with the WWF.
- Take That: A few too many were aimed at Ric Flair over the course of WCW, particularly at Carolina shows where Flair and the company could have capitalized monstrous hometown popularity. They also managed to get in some at the WWF, though one claim in particular, that Foley winning the title on a competing channel was sure to put some butts in WWF seats, ended up biting them on the ass.
- The authors themselves take several shots at some of the wrestlers. Hogan and Nash probably get the most jabs.
- Unperson: Bischoff became this for a period of time when he was "reassigned" (sent home) following WCW's sharp decline in ratings.
- Updated Re-release: A tenth anniversary, revised and expanded edition was released in 2014 in hardcover form.
- Worked Shoot: On both the fans and the wrestlers.
- Writer on Board: Granted, the point being made here is the whole story, but it does have a little judgment to give in addition to detailing events.