Wrestling: WCW

WCW: 1988 - 2001 — Where the Big Boys Played

World Championship Wrestling (WCW) is a defunct 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 Eric Bischoff famously put it, beat the 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 National Wrestling Alliance). 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 once served as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before being officially retired in 2014).

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 stunts and gimmicks intending (and failing) to capture the glamor and flash of the WWF: such as a live appearance by RoboCop[!] at a pay-per-view event, or the infamous 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 Ric Flair 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 Lex Luger (Flair refused, because he wanted to drop the belt to 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 Executive Vice President of the company led announcer Jim Ross 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 Extreme Championship Wrestling. He also started populating the roster with international wrestlers through working arrangements with Mexico's AAA promotion and New Japan (mainly high-flying "cruiserweights" like Ultimo Dragon, Rey Mysterio Jr, and Eddie Guerrero). 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 Monday Night Raw. Turner relented, and WCW debuted 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 Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (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, Randy Savage, 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, Hulk Hogan came out to the ring, looking as if he was going to aid Sting and Savage. 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 nWo was born.

Naturally, fans were shocked.note  Hulk Hogan (now calling himself "Hollywood" Hogan) had been the 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 Monday Night Wars, 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 Attitude Era, 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 lifted in part from ECW, WCW kept 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 nWo "Hollywood", led by Hogan, and nWo Wolfpac, led by Kevin Nash), which feuded with each other throughout 1998. 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 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 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 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 Mick "Mankind" Foley would be winning the WWF Championship on a pre-taped edition of Raw ("That's gonna put some butts in the seats, heh."), essentially inviting over half a million viewers to change the channelwhich 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 That Other Wiki).

Following the Fingerpoke of Doom, WCW tried desperately to reinvent itself. After several botched attempts to cross-promote musicians such as 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 Vince Russo 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 Bret Hart 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 Kevin Sullivan was placed in charge of the promotion's booking. This change led to several wrestlers threatening to ditch the company. In an attempt to appease these wrestlers, Chris Benoit was booked to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Souled Out 2000. However, this didn't do enough to satisfy them, and Benoit gave the belt back, leaving WCW and signing with the WWF the very next day; Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero soon followed, 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 a rehash of the nWo vs. WCW feud, and many fans never got it. Unorthodox, illogical, and just plain stupid angles continued as WCW slid into a resigning self-parody, 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 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: Chris Jericho (who defeated both The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin 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 The Death of WCW leans heavily on the former, chronicling the company's struggles in the eighties and (temporary, alas) resurgence as it entered 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:

  • All There in the Manual:
    • Whenever you felt a WCW storyline needed some extra flavoring, the official magazine had your back.
    • Frankly, it sounds like Nick Patrick’s life was miserable before the nWo showed up and offered him a hand. Quoth Lisa Simpson, "I had no idea Disco Stu was so complex."note 
  • Amazon Brigade: 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 AWA) so most viewers just saw Nitro Girls and nWo Girls, who were mostly there to dance for the crowd during the commercial break.
  • Anticlimactic Unmasking:
    • 1990's The Black Scorpion. Originally hinted to be an associate of Sting from his past (similar to WWE's Kane, who came later), he was "played" by numerous wrestlers, but kept getting attacked before he could remove his mask. Ole Anderson, who had voiced the Scorpion and came up with the initial concept, suffered a career-ending injury before his unmasking could occur. This necessitated a total rewrite (the reasoning being that viewers would be flabbergasted to find a jobber under the mask), and Ric Flair took the bullet. Many elements from the angle, such as setting the ring on fire, multiple Black Scorpions etc. were integrated into Sting during his Crow gimmick.
    • 1993's The Shockmaster incident. After weeks of build-up, Sting stood before a live audience at Clash of the Champions and announced in his best hypeman voice:

      "All I have to say is our partner is going to SHOCK the world, because he is none other thaaannn—!"

      The wall came crashing down, and out waddled a doughy man who lost grip on his helmet, revealing...Chad Vader Uncle Fred? Fred Ottman, better known as the Popeye-themed wrestler Tugboat from WWF. He was wearing a black cape, Levi's, and an Imperial Stormtrooper helmet which had been dipped in glitter, making it impossible for him to peer through. The incident in Lego form.
      Taimapedia: Since that fateful day, the Shockmaster has kept a low profile. However, he could be lurking behind any wall, just waiting for the right opportunity to jump out.
  • B Show: Thunder and WCW Saturday Night (the latter was originally WCW's flagship program before Nitro).
  • Bat Deduction:
    • Used to explain Sting's face heel turn in a 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. This after Hulk protested that he couldn't have run over Nash, because his hummer is black.
  • Bat Family Crossover: Regarding its "farm leagues", such as the Heartland Wrestling Association, which one could say remained as a remnant of WCW after it went under.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Without the Outsiders, there would be no Attitude Era and professional wrestling might not have survived as long as it has. That said, there is an added irony to WWF rolling the dice with former WCW talent while Nitro kept spinning its wheels with the nWo. WWE had their own veteran stable in D-Generation X, sure, but they also experimented with new and unusual characters like The Rock, Stone Cold, and Mankind. Something WCW would not experiment with. They lost a lot of their novelty and with it their once-mighty audience.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In 1994, when Hulk Hogan entered WCW, he pretty much insisted on going over all the top guys, including Ric Flair and Vader. This despite the fact that, although Hogan was the most recognized wrestler in the world at one time, he was a new face in the WCW locker room. Then the nWo hit it big, but unfortunately, none of the nWo (read: WWF) guys wanted to job to the WCW guys, so the "invasion" was pretty much a landslide victory for the nWo. By late 2001, Hogan was finally driven away by Russo and Nash was marking time until his contract was bought out by the new owners, the WWF. In the last episode, The Night of Champions, it was back to where it should be: Booker won the world title, Rey and Kidman won the tag team title, and the show capped with a sparring match between Flair and Sting, two WCW oldies who had stuck with the promotion to the bitter end. Post-match, Sting and Flair embraced and shook hands — a genuine babyface ending.
  • Butt Monkey: Many wrestlers felt Ric Flair deserved better than to be publicly disparaged about his age, drinking problem, or finances, especially since it wasn't building to any storyline. As well as the Gladiator gimmick mentioned above, later storylines had him losing his mind, stripping and throwing his shoes into the crowd, being sent to a mental hospital and later being driven out to the desert and literally buried. (Ah, Russo.) None of these angles ever built up to any kind of meaningful feud or match.
  • Calvinball: Eventually the company stopped engraving names on the title belts. They just kept changing hands. These people would wager them over anything and everything.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Glacier for Sub-Zero.
    • Mortis also seemed to be a combination of Reptile and Scorpion, and Wrath's entrance attire was somewhat Shao Kahn inspired.
    • Goldust briefly experimented with "Seven", a puffy Pinhead ripoff.
    • Chrysti Wolf as "Asya".
    • YOU CAN'T HAVA DA MANGO "Kwee Wee" (real name Allan Funk).
    • Arachnaman was such a blatant Spider-Man ripoff that Marvel Comics threatened legal action, and the character was quickly abandoned.
    • DDP briefly imitated The Rock for a while, doing the poses and rapping about how Flair likes to "spank it, whack it and jack it!"
  • Cardboard Boxes: 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 as emptied of equipment used during the show).
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Four Horsemen, Lex Luger and the nWo were all subject to this. Especially when it involved Sting.
  • Complexity Addiction: How David Arquette conned the New Blood into handing him the world title. Long story short, then-champion DDP rashly accepted a tag team challenge from Jarrett, with the added stipulation that whoever got the pin would take the belt. You can see where this going. DDP rescued Arquette while he was being brutalized by Jarrett in the basement and made him his partner. By all rights it should have gone to DDP, but Deputy Dewey just happened to get the pinfall on Jeff, becoming World Champion through a fluke win. David desperately tried to relinquish the title, but DDP continued to rope him into no-holds barred matches and then dragged his unconscious form over his opponent for the "pin". Later, it was revealed the Arquette ("the world's GREATEST actor!" — Schiavone) had been a plant all along, conspiring with the Millionaire's Club to put the belt back on Jarrett. In a now-infamous promo, he turned heel and boasted to the audience that—get this—the entire $24 million production of Ready to Rumble was A WORK designed to lure DDP to a Los Angeles film set and befriend him. The only reason they let Page win the title was so they could screw him. That means that DDP is the first wrestler in history to get screwed into a title.
  • Cuckoolander Commentator:
    • DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE PENZERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
    • The greatest commentator in the history of our sport.
      • He became a laughingstock for his apparent lack of wrestling knowledge (referring to most moves as a "slam" or "jam"), proclaiming each new wrestler was "undefeated" in their debut (presumably he meant undefeated in this wrestling promotion...but he often ignored losses on Thunder, too), and hyperbole that puts the Iraqi Information Minister to shame. He's also the one who suggested putting the belt on Arquette as a joke, so thank him for that.
    • The voice you are now hearing is Richard Kiley Michael Buffer. (Spared no expense.) WCW signed an exclusive contract with Buffer to be their lead in-ring announcer. "....home of the NCAA Champions of the Universe...." $100K per night, folks.
    • "Mongo" McMichaels, a punchy ex-NFL star, and his cosplaying pooch, Pepe. This happened.
    • In the WCW Hotline commercials ("just 99¢ a minute!"), Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan use black ops training and subterfuge to spy on WCW talent and find out their darkest secrets. They eavesdrop on Disco Inferno while he hits on Kimberly Page, dress up like waitresses and hide under Sting’s dinner table, and even infiltrate the American Males’ lockers. During the show Gene would also give deliberately misleading teasers in order to dupe people into calling, and soon as WCW's legal team caught on, they fired him because he was exposing the company to a potential fraud charge. (Hence the WWF making fun of him with those "Scheme Gene" skits.) In one "report" Gene gave the distinct impression that Ric Flair had died ("a 45-year old blond, charismatic world champion has recently passed away, and the wrestling world is stunned. Call now for details" ), and it turned out to be some carny from Yugoslavia or whatever that nobody had ever heard of. WCW rehired him at a sharply-reduced pay rate, and they put him on a tight leash never again allowing him to do any of those crazy-dishonest teasers.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The Bischoff era is the Trope Codifier as far as pro wrestling goes. Less emphasis on gimmicks and costumes (even Flair is wearing civvies), a darker, industrial look for the arena, and an "all-shoot" booking style. See: The “bookerman” match.
    • The B-show, Thunder, went further with a bare-bones ring (no gaudy neon, just steel grey). Souled Out is another thing again.
      WrestleCrap: The show opened in a manner most bizarre, as Bischoff, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and the rest of the group circled the arena riding atop garbage trucks. Say what you want about him, but even the most jaded skeptic has to give Bischoff points for originality: certainly no pay-per-view in the history of pro wrestling had begun in such a manner.
  • Dream Team: With Turner's money, Bischoff could basically match any offer Vince made and even exceed it. Within a year he'd assembled the greatest roster in the annals of professional wrestling. Big names like Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, Scott Hall, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes,"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Lex Luger, Goldust, Mike Rotunda (as "V.K Wallstreet"), The Nasty Boys, "Mean Gene" Okurland, Madusa, Vader and others made news with their "defection" to WCW; only The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, Mark Henry, and a few others remained loyal to the WWF for the War's duration. The fact that some of these contracts, particularly those used to lure away WWF talent, were so exorbitant is often cited as an important reason for why WCW was eventually sold to McMahon for a paltry $2.5 million.
    Brandon Stroud: Wait until Roddy Piper shows up, and the fact that he’s had hip surgery is a major plot point.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • The Bischoff era did away with the Southern style of "'rasslin" to emulate what the WWF was doing: more glitz, boobs, and sports entertainment. Naturally, some older fans were turned off by this.
    • Most would argue that a primary reason for WWF's victory in the Monday Night Wars is because they put over new talent rather than relying so heavily on ancient wrestlers. As such, Millionaires/New Blood was seen as a belated attempt at copying that strategy. To his credit, as part of the Nitro "reboot", Bischoff signed a host of Cruiserweight acts who had been milling about WCW's wrestling school (the Power Plant), including one AJ Styles.
    • By this time, the WWF had basically looted the entire WCW/ECW product to create its "Attitude" brand. WCW brought in the head writer of the Attitude Era, Vince Russo, to help. But Russo kept inserting old WWF angles into storylines that made no sense, and continued to push WWF stars over WCW stars, which just made things worse.
    • David Flair going off the reservation is an echo of the McMahon "feudin' family" angle, with Ric Flair, his wife, and two sons all getting into the act.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: 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.
    • Any time he feuded with someone, Hogan would mysteriously start to turn face. Fans tended to lean Hogan's way, and once his opponent was buried, Hogan would go back to acting heelish.
    • He turned face for good in 1999 (with Sting briefly turning heel) and the Outsiders reformed... But Bischoff was reinstated in 2000 and brought with him a new stable, i.e. New World Order with a facelift, of which Hogan was a member. Hogan was not happy about it, as he'd already gone back to his Hulkamania gimmick ("The red and yellow will never die!") and was well over with crowds. Critics and wrestling journalists point to the Millionaires/New Blood feud as proof that Bischoff had only one trick (the nWo), and that he was more concerned with selling merch than putting on a good product.
    • Everybody had this problem in the Vince Russo era.
  • Incompetence, Inc.:
    • This had always been present to some degree. The downfall of Crockett Promotions was that there were no clean finishes, which ultimately fell on Dusty Rhodes' shoulders. Nobody wanted to job because of backstage politics and Dusty found that screwjob finishes were the best way to keep everyone happy (the shape of things to come), but fans felt robbed.
    • Turner execs figured that buying WCW would be a cash cow, but it wasn't. They assumed that Ted would bring in people who knew the business, but he appointed cronies like Jim Herd instead.
    • 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. The reason for the shortfall is very simple: profits and buyrates were way down, but the annual budget stayed at the same level as WCW's peak in 97-98.
      Jay Hunter: Yes, it's time to go to the roof of COBO Hall. Someone'll "end up in the Detroit River", an impossibility as the building is surrounded by a parking lot — unless you have a catapult, of course. But I don't think they sprung for one.
      V1: They sprung for everythin' fuckin' else! Monster trucks, helicopter shots, Harley-Davisons. One bein' squished, one bein' given away... [blows raspberry] This company is well on its way to going out of business.
      Jay: BLANK CHECKS, BROTHER.
    • The opening post of this thread highlights many of the fuck-ups that led to the company's demise.
  • It Will Never Catch On: THOSE CRUISERWEIGHTS CAN CRUISER-WAIT, BROTHER.
    • Among the various people that WCW thought weren't worth a main event push was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who was promised a World Title run. That run never happened, because Hogan was brought in to main-event Bash at the Beach '94. Boot, legdrop, pin. Hulk Hogan, instant WCW World champion. Austin saw the writing on the wall and left for WWF to become the biggest star since..........well, Hulk Hogan. Soon to be followed by 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 the WWF. Bischoff also let Jim Ross go because he thought he wouldn't go over well with mainstream America. He then went on to invest his life savings in Enron and LaserDisc. (Not really.)
    • Hell, they screwed up with the guy who would become 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. WCW, where the only detriment to your career is being competent.
    • 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. Keep in mind, this was right after he was publicly screwed by McMahon and a documentary was released. He could have been one of the hottest faces around, but WCW pulled him off TV because of the mere mention of the WWF.
    • Inverted with Brian Pillman. They wrote Pillman out and let him go work for ECW for a few months and get the “Loose Cannon” gimmick down to a science because Eric Bischoff expected to be able to resign him. Bischoff, being Bischoff, did not consider the possibility that Pillman might want to go work with his best friends in the business (Austin, Dustin, Foley, and the Harts) in the WWF, the former three having left WCW because they hated the direction in which it was going under the Hogan Regime, not unlike Pillman himself.
    • On March 8, 1999, Kevin "OW MY QUAD" 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 back-and-forth and having a relaxing time for three hours. You want a war, Vince? YOU GOT IT! (Raw slaughtered Nitro that night.)
    • How many times has killed an entire 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 Schiavone insulted him.
  • Lensman Arms Race: Initially only sixty minutes in length (as was Raw at the time), Nitro grew to 2 hours to compete with the 1996 NBA Playoffs. Raw waited until nearly a full year later to expand to the second hour. Nitro remained a two-hour program until 1998, when Bischoff lobbied for a third hour for the #1 wrestling program in the country. Within a month or two, Bischoff was starting to realize his mistake and scrambled to fill 180 minutes of programming in addition to the preexisting WCW Saturday Night. And then TNT ordered another two-hour show (Thunder) to air on Thursdays. Beginning in 2000, the mothership got downgraded to 2 hours again while the poorly-performing Thunder was moved to Mondays, airing directly after Nitro — essentially giving us a 4-hour show. This tap dance continued for two years until WCW died. (As of the show's 1,000th episode which aired in 2012, Raw is now a 3-hour broadcast.)
  • Licensed Game: More than you might expect.
    • NES: WCW Wrestling, which was Japanese-made.
    • SNES: WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling. Until WWE 2K15 it was the only game (apart from a Game Boy release) to feature Surfer Sting.
    • Playstation: WCW vs. the World (which features a couple Ersatz versions of New Japan wrestlers) and its sequel WCW vs. nWo: World Tour, both Japanese-developed and distributed by THQ.
    • Nintendo 64: WCW/nWo Revenge (THQ again).
    • Multi-platform: Nitro and '(THQ), Mayhem, and Backstage Assault (Electronic Arts). THQ also released Thunder, which ran on the same engine as Nitro, but it was only ported to PSOne.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters:
    • 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 C-List Fodder) 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 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.
    • Madusa took one look at the names attached to WCW's new women's division and signed at once. She defected, dropped the WWF belt in the trash can, and never once held the women’s title (which became a complete afterthought the second it was revived, and lasted only a few months anyway). They had a solid roster, with half the women being from GAEA Japan, and they did nothing with it. So her famous rant was all for nothing, it was essentially Bischoff giving the finger to Vince again.
  • The Movie: Ready to Rumble, as much as fans would rather not acknowledge this.
  • Nepotism: Which is why TNA is considered WCW's successor — it has, against all rhyme and reason, more blatant favoritism of untalented wrestlers with good connections than WCW ever did.
  • Parts Unknown:
    • Various members of the Dungeon of Doom including "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan, from "The Iron Gates of Fate" and 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 (Brian Pillman under a mask), from "The Kennel Club".
  • Power Stable: Four Horsemen (the Ur-Example), New World Order (and its various spinoffs), and the New Blood.
  • Put on a Bus: Sting took six months off every year despite being completely healthy. This coincided with Hogan returning from his vacation.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell:
    • "Last Call" Hall was arrested countless times for drunkenness and other bad behavior. It got so bad that his wife, Dana, wrote in to the office and pleaded with them do something. Can do! WCW Creative made it part of his gimmick, with Hall tip-toeing out of the ring for a tipple. Eric Bischoff did indeed come downstairs to talk man-to-man with Hall — in a promo, mind you — to which Hall responded by vomiting on him. The nWo, eager to cut Hall loose, sent Nash to play some sweet chin music on him, and he disappeared from WCW programming.
    • " The Madness of Ric Flair" storyline. Almost as soon as he reformed the Horsemen on Nitro, Flair went bananas, declared himself the U.S. President (in reaction to Hogan's and Macho's competing Presidential runs), and was carted off to the "Central Florida Mental Hospital" to treat his senility — where he bumped into Hall, oy vey.
  • Ratings Stunt:
    • RoboCop and David Arquette, World Champion spring to mind. Both sold out the arena.
    • Had Arquette won the Cruiserweight title, the whole incident would be lost to the mists of history, another sketch comedy match involving the jobber division. But such an angle would have involved, say, Vampiro kidnapping David Arquette and Rey Jr. coming to save him. Russo's aim for this storyline was to maximize publicity, not fill time.
    • Bischoff relied on a Shock and Awe approach to WCW, booking PPV-quality matches almost every week (usually in the last hour or so) to keep people from switching to Raw. So you end up getting Hogan v. Goldberg on Nitro for free, despite the vast sum that match was worth in buys. But who cares, as long as the Turner gravy train keeps running, right? Well, there were several flaws in this plan:
      1. With so many spectacular match-ups crowding the schedule, there wasn't much room for the cruiserweights to compete for attention (Rey, Juvi, and Kidman traded the CW belt back and forth, while Benoit and Jericho defected to the WWF; the rest languished in the midcard).
        DDT: How can you protect Vampiro's credibility when he gets beaten up by a fat, out-of-shape Jim Ross imitator (and, gee, one of the bookers at that), and has to rely on a rock band for the save?
      2. Tortoise and the Hare. Buyrates suffered because there was no real incentive to watch PPVs, whereas Raw built up to them at a more methodical pace.
      3. WCW was bursting with title changes every week. (DDP once regained the World Title from Sting on the same night he lost the World Title to Sting.) Not only did it make Nitro near-impossible to follow, it removed any sense of stature from the belts and (ironically) made the WWF World Title seem more vaunted in comparison. This ensured WCW would always be seen as a pale copy of WWF, rather than the future of wrestling.
  • Shout-Out: Like AAA, they had a "Thundercage", which was a send up to the Mad Max Thunderdome.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • The Outsider invasion angle that lead to the nWo and the Heartland Wrestling Association, which both started in 1996, were successors to the failed invasion and talent exchange had earlier started with Smokey Mountain Wrestling, which shutdown in 1995.
    • TNA, both the good (like its early focus on the X-Division / cruiserweights) and bad (like the over-emphasis on kayfabe-breaking storylines and reality TV smut). Bonus: Jarrett founded it to replace WCW in the first place.
  • Squash Match: An example of both Tropes Are Not Good and Tropes Are Not Bad. 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.
  • Unperson: The VHS release of Slamboree 2000 sports a big picture of Jarrett and DDP. Arquette is not pictured or even mentioned on either side of the box.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Subverted with the Steiner Brothers and Harlem Heat.

Alternative Title(s):

World Championship Wrestling