Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Death of WCW

Go To
Fun fact: for a six-month period, everyone on this cover worked for TNA at the same time...note 
"Those in charge of the company never predicted that things would turn out this way, and that was perhaps the biggest irony of all: for a company that took pride in fooling its fans and even its employees, it was WCW itself that got the ultimate swerve."

The Death of WCW is a book released in 2004 about pro wrestling promotion World Championship Wrestling. The book was written by WrestleCrap contributor RD Reynolds and radio host/dirtsheet writer Bryan Alvarez.

Basically an offshoot of WrestleCrap, the book is an in-depth exposé on how WCW went from a floundering business in the late 1980s to the most-watched show on cable TV in 1997 (skyrocketing to the world's most successful wrestling promotion in the process), then became little more than a laughingstock and folded in 2001. The authors tend to blame the booking decisions of Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff as well as the egos of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and a few other backstage personalities. But the finger eventually points to (pokes?) Time Warner management, which pulled the plug on WCW just as it started to show signs of life (i.e., Stacy Keibler's 42" legs) again.

In 2014, Reynolds and Alvarez released a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition in hardcover and e-book formats. The new edition expanded on some of the WCW-related topics that the original book missed (such as the Wolfpac) and touched on how TNA has made many of the same mistakes as WCW. An audiobook version, narrated by Bryan Alvarez, was published in September 2016.

The Death of WCW contains the following tropes:

  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • The 2014 version of the book contains new entries of "Lessons Not Learned" where it showcases where WWE and TNA made the same mistakes that WCW made.
    • Subverted when it talks about Rey Mysterio being forced to unmask in WCW. The entry is "Lesson Not... No, Wait, Lesson Actually Learned" by noting that when WWE hired Mysterio in 2002, they ignored his unmasking and let him wrestle with his mask on. This massively boosted Rey's popularity, and his masks became huge merchandise sellers for the company.
  • Affably Evil: Kevin Nash was apparently very popular among his fellow wrestlers despite booking many of their burials, at least at first. Once it became clear what he was doing, Nash's popularity tanked. He rejected being awarded the WCW Championship at Souled Out 2000, because he feared what the locker room might do to him.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Some remaining workers of WCW (such as Bischoff) ultimately went to TNA Impact Wrestling, and the Tenth Anniversary edition of the book offers a long list of TNA's screw-ups. It's done as a way to show that many of the minds behind WCW haven't learned a thing from the mess WCW became.
  • Bad Boss:
    • WCW had an unsavory stipulation in its contracts which cut its employees' pay by half if they took 90 days or more off to mend injuries. As the book points out, such a stipulation is unheard of in professional sports. The stipulation put intense pressure on workers to return to duty before they were ready, which helps to explain WCW's reputation for rampant pill addiction. Three wrestlers died in the name of the Monday Night Wars, and that's not counting others who succumbed after the war's end.
    • WCW offered Bret Hart chances to appear on live television if he agreed to perform the kind of stunts that took his brother Owen's life. Bischoff was going to beat Raw if it killed him—or preferably, killed someone else.
  • Batman Gambit: Used in a lot of storylines, but often pulled in real-life as well by Hulk Hogan and other backstage politickers, who found out that Eric Bischoff was often the perfect mark, to let them run wild at the expense of the company. One particular gambit that Hulk Hogan liked to employ was to sync his vacations with the NBA playoffs. The playoffs usually drew viewers away from WCW. Hogan would return after the NBA season ended and then claim the improved ratings were because of his return. However, this backfired when he stayed away too long and ratings improved without him.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Ric Flair is the Ophelia of the book, enduring a battery of insults from WCW Creative, most of them in his old stomping ground of the Carolinas. Flair finally lost his ever-loving mind on live TV, which allowed Piper to have him (kayfabe) sectioned to an asylum. In 1998, Flair and his Horseman were reconstituted on Nitro and hyped as a major-league threat to the nWo. Flair probably noticed how well all the other old-guard wrestlers were being treated by Bischoff and expected a major push like he had gotten in the WWF. Flair thought wrong: as a fan of Hulk Hogan, Bischoff was influenced by the Hulkster throughout every aspect of promotion, storylines, and booking matches. Flair was booked to lose far more matches than he won, put in ridiculous skits and promos (once being buried alive and another time attacking Hogan in drag), and mocked over his age/alcoholism/debt. In short, WCW management tried to bury the man who had carried WCW on his back until Hogan came along. Bischoff even went as far as to threaten Flair with bankruptcy via lawsuit for missing a show that Flair wasn't even booked to be on (and Flair had asked off in advance).note  The book misses a chance to point out a grand irony about all this: Flair first recommended Eric for the job.
    • invoked The humiliations only ramped up once Vince Russo took control of the booking in 2000, thanks to his love of meta commentary: The Nature Boy is one of the few wrestlers in history to be literally buried two times (this time in the desert!) as well as figuratively. And yet, even Russo has a sense of mercy: he once pulled Flair from a Charlotte, NC show and replaced him with Terry Funk to spare Ric the humiliation of getting wrecked in his hometown once again. Since Flair was still kayfabe buried "somewhere in the desert", Funk got wrecked in his place.
  • Celebrity Star: Cited as a major drain on resources at a time when WCW couldn't afford to waste money. The company literally spent millions of dollars to bring celebrities in for angles that didn't draw a dime, characters that didn't get over, and musical performances that did nothing but take up airtime. The authors tend to blame Eric Bischoff's love of rock music and interests outside of wrestling, causing Bischoff's fingerprint to appear everywhere, even when it was detrimental to the product.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Bill Busch, Vince Russo, and Eric Bischoff count as this—or, at the very least, Pointy-Haired Bosses. The book goes into detail about how much of these mens' decisions were based solely on hair-brained ideas or out-of-control ego.
    • Jamie Kellner was the Turner/Time Warner executive who made the call to cancel WCW. Reynolds and Alvarez say they believe the reason for Kellner cancelling WCW was due not just to how much money WCW lost, but almost certainly because Kellner hated wrestling in general and wanted it off Turner networks. Even if WCW's ratings had shot up overnight and the company had become a billion-dollar business, Kellner would still have pulled the plug because WCW did not attract the demographics he wanted.note 
    • The authors also note that while WCW lost more than $60 million in its last year, Time Warner was in the midst of its infamous merger with AOL. This was one of the reasons Ted Turner couldn't protect WCW anymore, having been reduced to a powerless figurehead. Then, Turner left when he realized the AOL merger wasn't working. So while WCW lost a lot of money, it was a drop in the bucket compared to how much the merger with AOL was costing.
  • The Corrupter: The authors present "career politicians" Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash this way, frequently putting ideas in the heads of management about how to run the business in a way that ultimately doomed it. By trying to keep themselves on top and being booked in such a way that they seemed invincible, Hogan and Nash had management's ears, keeping down the new guys who needed to rise to become big stars.
  • Crying Wolf:
    • WCW management tried to shoot, swerve, and work the wrestlers so often that many believed WCW's sale was also a work... until they stopped receiving paychecks.invoked
    • Many times before, Hulk Hogan "stormed out" and quit. So after a Worked Shoot that got a little more shoot than work, Hogan really did storm out and quit. No one bought it until Hogan filed a defamation of character lawsuit, showing he really was angry.
  • Dated History: The first edition of the book, published in 2004, included what was then believed as true, which was that Eric Bischoff had invented the Team Challenge Series during his time in the American Wrestling Association. However, on the 2006 The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA DVD documentary, Bischoff openly laughed he had nothing to do with the TCS and no idea how he got blamed for it. The 2014 10th Anniversary edition of the book edited that section out.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The authors certainly qualify as this, especially when they point out stupidity in WCW's booking 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 WCW had made a point of showing how the police station was across the street. The authors' suggestion for why this happened? "Perhaps the crosswalk light was broken".
    • To illustrate why Russo can't shoulder all the blame of WCW's horrible booking in its final years, Reynolds and Alvarez tell the story of Big T's class-action lawsuit against Booker T for the rights to the letter "T"—a match that "would have been the main event on any episode of Sesame Street anywhere." This booking catastrophe happened while Kevin Sullivan was in charge of booking, not Vince Russo.
    • The same night Hulk Hogan spraypainted "nWo" on the WCW Championship belt was after, minutes before, he hit The Giant in the face with it. The Giant laid in the ring motionless for around fifteen minutes after that. "They must've replaced the gold with lead. Metallurgic inconsistencies aside..."
    • Hogan eventually stopped bothering to synch up his annual vacations with WCW's storyline, "though he did manage, in the span of two minutes, to say the word "brother" five times, "dude" four times, and "Jack" twice."
    • David Arquette was set loose on Thunder in the spring of 2000. In typical Russo fashion, he was introduced as feuding with Jeff Jarrett despite the pair having never shared so much as a stage before that moment. The authors conclude that Jeff must have seen Ready to Rumble and was so mentally scarred by the experience that he immediately drove to Arquette's house, stuffed him into the car's trunk, drove him back to Orlando, and tortured him in a basement.
  • Deal with the Devil: Ted Turner, and to an equal extent Eric Bischoff, were money marks who wanted a piece of WWE's audience but lacked a fundamental understanding of how to promote and book a wrestling show. Enter three industry veterans, led by Hulk Hogan, who convinced Bischoff that Hogan was responsible for the WWF's profitability in the late 1980s and could help WCW reach an equal, if not greater, degree of success. All they asked in return was for some creative control and no-cut contracts. Bischoff handed the trio contracts at once, while Turner outsourced responsibilities to his close associates, who only told him what he wanted to hear.
  • Death by Irony: The events leading to the publication of this book boil down to this trope. WCW degenerated because it let go of talent no one believed could ever get over, only for said talent to become stars in the WWF and outshine the older stars WCW was pushing at the time. And just when the company was making a comeback, an executive in WCW's parent company who hated wrestling—and just so happened to be in charge of Turner network programming—pulled the plug.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Despite his immense popularity (and the huge $9 million deal WCW gave 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.
    • Vince McMahon allegedly told Hart that if he ever went to WCW, the company wouldn't know what to do with him...which is pretty much exactly what happened.
      • In a further ironic twist, Vince was the one who told Bret to go to WCW later on, all to avoid paying Bret the salary in his expensive 20-year WWF contract.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Chris Benoit was let go from WCW before he could drop the World Heavyweight Championship (which was given to him in an attempt to keep him in the company). Those backstage who had worries about the firing were told that Benoit was a "vanilla midget" who had never drawn, and would never draw, a dime. Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn were each granted unconditional releases alongside Benoit. Despite being midcarders most of their WCW careers, The Radicalz (aka the "Vanilla Midgets") main evented on Raw weeks later; that episode drew a 6.59 rating compared to the 2.79 Nitro drew in return. While Saturn and Malenko would stay midcarders after The Radicalz broke up, Benoit and Guerrero eventually became main event stars.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The burial of Goldberg and his demotion to heel lit the fuse on the stick of dynamite that was World Championship Wrestling.
    • Separate pages (a rebuttal?) suggest a different moment as the beginning of the end of WCW: Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade 1997. The one truly notable thing Sting did between Starrcade 1997 and the Nitro finale was appearing with David Arquette in Ready to Rumble.
  • Distant Finale: The 2014 expanded edition of the book contains several "Lessons Not Learned" interludes in which mistakes made by WCW were later emulated by WWE and TNA. It also ends on an epilogue that catalogues the missteps made by TNA over the years.
  • The Dog Bites Back: WCW aimed a few too many jabs at Ric Flair during the 1990s (which he considers the nadir of his career), particularly on shows in the Carolinas, where the company could've capitalized on his hometown popularity. By the time of WCW's demise, "The Nature Boy" was both drained of hype and out of shape due to being sidelined for so long. He was ecstatic when WCW finally folded.
  • Don't Ask: Used here and there when describing WCW's weird skits or angles (though not nearly as much as the "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer).
  • The Dreaded: Scott Steiner. Both the locker room and the management were terrified of him, which is why Steiner got his mega-push going even when Hogan and Nash were still fighting over the booking. Even when his behavior became so outrageous that he had to be punished so management could at least pretend they had some semblance of control over him, the worst he ever got was the standard 'suspended with pay'.
  • Drunk with Power: Goldberg was the last obstacle to Hogan's dominance of the WCW card. Flair was little more than a "tackling dummy" by this time (according to interviews with Triple H), and Nash would do anything Hogan asked of him. As a result, Hulk oversaw Goldberg's kayfabe "arrest" on charges of stalking Miss Elizabeth—it was supposed to be a rape charge, but Goldberg used his star power to shoot that idea down—and roped Nash into the now-infamous match in Atlanta.
    • A lot of mistakes in WCW's dying days happened because bookers screwed the wrestlers to remind them of the pecking order. By 1999, viewers balked at so many of their favorites being benched, so that impulse metastasized into a desire to mock the fans and make them squirm as well.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The 2014 expanded edition points out many of the misfortunes and follies of TNA.
    • In 2010, TNA tried to cram all six years of the Monday Night War into one year's worth of Impact—right down to Warrior/Winter in the dressing room mirror.
  • Equal-Opportunity Offender:
    • The book may be about WCW and its monumental failings, but the authors throw plenty digs at the WWF/WWE as well. Quite often, the book notes that the WWF "Attitude Era" had skits, matches, and angles that were gross, bizarre, or boring. But it was still better television than what WCW was showing, so the WWF kept gaining ground.
    • The 2014 expanded version throws shots at TNA, including a massive epilogue of that company's many mistakes. The "Lessons Not Learned" sidebars are all about the mistakes TNA (along with the WWE, with Raw being expanded to three hours starting in July of 2012 as one example) have made since the first edition was published in 2004, especially once Bischoff and Hogan had run of the place.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Turner Broadcasting only put up with Bischoff and his cronies because of their insider knowledge of the wrestling business, something that Ted Turner lacked. Bischoff was removed from power in Fall 1999 after a nine-month streak of losing to the WWF in the ratings. Turner turned to seasoned WWF booker Vince Russo. The booking mistakes of Bischoff and Nash—false advertising, emphasis on comedy sketches over wrestling, out-of-nowhere swerves, the dominance of heel wrestler stables, etc.—were amplified and multiplied by Russo's booking. This must have baffled the suits in Atlanta.
  • Follow the Leader: invokedWCW tried (and failed) to emulate WWF Raw as close as possible after the WWE started beating WCW in the ratings war. (In yet another irony of the time period, Raw had been following the lead of both ECW and WCW to get to that point.)
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Turner Broadcasting took a huge gamble when it entrusted Bischoff, a hungry young executive, with the purse-strings to Turner's personal fortune and a two-hour time slot in prime time. Bischoff abused the privilege by overspending on just about everything.
    • There were set redesigns for the nWo, lavish meals for Bischoff and his inner circle, on-location shoots in tropical islands (with war boats and helicopters, no less!), and huge salaries for non-wrestling talent.
    • At one point, WCW was paying for the airfare of every on-screen talent to every single show, regardless of whether they were booked to appear or not. This is not to mention they, at one point, had about 260 wrestlers, most of whom were doing nothing.
    • There were several wrestlers WCW had on their payroll who never made a single appearance anywhere for the company in any capacity. Most of them were signed just so the WWF couldn't sign them instead, or as favors to the big stars.
    • This carried over to TNA Wrestling, which continued the practice of hiring celebrity guest stars at exorbitant prices while some of their wrestlers, some of them champions no less, had to take a second minimum wage job to make ends meet. Said celebrities did not help boost ratings one bit.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Eric Bischoff had an understanding of what the viewers wanted; he just tended to ignore them. He also overspent and underpaid just to win his myopic battle with the WWF. Vince Russo, a self-professed wrestling fan and expert on the smark psyche, had no understanding of what the average WCW viewer wanted. Nash, who took control of WCW booking after Russo's dismissal, fared little better. His brilliant idea to save WCW was to put the belt on himself...and his plan failed. Bischoff and Russo were soon summoned back to clean up Nash's mess.
  • History Repeats: The epilogue of the 2014 expanded edition is a bulleted list of all the things TNA has done since the book's initial publication that are extremely reminiscent of—or even worse than—the things that sped up WCW's demise. It also foreshadowed the inevitable The Death of TNA book (although eight years later, TNA is somehow still alive, now under the name Impact Wrestling... but has been replaced as the #2 company in the US by an outfit that didn't even exist until 2019).
  • Hope Spot:
    • Kip Frye's short reign as booker in the early 90s, in between Dusty Rhodes and Bill Watts. Frye's policies included things like making the backstage area comfortable for the wrestlers, and a pay bonus for whomever worked the best match of the night. Unfortunately, Frye burned out in short order from dealing with the politicking and various egos.
    • Chances to improve ratings or increase revenue fell into WCW's lap many times between 1998 and 2000. From Goldberg's meteoric rise, The West Texas Rednecks' radio hit "Rap Is Crap", or WCW's surprisingly highly-rated Latino broadcast, there were a few things about the company that people liked. Every one of these opportunities was ignored or ruined by backstage ego.
    • After having given up towards the end of 2000, the authors suggest that WCW was starting to turn around in early 2001 both in terms of quality and morale. They were gradually rebranding themselves as a more workrate-centric promotion than WWE, they'd re-emphasized younger wrestler and especially the Cruiserweights, and they'd installed John Laurinaitis as the head road agent, which lead to a drastic improvement in the quality of matches. Then they were abruptly canceled and soon after bought by WWE.
  • If I Can't Have You…: WCW fans turned their backs on Hogan when he debuted in 1994. That marked the end of Hulk Hogan as a pure babyface...and the start of WCW's demise. Hulk Hogan won't ever change; he'll try to force fans to watch him.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: The whole book recounts WCW's history of bad management, from the Napoleonic Bill Watts and the self-promoting Dusty Rhodes to the nepotistic Jim Herd and the budget-fleecing Eric Bischoff—all the way to Hell's last circle, run by Vince Russo. It even gives a list of TNA Impact Wrestling's screw-ups, which were basically made by some of the same people who ran WCW into the ground.
  • Insistent Terminology: There was a period of time in which the word "foreign" was legitimately banned from Turner networks. In WCW, commentators bound by this edict referred to foreign objects "international objects". note 
  • Ironic Echo: The dedication in the original book reads, "To Hunter and Steph". The dedication of the 2014 edition reads, "To Dixie and Bob [Carter]".
  • Irony: Bischoff's obsession with beating RAW in the ratings led to questionable decisions that probably drove Nitro's ratings down. Since both companies were still drawing fantastic ratings at this point, he was seemingly the only one who cared which company "won" week to week.
  • It Will Never Catch On: The sheer number of times WCW management came to this conclusion is mocked throughout the book. Oddly enough, the company would frequently drop angles or feuds— even if they were catching on— for no apparent reason.
  • Leslie Nielsen Syndrome:invoked Kevin Nash wanted to "prove" that putting on actual wrestling matches in pro wrestling was passé. An hour of WCW programming that featured no wrestling at all pulled a 2.4 rating. In an era when both Raw and Nitro regularly pulled two to three times that on average, Nash's hour of no-wrestling did abysmally poor in comparison. A full-page splash of Nash in his "Oz" gimmick, dressed like some nightmarish hybrid of Carnac the Magnificent and the comedian Sinbad, implies that his dream all along was to make people laugh.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Reynolds and Alvarez imply that Bischoff went crazy while fighting the WWF. At the start of the Monday Night War, Bischoff knew exactly how to embarrass McMahon... but by 1999 and the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom moment, Eric had become "completely unglued".
  • Long List: The 2014 edition features an epilogue of the many, many, many mistakes that TNA made which are equally, if not even more stupid than the ones in WCW, and with about as many tragic circumstances.
  • Mis-blamed: Invoked. The authors argue that WCW's "guaranteed contracts"—often given as a reason for WCW's demise—did not ultimately send WCW to the grave. Wrestlers had guaranteed contracts even when WCW was making tens of millions at its peak (and were probably underpaid); they were perceived to be overpaid only after ratings fell, which happened because of bad booking decisions, management's reluctance to push new talent, and general behind-the-scenes chaos.
  • The Moral Substitute: Bischoff believed the WWF's edgier "Attitude Era" product would get that company in trouble with sponsors, so WCW would be better off with its more family-friendly product (TV-PG rather than TV-14) and could capitalize on WWF's troubles once they began. He was technically right—but it took a few years longer than he thought it would, and by the time it happened, the WWF had bought WCW.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: After the nWo wreaked havoc, Sting was the only viable player left to take them down. Eric Bischoff showed a level of patience that would never be seen again by delaying the big Sting vs Hogan main event for 12 entire months until Starrcade 1997. WCW fans were dying to see Sting defeat the nWo for good but Hogan dominated the match and then pinned Sting clean. However Bret Hart ran out and declared the ref had fast-counted and restarted, allowing Sting to win by submission, finally defeating the nWo for the championship. What should have been a massive grand finale of the nWo storyline ended up being a confused attempt at redoing the Montreal Screwjob, leading to the championship being vacated soon after. While the event ended up being the highest-grossing in WCW's history, it set the tone for the of the terrible booking that eventually killed WCW:
    "Starrcade 97 was, without question, the biggest money-maker WCW had ever produced. 17,500 fans. A $543,000 gate. An incredible 1.9 buy rate, meaning nearly $6 million in revenue. And the beginning of the end."
  • Never My Fault: This happened EVERYWHERE in WCW when numbers started to tank. Everyone in power had different reasons for why that shifted blame off of them. This lead to them keeping up the same behaviors that were sinking the company up until its demise.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Used often in this book because describing WCW's wild bookings and skits required it.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Despite Bischoff's extravagant tastes, he lowballed Chris Jericho and others when they threatened to defect to the WWF. He also passed up several opportunities to enhance revenue—for what reason, no one knows for sure, but it might have been because the ideas belonged to others, and he didn't want to share credit for winning the Monday Night War.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • As much as the authors clearly dislike Vince Russo's booking, they go out of their way to remind readers that Russo is a human being who, at the time, was genuinely (if foolishly) putting his health and even his life on the line in WCW's later days. Reynolds and Alvarez even say Russo's booking strategy works great for a short while, but things often fall to pieces over the long term.
    • The authors also have no love for Eric Bischoff, but they give him credit for the initial nWo idea, and they also give him credit for his 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 with the other wrestlers and bolster his image as a "company man". Nash also agreed to job to Hogan, which did not go quite as well as he had hoped.
    "The scene was the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, home of the now-legendary Hogan versus Goldberg bout. The date was January 4, 1999. And, as Bischoff had hoped, WCW truly revolutionized the wrestling business on this date."
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Flair failed to gain momentum in Bischoff's regime despite still being the de facto face of WCW and a crowd favorite. WCW producers and corporate sponsors—who did everything they could to keep Hogan happy—believed that if they could lure away WWF's top talent, everybody would flip channels to Nitro. Kevin Nash stayed above the fray by doing as little as possible, a philosophy which paid off big for him.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: invokedThis happened from time to time, notably with Bret Hart's career-ending concussion.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • If you believe the book, Bischoff was blinded by his vendetta against Vince McMahon and the WWF. Eric managed to get in some good shots at the WWF, namely by spoiling the results of that company's pre-taped episodes of Raw during live episodes of Nitro. Bischoff did this one too many times, though: When he told commentators to spoil Mick Foley winning the WWF Championship, he also had them sarcastically remark about how it would "put butts in seats". Turns out, it did—half a million viewers changed the channel from Nitro to Raw.
    • This is also applied to Vince McMahon in the end. In a decision that RD Reynolds has never forgiven (seriously, just go read WrestleCrap), Vince hyped up the "InVasion" storyline—a dream storyline that had WCW "invading" and taking on the WWF—then proceeded to book it as a glorified Squash Match where the WWF faction completely dominated the combined forces of WCW and ECW, all to put over the McMahon family (who were the true stars of the storyline). Other sources say the WWF was supportive of a proper storyline that included giving WCW one of the company's flagship weekly shows, but it was overruled by UPN, which wanted nothing to do with WCW's tainted brand.
  • Sanity Slippage: The book suggests that Bischoff really started to lose it as he became obsessed with beating RAW in the ratings as Nitro continued to slip week after week. It suggests that he honestly believed Vince would show up to fight him on WCW pay-per-view, and he really was training hard for a fight that nobody but him believed would happen. It also points out that Bischoff's obsession with beating RAW led to him giving away matches on TV that would have drawn perhaps millions on pay-per-view.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Scott Hall, Warrior, and Randy Savage came out of this debacle mostly unscathed, though the book barely mentions them. Hogan's buddies each brought havoc wherever they went, but their influence on angles or the production process was minimal.
    • Savage gets lambasted for his steroid abuse and generally unprofessional behavior, which included swatting Torrie Wilson's face on live TV. His brother Lanny remained under a $75,000-a-year contract for essentially doing nothing. WCW reportedly planned to put him on TV, but forgot to both put him on TV and cancel his contract.
    • Hall got his just desserts in a WrestleCrap entry ("The Final WCW TV Title Run - Fitting That It Started With a Trash Can"), a literal eulogy for the TV Title. The Crap in question is the promo of Nash and Hall playing hoops with the belt, and Hall lobbing it into the "net"—in this case, a trash can. The insinuation was that both men were awaiting the death of the company that wrote their paychecks.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Scott Steiner broke the mold by persuading WCW management to help elevate him. He accomplished this by being a musclebound monster of a man and carrying a gun, which resulted in the biggest push WCW had seen in years.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Jesse Ventura's gubernatorial run was a deep wound for Hogan, who was forced to watch an industry rival achieve something he had always wanted to do. Hogan immediately turned around and announced his campaign for President of the United States (the first campaign of many) and turned Nitro into his personal vehicle of self-promotion. The actual matches became something of an afterthought.
    • In 1998 (and beyond), matches on Nitro and Thunder were all booked with the aim of unseating Raw in the ratings war, something that only Bischoff seemed to care about (he somehow seemed to miss the overriding point that the Monday Night War wasn't about Nitro vs RAW, it was WCW vs WWF). As WCW piled up win after win thanks to the nWo, house show audiences withered away, and the WWF soon absorbed territories that were once WCW strongholds. Then the PPV buyrates suffered, which only made things worse.
      DDT: You want to send the crowd home happy, not dejected. Otherwise, you end up killing towns and winding up in situations as described above.
    • To elaborate: As smarks know, a wrestling company makes a lot more money if they save the biggest and best matches for a pay-per-view. A company should put good matches on free TV, but the big money comes from the PPVs. (The free-TV shows basically work as advertising under this logic.) But Bischoff was so fixated on the TV ratings that he often booked the "big money" matches for Nitro. This might have helped the ratings, but it did not convince people to shell out money for the pay-per-view shows. Why would someone pay to see a world title match between two of the company's top stars when they know they'll see it free TV sooner or later? Ted Turner did the math and yanked Bischoff off the air for a full year because of this.
      • An excellent example of this lies in the 1998 episode of Nitro when Goldberg beat "Hollywood" Hogan for the WCW Championship: It pulled in a hefty rating (the last ratings win for WCW in the Monday Night War), but may have cost WCW millions in pay-per-view revenue because it aired on free TV. Sting and DDP also once faced off for the World Championship on Nitro in a barnburner of a match.
      • To highlight how much of a problem this style of booking is, in 2000—the company's last full year of existence—the WCW Championship changed hands about once every three weeks, and eleven title changes happened on free TV. If viewers still watched WCW at this point, they rarely had to buy a pay-per-view; they could just wait a week or so and see a title change on Nitro or Thunder.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: According to the book, Bischoff had little regard for the rural audiences that watched WCW, so he booked house shows in those places to be exactly alike. Fans initially loved that honest-to-God title changes happened in their town. But when they figured out that Bischoff never acknowledged those matches on live TV (the wrestlers just traded wins back and forth), they voted with their remotes and their wallets.
    • Not included in the book: The Carolinas were also a recipient of the infamous Sting v. Hart "match" in October 1998.
    • Bischoff's disregard for rural fans was another factor working against Ric Flair. As a representative of the Southeastern US, Flair embodied everything that Bischoff wanted to distance the company from. Flair still drew good heat and a loyal fanbase from the the Jim Barnett days, however, so WCW had to convince viewers that Flair was a joke. After all, he had a southern drawl, and he was getting old, which was making him an eyesore, and...well...this might sound familiar to wrestling fans.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Reynolds and Alvarez cite this as one of the primary causes of WCW's downfall. Management granted creative control and backstage power to a handful of already-powerful wrestlers (notably Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash). The decision soon stonewalled innovation at a time when the company needed to push new talent so it could compete with the WWF. Even white-hot WWF acquisitions such as Bret Hart—who had a built-in fanbase and tons of sympathy after the Montreal Screwjob—couldn't get airtime. Most of the wrestlers who could've been WCW's next generation of stars spent the prime of their careers toiling in WCW's midcard, getting squashed by the nWo, or (in Bret's case) cutting promos in his house and nursing PCS.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Part of the book's humor comes from pointing out how Vince Russo did business almost exactly like Bischoff, but without Bischoff's experience as a cutthroat businessman—and without a grand vision of what he wanted to do.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Bischoff and Russo had a rude awakening when WCW's financial benefactor, billionaire Ted Turner, allowed the merger of AOL and Time Warner (with Ted getting Kicked Upstairs). The company's new granite-faced accountants sent a memo which had to be one of Eric Bischoff's worst nightmares: He was now on a budget.
  • Unishment: WCW had a tendency to this with its more popular stars, especially Scott Steiner. Management was so afraid of Steiner that their "punishment" tended to be sending him home with pay. This was even referenced in kayfabe; then on-screen commissioner Ernest "The Cat" Miller said he'd like to suspend a wrestler, but he wouldn't because someone in the company would probably send that wrestler home with pay.
  • 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: Reynolds and Alvarez released an updated and expanded edition of the book in 2014. The update adds a few more details, and digs into WWE and TNA for not learning the lessons shown by the death of WCW.
  • While Rome Burns: The authors couldn't resist name-dropping this in the opening to Chapter 7 (The Ultimate Swerve!), where they document how the Monday Night War came to a confusing and maddening end. You can probably guess who is supposed to be Nero in this analogy.
  • 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.