Badseed's Bottomline Supplemental #4
The Death of WCW
By R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez
Published by ECW Press
The Death of WCW is a book for wrestling fans still hurting every time they watch WWE stink up the screen with no alternative to the product in sight (TNA – Saturday, October 1 at 11 p.m. on Spike TV). The Death of WCW is a book for true wrestling fans that enjoyed debating which company was the best; WCW or the WWF/WWE. The Death of WCW is a book for WCW fans that miss the days of Sting hanging in the rafters waiting to attack the NWO and then became aghast in horror when David Arquette and Vince Russo held the WCW World Title. What a strange story, that WCW.
R.D. Reynolds, who wrote the wonderfully clever, tongue-in-cheek wrestling book, WrestleCrap, has teamed with Bryan Alvarez, the editor of Figure Four Weekly, to bring readers a great account of what amounts to the rise and fall and eventual death of the little promotion that could, did and then stopped.
I remember the glory days of the NWA and World Championship Wrestling when Jim Crockett was the owner of the company and the drama of Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes and the Midnight Express vs. The Rock-N-Roll Express filled me with wrestling delight; a true alternative to the glitz and glamour of the WWF. Then Ted Turner took over and attempted to turn the grimy and gritty; true wrestling fan’s dream into another version of the WWF, with over the top movie teasers, crazy storylines and such characters as Oz, The Ding Dongs, The Dynamic Dudes and Norman the Lunatic.
Great teams like the Hollywood Blondes were split up for no reason; Ric Flair was buried because he was too old; off the top ropes moves were banned; a masked wrestler was created to feud with Sting for the world title, but no one knew who to put under the mask. There was just so much nonsense until Eric Bischoff and several ingenious ideas made WCW the hottest promotion in town, beating the WWF and threatening to put them out of business. He brought in Hulk Hogan; he created WCW Nitro and put highly competitive matches live, up against Raw; he signed Kevin Nash and Scott Hall away from the WWF to ‘invade’ WCW as The Outsiders; he turned Hogan heel and put the trio together as the New World Order; an ultra-heel group that fought everyone in WCW leading to a very hot year-plus long storyline involving Sting’s silent war with the NWO that culminated in the biggest match in WCW history and finally debuted Goldberg, the first solely WCW created star whose undefeated streak made him seem like a monster to fans. Everything was falling into place until it all fell apart.
This book does a great job of detailing to fans how smart Bischoff was while also pointing out how his ego and lack of foresight eventually led to his great idea being played out and actually destroying the company. The strength of the NWO led to its saturation, established stars having too much power, young stars being stuck under a glass ceiling as aging wrestlers hogged the spotlight and some questionable booking decisions that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Essentially, what made WCW strong was not followed up with anything new or fresh and was often repeated and repeated to the point that it was no longer groundbreaking, leading to the company’s fall.
Nothing could fix it; not Vince Russo, who supposedly had turned the WWF around and beat WCW and not Bischoff again when he tried to buy the company only to have the show canceled from cable television. Amazingly, the company that had all the biggest stars, the greatest cruiserweights and best ring technicians in the business lost to the WWF and Vince McMahon bought them for virtually nothing, but even McMahon didn’t know what to do with it, making it all just a memory in the fan’s minds. Hot in 1997; by 2001, WCW lost 95% of its paying audience, meaning millions of dollars. Ouch.
And there you have it all in one tight 300+ page must-read for all wrestling fans. There are some noticeable oversights. Why no mention of the moment the WWF was made to look like a fool when Rick Rude showed up on a taped edition of Raw only to show up later clean shaven on a live edition of Nitro? But overlooking those oversights, there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t read this book, especially the everyday business man who wants a laymen’s guide on first, how to be successful in business and second, how not to let it all slip away. If only WCW had that knowledge, this gem of a book would never exist. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Read; then decide.
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