To the victors go the spoils, or so the old adage teaches society, and thus what has been written and said about the now defunct organization World Championship Wrestling has, on multiple occasions, made it seem as if it was nothing short of a fluke that the company managed to survive for as long as it did before it was essentially swallowed up whole by World Wrestling Entertainment. There is no denying that WWE emerged from the “Monday Night Wars” as the overall winner, the last significant North American promotion worthy of earning nationally televised deals from providers located in the United States.
Things were not always this way, as there was a time when WCW was legitimately the top pro wrestling organization in all of the world, one making millions upon millions of dollars in profits on a yearly basis. WCW had such a hold on the business at one point that there were concerns that juggernaut the World Wrestling Federation would be the entity to eventually succumb in the battle for wrestling supremacy. While WWF Vince McMahon and others within the company steered the organization into the “Attitude Era,” WCW began consistently tripping over itself with poor decision after poor decision.
WCW was always gong to lose momentum. It was, as would be the case for any business, inevitable. Those tasked with leading the company in the 21st century were thoroughly unprepared for the job that was ahead of them, and WCW would not last through the end of March 2001 before it was forced to close up shop. It should be pointed out that 20 separate events did not lead to the demise of WCW. Books have been written on the subject, but it would take an encyclopedia to adequately break down all that went wrong with the company that caused it to sink like that Titanic.
20. Eric Bischoff Turns Heel
What seemed to be merely a twist in the new World order storyline proved to be the beginning of the end of the hottest feud in WCW history. Bischoff becoming the figurehead of the heel faction led to the group becoming overly filled with mid-card talent that only watered down the stable, and Bischoff would also, intentionally or not, serve as template for the heel “Mr. McMahon” character that ultimately helped the WWF defeat in the Monday Night Wars. Would WCW have been better off had Bischoff never become an on-air character? The world will never know.
19. Hogan Sees The Wall
Not every moment mentioned in this piece has to be a symptom for why WCW died. Some are downright hilarious, as is the case for the moment when Hulk Hogan was addressing a storyline bounty that had been put for his demise. Hogan was cutting a promo when The Wall appeared on the roof of a hotel building. Wall was but a figure of a man to those on the ground looking skyward at the character, but Hogan nevertheless managed to see who was to be his next opponent. Hulkamania brought with it many powers. It turns out supervision is one.
18. The Final Ever WCW Nitro
The face of North American professional wrestling was forever altered in March 2001 when it was learned that the WWF had acquired WCW. Before the smoke could clear, however, TNT had to run one final edition of Nitro. The show was more sad than it was a fitting ending to a company that, for all of its numerous flaws, had employed in-ring workers and individuals behind the scenes. The final WCW match involving Sting and Ric Flair featured Flair working with a shirt on because he was so out of shape, one last blow to that historic feud.
17. Sid Breaks His Leg
The majority of the moments that are featured in this piece have to do with storylines that either went wrong or that shamed WCW in one way or another. This instance is merely one that is hard to watch. Sid, the big man who terrorized the WWF, Extreme Championship Wrestling and WCW, took to the top rope during a match at pay-per-view “Sin,” and he landed in a manner that caused his leg to snap in a gruesome manner. It has been described by some as one of the ugliest injuries to ever occur inside of a wrestling ring. Viewer discretion is advised.
16. Scott Hall Drunk
Scott Hall has battled personal demons throughout his career, issues that have been described by wrestling journalists and in a television special that aired on ESPN. WCW, never a company to miss out on an opportunity to turn real life into on-air storylines, went so far as to have Hall appear to be “drunk” in multiple scenes. In one of these, the former Outsider even “vomited” on Eric Bischoff. Humans have short memories, but moments like these make one wonder how those who ran WCW back in the day continued to get jobs in the business after the company folded.
15. RoboCop Helps Sting
Television and movie stars have had roles in pro wrestling for years. They did not, however, play their on-air roles while working in the business. Andy Kaufman, as an example, was Andy Kaufman and not “Latka” when he famously feuded with Jerry “The King” Lawler in Memphis. WCW apparently did not get the memo on this, however, as the company thought it wise for RoboCop to play the hero role and help Sting when Stinger was feuding with the Four Horsemen. Looking back, it is unfathomable that anybody thought this would give a long-term rub to Sting.
14. David Penzer Technically Wins World Championship
Say “Pole Match” when hanging around some wrestling insiders and fans, and they may very well begin cursing the name of Vince Russo. Perhaps the worst idea for such a match that Russo booked while with WCW involved a series of boxes, one of which was holding the heavyweight championship. While Booker T managed to open the box carrying the gold, ring announcer Dave Penzer was the first one to grab the championship. He thus was technically the new World Heavyweight Champion, but thankfully even Russo had his limits.
13. Vince Russo “Shoots” on Hulk Hogan
“Worked shoots” were as much a staple of the Vince Russo era at WCW as were actual matches. The promo that Russo cut on Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 2000 was maybe his most famous during his time with the company, but not for any good reasons. What was supposed to be a storyline moment was one of many miscues made by Russo while he was running the creative end of the company, and it led to Hogan making his real departure from WCW. One would think that Russo would have learned multiple lessons from his time with that company. His actions while working for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has shown otherwise.
12. Hogan Sees Warrior in the Mirror
One of the many storylines from the past that WCW tried to capitalize on was Hulk Hogan versus Ultimate Warrior, this time with Hogan playing the role of heel. Hogan and Eric Bischoff were retreating to Hogan’s dressing room during an edition of Nitro when Warrior appeared to be visible inside of a mirror. Everybody from Hogan to the commentators could see Warrior, but yet the wrestler remained invisible to Bischoff. This single moment has been one of much amusement for wrestling journalists and podcasters, and it has been mocked on programs that air on WWE Network to this day.
11. Vince Russo Wins World Heavyweight Championship
Somewhere exists a pro wrestling purist who cannot fathom how such a moment would not crack into the top-ten of this list. What you have to remember is that the WCW World Heavyweight Championship had been made to be a meaningless prop and nothing more by the time that Vince Russo booked himself to win that title on a fluke after Goldberg speared Russo through a cage, giving the heel authority figure the victory for “escaping” the cell. Russo’s title reign would not last long, but it was another blow to a championship that lost its luster by the time the company folded.
10. Yeti Bear Hug
Whenever you are watching the current WWE product and imagining that things cannot possibly get worse than what you are viewing, remember how cartoony both the WWF and WCW were roughly two decades ago. A giant of a man playing a character such as The Yeti back in 1995 was not all that ridiculous, especially when Hulk Hogan was serving as the babyface opponent. It is the bear hug that Giant and Yeti executed on Hogan at Halloween Havoc 1995 that has lived on in infamy, one that has to be witnessed to be appreciated.
9. The Starrcade “Slow Count”
Sting had been built up as the conquering hero that was able to save WCW from Hollywood Hulk Hogan and the new World order leading up to Starrcade ’97. Hogan was mostly dominant during the actual encounter, and he hit his leg drop finisher on Sting before making the pin. What was supposed to be a fast count made by heel referee Nick Patrick was your standard 1-2-3, and viewers were left baffled when, of all people, Bret Hart came from the back to restart the match even though there was no controversy to the match’s ending. The Sting versus Hogan feud thus never had a satisfying conclusion.
8. new World order Reforms…Again
WCW was seemingly lost for any and all ideas to gain momentum in the Monday night ratings when Bret Hart and Goldberg faced off on an edition of Nitro. The conclusion of the match involved a classic WCW swerve that saw Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Hart come together to form the latest incarnation of the new World order, this one referred to as nWo 2000. The very concept of this group had been watered down so much at this point that the crowd in attendance barely even reacted, and the group would not last long before it was put out of its misery.
7. Hulk Hogan “Kills” The Giant
Pro wrestling is wacky. It is a reality that one must accept if he is to actively follow this form of entertainment on a weekly or even monthly basis. Even wrestling fans should only have to put up with so much, however, and the invisible line that separates fiction was ridiculousness was crossed when The Giant and Hulk Hogan faced off in a monster truck “sumo” competition. That battle of the vehicles ended with Hogan unintentionally sending Giant off of the top of a parking garage, a devastating fall that should have meant the end for the heel. Giant managed to survive and fight another day.
6. Kevin Nash Ends Goldberg’s Streak
Of all of the mistakes that WCW made during its downfall – and there were many – the company got one thing right in making Goldberg one of the hottest acts in all of pro wrestling. Goldberg, who ended the title reign of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, was facing Kevin Nash at StarrCade when Scott Hall gave Nash the assist that helped end Goldberg’s undefeated and also killed that character’s momentum for good. Goldberg would never again be as hot in WCW as he was during his initial run, and Nash’s victory would become an afterthought due to what happened when he faced off with Hogan during an edition of Nitro.
5. David Arquette Wins the World Title
It says quite a lot about how bad things got for WCW that David Arquette being booked to win the world heavyweight championship does not break into the top-four of this list. WCW was desperate for attention – any attention whatsoever – when the company attempted to leach off of the Ready to Rumble movie and put the “big gold belt” on Arquette, who was a “star” of that flop of a film. The angle was a joke for those who followed the company, and it was one that has been routinely mocked by wrestling insiders, fans and the WWE over the years.
4. Ric Flair “Heart Attack”
The truth of the matter is that you could make a top-20 of all of the tasteless and disgraceful things that WCW chose to air as it was attempting to keep up with the WWF. This one, however, may take the cake. Living legend Ric Flair was feuding with heel authority figure Eric Bischoff, a story that had some realism behind it, when Flair went down inside of the ring after suffering an apparent heart attack. As it would turn out, Flair had instead been “poisoned,” a completely unnecessary twist to the story that, in the long run, did WCW no good.
3. The Shockmaster
You would have to look far and wide to locate what would be considered a worse pro wrestling debut than that made by “The Shockmaster” during a televised “Flair for the Gold” segment. Fred Ottman, who worked as Typhoon and Tugboat while with the WWF, tripped over a portion of the set before crashing through a wall, an unfortunate accident that sunk the Shockmaster character before it ever appeared inside of a WCW ring. That moment is one that is comically replayed on programs that have aired on WWE 24/7 and on the WWE Network.
2. Fingerpoke of Doom
WCW had a chance to press the figurative “reset” button after Kevin Nash defeated Goldberg to win the World Heavyweight Championship. The company instead went back to its tired format of Hollywood Hulk Hogan being the leader of heel faction the nWo, and the manner in which it played out inside of the ring was a slap in the face of those who paid to attend the show and of those who watched Nitro on that fateful night. All things considered, the “Fingerpoke of Doom” may have signaled the true beginning of the end of WCW, even though those of us on the outside did not know it at the time.
1. “That’s Gonna Put Some Butts in the Seats”
WCW giving away the results of pre-taped versions of Monday Night Raw was a standard practice early into 1999 when commentator Tony Schiavone famously said the following words about Mick Foley winning the WWF World Championship after (allegedly) being directed to do so before the final segment of a Nitro broadcast: “That’s gonna put some butts in the seats.” Wrestling fans interested in seeing that historic moment changed the channel over to Raw, and the WWF won the ratings war that night. Wrestling insiders have long pegged this a moment when the Monday Night Wars forever changed.