Any wrestling fan knows the Monday Night Wars between WCW and the WWE were legendary. What a lot of people don’t realize is that WCW was around a long time before Eric Bischoff took over and the wars began. Their roots can be traced as far back as fifty years, maybe even further and they were a faction of the old NWA for most of those years.
The company had its good and bad times but had experienced several years on the downswing before Bischoff took over and led them to the top. He built the company so strong that they came very close to forcing the WWE to shut its doors a couple of times. WCW was winning the Monday Night war for several years and they were stealing away all of the WWE’s best talent. The company put together such a strong product that even today, seventeen years later, WCW still has a very loyal following.
Unfortunately, Bischoff became so enthralled with what Vince McMahon was doing that he lost sight of everything going on in his own company. Mistake after mistake was made and eventually, WCW had many millions of dollars going out while only a couple of million were coming in.
In business every mistake costs money. In a business like that where advertising dollars and television contracts are worth so much, one mistake could be worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Here is a look at a few major mistakes WCW made that led to their downfall.
15 Monday Nitro Eventually Burned Out
For a long time, the Monday Night Wars were always worth tuning in to. The battle for ratings between the WWE and WCW was epic, to say the least. WCW did everything they weren’t supposed to do and for a long time, it worked. They led for almost two years but just like anything else in business sometimes, what once worked suddenly does not. In a lot of cases for the World Championship Wrestling, it completely backfired.
The company had a formula for its Monday night program that fans loved. They talked about the WWE program for that evening, they started their own card with a cruiserweight battle and then moved on to the heavyweights. Eventually, they got away from what worked in favor for what didn’t and that was a huge mistake the company made that led to the end.
14 Bret Hart's Career-Ending Injury
Bret “The Hitman” Hart is one of the best wrestlers of all time. His motto of “I'm the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be,” couldn’t be truer. He had a long and successful career until he got into the ring with Goldberg. Not many stars wanted to get into the ring with Goldberg unless they were forced to do so. Many complained he lacked real wrestling skills and was a danger to himself and others inside the squared circle.
At Starrcade 99 Hart was defending his WCW World Championship against Goldberg in a no disqualification match. During the bout, Goldberg nailed the champion with a super-kick that injured Hart. The champ went on to defend his title but he suffered a severe concussion and retired shortly thereafter. The loss of such a great superstar was another reason WCW went under.
13 WCW Offered Large Guaranteed Contracts
One of the main reasons WWE superstars left when their contracts were up was because WCW was offering something Vince McMahon wouldn’t… a guaranteed contract for huge money. In the WWE, McMahon stated many times on the record that what he offered was “opportunity” to perform for him and make some good money. WCW found out that if they offered guaranteed money and plenty of it, the stars would flock to the company.
That’s exactly what happened but it didn’t take all that long for the practice to unravel. Soon there were plenty of stars making a ton of money but weren’t actually earning it in the ring with good performances, or any performances at all. Payroll got so high that it became a major problem. Eventually, they had more going out than they had coming in and that’s never a good thing for a business.
12 WCW Forgot About The Success Of The Cruiserweight Division
When Eric Bischoff introduced the cruiserweight division he had an instant hit. The fans loved the Lucha Libre style of wrestling and for a while, WCW used those matches to open up each event. Fans went crazy when up and coming stars like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero pulled off their high flying stunts in the ring.
Bischoff got distracted by everything else he was doing and what was at one time a staple on any WCW card quickly became completely forgotten about. Eventually, those stars left the company and moved over to WWE where they were welcomed and used to their full advantage. They may not have been the size of a Goldberg or Lex Luger but the fans loved them and to let them fade away was a huge mistake by Bischoff.
11 Vince Russo Couldn’t Do It Alone
Anytime someone let Vince Russo talk he always told you he was the sole reason the WWE found the success it did. As the head writer, he certainly played a major role but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t do by himself. Vince McMahon had the final say over everything and it turned out that he actually did know a thing or two.
When Russo got fed up with McMahon rejecting his ideas he went over to WCW. The company thought they scored a major coup by stealing their rival’s top writer and let him work his magic with no restrictions. The only problem was that Russo didn’t have any magic when he worked alone. All of his ideas were not good ones and they played out for the world to see in WCW rings across the country. When they finally fired him it was too late.
10 The Company Had Horrible Bookers
A booker is a very important person in a wrestling company. They come up with ideas for storylines and matches and basically tell the writers what they want to be done. If you have a bad booker it can be devastating to your wrestling organization. WCW didn’t have just one bad booker, they actually had two of them. Kevin Nash and Kevin Sullivan both held the title of Head Booker at different times and each was equally bad.
Kevin Nash might have been a force to be reckoned with inside the ring but as a booker, he had brutal ideas that left fans wondering why so many stupid things were happening. Nash never wanted anyone to have more camera time than he did. Sullivan didn’t have that problem but he had another major fault. He ignored some of the company’s top stars and they soon left and moved over to the WWE.
9 Ending Goldberg’s Streak
The fans around the world loved Goldberg. What wasn’t to love? He was tall and solid, bald and mean looking, and according to his storyline, he could wipe out any wrestler on the planet in less than two minutes. He had a crazy look in his eyes when he got ready to battle and it seemed like nothing could stop him…until Kevin Nash took over as WCW’s head booker.
Even though the fans loved him the other wrestlers on the roster couldn’t stand being in the ring with Goldberg. That didn’t stop WCW from capitalizing on his popularity though. The streak was supposed to continue until the popularity waned. Nash couldn’t wait for that though and scheduled himself to win the WCW Championship from Goldberg. The fans were not ready for the streak to end and once it did there was nothing left to cheer for in WCW.
8 Nash Giving The Title To Hogan
Once Kevin Nash ended the winning streak of former WCW Champion Goldberg, the Head Booker at the time wasn’t finished with his plans. Winning the title from Goldberg was only part of the master plan devised by Nash. On the January 4, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro, Goldberg was supposed to have a rematch against Nash. That rematch never happened thanks to another Nash idea.
Early in the show, Goldberg was arrested (fake) for stalking Miss Elizabeth. This left nobody to challenge Nash for the title in the main event that evening. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan graciously took the open spot and challenged Nash for the title. After a few seconds of circling each other, Hogan poked Nash in the chest with his index finger. Nash fell down and Hogan pinned him for the title. It was a horrible idea and many fans never watched WCW again after that episode.
7 The Fake Stinger
It has been done numerous times over the years in professional wrestling; using one person to impersonate another person. In other words… a company creating a fake wrestler. One thing remains consistent to this day about it… it fails every time. The WWE tried it with Razor Ramon and Diesel and failed. Maybe not as bad as the failure that WCW endured when they created a fake Sting though.
For some reason, WCW didn’t realize that the gimmick wasn’t working and they kept letting this guy in the ring week after week. Fans did not buy into the fact that top-notch performers like Lex Luger or the very knowledgeable play by play announcer Tony Schiavone could not tell the difference between the real Sting (who was now in the WWE) and this fake. Many just tuned in to WWE to see the real Sting and never returned to WCW.
6 The Treatment Of Ric Flair
Ric Flair is one of the best professional wrestlers ever. He has given his entire life to the business and his generosity in the ring and willingness to put anyone over has created countless superstars. His work ethic made him one of the most respected performers in the business.
For some reason though, during the WCW days, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Kevin Nash didn’t like Flair. They did everything in their power to make him look weak in storylines. Flair was the ultimate professional and did what he was told even though it was making him look like a fool. In later years he would say that his last five years in the WCW were a “complete embarrassment.”
The end came when he requested and was granted, a week off from the ring. He was then ordered to record a promo during that very same week. He refused and was fired.
5 Having To Refund Halloween Havoc PPV Purchases
October 25, 1998, was a bad night for WCW. The semi-main event between “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior is considered one of the worst matches of all time. Unfortunately, when the main event got underway things got even worse.
Pay per view time slots is normally three hours unless special arrangements have been made with the broadcasting companies. WCW scheduled this event for three and a half hours and didn’t tell anyone at all. Eric Bischoff thought he was important enough that if the matches were still going on, the broadcasting would continue. Unfortunately for him, that’s not how the world works.
Goldberg squared off against Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW World Championship but the broadcast was cut off in the middle of the match when the time limit for the show was reached. WCW had to issue hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPV refunds.
4 Hogan Battles Goldberg On Monday Nitro Rather Than On PPV
When Goldberg’s streak was reaching epic proportions WCW ordered “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to defend his WCW Championship against the undefeated newcomer. The fans were in a frenzy because this took place on an episode of Monday Nitro, for free.
Everyone in attendance knew they were about to witness history and the match didn’t disappoint anyone unless you were a Hogan fan. Goldberg kept his undefeated streak alive by destroying Hogan and ripping the title away. This was a main event type of match that should never have taken place on a free broadcast.
This bout could have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for WCW if they had decided to wait, promote it, and put it on a pay per view event. But for some reason, they showed it on a free broadcast and got nothing for what was a great match. That’s not good for the bank account.
3 Giving Away WWE Taped Secrets
During the Monday Night Wars, the WWE showed their Monday Night Raw show in a taped format. The event happened the week before and when it aired lots of people already knew the results. WCW aired their Monday Nitro live each week so they started sharing what was going to happen on Monday Night Raw. This broke long-time traditions between wrestling territories but it worked as WCW was winning this war for several years, until one fateful night.
The night was January 4, 1998, and during the WCW broadcast, they told the world that Mankind was going to win the WWE title that night on the taped version of Monday Night Raw. They thought it would give fans no reason to tune in because they knew who was going to win. It backfired as everyone tuned in to the WWE show and WCW never won another Monday night ratings war.
2 David Arquette Wins The WCW World Championship
Many great men have worn the WCW World Championship belt over the years. Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Harley Race, Randy Savage, both Funk brothers and Ricky Steamboat are a few of the top-notch performers who have worn it. There is one man, however who was the most undeserving world champion of all time. He is actor David Arquette.
This was another terrible idea from the brain of Vince Russo. Arquette wasn’t even an A-list actor at the time. He had no physique what so ever and despite being an actor, he was horrible at everything in the ring. Even though WCW has been out of business for seventeen years now, this event still is considered one of the stupidest in the history of professional wrestling. Not only were wrestlers in the company turned off by it but plenty of fans looked away and never came back.
1 Bischoff Was Obsessed With What McMahon Was Doing
Eric Bischoff wanted to beat Vince McMahon at his own game. He wanted to beat him in every way possible. In some ways that’s not a bad thing as a driven boss can lead to good results. In the case of Bischoff however, his drive became an obsession. He was always concerned with what McMahon was doing next so he could try to one-up him.
For a long time, WCW had a really good thing going and there were a couple of times that WWE was extremely close to going out of business. If Bischoff had kept on the path he started he very well could have ended up buying out WWE, instead of the other way around. Ric Flair, who had a front-row seat to everything that happened, once said: “If we kept going and paid no mind to Vince McMahon, WCW would still be here today.”