In 2001, the WWE won what came to be known as the “Monday Night Wars”. It was a time in which WCW and WWE – WWF at the time – fought for supremacy. Both fought for ratings, which was hard to get at the time but even tougher as cable continued to evolve in the 90’s and early 2000’s. It was assumed at one point that WCW would end up beating WWE.
The reason was pretty simple, they had money. Not just a little bit of it either, as they were backed by a multi-billion dollar industry in the Time Warner brand. Ted Turner, who also owned the Atlanta Braves baseball team and CNN to just name a few things, was a huge fan of wrestling. He was personally open to spending whatever he needed to in order to beat Vince McMahon and the WWE. No matter what.
WWE went from being a PG product to the TV-14 Attitude Era in order to compete, which worked out pretty well. However, WCW continued to succeed a lot in the 90’s despite this. It was mainly due to the money that Eric Bischoff offered the talent. He had a blank checkbook seemingly, giving him the ability to bring anyone in for any price.
This is what led to them buying up top names like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bret Hart, and many more. They would still end up failing to win despite this. However, what if they didn’t? What if it was WWE that failed to win the Monday Night Wars? We thought about this and determined there were 15 things that would have occurred, which we’re going to go over now. Enjoy!
15. WCW Would Be PG
One of the most controversial things WWE did in the last few decades was not something random, like forcing a talent to bark like a dog in the middle of the ring being half-clothed. While that may not be the best of ideas, most fans seem to be okay with this. In fact, the biggest issue for fans has to do with WWE’s move to go PG. It was done in response to Linda McMahon, Vince’s wife, running for the United States Senate.
Why go PG for this? It was due to the fact that it would look better to have a show on television that Linda can cite as a big deal if it was family friendly. However, Vince never wanted to go to TV-14 to begin with. He loves the family-friendly type of content, which was what the 1980’s was full of. The reason he went to TV-14 was to challenge WCW.
What gets lost in all of this is that WCW was mostly family friendly at that time as well. They were owned by a multi-billion dollar corporation, that was quite successful. They were also on channels that were very well known. Due to this, they would have remained in their PG market, and probably would have gotten even more kid-friendly like WWE did.
While WWE has increased their content to a bit bigger than the overly kid-friendly version they were initially, WCW may never have had to change things at all. PG would still be around despite who won the Monday Night Wars. That is pretty apparent simply due to the money that can be made in it over TV-14 programming.
14. Top Talent From WWE Would Be In WCW
Big names from WCW would eventually arrive in WWE once WCW shut its doors. Names like Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Goldberg, Ultimo Dragon, Brooker T, Scott Steiner, and of course former WWE names in Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. The original NWO members were big in WWE well before they went to WCW, but they became a core part of the WCW brand, making their arrival in WWE a pretty big deal.
Only one name needed to arrive for WWE to completely say that all top WCW names arrived, and that was Sting. He would finally jump to WWE in 2014 and even wrestle a few matches for the company. While all of these top WCW stars were great to see in WWE, if WWE ended, it is likely we would see others jump to WCW.
People like Shawn Michaels, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and many more would jump over most likely. Perhaps similar to Sting, The Undertaker would wait a long time before making his jump. Despite this, it makes sense to believe they all would eventually arrive and join the company.
13. The Rock Would Still Go On To Hollywood
One thing that is undeniable is that The Rock was always going to be a huge star. By the time WCW was being bought out, he had already worked as a host for Saturday Night Live and was already going to be part of The Mummy movie as the Scorpion King. He would return to the part a short while later, which means he still would have been a movie guy no matter what.
What is pretty apparent is that Time Warner had far more connections to the industry than WWE did. That means Rock would have had a far easier time to go into that world while a member of WCW, rather than the WWE. There is a theory that he would have done different movies possibly, and it is also likely that he does not leave for 7 years. However, he would certainly miss time while becoming a massively successful movie star.
12. Vince McMahon Would Have Never Jumped To WCW
One major thing that happened that no one expected was Vince McMahon hiring Eric Bischoff. If there is one thing that is known about McMahon, it is that he is all about business. He’ll bring people back, if they’re worth the investment, even if they say horrible things about him and his family. He’s that type of guy. Eric Bischoff always tried to run WWE out of business and would go far to do it.
There were many WCW Nitro shows where the announcers gave away the winners of the WWE RAW show that they were going up against. This was usually due to the fact that WWE taped two RAW shows in a given evening. That means spoilers can be easy to obtain. Despite all of the things like this Eric did while running WCW, Vince hired him.
Would Vince McMahon have gone to WCW? Some theorize he would, but most agree that he would not. The reason is simply because he is too controlling to just be a bit player like Eric was able to be. Eric had bosses ahead of him he had to answer to in WCW, despite how it appeared. Vince did not have this. On top of this, Vince is forgiving and there is no thought that WCW executives would be interested in having Vince in. So whether it be the pride of Vince that kept him away or WCW not wanting him, it is unlikely he would go.
11. WCW Would Have Struggled To Make New Stars
One thing WCW was known for was poaching talent from the WWE and ECW. They would pay them huge money to jump, and with the lighter schedule, it made things far better. More money and fewer dates? Who could say no? Eventually, this would change, as fans would grow without another wrestling company on television. This means they would eventually be forced to do European tours among others.
This is where new talent would be crucial to the company. While WCW had something called the Power Plant, where they were training new talent… they rarely developed top tier people there. They always struggled to make big names, which is why they stole from other places. Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman were great at this, and it is likely they could have gotten Paul to jump in to help.
However, it is unknown at this time what would have happened there. Most of the top talent like Randy Orton, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Batista were all discoveries made by scouts for WWE or were sought out by people with connections to the company. It would be tough for legacies to end up in WCW too, like Orton, simply due to not have the connections or real help. That means top names would be done and lesser talent would get more attention, thus bringing down the product.
10. WWE Would Not Have Been Sold As Low As WCW Was
One of the biggest things that needs to be addressed is that when AOL merged with Time Warner and decided to remove WCW, they did not know what they had. The only thing they saw was that the company was losing money, and AOL wanted to cut the cost. WCW was an issue for them financially and Vince McMahon was right there willing to buy for the only $2 million asked for it.
Vince knew what he had, and would never have sold WWE for anything near $2 million. He was already on the stock market with WWE by 2001, thus, the company would have connections to people who would want to buy. You could have expected something north of $500 million, due to the company’s growth expected, as McMahon was not really losing money by that time. At least not as much as WCW was. Any new owner would automatically be able to add money to the company, so without a loss of much…they would be fine to sell pretty high.
9. WWE Going Down Doesn’t Mean It Would Be Bought By AOL Time Warner
People assume that everything would be reversed with the changes, but that is illogical. WCW was not like WWE, as they were owned by a major corporation that would just throw cash at the situation. If AOL would be unsure about WCW, what makes anyone assume they would have bought WWE at that time? It is very unlikely, especially for the price Vince would have sold for and would most likely have gotten from a company.
It is much more likely that another company bought WWE. While this would mean that certain talent may still leave the company like The Rock, Austin, and others… who preferred dealing with McMahon over another person. They would have been under contract for at least a small portion of the time they would be under new ownership.
WWE would possibly be bought by a group that would have included Eric Bischoff, as he was already out of WCW by this time. He had taken part in a company that was getting ready to buy WCW before AOL refused television as an added benefit to the package. Theoretically, he would be able to team up with another company to have a joint venture to buy WWE. Since they were already on the stock market, this would not be tough to buy the majority shares. Plus, WWE had a contract with Spike TV at the time for a few years which means a guaranteed television deal would go to whoever bought the business.
8. WrestleMania Would Still Be A Major Show Yearly
No matter who bought WWE’s majority shares from Vince McMahon, WrestleMania was too big to ignore. It is likely that WrestleMania 17 would have gone on as normal, and it is possible that a sale for the company does not happen for a little while. So we could possibly even make it all the way to WrestleMania 19 before a buyout occurs.
That means if we’re still keeping the brand alive, WrestleMania would be able to work. Keep in mind too, that WWE did not add their name to this show… it’s just WrestleMania. So there is an easy way to market it with the logo of the new team that owns the company or name, even WCW. It is also the first real successful wrestling PPV venture, making it a legendary name.
7. Triple H May Not Marry Stephanie McMahon, But Would Definitely Join The NWO
In what would be considered a bit of a weird move, people forget that while Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were somewhat of an item by 2001 came about… they were not married yet. They did not get married until 2003 officially. While working together, they became an item outside storylines. This is where Triple H would come to love Stephanie and go on to marry her, for real, years later. However, if they never truly worked together or had time with each other… there is a theory that they do not get married.
While that may be theorized, this isn’t. Triple H would be in the NWO. Without another company that makes sense to go to, Triple H could either go to Hollywood or WCW. He was not a huge movie star and pans his own acting most of the time. Triple H was friends with founding NWO members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and since he was such a big name by this point, he would have easily jumped to be part of the NWO.
To that same note, Shawn Michaels would join the NWO in WWE upon his return in 2002. It could be assumed he would do this in WCW with ease due to the same reasons Triple H did it for. Kliq members don’t turn their backs on the other, obviously.
6. The Independent Scene Would Remain A Growing Trend
One thing that happened big time when WWE bought ECW and WCW was that the Indies became a bigger place to go. There were a ton of former stars from these organizations without homes. Jeff Jarrett would open TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor would open its doors too. Both were popular areas for independent workers to end up. Other companies rose up after time, and even New Japan Pro-Wrestling started to rise after a while.
Due to the internet evolving, it’s quite clear indies would become a top spot for many performers. Perhaps the stars that would have been in WWE would have instead ended up on the indies and worked their way up in another company. There is a clear situation here in that without a WWE to work in, or at least the same one we know now, independent performers may be different. Could you imagine seeing Randy Orton or John Cena work their way up in these top indie promotions? It is possible.
5. WCW Would Do A Brand Split Of Sorts
With the sale of WWE to another party, they are likely to see a lot of talent take off on them. If they did manage to buy up WWE, WCW would have a roster filled with amazing talent both new and established. Clearly, they would be instantly thrust into the picture and that would be quite difficult to manage. With a show like WCW Thunder being put on as a second show to help a developing roster, it is likely that it would end up like WWE SmackDown became.
SmackDown was built on the idea of using some established names and a lot of newer names to prepare them for a bigger role. Today, the shows are seen as even with WWE RAW being stacked regardless. Back then, however, this was not the case, despite putting people like The Rock and The Undertaker on SmackDown initially. WCW would need a brand split, and while they may not call it this, they would have an equivalent.
The reason is simply that they, like WWE, would see the writing on the wall. You could raise ratings on both shows and have both stand out. It’s far easier to go this direction than to hope the three-hour WCW Nitro would get everyone on.
4. Forget About A Women’s Revolution In WCW
Remember WCW’s women’s division? We don’t blame you for not being able to. There were two women’s championships in the history of WCW. A WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship and simply a WCW Women’s Championship. Both would only last for a year. Both were also dead well before 2001. They never really cared for their women’s divisions at all. They would put hot girls on television in the form of the Nitro girls or managers.
People like Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson managed to stand out in these areas and were big additions to WWE later on. However, we could forget people like Chyna, Lita, Jazz, and many others ever being part of WCW. Trish Stratus might be in there, as she kind of fit in as a manager at that time anyway. Lita and others would go where they could wrestle and become big names in that division.
This also means the likes of this new generation of amazing female wrestlers would not part of WCW. Even if the company did add another women’s division to try out this time, it is unlikely they would have kept it, looking at their massive problems with the other times they tried it out.
3. TNA Would Be A Much Bigger Success As Vince Invests In And Runs It
When WCW was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWE, Jeff Jarrett worked to start his own promotion that he would name Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, better known as TNA. Jarrett would eventually have financial trouble while running the promotion. This is when he would partner up with Panda Energy, and in particular, the now infamous Dixie Carter. This would never have happened if WWE was the one bought out.
Vince McMahon would be rolling in money, and willing to invest. Jeff would likely be able to convince many former WWE guys to go to his promotion instead of WCW. Since there were so many great young workers at that time like Edge, the Hardy’s, and of course their eventual top guy Kurt Angle, it is easy to assume they would be there by that time. Vince would see this as a big opportunity to run another place.
Like Dixie did before, Vince would most likely strong-arm Jarrett out of TNA. Since Vince knew how to create stars and talent, he could make TNA into what the WWE came to be. He knows how to market as well, something TNA never knew how to do. With his millions he would get out of handing his majority shares over; he would be an easy partner. He also would be able to build them up to a solid, profiting place. Which very well could contest WCW.
2. WCW Would Still Be Run Horribly
WCW was run by a horrible front office. It seems that they had no problem spending just about anything they wanted. They were dumb enough to offer creative control to talent, which allowed them to turn down storylines and refuse to lose or win based on how they felt on a given day. Vince Russo was also too full of himself as a creative team member and writer, which led to a ton of major issues backstage.
Eric Bischoff would not know how to run a corporation but would be beloved by the fans as a good on-air character. The issue is that he never could run the company because he offered the horrible deals that were high on money and control, which crippled WCW to begin with. The top talent had very little to no respect for management, and that led to a clear disconnect.
Numerous management members had trouble running WCW before Eric and post-Eric. It was like a virus there, and no one had the cure to kill it. This would have continued, regardless of if WCW won the war or not. Vince McMahon knew how to run his company and gain the respect of his talent. No WCW management member had that for management, and the reason they didn’t was mainly because they were terrible at their jobs.
1. AOL/Time Warner Still Would Have Sold WCW
We cannot ignore the obvious. AOL bought Time Warner and no matter what, WCW would win the war in this case but still would have been sold. AOL had no idea about the profit WCW was obtaining at their highest point. They had a ton of people that came in who had no idea about the pro-wrestling business and saw it as a stain on the resume for them. AOL did not want to have a thing to do with it.
They would never have bought WCW, but since it came with the Time Warner deal, they knew they could cut it and have no issue. They sold it to Vince McMahon for around $2 million. People in WCW had been making that in a given year to few years. Chris Jericho once said, when he heard how much WCW was sold for, he could have afforded to buy it. That is how terrible this was.
That said, it is likely Vince McMahon could buy up WCW despite losing the Monday Night Wars as he would have sold WWE for a lot of money and therefore he would still manage to be on top. If not Vince, someone else would buy WCW and perhaps it would have become THE place to be like WWE seems to be today. No matter who would have bought it, the fact that AOL would still be willing to sell for so little says a lot for their respect for the brand. Perhaps someone like Hulk Hogan would have purchased it. A lot could have happened.
AOL and Time Warner would cite a $99 billion loss in the merger in just its first year, making it one of the worst if not THE worst mergers in American business history. Decisions like removing WCW for such a low price was one of the reasons they went downhill.
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