All great ideas take form somewhere; whether it’s through imitation or motivation, an idea can sometimes be controversial because of how closely it resembles another. In the world of sports and entertainment, this is often a major problem, as companies like ROH, New Japan, TNA Wrestling and the former World Championship Wrestling, have all claimed at one time that WWE stole their ideas, whether it be for a gimmick, storyline or even a PPV.
This was especially apparent during the 90s. The WWE was scrambling for ideas in order to revive their product which was seriously hurting because of WCW’s edgier program. Eventually, copying some of WCW’s concepts helped shift the company's momentum. This article will take a look at various ideas and the way the WWE copied the ideas from other promotions; ideas range from gimmicks to divisions to PPV events to even talent acquisitions. Let’s get to it. Here are 12 ideas the WWE stole. Let us know which one of these entries surprised you the most! Enjoy.
12 Montreal Screwjob
Some call this the night that changed professional wrestling forever. This matchup remains one of the most talked about matches in all of sports and entertainment to this day. According to reports, Gerald Brisco and Sgt. Slaughter were the men behind the Montreal Screwjob. However, it was later revealed that Triple H was actually the one that made the suggestion to screw Bret out of the championship. Initially, the match was set up to continue following the sharpshooter. With a ref knocked out, Bret was allegedly going to put Shawn in his finishing move, only to let go eventually. Shawn was then going to connect with a Superkick, only to have the count broken up by Owen and Davey Boy Smith. The match was scheduled to end in a disqualification. Interesting that ultimately Hunter’s idea prevailed over the other possible outcomes. The finish was Paul’s idea and not the WWE’s.
11 Attitude Era
So much praise goes to the WWE for revolutionizing the wrestling business during their coveted Attitude Era. This was regarded as the golden age for the WWE. Despite all the credit they get, it should be noted that it was actually the WCW who initially pushed the envelope with edgier programming. Bischoff wanted to bring a new in-your-face type of product which also brought in some realism to the show. This formula eventually caused the WCW to take over the ratings war. After weeks and weeks of defeats, it was actually a meeting that Michaels and Hunter had with McMahon that changed everything. The two demanded Vince change his ways and get rid of outdated characters with gimmicks that only appealed to children. The two wrestlers knew that those days were done. Vince agreed to their demands and brought in Degeneration-X, despite being totally against the idea. It was actually Vince Russo who pushed Vince into working the stable into the program. This move would finally give the WWE a push that their product desperately needed. This ultimately paved the way for the Attitude Era.
10 The Role of the Mid-Card
Back in the mid-90’s, a huge key to the WCW’s success was the role of their mid-card wrestlers. Stars were constantly being created gradually, with wrestlers like DDP and Goldberg built up from the mid-card onto the main attraction of the entire show. This is something the WWE really didn’t follow until the creations of The Rock and Stone Cold. Before that the mid-card was stacked with wrestlers that were either too old or not drawing with the audience. The mid-card ultimately grew, and younger talent was beginning to get pushed. All of a sudden, WWE’s new exciting stars in the mid-card became must-see TV, as opposed to the WCW who suddenly became outdated and repetitive. This factor eventually caused the demise of the company.
9 Rebellious Character
What really set the WWE over the edge was the upbringing of Stone Cold Steve Austin. This guy drew money like nobody else during the 90s. His character generated so much popularity because of its ruthlessness and his ability to go up against the villainous authority. Despite all of Steve’s popularity, it was actually the WCW that launched a similar character before Austin’s in 1996; you might know him, this guy named Sting. In the summer of 1996, Sting was transformed into a replica of 'The Crow'. The Stinger would become the first wrestler to stand up to The Outsiders. He would end up becoming a rebellious figure that would combat the authority which featured Eric Bischoff and The New World Order. Sting’s gimmick would launch the WCW into immense popularity, however, down the road, Steve Austin and The Rock would start one of the greatest feuds in WWE history. This would end up shifting the ratings war.
8 The Shield
According to the always controversial CM Punk, the idea for The Shield was actually stolen. During the Colt Cabana Podcast, Punk made the claim that he was the one that invented The Shield, saying they were created initially to be his “protectors”. Punk was outraged the WWE apparently stole his idea and quickly branded it. When Roman Reigns was asked about this, he laughed off the questions saying Punk didn’t create anything but the Pepsi tattoo on his shoulder. Ouch. Reigns went on to say that the three men involved in The Shield were responsible for creating the faction.
7 Light Heavyweight Division
One thing the WWE did not have in comparison to WCW was a Cruiserweight Division. WCW’s Cruiserweights set the product to new heights in more ways than one, and the division became must-see TV on a weekly basis featuring wrestlers like Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Juventud Guerrera, Ultimo Dragon, Eddie Guerrero and so many others. The WWE failed to replicate the division several times. They initially copied the idea by starting a Light Heavyweight Division. The likes of “Gillberg”, a knock off of Goldberg, quickly turned the division into a joke. The WWE would continue to try and rebrand it to no avail.
Today, it looks like the WWE is once again trying to create this division properly, this time starting at the NXT level. With a three hour program, the WWE can use a fresh new division on a weekly basis. Hopefully, this time the division is here to stay.
6 International Talent
Unlike the WWE, WCW was very aggressive in pursuing talent from overseas. This ultimately led to greater depth amongst the roster. International wrestlers thrived on American soil (Eddie Guerrero is just one example of a wrestler who succeeded in a North American market). The WWE would later follow in WCW’s footsteps doing the same. Today, more so than ever, the WWE is extremely active in recruiting talents from abroad. Just recently, Shinsuke Nakamura made his debut for the company down in NXT. The 36 year old Japan native was an innovator during his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling. The King of Strong Style hopes to make an impact with the WWE very shortly. Nakamura has a legitimate chance to become the WWE’s first ever Japanese born WWE Champion. Wouldn’t that be something?
5 Angle Accuses the WWE
In October of 2012, Angle went on a rant ripping the WWE for stealing TNA’s ideas. Angle was outraged on Twitter claiming the idea to have AJ Lee and John Cena in an alleged affair was stolen as it was an idea from TNA. Angle was comparing the story to the AJ Styles, Dixie Carter and Claire Lynch storyline. Kurt’s rant didn’t stop there though, the former WWE star went on to discuss the fact that the WWE also replicates TNA production techniques. As you probably can imagine, the WWE had no comments whatsoever on the matter.
4 The Role of the Authority
With the debut of the nWo, Eric Bischoff quickly became one of the most hated men in all of WCW. With Eric joining the nWo, his authority figure became very corrupt, which caused for some great storylines. This edgy content was later replicated by the WWE following the Montreal Screwjob, and Vince, all of a sudden, became one of the most hated individuals in all of the WWE. This would later spark an iconic feud between himself and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Like Bischoff and the nWo, McMahon would create his own faction in November of 1998, The Corporation. The group would feud with the company’s biggest names like DX, Mankind and Stone Cold.
3 Rebellions Faction
On July 7th, 1996, the WCW would change the landscape of pro wrestling forever by debuting The New World Order. Their impact eventually sparked the WCW to beat the WWE in ratings for 84 straight weeks. The WWE desperately needed something to rival this faction and push the envelope towards an edgier product. A little more than a year later, the WWE would copy WCW and debut Degeneration-X on August 11th, 1997. The faction would succeed and become an instant hit. The group was monumental in ushering in the WWE’s Attitude Era.
2 RAW Going Live
Early on, it seemed like WCW was willing to do anything in order to gain the upper hand on the WWE. A dirty tactic Bischoff used was spoiling the WWE’s results during Nitro’s live broadcast. This tactic would eventually backfire big time after the results were given away that Mick Foley was going to become the new WWE Champion on RAW. This caused Nitro to lose half their audience, as fans turned the channel to see Foley win the championship. Eventually, Vince McMahon would also make the change and go live. This live TV concept would eventually propel the WWE into the ratings lead against WCW.
1 PPV Concept
Before WCW was sold to Ted Turner, Jim Crockett was in charge of the promotion. Crockett was the first ever wrestling promoter to use a pay-per-view concept and type of event by debuting Starrcade in 1983. Jim would continue to produce this event till 1987. Two years after Crockett began Starrcade, the WWE would combat this on March 31st, 1985 with WrestleMania I. This would pave the way for more events and eventual record setting WrestleMania 31 years later with an attendance of over 100,000. Would there have been a WrestleMania without the impact of Starrcade?