Looking back, WCW had everything at its disposal to be the greatest wrestling company ever. Big names, young talent, cruiserweights, and a billionaires funding were just some of the tools in WCW’s arsenal. For the period of July ’96 to December ’98 WCW was hotter than fish grease. They seemed to hit on all angles creatively, and became clear #1 wrestling company in the world. However, a number of missteps occurred both behind the scenes, and in the ring that would ultimately be their undoing.
To be frank, a number of things that happened in WCW were stupid. Absolutely ridiculous things were commonplace. Title belts were transformed to mere pieces of tin on Vince Russo’s watch. However to be fair, bad booking, and terrible ideas ran rampant long before Vince Russo walked in the door. Pay-Per-View events were established simply because of one man’s love of motorcycles.
Despite every botch on WCW’s part, there is still a “They Shouldn’t Have Lost” undertone when discussing WCW’s memory. In reality, the fact they were able to proceed as long as they did should be commended. However, some stupidity cannot be forgiven, and DEFINITELY shouldn’t be forgotten.
Naturally, this could be a list that contained 111 entries. In the interest of holding your attention, the following 11 will be focused on. Add yours below, as I cannot possibly list every stupid thing WCW did. There are levels of stupidity when it comes to the company down south. These areas included, in the ring, outside the ring, and behind closed doors. A lot of this information was gathered through DVD’s and books, namely The Death Of WCW.
My love of WCW is endless, and in loving something you should be able to be honest about it.
Here are 11 things WCW should have never done.
11. Nearly 20 World Championship Changes In 35 Weeks.
In the year 2000, to say WCW was in trouble is a MASSIVE understatement. The thinking in WCW at the time was, title switches equaled ratings. Didn’t quite work out that way.
In letting the Big Gold Belt change hands so frequently, WCW devalued the title to the point fans no longer cared. As many fans saw it, the title was just going to change hands again. And they were right. There was many times where the title would change hands multiple times in the same night, without Money in The Bank stipulations.
WCW was in the process of attempting to elevate new main eventers, and keep the old ones happy, so what we were treated to were nonsensical lay downs, tag team matches for individual championships, and “Vacant” being the most consistent WCW Champion of the period.
Here is a list of the champions during that stretch.
Chris Benoit, Sid Vicious (2), Kevin Nash (3), Jeff Jarrett (4), Diamond Dallas Page, David Aruqette, Ric Flair (2), Booker T (3), Vince Russo, & Scott Steiner. Add in the fact the title was vacated 6 times, and it is clear that not a soul in WCW had a clue on how to book, or value a championship.
David Arquette and Vince Russo held world titles, enough said.
10. Watering Down the New World Order
The initial faction of the NWO consisted of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Adding Ted Dibiase (financial backing to purchase talent & airtime), Syxx (to help carry main events in ring), The Giant (a big guy who was unstoppable) and Eric Bischoff who was the boss of WCW, were moves that made sense. The original 3 made so many enemies; it was a matter of time before they needed more backup.
However, when the NWO started creating a mid-card underneath the top guys, it dented the novelty of having the most elite group in wrestling. When one thinks of the NWO, how long is it before the name Buff Bagwell is mentioned? How about Scott Norton? What about Konnan or Mr. Wallstreet?
It wasn’t long before the NWO began resembling wrestling’s answer to the Wu-Tang Clan. 20 guys would be in the ring during a promo, seemingly pushing each other out of the way to get caught on camera, while one guy in the middle did the talking.
As the storyline evolved, dissension began crippling the NWO’s ranks and they were split in two. With Nash leading The Wolfpac and Hogan leading NWO Hollywood, it just turned into a standard wrestling angle rather than the greatest thing we’ve ever seen.
9. Mismanaging PPV Time: Halloween Havoc 1998
Halloween Havoc 1998 in many aspects was the beginning of the end in WCW. After an atrocious Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior match, where Hulk Hogan set off flash paper in his own face, a main event between Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page looked to save the show. Only thing was, when would it happen?
According to the Death of WCW book, by Brian Alvarez and RD Reynolds, WCW had decided to make this Pay-Per-View three and a half hours instead of the normal three. About two hours and forty-five minutes in, Hogan and Warrior were still stinking out the joint. Fans weren’t alerted of the time increase, NEITHER WERE THE CABLE COMPANIES!
Suddenly as Page and Goldberg squared off, at 11:00 PM, the screen went black. Yes, the World Championship match on WCW’s second biggest show of the year had been compromised due to mismanagement of time, and lack of foresight to alert the cable companies.
As one could imagine, fans were instantly given refunds that amounted to over a million dollars and WCW re-aired the match the next night on Nitro.
WCW would never really get the chance to regain the momentum they carried into this event. As ending Goldberg’s streak and the Finger Poke of Doom would follow in the next few months.
8. The Death of The Cruiserweight Division
Undoubtedly, one of the best aspects of the NWO dominated era of Nitro was the fact Eric Bischoff created the greatest cruiserweight division ever underneath it. Eric Bischoff termed it, counter culture to what was going on with the WCW vs. NWO.
Built originally around Chris Jericho, hall of famers and talented workers were everywhere one looked. Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Ultimo Dragon, Dean Malenko, Psychosis , La Parka and many more gave WCW fast paced, exciting, opening matches in 1996.
However, in 1998 and 1999, WCW was calling on these men and a few other new additions to keep doing the same thing they had done for years. There were only so many hurricanranas we could watch before it got boring. These men began burning out, and left the promotion in droves.
Why these men never were elevated is beyond any logical thinking. Chavo Guerrero and Chris Jericho remarked, “The top guys didn’t want anything to do with us like we had leprosy, it was like the indian caste system, you stayed where you were and never advanced.”
Soon enough, Vince Russo put the title on Ed Ferrara who was playing a character called Oklahoma which was a parody of Jim Ross. Never mind that Ferrara wasn’t a wrestler, or that it was offensive, he was fighting a woman over the title. Madusa should have squashed him.
7. WCW’s history of Terrible Bookers
From Jim Herd, to Dusty Rhodes…Kevin Nash to Vince Russo, WCW had a major issue with who was creating its storylines for a span of 10 years, and all of them seemed to be the wrong decision. Each of these men made short sighted decisions that were bizarre in the short term, and crippling in the long run. “The Death Of WCW” States:
“In a way, it was shockingly similar to the way Jim Crockett Promotions had booked itself into oblivion exactly ten years earlier. They hired a booker (Dusty Rhodes in the mid-80’s, Nash in 1998) who put himself and his friends over at the expense of all the other talent; they booked screw-job after screw-job, run in after run in, until it drew “the wrong kind of heat” that drives fans away; they put all the old stale talent on top while ratings made it clear fans wanted new blood.” Sounds wildly familiar as Wrestlemania 30 approaches doesn’t it?
Jim Herd wanted the great Ric Flair to cut his hair in the early 90’s and change his name to Spartacus, which promptly led to Ric joining Vince McMahon’s WWF, WITH THE WORLD TITLE IN HIS POSSESSION.
Dusty Rhodes was known for the “Dusty Finish”, which meant ending a match under false terms, then a quick reverse decision that would swerve fans to build the storyline even further. However, Dusty did this too much, and fans realized they were being had each time limiting the effectiveness of the tactic.
Vince Russo initially had good ideas (pushing young talent, resetting the championships) but there was so much trash mixed in (putting the title on himself and David Arquette, turning Goldberg heel) not to mention WCW had one foot in the grave already when he showed up.
To go back even further, Bill Watts once thought it was a good idea to ban all moves off the top rope, effectively killing cruiserweight matches, and push his son at the expense of all the other wrestlers. In WCW, stupidity was in the water or something.
6. WCW Road Wild
WCW Road Wild, or Hog Wild was held in Sturgis, South Dakota from 1996-1999. It underwent a name change due to a copyright issue from Harley Davidson. Watching it back, it seemed like a great atmosphere for wrestling, but digging deeper found an issue that was just baffling.
First off, no one was charged admission to attend this event. It was held in the middle of a motorcycle rally where no one really knew what was going on. Yes, no one EVER paid to attend a pay-per-view that ran for several years. WCW wasn’t pulling killer buy rates or anything, so one would think making money from the gate would be paramount. Well you would be wrong.
You see, the only reason this pay-per-view was in existence was that Eric Bischoff loved to smoke cigars and ride Harley’s with the wrestlers.
How does that make any sense business wise?
Could you imagine Vince McMahon letting people in for free at a Pay-Per-View? That’s right you couldn’t imagine it either.
5. Having Absolutely Nothing For Bret Hart
Fresh off the Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart stampeded into WCW as the hottest commodity in wrestling, only to find ineptitude at every turn. WCW had no idea how to use Bret Hart, often turning him face, heel, then back again within a month.
It began at Starrcade 97, where he was making his first appearance on a WCW PPV, as a referee for the Larry Zbyszko/Eric Bischoff encounter. Leading up to this point Bret was being teased as a member of the NWO, and of WCW. It seemed like Bret signed a 3 year, 9 Million dollar contract to be a pawn in the WCW vs. NWO power struggle.
Two months prior he was the WWF Champion, but getting to WCW was like walking in a snake pit, with sabotage at every turn. Hogan and Nash allegedly buried Hart politically to Bischoff, who didn’t know any better, and set the wheels in motion to have “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be” toil in mediocrity.
Soon enough, Hart found himself booked into obscurity and was competing for mid card titles, and outside the spot he truly should have occupied from day one, which was one of a top level performer. However, Hart continued diligently, and found himself WCW Champion long after it mattered.
4. Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a Martial Arts Match
Switching gears from the more serious gaffes, comes one straight out of the annals of stupidity. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, never the most creative wrestler offensively, was booked against Meng in a Martial Arts Match at WCW Uncensored 1995.
What exactly did Jim Duggan have in his arsenal for a martial arts match? Surely, Duggan could shock the world with a stunning display of balance, flexibility and skills right?
Rich Thomas, @earthdog brought to my attention, that the entire Uncensored 95 may have been a rib on the fans, and cited this as his biggest example. If you’ve never watched this, load up your WWE Network and search away.
Tony Schivaone describes the rules as “You have to pin someone or knock them out!” Standard to almost any match ever. The first hilarity ensued when Duggan refused to bow down to Sonny Onoo, while Co. Parker yelled “YOU HAVE TO BOW DOWN IN THE MARTIAL ARTS, IT’S TRADITION!” you know, since he was an expert in this style of match.
Duggan’s karate outfit consisted of blue jeans, a ripped black shirt, and star covered knee pads that went over the jeans. He didn’t bother to wear shoes.
Jim Duggan = True Martial Arts Master.
Who booked this crap?
3. Giving Away Hogan vs Goldberg on FREE TV
In July of 1998, Goldberg was on nearly equal footing with Stone Cold Steve Austin as nearly the hottest rising star in the sport. Chants of GOLLLLLLD-BERGGGG could be heard in every arena nationwide, as he piled up victory after victory.
WWE had gotten from underneath the 86 week losing streak in the ratings war, and took the lead from WCW. Where WCW showed great patience in delaying Hogan vs Sting in 1997, by this time the ratings had become such a big deal, those in power in Atlanta began losing track of what the business is set up to do, MAKE MONEY.
With a date in the Georgia Dome on the horizon, Hulk Hogan offered to face Goldberg in a non-title, non-televised event where Goldberg would get the win, and send the crowd home happy. According to The Death of WCW, Hogan knew the Turner big wigs would be there, assume Hogan drew the big house, and cement his status at the top dog in WCW.
However, the plans were changed as Bischoff freaked out over falling behind in the ratings. He badly wanted the lead back, even if it was momentarily. So much, that he was willing to put Goldberg vs Hogan on free TV, for the WCW Championship! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!!
Stevie Wonder could have seen how much money this would have drawn on Pay-Per-View. Yes, WCW won that night in the ratings, with Goldberg scoring a clean win over Hogan. However, it killed the future money or angles that could have been created. Imagine WWE throwing John Cena vs The Rock on Monday Night Raw. Yeah right.
2. Ending Goldberg’s Streak
The combination of ending Goldberg’s streak, and The Fingerpoke of Doom (still to come) accelerated WCW’s demise like a car from The Fast and Furious. It was the culmination of “drawing the wrong type of heat” that I previously touched on, bad booking, and questionable business tactics.
As some readers may remember, Goldberg was undermined from the second he beat Hogan for the title. There wasn’t a rematch. Hogan moved on to doing celebrity tag team matches that involved everyone from Jay Leno to Dennis Rodman.
In July 1998 despite being the World Champion, Goldberg did not appear on Nitro during the anniversary of his first win.
Going deeper into my research, Goldberg didn’t headline most of the events after winning the title. At Road Wild where everyone got in free and Jay Leno was wrestling, Goldberg won a 9 Man battle royal that meant absolutely nothing in the semi-main event. Upon destroying those men, he was left with no direction or matches. He was taking a back seat to, you guessed it…Hulk Hogan.
We already discussed how no one saw the Goldberg vs DDP match in 1998…
Fast forward to Starrcade:
After winning the World War 3 battle royal, Kevin Nash was now the #1 contender to the World Title. Kevin Nash was also booking at this time. Shocker. Hogan had departed the promotion on his quest to become President of The United States, and to film Muppets in Space. During this time, the NWO (yes that was still around) was split into Nash’s Red vs Hogan’s White.
In reality, Hogan’s retirement was a ploy to set up his eventual return, and dethronement of Goldberg. Goldberg, who at Starrcade had his legendary streak ended via stun gun, by Scott Hall who was dressed as security, and Kevin Nash who was booking himself to win the World Title.
Bobby Heenan was later quoted as saying “When they ended Goldberg’s streak, it was the biggest mistake that company ever made. The fans weren’t tired of him; they were buying tickets to see him, buying his shirts, and chanting his name. But some people didn’t care about that.”
1..The Finger Poke Of Doom
On January 4th, 1999 WCW would figuratively fall on its own sword.
In the Georgia Dome, Goldberg was booked to face Kevin Nash in his rematch from Starrcade, when out of nowhere, he was arrested on an unspecified charge which would later be said to be “aggravated stalking” of Miss Elizabeth.
Nash, somehow still a face, assumed Hulk Hogan, who hadn’t been seen in months must be behind this, and he wanted to face him as a warm-up for Goldberg. We should have known something was up from that point.
Hogan, dressed in street clothes took the microphone and stated he planned to announce his retirement, and running mate that evening for his “President” idea. But now he was disgusted at Goldberg, and would face Kevin Nash for talking about him. (Hogan)
Apparently, Miss Elizabeth was a terrible liar, and Goldberg was freed and had to race back to the Georgia Dome for the main event.
However, the Hogan vs Nash encounter for the championship was set to begin shortly. Nash vs Hogan had been building since early 1998, as Nash’s natural persona on screen didn’t have to take a backseat to the fading Hogan any longer. Fans were HOT for this match.
Naturally in WCW fashion, we got Hogan touching Nash with his finger, Nash falling down with both feet in the sky and Hogan pinning him, in a charade. Both Hogan and Nash got up laughing, revealing that Nash beating Goldberg, both on screen and off was a ruse to get the title back on Hulk Hogan. Goldberg entered the ring and destroyed everyone, until he was beaten down and spray painted by the new, NWO like it was 1996 all over again. Thank god they didn’t do this on Pay-Per-View.
However, wouldn’t Hulk Hogan vs Goldberg on Pay-Per-View have made more sense? Hogan never got his rematch, and Goldberg didn’t really have quality opponents. Why come up with a swerve that wasn’t really needed? We’ll never know the answer.
WCW had many more stupid things happen in its history, the hummer crash angle, scaffold matches, the Black Scorpion angle, the Doomsday Cage Match to end Hulkamania, Vince Russo’s booking, and much more. WWE every so often tiptoes to the WCW zone, but somehow finds a way to recover. Unfortunately, WCW was out of time much faster than it anticipated.
Now, let’s all go watch 2000/2001 WCW Pay-Per-Views on WWE Network, until our eyes bleed.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.