The Way Too Long Review of The Rise & Fall of WCW: The Feature
by Charlie Reneke on September 3, 2009

Why is this so late?  Blame Nintendo.  Way back in February of 2008 I ended up addicted to a little gem for the Nintendo DS called Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  On the same day that this DVD was released, so was the sequel, titled Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.  Although I promised myself I would not touch it until I finished this review, I simply couldn’t wait.  And hopefully Nintendo doesn’t drag their feet in releasing parts three and four in North America like this did with this one.  Highest recommendation.   In two weeks Scribblenauts hits the DS.  I don’t think any handheld game in history has had more hype on it.  Gamespot and IGN both named it best in show at E3.  Not best Nintendo DS game.  Not best handheld game.  Best game.  Period.  And the buzz is the awards won’t stop there.  I’m jazzed for it.

Well, let’s get to the feature.  In the coming days, you’ll get the discs with the matches.  For now, let’s get this show rolling.

-We start with Jim Crockett.  At the time the Charlotte athletic commission required that anyone who promote there be a resident of the city, so Big Jim Crockett (Jim Sr.) moved there.  In 1933, he promoted wrestling in Charlotte for the first time.  Along with Vince Sr, he was a member of the NWA and promoted as far North as Richmond, Virginia.  Roughly an hour and a half away from Washington DC, which is where Vince McMahon promoted.  Vince Jr. says that almost with a grumpy, “how dare he” tone.  We’re in for a fun one, folks.

-Big Jim promoted other stuff, such as boxing, athletic exhibitions, the Harlem Globetrotters, and circuses.  He ran the entire business from his shirt pocket, which means he had all the dates, matches, and assorted stuff either memorized or in his little red book.  Vince McMahon Jr. says that he always heard Big Jim was a good guy and a good promoter.  And thus, he dies in 1973 and David Crockett runs the overall business while Jim Crockett takes over the wrestling.  Later Jimmy actually ended up in charge of everything.  McMahon says he didn’t know much about Jim Jr. except that his business was thriving.  Jim notes that he doesn’t think the old promoters knew what cable would do to the business.

-Flashback to Gordon Solie who hocks the rise of cable television to viewers.  We get a brief history of Ted Turner and TBS, which featured Championship Wrestling from Georgia.  Everyone talks about how amazing it was and how it drew huge ratings and was the talk of the town.  Everyone credits the rise of TBS (and by virtue, Ted Turner) with wrestling.  They’re not far off.

-Back to Mid-Atlantic, which Crockett built by keeping new and fresh talent coming in, including a young Ric Flair.  It was the most profitable wrestling territory at the time… behind WWE concedes Jim, though I bet it was neck-and-neck, and thus Jim made enemies with many promoters just because all the talent wanted to go there to make money.  Crockett didn’t want to make enemies so he would trade talent around and make mega-stars out of other people.  Of course, this was a very shrewd political move because what Crockett was doing was buying the votes he would need to make Ric Flair the World Heavyweight Champion of the NWA.

-The Crocketts send Flair everywhere so that he can get himself established and over in every territory.  We ignore all the shady deals made that landed Flair the belt and just cut to his first run as the champion.  Flair says it worked out and the promoters warmed up to him because he was easy to work with and could make them money.  The Crocketts ended up becoming booking agents for many big stars because the Crocketts were good at getting the wrestlers the best deals.

-To the first Starrcade.  Jimmy says that he had been thinking of pay per views long before anyone else in the business.  Well, not really.  Just to inject some personal commentary here: promoters had been doing closed circuit matches for years.  Everyone knew that the technology was coming that would allow the closed-circuit experience in your own home (IE Pay Per View) and EVERY SINGLE PROMOTER was drooling over the prospect of it.  The Crocketts and the McMahons will tell you otherwise, but I promise you everyone from Bill Watts down to Don Owen in Portland knew it was coming down the pipeline by the late 70s and couldn’t wait for it.  It was money in the bank.  Even crotchety old Verne Gagne openly told people that the closed-circuit-in-your-home situation would revolutionize the business.  Sure, the promoters were scared of cable, because that meant those imaginary lines they had drawn that marked their territory could be erased.  PPV was different because it could be kept regional and it was easy money.  Anyone who claims that the old fart promoters didn’t want it are lying.

-Crockett says that Starrcade was the death knell for all the smaller promoters because anyone with talent suddenly wanted to be in Mid-Atlantic.  This moves to Magnum TA talking about how all the wrestlers because mega stars like Elvis.  Crockett says that because he kept developing new stars, he stayed in business longer then any of the other regional guys.

-It’s Black Saturday time.  Vince McMahon buys out Georgia Champion Wrestling from Jim Barnett and the Brisco Brothers and takes their timeslot on TBS.  McMahon says this was a good move in theory, because TBS was in more cable systems then USA network was at the time.  GCW was getting it’s talent from the Crocketts, and so Turner calls up Jimmy and tells him ‘you’re off the air.’  Everyone thought it was the end of an era.  BUT WAIT~!  Because the fans hated the WWE’s product.  Vince McMahon still won’t concede that and claims some political strings were pulled to get Ted Turner to back out of their handshake deal.  So the Crocketts pay Vince a million dollars to get the time slot back.  Vince McMahon ended up making some bucks off the deal and could focus on Wrestlemania which was now paid for thanks to the Crocketts.

-Before the Crocketts bought the time slot from Vince, they were only supplying talent for TBS.  Now, they outright owned it and could exclusively promoter their stars.  McMahon says to make no mistake about it, Jimmy was building towards a national promotion.  More talent arrives, including the Midnight Express and Arn Anderson.  Crockett had a recruitment campaign going and Ted Turner put his best people on selling the tapes into syndication in other markets.

-We get a flashback of Jim Crockett being interviewed on TBS.  He’s asked who will be the next big star.  Without hesitation he states it will be Magnum TA.  Magnum says that he was promised a run with the World Championship, but a car wreck ended his career.  The hospital was shut down by all the well-wishers that came there.  Everyone agrees that he would have been the biggest stars ever.  Charisma, talent, and brains, but apparently poor use of pedals and steering wheel.

-Crockett is making tons of money, so he spends tons of money and he also goes well outside their comfort zones.  They started running the company out of Las Vegas.  Everyone agrees that heading west was killing them.  Jim Crockett confesses that he was not a good businessman.  He ends up five million dollars in the hole.  He says that if he had hired a business manager they would have been further along in the (national wrestling) expansion (then WWE presumably).  Everyone else says that it was simply not staying close to home that killed them.

-The Crocketts are bankrupt and Jimmy negotiates a sale to Ted Turner.  Jimmy never bothered to tell David, who heard it second-hand from Jim Barnett.  David fought the sale until Jim Crockett pulled “the mother card” saying that they had to make sure their mother was taken care of.  All the kids got paid and David and Jimmy ended up with five-year consulting agreements.  David was fired from his after two to three weeks.

-Turner was the only person in his company that liked wrestling.  All the suits and the corporate machine he had created hated it and didn’t want it.  Ric Flair says that Turner loved wrestling but didn’t micro-manage it.  “Have fun, make me some money” were his only instructions.  Jimmy gets pissy with how things were running and fired in record time, ending his career in wrestling.

-Michael Hayes, Road Warrior Animal, and Ricky Steamboat all say that they instantly felt like they were global stars instead of regional stars.  Turner put a LOT of money into WCW, and all the wrestlers started getting paid better.  Contracts were guaranteed and they had real show-biz people putting effort into it.  Jim Ross says their shows were better then WWE’s at the time.  Kevin Sullivan says that they had all Flair, the Road Warriors, the Steiners, and Sting.  Enough said.  Michael Hayes says the quality of the rivalries and matches was amazing.  Magnum TA puts over the underrated Rick Rude/Ricky Steamboat feud.  *checks match listing* Ah fuck, if they’re going to pimp it on the DVD you HAVE to give us one of the matches, but it won’t be in this set.  Assholes.  I’m guessing when the Steamer gets a set in 2010 it will be there, but still.  Everyone then talks about the Steamboat/Flair feud, which is on this set.  Jim Ross says everything was great with the talent, but they never had good leadership.

-Jim Herd is put in charge of WCW by the Turner brass.  Herd had previously run a studio in St. Louis where he might (but not bloody likely) have done some wrestling production.  But the boys knew him as the Pizza Boy because he had run a chain of Pizza Huts.  He had no business in the wrestling business.  Kevin Sullivan talks about all his stupid ideas, including the Ding Dongs.  I’m surprised nobody brought up his idea for the Hunchbacks, a tag team that was unbeatable because their shoulders couldn’t be put on the mat.  Jim Herd asked Jim Crockett to write a critique of a tape of the show.  He simply said the show sucked and wouldn’t work.  Maybe his report was entitled “The Way Too Short Review of WCW.”

Yep, I’m not proud of that joke either.

-Jim Ross says that Herd got dealt a bad hand and that TBS didn’t pay WCW for the it’s programming.  Turner owned WCW of course, but because they didn’t pay it’s own company for the product it provided to the networks, every show WCW made for the network was done so at a huge loss.  Plus they had a revolving door of bookers.  Ole Anderson was first, who had made money in the past but wouldn’t change with the times.  Teddy Long calls Ole the worst booker in the history of America.  By time he had warmed up to some more progressive ideas, he was sent home.

-Herd is shown the door and Kip Frye is put in charge and didn’t last long.  Since it’s not covered here, I’ll fill in the gaps: Herd was dealing with the fallout of losing Ric Flair, who was Ted Turner’s favorite wrestler.  That, along with some other pretty bad business choices led to him getting released.  Kip Frye was actually pretty popular with the wrestlers and introduced some radical ideas, like giving large bonuses to the wrestlers who had the best match on each televised show.  He simply couldn’t deal with the political bullshit of wrestling and asked to be reassigned.  I’ve talked to a lot of WCW stars over the years almost every wrestler I’ve asked about Kip Frye believes that if he had stuck it out with WCW for more then the couple of months he did, they believe he would have turned the company around.

-Jim Barnett tells Ted Turner to put Dusty Rhodes in charge.  Everyone says that Dusty is one of the most creative guys in the history of the business.  But things were changing and wrestlers had started to get agents and huge contracts.  Dusty says that many of the guys had creative control clauses or stuff that would allow them to come and go as they please.  Jim Ross says that Dusty did well but upper management was still not in love with the company and they didn’t want anyone from the wrestling business to run WCW as a whole.  Dusty finally gave up and said there was nothing that he could do.  Dusty says that he’s not bitter, but anyone who says WCW couldn’t earn money is a liar.

-Michael Hayes says he was actually hoping that Bill Watts would come in because he had a long history of successful booking.  Hayes says that he doesn’t know how anyone could have reasonably expected someone not connected to wrestling or at the very least wasn’t even a fan of wrestling to be successful.  Mike Graham says that Bill Watts was the last ‘wrestling guy’ that would be given a shot running WCW.  Everyone in Turner was scared shitless of him.  Hayes says everyone was thrilled when Watts finally got hired.  “Were we wrong!”

-Watts wants to take everything back to basics.  In his first interview on TBS, he says that his product won’t be a cartoon come to life.  He then said “Meep Meep” and took off running before that coyote got it’s hands on him.  Not really but that would have been cool.  His first order of business: no padding around the ring.  We then get a cringe-inducing series of clips showing all the sick bumps that happened as a result of the lack of mats.  The Cowboy himself is interviewed here and he defends it.  “Oh my god, you’re so cruel.  Hell, we all worked without mats are whole lives.  We’re the tough guys, the WWE guys are wussies because they have to have mats to fall on.”  Watts then tried to bust contracts because he got pissed that guys would get paid and not work.  Watts had no problem telling guys off in front of the entire locker room, and according to Ron Simmons, had no problems punching guys who wouldn’t listen to him.  Needless to say, this shit would not fly in the corporate world of Turner Broadcasting.

-Hayes says that he was throwing his weight around and making the product boring as a result.  Watts says that’s bullshit.  There was still tons of high flying, but you had to use it in the context of the match.  By making it against the rules, it made those high-flying moves special.  Watts says he was turning things around but couldn’t live in the corporate structure and got fired.    Or resigned as he will later say in the extras.

-Turner brass declares that nobody connected to wrestling will ever be in charge of the company again.  Thus Bill Shaw is hired.  His first order of business is to pour their budget into making production values higher.  This is stuff that should have been done the minute Turner bought them out, but for some reason nobody thought of it.  Sullivan says that Shaw was smart enough to know he wasn’t smart enough to run the wrestling business, so he turned things over to Eric Bischoff.  Bischoff was a wrestling guy with the AWA but he was younger and more progressive.

-Dusty calls Bischoff a ‘visionary.’  You mean Eric Bischoff is a knight of the magical light?  With magical powers he fights?  Powers of mind, strength, skill, and speed?  Powers to accomplish the greatest of deeds?

Oh, not that kind of visionary.  (my apologies for that incredibly dated and obscure reference.  Remember, calls for my firing should be made to Wirdo, or in the forum).

-Mike Graham then proceeds to take credit for every one of Bischoff’s ideas.  He’s full of shit, of course.  Anyone who watches the Legends of Wrestling series on 24/7 should have figured that out by now.  Anyway, Graham Bischoff moves the shows to the Disney MGM studios (called Universal Studios by Graham).  Graham then takes full credit for bringing Hulk Hogan into WCW.  Jim Ross points out that Jim Herd tried to get all the WWE guys too but nobody had budgeted him the money.  Bill Shaw really did make the difference, no doubt about it.  Bill Shaw gave Crockett and Bischoff permission to go after Hogan.  Footage of the “breaking news” during a WCW show where Tony Schiavone has an orgasm announcing Hulk Hogan has signed with the company, plus the ticker-tape parade done to celebrate it.  The signing of Hulk Hogan that is, not Tony’s orgasm.  Arn Anderson says that Hogan is the biggest star in wrestling history and this was the biggest thing WCW had ever done.

-Hogan’s first match is at Bash at the Beach, where he takes the WCW Championship.  WCW is reborn and things start to take off.  Well, not really.  It popped a big buyrate and then things went into a holding pattern.  Randy Savage follows, along with Bobby Heenan and Mean Gene Okerlund (who were there before Hogan showed up).  But it still wasn’t enough for WCW to be profitable.  Bischoff gets a meeting with Ted Turner to pitch him on syndicating WCW in China.  He needed Turner’s permission for this because they would have gone through Star TV, which was owned by Rupert Murdoch.  Turner hated Murdoch and vice-versa.  So during the meeting, before Bischoff can even pitch Turner on international distribution, Turner asks Bischoff what he needs to compete with Vince McMahon and WWE.  “I need prime time.”  Turner doesn’t hesitate and turns to programming director Scott Sasso, telling him to give WCW two hours every Monday on TNT.  Bischoff was stunned, along with everyone else in the company.

-Nitro debuts on September 4, 1995 from the Mall of America.  Loved the location, wish the WWE would ball up and try it themselves sometime.  Zero gate?  Who cares.  The atmosphere was amazing.  It felt like a modern gladiator arena.  Raw was not on that first night due to the US Tennis Open.  McMahon watched the first Nitro and said “this is real competition.”  And then Lex Luger shows up, who had wrestled for the WWE the previous night and had a handshake deal with the WWE.  Then WWE Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze shows up on December 18 and throws the belt in the garbage can.  A lot of people have said she likely regrets this today because it prevented her from rejoining the company after the buyout.  I heard her contract paid her more then Shawn Michaels was making at the time, who was months away from being WWE Champion.  I’m guessing she doesn’t lose too much sleep over it.

-Bischoff’s strategy was to make a list of everything the WWE did that they could be different from.  Raw was taped so Nitro should be live.  And hey, since it’s live and Raw is taped, let us just tell people who wins all the matches on Raw that night.  Hayes says that Bischoff was breaking every ‘unwritten code’ in the industry.  Well that’s your fault for not writing them out and making them more clear, now isn’t it.  Bischoff wanted his wrestlers to use their real names and the angles to be less cartoonish and more reality based.

-Highlights of Scott Hall’s debut.  Canned interview from 2002 of Scott Hall where he says WWE wouldn’t accommodate him the way he wanted to be.  Presumably that would be stoned and drunk off his fucking gore and able to shit in whoever’s gym bag he wished.  Nash shows up as well and the nWo takes off.  At the time, Vince McMahon didn’t offer guarantees, just opportunities.  Like wearing a jockstrap on your head.  Big Show says “can you imagine being able to go to a company, signing a contract, and saying ‘if someone else signs for more then this, you have to bump me up to their level?’  Because that’s what they got.”   I don’t get Big Show’s point in this.  Those contracts are what landed WCW on it’s most profitable run ever.  Quite frankly, I think the money should be left out of the discussion when talking about what went wrong with WCW.  If the money stays the same but Kevin Nash isn’t made the booker, Goldberg’s streak doesn’t end and history is completely changed.  So it’s not the money, it’s the decisions.  I wish people would realize that.

-Kevin Sullivan admits that it came across as Razor Ramon and Diesel, but they didn’t use any names until they absolutely had to because they wanted people to believe that WWE was invading them.  It was close enough, so the WWE sued them.  Dr. Harvey Schiller, president of Turner Sports, doesn’t recall it being very successful.  He says that it doesn’t matter what their names are because they were popular and they would have a following.  McMahon does admit that the angle was amazing and that he really was in trouble.  Not mentioned is the WWE did win something when Turner settled with them, and that something might have included the right to match any offer in the event that WCW was sold, but the truth will never come out because both sides signed non-disclosure agreements.  So if anyone claims to know what either side got, they’re lying.

-Hogan turns heel at the Bash at the Beach, two years after he arrived in WCW.  It worked.  Canned interview from 2002 of Diamond Dallas Page saying it couldn’t have been anyone else but Hogan.  And he’s right.  Eric Bischoff said in his book that he had Sting waiting in the wing until the very last second as the backup plan in case Hogan bailed out on it.  It would not have worked, because at that point (1) nobody wanted to boo Sting and (2) Sting was not a WWE guy, ever, and it would have killed the whole ‘invasion’ part of it.  Anyway, we get footage of the nWo doing it’s thing, including the infamous moment where Nash tosses Rey Mysterio into a trailer like a lawn dart.  Still say it’s one of the coolest spots I’ve ever seen.  The plan had been to make the nWo completely separate from WCW, including having it’s own TV show.  Bischoff ended up becoming an on-air talent, but because they kept adding more random, nameless guys to the nWo, it watered it all down.

-Chris Jericho thinks the Cruiserweights played an equal role in the success of Nitro, presumably because he’s taken one too many shots to the head.  I’m really sorry, I know this isn’t the hip, cool ‘smart mark’ way of thinking, but the cruiserweights didn’t mean shit.  Sure, it doesn’t hurt that you have all these incredibly talented guys flying around, but the next day nobody at the water cooler was talking about the latest Rey Mysterio/Dean Malenko match.  I’m pretty sure their quarter-hour ratings breakdown confirmed that.  Anyway, we get the verbal blowjob for the division, with no less then Bill Goldberg talking about how it was his favorite part of the show.  Jim Ross credits Eric Bischoff with having a strong eye for talent.

-Dr. Harvey is back to say that he had to tell Bischoff ‘no’ on several occasions, but the really good stuff usually found it’s way to the show.  Like Goldberg.  Bischoff says he wishes he could take credit for Goldberg, but he can’t.  Goldberg was going to sign with the WWE but Bischoff offered a better guarantee and WCW was headquartered in Atlanta so he went with them.  They sent him to the Power Plant, WCW’s training facility.  Goldberg shows up on Nitro appearing to be an extra.  He gets no entrance.  Hugh Morrus gets an entrance, and it seems like it’s a match to put him over.  Wrong.  Kevin Sullivan specifically picked Hugh because he knew he would get Goldberg over correctly.

-Goldberg takes off.  Kevin Sullivan didn’t let him speak, because he wanted to give him mystique.  He should have NEVER spoke.  Ever.  EVER!  Then they give him an elaborate entrance and just let him squash the holy-hell out of the under-card roster.  Goldberg says it took a lot of people to ‘make him’ but a lot of people didn’t think about the big picture.  I’m not sure what he means by that.  There’s practically nothing WCW did wrong with Goldberg in building him up.  He was booked flawlessly right up until he lost to Nash.  If has any complaints about anything before then, he’s a fucking moron.  Chris Jericho has famously told a story about how Goldberg refused to work with him because he was a ‘comedy’ wrestler.  Goldberg wanted to think of the big picture?  What’s the point of looking at the big picture when your vision is so narrow?

-Most of the Turner brass still didn’t like Nitro, but they loved the money made by wrestling so they would just smile through their teeth at them.  WCW just did it’s thing and had a little bit of everything for wrestling fans and an amazing roster of talent.  We get to see a graph of Nitro ratings vs. Raw ratings, and it’s a huge difference.  Then they launch Thunder and it starts off strong.  Pay Per Views were selling incredibly.  Unfortunately, Eric Bischoff was dead set on shutting down Vince McMahon.  Ric Flair notes if they had just focused on how good things were going for them and not on the competition, they would have been okay.

-Jim Ross notes that WCW didn’t do anything that WWE had not done in terms of finding main stream stars.  Ross says they only took it a step further by putting more stars in the ring.  DDP (circa 2002) talks about how they landed Karl Malone.  They met at a basketball game, and hit it off.  He told Malone if he ever wanted to wrestle, he could.  DDP knew Rodman was going to come in, so he talked Bischoff into giving Karl Malone and equal contract for a PPV match.  Oh, and by virtue of the NBA player’s high salaries, Nash & Hall’s paydays went up, as Big Show reminds us.  Oh boo fucking hoo.

-And then they take over the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  Rights to it are owned by Jay Leno, so we don’t get footage of that part of the feud.  But it got WCW a lot of mainstream attention.  The match happened at Sturgis.  Goldberg thinks the Sturgis stuff was brilliant.  So everyone who says Goldberg has no mind for wrestling is right and soundbite is all the proof you need.  Malenko didn’t like bringing in the stars because it took away the chances for a midcarder to get elevated.  Jim Ross says it’s okay to bring in stars if you can use them properly, but to bring in Jay Leno and say “you’re now a sports entertainer, you’re now an athlete…” then he lets out an audible groan and presumably asks for a break so he can go vomit.

-Back to Goldberg, who Dean Malenko says had ‘it’ factor.  “It” is so overrated.  When I was a kid, I had “It” factor.  Then I would tag someone else, call no-tag-backs, and run away.  If you’re “It” you’re losing.  Right?  They should have come up with another word for “it.”  May I suggest “blueberry?”  Or “twat.”  That would work.  “Goldberg has… TWAT!”  Anyway, Goldberg shows off his blueberry factor and squashes everyone for a few more months.  Then one day, Goldberg is sitting at home watching Thunder… that in and of itself tells you why WCW started to fail, because they didn’t force their top stars to do television shows… when they announce that he is getting a title shot on Nitro against Hulk Hogan.  That was the first he had heard about it.  Failure of communication wasn’t one of the topics of this show, but we’ve all heard the stories of WCW sending Fed-Exs to it’s employees that had nothing in them, or issuing royalty checks for nothing.  I’ll cover what I’ve heard are the excuses for the many omissions after the feature.

-Big Show says that Bischoff’s biggest problem is that he was ratings-oriented and would give away PPV quality match-ups on Nitro.  Although I agree, I think that giving away Goldberg/Hogan was the RIGHT THING TO DO!  There were no plans at the time to take the belt off of Goldberg after he won and he was going to be, allegedly, the focus of the company.  Putting him over Hogan at that time was important because (1) Hogan volunteered to do it, without any prompting, out of the blue, and that never had happened before.  They couldn’t say “well, we’ll wait” because Hogan could change his mind at the drop of a hat.  (2) By putting Goldberg over on Nitro, it made sure the maximum amount of people would be watching to see Goldberg get launched as the focus of the company and know that WCW didn’t do like they did with Sting and put him over on a flimsy screwjob.  They put him over strong.  I’m not trying to sound like a Bischoff apologist, but I’ll argue that point until the day I die.

But Goldberg takes Big Show’s side and says that it popped the biggest ratings on three days worth of notice.  Imagine if it had been on two weeks notice AND saved for pay per view.  I think if it had been saved for PPV, it would have been successful but would not have broken Starrcade ’97’s buyrate record.  WCW had burned the fans too many times by July of 1999.  That’s why the ratings were sliding to begin with.  Goldberg also displays intellectual dishonesty by saying that Hogan/Goldberg drew the 40,000 fans to that show.  It had already been sold out by time the match was announced.  They would have been there if the main event had been Disco Inferno vs. Super Calo.  Jim Ross says that it shows the ignorance of senior management of Turner for allowing it to happen on Nitro.

-And then the mistakes… real mistakes… start to pile up.  Like Goldberg/DDP at Halloween Havoc getting cut off as they locked up.  Anyone who thinks I’m a Bischoff apologist, this should shut you up, because I do believe that following that fiasco that cost the company MILLIONS of dollars, Eric Bischoff should have been fired.  No question about it, it was 100% on him and he should have lost his job because of it.  He booked too many matches on the card, four of which were completely throw-away matches that were not advertised before the day of the show.  Those combined to eat up about forty minutes or so.  I’m pretty sure Goldberg/Page didn’t go more then ten minutes.  Fifteen or so with entrances.  It’s amazing how bad Bischoff fucked up.  More amazing that he still had a job when the smoke cleared.

-Dusty Rhodes says what I’ve said all along: that Bischoff (the company) did it on purpose so they could air DDP/Goldberg on Nitro the next night and pop the biggest rating ever.  Well he doesn’t actually say it like that, but you could tell he was making that point.  I had Dish Network at the time and WCW must have gotten through to them because I was instructed to turn over to a different channel by time Bret/Sting match was going on.  I checked on the internet and a LOT of people were talking like “Goldberg/DDP is going to be like one minute long.”  It didn’t, and they lost their feed.  Bischoff denies it but I know for a fact that all the people who had Charter Communications and called up to bitch about it got a refund, especially after they aired the match the next night on Nitro for everyone who DIDN’T pay to see the show as well.  That’s confirmed by a text here, that WCW had to pay a lot of refunds.  Kevin Sullivan believes that it marked the beginning of the end.  The fall-out was epic as well, though it’s not mentioned here.  All the major cable providers sent letters to WCW letting them know to never fucking do anything like that again.  They were already pissed about Nitro airing the DDP/Malone vs. Rodman/Hogan match on Nitro earlier in the year, the week after the show.  WCW came close to getting dumped off PPV.

-Kevin Nash was then given the book.  Jericho thinks that he was in over his head, and that he went to Bischoff and convinced him he could do it.  His first act as head booker was to put himself over for the world title.  Jim Ross says that if you ask insiders about it, you’ll get a lot of differing opinions.  Really?  I’ve never met a single person, not even Eric Bischoff himself, who says it was a good idea in retrospect.  Goldberg says that he doesn’t know if it was time for the streak to end (it wasn’t) but it was stupid to let Kevin Nash be the man to decide if it was.

-And then the next week, Hulk Hogan comes out of retirement and takes Goldberg’s place in a rematch.  Hogan pokes Nash in the chest, covers for the three, then walked out into the crowd and displayed ungodly stamina for a guy his age by personally pulling down each paying fan’s pants and fucking them in their ass.  Mike Graham, in perhaps the only truthful thing this guy has ever said in his life (the big liar), says that once the jets cooled on Goldberg, it was all over.  He was finished, and nobody else stood out.  He was right.  The magic was gone.

-The Giant asks for a raise because he was making one-sixth of the pay of all the guys he’s working with.  Bischoff tells him that he was not over enough to get paid more.  So the Giant gets pissed, leaves, becomes the Big Show… he’s still not over to this day but he seems happier.  Yea?  Jericho would have gotten a raise (in his book he admits that WCW went as far as to offer him a spot in the seven figure club, which is mighty impressive for a guy in his position in the card) but there was no point because he wanted to be a top star, not a low star making top star dollars (see Hart, Bret).  Dean Malenko talks about why he wanted to leave.  We hear him talk because he could quite possibly be the last surviving member of the Radicals.

-And no, we don’t see the Chris Benoit/Sid stuff from Souled Out.  A child is dead, people.  Chris Benoit killed him in brutal fashion.  If the WWE were to use his likeness, it might not endorse what he did, but it does bring back some very bad memories.  That’s why he’s banished.  Not because of his crime, but because the pain his crime caused.  If they showed him winning the belt from Sid, most people would say “that’s the guy who killed his wife in painful, bloody, violent fashion, then strangled his seven-year-old son to death.”  It wouldn’t be about the show anymore at that point, because people would start to reflect on that moment.

-The shit really hits the fan when Vince Russo gets signed by WCW.  All Mean Gene saw in him was an extra $750K a year in expenses.  Jericho says that he was good in the WWE because he had a filter in Vince McMahon.  Once he came to WCW he had full creative control.  Goldberg says all his stuff smelled like shit.  Arn Anderson thought he was a double agent for the WWE, there to finish off the company.  Jim Ross is the voice of reason, saying that Russo *is* a creative guy but without Vince McMahon he was nothing.

-KISS shows up on Nitro and draws the lowest rating ever on the show.  Well, this was actually a Bischoff move, but the editing makes it look like it was Russo’s baby.  And also not mentioned is that the KISS Demon was contractually obligated to ‘main event’ a show.  Seriously.  So at some point, WCW booked him against the Wall in a ‘special main event’ match that was like second on the card.  Pretty pathetic.

-How could it get worse?  How about David Arquette: WCW Champion.  He pinned Eric Bischoff in a tag match in which he was on the defending champion’s team on the secondary show (Thunder) to win it, but he was still champion.  All the talking heads are dumbfounded… except Goldberg, once again proving why he’s not right for the business.  Jim Ross says it was a farce athletically.  David Crockett says that they should have just thrown the belt in the garbage can.  Chris Jericho says that WCW became the three stooges of wrestling.  He says a bunch of simpletons and country bumpkins were running it.  And Bischoff is not a simpleton, so I guess he was dumb by intellectual osmosis.

-Cut to Bash at the Beach 2000, where Jeff Jarrett lays down for Hulk Hogan.  The plan had been to kick off a ridiculous title tournament.  After Hogan left the building, Vince Russo went into business for himself and declared that he was ending that angle and making an impromptu title match with Booker T going over Jeff Jarrett for the title.  And it was over at that point, because everyone was in business for themselves and not for the greater good.  Mike Graham becomes honest again by calling out Jeff Jarrett for being a shitty wrestler who never drew a dime.  You know, when Graham was taking about bringing Hogan into WCW and moving them to Universal Studios Disney MGM Studios, I wanted to take a ice pick to his frontal lobe.  Now, I kind of want to kiss him.  David Crockett says WCW wasn’t being run like a business.

-The end is here.  AOL and Time-Warner merge.  Ted Turner no longer has a say and AOL does not want to be in the wrestling business.  It was below them.  Shane Helms speaks the truth when he says that at a certain point they had to turn a profit.  Booker T (circa 2002) agrees, saying that it was not profitable.

-WWE buys WCW.  I will NEVER forget that day.  It was amazing.  We get clips of Bruce Pritchard there making sure that nobody goes into a salt-the-Earth mode.  The WWE blows the Invasion angle before it even starts by putting Shane McMahon in charge of WCW.  Ric Flair says that it needed to be shut down a year before it was.  He was embarrassed to be a part of the show.  Jim Ross and Vince McMahon claim they got no ego boost or had a parade over it.  It was business as usual.  Excuse me while I spend the next couple minutes looking for the ass I lost when I laughed it off.  Talk amongst yourselves.

-I’m back.  Chris Jericho says that when he heard what Vince McMahon bought the company for, he wish he had known because he would have tried to buy it himself.  He could have afforded it.  Fuck, I could have afforded it and I’m *not* rich.  From what I’ve heard, the profits from the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection DVD from 2003, which featured only EIGHT matches mind you, were three times as much as McMahon paid for WCW.  It’s incredible.  It’s a good thing he could profit that way, because every attempt to integrate WCW or the nWo into WWE storylines crashed and burned.  The Invasion pay per view in July of 2001 is, I believe still to this day, the biggest drawing non-Wrestlemania show in wrestling history.  But the overall Invasion angle ultimately killed the WWE’s television ratings and buyrates and they’ve yet to recover.

-Mean Gene says it was a piece of junk and he was happy for WCW to be dead.  David Crockett says he was sad because it was the end of what was left of his dad’s wrestling company, but at least the wrestling business was still thriving.  Hulk Hogan wishes they had gone out better.  I think they went out great.  WCW Greed was my choice for pay per view of the year in 2001.  I liked it more then Wrestlemania X-7.  Honestly.  Of course, I’m not a big fan of Austin/Rock or many of the other junk matches on that overrated piece of shit show.

-And one final ‘good bye’ to WCW, where it’s all positive.

So what’s with all the snubs?  A lot of history was ignored.  From what I’ve been told, the WWE decided to minimize subject matter that had already been covered in other DVD features.  There’s laundry lists out there by vocal fans talking about what stuff was ignored.  So I’m going to make a counter laundry list.

-Ric Flair leaving the company… was told in the Definitive Ric Flair Collection

-Misuse of Bret Hart… was told in Bret Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be

-The Radicals… well, that story can’t be told because the central figure of that situation was Chris Benoit, who again, brutally murdered his wife and son.  Don’t blame the WWE, blame the guy who killed his family and got all his cool moments taken away from wrestling history as a result.

-Sting… I was puzzled myself, but I was told by a person in WWE Home Video that there was a valid and non-malicious reason for excluding stuff that dealt with Sting.  Weird to tell the story of WCW without him, yes, but it wasn’t because the WWE dislikes him or because he wrestles in TNA.  Sadly, it’s also not because a Sting DVD is in the works.

-Russo as WCW Champion… was covered in Legends of Wrestling: Heat Seekers.  Kinda.  The ‘match’ was an extra on that disc.

In short, the WWE wanted to cover as much new ground as possible.  Kudos I say.  Most of the smart fans who are bitching have already heard ALL the stories covered here a dozen times or more.  The features in these shows aren’t really for them.  My mark friend actually really enjoyed this feature.  You know what, I did too.  It was fast-paced, informative, and pretty entertaining, with none of the padding that the Rise & Fall of ECW had, or the pity party that was the AWA set.

EXTRA FEATURES

Lost In Cleveland (2:10): Dusty seems to get the order of events confused as he says that he wrote these mini-movies about Cactus Jack having amnesia while Ole Anderson was in charge.  I’m fairly sure it was done under the Bill Watts era.  But it’s made worse by the fact that Dusty says he did them because Ole Anderson hated Cactus and wanted an excuse to fire him.  Either way, these skits are fucking horrible.  $100,000 was spent a DAY on production for this piece of shit.  Dusty had a great time doing them.  Only six parts (of 12, I think) were aired.

Bill Watts Defends Himself (1:21): Watts says he wasn’t fired, and that the racist stuff was talked about with the Turner brass before he was hired.  Watts says to look at his track record, making Ernie Ladd the first black booker, JYD the first black guy to be the top babyface of a promotion, and Ron Simmons the first black world champion of a promotion.

Spam Man (0:47): Dr. Harvey tells a story about WCW trying to do a deal with Hormel to create a character called “Spam Man” to help promote Spam canned meat.  Hormel says no because wrestling is low-brow.  You gotta love it.

Origin of Goldberg (3:30) Goldberg talks about all the stuff that went into his creation.  Goldberg wanted his name to be “The Hybrid”, presumably because he runs on both gasoline and electricity.  THE GOLBERG HYBIRD: THE FUEL-EFFICIENT WRESTLER!  Maybe that is why he was so green.

Get it?  Green?  Because green can mean an awkward, inexperienced wrestler or an environmentally cleaner product?  It’s a play on words.

Yep, terrible.  I’ll start over.

Origin of Goldberg (3:30) Goldberg talks about all the stuff that went into his creation.  Goldberg wanted his name to be “The Hybrid” because he thought Goldberg sounded less then intimidating.  WCW said they couldn’t because it would have ramifications on selling merchandise.  “I’ll never make it to that level, so just call me The Hybrid.”  They said no.  Later, he made it to ‘that level’ or so I’ve been told.  On the origin of the spear, he was told to have a high-impact finish during one of his first dark matches against Manny Fernandez.  He told Manny “If you trust me, just hold on.”  I’m guessing Manny didn’t have enough time after hearing that to say “Hey fuck you, wait, how many matches have you had?”  Management liked the spear and told him to do it before his real finish.  He got the jack hammer from Dean Malenko, who did it off the top rope.  They told him it wouldn’t work because he wouldn’t be able to do it to everyone.  So while training at the Power Plant, he perfected the move against Reese, the seven-footer who would later join Raven’s Flock.  Clips are then shown of him doing it to the Giant.  On his look, he didn’t like having long hair while playing football.  It had nothing to do with Steve Austin.  Which doesn’t explain why his second choice for a name after “the Hybrid” was “Frozen Rock Bill Goldberg.”  His tattoo was free-styled by the artist because he didn’t like any of the designs they had on the wall.  “Who’s Next?” came from a producer of the Love Boat telling him he needed a catch-phrase.  Then a waitress came over and asked “Who’s Next?” and that’s where he got it.

Bischoff Gives Away Raw Results (1:20): Just more rehashing of the same shit we’ve heard about for over a decade now.

Stay tuned over the course of the week for parts two and three.  Disc two is incredibly epic in it’s value.   Maybe the best single-disc the WWE has ever produced.



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Charlie Reneke

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  • Lord Koz

    The nWo was not watered down, nor did it go on too long. Fact. There.

  • Mark Allen

    He told Manny “If you trust me, just hold on.” I’m guessing Manny didn’t have enough time after hearing that to say “Hey fuck you, wait, how many matches have you had?”

    Okay that shit had me laughing hard aloud.

  • Joe

    The “lost in Cleveland” stuff was when Bischoff was in charge in 1993. I don’t think Ole was booking anymore. As a matter of fact, I think Dusty and Bischoff were in charge, so its weird for Dusty to act like Ole wanted to fire Cactus and that’s why he came up with the skits.

    In Mick’s book, I think he talks about negotiating a new contract at this time, so if they wanted to fire him, they didn’t need a reason.

  • TBD

    Does anyone know why Dustin Rhodes wasn’t interview for the DVD? Was was there during the good and bad days. I would have liked to hear from someone other then Show and Jericho about WCW.

  • Dhaise

    He told Manny “If you trust me, just hold on.” I’m guessing Manny didn’t have enough time after hearing that to say “Hey fuck you, wait, how many matches have you had?”

    —– That is gold.

    Wrestlecrap had a great podcast with Vince Russo, who tries his best to explain all the crap he is blamed with. It’s the single greatest insight into the mind of a complete madman that I’ve witnessed. He was (and still is) soooo excited about some of the crap he did.

    I am now spending the rest of my week affixing a cheapie holographic sticker to Easy E’s torso.

  • Lord Koz

    For the record (what record?), the biggest reason for WCW’s fall was its abandoning the nWo after 1997, which it did. By the way, the incorrectly-and-unhumorously labeled “fingerpoke of doom” was nowhere near the death knell it’s been made out to be.

  • Purrrple

    Loved the Visionaries joke. Yes I’m an old bitch. I actually had a few of those figures. With them, my He-Man toys, She’Ra toys and a few random Thundercats, I did my own wrestling shows three times a week in an old Galoob WWF ring. I invented sick matches that would kill buyrates in real life, if they were actually physically possible in the real world. Ahhh I miss my EWF.

    Also, Lord Koz is functionally brain-damaged and should be euthanized for the good of humanity.

  • http://pulsewrestling.com/author/vinnytruncellito/ Vinny Truncellito

    Gotta agree with the Purrrple one about Lord Koz’ two comments above.

    The nWo WAS watered down and DID go on for way, way too long in too many uninspired “returns” of different versions. The fingerpoke of doom has been proven (via actual ratings and ppv buyrates) to be almost the exact moment that WCW began the true slide downhill, from which they would never recover.

  • Charlie Reneke

    Actually, I think it was proven that the downward trend began after Halloween Havoc when so many fans got burned. You can watch the ratings trends and see that the dip started on November 2nd, which was a week after they gave away DDP/Goldberg Havoc match on Nitro following the fiasco at the PPV.

    With the fingerpoke, one of the things that fans forget is that it was advertised ahead of time as Goldberg vs. Nash for the belt, and that many fans tuned in to that segment unaware that it was changed to Hogan/Nash, which nobody wanted to see. It wasn’t just the fingerpoke that buried WCW, but the bait and switch of it as well. It was a double-burn.

    To the guy who said the nWo wasn’t played, I’ll echo the calls of retard pointed at you. The nWo was played by February of 1998. When they split it off into the Wolfpac, it stunk of desperation and easily contributed to the fall of WCW. I think you can look historically at wrestling and see that faction vs. faction feuds don’t play well.

    As an example, the nWo vs. the Horsemen at Fall Brawl ’97 didn’t draw a big buyrate. Nor did the DX/Nation feud that everyone talks about. In fact those quarter-hours tended to be lower rated then even Val Venis vs. TAKA Michinoku matches. Rival tag teams? Fine. Rival groups? Historically, for whatever reason, it never draws good.

  • Lord Koz

    More calls for my euthanization?

    Sigh. Okay. The nWo wasn’t really the nWo any time after 1997, and if you truly understand what the nWo was and why it worked so well, you know that. There’s no point in talking about the nWo at any poing after the dissension began, since, in fact, this was no longer the nWo. The truth is, for as long as WCW stayed with the story that made them number one in the first place–I’m talking, of course, about nWo vs. WCW–they remained on top. It wasn’t until after they began altering the concept on a fundamental level that they lost the upper hand to the WWF on Monday nights. I’m not claiming the WWF wouldn’t have emerged the victor anyway, but to dismiss this fact, and it is a fact, as mere coincidence is absurd. By taking away the nWo–which is really what happened after the new year of ’98–they both eliminated their most compelling “bad guys” and drove the nWo fans–and their were millions of them–away to the WWF, where, by sheer coincidence (ahem), the nWo’s influence had created a whole slew of stars, such as Austin, Rock, and DX, who were very nWo-like.

    And as for the nWo being watered down by too many members, the truth is that by the end of the REAL nWo–that’s the end of 1997–the group hadn’t gotten ANY BIGGER than it was at the end of 1996. That’s a whole year, and rather than a bunch of “nameless” (not my word) guys in black and white t-shirts, they were mostly guys with established identities who had gotten over to respectable degrees. Especially guys like Buff Bagwell and Konnan, who, while they may be the object of many a cheap joke today, were undeniably over as “cool heels” by the end of ’97 going into ’98.

    I realize you guys weren’t really nWo fans, but I certainly was (and am, shocker), and I guarantee you millions of people hadn’t tired of the nWo. Though it may not have hurt to move someone else into the top spot, probably Nash, and to bring in some new blood, the biggest mistake was in splitting the group in the first place. You can’t just establish this whole factional warfare dynamic of nWo vs. WCW, blow it to smithereens, and then go merrily on your way. THAT’S your biggest problem.

  • Lord Koz

    Also, Purrrple, I hope everyone you love gets brain cancer.

  • Lord Koz

    Now THAT’S an open dialogue!

  • Dennis Nunez

    “Hogan then displays a stamina unheard of for a man his age by going into the crowd and personally pulling down the pants of every paying customer and fucking them in the ass”. L.M.A.O. The visual alone is funny! Good job!

  • Charlie Reneke

    Wow, just read this again after posting a link on Scott Keith’s blog…

    Wow, was everyone wrong about Scribblenauts or what? Great idea, terrible execution, and maybe the worst play control for a game I wanted to love EVER!

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