As a professional wrestling fan, I often spend a lot of time travelling through the internet, specifically I find myself in the realms of the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community). Recently I came across a very interesting topic, one for debate:
Did the death of WCW leave a mark on the wrestling industry?
The Synopsis of The Topic
Now before I go on, I just want to provide a synopsis of the topic:
In 2001, World Championship Wrestling was acquired by World Wrestling Entertainment, (then known as World Wrestling Federation).
The once formidable and closest competition to WWF was finally dead, put out of its misery. For well over a year and a half prior to going out of business, WCW had slowly been suffering.
It was reported that in 2000, WCW recorded a loss within the region of $60-70 million. In addition to this TV ratings were crashing and burning week on week, as the company slowly began to lose their top stars over the course of 2000. While WWF were flying, WCW were nailing their own coffin.
Despite soaring through the mid-90’s and latter part of ’98, by late 1999 the picture became clear; WCW was more or less on borrowed time. However take all of these factors and others into mind and ask yourself if the death of WCW left a mark on the professional wrestling industry?
WCW: The Inital Success
The Monday Night Wars is a period where RAW and Monday Nitro clashed for almost three straight years, with WCW dominating the ratings for the better part of two years.
WCW had signed Hulk Hogan, a move which was their proverbial checkmate. Furthermore Hogan would be at the centerpiece of WCW’s greatest weapon; New World Order. A stable led by Hogan which revolutionized the wrestling industry for years to come.
More and more WWF stars were heading to WCW and making their presence felt. The great drought of the mid-90’s were hitting WWF hard, while WCW were literally printing money and running the industry.
The war would also become personal between Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff. As RAW was taped and aired parallel to Monday Nitro, which was live, WCW were purposely spoiling the results of RAW live on WCW broadcasts. Famously WCW commentator Tony Schiavone announced that Mick Foley had won the WWF Championship, before the January 4th 1999 episode of RAW aired.
From 1996 to 1998, WCW brutalized WWF in the ratings war. But by the tail end of 1998, the winds were changing as WWF finally won the ratings war for the first time in nearly two years.
Almost ironically by the beginning of 1999, WWF were finally out of the blocks and eventually miles ahead of WCW. At this point it was apparent WWF were reaching their peak and WCW stood “No chance in hell!”.
The Downfall of WCW
The beginning of the end for WCW became apparent in 1999. With WWF storming the ratings war, WCW witnessed a gradual decline in their own. The product was slowly become despised by their audience, as they essentially refused to pave the way for new stars.
By this point the NWO was still going, three years on. However the NWO was now split into two different factions; NWO and NWO Wolfpac. To this day this still confuses fans and made no sense whatsoever.
Additionally the company’s top stars of previous years were slowly departing. Hulk Hogan was no longer working a full-time schedule and the company also ran into several contract issues. An almighty overload severely hurt the promotion.
Also the mid-card had become overlooked and stars began to leave. The likes of Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit & Edde Guerrero all departed for WWF. One could argue that the backbone of the company fell apart and slowly took the structure with it.
2000: WCW’s Painful & Final Year
The turn of the century was a boom period for WWF. On the contrary it was quite the opposite for WCW, as they would endure a debilitating year both financially and literally in every aspect possible.
Now with ratings beyond saving, the company now found themselves financially ruined. As I previously stated the company recorded a loss within the region of $60-70 million in the year of 2000.
Writer Vince Russo had arrived in WCW at the back end of 1999, however by the turn of 2000 it was too late. Needless to say Russo is a divisive figure in the industry, but his time in WCW is not often remembered fondly.
By the summer of 2000, scripting turned into reality as Bash at the Beach 2000 is regarded to as the PPV that WCW was put into the ground.
The WCW World Champion had been thrown around more than beanbag, to the point where Russo and celebrity David Arquette were both WCW World Champions. Creatively WCW were running out of gas, as the end was evidently nearing, it was only a matter of time.
The Death of WCW: Did It Put Fans Off?
In March of 2001, WCW was purchased by WWF, finally putting to rest a dying company. It was not a sudden death as the company had been slowly suffering for well over a year and a half.
Now after studying the topic for a while, some fans have asked a very interesting question: Did the death of WCW essentially put wrestling fans off? So while I do not have the answer to that question, I can elaborate.
Originally WCW was from the ashes of NWA, so at that time they had attained a lot of their audience in the south. On the other hand the WWF was in the north-east, as they also attained their audience from that region. So with this in mind territory wrestling would still pay dividends.
So with that in mind, some people argue that WCW did not pander to a worldwide audience. This is because some fans believe WCW were more focused on their southern American audience. On the other hand, WWF were now prominently featured to a global audience, which was still growing.
Even during WCW’s final days, they did manage to attain die hard fans. But WCW’s final days have been known to put wrestling fans off, as they opted to no longer watch wrestling. This is a for various reasons and factors, however one has to assume it is the general taste the company left in fans’ mouths.
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