Originally published in Septmber, 2009 – WWE magazine wrote a piece a couple of years back counting down the top 15 reasons why WCW Nitro failed. I could give you one and his name is Vince Russo but that would be too easy. Let’s check out the hit list!
15.– Tony Schiavone. I love it. As soon as I saw this name I perked up. As a wrestling announcer I have a lot to say on Tony Schiavone. Tony Schiavone is one of those wrestling announcers that made it a hell of a lot easier for me to have some success.
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Schiavone was a lazy announcer and stole money for years from WCW. Schiavone would outright laugh at the cruiser matches and had such disconnect with the new era of wrestling from his prime in the 80s. A wrestling announcer is a critical piece to the overall product. If the announcer doesn’t care, why should you as the fan? Schiavone came off to me like someone who never cared and just phoned it in weekly. I am not the only one who feels this way. I have talked to numerous peers of Tony’s from WCW who said the exact same thing.
Interestingly enough, I did a show back in 2007 as an announcer which was taped for pay-per-view from San Francisco. I got the booking when Tony Schiavone canceled. It amazed me that anyone would pay this man a penny to call a match on their pay-per-view. I was more than happy to take his booking.
I would obviously rank Schiavone much higher on this list. As the lead announcer on Nitro, his efforts are worthy of a top five nominee in my opinion.
14. nWo 2000
13. Anti-American Jim Duggan
12. Chavo Guerrero & Pepe… I completely disagree with this nomination. In my opinion, this was one of the bright spots on WCW Nitro for several weeks. The angle was fun, fresh, and entertaining at the time. It was Chavo’s first shot at a big spot and along with Uncle Eddie, he nailed it. If anything, I think this was one of the top 25 angles in Nitro history.
11. Vince Russo in the Pope Mobile
10. Matches in the Mall of America
09. Finger Poke of Doom (Kevin Nash drops to the mat to lose his title after Hulk Hogan pokes him on 1/4/99 Nitro)….Many people within the wrestling business point to this as the number one reason that Nitro failed. A number 9 ranking was quite generous of WWE Magazine.
I have heard Kevin Nash try and explain this in interviews. At the time, Nash was the booker of WCW. Nash had just beaten Goldberg for the WCW title. A match was announced between the two of them to headline Nitro. Nash and Hogan who were allies at the time teased a breakup going into the match.
The brilliant booking of the match was Nash stands there, Hogan finger poking him, Nash falling down, Hogan covering him, Hogan wins the belt. It was as much a mockery of pro wrestling as it was an insult to everyone within WCW. Why in the world would a fan waste their time and watch Nitro when this was what they were getting?
WWE had a lot of momentum at the time and this was the last thing that WCW needed. Nash as booker still defends the decision today with his ridiculous rhetoric. This could arguably be the number one reason that Nitro failed.
The biggest irony of all is that this was an angle copied from the WWE. Triple H and Shawn Michaels did the same exact angle and finish in December of 1997 in a WWE European title match. WWE had a field day on the Rise and Fall of WCW DVD tearing this angle apart. What they didn’t tell you was that this was their idea in the first place.
08. The Magnificent Seven (2001 faction consisting of Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell and Road Warrior Animal)
07. “Crazy” Ric Flair
06. New Blood vs. The Millionaires…I loved the idea but the feud was booked all wrong.
There had been a booking change in WCW and for the first time, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo were co-booking WCW. Their idea was to blow up everything the previous regime booked and start from scratch. It was the only time I ever remember that a wrestling company said to their fans, “What happened the last few months didn’t happen and we are starting over.”
Behind the scenes it was actually Hulk Hogan and Billy Kidman who were the catalyst for this feud. Hogan did an interview around this time and trashed Kidman hardcore for not being a draw. Kidman took offense to this, as did a lot of his peers who saw this as the overall attitude of the older veterans.
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The feud could have worked. However, believe it or not it was the Millionaires who were booked as the babyfaces. Yes, fans were supposed to feel sympathy for the millionaires and not the young, “new blood” wrestlers fighting the establishment. As soon as the program was laid out I knew it would never work.
This could have been a big deal and actually could have turned WCW around. Sting-Vampiro, Hogan-Kidman, Chuck Palumbo-Lex Luger, etc. As a matter of a fact the Nitro rating jumped from a 1.8 to a 3.1 with the start of the angle. To say that this was any reason whatsoever that Nitro died is a bit of an overstatement.
05. Steve “Mongo” McMichael
04. Disco Inferno
03. One Warrior Nation (short-lived 1998 faction consisting of Ultimate Warrior and The Disciple a.k.a. Brutus Beefcake)
02. Misfits in Action (2000 faction consisting of Hugh Morrus, Lash LeRoux, The Wall, Chavo Guerrero, Booker T, Tylene “Major Gunns” Buck and Van Hammer)
01. David Arquette. Like the Hogan-Nash match, this is another angle that is often talked about to have been the death of Nitro and WCW. This was yet one of many “brilliant” Vince Russo booking ideas.
Even the average wrestling fan knows the importance in pro wrestling of seeing the world champion. The overall success of failure of a company or territory was always based on who their world champion was. The champion was always the main-event, and one of the key reasons a fan would tune in, attend a show, or buy a pay-per-view.
Vince Russo was the first wrestling booker that I can ever remember that said on many occasions that titles mean nothing. Vince Russo prostituted the success and history of WCW for publicity that he never even got.
Vince Russo made had the idea and made the decision to put the WCW title on actor David Arquette. Not only is Arquette not a good actor, he wasn’t even a wrestler. Tradition was even bigger for WCW fans then as it is today for WWE fans. It was no accident that whenever Ric Flair or former champions appeared on Nitro that they were greeted with a heroes welcome. The fans who had remained loyal to WCW through the NWA transition and the finger-poke were now insulted in such a way that they would never return to WCW.