Ten years ago seems frightening long considering the ramifications of what happened to WCW, and incredibly ironic in that this book is dedicated to “Dixie and Bob” of TNA infamy.
Is TNA really dead?
Do you think Dixie and Bob read any of this, or just gleefully signed the characters so well-documented as to have demolished WCW in this book without a shred of professional wrestling acumen?
The scary thing about the industry is that there are fans who never experienced a major, national promotion that gave the WWE a run for its money. Well, a run for professional wrestling fans’ money. Or attempting to earn that money. Or even caring to pretend to give an ounce of thought about how the industry took in money for a century from ‘marks’.
Remember the time when that term meant a healthy respect for paying customers: a need to have paying customers return on a monthly basis, a realistic give-and-take between reactions and direction of a promotion; a sensible understanding of the history of “the business”, the sports based mentality that should drive it, a sense of the craft of the performers and a sense of the nature of a serialized entertainment form honed by decades of fine-tuning.
No, I don’t think most of us can.
WCW was the pinnacle of the regional history of the professional wrestling business, even if Reynolds and Alvarez seem to play favorites, skim over the importance of certain wrestlers and overlook things to keep a coherent historical storyline.
Go ahead, read between the lines, but how can I not mention Sammartino’s name in any professional wrestling review? I strive to avoid knocking down the other “greats” but that’s hard, too. For me, the past ten years have seen me learning about the business from the aforementioned great, and while the Death of WCW book (revised or original) is a compilation of bad business decisions readily understood by anyone with a sense of logic, a respect for wrestling or an eye for storytelling.
Yeah, but the problem is that the decision makers don’t seem to see things the same way, from Eric Bischoff to Vince Russo, from Vince McMahon to his son-in-law and daughter, from Dixie Carter and her inexplicable reliance on Russo to her inexplicable dismissal of relative geniuses like Jerry Jarrett, Cornette and Mantell.
(Where Jeff Jarret fits in, I’m not so sure)
Wow, did I just damn Jimmy and Dutch with faint praise or what?
The details of the WCW devolution of the sport are painful, melancholy resist urge to reference Billy Corgan and if not so morbid to the business I grew up loving, hilarious. Those details, as I am wont to write, are better left in the words of the men who compiled them.
Reynolds & Alvarez do a great job, if I dare say greatness in an autopsy of the rotting corpse of what was all good and interesting about professional wrestling long gone is something to honor. Not to wholly knock the writers, but my only concern about them (and my peers of internet wrasslin’ writing world fans) is that the perspectives and expectations of this grand form of sports entertainment are frighteningly shaped by the decision makers that ignore the past far more than the historical perspective of a time when wrestling was less national, more fan-friendly, vastly more attended and had much more wrestlers employed.
And still there are those that say that Hogan and Vince and Eric and that other Vince made wrestling what it is today.
Sure, they did, but they diminished the weekly attendance at arenas, decimated the work force, shut down 90% (or so) of the promotions and lost probably 10 million fans in the past 15 years.
Sure, Vince R. can say that five star matches do not draw, but Russonian wrestling concepts are a dime a dozen, never drew (in any sense of the way, by any logical measure), and I doubt he could bring fans back to the same arena multiple monthly times in a row for a billion dollar bet.
Not even Hogan could do that, building to a cage match.
Yet the world of professional wrestling is filled with myths of the sort, and journalists who tout myths over reality, manufactured numbers over attendance of years gone by, and a fanbase that exists vastly more on the outside than inside the arenas where professional wrestling is best performed.
Yeah, ten years is a long time watching, studying and being disgusted and realizing what you see and read and hear and the fans you once talked wrestling about are no longer interested and the columns you write are getting way too snarky, frustrated and frantic.
Wow, I feared I’d go this way.
So to inject some hope, let’s look at the positives. WCW disintegrated due to the weight of ongoing weird decisions, an assumption that TBS (under the leadership of Ted Turner) would never stop airing the product and, well, “weird” is a euphemism for bad, illogic and business idiocy.
That’s all in thee.
The hope was that someone with a billion dollar family would learn from the mistakes of the WCW past, and change things and bring things around.
There’s hope that someone in the future will look at a book like this, and the history of the sport (maybe a biography of someone who really knew it) by someone who really cares and will not think that the content of the Death of WCW is the blueprint for success.
Ok, that’s hope and unfounded hope, but it’s still hope for the future.
Which is what we can all wish for.
But if you want a tour through the grisly details of a professional wrestling era gone by, this is the best book out there to see the mis-steps, detailed in lurid fashion, and the characters that diminished a lot of hope (and yeah, I had a lot of hope for TNA when it started. A lot).