It’s been almost 15 years since WCW met its demise. And sports entertainment hasn’t been the same since. Many people blame Eric Bischoff. Others point the finger at Vince Russo. Some say Hulk Hogan had a hand in it due to his creative control.
I say it was a collaborative effort.
One of the worst examples in the demise of WCW took place before my very eyes. I attended Halloween Havoc ’99 in Las Vegas. Both my buddy and I were pumped and excited to see Hulk Hogan vs. Sting. Did we think the match would be outstanding? Absolutely not. But it was just the thought of seeing two wrestling legends face each other in a rare match that made us travel to Las Vegas.
We were disappointed.
Before the match could even start, Hogan laid down right in the middle of the ring, and let Sting pin him. To say the crowd was angry would be an understatement. Everyone felt cheated out of their money,
Going to Las Vegas was fun. Witnessing Halloween Havoc 1999 was not.
It was around this time that Vince Russo took the reigns of WCW. When the news broke that Russo was jumping sides, many inside the business thought it might signal a turn in fortunes for the once-mighty WCW.
Boy, we’re they wrong.
This isn’t a knock on Vince Russo the person, but he had to be perhaps the worst booker in the history of modern civilization. He made David Arquette the World Champion. He put the Cruiserweight title on Madusa.
He made himself World Champion.
Russo defends himself all the time by saying, “Bro, you don’t know how it was bro. I had corporate breathing down my neck bro. I needed to put eyeballs on the product bro.”
I think when he had a director like Vince McMahon on him giving him constructive criticism and letting him know what worked and didn’t, Vince Russo could contribute a lot. But he simply could not be the head coach of the team. He didn’t know or care about the history of wrestling. And for that, he has to bear some responsibility in the destruction of WCW.
But he didn’t do it alone.
Eric Bischoff is culprit #2. To be fair, Eric was a visionary. He had the guts to compete with WWF when no one else dared to challenge Vince McMahon. His introduction of Mexican and Japanese stars to the mainstream was also very important. He also mixed old school and new school into a hybrid that was awesome to watch.
Bischoff is not guilty of spending money, because it was at his disposal at the time. Turner execs told him he could do it. He had to do what he had to do in that heated competitive environment to surge ahead as the industry leader.
However, what Bischoff did was he let the inmates run the asylum. He also should have had guys around him like Pat Patterson to tell the wrestlers what they were going to do, and if they didn’t, then they were in breach of contract. But, in their respective deals, Bischoff let them do pretty much whatever they damn well pleased, and it hurt the product immensely.
In JJ Dillon’s book, “Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls”, Dillon goes into detail about how he offered his expertise in booking and how to counter what Vince was doing. But Bischoff viewed him as an enemy from day one, and pretty much used him as the figure head President of WCW.
Another sin that Bischoff committed was allowing Hulk Hogan to call the shots.
Let me say first and foremost I am and will always be a Hulk Hogan fan. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be writing a blog for Camel Clutch Blog. Hulk Hogan making an impact on my life as a child made him of one of my role models. Without him, I would have not liked wrestling.
That being said, he was essentially Bischoff’s de-facto booker. Guys like Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor made up the booking team in WCW, but Hogan pretty much yayed or nayed creative decisions, especially ones involving himself.
In defense of Hogan, he came from a different school of thought. A lot of guys that broke into the business the same time he did had the same mindset. It was more about talking ability and your look, rather than your actual ability. If Hogan was doing the hiring, he would have filled the roster with Kamala, George “The Animal” Steele, Yokozuna, King Kong Bundy and Hercules.
Hogan is a great talker, has unbelievable charisma, and knows how to get a crowd excited during his matches. But the thing that Hogan forgot is that you got to be prepared for the next wave of talent, and work with them, getting them ready for the big stage.
Not just wrestling people should be to blame. AOL Time-Warner must take some as well. They were the ones that didn’t like wrestling, and decided to put the bullet in the head of WCW. Little did they know, WCW was one of highest rated programs, and they basically bit off their nose to spite their face.
And finally, WWE should take responsibility. They bought it, put it in a very disappointing storyline, then killed it. Now, when you watch WWE Network, they make it seem like the little wrestling organization that could, how WCW was the evil typhoon who were smashing them, and how they miraculously came back to beat them.
Oh how the victors like to rewrite history.