From 1988 to 2001, Ted Turner and his executives offered the most direct attack on Vince McMahon’s monopoly on mainstream sports entertainment with World Championship Wrestling. Turner initially bought out Jim Crockett Promotions, an NWA subsidiary, along with any related TV time slots Crockett had the rights to. In 1991, Turner did away with the NWA connection entirely, officially rebranding his company as WCW. Thanks to the efforts of Executive Vice President Eric Bischoff, WCW went from a respectable B-company to the number one wrestling promotion in the world by the year 1995.
Unfortunately, however, WCW is no longer known for their wild and unprecedented success. This is because the company was equally famous for their many bizarre, offensive, and at times outright stupid decisions, many of which were made live on television for millions to see. WWE might be responsible for the term Attitude Era, but it was actually the gritty realism of the nWo that made it possible. Chasing this dragon, WCW repeatedly tried to up the absurdity and teetered on the lines of decency. It occasionally paid off as the nWo proves, but just as often, WCW’s teetering on the line ends with them falling off it, on the wrong side. Keep reading to learn all about 15 infamous moments when WCW went way too far.
15. Spoiling WWE Events
WCW Monday Nitro was an instant hit due to the extreme lengths they went towards proving WCW was the alternative to WWE. All they really had to do in order to achieve this goal was put on a good, different show of their own. Instead, they made constant and direct attacks against WWE, reaching the nadir of their shady tactics by plainly announcing what would happen in the Raw main event during the first three minutes of Nitro. One of Nitro’s big advantages was that it aired live, while Raw was usually taped up to four weeks in advance. Revealing the Raw results had the dual effect of making WWE seem slow and passé, while making Nitro seem edgy and more cutting edge. On the negative side, though, this practice regularly had direly negative consequences for WCW, most notably when the announcement Mankind would win the WWE Championship on Raw caused millions of fans to immediately change the channel.
14. Miss Hancock And The Miscarriage Of Justice
Five years prior to WWE creating the Diva Search, WCW held a contest to name a new Nitro Girl, won by future superstar Stacy Keibler. Don’t let her entry into the business fool you, however, as Stacy was also spotted in the crowd of Starrcade 1998 before anyone knew who she was, proving she was a fan before she got hired. That doesn’t make her a wrestler, though, and thus she only received very marginal training from the Power Plant before she debuted in the ring. Her most notable match was against Major Gunns at New Blood Rising, ending when Stacy was kicked in the stomach and started suffering labor pains. She had been engaged in a romantic angle with her real life boyfriend David Flair, so there was some logic behind running a pregnancy gimmick. However, pregnancy gimmicks never work, because without a real baby, the only possible pay-off is tragedy. At first, it looked like Stacy miscarried, which was offensive enough the company backpedaled and claimed she was lying about the whole thing. By having the miscarriage match anyway, WCW were both having their offensive cake and throwing it in the fan’s faces.
13. Scott Hall, “Functional” Alcoholic
Just about every wrestling fan these days is aware of the substance abuse issues plaguing the life of WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall. Hall was equally important to WCW history as he was to WWE if not more so, thanks to his debut spearheading the nWo angle that made the company a raging success. Two years into the nWo, fans were merely hoping it would end, but instead WCW found new and offensive ways to milk the concept for all it was worth. Hall would start feuding with nWo co-founder Kevin Nash, initially for unclear reasons, ultimately revealed to be Hall’s severe alcoholism. Nash kept trying to lead Hall towards help and though he never implicitly said rehab, fans generally got the idea. Instead, Hall started drinking on Nitro, handed cocktails by his nWo underlings in the middle of his matches. Hall was instructed to act as drunk as possible at all times and like one would expect of a true addict, he did so by actually being drunk all the time. Wrestling companies are often blamed for the personal problems of their employees and that isn’t always fair, but in this case, WCW in no uncertain times profited off of Scott Hall’s demons.
12. Harlem Heat Versus Racist Bikers
WCW received a lot of credit for their desire to present a wrestling program unlike one we’ve ever seen before, with their special location episodes of Nitro hailing from Spring Break, the Mall of America, and Disney World helping those shows feel exciting even decades after the company went out of business. There were misfires, though, most notably the yearly retreat to a biker rally in Sturgis, South Dakota for Hog/Road Wild. The problem started with the reality that the shows never made any money, because the audience was just there for the motorcycles and none paid WCW a single dime. Also, at least in 1996, the audience was noticeably racist to a disturbing degree. On the show, WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat defended against The Steiner Brothers, earning the loudest negative crowd reaction of the night based solely on their skin color. It might not be entirely fair to blame WCW for this, but they should’ve seen it coming and even if they didn’t, they definitely shouldn’t have returned to Sturgis the next three years in a row.
11. The nWo Mock The Horsemen
One of the first highly publicized backlashes against the New World Order took place in September 1997, during the build to nWo vs. The Four Horsemen at War Games. En route to Fall Brawl where the big match would take place, Arn Anderson made the decision to end his sterling 15-year career due to a neck injury. He emotionally announced this on Nitro, allowing Curt Hennig to take his spot in the Horsemen and the match. The next week, Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, Buff Bagwell, and Konnan parodied Anderson’s retirement, with Nash dressed as Arn and giving a comic version of his speech. Whether or not this crossed the line is a matter of opinion, as quite frankly heels have done much worse and received next to no criticism. What makes this incident special is that Arn himself was deeply hurt and offended by the whole ordeal, as was his good friend Ric Flair. Though some still defend it as ultimately harmless, the fact industry veterans were upset convinced plenty of fans the nWo had gone too far.
10. Goldberg Breaks The Script
Vince Russo tried lots of outrageous ideas to right the sinking ship of WCW and stand against WWE once more, with far more misfires than hits. Without question his biggest misfire came at New Blood Rising 2000, when Goldberg “broke the script” and walked out on a triple threat match against Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner. On the surface, this wasn’t particularly offensive or anything, especially compared to the other stories on this list. However, beneath the surface the entire point of this storyline was for Vince Russo and company to mock the fans for how stupid they were. Wrestling fans know everything is fake and yelling at them that one part of the show isn’t fake only serves to prove how fake the rest of the show is, especially when the thing they’re pretending is real is the most scripted moment of the entire show. WCW did lots of insulting things over the years, but never before or since has any wrestling company so totally treated all of their fans like gullible idiots who would believe literally anything, even if it goes against the entire history of the business.
9. David Arquette, World Heavyweight Champion
Entire books have been written about how David Arquette becoming WCW World Heavyweight Champion and it’s effect on WCW that it feels old to go over it once again. Unfortunately, it was such a stupid and offensive idea that it deserves repetition. True, like with some other items on this list, there was nothing about Arquette winning the title that directly attacked any ideologies or anything like that. However, wrestling fans have always harbored the reasonable expectation that wrestling titles should be held by wrestlers. It seems simple enough, but WCW obviously never got the memo and Arquette’s big win is the worst example of this defiant practice that fans had to sit through. Arquette pinned Eric Bischoff for the honor during a Thunder episode in 2000 and he lost the belt 12 days later at Spring Stampede. Those 12 days were more than enough for fans to give up entirely on wrestling companies ever even considering hiring another celebrity again. Granted, there might be worse ways to offend fans, but the sheer amount of backlash implies vast amounts of them might not be so sure.
8. Rick Steiner Plays With Dolls
The Child’s Play film saga began in 1988, with a sequel and third film following in the next two years. Eight years later, Universal Pictures decided to revive the brand and the stars of the film went on the press junket, as usual. There was a snag, however, in that the lead role was an anthropomorphic puppet and something that obviously fake can’t exactly show up in normal media without confusing and upsetting fans. Chucky is also so fake he can’t even show up in a media like wrestling where the whole point is how fake it is, at least not without ruining the suspension of disbelief for everyone by taking the idea too far. Chucky appeared on an October 1998 episode of Nitro to verbally spar with Rick Steiner, another flaw of the plan, given how weak Steiner was on the microphone. The result was embarrassing in every way imaginable, with Steiner looking weak, Chucky bizarrely looking stronger than a top wrestler, and WCW once again reminding their fans the show they watch believes they’re idiots.
7. Sting’s New Best Friend, RoboCop
David Arquette shouldn’t have been World Champion, but at least he was a real person. Chucky’s isn’t and yet his appearance still could’ve gone worse, insofar as he could’ve actually stepped into the ring, which he didn’t. There are no such excuses for the earliest and stupidest example of WCW (then still branded as the NWA) inserting celebrities and fictional characters into the action, when Capital Combat 1990 was highlighted by the “return” of RoboCop. The cybernetic policeman saved Sting from an attack by The Four Horsemen, Thankfully, he never wrestled a real match, but he did singlehandedly destroy the four top heels in the company without receiving so much as a scratch. Although it made sense RoboCop was more destructive than regular humans, it nevertheless made the actual wrestlers look weak and stupid. Even worse, the entirety of WCW looked stupid and the only possible point of the whole thing was to make their fans to look stupid, too, for believing something so outrageous was possible.
6. The Killing Of Hulkamania
In 1996, Bash at the Beach was the Pay-Per-View that changed wrestling forever, thanks to Hulk Hogan dropping a leg on Randy Savage and joining The Outsiders in the New World Order. Four years later, the nWo had gone from top stars to annoyances that wouldn’t go away, Hogan chief amongst them in terms of hogging the spotlight. WCW head writer Vince Russo wanted to get rid of Hogan and understandably so, but the way he went about doing so remains one of the most embarrassing moments in wrestling history, for absolutely every involved party. Hogan was set to face Jeff Jarrett for the WCW Championship, only for Jarrett to lie down and allow Hulk the win. Hulk gave a quick line about how Russo was killing the business and took off, never to be seen again. Russo made things worse by giving a promo of his own, mocking Hogan for his political actions. Even if many fans had grew tired of Hogan, he was still an icon and a top star, who deserved better in his exit from the company he helped put on the mat. There has been much discussion since the event that things were supposed to go differently, and while we’ll never know if that’s true, chances are no deviation from the path would have saved this ugly ordeal.
5. Tank Abbott And The Mystery Of Big Al
Hands down, the most confusing thing about Big Al in WCW is that the company never bothered explaining who he was in any way, shape, or form. He arrived in early 2000 to feud with MMA star Tank Abbott, culminating in a Leather Jacket on a Pole match at SuperBrawl 2000. The gimmick was pretty dumb on its own, but it was what happened during the match itself that made everything infinitely worse. After achieving the leather jacket from the pole, Tank found an actual knife in one of the pocket’s, held it against Al’s throat, and told him “I could f***ing kill you right now,” a sentence the cameras very clearly were able to hear. Tony Schiavone tried to pretend Abbott was threatening to cut Al’s beard off, but Al didn’t even have a beard, turning a horrifically offensive moment into a bizarrely confusing one. Al disappeared immediately after and, most confusing of all, Abbott apparently was never punished in any way for what he said.
4. Judy Bagwell On A Pole
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the “[blank] On A Pole” match type. In fact, if the object is small enough and it makes sense to put it on a pole, it’s a simple way to add flavor to an otherwise normal match. On the other hand, when the thing on the pole is a human, mocked for being obese, and who received endless mockery at the idea men were fighting over her, it crossed the line so far that wrestling fans have almost rejected the idea of Pole matches altogether. The only part of the match that made any sense was that one of the competitors was Bagwell’s son, Marcus/Buff, who understandably didn’t want his mother objectified like this. His opponent, Chris Kanyon, felt the exact opposite, with Bagwell’s managerial services as his prize should he win. Worst of all, when the battle took place at New Blood Rising, Bagwell obviously couldn’t fit on any sort of pole, so they carted her out in a forklift, an act so demoralizing that it should’ve made WCW scrap the entire thing.
3. Oklahoma Mocks Jim Ross
This list has spent a lot of time discussing how WCW must have believed wrestling fans were idiots, so it tracks that one of the most visible wrestling fans alive would receive the brunt of their criticism. Naturally, said fan worked for WWE, and in fact was longtime highly respected broadcaster Jim Ross. JR worked for WCW in the early ‘90s, though it wasn’t until 1999 they started mocking him on Nitro, by way of former WWE Attitude Era writer Ed Ferrara performing an offensively unflattering impression of him under the ring name Oklahoma. The impression crossed the line in just about every way imaginable, worst of all being Ferrara’s decision not to mimic JR’s enthusiasm or folksy colloquialisms, but rather focus almost exclusively on the fact Ross suffers from Bell’s Palsy. Though the disease has only slightly affected his career, it is a serious disease nonetheless and deserves the same respect any painful or embarrassing ailment affords.
2. What Could Be Worse Than The Fingerpoke Of Doom?
January 4th, 1999 is considered one of the most important days in the Monday Night Wars, thanks to WCW spoiling Raw and then presenting The Fingerpoke of Doom. We already covered why it was a bad idea for WCW to spoil Raw, a lesson they should’ve learned at this point. However, the real boneheaded idea lost the mix was the reason Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash were wrestling that night in the first place. The original plan was a Starrcade 1998 rematch between Nash and Goldberg, but in an ill-advised bait-and-switch, Goldberg was “arrested” halfway through the show. He was charged with stalking Miss Elizabeth, an idea that already went too far: the mere implication of a hero stalking a legendary performer in the industry was bad enough and Goldberg bizarrely reacted to the news of his arrest by attacking a police officer. It could have been even worse, though—apparently, WCW wanted Elizabeth to accuse him of sexual assault. Luckily, Goldberg outright refused to perform the angle if they went with that plan, hence the switch to the slightly less stupid stalking charge.
1. The Final Faux Pas
All right, here we go. The dumbest move in WCW, if not one of the flat out stupidest things ever done by a multimillion-dollar company. At the beginning of 1996, Kevin Sullivan and his Dungeon of Doom merged with The Horsemen to create The Alliance To End Hulkamania. It wasn’t enough to have six of the top wrestlers in the company against Hogan, so they added to actors, Tiny Lister of Zeus/No Holds Barred Fame and Jeep Swenson, later known as Bane in Batman & Robin. This was before Bane, however, and apparently a man named Jeep didn’t sound enough like a pro wrestler, so WCW decided to give him the worst and most offensive name in wrestling history: The Final Solution. In case you missed that day in history class, The Final Solution was also the name of Adolf Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jewish people. The number of complaints received from Jewish rights groups was staggering, and Swenson’s name was switched to The Ultimate Solution right away.
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