Even wrestling fans who are too young to have experienced WCW, are aware that it was not a well run wrestling promotion. Granted, there were a couple of years where Nitro was red hot. WCW’s success can largely be attributed to having a phenomenal roster however. Even with bad or selfish booking, it’s hard to fail completely with the roster they had.
By the time 1999 rolled around fans had figured out that WCW storylines weren’t the most coherent, and plenty abandoned ship. After a while, the appeal of Macho Man, Sting, and Hollywood Hogan just couldn’t keep pace with the unappealing booking of the promotion. This isn’t to say the entire show was bad however, as there were some bright spots to Nitro that almost made watching it worthwhile. Even when WCW was at its worst, there were still segments worth seeing, such as unscripted Scott Steiner promos, good cruiserweight matches, or unintended humour.
Most of what took place in WCW that led to its downfall was the disorganization backstage. This was a pro wrestling company trying to exist within the corporate world, which was never going to work. In the end, the story of WCW’s death has become more entertaining than their product ever was.
With that in mind, here are 15 shocking facts about WCW’s most controversial moments.
15. Lex Luger’s Debut On The First Nitro
Shocking Fact: Luger’s WWE contract had been expired for months.
Nowadays WWE will do anything to prevent their Superstars from appearing on a competitor’s TV show. Back in 1995 however, that was not the case. Luger’s deal with the company had expired months ago, however they were still using him on WWE programming. When Luger told Sting this, Sting immediately pressed Eric Bischoff to sign him.
Bischoff wasn’t interested, and offered only a low contract. Sting pressured Luger to take it anyway, feeling that he’d be a big hit again in the company.
According to Luger, he was trying to workout a long term deal with WWE as his contract expired, and WWE didn’t do anything to sign him to a short term deal while they negotiated a new contract.
14. Goldberg Beating Hogan in the Georgia Dome Benefited Hulk Financially
Shocking Fact: Hogan earned 25% of ticket revenue that night.
Some fans feel it was surprising that WCW aired Goldberg against Hollywood Hogan on an episode of Nitro, rather than on a PPV. The way Hogan’s contract was set up however, it made perfect sense for him.
Hogan had just resigned with the company a couple of months earlier. He had been on Nitro sparingly for the last couple months as the NBA Playoffs were ongoing, and some believe he did’t want to be associated with the decreased ratings they were causing Nitro.
With the playoffs over, and his new contract signed, a show in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome was scheduled, where the gate would be huge. Hogan’s contract stated he was to be given 25% of the ticket sales for any show he was on, so Hogan wanted to make a big splash with such a huge live crowd.
13. Scott Hall & Kevin Nash Invade Nitro And Get Sued
Shocking Fact: A lawsuit stemming from the nWo invasion is what is preventing “Broken” Matt Hardy from showing up on WWE programming.
When the nWo first invaded WCW Nitro, it was made to look as though it was actually WWE invading the company. Hall walked out from the crowd, used his same mannerisms he had when he was Razor Ramon. WWE sued WCW for using their intellectual property.
As this was the first high-profile case of wrestling intellectual property being used by another promotion, it basically declared what the rules are. Basically, if you bring in a performer from another company, they can’t use a gimmick they used in another company unless they have ownership of the character.
Had WWE never sued WCW over using characters similar to Razor Ramon and Diesel, we would probably be seeing “Broken” Matt Hardy in the company today.
12. Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match
Shocking fact: Judy Bagwell really did get quite involved with her son’s career.
Judy Bagwell being involved in several of her son’s pro wrestling angles during late-stage WCW has become something of a joke. Whenever a promotion seems to be overdoing gimmick matches, someone will surely say “What’s next? A Judy Bagwell on a pole match?”.
It was also a bit of a joke on Bagwell, as his mother really had called the the WCW offices on several occasions to talk about her son. She served as something of his manager. Eventually the company just figured, well she does such a great job of involving herself in her son’s real life, let’s make her do it in storyline as well. Judy would side with Rick Steiner in his feud against Bagwell, even once herself becoming a WCW Tag Team Champion.
11. Bash at the Beach 2000, Russo and Hogan Angle
Shocking Fact: Jarrett laying down was a work, Russo firing Hogan was real (allegedly).
Either what happened was real, fake, or a combination of both, but everyone agrees it was terrible. At Bash at the Beach 2000, Hulk Hogan was scheduled to challenge Jeff Jarrett for the WCW Title. It is believed that Hogan insisted he win the title, citing his creative control clause in his contract.
Russo, Hogan and Bischoff then worked out a deal where Hogan would pin Jarrett, who was taking a dive, and take the belt. It was supposed to lead to an angle where Hogan would return with his title and challenge whoever the WCW Champion was at the time.
Instead, Russo came back out later that night, ran down Hogan, and publicly fired him. Hogan had not agreed to that part of the angle, and decided to sue Russo.
10. nWo Mocks Arn Anderson & Uses His Beer Cooler
Arn Anderson knew ahead of time that the nWo was going to mock him the week after the Four Horsemen announced Arn needed to retire due to injuries. In fact, Arn lent Nash his own beer cooler to use in the segment.
The Horsemen thought they were going to run in and give the nWo their comeuppance, but somehow that part of the segment ended up being nixed. So instead the nWo just mocked Anderson’s history with alcohol openly for the world to hear the week after he was forced to retire.
It was only after Arn’s family complained about the segment that Arn changed his tune on it. Nash, to his credit, has stated remorse for the performance, stating that Anderson really did get his feelings hurt by it.
9. Booker T Winning the WCW Championship on the Last Nitro Was Leaked
Shocking fact: Scott Steiner gave away the ending on his website.
Before the last episode of Nitro aired, Scott Steiner announced on his website that he would be losing the WCW championship that night to Booker T. He explained that WWE was interested in bringing Booker T into the company, but Steiner was going to sit out and allow WCW to continue to pay him for the remainder of his contract. Ergo, WWE wanted the title on someone who was going to be apart of the Invasion angle.
There has most likely never been another case of a major World Champion announcing he was going to lose the title before the match actually takes place. However, this really shouldn’t surprise many as Scott seemed to be completely out of control.. and still is.
8. Master P & the No Limits Soldiers Angle
Shocking fact: Master P was apparently easy to work with.
Everyone knows the No Limits Soldiers angle was a giant flop, but not everyone knows that Master P was apparently a really eager performer and genuine wrestling fan. Brad Armstrong was put with the No Limits Soldiers so that the group would have at least one actual wrestler (and Turner executives wanted a more racially diverse group). According to Brad, Master P was nothing but respectful.
Armstrong stated that Master P never disagreed to anything WCW asked him to do. While rumours that P was paid $200,000 per appearance have been spread, there is little evidence of such an extravagant price tag. When WCW salaries were leaked (due to a later lawsuit), it was revealed the company only ever paid him $293,000 total.
7. Vince Asked For Sting Vs. Ric Flair On The Final Nitro
It’s hard to blame Ric Flair for not trying during WCW’s dying days. Flair had no reason to expect that he would be wrestling any important matches anytime soon, so he hadn’t seen the inside of the gym in awhile. That is why he wore a t-shirt during his match with Sting on the final Nitro.
Flair didn’t think he would be wrestling on the show, but Vince McMahon insisted the show be closed by WCW’s two biggest icons. Earlier in the show, Flair cut a promo saying that if tonight was the last night of Nitro, he wanted at Sting one more time.
Sting would cause Flair to submit to the scorpion death-lock in Nitro’s closing moments. Despite the fact that it was Vince’s call, we can all agree Vince nailed the decision to involve the two in the final Nitro match.
6. Tony Schiavone’s “That’ll Put a Lot Of Butts In The Seats” Comment
Shocking fact: WWE never lost the ratings war again.
It’s believed that almost 600,000 viewers switched to Raw after Tony Schiavone announced that Mick Foley would win the WWE Championship on the show. While a hefty percentage of those fans tuned back to watch the last five minutes of Nitro, they evidently became bigger fans of WWE from then moving forward. Nitro never again defeated Raw in the ratings throughout the rest of the Monday Night Wars.
Mick Foley was a beloved guy by fans of both companies. As Cactus Jack, Foley had earned over the respect of many WCW fans during his time with the company. Schiavone’s comments acted as an advertisement for Raw, and many fans decided they liked it more than Nitro soon after. That one backfired on Eric Bischoff just a little…
5. Dennis Rodman’s 1998 nWo Run Caused Him To Miss NBA Finals Practice
The Chicago Bulls were playing the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals and Rodman figured what the heck, I’ll just skip practice and show up on Nitro.
Rodman accompanied Hollywood Hogan to ringside on the June 8th, 1998 Nitro. The night before, Rodman and the Bulls defeated the Jazz in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. As it was the Finals, the Bulls sort of expected everyone to be making basketball their top priority. Not Rodman though, he ditched practice to go to Nitro.
The NBA fined Rodman $10,000 for missing a media appearance, and the Bulls fined him another $10,000 for missing a team meeting. WCW paid him $250,000 however, so he came out ahead in the deal.
4. Hulk Hogan’s Bash at the Beach ’96 Heel Turn Was Meant For Someone Else
WCW built an entire PPV around Scott Hall and Kevin Nash having a mystery 3rd member, and they didn’t even know who the 3rd member was! Luckily, Hogan turned out to be a surprise more than big enough to warrant the build up.
At one point, Eric Bischoff was confident that the third member of the Outsiders team was going to be Bret Hart. Unfortunately for Bischoff, Hart opted to resign with the WWE, leaving him without a third member to join Nash and Hall. Bischoff had already attempted to convince Hogan to turn heel before, and was promptly told that would not be happening. Hogan himself suggested the idea of him being the other member to Bischoff.
Up until the event started WCW still wasn’t sure if Hogan would go through with it. If he didn’t, Sting would have turned heel and joined the new faction. Oh how different things could have been.
3. Nick Patrick’s Non-Fast Count on Sting- Starrcade ’97
Amazing fact: Nick Patrick still isn’t talking…
In the main event of Starrcade ’97, Sting was supposed to finally defeat Hollywood Hogan, and bring the World Title back to WCW. While that would happen, it was preceded by Hogan appearing to have pinned Sting clean.
Nick Patrick was supposed to fast count Sting down, only his count occurred at a normal speed. It appeared to the whole world that Hogan had defeated Sting. Everyone just kept continuing as if the ref really had counted fast however.
As documented in the book, Death of WCW, Patrick would claim that in the heat of the moment he thought he was counting fast. In the later years he would simply reveal that he had gotten conflicting advice from people and tried to exercise his best judgement. After all these years Patrick still won’t say that Hogan put him up to it!
2. The Finger-Poke Of Doom
Shocking fact: WCW Never Won in the Ratings Again
The unfortunate main event to the January 4th 1999 Nitro, involved Hogan hitting Kevin Nash with the “Finger-Poke of Doom”, and then laying on top of him for a three count. Nash laid down for Hogan, handing him the WCW Championship. All that after Nash beat Goldberg.. oh brother for real!
This “match” was airing opposite WWE’s taped Raw with Mankind winning the championship. The ratings showed as many as 600,000 wrestling fans opting to watch Mankind win the title in a taped show over watching the returning Hollywood Hogan take on Kevin Nash.
For many viewers the flop of such a major angle was the last straw for their WCW fandom. Some viewers never tuned back in, and ultimately the company never beat WWE in the ratings again afterwards.
1. David Arquette Was Against Winning The WCW Championship
Had David Arquette been booking WCW, it might still be around today. That’s because Arquette better understood what wrestling fans wanted than Vince Russo did at the time. When he was told he was winning the WCW Championship, Arquette is said to have tried to talk the company out of it.
Arquette said he wasn’t deserving of the title, and the fans wouldn’t buy into it. Russo wouldn’t budge however. Arquette needed to promote the Ready to Rumble movie and couldn’t walk out, so he went through with it. He donated all the money he made from wrestling to the families of Brian Pillman, and Owen Hart, as well as to Darren Drozdov.
In later years, Arquette appeared in the crowd on an episode of Raw with a sign reading “Former WCW Champion”.
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