Even in the few short months when World Championship Wrestling was the most successful sports entertainment company in the world, there was also a widespread belief Ted Turner’s attempt at getting into the ‘rasslin industry was one of the most mismanaged businesses in the world. There’s no denying countless hours of great wrestling programs were made under the WCW banner throughout its 13 years existence, with dozens of superstars experiencing the best moments in their careers working for the promotion. WCW also innovated a number of matches and styles, captivated fans with brilliantly creative angles, and more than earned its place in history on the hard work of the wrestlers working there.
Unfortunately, WCW generally isn’t remembered for any of the few good things that happened while the company was still around. The bad by far outweighed the good, and although they probably don’t realize it, WWE is beginning to exhibit all of WCW’s worst qualities. The similarities are getting overwhelming, with Vince McMahon and his top executives making the exact same decisions Ted Turner’s underlings were enacting some two decades ago. Plummeting ratings and revolting fans aren’t enough to shock WWE into stopping the trend, so chances are it will only get worse from here. To get a glimpse of what fans are in for, keep reading to learn about 15 upsetting ways WWE is ominously starting to look like WCW.
15 Not Letting Anyone New Become A Star
By far, the biggest criticism levied against WCW was that the company refused to create new stars to replace names like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Randy Savage. These men all had great careers in WWE during the ‘80s, but by the late ‘90s, WCW fans were ready to move on with newer and younger stars. With the very few exceptions of DDP, who was actually kind of old, and Goldberg, who many felt wasn’t ready, the company never really delivered in terms of a popular face who could replace the stars of yesteryear. In modern day WWE, there are plenty of new talents who are getting booked in main events and celebrated like the future of the industry, but before long, a match with either John Cena, Triple H, or Brock Lesnar is right around the corner, prepared to kill those pushes dead and remind everyone who the real stars are.
14 Defiantly Refusing To Give The Crowd What They Want
Every now and again a wrestler will come along so brilliantly talented WWE audiences will demand the company make them a star, whether they like it or not. Never has this been more apparent in recent years than with Daniel Bryan, who heard his name chanted wherever he went regardless of the storylines he was placed in making him out to be a sore loser. Not even WCW went so far as to actively bury the hottest act in the promotion, but they did waste a number of stars when they were at their peak. The most blatant example was Sting at Starrcade 1997, which this list will cover in more detail as we go on. Outside of that, WCW also ignored regularly fans when they cheered for Ric Flair, and the trend dates as far back to the mid-‘90s when “Stunning” Steve Austin was jobbed out and fired when the entire world saw him as the future of the business.
13 Using The Biggest Show Of The Year Solely To Feed Egos
On the road to WrestleMania 33, it seems almost impossible for critics and commentators to focus on anything aside from how 2017’s Grandest Stage of Them All will almost certainly be a massive bomb. Granted, it could never be as big a disaster as the worst show in WCW history, Starrcade 1997. The main event that should have ended the nWo was instead used to feed Hulk Hogan’s ego. Worst of all, it wasn’t even the first time the Hulkster did this with WCW’s flagship event – though not as damaging to the company, 1994 was wasted on an ego stroking nothing match between BFFs Hogan and Brutus Beefcake. The upcoming WrestleMania card is all about making top stars happy from top to bottom—John Cena gets to work with his girlfriend, two part-timers are on top, the most talented wrestler on the roster is facing the boss’s son, and Vince McMahon’s handpicked star is going against a Phenom who should be retired. The only people who’s interests aren’t being met? The fans.
12 Confusing Authority Figures All Shouting And Saying Nothing
From the Attitude Era onward, Vince McMahon has always been the ultimate authority figure in the WWE Universe. Even before that, whomever the figurehead WWE President was reigned supreme and couldn’t be challenged. The exact opposite was true in WCW, where for many years there was no one authority figure to speak of, only an unseen championship committee. Executive Vice Presidents were eventually introduced, most famously Eric Bischoff, but he still had to answer to Ted Turner, and whomever Turner appointed as commissioners. Bischoff never respected said commissioners though, and the WCW wrestlers in turn didn’t respect Bisch, and the result was chaos with virtually no one in charge. Now that every WWE brand has a GM and Commissioner, plus their spouses when applicable, it’s getting just as hard for fans to tell who’s supposed to be in charge.
11 Calling Cruiserweights Special Because They Used To Be
One area WCW is generally accepted as having completely schooled WWE at was the cruiserweight division. From the creation of the WCW Cruiserweight Championship in 1996 to some time in late 1999, the promotion’s high flying wrestlers were easily the most innovative athletes on television, largely because they did things larger performers wouldn’t try…or maybe couldn’t try. Once WCW started flying off the rails, though, the cruiserweight division was almost completely forgotten, and turned into just as big a mess as the rest of the company. Gone were the days of Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman, welcome new champions Oklahoma and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea. Cut to the modern day when WWE has attempted to revive a cruiserweight division of their own, only to repeat WCW’s mistakes in hyper drive. After the great Cruiserweight Classic, the division is already faltering because the smaller guys are being forced to work like the heavyweights, taking away everything special about what cruiserweight wrestling is supposed to be.
10 Who Represents The Modern Day nWo?
While the New World Order of professional wrestling was in many ways responsible for WCW becoming the juggernaut it was, the nWo also ultimately grew so wildly out of control it couldn’t believably be stopped. Before long, fans lost hope the nWo would ever fall from power, and they gave up on watching because of it. Today’s WWE has a new New World Order, and it’s already managed to exhibit an ego bigger than Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Eric Bischoff combined. The worst part is, even more so than those four, there’s no way she’ll ever get her comeuppance, because her father owns he company. That’s right, the Billion Dollar Princess, Stephanie McMahon, is a one woman New World Order. No, not in her character or storyline, but in the fact she’s the most powerful person in the industry, always ready to mock and belittle her every employee, and absolutely no one has the power to stop her… or even touch her.
9 Taking Once Great Ideas And Completely Destroying Them
Plenty of wrestling fans firmly believe the Royal Rumble is the greatest match WWE ever created, and it would be hard pressed to argue with them. That said, one riposte could be the Elimination Chamber, another brilliantly destructive and creative way for six sports entertainers to beat the crap out of one another. Many years ago, wrestling fans were using the same terms to describe WCW’s greatest match type, the unforgettable extravaganza known as War Games. Unfortunately, by the final War Games in 2000, the collective efforts of WCW’s booking team turned the match beyond into the most embarrassing contest of the year. WCW’s other great match creation, Battle Bowl, had a similar trajectory, stating with memorable and decent winners and ending with a completely forgotten last attempt in 1996. Neither the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, nor any other WWE match type has fallen quite as low as those two, but especially the Rumble has been experiencing harshly diminishing returns after a string of boring matches and atrocious winners. We can only hope they never sink so far WWE has to pretend they never existed.
8 An Announce Desk Completely Off The Rails
In all fairness to Tony Schiavone, the voice of WCW, there was a logic to him claiming each and every night would be the greatest night in sports entertainment history. He couldn’t exactly come out and say “last week was better, folks, but stay tuned anyway,” so after he called one night the greatest ever, he had to keep promising the company would one up themselves. Retrospective memes aside, there was plenty else to complain about with Schiavone’s commentary, which often made no sense and exhibited a serious lack of understanding about wrestling. And even so, Schiavone was one of the better announcers in the company, much better than Larry Zbyszko or Mark Madden, who only talked about themselves in between seriously unfunny jokes. Schiavone was also streets ahead of just about everyone in the modern day WWE announce booth, who spout out catchphrases, Twitter trends, and whatever else passes through Vince McMahon’s attention deficit, senior-citizen mind rather than simply focusing on the damn match.
7 Padding Title Reigns Makes Everyone Look Weak
The WWE Raw Women’s Championship has existed for less than one full year, and has already had 8 distinct title reigns in its history. The SmackDown version has been around half as long, and likewise has half as many champions with 4. Either way, this is way too many champions to establish a new belt as something worth fighting for. 8 distinct title reigns means 7 distinct losers, and considering that isn’t 8 different people, the ones who find their names repeated on the list look like their every victory is a fluke. WCW made this same mistake on a much grander scale throughout the year 2000, when the WCW World Championship changed hands or was vacated over 20 times. By the end of that year, no one cared about the Big Gold Belt or any of the dozen men who managed to win it. Based on our math, WWE has done about half that much damage to their brand new women’s titles already, so they seriously need to let one of these ladies properly accessorize and wear the same belt with multiple outfits.
6 Too Many Titles Makes Them All Pointless
It’s bad enough that the various Women’s Championships keep changing hands all the time, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems in the current WWE title scene. More than the fact they keep changing hands, the biggest issue with the WWE Women’s Championships is the fact there’s two of them to begin with. There are also two WWE Tag Team Championships, a World and Universal title that are basically on the same level, and an increasing number of midcard titles that have almost openly had no meaning the second after they were won (we’re looking at you, UK Championship). This sort of golden glut hasn’t been seen in a major wrestling company since the early 1990s, when WCW had both the World and International Championships. There was also a period when WCW had two Tag Team Championships, plus an additional Six-Man Tag Team Championship, although even WCW could see things were getting out of control at that point and started cutting back. WWE will need to do the same soon, lest all their new titles blend into one.
5 Celebrity Appearances Have Stopped Making Sense
While some wrestling traditionalists hate it when celebrities and non-wrestlers get involved in the sport no matter what, we’ve always taken a more liberal approach to the concept and admitted that sometimes celebrities work out, and sometimes they don’t. In the past, WWE had been especially adept over the years at making sure the celebrities they hire work, or at least didn’t do anything to active hurt the product. On the other hand, whenever a celeb passed by in WCW the results were utterly bizarre, from back in 1990 when Robocop saved Sting from the Four Horsemen all the way to the peak/nadir of David Arquette winning the WCW World title. These days, WWE has seemingly given up on justifying it when celebrities stop by, and while we haven’t had anything as weird as Robocop, can anyone honestly say Big Show-Shaq at WrestleMania 32 felt less random?
4 The Biggest Names Set Their Own Schedule
Despite the fact Hulk Hogan was unquestionably the biggest star in WCW, especially when he turned heel to lead the nWo, the Hulkster was also guilty of almost never wrestling on television. Throughout the year 1997 in particular, during almost all of which he reigned as WCW World Champion, Hogan repeatedly skipped out on episodes of Nitro and even a number of Pay-Per-Views, giving the impression the biggest names in the business couldn’t be bothered to show up for work half the time. In modern WWE, the same thing is happening with anyone who actually has name value. The Rock spends most of his time making movies, John Cena is always off either doing the same thing as Rock or granting wishes for charity, The Undertaker only shows up once a year for WrestleMania, and Brock Lesnar’s contract is even cushier than Hogan’s was back in the day, meaning he doesn’t even need to justify his many sabbaticals. Even a smaller scale star like Chris Jericho can leave whenever he feels like going on tour with Fozzy, and the one thing this trend assures is that WWE needs the biggest wrestlers in the world far more than they need WWE.
3 Wrestlers Need Political Clout To Get Ahead
An oft-repeated phrase used to describe the backstage climate in WCW was “the inmates ran the asylum.” The most important thing required to get a push was friendship with the right people, namely Eric Bischoff, or even better, Hulk Hogan. For example, Bischoff was able to make an unlikely middle aged rookie named “Diamond” Dallas Page into one of the biggest stars in the company when no one thought it was possible, then went on to use Page as an example of how anyone could be a star in his company. The catch was that Page happened to be Bischoff’s neighbor, and probably wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity if he lived someplace else. A similar recent case would be that of Sheamus, who was plucked from obscurity to receive a WWE Championship reign in his rookie year with the company, mostly because he was Triple H’s workout buddy. Does the cream occasionally rise to the top? Sure. But the metaphorical coffeemaker’s new best friends will always get their faster, regardless of skill level.
2 Writers Only Care About Top Talent
As social media becomes more prevalent, former WWE backstage employees have been able to speak about their time there freely and openly. A number of men and woman who used to write for the company have come forward with the fact they were specifically told not to write for anyone other than John Cena, thus leaving most of the roster to their own devices and the whims of Vince McMahon alone. More recently, we can also assume Vince will also tell his writers to think about Roman Reigns, but it’s probably still a one or two man show as far as he’s concerned. Back in the WCW days, Hulk Hogan was the only person fans were conditioned to care about, from the moment he debuted to the day Vince Russo publicly fired him. The one exception was when Kevin Nash became the writer, and thus he himself was the one man the show was based on. Regardless of who it is or when it happened, no wrestling show can survive on one athlete alone, and if WWE doesn’t diversify, an untimely injury could leave them with no idea how to survive.
1 Same Main Event Scene For Over 10 Years
John Cena wrestled Randy Orton for the first time in 2002, when both were in their final year at OVW. After both men graduated to the main WWE roster they locked up again in 2005, and more than 12 years later, it’s still a hot enough match Vince McMahon thinks it can headline WrestleMania. Unfortunately, no one else seems to think that way, having been tired of the match already by 2011 at the latest. If that example isn’t bad enough, how about Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, who also had their first match in 2002? Though they haven’t necessarily wrestled each other recently, the fact still remains WWE’s top stars have been the same for decades now, which goes back to that biggest criticism against WCW we started the list with. When there are no new stars, it’s the same thing over and over again in the main event scene. We’re not sure whether Orton-Cena has happened more times than Hogan-Flair, but we’re equally apathetic to either of them ever happening again. Hogan-Savage isn’t possible anymore, and yet the hologram version sounds just as good if not better than Goldberg-Lesnar II. At this rate, holograms will eventually be all we have, because a refusal to create new main events quite literally go on last forever.