Ever since the advent of the WWE Network, nostalgia for World Championship Wrestling has been on a steady rise. For years, fans have been clamoring for WWE to bring back some of their favorite ideas that were seen in WCW. With both Starrcade and WarGames making huge comebacks this year, we just might be in store for a full-on WCW renaissance.
At one point, they were at one point on the top of the mountain, beating WWE in the ratings on a weekly basis. With folks like Sting and Ric Flair on their roster they were in possession of some of the best wrestlers in the world. They also had some ground-breaking innovation in production and storytelling that set them apart from the competition.
That being said, is it a good idea to go all-in on resurgence like this? For every nWo, there’s a Dungeon of Doom and every Starrcade, a Hog Wild. Some of WCW’s ideas existed during a certain time for a reason and redoing them out of context simply wouldn’t work. Others, especially towards the end of the company’s life, were so tone-deaf and poorly executed that they would be considered a terrible idea no matter when they occurred.
WCW’s creations and ideas were definitely a mixed bag and something that should be examined. Since WWE owns everything created by their former rival, they could easily implement some of their shows, matches, and storytelling devices. So, let’s take a look at what would and what wouldn’t be worth revisiting.
Here are eight awesome WCW ideas WWE should totally bring back and seven they should leave in the past.
15 Bring Back: Halloween Havoc
WCW’s Halloween Havoc pay-per-view was always a fun concept. With over the top sets that, to gimmick bouts like the Coal Miner’s Glove match, Texas Death match, and the hilariously ridiculous Monster Truck Sumo match, the promotion always went all out for this event. Between this year’s final Raw and SmackDown of October we got so close to having an actual Halloween Havoc revival. We got spooky spider web graphics on the walkway, a jack-o-lantern and candy corn-filled hardcore match, SmackDown even went from blue to orange! Going up against trick-or-treating and game six of the World Series, the blue brand suffered its lowest ratings in months. WWE should go all-in on the holiday by branding the actual episode Halloween Havoc and making it an annual tradition.
14 Shouldn’t Revive: Worked Shoots
At first, worked shoots were a great way for creative to stay one step ahead of a fan base that was learning more and more about the way the business functioned behind the scenes. They would take rumors and hearsay and turn them into storylines. Then, Vince Russo joined WCW and ran them directly into the ground. The most notorious being Bash at the Beach 2000 where, try and follow me, Jeff Jarrett laid down for Hulk Hogan, the Hulkster then got on the microphone saying this was why WCW was in such bad shape and walked out, Russo then took to the ring to shoot on Hogan’s shoot and…I’m exhausted. Both sides have gone back and forth as to whether this was a shoot or a work. Honestly, who cares?
The reason why CM Punk’s 2011 Pipebomb worked so well was that Punk had built up a reputation as a legitimate as a respected worker and he knows more about the wrestling business than Vince Russo ever pretended to understand. With the memory of Punk still fresh in fans’ minds (they say you can still hear his name echoing through the halls of the Allstate Arena in Chicago), WWE would be smart if they took their time before attempting another worked shoot.
13 Bring Back: Six-Man Tag Team Championship
Granted, these titles were only around for about nine months but it is a concept that should definitely be reexamined. Right now, Ring of Honor, New Japan, and Lucha Underground each have six-man champions, if WWE wants to stay with the times it would make sense for them to create a division as well. They are currently in the middle of a love affair with three-man tandems between NXT and the main roster. Folks like the Undisputed Era, New Day, and the Miztourage could all benefit from some additional gold. Not to mention the recently reformed kings of six-man matches the Shield would have the opportunity to put on tons of awesome contests with a variety of opponents. The Shield going to war over the belts with the Club? That would be too sweet!*
*Too Sweet and the Two Sweet Hand Gesture are registered trademarks of World Wrestling Entertainment.
12 Shouldn’t Revive: World War 3
Let’s agree on a “no more than two ring” rule and only expand past a mono-ringed system when it is called for, like a WarGames or Battlebowl situation. World War 3 was WCW’s grand answer to WWE’s Royal Rumble. In attempt to outdo the competition, the Atlanta-based company doubled the participants and tripled the rings, thinking that bigger would be better. The match struggled with a plethora of issues including all 60 men starting in the rings at the same time, making it impossible to keep track of what was going on. Another problem linked to the over-bloated number of participants was that WCW simply didn’t have 60 notable wrestlers. This caused them to fill the ranks with jobbers like Ron Studd (the future Yeti), Lizmark Jr., and former Olympic bobsledder Chip Minton. Finally, WCW didn’t have any patience to let these matches play out, none of the WW3 bouts went longer than a half hour. That’s more than one elimination every 30 seconds.
11 Bring Back: The Bruise Cruise
When I was in third grade, I ran into Sycho Sid in Disneyworld. Dude was just pushing an empty stroller. I’ll never know why. My dad went up to him, shook his hand, and he went on his merry way. The entire experience blew my mind. Picture boarding an ocean liner and everywhere you turn is a pro-wrestler vacationing. That was the WCW Bruise Cruise. Hundreds of die-hard fans on a boat with real-life wrestlers. There’s Rick and Scott Steiner at the shrimp cocktail buffet, Johnny B. Badd soaking up the rays, and Michael Hayes…drunk. It’s such a goofy idea that it goes all the way back around to being tremendous again. WWE did try their own ocean-bound sports entertainment cruise called the Wrestle Vessel but that didn’t last as long as WCW’s version. Let’s face it, the Bruise Cruise is a much better name anyway.
Plus, if WWE is mad a Chris Jericho for (wait for it) “Jumping Ship” to New Japan and wants to get back at Y2J, they could ways launch their own boat to rival the upcoming “Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea.”
10 Shouldn’t Revive: Celebrity Wrestlers
There doesn’t seem to be much the WWE loves more than some celebrity involvement. At every major event, the camera cuts to some A-lister (usually a B-lsiter or even C-lister) in the audience. It must take a lot of restraint to not to throw them all in the ring and have them embarrass their own talent. Sure, we’ve had the likes of Lawrence Taylor going toe to toe with Bam Bam Bigelow and Stephen Amell teaming with Neville, but they trained hard and put on passable matches. In WCW, we had Jay friggin’ Leno going hold for hold with Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman main eventing shows. For some reason, poor Diamond Dallas Page was often tasked with taking the non-wrestlers under his wing. Besides teaming with Leno, DDP also had the dubious honor of being paired with Karl Malone and David Arquette. This, in a move that we would all love to be able to forget, led directly to the latter’s fluke win of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
9 Bring Back: Huge Villainous Stables
Throughout its entire existence, stables of heels were a huge part of WCW’s identity. From the iconic Four Horsemen, to the underrated Dangerous Alliance, to the forgettable Flock, we were never hurting for a new gaggle of bad boys. WCW knew that one of the easiest ways to create a great storyline was to put together a group of villains with a common goal and have them systematically annihilate the good guys until they got their comeuppance. The ability to be a part of something larger than themselves instantly gives even the biggest jobbers of the collection an identity and purpose. Heck, upon joining the nWo, both Vincent and Horace Hogan walked a little taller with some swagger knowing they were part of something important. Not to knock any of the dope three-man teams we’ve seen in WWE as of late like the Shield or New Day, but those groups could be even better. All you have to do is pair a manager or leader up with four to 14 wrestlers to form a small army hell-bent on destruction.
8 Shouldn’t Revive: Taking Away Wrestlers' Masks
Masks and professional wrestling go together, or as Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights put it, like Chinese food and chocolate pudding. They’re a match made in heaven. The larger-than-life headpieces Mexican wrestlers wear go hand-in-hand with the exhilarating moves they are able to perform in the ring. Not only that, but the masks are steeped in history representing the wearers lineage and traditions. In the mid-'90s, WCW had a great thing going on when they introduced a new generation of luchadores to their primarily American audience. Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera, and Psychosis were all notable for their extravagant masks as well as their specular abilities. Then, WCW decided to one-by-one one remove their masks, sometimes in embarrassing fashion. This took away an important aspect of the wrestlers that had set them apart from the rest of the roster. When Mysterio signed to the WWE, they were smart enough to put him back in his mask. Currently, between 205 Live and the rest of the roster, there are a handful of luchadores like Gran Metalik, Sin Cara, and Kalisto that carry on this custom. Let’s hope it stays that way.
7 Bring Back: The Battlebowl
The Battlebowl is a combination of a ton of things that make wrestling fun. Part one night tournament, part battle royal, throw in a bunch of strange bedfellow tag teams for good measure and you’ve got yourself a hell of a time. The show begins with a series of randomly generated tag matches called the “Lethal Lottery,” which leads to some amazing pairings like Ric Flair and Steve Austin or The Great Muta and Barry Windham. Once a team wins their match they are entered into the “Battlebowl,” a two-ring over the top rope battle royal where the last man standing wins. The Battlebowl hasn’t been done for over 20 years so it lacks the stigma of an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which has never been able to capitalize on the winner. This could be a great way to breathe some life into a big multi-man concept and give the rub to the winner who lasted through the night’s clashes.
6 Shouldn’t Revive: Multi-Tiered Cages
Another example in WCW’s idea that anything WWE can do, they could do bigger. On multiple occasions, they had to idea to stack three cages on top of each other and let all hell break lose. Between Uncensored 1996’s Doomsday Cage match, Slamboree 2000’s Ready to Rumble Cage match, and the September 4th, 2000 of Nitro’s WarGames: Russo’s Revenge, WCW had three different triple-cage matches all with a different set of rules. In one, you started out at the top and had to make it out the bottom (or score a pinfall?), another had you climb all the way to the top of the third cage and retrieve the World Heavyweight Championship, and the last combined the two in classic WCW fashion. Granted, WWE has had their own boneheaded creations like the Punjabi Prison or Kennel from Hell matches where there has been a cage placed inside of a larger cage but they were never as confusing to watch as WCW’s attempts.
5 Bring Back: World Television Championship
The WCW World Television Championship was a great way to showcase up and coming talent who may not be ready for a higher tier belt. To separate it even further, It was often defended at TV tapings in bouts with a 15-minute time limit. I’m not saying there needs to be another singles championship on the main rosters; lord knows we have enough of them. This title would be a great addition to NXT. WWE’s developmental system currently only has the NXT Championship for its male singles competitors. Also, more often than not, that belt is contested by talent who have already proven themselves outside the WWE. Think of the last four champions, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, and Drew McIntyre. You have to go all the way back to Bo Dallas to find a champion who wasn’t a name outside of the company. The Television Championship would be a great device to build up some of their in-house superstars like Lars Sullivan, the Velveteen Dream, or No Way Jose who aren’t ready to be the top guy but could very well be on their way.
4 Shouldn’t Revive: Nitro Girls
Women’s wrestling within the WWE has come a long, long way, especially over the past three years. Gone are the days of Bra and Panty Matches and Miss Royal Rumble swimsuit contests. We finally get to see women main evening Monday Night Raw and even pay-per-views. We now have wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Bayley who are fully fleshed out and relatable human beings with legitimate in-ring skill, instead of emotionless models used solely for their looks. Right in the middle of the “Monday Night War,” Eric Bischoff created the Nitro Girls, a dance troupe whose only purpose was to keep the crowd riled up between segments. With names like Fyre, Baby, and Naughty-A, the Nitro Girls were as bland and boring as their stage names. The last thing the WWE would need in today’s landscape would be hiring a bunch of dancers, stripping them of their identities, and making them shake it for the live audience.
3 Bring Back: A Good Guy Who Stays Over
Sting’s career in WCW remains a shining example as to how you not only create a babyface the crowd loves, but how you keep the audience behind him every step of the way. Possessing an incredible physique, loads of charisma, impressive athletic ability, and some sweet face paint, Sting had the right tools to be a main attraction. The first portion of the Stingers tenure in WCW pitted him against the greatest heels of the time, Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. With the crowd soundly by his side, Sting was able to defeat Flair for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1991, establishing him as the face of the company. Sting’s already legendary reputation would only grow when he adopted the darker, Crow-inspired look when he went to battle against WCW’s next villainous cabal, the nWo. From 1988 until its close in 2001, Sting was always one of the top heroes of the company and was consistently adored by fans the world over. WWE has struggled with establishing a new face in their company. Both John Cena and Roman Reigns initially got over with fans, only for them to turn into divisive characters.
2 Shouldn’t Revive: Vacating And Hot-Shotting Titles
Between 1991 and 2000, the WCW World Heavyweight Championship was vacated 12 times. Out of the dozen instances of this happening, only one of them was due to a legitimate injury, when Bret Hart relinquished the Big Gold Belt after suffering the concussion that would eventually end his career. Every other time, it was either for ill-advised storyline purposes like planned controversial finishes, vindictive authority figures trying to “screw” the faces or occasions that could have been prevented like when Ric Flair left WCW for the WWE in 1991. It wasn’t just the world title either, on the April 10, 2000 edition of Nitro, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff stripped every champion of their belts in a bungled attempt to “reboot” the failing company. WWE has had enough trouble with wrestlers being forced to vacate their titles due to real-life injuries that it would just be silly to incorporate the scripted relinquishing of their belts just because they can.
1 Bring Back: The Big Gold Belt
God, look at that beauty. There is so much subtle detail going on with its monochrome design: the crown, the nameplate, the tiny men suplexing each other (that I just noticed while drooling over this bling). First introduced in the NWA in 1986, this was the belt that Ric Flair held for the majority of his 16 reigns as world champion. Its look is so iconic, that when WWE created the World Heavyweight Championship for Raw in 2002, they brought back the B.G.B. and kept it for over a decade. Everyone who has every held this title instantly looked like a champion. Even David Arquette and The Great Khali (the worst WCW and WWE has to offer) resembled the part while holding the belt.
Imagine if at SummerSlam 2016, instead of unveiling the crimson clone of the WWE Championship that drove the Brooklyn crowd into a frenzy, they pulled back the cloth and the Big Gold Belt was there making a grand reemergence? Fans would have gone from booing to WOOOOO-ing.