WWE chairman Vince McMahon was on top of the wrestling world in the '80s and early '90s. No other promotion could possibly reach the mainstream success, business, marketing or popularity that his WWF product had endured.
But when WCW hired Eric Bischoff in the executive producer role, Ted Turner's promotion quickly went to war with McMahon's WWF business. Thanks to marquee additions to the roster that included Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Lex Luger and 'Macho Man' Randy savage, WCW kickstarted the infamous "Monday Night Wars" that dominated the '90s.
In the blink of an eye, WCW became the number one wrestling promotion, and McMahon's WWF product experienced a steep downfall. But thanks to the arrivals of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H, WWF was able to bounce back and eventually regain the lead in ratings.
WCW then began to make a number of decisions that led to their downfall. This included giving too much control to guys like Hogan and Nash, who got to dictate all outcomes in their matches. They also hired former WWF writer Vince Russo, but he clashed with talents backstage and formed some of the worst storylines in wrestling history.
Eventually, Vince McMahon won the wars and purchased WCW in 2001 - putting away his rival business for good. But there was still a half decade of tension inside the WWF, with wrestlers fearing that the business was on its way to a downfall that they wouldn't recover from.
Speaking on Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, John Bradshaw Layfield explained the scariest part about the wars on the WWF side (h/t to Wrestling Inc. for transcriptions):
"We were scared to death. The time before that, business was horrible. Business in WCW was as well, until the nWo came in there and sparked a rise. All of a sudden we are getting beat for the first time, which was a scary thought.
We knew that Ted Turner had deep pockets; we knew that we were a private company and had to stay between budget. It was a scary fight because it wasn't an asymmetrical fight."
The real turning points began when Vince began to transition towards The Attitude Era, where he had rebellious stars like Austin, Rock and D-Generation X lead a more adult-oriented product. WWF also got to sit back and watch WCW destroy their own empire with the aforementioned horrible booking decisions and over-reliance on ageing stars.
Nearly 20 years after the wars, wrestling fans still think about WCW and how close Vince was to going out of business. Luckily, he stuck to his guns and pulled through the toughest battle of his life. There's no telling how different sports entertainment would be today if WCW won the wars.
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