These are indeed dark times for professional wrestling, dear readers. The WWE World Heavyweight Champion hasn’t been on television since September, Daniel Bryan has no return date set and there are not one, but two “animals” on the roster. While it may seem bad now, once upon a time in the late 90s and early 2000s, pro wrestling was THE thing in pop culture. Everywhere you would look wrestling would be associated to it in some capacity. The reason for this was the combined efforts of the two most successful wrestling promotions of all time: the World Wrestling Federation (Entertainment) and World Championship Wrestling.
Both these promotions battled for every inch of market space and every second of wrestling fans’ attention on Monday nights. From September 4, 1995 to March 26, 2001, the public had two prime time wrestling options, something that hasn’t occurred before or since. The product of both companies was ground-breaking for the industry... until WCW started to stink worse than Big Show on a cauliflower and beer diet.
The final nail in the coffin came when AOL bought out Time Warner, the Ted Turner-owned parent company of WCW, and the new chairman of Turner Broadcasting Systems, Jamie Kellner decided to cancel WCW on TBS and TNT. For about a measly $3 million, Vince McMahon bought WCW and ended the six-year war. While that may have been the death of WCW, the fact is that the company was deathly ill well before Kellner pulled the plug. World Championship Wrestling came amazingly close to shutting down the WWE empire but as quickly as they rose, they came crashing down in a hurry. There is no sole reason for this and this article will examine 10 reasons why the WWE won the Monday Night War.
10 Memorable Characters
9 Use of Women
For most of professional wrestling's history, women were relegated to valet roles and if they were placed in wrestling roles, they would be largely overlooked and not given a second thought. WWE bucked this trend in the Attitude Era by having women such as Sable, Chyna and Sunny in starring roles of storylines. Sable powerbombed Marc Mero, Chyna was more intimidating than half the male roster and Sunny essentially created the modern idea of a WWE Diva.
8 Logical Use of Celebrities
As much as wrestling purists like their wrestling free of celebrities, professional wrestling is integral to pop culture so celebrities are bound to show up here and there. In the buildup to WrestleMania 14, Mike Tyson aligned himself with D-Generation X and brought the WWE loads of mainstream exposure due to his legendary notoriety. The use of Tyson remains the best use of a celebrity in WWE history. It wasn't quite a stretch to believe that Tyson could defend himself against professional wrestlers due to his boxing ability.
7 Loose Restrictions
6 Superior Presentation
5 WCW's Waste of Bret Hart
In November 1997, there was no hotter commodity in pro wrestling than Bret Hart. After being screwed by Vince McMahon in front of his home country of Canada and thousands watching on PPV, Hart departed to WCW with loads of ammunition to stick one to McMahon for screwing him out of his World Championship. It would only take a highly uneducated group of idiots to screw this up... unfortunately for Hart, WCW met that criteria perfectly. Despite coming in with loads of momentum, Bret Hart's first action as a part of WCW was to referee a match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko. Oh yes, the suspense is unreal! After that little number Bret Hart was treated as just another performer and not the legend that he is. A sad end to a legendary in-ring career.
4 Innovative Tag Teams
The Attitude Era, in addition to other feats, could possibly be considered the greatest time for tag team wrestling in WWE history. Unlike today when two superstars are thrown together simply because the company has nothing in mind for them, WWE's spontaneous teams during the Monday Night War were fantastic. The Rock 'n' Sock connection remains one of the most entertaining teams to this day due to the comedic chemistry between The Rock and Mick Foley.
When you go into war, you need a general who will steer the ship and guide you through the darkest hours. WWE's general was and remains to be Vince McMahon. McMahon is by no means a perfect leader, as many will point out, but he has tremendous experience and is not afraid of taking chances. WCW was helmed by Eric Bischoff, a man thrust into a position of creative power who had little experience promoting professional wrestling.
2 Backstage Politics of WCW
In any sport, including scripted ones, you need to have all members of your team focused on the same goal in order to succeed. If everybody has each other's back, it gives your team that much more confidence. Several stories from former WCW officials and wrestlers point to the conclusion that everybody in WCW had their own agendas. Men like Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash were given creative control over their storylines and in effect promoted themselves to the top of the cards week in and week out.
1 Letting Icons Slip Away
Here's the big one. Even with all the other problems mentioned, WCW could have still been in business to this day if they averted this fatal mistake. When WCW signed names like Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, they bought guys who were established stars, but also guys who were on the back end of their careers. These men would prove valuable in the short term but WCW would need young guns to dethrone WWE for good.
Unfortunately for the company, WCW sealed their fate long before the war started. Here are four WWE Hall of Famers that WCW let slip away to WWE before Nitro debuted: Triple H, Mick Foley, The Undertaker and oh yes, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Those four men ended up becoming some of the biggest names the wrestling business has ever known, particularly Austin, who became the hottest star of the era and arguably in history. WCW thought they had nothing to offer. Ultimately, that is why WCW is no longer in business. WCW prepared for a skirmish, while WWE had the weapons for nuclear war.
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