Where were you on March 26th, 2001? Wrestling fans far and wide were locked into their televisions as the final episode of Monday Nitro was set to air. The Monday Night War was over and Vince McMahon had emerged, in the words of Paul Heyman, as " the czar of sports entertainment." McMahon had purchased his competition in a move that would drastically alter the future of the wrestling industry.
On this night, WWE fans watched with certain smug attitudes, for they had chosen the winner when they sided with Vince McMahon and got lost within the high that was the Attitude Era. Meanwhile, WCW fans watched with heavy hearts, for their promotion had lost and there was nothing left except for the darkness of obscurity. Even with the arrival of Shane McMahon and his perceived "purchase" of the company.
Then there was the fan in the middle. The ones whose palms grew sweaty each and every Monday night while their hands clung to the remote. These are the fans who stood as Switzerland in the wrestling world and maintained a neutral stance throughout the war. The same fans who would eventually tune out completely as the lack of competition shot down any interest they had left in wrestling.
And now, the industry remains stuck in some rut from which it cannot escape. The death of WCW was truly an inconvenient extinction. While the initial thought of WCW invading the WWE was exciting, the angle would ultimately fail for a number of reasons. If there were any WCW fans holding on to hope that some remnants of their favorite promotion would survive, they were soon disappointed.
The bottom line here is that Vince McMahon failed to utilized his purchase of WCW as a massive ego would not allow for the promotion to enter the WWE in a positive light. Therefore, embarrassment was all WCW would receive even though McMahon could have done so much more with World Championship Wrestling.
These are the top 15 things Vince McMahon could have done with WCW:
11 Kill it Completely
As mere fans, we cannot know for sure just how evil Vince McMahon truly is behind the scenes. However, years of stories and television have provided us with a rough idea. The belief being that McMahon possesses a horrible side to his human.
Which is why Vince McMahon could have easily killed off WCW all together and acted as though the promotion never existed. It happens all the time in WWE, something or someone terrible is simply left out of the conversation.
Of course, to the biggest critics of The Invasion angle, completely killing off any concept of WCW would have been welcomed.
10 Death with Dignity
Ric Flair vs. Sting in the final match of Monday Nitro was a fitting conclusion. In fact, Flair and Sting would headline the first ever episode of Nitro in 1995, coming full-circle in a strange negative manner.
Maintaining the idea that Vince McMahon could have killed off WCW all together, a final night of glory would have provided a nice exclamation point on the promotion. One thing WWE always did better than WCW was run proper Pay-Per-View events.
Vince McMahon could have devoted a Pay-Per-View - one last ride - to WCW and allow it to die with dignity.
9 A War Within WWE
Vince McMahon not only owned WCW back in 2001 but ECW as well. McMahon purchased his main competition and the underdog promotion, claiming his spot atop the wrestling industry.
At the time, those tuning into WWE were not necessarily fans of the superior promotion as long-time viewers of WCW and die-hard fans of ECW were watching to see the former faces of said promotions.
What better way to keep the hype alive than spark a war between WCW and ECW within the WWE while the host promotion stood neutral?
8 Pick and Choose Invasion Moments
The year WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon, an "invasion" of WWE seemed imminent. However, the general consensus was that everything felt rushed and watered-down throughout the storyline.
Perhaps more of an impact would have been made had this invasion remained shrouded in mystery? Picking and choosing moments to show up over a long period of time, nothing rushed and interest held.
Instead, the Invasion of WWE was force-fed to its audience; a crowd who had little time to understand and gain respect for WCW.
7 Bring in Booker T Only
At the time of WCW's demise, the World Heavyweight Championship was held by Booker T. Therefore, bringing Booker into the WWE before anybody else did in fact make much sense.
However, it should have ended with Booker T, at least for the time being. The presence of the WCW World Heavyweight Champion would have been enough to spice up a WWE storyline, provided Booker was positioned properly.
While Booker T eventually became a great WWE Superstar, the five-time WCW Champion was first introduced as nothing more than a poor man's Rock.
6 Introduction Over Time
Keeping with the theme of our previous entry of bringing in Booker T and providing that WCW aspect into the show would keep fans wondering about the rest. Where are they? When are the coming? Are they coming at all?
This would leave room for those who were strict WWE fans to find something within WCW by researching and looking into the product themselves before wrestlers from WCW began to arrive.
By allowing a slow introduction to unfold, Vince McMahon could have created more of a buzz for the WCW talent.
5 Sporadic Specials
Considering where the WWE stands nowadays, such an idea would have worked well thanks to the WWE Network. However, there is no reason to say that it would not have worked back in the early part of this century.
The death of WCW did not mean that all interest was lost as fans of the promotion were still hanging around those Southern corners hoping to hear something about the product, something along the lines of a resurrection.
Much like NXT TakeOver events, Vince McMahon could have fit sporadic WCW events into the calendar.
5. Takeover SmackDown
In 2001, SmackDown was still relatively new and could have been taken in a number of different directions. One of these directions could have seen a hostile takeover from WCW talent.
Why takeover SmackDown? It would make more sense to first attack the inferior WWE program, establish a presence, and eventually make their way over to Raw in an attempt to takeover WWE completely.
WCW grabbing hold of SmackDown and making it their own would also indicate that WWE had not yet conquered the company entirely.
4 The Alliance Victory
The concept of combining WCW and ECW in order to overthrow WWE seemed doomed from the start. Known as "The Alliance," Stephanie and Shane McMahon would join forces with their newly acquired promotions to do battle with their father.
The Alliance lacked real star power, especially from the WCW side of things. Therefore, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was added into the mix as the leader of the group. Which immediately shifted focus from WCW talent.
The Invasion angle proved to be a dud but perhaps something could have been salvaged if Vince McMahon would have allowed The Alliance to win the most important match at Survivor Series 2001?
3 Waited for Contracts
The biggest problem facing the name of WCW heading into their storyline with WWE was the lack of star power. Those who made the company what it was were sitting at home with guaranteed contracts.
Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, and others sat back while making money for not performing. This was of course a side effect of poor management and contractual favoritism.
Vince McMahon should have sat back and waited for these contracts to expire before bringing in an all-star WCW cast for the invasion.
2 Separate Brand
In retrospect, if Vince McMahon had found a way to keep Monday Nitro up and operating at the exact same time as Monday Night Raw, it wouldn't have mattered which show fans were watching, as either way it would have been McMahon's money.
This would have lead to some epic Raw and Nitro moments as wrestlers could have swapped shows while maintaining the illusion that the Monday Night War was still being fought on a weekly basis.
Naturally, Vince McMahon did not want this illusion to exist as it was to be made abundantly clear that WCW had lost.
1 Invasion with Eric Bischoff
The plain fact here is that a WCW invasion of WWE was supposed to make for great television and dream match scenarios. Pay-Per-View events should have exploded as each and every one should have had a WrestleMania feel.
However, there was only one man able to lead a WCW invasion into WWE and that man was the very man who brought the real life fight to Vince McMahon: Eric Bischoff. McMahon eventually hired Bischoff anyway, so this dream scenario isn't that crazy.
Allow those guaranteed contracts to expire and then bring in the boys of WCW with their true leader, Eric Bischoff.