Looking at the overall history of WCW is to see a slew of incredible mistakes made over and over again. They were truly riding high, on top of the wrestling world and seemed ready to put WWE down once and for all. But the combination of ego, backstage battles and bad product undid them as they went from the top of the business to out of business in just a few years. It’s still a sign of how no one is truly too big to fail and misjudging your fanbase can be a dangerous thing. WCW just felt so secure with Turner’s backing and money that they never gave thought to what would happen when they lost both and that ended up killing them.
There are so many issues with this company, so many mistakes made. This is the promotion that had Bret Hart handed to them on a silver platter and did nothing with him. The company had so many chances to turn it around but ignored them and showcased how many major moments occurred that led to their success but also their failures. Like so much in wrestling the “what if” game is a major one and WCW offers so many options, things that could have shifted the company majorly, maybe their survival but also perhaps their fall earlier. From the day they were bought by Turner, WCW had slews of key turning points and it’s fascinating to imagine how things could have been different. Here are the 15 biggest “what if?” moments in that company’s history and showing how wrestling can take turns you never expect.
15 There Was No Fingerpoke of Doom
14 Hogan Was Not The Third Man
It really took a lot for Bischoff to talk Hulk Hogan into turning heel in 1996 as Hogan was so comfortable as the mega-star face for so long and hated to let it go. True, it worked out majorly but you can easily imagine Hogan not wanting to let go of his standing as the big crowd hero and refuse to do the turn. Without him, the New World Order wouldn’t have been anywhere near as effectiv. Hall and Nash were great but it was Hollywood Hogan that let them take off.
13 Sting Leaves
12 Russo Doesn’t Arrive
11 Austin Isn’t Fired
It’s the termination that changed the course of wrestling history. Steve Austin had superstar written all over him, fantastic on the mic and terrific in the ring. In WCW, he’d been on the rise as TV, U.S. and tag team champion, clearly ready for bigger things and Flair set to elevate him with a feud in 1994. That was marred when Hogan took over and soon Austin was dropping the U.S. belt to Jim Duggan, injured and while at home rehabbing, was fired. It drove Austin in his anger to ECW and WWE and the rest is history.
10 Sting Won Clean at Starrcade '97
9 Flair Doesn’t Leave in '92
It’s still argued how much was being fired and how much was leaving on his own but in 1991, Ric Flair was gone from WCW just a week before their Great American Bash PPV after a huge blow-up with Jim Herd. He was jumping to WWE fast with the title belt to kick off an ugly legal mess and the PPV was a disaster with fans chanting “WE WANT FLAIR” constantly. Keeping Flair would have made the next two years in WCW a lot better, him giving a rub to Luger, sticking around as the top act and the company could avoided a lot of trouble.
8 Hall and Nash Stay in WWE
It was truly jarring when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left WWE in 1996. Despite some rough stuff, the two were still two of the biggest names in the company and both giving verbal agreement to deals before jumping to WCW to begin the New World Order. Their staying would have changed WWE majorly with feuds with Michaels and others and would have affected Steve Austin’s rise. More importantly, without the New World Order, WCW would never have gotten to the massive heights they did.
7 Sting Doesn’t Blow Out His Knee
Coming off a terrific 1989, WCW was ready to take off in 1990 with the plan for Flair to drop the title to Sting and then help craft him as the next mega-star. But at Clash of the Champions X, Sting blew out his knee in a cage fight and was out for months. Flair had to feud with a face Lex Luger as business faltered and then Ole Anderson was made head booker. When Sting did get the belt, Ole gave him garbage like the Black Scorpion that ruined what should have been a top feud.
6 Tony Schiavone Is Made Head of WCW
When Bill Watts was fired as head of WCW in early 1993, most assumed Tony Schiavone would take over as he was a long-standing WCW veteran who worked well with the guys. Instead, it went to Bischoff and we know the rest. Schiavone getting the job might have been interesting. He would have kept WCW to its roots and not making as big splashes, smarter with money and such. While this would have improved the ring workrate and such, it wouldn’t have done as great with the business, with Bischoff having made daring moves like creating Nitro and signing Hogan. It's unlikely Schiavone would have done the same.
5 Hogan Doesn’t Arrive
Many WCW fans believe Hulk Hogan arriving was the day the true WCW died. Coming in with control and his ego and old running buddies, Hogan turned WCW into the very sort of cartoonish antics they’d long been the antidote to. Had Hogan not come to WCW, 1994 would have been different as Flair was doing great as champion and was ready for a feud with rising star Steve Austin. WCW would have continued to offer a different product, not as big, but more popular with marks than WWE’s flashy affair.
4 Crockett Doesn’t Sell in 1988
For all his many faults, Jim Crockett understood the wrestling business and better suited to figuring out what fans wanted. The people who took over WCW on behalf of Turner did not, beginning the long and slow slide to ending the company. Crockett had made several mistakes like overspending and going into areas he wasn’t ready for like New York. Had he been smarter and luckier (from Magnum TA not being injured to giving Luger the NWA title), Crockett might have been able to hang on longer and put off the need to sell for a while.
3 Vince Goes to Jail
This might seem to affect WWE more but make no mistake: If Vince McMahon had been found guilty in the federal trial in 1994, WCW would have been changed drastically. While it may be a bit much to say WWE would have gone out of business, without Vince, they would have lacked a lot of the vision and drive that forged their identity and you can imagine a lot of guys willing to jump ship for a Turner paycheck.
2 There Was No Monday Night War
When Ted Turner bluntly asked in a meeting how to compete with WWE, Bischoff blurted out a prime-time show opposite RAW, thinking it would never happen and was stunned when Turner gave it to him. Yes, Nitro was a success taking it to Vince and without that (or, at the least, on a different night), things would have been different. The Network series on it has guys noting that without the War, it would have taken a lot longer for both companies to let go of the cartoon character and antics of the time and affected slews of careers.
1 Bischoff Buys It
In early 2001, as things went horribly, Bischoff decided to work with a group called Fusinet to buy WCW, making big plans to trim the fat and push newer guys to get it going. However, it was ruined by two things: First, Fusinet got a good look at the books and realized the mountain of debt they’d be taking on, scaring them off. Second, TNT canceled Nitro, leaving WCW without any TV to sell themselves on, so Vince was able to swoop in and get them for essentially pennies.
Had Bischoff managed to buy WCW after all, the effects would have been something unique. True, the company was still in bad shape but it’s forgotten how things were starting to improve a bit with a push for cruiserweights again. Bischoff could have been smarter and known he needed a fresher start for WCW and even with a lowered presence still had a fanbase to use. It would have no doubt helped invigorate WWE at the same time and Bischoff might also have gotten some of the guys from ECW when it went under like RVD. It would have kept WCW going, perhaps even still in business today and most can agree that for all their faults, the company surviving longer would have been a great thing for the business as a whole.
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