World Championship Wrestling was the second most successful and relevant wrestling promotion in North America. Sadly, the company went out of business in 2001 after getting removed from Turner Entertainment television and was sold to Vince McMahon, who currently owns the WCW library and licenses. Between the WWE Network and DVD releases, the company makes a great profit off of the WCW name and the legacy clearly lives on among longtime wrestling fans. Sting made his WWE debut in 2014 and it was a huge deal. No disrespect to TNA but the reason fans were excited to see him finally compete in WWE was due to his work in WCW.
Despite WCW’s strong fan base through the 90s and many missing it today, no other company has been able to step up as legitimate competition to WWE since WCW ended. ECW went out of business around the same time as WCW and was also sold to WWE. WWE has dominated the wrestling market since then and it’s been bleak for other promotions. TNA tried to replace WCW but ultimately made more of the same mistakes instead of evolving with the times. The company is in a poor state after trying to recapture the magic of WCW’s older talent but they have continuously failed for over a decade.
The argument can be made that WCW’s death was the single worst thing to happen to the wrestling business. WWE would create its best ideas and biggest stars when facing competition. The Attitude Era, Steve Austin and The Rock all were products of Vince McMahon’s genius being pushed in a war with WCW. There's no competition today. With almost fifteen years since the company was sold, the conversation about whom or what is to blame for WCW’s demise is still one of the hottest wrestling debates. This list will look to go across the board and break down the fifteen people most responsible for the death of WCW.
14 Buff Bagwell
The biggest criticism of WCW during its peak was their inability to create new stars. The company refused to push future WWE stars into the upper card such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio. One of the rare younger talents to get multiple opportunities was Buff Bagwell. With a long WCW career, Bagwell was given different gimmicks and was always deemed the future of the company, but he dropped the ball each time he was pushed. If Bagwell lived up to the expectations WCW had for him, it may have helped the company develop a new star and create a better future.
13 Disco Inferno
Glenn Gilbertti was a decent member of the WCW roster, known as Disco Inferno. His matches weren’t terrible and he showcased a humorous personality that served a purpose on the show. However, things got so bad in the later years that he was given a spot on the WCW writing team. Disco pitched ridiculous ideas that made a mockery of the once respected and storied company. With the support of Vince Russo, Disco pitched terrible storylines, like having an invisible wrestler or an alien invasion led by Mike Tenay. Many wrestlers treating the company like a joke was a big problem in the dying days.
12 Master P
How in the world is a 90s rapper partially responsible for the death of the second biggest wrestling company in America? Well, WCW made many bad financial decisions and signing Master P to a role on television was a big one. The rise of hip hop in mainstream American culture gave WCW the bright idea to have a rapper on their regular programming. They paid him $200,000 per appearance but he did not deliver many new fans. Ratings continued to struggle and the live crowds would boo him, choosing to cheer for the group of anti-rap heels led by Curt Hennig. The biggest factor in WCW getting canceled and sold was their huge losses and moves like this are the reason why.
Another example of WCW spending big money on pointless musical acts. Kiss is one of the more popular rock bands of all time, so Eric Bischoff decided to have Kiss play a two-song set live on Monday Night Nitro and paid a huge chunk of change for the music. The rumors were a $500,000 payoff but Bischoff claims it was $250,000... which still would be far too expensive. Television ratings for the segment completely bombed and the money was for absolutely nothing. They thought it might help the show going forward as well, since they also introduced a wrestler known as “The Kiss Demon.” Naturally, it turned out to be one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history.
10 The Ultimate Warrior
WCW brought in The Ultimate Warrior in 1998 for a feud with Hulk Hogan, so they could have a rematch of their WrestleMania XI classic. Warrior was paid a rumored figure of $1 million upfront, before even stepping foot in a WCW ring. In exchange for that cash, Warrior gave very little. His segments were a mess and his only PPV match for the company was against Hogan, which turned out to be one of the worst matches in wrestling history. Warrior lost to Hogan and was out of the company shortly after. Many believe he was only brought to WCW because Hogan wanted to get his win back. It was one of the first examples of horrible spending and politics harming the company.
9 Lex Luger
Despite being a main event act and consistently respected member of the roster, Lex Luger still underachieved throughout his wrestling career. WCW groomed him to be a future franchise player as one of the faces of the company. While Luger did accomplish that to an extent, he was clearly below the other top stars in WCW and was seen as a lower tier main eventer. WCW relied on all of the WWE-made stars to lead the company to the promise land and with the bigger names came more issues. If Luger was able to become a bigger star for the company, they could've made more conservative financial decisions.
Sting, along with Ric Flair, is in the discussion for the greatest WCW superstar of all time, but he was not without his bad moments. The company tried to make Sting their top guy multiple times, but he was better served in a lesser role. Sting didn’t fit in the championship position as well as Flair or Hulk Hogan, but he was still a great main eventer. His feud with the New World Order was amazing but the aftermath of him defeating Hogan to become WCW World Champion was not as successful as the company hoped. Sting quickly dropped the belt and lost his position as the headliner of the company – a position he couldn’t live up to.
7 Scott Hall
The introduction of the New World Order started the upward swing of WCW’s momentum that would push them above WWE for over a year. Scott Hall was the first person to start the movement and played a huge role in WCW becoming a cool product rather than the standard “traditional wrestling” program it was before he arrived. The problem was that Hall also was a huge factor in the negative attitude and politics being played backstage. Hall was known for stirring up controversy between other wrestlers and using his position in the company in a negative manner. His personal demons (alcohol addiction) contributed to his own downfall as a performer and made WCW look like an amateur promotion.
6 Ted Turner
Ted Turner was the owner of WCW but he did not play a big role in their day-to-day operations. Turner put Eric Bischoff in charge and started to spend huge money to bring in the top free agent talents on the market. The star power and money being put into the product led to the company achieving more success than ever, but it set the tone for their future problems. Bischoff was basically playing fantasy booking with an open checkbook. The situation was akin to a parent allowing their child to get away with anything and not adding a sense of discipline. Bischoff went too far and Turner did not step in until it was too late to save WCW.
Bill Goldberg was the only young star to make it into the upper echelon of WCW during their glory days. With an intimidating and intense presence, Goldberg destroyed his opponents within seconds. Goldberg won the WCW Championship over Hulk Hogan in an incredible moment and had an unprecedented 173-0 winning streak. Unfortunately, the fame went to Goldberg’s head and other stars started to influence him. Rising star Chris Jericho was starting to get over in a feud with Goldberg but Goldberg refused to work a competitive match with him because he did not like Jericho’s comedic heel promos. Their inability to utilize Goldberg in a way to help others grow was detrimental to the product.
4 Vince Russo
Vince Russo is often the first name associated with the death of WCW. Following a successful run in WWE as their lead writer during the start of the Attitude Era, Russo went over to WCW. The company was starting to sink and hired Russo as the man to replace Eric Bischoff. Russo did poorly, giving us months of the worst wrestling in the history of the business. The show was nearly unwatchable with terrible humor, subpar storylines and ridiculous ideas. Under his supervision, David Arquette became WCW Champion. That’s all that needs to be said. Russo doesn’t deserve as much blame as he gets for the overall death of WCW, but he definitely shouldn't be let off the hook.
4. Kevin Nash
The New World Order worked because Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were perfect together. Nash was a WWE Champion as Diesel, but failed as a headliner before deciding to sign for a bigger contract in WCW. The opportunity elevated Nash’s value as he showed more charisma and became an even bigger star in WCW. Nash played the political game better than anyone and ended up being the person that ended Goldberg’s 173-0 undefeated streak. It's a decision that many wrestling fans still can’t believe. Nash would later become the head booker and play a role in the company’s gradual decline.
3 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan deserves as much credit as anyone for WCW's success during the Monday Night Wars, but he quickly became a hindrance to the company. From his early days in the company, Hogan used his power to get his less talented friends big contracts such as Ed Leslie and John Tenta. His politicking would continue as WCW became more successful. Hogan was the highest paid wrestler in the industry and held creative control. Hogan would rarely lose and also played a role in other wrestlers getting pushed or cast aside. Many state that Hogan was in Eric Bischoff’s ear and caused him to make most of the decisions that hurt WCW’s future. The duo relived the same mistakes in TNA years later.
2 Jamie Kellner
WCW was on its deathbed in 2001 but Eric Bischoff was leading a group of investors to purchase the company from Time Warner and continue airing Nitro on Turner Broadcasting. The timing was horrible as executive Jamie Kellner became the new head of Turner Entertainment. Kellner hated pro wrestling and made the decision to remove all wrestling programming from the networks. Without a television deal, no one wanted to purchase WCW except for Vince McMahon, due to their library. If Kellner was not calling the shots at that time, it's entirely possible that WCW would still be around today.
1 Eric Bischoff
The person who gets the most praise for WCW's rise, also gets the most blame for their sharp descent and that man is Eric Bischoff. After being given full power by Ted Turner, Bischoff took risks and made big changes that turned the company into a juggernaut. The ship started to wreck when Bischoff’s ego grew with the success. Bischoff gave out big contracts and threw away millions of dollars without a second thought because he thought WCW was bulletproof. All of the bad decisions and wasted money came back to bite the company. Bischoff seemed to cater to the talent in an effort to be “one of the boys” instead of their boss. It was like a teacher trying to hang out with the kids at school rather than do his job.