The story of World Championship Wrestling is maybe the most fascinating to ever occur in the history of North American professional wrestling. WCW went from being this small promotion broken off from the National Wrestling Alliance to a company that forever changed and even revolutionized the industry. Vince McMahon and his WWE could do nothing to stop the runaway train known as WCW. It seemed, for a time, as if the only question left to be answered about the supposed “Monday Night Wars” was if the WWE could survive. WCW was on top of the wrestling world.
As quickly as the company rose to greatness, its demise was nearly as swift. In just a few years, the top wrestling organization in the world fell apart so badly that it was swallowed up by McMahon in March 2001. Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds have written about the fall of the company in the book The Death of WCW, a must-read for diehard wrestling fans who followed the product in the 1990s and early 2000s and who have wanted to know more about how and why WCW went out of business. Truth be told, one book alone could not tell the entire story of the death of WCW.
Some of the decisions that were made by those running WCW that bordered on insanity remain downright baffling. Certain stipulations that were included in wrestler contracts were, after the fact, burdens that played a role in WCW sinking. Storylines that never should have seen the light of day were allowed to be played out on WCW television and those awful ideas and gimmicks drove fans either to the WWE or away from the product. While it was understandable that some fans were excited to learn that the WWFEhad taken control of WCW, the harsh truth of the matter is that the wrestling industry has never recovered from the death of WCW.
15 The Shockmaster
Of course The Shockmaster has to make the list. Some would say that WCW putting a mask straight out of Star Wars onto Fred Ottman, the wrestler who had played the role of Tugboat/Typhoon in the WWE, should be No. 1 here. The Shockmaster is largely remembered for his disastrous debut, in which Ottman crashed through a wall and then fell on his face. This absurd idea was bound to be a flop even if Ottman had remained on his feet for all of the planned segment. That he tripped and fell was only fitting, and it served as the beginning of the end of the character.
14 nWo Nitro
The idea of the New World Order bringing an episode of Nitro to a halt by staging a huge invasion of the show made sense per the storyline. There was just one problem: To fully execute it, the nWo had to literally bring a television show to a halt. This, obviously, let to some boring TV and to fans in attendance watching little to no action as the nWo replaced the WCW set with its own. One would think that people who made a living creating entertaining television shows would have thought this through before bored fans reached for remotes to change the station to Raw or to Monday Night Football.
13 nWo 2000
You have heard of the cliché definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Those running WCW at the end of 1999 were, by that definition, insane by going with an unwanted return of the New World Order group. The NWO had died a death, been resurrected and then died again by the time that Jeff Jarrett, Bret Hart, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were joined together for yet another version of the group that had made its debut in WCW in 1996. By this time, the nWo was more sad than it was a reason to watch WCW programming.
12 Mike Awesome
One thing that Paul Heyman did better than anybody else when he was running Extreme Championship Wrestling was to make great use of the roster that he could afford. This included pushing Mike Awesome as a monster inside of the ring who could defeat anybody placed in front of him. Awesome was not given such respect in WCW. He was instead ultimately turned into the “Fat Chick Thriller,” which sounds exactly as dumb as it was when presented to fans. Awesome probably was not saving WCW at the end. That WCW did not even give the guy a shot was and still is insane.
11 RoboCop Helps Sting
Wrestling fans of a certain age may be scratching their heads upon seeing the title for this section of the piece. The fictional RoboCop character from the old movies was written into a WCW storyline that included Sting feuding with The Four Horsemen. RoboCop not only gave Stinger a helping hand on one occasion. He stood tall next to the babyface wrestler as they had a stare down with the Horsemen. At least Vince Russo was not booking WCW at the time. Otherwise, RoboCop probably would have won the world championship. Then again, Champion RoboCop would not have been the worst of Russo's ideas.
Just about everything about the “Dungeon of Doom” heel group that was in WCW during the 1990s was ridiculous. Of all of the gimmicks that were involved with that stable, it is The Yeti that stands out as the absolute worst of the bunch. While dressing a large man up as a Yeti is a moment of insanity on its own, having that wrestler and The Giant perform a memorable bear hug on Hulk Hogan inside of the ring during a match was bizarre and creepy. A note to wrestling promoters around the world: Watch this moment of WCW history and then be sure to never repeat it.
9 Kiss Demon
It is not just that WCW decided to present a character known as the “Kiss Demon” that gets him on the list. As popular as the band was among diehard fans at the time, Kiss was an act from a prior time when the Demon made his first appearance on WCW television. That is oddly fitting, in a way, as WCW had a long history of pushing acts who were stars from the past and who were no longer in their primes. The Demon generated no meaningful business for WCW, and his run in the company was completely forgettable minus Kiss appearing and playing during shows.
8 Hogan, Warrior and The Mirror
It was insane for WCW to believe that having Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior restarting their WWE feud would be a positive for the company. What is maybe the most-memorable moment from that storyline involved the two wrestlers and a magical mirror. An irate Hulk Hogan, and also Eric Bischoff, went back to the locker room during a segment of Nitro, only for Hogan to become frozen in fear upon seeing Warrior standing “inside” of the mirror. Everybody but Bischoff could see Warrior, as the wrestler supposedly had some magical powers; or something. We still aren't sure what WCW was going for there.
7 Hogan “Kills” The Giant
WCW was about a decade or so behind the times when Hulk Hogan and The Giant were placed inside of monster trucks while atop a parking garage. The two wrestlers eventually began a fight on top of the garage – because why not? – and Hogan and Giant then engaged in a battle near the edge of the deck. Hogan broke free of Giant's grip, but in doing so The Hulkster had caused the supposed son of Andre the Giant to plummet to his certain death. It is funny to go back and watch that era of WCW 20 years after the fact, but it is also amazing that the same company became more popular than the WWE.
6 Goldberg vs. Hogan For Free
Goldberg was one of the hottest acts in the wrestling industry during his initial run in WCW. The company did well to protect him and book him as an untouchable warrior, and Goldberg was undefeated and the United States Champion when his time to feud with Hulk Hogan over the World Heavyweight Championship arrived. Rather than put this match on pay-per-view and generate a large amount of money, WCW instead went for the big television rating and gave this match away for free. Goldberg versus Hogan would never again be as hot an angle and the company lost that potential pay-per-view revenue.
5 Creative Contracts
It turns out that promising creative control and boatloads of money to wrestlers can come back to haunt a company. WCW found that out the hard way during the final years of its existence. While the WWE was pushing new stars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and Chris Jericho, WCW was still having Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and other veterans in main events. Fans grew bored with seeing repeated storylines and the same wrestlers being featured on shows such as Nitro, and many jumped to the WWE or tuned out. WCW failed to reclaim those viewers before the company died.
4 Fingerpoke of Doom
Those of you looking for the one night that began the death of WCW may not have to look any further. The “Fingerpoke of Doom” is one of the more infamous moments to ever occur in WCW and the match ending may have been the beginning of the end for some fans who had grown tired of seeing the same wrestlers at the top of cards. Hulk Hogan downing Kevin Nash with a single finger to win the world championship and bring a return of the New World Order faction in 1999 was, on its own, insane. That it happened on the same night when Mick Foley won the WWE Championship on Raw was unfortunate for WCW, but the company deserved to lose viewers after this event.
3 New Blood vs. Millionaire's Club
Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff were brought together in 2000 to launch a “reboot” of WCW. What emerged from those creative minds was the feud involving the “New Blood” taking on the “Millionaire's Club.” The idea was not, on paper, all that awful. It involved younger and unrecognized talent wanting to feud with known stars. While the older Millionaire's Club was booked to be a group of heroes beloved by fans, the New Blood was filled with whiners and complainers who were largely treated like midcard talents. To the surprise of nobody who was watching WCW at the time, the storyline fell flat.
2 Trusting Vince Russo
When he was working for the WWE, Vince Russo had to answer to others; most notably to Vince McMahon. Russo did not have to worry about his craziest storylines being shut down once he signed for WCW, though, and the result was some of the worst television that the company ever produced. Giving Russo creative control of a wrestling company is like allowing an elephant to roam free throughout an office. Sure, you and your friends may have some laughs. However, in the end you're mostly getting a disaster, one that may be beyond fixing when all is said and done.
1 Making David Arquette World Champion
Are you running a national wrestling promotion that is losing viewers to a rival product that is better than yours in every way? We may have the solution for you! Put the world heavyweight championship, a title that has been held by some of the greatest performers in the history of the industry, on a b-list celebrity! Also, link up with that celebrity to create Ready to Rumble, maybe the worst pro wrestling movie ever created. That is exactly what WCW did in 2000 when the company had a working relationship with actor David Arquette. WCW would be dead and buried less than a year after Arquette won the world championship. Good riddance.