It is not a stretch or an overstatement to say that there will never again be a professional wrestling organization like World Championship Wrestling. WCW was merely a branch of the National Wrestling Alliance when pockets of fans were introduced to that brand. Thanks to Eric Bischoff and others who were working for the company at the time, WCW grew in popularity up through the summer of 1996. It was then when WCW took one giant leap forward and, for a time, the company became hotter and more popular than WWE. Those good times did not last, though, and WCW went out of business in March 2001.
WCW got plenty right during what were the glory years of the promotion. The New World Order storyline is one that is still remembered fondly by wrestling fans who lived through the “Monday Night Wars.” The push of Goldberg was unlike anything that the WWE had going for it at any point in the 1990s. It was WCW that first pushed the idea of a three-hour Monday night wrestling program, something that seemed like a stroke of genius at the time. Wrestling fans are now, of course, paying for that sin thanks to those awful three-hour Raw shows that just go on...and on...and on.
As fun as it might be to re-live certain segments of WCW via the WWE Network and other websites, it has to be pointed out that WCW ruined a lot during the final five years of the company's existence. Just about everything that was good about WCW in the mid-1990s was turned awful by the time that 2001 arrived. One would think that other promoters would have learned from the plethora of mistakes that those running WCW made decades ago. As we have seen on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and WWE shows, that has not been the case in recent memory.
One would have thought, at the time, that WCW could not possibly ruin the angle involving Sting getting revenge on the nWo. Sting was the hottest babyface in the company during the second half of 1996 despite the fact that he never wrestled. The franchise of WCW hung out in the rafters during editions of Nitro, he dressed up as The Crow, and he didn't say a word as he let his attacks on WCW and nWo performers speak for him. Sting would ultimately get his victory over “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, but only after WCW ruined the gimmick by famously attempting to recreate the “Montreal Screwjob” at Starrcade 1997.
19 War Games
The War Games match is Pro Wrestling 101 and easy to create. There is a group of good guys who want to beat up a group of bad guys, and vice versa. The feud grows and grows to the point that only a battle that takes place inside of a cell can settle things once and for all. WCW did well to book War Games correctly multiple times, including a 1996 edition that involved members of the nWo. By the end of the decade, though, War Games was turned into nothing more than a spot-fest that was booked just because the company had used it in the past.
18 New Blood vs. Millionaire's Club
WCW truly needed a reboot in 2000 and that occurred when Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo were brought together to inject life into the company. The on-screen characters of the two launched the “New Blood,” a group of younger talent who had, in storyline, been held back by older WCW wrestlers. Not only was this art imitating life, it was an intriguing storyline unlike what had been seen on WCW television in the past. There was just one problem: WCW booked the old guys, the “Millionaire's Club,” as the babyfaces and the New Blood were written to be heels. The writing ruined the idea before it had a chance to be successful.
17 Chris Jericho
This one may lead you to pause. Chris Jericho did, after all, manage to become a great WWE Superstar and the first ever Undisputed World Champion for that company after he left WCW. Remember, though, that Jericho was well on his way to being one of the top overall performers working for WCW before he was buried as a midcard-level worker because those running the company did not see that they needed to push fresh faces. Jericho may never have been what The Rock was for the WWE in the final years of the 1990s, but the man who became Y2J could have carried the ball for WCW had the company not ruined his momentum.
16 The Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen are perhaps the greatest faction in the history of the NWA and WCW. It was, as the saying went, the symbol of excellence, a collection of champion wrestlers and performers who sold out arenas all over the place. By 1999, however, the group was merely hanging around because WCW was nothing if not a company that repeatedly resurrected old ideas in attempts to remain relevant. As silly as it may sound to somebody who is not a fan of the product, the Horsemen were a sacred part of WCW that should have been left in the past after Curt Hennig turned on the group.
15 Dusty Rhodes
WCW turned Dusty Rhodes heel and had him join the New World Order. That should infuriate any diehard wrestling fan who thinks about it for more than a second. Rhodes was the ultimate babyface, the every-man who fought against the likes of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen in his prime. As a veteran announcer, Rhodes was all about tradition during a time when the nWo wanted to destroy WCW. Those running WCW thought it wise to ruin the “American Dream” character by having Rhodes align himself with Scott Hall and the nWo. This was ridiculous and it ruined Rhodes as a television commentator.
Because of nostalgia or some other reasons, pockets of wrestling fans look back at Extreme Championship Wrestling with rose-colored glasses. ECW was truly at its best when the company combined hardcore in-ring action with some of the best wrestling that was available to fans. That era of the company was ruined, however, when WCW “stole” great wrestlers such as Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and others. Even worse is that WCW did little to help ECW after the national company raided the upstart promotion. WCW partnering up with ECW back in 1995 or 1996 could have changed the fates of both of those companies.
13 Women's Championships
Part of the storyline of Madusa showing up on an edition of Nitro and tossing the WWE Women's Championship into the garbage was that she was joining WCW to face better competition. Things started off well enough, as Madusa was involved in entertaining matches that were featured on television programs and during pay-per-view events. The company seemingly got bored with the idea of pushing women's wrestling, though, and the WCW Women's Championship was abandoned as if it never existed in the first place. What a waste for what could have been the best wrestling company in North America.
12 WCW Saturday Night
Back in the 1990s when wrestling was featured on television throughout weekends, WCW Saturday Night was a legitimate stand-alone program that had its own storylines and meaningful matches. Eddie Guerrero and Ric Flair once feuded for a time based on a Saturday Night program. Thanks largely to the emergence of the WCW Thunder show and also to the fact that the company lost a lot of popularity from 1997 up through the end of that decade, Saturday Night was largely a missable program that was an insult to its former great self. It would not have been surprising if you did not notice that the show went off the air in 2000.
11 Ric Flair
Thanks to the passage of time and also the fact that the WWE likes to pretend this portion of WCW history never happened, it has become easy to forget how much WCW ruined the Ric Flair character. Flair was the “Nature Boy,” “The Dirtiest Player in the Game” and also arguably the greatest professional wrestler in the history of North America. During the final few years of WCW, however, Flair had been turned into a senile old man who was mocked in promos cut by wrestlers such as Scott Steiner. WCW deserved to die if only because of how the company treated this legend of the business.
There are certain wrestlers that fans do not want to see turn heel. The WWE learned the hard way that fans were not going to embrace a heel version of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. WCW ruined all that had been achieved in pushing Goldberg to the top of main event cards when the company had him turn heel for the first time during the “New Blood” storyline. This ultimately would not matter in the end, of course, because WCW was in such a bad state at that time. It still does not eliminate the fact that WCW had managed to ruin the one massive success that the company enjoyed after the New World Order had gone stale.
9 Bret Hart
WCW had a chance to bury the WWE once and for all following the “Montreal Screwjob” that occurred in the fall of 1997. WWE wrestlers such as The Undertaker were legitimately upset with what had occurred on that night and WCW had the rights to Bret “Hitman” Hart. All WCW had to do was push Hart as the legitimate WWE Champion who had never truly been beaten and who eventually became the unified champion and best wrestler in the world. Any momentum that Hart could have had was ruined by some horrible booking, however, and Hart was never the star he could have been in WCW.
8 Heel Authority Figure
Here is a tidbit that will make some wrestling fans feel old. It has been almost two entire decades since Eric Bischoff joined the New World Order and WCW introduced the heel authority figure to that storyline. As good as Bischoff was in the early days of that role, it quickly became played-out to the point that it was illogical. While the WWE did it right with the Mr. McMahon character feuding with Steve Austin, Bischoff's character played a role in ruining what was the top storyline ever produced by WCW. With the start of 2016 fast approaching, the WWE is still running with the heel authority figure. Thanks a lot, WCW.
7 Tag Team Wrestling
The NWA and WCW had a long history of great duos holding tag team championships. Teams such as the Steiner Brothers, The Enforcers, Harlem Heat, Sting and Lex Luger, and The Outsiders were all WCW Tag Team Champions. By the time that 2001 had arrived, though, the art of tag team wrestling had become lost and largely an afterthought in WCW. The final ever official WCW Tag Team Champions before the company was acquired by the WWE were Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire. No disrespect meant to those men, but the WCW Tag Team Championships deserved better.
6 World Heavyweight Championship
Some wrestling fans may see the day when actor David Arquette won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship as the moment when that title was killed and buried. While that certainly did not help matters or save WCW in the end, the truth of the matter is that the WCW Championship was turned into nothing more than a prop even before then. The killing of the WCW Championship began with the infamous “Finger Poke of Doom” that saw Kevin Nash drop the title to Hulk Hogan after Nash had defeated Goldberg to end Goldberg's legendary streak and win the championship. The “Big Gold Belt” had been ruined and it would take the WWE and Triple H bringing it back to save it.
5 Cruiserweight Division
Fans who watched WCW programming in the 1990s probably remember how entertaining the company's cruiserweight division was at the time. Talented performers such as Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Ultimo Dragon, Psicosis and Eddie Guerrero all feuded over the WCW Cruiserweight Championship at different times. Then came the final few years of the company, when Disco Inferno, The Artist and Madusa – yes, Madusa – held the belt. WCW ruined what was, for a time, one of the reasons why Nitro was the must-watch wrestling program in the world.
4 Wrestling Pay-Per-Views
Wrestling fans who have watched documentaries about WCW that have been produced by the WWE may recall hearing Eric Bischoff discuss how he increased the amount of pay-per-views that the WCW would have in a calendar year. This led to the WWE mirroring that business practice. There would eventually come a time when both companies were running 12 pay-per-view events a year. While that was a profitable business practice for WCW and the WWE, it all eventually became too much for customers. Having so many “special events” also watered down those shows and that continues to have negative effects on the WWE to this day.
3 New World Order
WCW was essentially printing money once Scott Hall and Kevin Nash aligned with Hulk Hogan to create the New World Order faction in the summer of 1996. Just as quickly as the company was responsible for the hottest storyline in all of pro wrestling, WCW watered down the nWo by adding too many midcard acts too quickly. The nWo was but a shell of its original self even before the end of 1996, opening up an opportunity for the WWE to gain ground in the ratings war. Oh, what could have been for WCW and the wrestling industry, in general, had the WCW not ruined the nWo .
2 Invasion Storyline
One should not point out how WCW ruined the New World Order without also mentioning that the company also ruined future invasion angles that would occur in companies such as the WWE and TNA. Both of those organizations have, in multiple instances, attempted to recreate the magic that WCW had in 1996 when the original nWo emerged on the scene. The reason that the nWo invasion storyline worked as well as it did was because it was something fresh and different. It is possible that the WWE could have had something with the Nexus invasion, but the company squandered that idea before it ever really got off the ground.
WWE programming was never better than when WCW was around and serving as real competition. When up against it and in danger of being completely eliminated from the wrestling landscape, the WWE pushed acts such as Steve Austin and The Rock, and the company also went all-in on the “Attitude Era” that helped the WWE defeat WCW in the battle for ratings supremacy. By dying a death and being swallowed up by the WWE, WCW ruined what was, in the spring of 2001, the best wrestling company that had ever existed. Thanks for nothing, WCW.
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