It may be difficult for wrestling fans of a certain age to believe or even understand that World Championship Wrestling was the top organization in all of the business only two decades ago. The storyline involving the New World Order helped propel WCW far ahead of the World Wrestling Federation in the “Monday Night Wars,” to the point that the WWE was (allegedly) close to going out of business. WCW was responsible for great midcard wrestling, intriguing storylines that drew millions upon millions of viewers in on a weekly basis, and a product that was simply better than that offered by an inferior WWE.
So what the heck happened? That is a question that cannot possibly be answered in one sentence, one article or even one paragraph. Even the book The Death of WCW, which is widely regarded in wrestling circles as the top reference for the demise of the organization, probably missed at least some information about all that went wrong in WCW from 1996 through 2001. The absolute worst thing that WCW did during its brief history was insult the intelligence of wrestling fans again and again, so much so that millions of once passionate fans moved on from following the company and, in some instances, moved on from following the wrestling business.
Ridiculous booking decisions that eliminated all of the momentum that WCW had built in such a short period of time. Dumb title changes that insulted our intelligence and that insulted the history of the business and of the storied company that had ties to the National Wrestling Alliance. They all happened in a span of about five years. While the death of WCW had been coming for some time leading up to March 2001, it was nevertheless a shame because of what should have been for the company and for the business at the start of the millennium. WCW got what it deserved, which is more than can be said for fans who continued to follow the product up through its final edition of Nitro.
20. No Screwjob
It was at Starrcade in 1997 when we saw the first absurd recreation of the infamous “Montreal Screwjob.” The idea here was that referee Nick Patrick was going to gift Hulk Hogan a win over Sting via a fast count while Hogan was pinning String. Patrick clearly did not count any faster than normal and Sting did not kick out before the count of three. Hogan had won the match fair and clean inside of the middle of the ring, and yet Bret Hart still came out and demanded that the contest be restarted. Fans didn’t buy it, because nothing wrong per the stated rules of the match had occurred.
19. Vince Russo Wins Championship
Vince Russo has, in multiple interviews that have taken place since the death of WCW, stated that he was never supposed to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Russo was speared through the cage by Goldberg as the heel authority figure was wrestling Booker T, and thus it was Russo was technically the first person to exit the cage. This made Russo the winner and new champion. Accident or not, here is a wacky idea: Perhaps Russo never should have been in a position where he could win any title, let alone the WCW Championship, in the first place.
18. Hulk Hogan Lies Down
Was it a work? A shoot? A worked-shoot? Did anybody care then, and does anybody care now? Whatever was going on in WCW at the time, watching Hulk Hogan seemingly pout his way to the ring and then fall flat down to do the job to Sting in seconds at the 1999 edition of Halloween Havoc angered viewers. The dumpster fire that had become WCW was already out of control by the fall of ’99 and the conclusion to this “match” was yet more fuel to that fire. It was about this time when fans should have learned that paying for any WCW pay-per-view was a waste of money.
17. Bash at the Beach 2000
Bash at the Beach in 2000 is probably the most infamous event in WCW history because of all of the nonsense that occurred. Jeff Jarrett sacrificed himself to Hulk Hogan. Vince Russo cut a promo about the “politics” that happened behind the curtain and Russo then publicly fired Hogan. Booker T defeated Jeff Jarrett in a main event that was bound to be overshadowed by events that took place earlier in the evening. It has been debated for years what really happened on that fateful night. What is not questioned is that the fans who watched were robbed of time and money.
16. Minnesota Massacre Match
It is somewhat difficult to describe exactly what happened during the Minnesota Massacre Match because WCW never really explained it to fans. The announce crew working that edition of Nitro were either scripted to be clueless or legitimately had no idea what was going on inside of the ring as Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash beat up on Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire. It seemed, after the match, that it was supposed to be a variation of a “Last Man Standing” encounter, except that Page and Nash were declared the winners without a 10-count ever being delivered. Shrug.
15. The Reboot
WCW was fresh out of ideas in the spring of 2000 when the company decided to crown Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo as creative saviors. What followed was a trainwreck that included all champions being stripped of their titles just because and prior storylines being eliminated. Going with the New Blood versus Millionaire’s Club storyline, as explained by the official WWE website, “insulted the fans’ intelligence” because it essentially wiped away all that viewers had seen since the first ever Nitro. In all fairness to Bischoff and Russo, WCW was beyond saving at this point.
There was nothing funny or remotely humorous about Ed Ferrara playing the gimmick of Oklahoma in WCW. It would have been bad enough had Oklahoma merely been an insulting portrayal of legendary and beloved wrestling announcer Jim Ross. The Oklahoma character mocked the fact that Ross had, in real life, suffered from Bell’s Palsy. This was not just an insult to Ross, who deserved much better from his former employer, it was an insult to wrestling fans who had grown up listening to “Good Ol’ J.R.” and who enjoyed hearing Ross call matches and shows such as Raw.
13. Sid is Killed
We’ve all been in a situation where we were part of a group that was so obsessed with eliminating an opponent that we wanted to stuff him inside of a car, spray paint onto the side of that car and then run that limo over with a monster truck: Right? That is exactly what happened in WCW on December 27, 1999 when the nWo thought that this would be the best way to get rid of Sid, presumably for all time. As was the case for the nWo behind the scenes at that point of history, the group was unsuccessful even though we never actually saw Sid escape what would have been a life-ending event.
12. Booker Rock
When the WWE bought WCW and staged the Invasion storyline, Booker T was booked to be a cheap knockoff of The Rock. This probably had something to do with the fact that WCW actually tried to legitimately turn Booker into The Rock. Booker was even given the “Book End,” which was clearly and immediately recognized as “The Rock Bottom.” Booker T was a talented wrestler who deserved a singles push during the last years of WCW. That the company turned him into a knockoff of The Rock was an insult to fans and to both of those performers.
11. Hulk Hogan Killed The Giant
There really was no other way to title this segment other than to point out that Hulk Hogan killed The Giant. Hogan and Giant were involved in a sumo match that featured the two wrestlers operating monster trucks – because of course it did – and the two eventually battled it out one-on-one on top of a parking garage. Hogan got the better of the fight as the two were close to the edge of the roof portion of the garage and Giant went plummeting off of the garage and to his certain demise. Wrestling fans have to suspend disbelief to enjoy the product, but this went beyond logic.
10. The Dog
We don’t blame you if you erased this portion of WCW history from your memories or if you weren’t watching the product when The Dog was on the roster. The gimmick of this wrestler – and no, we aren’t making this up – is that the man playing the character was, in fact, part dog. He drank from the toilet. He howled. Seriously. This happened right in front of our eyes via the magic of television. Some insulting moments make you mad. Others may make you chuckle. This is one that could make you wonder why you bothered watching WCW in the first place.
9. Hulk Hogan And The Magical Mirror
It is, quite possibly, the most insulting and absurd moment to ever occur on WCW television, one that is laughed about on WWE Network shows to this day. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff were in their dressing room when a vision of The Ultimate Warrior appeared in a mirror. Hogan could see Warrior, as could every fan watching the show. We, however, were supposed to believe that Bischoff and nobody else could see Warrior and that Hogan was losing his mind. As embarrassing a segment of TV as this was, it would not be the worst moment to occur during the Hogan and Warrior feud in WCW.
8. Hulk Hogan Versus The Ultimate Warrior
Perhaps nostalgia plays a role in us fondly remembering that match that Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior had in the WWF, an encounter that was, if we are being fair, OK at best. There are, however, no such concerns regarding the WCW match had by these two. This match became infamous for being awarded a Minus-Five Stars rating by wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, a fact that has been brought up during podcasts by fellow journalists such as Bryan Alvarez. Dave was spot-on, as the match was an insult to anybody who paid to watch it in-person or via pay-per-view.
7. Dennis Rodman Versus Karl Malone
Pro athletes who love pro wrestling get involved in storylines and, in some cases, matches. It has happened many times in history. With that said, fans who paid to watch the 1998 edition of Bash At The Beach were unintentionally insulted by the product that was aired. National Basketball Association players Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone faced off against each other in a tag team match that had fans chanting “Boring! Boring!” during the encounter. It is no wonder that the downfall of WCW had already begun before this match took place.
6. Jay Leno
Celebrities can have a place in professional wrestling. Andy Kaufman may be the most famous example and his feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler was truly epic. Talk show host Jay Leno would have been just fine serving in the corner of Diamond Dallas Page. Leno could have even gotten involved late in a match. Putting Leno, who was neither a pro wrestler nor any sort of pro athlete, into the ring for an entire match earned WCW plenty of press. It was also a decision that insulted our intelligence and that mattered little as WCW was competing with the WWE.
5. nWo 2000
“So nothing is working, and we are quickly losing ground to the WWE. Oh, I know! Let’s revive the nWo for the (slightly exaggerated) millionth time!” This could have been the conversation in the front offices of WCW when the company decided to launch nWo 2000, a group that included Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Jeff Jarrett and Bret Hart. The nWo was a concept that had become stale and beyond played out among fans, and the company going back to this gimmick showed just how lost WCW was in the last years of its existence. At least nWo 2000 did not last all that long.
4. Reviving Elbow Drop
At least we can go back and have a laugh at some of these moments. Not only could Hulk Hogan not do the clean job after being put out cold in the middle of the ring. Not only did Hogan not sell the elbow drop that “Macho Man” Randy Savage had used to end a plethora of matches during Savage’s legendary career. Hogan was magically revived by Savage’s elbow drop en route to winning a match! The biggest insult one can deliver to a wrestling fan is to throw it in his face that the action inside of the ring is fake. We know. We are in on the gimmick. WCW went out of the way to remind us that we were watching a ridiculous show on this particular night.
3. David Arquette Wins Championship
There are likely some wrestling fans out there who expected to see David Arquette winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship as the top moment on this list. What you have to remember about that period of WCW is that the WCW Championship had been treated like a joke and basically a toy well before the actor hoisted the belt over his head. Nobody could have blamed even the most diehard WCW follower for choosing to tap out after watching Arquette win the “big gold belt,” but there were certainly worse and more insulting moments throughout the history of WCW.
2. Goldberg Defeated
There was, of course, going to come a time when Goldberg was going to have to lose a match and his undefeated streak that helped make him a fan favorite. That Kevin Nash beat Goldberg only after Scott Hall intervened and “zapped” Goldberg was particularly insulting because the match had been built up as WCW’s version of The Rock versus “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Just as WWE fans were annoyed when Austin received help from Vince McMahon and turned heel, WCW viewers rejected the idea that Goldberg’s streak would end via anything other than a clean finish. What happened next in the timeline only made things worse.
1. Fingerpoke of Doom
Some out there would probably argue that WCW did dumber things during its existence. That may be true, but it was this moment that began a doom for WCW that could not be reversed. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan downing Kevin Nash with a single finger and then winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship was, for some fans who had been burned over and over again by the company, the final straw. The WCW Championship was turned into nothing more than a prop and babyfaces who had been over among fans became just some guys signed by a company. This moment did not kill WCW, but it was an insulting moment that will live on in history because of how absurd it was and because of the subsequent downfall of WCW.
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