If a brand new wrestling fan were to begin watching professional wrestling on television today, they would be under the impression that WWE has always been the only big-time wrestling promotion in town – kind of like how there is only one Major League Baseball and the others are all minor leagues. On the contrary, less than twenty years ago there were two major wrestling promotions all competing for the same audience in a time known as The Monday Night War. The battle between World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment is legendary, consisting of some of the greatest moments in the history of this business.
While there are many fond memories as a fan of WCW – such as the formation of the New World Order, or incredible matches featuring the members of the Cruiserweight Division or even moments featuring home-grown WCW stars like Goldberg of “Diamond” Dallas Page – there are just as many rough ones that are considered “nails” in WCW’s coffin, which led to their demise in 2001. If WCW were still around today as competition to WWE, wrestling fans would be better off, as competition is always healthy, but at the same time, WCW really did themselves in.
For your viewing pleasure here are 15 Embarrassing WCW Photos That’ll Make You Glad They Lost The Monday Night War:
15. David Arquette Holding Championship Gold
If you were to look up the reasons that WCW died, having a look at their list of World Champions would be a good place to start. In an effort to promote the WCW-themed film Ready to Rumble, David Arquette was made WCW Champion after a bizarre turn of events led to him winning a match and becoming champion as a result without actually pinning the reigning champion. Arquette was vehemently against his championship run and selflessly donated all of his earnings to the families of recently deceased and injured wrestlers, such as Owen Hart, Brian Pillman and Darren Drozdov.
While WWE frequently features celebrities on television in various roles – sometimes even wrestling in matches – they would ever consider putting their top championship on a non-wrestler.
14. Rey Mysterio: Unmasked, and Unmarketable
The mystical nature of the luchador mask as well as the culture that goes along with it is very popular amongst wrestling fans, and Rey Mysterio’s marketability as a wrestler has been a huge upside during his career and made him particularly popular with young children.
Well, it appears that WCW saw Mysterio’s marketability as a problem that needed to be solved, as they ultimately had him lose a Luchas de Apuestas match in which he wagered his mask against the hair of The Outsiders’ Manager, Miss Elizabeth. While Mysterio did not lose any of his wrestling ability after losing the mask, he certainly lost some of his credibility as he looked like a young child wrestling with much older men. Sorry WCW, but certainly the wrong move here.
13. Finger Poke of Doom
The infamous “Finger Poke of Doom” is one of the biggest examples of a bait-and-switch promotional tactic which took place on January 4th 1999, where a match between Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash which was advertised and hyped for an episode of Nitro and ultimately led to an infamous moment in WCW history.
The hyped-up match ended in very quick fashion, with Hogan lightly tapping Nash on the chest with his finger and him falling to the ground like he was hit with a cannonball, showing that they were working together all along.
After years of being jerked around by WCW’s awful booking, fans began to move away from the product after this incident – in his book WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Professional Wrestling, RD Renyolds says “That was that. Fans had been burned one time too many by WCW and the nWo. From that point on in 1999, ratings steadily dropped for the company”. Pictures like this still make me angry as a wrestling fan.
12. Judy Bagwell on a Forklift
While decisions like the Fingerpoke of Doom anger me due to how much it shows that WCW did not care about their fans enjoying the wrestling product, photos like this with Judy Bagwell standing on a forklift as a prize to be won during a match featuring her son make me feel sad about what WCW was doing to the wrestling business. The talent pool in WCW was always so rich and filled with some of the absolute best professional wrestlers on the planet, but they continued to produce absolute crap like this.
Judy Bagwell was introduced into Buff’s feud with Chris Kanyon, who was stalking her as a form of psychological warfare against Buff – while the premise of this could have made for a very interesting match between the two, WCW decided to make a farce out of it and suspended Judy from a forklift during the match. Was this supposed to make us feel sorry for Buff and make us want to see him beat the crap out of Kanyon? If so, it really didn’t as we were all just waiting for the match (and feud) to end instead.
11. Oklahoma Making Fun of JR
Professional wrestling is racy and provocative even at its best, but there are some lines that should not be crossed on programming, specifically if the “jokes” are becoming offensive to others. This occurred with one specific instance on WCW programming which almost made me turn their shows off forever due to the unnecessary offense it meant to people effected by Bell’s Palsy. Ed Ferrera, a former writer from WWE was brought in to WCW to assist head writer Vince Russo in 1999 after their success working together in WWE.
Unfortunately, one Ferrera’s ideas of “improving” WCW programming was to impersonate Jim Ross as a character named Oklahoma, including impersonating Ross’ facial defect as a result of Bell’s Palsy.
Not only is Jim Ross considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestling announcers in history, but the impersonation was not necessary in the slightest, and irked a lot of fans of WCW at the time.
10. Hogan (And The Audience) Sees Warrior
WrestleMania VI’s main event between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior took place in 1990 when both men were in their prime, so the wrestling action was much faster and crisp. Now, imagine them trying to have the same match in 1998 – well, why do you have to imagine it, it actually happened!
When Ultimate Warrior arrived in WCW in 1998 he immediately reignited his feud with Hulk Hogan, but instead of it being a crowd-pleaser, the entire feud did not make much sense. Take the picture above for instance, with Warrior appearing in a mirror to taunt Hogan. I know that we are supposed to “suspend our disbelief” while watching wrestling, but this was just ridiculous. If Hogan was going crazy and he was the only one seeing Warrior, why was the audience able to see him too in the mirror? WCW logic for you.
I get it, product placement is necessary on television to secure money from advertisers, but did WCW have to take it this far? Wouldn’t a commercial for the RoboCop film franchise have sufficed? Did he really have to make an appearance on camera during a wrestling show?
In what is considered to be one of the strangest moments to happen on wrestling programming (and that is saying something) RoboCop once appeared on WCW television to save “his buddy Sting” from an attack by the Four Horsemen.
Not only that, but he used his super strength to rip the steel bars off of a cage that Sting was trapped in! How incredible! Or, is it just incredibly strange and did not have a place on a wrestling show designed to feature other things than a robotic police officer?
8. Jarrett Lays Down for Hogan
There are certain instances in wrestling where fans are not entirely certain if what they are witnessing is a work (fake) or a shoot (real), and WCW was chalk-full of moments like this. One of the most infamous took place at Bash at the Beach 2000 (one of WCW’s final pay-per-view events) in which Hogan was scheduled to compete against Jeff Jarrett for the WCW World Championship. Instead of wrestling in a match that fans had paid their money to see, Jeff Jarrett laid down in the center of the ring allowing Hogan to place his boot on him for the win.
Hogan was visibly upset about this occurring, as the move was apparently designed to show Hogan “who was boss” due his reputation for politicking backstage. After this had occurred and fans were left in confusion, Hogan would grab a microphone and state “That’s why this company is in the damn shape it’s in—because of bulls*** like this!”.
7. Ending Goldberg’s Streak
Sometimes it appears WCW saw a sure-fire way of making money as a problem that needed to be fixed immediately. One of their only true home-grown stars that WCW could stake claim to was Bill Goldberg, who fans absolutely went crazy over. The tough man in black trunks and black boots who bolstered an undefeated streak of 173-0 on WCW programming (even if the number is very much inflated) was one of the most popular wrestlers in WCW during his run with the company.
Goldberg’s appearance as “undefeatable” was a big part of his character. Well, obviously that means that he must lose a big-time match against an opponent that would not benefit from beating him!
At Starrcade 1998, Goldberg lost his match against Kevin Nash – who was already an established main eventer – after Scott Hall shocked him with a taser gun. Wouldn’t it have been so much better for an up-and-coming wrestler to defeat Goldberg instead of a seasoned veteran? Ultimately, Goldberg’s build-up would not have a big pay-off, and the decision to end his streak in this way certainly damaged WCW’s chances of winning the Monday Night War.
6. A Sad State For The nWo
When the New World Order was initially formed in 1996, it was seen as a special anti-establishment group consisting of WWE “invaders” looking to take over the company. The initial incarnation of the nWo which consisted of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were so popular that they ended up shifting the tide of the Monday Night War into WCW’s favor because fans could not wait to see what the group would do next.
However, as time went on and the nWo vs WCW storyline continued, the members of the group became less “star-powered” and the group came across much less interesting as a result.
At the end of the nWo’s appearances as a group, an alleged total of 62 different members (including one-time appearances) had been a part of the group. The group did not appear very special to me once wrestlers like Virgil, Disco Inferno and referee Nick Patrick started to join the group.
5. Clearly Not Caring About Championships
Professional wrestling championships need to appear that they are important to fans, otherwise the entire premise of two competitors wrestling in a match is not going to work if they do not have a reason to fight. Championships are so important in the landscape of professional wrestling, and those that hold the belts need to be considered “the best” at the time of their win, otherwise it devalues the championship. WCW has already proved that they do not value their championships, as I mentioned with David Arquette and his “reign” as World Champion, but another example couldn’t hurt!
Remember Ed Ferrera that I mentioned earlier? Well, that tub of goo is also a former WCW Cruiserweight Champion!
Yes, the title held by such great wrestlers like Brian Pillman, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio was also held by Ed – freaking- Ferrera, who wrestled as Oklahoma.
Would there ever be value to this championship after this reign? Not in the eyes of the fans, who stopped watching WCW all together after seeing him parade around with a belt that used to mean something to them.
4. Chucky Doll
Yes, we once got Robocop coming to the ring to rescue Sting. But didn’t you know we also had Chucky appear on WCW programming? His appearance was not as well received as RoboCop’s because it was a clear product placement moment, with Chucky even mentioning “my upcoming movie Bride of Chucky” in an attempt to sell tickets, which was met with boos from the audience who rejected the blatant sales tactic.
Chucky’s appearance in WCW did help the movie’s sales, but is not a fond memory of those who watched WCW at the time. You know what would have been even better? They should have had Chucky wrestle on a pay-per-view against Hogan! Imagine him jumping off the top rope with a shooting star press (because Chucky would have been a high-flyer, obviously) while trying to win the WCW Championship. We all know Hogan would have won, but that just would have been best for business, brother.
3. Ruining Great New Wrestlers
When a wrestler moves from one promotion to another, there is always a great deal of excitement from fans as there are a tremendous amount of possibilities opened up – dream matches can finally take place, and wrestlers could get the opportunity to shine on a whole other stage. Well, that is unless you defected to WCW in the early 2000s because if this was the case, you were more than likely going to endure a terrible part in your career.
Enter Mike Awesome – a fearsome 300+ pound heavyweight who enjoyed a main-event career in ECW as an unstoppable monster. Eventually Awesome defected to WCW and hoped that he would remain successful as a main-event caliber performer.
Well, WCW had a different idea and instead of keeping Awesome’s persona as a hard-hitting wrestler turned him into the “Fat Chick Thrilla”, a man obsessed with romancing ladies that were “heavier”. How infuriating that they would take such a gifted performer and turn him into a mockery, but that is why WCW is not around today.
2. Tarnished Legacies
For every legend like Sting who stayed around in WCW until its dying days and left the promotion as a legend, there are wrestlers that wished that they jumped ship much earlier as some booking decisions by WCW Management surely almost drove them insane. Well, in the case like Ric Flair it appears that they did drive him insane.
In the late-90s, one of the bright ideas of the WCW booking team was to take the legendary Ric Flair and put him in to ridiculous situations like being committed to a mental institution, and run around in his underwear.
Poor Ric Flair deserved so much more than this during his career, but due to being a contracted wrestler (and a respected professional) he went through with these absurd storylines that tarnished his legacy in the eyes of fans. Ultimately, it would not be Flair that would pay the price for this, but WCW itself who obviously isn’t around anymore to ruin a performer’s legacy.
1. No New Talent
One of the final reasons that WCW was not able to survive the Monday Night War is their reluctance to create new main-event stars, despite the crazy amount of talent that they had contracted to their roster. With tremendous wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho regulated to the lower-mid card divisions of WCW despite their talent, there was no possible way that WCW would continue to attract fans while they kept talent like this “in the dog house”.
The funny thing is that so many of the talents that were held back in WCW ended up being main-eventers in WWE and other independent promotions around the world. While the picture above shows two first-class athletes competing at the top of their game in WCW, it ultimately serves as a reminder that talent like this did not get a fair shake in World Championship Wrestling, which was part of the recipe of their demise.
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