Saturday, March 19, 2011

324 - The Death of McWrestling (DTM Blog #105)

Originally written on July 27, 2005.

This was intended to be the first part of a multi-part essay that was to depict my opinion on the dwindling quality of WWE's sports-entertainment product. I might possibly revisit this idea and concept, but adapt it to today's WWE product. For now, enjoy my rambling mind circa 2005.

Sometime in March 2001, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment) had purchased all related assets of World Championship Wrestling from AOL-Time Warner after the company had lost close to $60 million in the previous year. I'm not going to tell the story of how the company, who had reinvigorated the wrestling industry with the creation of the New World Order angle, went from top of the world to the bottom of the comode, since that story is well documented in the book entitled The Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez. However, let's go on with the fallout of that purchase... based on various internet sources, said book, and my own (vague) recollections. Some of this might be inconsistent, but I'm not in possession of a time machine.

Prior to the airing of the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro, there were some speculation that a WWF superstar would appear on the show. The most common guess was Triple H for some reason or another, but I can't say I remember for sure. As most of us know, that WWF superstar turned out to be Shane McMahon, who was revealed in WWF storylines as the new owner of World Championship Wrestling. And just like WCW had done to WWF in the past, Shane would kick Vince's ass at Wrestlemania. In that one promo, the last WCW Nitro basically became a footnote and the purchase of the company was delegated to nothing more than a chapter in the on-again/off-again McMahon family feud, which most people are getting tired of.

Despite that, the bigger picture was realized. Now that Vince owned his competition, the wrestling fan's wet dream of a WWF versus WCW supercard was going to be a reality. A lot of people truly believed - and yes, I swear to God they truly believed this - that there was no way in HELL that Vince could possibly screw this thing up. What do they know?

First off, the acquisition of WCW resulted in a massive tape library that never saw extensive use until 2002 or 2003, all the trademarks and copyrights, and the contracts of about twenty or so mid-level wrestlers, including the WCW champions who had held on to their belts on that final Nitro. Major stars, such as Kevin Nash or Bill Goldberg, were expensive and thus they sat at home collecting their checks from AOL-Time Warner. Of course, we got Diamond Dallas Page... but still.

Long story short - the WWF-WCW invasion ended up being a bust. Mostly because the WWF guys were always beating the shit out of the WCW guys. They threw in ECW as a means to make things interesting. And you know what? It could have worked, but on the same night, they killed that advantage dead when Vince McMahon's other brat Stephanie was introduced as the new owner of ECW - yes, they brought in more McMahons. The WCW/ECW alliance became simply known as the Alliance, and had gained great stars such as Steve Austin (a guy who was screwed by WCW early in his career) and Kurt Angle, who had only worked in the WWF in his active career, thus watering down the Invasion to the point where it meant nothing. It was a bust when it should have been the biggest (not to mention the easiest) moneymaker the WWF could put together. And so after several months of the whole invasion fiasco, the storyline ended with the Alliance being put out of business.

Over the next couple of years, the WWF (later renamed WWE when they lost a court case against the World Wildlife Fund - yes, Vince McMahon got his ass kicked by a f***ing panda) would attempt all sorts of crazy stuff. Guys like Ric Flair, Scott Steiner, Goldberg were some of the WCW big names they couldn't afford for the invasion.... and yet they were signed and in some cases, misused. Heck, they even managed to bring in Eric Bischoff and made him useless. They managed to get Shawn Michaels out of retirement and had Hulk Hogan wear a mask and call himself Mister America. They divided their roster pool into two brands. They tried obscene angles such as fake gay marriages, old guys dying from too much sex, necrophilia angles, and other ridiculous stupidities. They tried all these things and none of it worked.

So why am I recollecting about past times? Find out the answer this coming Friday, when I talk about the boring wrestling programs as of late.

(2011 Update: The update never happened, and quite frankly, I don't recall what I was going to touch on as a follow-up, so this is as far as I ever got. I might consider a revisit, but who knows when that will happen?)

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