MR. TITO: Who or What REALLY Killed World Championship Wrestling (WCW)?

Sigh… Here we go again with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the chatter on what “killed” it. Vice TV is airing Who Killed WCW? as a 4-part special that is produced by the Rock. The usual talking heads are there such as Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Kevin Sullivan, Konnan, and others. Guys who were there, but instead of logically putting facts together, they point in different areas on where to blame.

I already addressed the “who” or the “what” KILLED WCW in my April 29th, 2024 column. Previously, I wrote a column called “The Day WCW Died”, pointing out that November 18th, 1996 was the day that WCW began to die. The events of that date created a chain reaction that destroyed WCW internally and caused WCW to become a disorganized mess.

Simply put, the blame should be placed on Eric Bischoff for “killing” WCW.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Eric Bischoff built the WCW powerhouse that came crashing down in flames. He was like a General Manager who built up a great NFL team and then signs a handful of veteran players to WIN NOW… However, those veteran contracts become expensive to retain and also at a cost of forfeiting younger players. Bischoff signing Hall, Nash, Henning, Hart, along with major extensions to many other veterans or rising stars cost WCW a pretty penny. Then, when the revenues began to decline during the 2nd half of 1998, the revenues weren’t absorbing the costs.

Why November 18th, 1996 = the “day WCW died” is due to Eric Bischoff becoming an on-screen character for the New World Order.

Instead of devoting time towards managing WCW, its talent, and ensuring Creative was on the right track, Eric’s brain started thinking too much about what his own character would do on WCW Nitro. Furthermore, since Eric was a member of the NWO, his brain power also went to how to keep NWO strong and keep its momentum going with him as a key character. Hence why NWO kept adding more and more members, why he said “yes” to Hogan meddling with Starrcade 1997, why there were 2 NWO groups in 1998, and then why we had a combined NWO group to start 1999. Eric made himself front and center with the NWO group and that distracted from the runaway train that was the WCW company that he built up from 1993-1996.

You can blame Time Warner, Vince Russo, Kevin Sullivan, Hulk Hogan, and many others all you want… But it was Eric spending money to fortify the NWO brand with more wrestlers and more screen time while he got to be a part of the party.

WCW was in financial trouble through 1999 before Vince Russo arrived, before AOL merged with Time Warner, before Kevin Sullivan took the book during early 2000, and in spite of what the Hulkster wanted. Last I checked, Bischoff had “executive” within his title through 1999 and guys like Hogan should have answered to him. Instead, the egotrip of being “one of the boys” of the NWO changed him from being a manager of men.

Let’s debunk the other causes, shall we?

Vince Russo – Vince Russo joined during the Fall of 1999. WCW was already losing money by then. Regardless of what you say about Russo’s creative stint from October 1999 through January 2000, he cannot turn around a sinking ship in just 4 months. Then, firing him and going an immediate different creative direction while letting 4 stars join WWE (Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, Saturn). Russo returned to an even more damaged WCW during the Spring of 2000 with a co-partnership with, you guessed it, Eric Bischoff. Could Russo’s storylines been better? Sure, but WCW was dead already. They were losing tons of money based on previous year’s actions.

Hulk Hogan – Hogan helps WCW by joining them during 1994 and then helps them explode in growth by turning heel during 1996 How can you blame him? He can only sign the contract that is presented to him by Eric Bischoff.

Kevin Nash – Kevin Nash helps WCW explode in growth during 1996 and he remained a stable performer through 2000. Everyone tries to blame him for the late 1998 and early 1999 stint as part of the creative team but the company was dying before he joined creative. “Fingerpoke of Doom” (© Scott Keith) was not his creative idea, nor was milking the NWO more during 1999.

AOL or Time Warner – Time Warner merged with Turner Broadcasting during October 1996. WCW spent lots of money during 1997 and 1998, along with that expensive set design during 1999. Plus, Time Warner/Turner gave WCW another show with WCW Thunder. They didn’t get in the way and said “standards and practices” that are somehow blamed were always there for 1996-1997. Turner always presented wholesome television. Just ask Dusty Rhodes who was ultimately fired from NWA/WCW during 1989 for bleeding on TBS during that Road Warrior spike angle. AOL didn’t join the equation until early 2001 and wisely pulled the plug on a company that lost 8 figures annually. Come on.

Kevin Sullivan – Took over the booking reigns during early 2000. Again, what preceded him before he became head writer? WCW declining from late 1998 and all of 1999. Then, WCW allows 4 key wrestlers to leave his roster immediately upon his promotion to lead writer (Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn).

Overpaid veteran talent – Again, wrestlers can only sign the contracts that are presented to them. Furthermore, they can only perform with the creative given to them, along with the opponents.

Bill Goldberg – I’d argue Bill Goldberg helped WCW remain strong after the disaster known as Starrcade 1997. But, his career was mismanaged too and he quickly became exposed for his inexperience during the rest of 1998. However, he’s just 1 wrestler whom WCW began to overpay with the contract offered to him. Furthermore, WCW went back to the Hulk Hogan well by early 1999 and I’d argue Starrcade 1998’s finish was a disaster. Goldberg was never in charge of his creative decisions.

Am I missing anyone?

Think about this… The Giant (Paul Wight or Big Show) was a big star that WCW discovered and made into a big star. Throughout 1998, they used him poorly and what happens? He joins WWE by early 1999. Then, Chris Jericho. Guy got himself over on the midcard and was prime to be a breakout star. WCW, instead, depushed him and kept him off shows through the remainder of his WCW contract through early 1999. They just let him go…

And who mismanaged The Giant and Chris Jericho? Why, both happened on Eric Bischoff‘s watch.

What about Sean Waltman getting terminated from WCW? As 1997 wore on and Eric Bischoff became more protective of his NWO product, especially now as an on-screen character, he also became very pro-Hogan on everything. That meant he was anti-Clique and terminated “Syxx” to make a point to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to keep both of them in line backstage. Complete disaster, as Waltman joins the WWE as X-Pac and helps to keep the Degeneration X brand strong to assist with WWE’s continued growth towards becoming #1 again. HUGE fumbling of the ball.

Could someone let me know what Eric Bischoff has done since his peak WCW years? While I enjoyed his on-screen RAW General Manager character, RAW’s viewership numbers dropped considerably while he was a character on that show. Can’t fully blame him, but he didn’t draw for the RAW brand. How about that TNA run of the early 2010s? And he continued to suck on the teat of the Hulkster for that run, too. He was “Executive Director” of the Creative Team for a cup of coffee, but even the 2019 dysfunctional WWE knew that they wouldn’t get Eric’s best stuff.

WCW declined because the once great WCW manager from 1993-1996 just had to stroke his ego and become “one of the boys” from late 1996 until he was relieved of his duties through September of 1999. Eric Bischoff went from being an effective manager who built a great WCW product to becoming a mark for his own NWO brand talents. THAT is what killed WCW. Bischoff poured all of WCW’s resources in keeping the NWO on life support during 1998-1999 while also putting more creative effort into keeping his NWO character strong rather than paying attention to other wrestling matters.

Effective managers are above their employees and have a clear separation from them. The second that you lower yourself on the organization character to their level, you become them. Then, they start to walk all over you.

Eric Bischoff killed WCW because he stopped caring about managing WCW and cared more about his on-screen NWO character and keeping the NWO brand strong. He ran that NWO brand into the ground because he painted himself into a corner when becoming a mark for it as a member. Not being a grown adult to Hulk Hogan also hurts along with always being pro-Hogan instead of caring about the rest of the roster. Bischoff should have been a man and said “F your creative control” at Starrcade 1997 and then realized that Hogan had AND the NWO had already peaked. He didn’t, and kept going along for the ride…

Let’s stop this narrative of trying to blame others for WCW “dying”. Let’s blame the man who fumbled the ball on the company he helped build into a powerhouse.

Again, Bischoff is that NFL General Manager who rolls the dice to win now, but pays for it later when the salaries have to be paid.

Bischoff killed WCW, period. But he also made the promotion grow into something that had a big crashing death, too. Bischoff should be commended for making WCW successful through 1996, but also blamed for mismanaging the company to begin losing money again.

All because Eric wanted to join the NWO and become an on-screen leader for that group… What a mark. WCW needed a manager to keep everyone in-line, not someone to morph into “one of the boys” and become a folding chair.

You’re welcome. I just saved you time from watching this new Vice TV show, along with time reading many books that are out there.

Here is where WCW died on 11/18/1996… Eric joined the NWO and slowly, but surely, got more into his NWO character than into managing WCW and its talent.

WCW Nitro – 11/18/1996 – Roddy Piper reveals Eric Bischoff is with the NWO

23 years later, and many still somehow haven’t figured it out.

“That which makes you can also break you”. That was Eric Bischoff in WCW.

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