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kylos

What really grinds my gears? The Death of WCW.

Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.
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"Remember that wrestling company back in the day? What was its name, WCW? Yes that was it. WCW seems to be a faded memory now, and a lot of wrestling fans, or should I say 'Marks', seem to think they knew what killed it off. It was David Arquette! No... wait, it was Kevin Nash! It was Vince Russo and Bischoff! It was Hogan! It was all the celebrities! It was a combination of all of these and more! Wrong!

I sit here with my beer, thinking about what wrestling would be like if WCW had continued. Whether TNA had ever been brought into existence, or even if WWE had not switched to PG. The wrestling landscape would be completely different, and I might even dare to say it would be better with WCW still around.

So what actually killed WCW? Well there are a lot of things that led to its downfall, but there are two key people who put the nail in the coffin. Ted Turner, and Jamie Kellner. Who the hell is Jamie Kellner you say???? Well I may have to pass this onto my good friend Kylos to explain it to you. Too many people are misinformed when it comes to WCW... Look it up people, stop blaming the wrong people, it really grinds my gears when you do that."


Episode 9 - The Death of WCW.

Thank you Peter for that lovely introduction. So the death of WCW is often misinterpreted. What , or who, people tend to blame is what they could see on TV, rather then what happened off-screen.

Whether you like him or not, Eric Bischoff was very responsible for the success of WCW in 1996-1998, but he wouldn't have got anywhere if it was not for Ted Turner.
Who is Ted Turner? He is the founder of the TBS and CNN networks, and in the 90's, he decided to invest tons of his money into WCW. He did this to boost his ratings on TNT and WTBS, and for a few years this worked so well, it almost put Vince and his WWF out of business. Today he is still worth a ton of money, about $2 Billion to be exact.

With all that money, there is no wonder why WCW splashed out and took wrestlers from WWF, ECW and other promotions, and give them fat contracts. Hogan was a key part in ratings and merchandise during WCWs boom period, so he got the fattest contract, along with tons of benefits and creative control. In 1997, Vince Russo was promoted to help the WWF with their ratings. He helped to create a much edgier product, and the two went to war. Although Russo might (and there is no proof to this) have taken ideas from ECW, he still had to put in the work, and get it approved by Vince, then the wrestlers had to pull the angles/gimmicks off, which they did very well.

There were so many incidents in WCW. From having Kevin Sullivan as the booker, to letting wrestlers have creative control, to spoiling WWF shows and so on, a lot of these factors lead to the "Downfall" of WCW. People seem to misinterpret what killed WCW, and what brought the company down to a lower level. In 2001, WCW was still the highest rated show on their network, and they were still pulling in the crowds and the merchandise. WCW had gone in a brand new direction, focusing on younger wrestlers, stars like Booker T had the spotlight, it looked like they had put guys like Flair, Hogan and others to the side, and wanted to make new stars.

From 1999-2000, Vince Russo really didn't help WCW, that is a well known fact, but WCW was already in a slump well before he arrived. Eric Bischoff had made a lot of bad business decisions, and kept throwing money at the product, by bringing in rock bands, and celebrities in order to get ratings. They failed to realize that the WWF's product was far superior in many ways. They had evolved and fought hard for their jobs. The WWF had come together, the WWF had a soul, whereas WCW had nothing. It had low morale, it didn't have the feel that everyone was working together, it had the feeling that everyone was out for themselves.

in 2000, many potential buyers came forward, they were interested in WCW. For a company that was a shadow of its former self, there was still interest in buying it. Ted Turner rejected these offers, he was still in charge at Time Warner, he was the only person in Time Warner who had consistently backed WCW. In 2001, Bischoff came forward, along with Fusient Media Ventures, and made a bid to buy WCW, shortly following the merger of AOL and Time Warner.

AOL bought Time Warner for $164 Billion. Due to the larger market capitalization of AOL, they would own 55% of the new company while Time Warner shareholders owned only 45%, so in actual practice AOL had acquired Time Warner, even though AOL had far less assets and revenues.
Needless to say, this was a bad business decision all round, as the AOL division lost a ton of money in the following couple of years. AOL was dropped from the merged companies name in 2003, and Time Warner still exists today.

After the AOL merger, one of the bidders dropped out, leading to Bischoff and Fusient Media Ventures to retract their bid so they could place a new one. Vince McMahon and the WWF began talks with AOL Time Warner about acquiring WCW assets.

This is where Jamie Kellner came in. As Ted Turner no longer had absolute power, Jamie Kellner was handed control over the Turner Broadcasting Division. He never had any interest in professional wrestling, he didn't see wrestling as the right image for their network.

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Jamie Kellner did not just cancel WCW, he cancelled popular cartoon shows like Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid!, and Histeria!.

Mr Kellner didn't appreciate edgy television it seems. However due to what is considered the decline of the WWE product, many wrestling fans have denounced Kellner's actions in regards to WCW, blaming him for the fact that WWE owner Vince McMahon has a virtual monopoly on the professional wrestling market, although others have defended Kellner, calling it unfair to blame him for WCW's demise when it was due to a series of internal mistakes that the company was already massively in debt.

WCW might not have lasted a lot longer anyway. If Eric Bischoff had acquired WCW, and kept it on the network, who knows if it would have continued on, or whether it would have died of natural causes. Bischoff seemed confident enough that he could turn it around, or he wouldn't have made a bid for it, he is a business man after all. You don't buy a company if its definitely going under.

Because of Kellner's decision, WCW programming was canceled on both TBS and TNT, leaving Vince McMahon's company, which at the time had an exclusive deal with Viacom, free to acquire the trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts. AOL Time Warner still had to pay off certain wrestlers as they had contracts with the parent company, and not WCW itself.

The WWF bought WCW for a very low amount of $2.5 Million. Shortly after the purchase, Vince McMahon purchased the entire tape library for an additional $1.7 million, bringing the final tally of World Championship Wrestling's sale to $4.2 million. The WWE continues to plug the legacy of WCW through their website and DVDs, as well as highlight WCW stars like Sting, despite them never actually wrestling in a WWE ring.

The death of WCW led to the WWE having a monopoly on wrestling (Sports-Entertainment) and can not be competed against. It is a huge global business that continues to rake in profits despite a product that is below average compared to the "Attitude Era". Who knows what wrestling could have been if WCW had kept in business, Vince even admits that his company strived more when there was direct competition.

This is why people seem to compare TNA to WCW. They seem to think TNA picked up where WCW left. They have certain wrestlers and staff who apparently "killed" WCW, when in reality, they were just doing their jobs. It was the higher-ups in Time Warner who didn't do enough to keep the product under control. It was Jamie Kellner who decided to kill off shows people still enjoyed for the sake of a particular image. I can admit to being a big fan of Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain. I was so sad to see those shows being taken off the air.

So the next time someone writes a little comment, saying it was Russo, Bischoff, Hogan, Flair, Arquette, and just about everyone's fault that WCW went down, you can tell them, it was all Ted Turner and Jamie Kellners fault. Guaranteed, all those people will have no idea who you're talking about, they just like to hate on the wrestlers for the sake of hating, they will always be that naive. It's about as sad as the picture below. Peace.

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Updated 01-13-2013 at 09:42 AM by kylos

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Comments

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  1. Gogs's Avatar
    You can say it is Jamie Kellner's fault that WCW died all you want. However, he did not cancel WCW simply because he did not like wrestling. WCW was cancelled because it was losing money and ratings hand over fist.
    If it was making money and reaching decent ratings it would not have been cancelled. And why was it losing money and ratings? Because of decisions made by Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan et al.
  2. Ace Lancaster's Avatar
    Dude you are on a role! I always look forward to your blogs. I'd really like to see a blog from you about some of the up and coming talent from WWE although it probably wouldn't be under your "What Ginds Really Grinds My Gears" series.

    -Ace
  3. kylos's Avatar
    It's a well known fact that no one in Time Warner ever wanted WCW on their network, even when it was doing good ratings. Only Ted Turner kept WCW on board, and plugged money into it. WCW was still doing the best ratings on the network, but Justin Kellner was never a fan of wrestling, or anything even slightly controversial or edgy. Jamie Kellner did not pay that much attention to WCW that he could see the problems or bad business decisions, he just didnt want wrestling on their network, period.
  4. weems's Avatar
    After reading this blog, I am under the impression you have read the book, The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez? If not, I highly recommend it.
  5. DK Wrestling Savior's Avatar
    When reading this...it is well written and informative. However, I'm not seeing where Ted Turner should be to blame. If what you say is true, and Jamie Kellner wanted certain programming off, where does Ted Turner, who lost pretty much all company power in the merger, factor into the failure of WCW? It was his money that kept it going. He just funded it, not really managed it.
  6. kylos's Avatar
    Ted Turner failed to keep the majority of his company. If he had stayed in absolute power over AOL, Jamie Kellner would not have been appointed head of Turner Broadcasting. He also had many chances to sell WCW to buyers throughout 2000, which would have kept WCW alive.
  7. DK Wrestling Savior's Avatar
    I'm sure with the merger of AOL and Time Warner, Ted Turner had little say in who would be the ultimate power. And if he did sell WCW to other interested buyers, there's still no guarantee that they would have gotten any sort of TV or distribution deal. If Fox was interested, someone would already be there. WWF/E had Viacom, then moved back to NBC. If WCW would've ended up on Viacom, it would most likely be suffering the same fate TNA does now.
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