THE DEATH OF THE WWF
The decade of the 90's was a rough and turbulent time for the World Wrestling Federation. A steroid scandal, the departure of Hulk Hogan and their many top stars,
the dominance of Nitro against Raw in a battle for television ratings - something had to come to a head, and eventually, it did.
That very bubble busted in late 1997, when Vince McMahon and the company were on the brink of financial ruin and in 1998, bankruptcy was filed. The leading people in the industry today could give you a multitude of reasons for why, and they're all legitimate in their claims. For years, the WCW had been signing away some of the WWF's top talent - Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and many others were jumping ship. Within this void, the company panicked. Stars who remained with Vince were either underdeveloped in their characters or just pushed to the moon.
In this universe, the top stars of the WWF's Attitude Era would never come into fruition, a long with the era itself. Instead of becoming known as "The Rock", Dwayne Johnson
does not suffer his career-ending football injury while playing collegiate football at Miami University. Instead, Johnson goes on to be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and becomes a leading force in their locker room before ending his career with the Dolphins in 2008. As for Steve Austin
, "The Rattlesnake" was set to become a huge star, but the infamous neck injury he suffered from his match with Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1997 ends up costing him his career. This retirement deals a huge and heavy blow to an already weakening promotion.
As if that weren't enough, the company's now top star Shawn Michaels
suffers an injury on his own in a match with The Undertaker
. Despite this, Michaels trots on, attempting to keep the promotion a float. But even the "Heartbreak Kid" can't perform miracles. Feeling pressure closing in on him from every angle and feeling as if he has been "screwed over" by his workers for the last time, Owner Vince McMahon
forces Bret Hart
to drop the WWF Title in his homeland of Canada due to contract disputes. The so-called "Montreal Screwjob" becomes the final straw for the company, as "The Hitman" would soon make an astonishing debut at the WCW's Starrcade event the next month, publicly trashing McMahon and the promotion's lack of ethics on live television in the weeks to follow.
At Wrestlemania XIV, we see the true plight of a dying legend in complete clarity. Not even celebrity cameos are enough to save the World Wrestling Federation and the extremely thin card for it's marquee event of the year, as WCW Superbrawl VIII goes on to eclipse it's pay-per-view counterpart in customer buyrates. Six months later, the WWF ceases operations and the company itself is sold off to Turner Entertainment.
DAWNING OF A NEW ERA
(1998 - 2000)
With the WWF sold off to the WCW by September of 1998, the Attitude Era never happens. But that's not to say the WCW doesn't break new ground. Taking inspiration from their now biggest competitor in ECW, World Championship Wrestling wipes it's family-friendly image away and begins employing a more risque product with now former WWF competitors. An invasion storyline is soon employed, with even Vince himself appearing as the leader of "a new force" attempting to take over the reigns of wrestling's now top promotion. Dream feuds such as Undertaker vs. Sting are no longer figments of the imagination and become very real in the now kayfabe war between the WCW and the WWF. Months later, at the WCW's World War 3 event, both promotions duke it out in a War Games match to determine who's respective company will take over. Soon, we are left with WCW's Goldberg and the WWF's Triple H, but it is to no avail. The WCW wins and a new era is now established with the WWF now firmly engrained into the culture of the promotion.
Goldberg's elusive winning streak with the World Heavyweight Championship becomes the talk of legends. While the WCW does begin to employ it's own era of "Attitude", it still manages to retain it's old-school traditions in terms of booking. Goldberg's title reign and winning streak last well into 1999, yet, instead of erroneously ending at the hands of Kevin Nash, it is in fact The Undertaker who puts the streak to rest. A heated feud between the two soon consumes the WCW, and for the years following, "The Phenom" becomes one of the most hated competitors in the WCW. But the end of the streak was not the only monumental incident to occur in the year 1999. At Bash at the Beach, the very event where Hulk Hogan changed wrestling history (as well as the fate of the WCW) by aligning with the New World Order, "The Hulkster" announces his retirement shortly after turning face by leaving the NWO and subsequently defeating former ally, Kevin Nash. Hogan receives a standing applause from the crowd in attendance, and soon, the NWO disbands. Despite this, Hogan would soon return though to enact authority roles within the company, including occasional appearances in the ring.
At the edge of the millenium, the wrestling boom continues to surge with the likes of Goldberg
, Bret Hart
, The Undertaker
, Diamond Dallas Page
, Triple H
and even Ken Shamrock
becoming household names. WCW's SuperBrawl 2000 becomes a watershed moment for the promotion, as the event breaks the outdoor attendance record for the newly built Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington.
Y2J IS HERE
(2000 - 2003)
Before SuperBrawl 2000 wowed the world of wrestling, Chris Jericho
did much the same in the beginning of the year. Feeling as if he was being pushed to the side in favor of already established stars from both the WCW and the now defunct WWF, Jericho sheds his popular "Lionhart" gimmick for a far more serious one. On January 3rd, 2000, he returns to shoot on the company, claiming that WCW is bound to die a similar death to that of the WWF if they continue to refuse making younger talent relevant. He then declares that one day, the fans will thank him for this monumental progressive shift that he has just created with nothing more than his voice and a microphone. For the next few years, Jericho becomes one of the top heels in the promotion, battling it out with the likes of Goldberg
and Ken Shamrock
much to the fans adulation. Yet, his words don't fall on deaf ears, as a couple years later in 2002, Jericho revolutionizes the company by aligning himself with a fresh batch of new young talent that will one day represent the company. In a heated confrontation with his most hated rival Sting
, Jericho is aided by the help of developmental talents John Cena
, Randy Orton
and Brock Lesnar
, just in time before Sting is able to heave his baseball bat into the face of Y2J. The ensuing matter becomes an all-out war - Young vs. Old. The new group christens itself "GENESIS" and establishes a tirade upon the older stars of the company. By 2003, Chris Jericho is now a 2x World Heavyweight Champion and embarks on his longest reign yet, holding the big gold belt for an impressive eight months.