Jamie Lithgow & Craig Wilson
Jamie: Firstly, let’s agree when each company hit its peak. For WCW it is without doubt the nWo era, WWE’s has to be the Attitude era while ECW was probably at its best from 1995 to 1998.
The only ‘era’ that I experienced at the time was the second half of the Attitude era, and primarily being a WWE fan I naturally lean this way. However, this doesn’t necessarily make it better. I feel torn between two, so firstly let’s eliminate the third wheel. Sadly first to go is the company that actually provided the highest highs; ECW. Like most wrestling fans I went through an ECW phase and even then I rarely managed to sit through an entire show. When they were good they were great, but when they weren’t great it made it all too difficult to block out the low budget, second rate feeling.
So it’s between WWE and WCW, and to be honest I think WCW’s nWo era trumps the Attitude era. The Attitude era gets all the credit for making wrestling cool and less like a cartoon show, but frankly it just carried on from the nWo era. WCW grew up when the nWo was formed. All of a sudden the absurd characters from The Dungeon of Doom were replaced by the likes of Scot Hall making statements like “you know who we are, but you don’t know why we’re here”. Fans weren’t being led by the hand anymore, the nWo made WCW more mature. In the ring the action was still good too. For most of its existence it is generally accepted that WCW put on a better wrestling show than WWE. The big angle may have been the nWo, but the under card was ram packed with fantastic wrestlers and matches. Compare this to most of the Attitude era and there’s no doubt where the better matches took place. Yes, WWE was pushing the limits in terms of content but in the ring the wrestling was generally poor, until 2000 when WWE exploded and the match quality went through the roof. However for me the nWo era just pips the attitude era, I simply find re-watching shows from this era more interesting due to the match quality.
Craig: For me, in order: WWE, WCW and ECW. Don’t get me wrong, I see what ECW to change the landscape of wrestling – and I’d argue that attitude era was more influenced by what was going on there than a reaction to WCW etc – but I just couldn’t get into the promotion at all.
I always thought it was just needless violence in most cases to disguise the fact that the guys themselves either weren’t all that good or not over – sometimes both. The odd bump or chairshot etc helps get something over at times but it was all a bit too much.
As for the WCW, it was always second for me. I watched WWF a lot as a kid and a wee bit of WCW as well but always preferred the WWF product – looking back, based on re-watching WCW now, the wrestling in WCW is much much better and more innovative but it was the cartoon characters that attracted me to the WWF at the time.
Mostly through your prompting, Jamie, I’ve been watching a lot more latter WCW and some of it is great. The NWO stuff, like you say, is revolutionary but it’s still the WWF for me.
Jamie: Don’t get me wrong, having been brought up on WWE I do have a certain allegiance to the Attitude era. However it would be unfair of me to judge this era having witnessed much of it as a kid while judging WCW’s nWo era in hindsight. Had these two eras happened simultaneously when I was younger I think I probably would have still opted for WWE’s shock tactics, although it’s a tough call. However in hindsight both eras do battle for my attention when I want to watch some old school wrestling and I can confidently say that WCW’s nWo era sees more action than WWE’s Attitude era. There was a time when I could put this down to simply being less familiar with WCW but I’m fairly up to speed these days. I simply find WCW’s peak period more enduring and interesting to watch.
Craig: One negative about attitude era is how difficult it is to go back and watch the matches now as in most cases you really need to have seen the storyline develop as the matches themselves often make no sense.
Re-watching NWO though is great though. Really innovative and wish id seen it live at the time.
We didn’t really get much chance to see all that much ECW though. Think we only got the one hour shows on Bravo. Did anyone show their ppvs in the UK or did we have to rely on getting the videos when they came out?
Jamie: Before the days of YouTube and torrent files my ECW fix came from Bravo showing Hardcore TV and buying videos from Amazon. WCW wasn’t much better, but at least we got Nitro on TNT on a Friday night. Much as I loved certain aspects of ECW it was more or less just a phase for me, as it was in the wrestling industry as a whole to be honest. It was of it’s time, but when I want to watch an old school wrestling show I never really give ECW much thought. I feel like I’ve been there and done it and I don’t need to do it again. With WCW and WWE I have no such problem re-watching matches and shows, they just seem to offer me that little bit more these days.