World Championship Wrestling: A Tale of Two Owners

Brian Damage

March 26th, 2001 was one of the darkest days in pro wrestling history. On that date, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) folded and was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWE, its main rival. What could have been, what should have been? Those are questions that sadly, we really never got the opportunity to find out. Oh sure, we as fans got to see a very watered down version of WCW in the WWE, but it wasn’t the original plan.

The original plan was not going to involve the WWE at all. You see, a company called Fusient Media Ventures aligned with former WCW head Eric Bischoff to purchase the dying wrestling promotion. Bischoff would regain power and control the day to day operations of WCW. That was the plan and for a while, that plan came very close to becoming a reality. However, as the late, great Gorilla Monsoon used to say, “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

The business transaction kept on hitting speed bumps and was continually pushed back. Not a very good sign at all. The deal finally fell apart when AOL Time Warner, the then owners of WCW, decided to cancel all WCW programming from their stations TBS and TNT. Without a firm television deal in place, the deal disintegrated and Fusient dropped out of the purchase. That allowed Vince McMahon and WWE to swoop in and buy the company.

While McMahon was more interested in acquiring WCW’s video tape library, he did see the potential of a cross promotional feud between the two different wrestling brands. In McMahon’s original plan for WCW, he would first reestablish the promotion on its own. After introducing fans to the new WCW, he would eventually book a feud between WCW and WWE. That was in a nutshell Vince’s plan, but of course, things happen.

The main “thing” that happened was the infamous Booker T versus Buff Bagwell match for the WCW title on Monday Night Raw. The match was so bad, and the fans were so dead, that Vince scrapped all of his plans for a relaunch of the WCW brand. To be fair, while the Booker T/Bagwell match was bad, the fans reaction to it shouldn’t have been a true indicator for Vince. The match took place in front of WWE fans who paid to see WWE stars. It also didn’t help that the match took place in Tacoma, Washington, not exactly a WCW hotbed.

Regardless, Vince saw the match and heard the negative reactions to it and went immediately to his next plan. This was the plan that we all got to see and it was basically an invasion angle with less than top tier WCW names involved. Despite the lack of star power, the feud did start off relatively hot, but ultimately fizzled out. The rest is history as they say.

While both Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon’s big plans for a new reinvigorated WCW fell by the wayside, what exactly would these new versions of WCW look like?

We will probably never know fully, but we did get some hints. First up, Eric Bischoff. His plan featured him taking WCW off the air for a few weeks and finally debut new sets, new logos and even a new announce team. Dave Meltzer reported that before Fusient’s deal fell through, Bischoff had some preliminary discussions with Joey Styles and Don Callis.

Bischoff would also bring back some of its top stars like Hulk Hogan and Bill Goldberg and was also very interested in adding Rob Van Dam to the mix. Younger wrestlers would be pushed more heavily. Bischoff’s WCW would also not travel anymore, instead, would find a home in one location which was going to either be in Las Vegas, Nevada or Orlando, Florida. The Big Bang would be WCW’s first event to signal in a new era for the company. Alas, it never happened.

Next up is Vince McMahon and his plans for WCW’s relaunch. He too was planning a new set, new logo, which we got, and a new announce team. Vince was reportedly very interested in obtaining either or even both Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay. It looked like Tony Schiavone was out in both Bischoff and McMahon’s scenarios. Vince also actually had a television slot lined up for WCW. It would air on TNN on Saturday nights from 11pm to 1am. Not the most ideal time slot, but that is all TNN was willing to give Vince at the time.

Vince and TNN were also very interested in bringing in many of WCW’s prime wrestlers like Sting, Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page. The problem with that, is most of those wrestlers were signed to big money contracts and for Vince to get them, he’d have to buy those contracts out. If McMahon did that, it would set a bad precedent with the WWE roster who were making less money. So Vince opted not to purchase the bigger named stars and signed as many of the lower card talent instead.

Vince planned to fill the void with signing top free agents from ECW like Rob Van Dam and have a few WWE wrestlers “jump ship” to WCW. That didn’t exactly excite TNN at all. In the end, however, neither plan went into effect and what we got from a revised WCW is what we got. Looking back, who had the better vision for WCW? Was either idea any good? Would WCW still be around today with either idea in place? The world will never know.

6 thoughts on “World Championship Wrestling: A Tale of Two Owners

  1. Several things:
    – No, WCW wouldn’t be around if Bischoff took it over. It was obvious to everybody, that the guy has no clue about professional wrestling, who only had one stolen claim to fame (nWo) and would’ve just run the company into the ground. Bischoffs TNA run proves that perfectly fine. The WCW “reboot” would’ve, at best, survived for maybe 1 year if Fusient was there, they would’ve pulled the plug because it was going nowhere. At the time WWF was too dominant, no other promotion, even with big names (remember XWF?) went anywhere.
    – Fusient never had a chance to get WCW anyway, since actually ever since the 1996 lawsuit that was settled a few years later, Vince had the first option to buy if WCW ever was put up for sale. That was put in the settlement by Gerald Levin, CEO of Time Warner
    – Levin (named “Worst CEO in the USA” a couple times) is also the true killer of WCW. He despised wrestling and wanted to get rid off it ever since the Time Warner/Turner merger went down. When they merged with AOL he found a lot more people who supported his claim and WCW being dead in the water thanks to Vince Russo helped obviously a lot. Levin also was a friend of Vince McMahon. So it was obvious, the company would end up in Vince’s hands, no matter what.
    – “If McMahon did that, it would set a bad precedent with the WWE roster who were making less money.” – I doubt that, Austin and Rock made nearly the same, maybe thanks to merchandise actually more. So did Taker and HHH sure enough thanks to family connections alread in place. The midcarders and all the below guys had no business complaining if a big name like Goldberg came in and got a main event contract.
    It had more to do with a) Vince being too greedy to fork over the money and b) several of the wrestlers (most famously Sting) having absolutely no interest in the WWE. Sting said so countless times in interviews, hence why he rather went with World Wrestling Allstars and other small time promotions.
    – Personally i seriously doubt Vince had any interest in bringing WCW back. It has always been a nice fantasy, but if you knew Vince, he never gave any concern about his competition. His plan always was to destroy WCW and make them look as bad as possible. The Invasion played out just like most invasions before (like the Mid-South Invasion in JCP): The owners just made the incoming forces look like jobbers. Vince making ECW return is different for two reasons: ECW never was competition, they were so far behind WWF and WCW, they never played a role at all and second: Vince already worked with ECW (The 1997 storylines) and gave Heyman money

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    • Amen on Bischoff. The man’s supposed genius was basically his knack for ripping off the ideas of others. But in the end, he was literally a lunatic running an asylum.

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  2. The Booker T-Buff Bagwell match. What a dumpster fire that was. Mainly due to Bagwell who was never nor will ever be a main event player no matter how much Meekmahan drooled over his physique. If it was in Atlanta, I don’t think it would’ve helped matters as it’s easy to forget that WCW’s audience by mid-late 2000 was dropping fast.

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    • i think you’re wrong sista…was the match between the two of them that bad?…I mean really was it? and yes I saw the match for myself…granted the match wasn’t as great as it should’ve been but I think this matche’s badness gets overblown…there are worst matches than that…I’ve seen worse…YOU’VE seen worse…I don’t even know you and I know you’ve seen worse matches than that lol

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      • First of all, I’m a dude. Second. The woman in my avatar thumbnail is Jena Malone.

        I have seen the match a bunch of times and yes, it was bad. I don’t think you understand the context and what was at stake for that match. If you wanted to revive WCW as a brand of its own. What would be the match you would have as that main event on RAW? Considering that they didn’t have a lot of the major talents from that company with the exception of Booker and DDP. A match w/ just those 2 would’ve been fine.

        Instead, they put Booker with someone who had no business being in the main event of anything. Especially someone who had lost a lot of goodwill and promise after his neck injury and didn’t really do much to really make himself important.

        Yes, I’ve seen worse matches. I could name a bunch of them. I think you have to understand that what happened that night in Tacoma was a disaster and the fact that the fans took a shit on it made it worse forcing WWE to just pull the plug on a WCW brand for good.

        I think you’re either forgetting or probably weren’t old enough at that time to understand how bad WCW in early 2001. They barely could a decent show and had lost a lot of its audience with only some loyalists left that were slowly going away. It also didn’t help that they lost more than $60 million alone which is one of the reasons why AOL/Time Warner wanted to get rid of WCW because as a business. It wasn’t making money and it was a drain so they had to get rid of it.

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  3. oh…sorry for calling you a woman ninvoid99 lol and p.s I was old enough back then…I was 15 and I still think this match wasn’t as bad as gets perceived…a 5 star barnstormin’ classic?…no but an absolute abomination of a match?…it isn’t that either I think because the match [for whatever reason] got off to a slow start vince[like he tends to do]overreacted and had the match ended early and then used that as a reason as to why the wcw brand never happened which again is overblowing how awful the match was…if vince really wanted to give wcw a second chance as brand he would have tried again but he didn’t…one match doesn’t get the reaction he wanted and that was it…so did vince really want to go all in with a separate wcw brand?

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