It Doesn’t Really Matter, Who Killed WCW | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

It Doesn’t Really Matter, Who Killed WCW 

As part of its never-ending quest to spin off and copy its Dark Side of the Ring franchise, the Vice TV channel spent the month of June airing a four-part series called Who Killed WCW?

The series used the bones of the Dark Side of the Ring format to the waning years of World Championship Wrestling, leading up to its ultimate demise in 2001. As evidenced by the title, there’s much blame, and the series offers plenty of opportunities for stakeholders to blame their preferred culprits. 

The documentary is entertaining, and it can be fun to revisit these events if you lived through them. 

Things I Disliked About Who Killed WCW?: 

Monday Night Wars

Regarding events in wrestling history, few things have been bandied about more than the Monday Night Wars, the death of WCW, and other related events. This is old, very warmed-over news.

Bret Hart v. Goldberg

And yes, I know that Bret Hart and Goldberg hate each other. That story has been told and didn’t quite need to be again. The incident when David Arquette briefly became WCW World champion? I preferred Arquette’s own documentary about that. 

Eric Bischoff/Vince Russo

Relatedly, I’m not sure we needed to hear one more time from Eric Bischoff or Vince Russo about any of this since they’ve each spent the past 25 years talking about little else. 

The Rock as a Talking Head

One of my favorite things about Dark Side of the Ring is that WWE has no control over it. It can tell wrestling stories that don’t require WWE approval. Indeed, WWE has made countless documentaries and DVD releases about the NWO, the Monday Night Wars, and WCW’s demise. 

Here, we have a Dark Side-adjacent project executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the WWE mainstay (and current board member of its parent company), who also appears as a talking head. Even if WWE isn’t directly involved in the project, a line has been crossed. 

Not Bringing Anything New

Indeed, little in the entire four hours differs significantly from the conventional wisdom about how WCW went away. Even the never-before-scene backstage footage from the final episode of Nitro isn’t especially interesting. 

Here’s why WCW died: The product was creatively bad over a long period with multiple regimes in charge. The company was losing lots of money. The disastrous AOL Time Warner merger sidelined the wrestling-loving Ted Turner. It knocked the company into a financial crisis, and people who didn’t see the wisdom of putting wrestling on the air ended up in charge. 

And then, WWE bought WCW, staged the “Invasion” angle, and botched it horribly. 

It wasn’t like everything was hunky-dory until one person stepped in and ruined it. If WCW was riding high, and Turner executives stepped in to cancel it anyway, that person would have “killed” WCW. But the company was in plenty of trouble years before that. (Ironically, the Turner executive whose call it was to cancel the WCW shows, Jamie Kellner, happened to pass away just days before the finale aired.)

Had the Eric Bischoff-backed plan to keep WCW succeeded and they’d kept their TV slot, I doubt it would have lasted especially long.

More Kevin Nash

Some of the talking heads were better than others; Kevin Sullivan, in particular, was a more interesting figure than I remember. But then there’s Kevin Nash, who has admitted that he was stoned for his interview; and I’d be happy if I never had to hear Vince Russo speak again.

As I wrote recently, the last Dark Side of the Ring season was better than I expected, and I haven’t given up on the concept. But Who Killed WCW ? fell short for quite a few reasons.

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