World Wrestling Entertainment is coming out with a DVD set entitled The Rise and Fall of WCW. The DVD is set to release in the U.S. on August 25th
Now as you may recall, the DVD they released several years ago, The Rise and Fall of ECW was a runaway success, and was generally praised, even though it exhibited a little WWE revisionist history.Will the WCW set be as good as the ECW offering? Will they set aside some of the animosity usually shown towards anything and everything WCW? Will the “if Vince McMahon didn’t create it, it sucks stereotype be perpetuated?
WWE has actually released a sneak peak of the production, which looks promising. Especially surprising was that they actually dug up some of the important people involved in the company, rather than just having random wrestlers give their personal opinions. I mean, they even interviewed Magnum T.A. and David Crockett!
Below is the clip WWE released. Please stick around, as I have my own WCW story to tell. The DVD will be released almost exactly nine years ago to the day the story takes place.
I used to be a huge WCW fan. Well, when I began following it, they were still known as the NWA. World Championship Wrestling was simply the name of their flagship TV program on Superstation WTBS. Before discovering the NWA/WCW, I was a loyal WWF (aka: WWE) fan. I watched everything I could.
Then one night, I didn’t turn the TV off right away after WWF Superstars of Wrestling. This other wrestling show came on - Worldwide Wrestling. It was an NWA show featuring the likes of Ric Flair, The Russians, The Road Warriors, Ron Garvin and feuding Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and Midnight Express. I was hooked. There was more blood, more physicality, more action, and the word on the playground at school was “WWF is #1, but they’re fake. NWA, however, is REAL.” Seriously, that’s what other kids told me over and over.
Fast-forward many years, and things were going quite well for me in my own pro wrestling endeavours. I was getting a ton of bookings each month, and had, as many do, sent of numerous tapes and promo packages to the WWE and WCW (for the record, WWE always called me back, WCW never did, probably because at the time, you sent everything to Paul Orndorff, who only liked guys that looked like him).
Then came New Blood Rising, a live WCW PPV being held in Vancouver, BC of all places. This was the first time WCW had EVER run a show there. As we often did, a few of the more diehard ECCW’ers (myself, Ladies Choice,Tony Kozina, and Chance Beckett) headed down to the venue to see who we could talk to. In the past we had attended a few WWE shows, talked to some great people, and ate their catered food. Stephanie McMahon even went out of her way to come say hello to us, and Pat Patterson pointed out Ladies Choice and proclaimed “Hey! Look! It’s Shawn Michael!” (yes, no “S” on the end). It was always a great experience each time. I cannot state how FRIENDLY the atmosphere was. I mean, even Vince would bellow a “how’s it going gentlemen” on his way past. Everyone had a smile and everyone was happy. It was obvious that this was something everyone in their right mind would want to be a part of.
I take that back. Perry Saturn looked grumpy. And like he could easily kill me by only slightly exerting his pinky toe.
Now, WCW at the time was going down hard and fast. I had read in publications like Figure Four Weekly and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that morale was at an all-time low. We got down to the building early and hooked up with ECCW’s Dave Republic, who has some sort of a meeting with WCW’s Terry Taylor. Because he was so busy due to it being a PPV event, he couldn’t meet with all of us, so he met with Dave, who in addition to his own business dealings, personally passed on our materials to him.
I can’t remember why, but for some reason we were all milling around inside the arena before the show. The wrestlers were all arriving and signing in. The WWE shows had been such great, friendly experiences, with everyone wearing a smile (and with good reason, they WERE doing gangbusters business and destroying WCW at the time). Our WCW experience couldn’t have been any more the opposite. NOBODY looked happy. Not production people, not random staff, and especially not the wrestlers.
I specifically remember Rick Steiner (who I consider to be half of one of the greatest tag teams of all time) arriving to the building and giving us the most bitter, hateful, grumpy, I-wish-I-was-dead stare I had ever seen. Wrestlers from NWA Wildside, which was sort of a developmental system for WCW at the time were bitter that we were there (and the next couple nights they were even more annoyed when ECCW guys appeared on the TV tapings in spots they may have otherwise been in).
The one thing I remember the most is that it was SO uncomfortable. So awkward. You didn’t even want to sneeze. The ill-will was thick in the air. I suppose in hindsight, it could be construed as the stink of death in the air.
We didn’t even stick around. It wasn’t worth it. It was such a stark contrast to our WWE experiences, that it just wasn’t worth it. Not even for free food. We left, went around front, and got our free tickets like everyone else.
It’s sad that these days there’s really no decent alternative in the wrestling mainstream. There’s TNA, but they seem way too concerned withbeing circa 2000 WWE Jr. that all the great talent there is overlooked. You’d think they would be trying to deliver all the unique action and varied styles that WWE cannot. ROH has the ability to deliver fantastic action, but without the glitzy production values, the average wrestling fan won’t take them seriously. With only the most diehard fans on their side, it’s tough for them to break out of the “high-level indy” label and allow the talent to make a more comfortable living.
To this day, I still can’t bring myself to read Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds‘ book The Death of WCW. I just can’t do it. I read a bit of it in the bookstore, and I just wanted to rip my hair out. So many ridiculous, completely avoidable mistakes were made in the final years. So much money wasted. They were nothing like the company I used to follow when I was younger that made me insist on watching the broadcasts live, whereas taping WWF and watching it later was okay.
I hope this forthcoming DVD shows more of that exciting company, rather than the disappointment I found when I got a close up look at the company in its dying days.
It was like being a Milli Vanilli fan on the day they were outed for being nothing more than lip-syncing dancers.