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The Monday Night War Review: Episode Nineteen – ‘The Fall of WCW’

January 7, 2015 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Monday Night War WWE WCW Raw Nitro

The Monday Night War Review: Episode Nineteen – ‘The Fall of WCW’

-The last episode provided us with a cliff hanger that indicates this episode will focus on Vince Russo and his ill fated run as the creative force for WCW. This should also give the talking heads one more chance to bury WCW before this series ends.

-Awesome Opening

-The WWF was running on all cylinders thanks to the Attitude Era and a key figure behind that Era was Vince Russo. He puts over how they pushed the envelope and McMahon gives Russo credit for the crazy ideas he had. Russo puts over that they were allowed to get away with more because of the 9-11 timeslot.

-In April of 98 Russo was promoted to head of the creative team, and RAW continued to soar. Russo discusses how the entire roster got on board and each guy up and down the card wanted to know what was planned for them and what they could do.

-The WWF finally pushed ahead in the ratings and WCW was still trying to run with their older guys. Bischoff brings up how he had to deal with Standards and Practice and we get the Nash line from a few shows ago where he mentions they had Stands and Practices while RAW had Val Venis with Jenna Jameson.

-Next up they discuss the guaranteed contracts and talent having creative control. Terry Taylor mentions they got tired of begging guys to do their jobs. Jericho calls everyone in WCW a dick, and that it grew too fast and they had no clue how to handle the success and build off it.

-Once the merger with AOL and Time Warner started to get discussed things started to get sticky as they took a more vested interest in WCW. They soon realized they needed someone new to run the company and that put Bischoff in the crosshairs. Eric says that he had lawyers and guys trying to write the show that had no clue Nitro even ran on Monday Night.

-Tensions rose between Bischoff and the managers of Time Warner and when that was coupled with RAW kicking their ass the writing was on the wall and Bischoff got sent packing. Harvey Schiller mentions they paid Bischoff to basically stay away and Eric says he went fly fishing for 6 weeks.

-WCW needed someone new to run things and they turned to Vince Russo. He pops up and mentions he felt he had peaked in the WWF and was also a little pissed McMahon was getting credit for the turnaround. He also wanted to see if he could save WCW without Vince McMahon there to lean on like he had in the WWF.

-Russo made the jump and some of the WWF guys mention they were worried at first, but after a few weeks they got back into things. McMahon says Turner would steal anyone from him as long as they had a WWF label attached to them. Again, Turner steals talent and McMahon gives guys from other territories opportunities.

-Russo’s first decision was to try to run WCW with the younger guys and get new talent to a higher level. Jimmy Hart says you can’t just go 100% brand new when you have legends on your roster. Russo passes the buck onto the millionaires in WCW that were spoiled. Bret buries Russo for not being a wrestler and questioning what buildings he sold out that would qualify him to tell him how to do things. Hogan tells a story of how he heard Russo wanted to fire anyone over 40 and specifically mentioned his name, and this was before Hogan ever met the guy. Nash says the older guys knew they were going to be able to bully Vince.

-Russo says that after 1 day on the job he knew was in a different world and had a target on his back. One of the first big things done was the rebirth of the n.W.o (now in silver) and Russo defends the idea by saying it was going to be a vehicle to get younger guys over, but it was screwed when Bret got injured.

-Standards and Practice talk again as Russo mentions he knew he would have to deal with them, but he had no clue how much they were going to get involved. His defense was always that S&P would not let him do everything he wanted.

-The AOL/Time Warner merger was getting closer and they were kind of pissed Russo hadn’t delivered the ratings. He says here he wasn’t given enough time, and thus they took him out of being the head man and wanted him to be part of a committee. Russo balks at the idea because his contract stated he was the head of creative, so he left and told them to decide what they wanted to do. After only 3 months Russo was already out the door.

-They mention the company lost $15 million dollars in 1999 even though they had a very talented roster (according to Bret). Show mentions that while company lost money, the guys who knew how to work the company made a piss load of money.

-To stabilize things the book was handed to Kevin Sullivan. He pops up and mentions that older guys loved having him in power and the younger guys were quite pissed. This brings up talk of the Radicalz and they turf out Benoit from all of this as you would expect. Interesting to note is that Sullivan mentions they were going to make two of them the tag champions and one of them the US Champion, and leaves it at that. Of course that means he wanted Benoit as the WCW Champion though not said here.

-Old footage of Eddie as he talks about how he talked to Dean and they decided they were going to make the jump. We get footage from their RAW debut (in Pittsburgh) and hard to cut Benoit out of that and they even include JR calling him by name which is kind of surprising to me. They don’t show much else though and just focus on Eddie, Dean, and Saturn. They were just the latest of a host of talent that had jumped ship to the WWF (Show and Jericho mentioned here).

-Back in WCW things were getting worse with Kevin Sullivan in charge. Nash said he knew nothing made sense, but his check came every two weeks so he didn’t even care if things made sense. Booker called it a very confusing time as guys in chare were often watching RAW to see what was happening there. They show various fucks ups by WCW with production and then show Steiner’s awesome shoot promo where he mentioned fans changing the channel to see Austin and then screaming WCW sucks. Fantastic!

-Russo was called back to work to try to revive things and they also made the decision to call Eric Bischoff back as
well. Bischoff met with Russo and felt he was a straight shooter and figured he would give it a shot. So we got another reboot from WCW and this time Russo appeared on camera for the first time. He immediately backed the young guys and ripped on the old talent and common logic figured Bischoff would back the veterans, but instead they booked them on the same side.

-DDP mentions that Nitro was Bischoff’s show from the start and now he had to play nice with someone else. Styles brings up how all the titles were stripped from the champions and while it does mark a new era, it also kills off everything that was built up to that point. He does admit WCW had the right idea with building with new stars, but he doesn’t feel they put that new talent in a good light. Because of that WCW continued to sink and ratings started to reach new lows.

-Stock footage of Bischoff and he admits things weren’t going the way he wanted them to go and Russo mentions it was hard to force two guys to work together that didn’t even know each other. Okerlund discusses the various differences of opinion the two guys had. The main being that Eric was very loyal and became friends with guys like Hogan and his ilk, while Russo was trying to build the new generation of stars.

-This brings us to Bash at the Beach 1999 and Russo mentions he wrote the show and that Hogan hated it. He rewrote it and made Hogan look like Superman, but still in a losing effort. Hogan says that he had creative control and says he never used it until this occasion. Man, think about that one for a second. I am a Hogan fan since birth basically, but even I have a hard time swallowing that one. Anyway back to the Bash as Russo says 2 hours before the show Bischoff let him know Hogan wasn’t going to do things the way they were written.

-Things get great now as Russo and Hogan have a back and forth on what happened. Russo says he needed to get the show done the way he wrote. Hogan says he didn’t like the finish and said he told them he would figure things out with Jarrett, they would have a hell of a match, and he was going to drop the leg on him for the 3 count and the title. Russo says he told Jeff to screw him and just lay down and let Hogan pin him for the title. Hogan admits he did get word that Jarrett was going to lay down and not have the match. Hogan says he told Jarrett not to do it and told him to get up, but Jeff was Team Russo and that was pretty much it. Hogan pins Jarrett with 1 foot on his chest and becomes the WCW Champion. Booker says Hogan was quite pissed when he came back and Hogan says he took the belt and just decided to leave. He wasn’t even there for Russo’s shoot, and says if he was there he doesn’t think he would have let Russo get away with everything he said. Russo cuts a hell of a shoot promo and they show the announce team with their jaws dropped. Booker T says he felt Russo got too personal and Russo says the internet bought the promo hook, line, and sinker.

-The talking heads discuss if things were legit or a worked shoot. They bring up Hogan hitting Russo with a defamation law suit, and Johnny Ace mentions he figured things were real when the lawsuits started flying. That would be the last appearance of Hogan in WCW.

-With Hogan gone it also ended the partnership with Bischoff as he took a lesser role in the company. We get old footage of Bischoff as he calls Russo a three trick pony who didn’t deliver what he promised. Now without Bischoff there Russo took over and shit got real crazy. Goldberg says he felt anything Russo touched smelled like shit. To prove the point they bring up Viagra on a Pole, Judy Bagwell on a Pole, and all the crap that was peddled on Nitro. Russo defends things by saying he needed to make things different so that there would be something for everyone and that would get people watching. Cena says seeing guys beat each other with weapons for the entire show was an insult to the fan’s intelligence. Nash says being on TV was like an acid trip and soon he just stopped caring and did whatever he was told.

-Things got so bad that Vince Russo made himself WCW Champion, and that brings up how the WCW Title became meaningless with all the constant title changes. Again Russo defends this by saying it would bring viewers because always something different. Everyone else buries the idea and Bryan mentions he tried to watch WCW, but called it unwatchable. They show Booker T winning the title by getting it out of a box (on a pole) and it was the 15th title change in 6 months. That would also be the last title change under Russo as he was finally removed.

-Vince McMahon brings up that people still think he sent Russo to WCW to kill the company because of how horrible he did down there. Arn Anderson admits that to this day he still thinks McMahon was smart enough to do just that. Jericho says that Russo had a million ideas, but only 10 were good and he couldn’t tell the difference between them. Cole buries him by saying he didn’t have McMahon there to filter through the crap. Russo says he will admit it was a failure, but he didn’t have a chance to succeed in WCW like he did with Vince in the WWF. Hogan talks about how Russo told everyone in WCW he created the Attitude Era. Russo says he would never take credit for what Austin and Rock did, but he knew they would take what he wrote and knock it out of the park. McMahon kind of buries Russo by saying he was the right guy at the right time and it worked because someone was there to filter through his crazy ideas and make what he did come up with work. JBL buries him even more by saying he took a company like WCW with unlimited money and bankrupted them. All total WCW lost $65 million in 2000. Damn!

-Details with the AOL/Time Warner merger finally got finalized and WCW’s losses were put under the microscope. The AOL people wanted WCW out when the deal was completed in Jan of 2001. Turner was no longer there to protect WCW, and AOL no longer wanted anything to do with pro-wrestling. The company was put up for sale and the rumors started to fly about who was going to own the company. The leading rumor was that Bischoff was going to buy things with some investors. Bischoff says they put in an offer of $65 million for the company and it seemed like a done deal.

-Bischoff’s task was to try to save the company, and the talking heads discuss how WCW had pissed off their fans and insulted their intelligence. Bischoff never got the chance to fix things though as the deal was called off because AOL decided they didn’t want WCW on Turner Networks anymore. Bischoff says they had a letter of intent signed and WCW was supposed to be on Turner for another 10 years before the plug was pulled on that idea. Without the TV time WCW wasn’t worth anything and thus the deal fell through. DDP talks about how wrestling was still the highest rated show for Turner and he doesn’t understand why they wanted to take it off their air. Dusty talks about how AOL knew nothing of wrestling and felt it was beneath them. He says they had no clue how wrestling helped build TBS and TNT through the years going back to 6:05 PM on Saturday night.

-On one of the final shows Bischoff showed up via phone and tells everyone that the following week will very likely be the final episode of WCW on TNT. We end with another cliff hanger so to speak as only 5 days from the final Nitro there still wasn’t a buyer until an unlikely man shows up to create history.

-Next time we get the final episode of this series and it will discuss the last episode of Nitro and what happened after the war ended.

Additional Thoughts: Loved the episode this week as the stuff was Russo was interesting and I felt they did a good job of letting his give his side of the story while letting everyone else give their side. The Bash stuff with Hogan and Russo going back and forth was fantastic. I really do wish they somehow would have gotten newer stuff from Bischoff from this series instead of recycling the stuff from 10-12 years ago, but nothing can do about that now. Next week I do hope they spend some talk going into what it was like the night the war ended before jumping into the dream match stuff they hinted at in the preview.