Only in WCW: 25 Things That Couldn't Have Happened Elsewhere for Better or Worse
It's easy for a wrestling fan to look back at WCW as any other wrestling promotion that is now defunct. WCW takes a lot of jokes, most of them involving Vince Russo, the infamous former head writer of World Championship Wrestling.
For as much as it is simple to point fingers and laugh at WCW (WWE does it all the time), there has to be some gratitude given to the company. Despite flushing their own fortunes down the toilet and ending up as a purchase by their biggest competiton, WCW did a lot for wrestling history.
Let's not lie to ourselves and say everything was amazing and innovative.
Some things that WCW did just did not work.
Still, the only way to be a trendsetter is to start a trend. Whether it worked or not, WCW was always trying things differently.
In the end, some of WCW's contributions are still remembered fondly. The ones that did not work out so well can be used as historical lessons to wrestling fans under the "What Not To Do With A Wrestling Company" file.
It's time to take a look back at many of the things that WCW did over the years, whether they were innovative ideas or terrible thoughts.
David Arquette Wins WCW Championship
Let's just get this one out of the way.
As much as WWE may show Snooki in a WrestleMania match and Drew Carey in a Royal Rumble match, WWE would never stick one of their titles on a celebrity.
Even if Vince McMahon has held a championship on multiple occasions, he still isn't on the same level as Donald Trump holding a strap.
Arquette was not only the world champion, but he actually had a successful title defense and only lost the title at Slamboree in a triple cage match against two former WCW champions.
WWE has referenced this moment repeatedly as one of the main reasons that WCW failed. While it may have something to do with it and is a big reason why people lost interest in the promotion, only WCW would have the cajones to pull that one off.
WCW did some cross-branding with KISS, using the band as inspiration for a gimmick.
The Demon, also known as The KISS Demon at times, was not popular with fans and had a limited shelf life from bookers. However, the contract signed with the band to use their likenesses for the gimmick included some perks in the deal, the main one being that The Demon would have to be involved in a main event on a pay-per-view.
To honor that request, The KISS Demon was included in a "Special Main Event" match against The Wall at SuperBrawl 2000. It was just the fourth match on the card, but was announced as a main event match, thus fulfilling the agreement. Following those requests, the character was known only as The Demon until WCW was bought out and the contract was dropped.
The Black Scorpion
The Black Scorpion was another gimmick that was just plain odd.
Imagine this gimmick to combine Phantasio's magic tricks with the spookiness of The Undertaker and the star-studded portrayals of Doink The Clown. The Black Scorpion was a mysterious gimmick looking to distract Sting.
This character did not last and would culminate in a match with Sting where the mask was removed from The Black Scorpion. Originally portrayed by Ole Anderson, the gimmick would have 11 different people portray the character, eventually ending with Ric Flair being revealed as the man behind the mask.
New World Order
This is not to say that the New World Order was a bad idea. In fact, it was an incredibly good idea. The faction actually belonged in New Japan Pro Wrestling and was used for WCW's purposes with the original three men: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan.
Eventually, the crowd got way out of hand, bringing in a constant slew of talent, as well as throwing people out just as quickly. The nWo spawned multiple types of groups, with the main copycat being the nWo Wolfpac.
Still, this was one of the major factors in WCW winning the ratings battle with WWE for so long.
WWE would probably have just ruined it before it even became a big deal.
The (Insert Object) on a Pole Match
Vince Russo, now a TNA ex-employee, loved these matches.
Name something to put on a pole and have a match for it and you will probably be rewarded with one.
From pinatas to contracts, titles to Viagra, or brass knuckles to a vibrator, anything and everything has been placed on a pole at some point.
Russo loved the concept and while it has served a purpose over the years, it is still just about the lamest and least creative you can get with a match.
Goldberg Loses Via Taser
We can talk about the legend of Goldberg later, but let's focus on Goldberg's first loss in WCW.
It was at Starrcade 1998, when Kevin Nash would defeat Goldberg for the WCW Championship. It was a no disqualification match and a taser would need to be used on Goldberg to have the champion lose enough energy to not kick out, leading to his first WCW loss.
Goldberg was 174-0 in WCW, winning the United States and World Heavyweight championships during that streak. It would take a device used to stun people in order for Goldberg to finally lose.
The Four Horsemen
Despite being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, The Four Horsemen are WCW through and through. Even with replacements and additions to the group over the years, the Horsemen still ride tall as the greatest faction in wrestling history.
The original incarnation of Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, J.J. Dillon, Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair is still the greatest combination of the stable. Over the years, 14 other men have been involved with the group.
In a constantly changing wrestling world, seeing a group stand the test of time and improve with new members makes The Four Horsemen like no other wrestling faction in history.
Broadcasting a Show from the Mall of America
The first episode of WCW Monday Nitro came live from The Mall of America in Minnesota. This may not seem like a big deal, but it had never been done before and certainly wouldn't be done again.
WWE uses stadiums for WrestleMania and has even used unusual venues for shows like Shotgun Saturday Night, but The Mall of America?
It was different.
The show stuck out and one of its biggest stars was the mall itself. I don't know if it was Hulk Hogan's dream to wrestle in a mall, but it was a unique look for a unique night in WCW history.
Michael Buffer Doing Ring Introductions
WWE has used Buffer in recent years, but the ultimate voice in ring announcing still gives you chills when watching old WCW bouts.
The fact that he has introduced the likes of Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan is so cool, especially when he does the same job with boxers in title bouts. It always gave WCW a big-fight feel that was infectious.
Buffer is an all-time great, simply for his voice.
By the way, Bruce Buffer, who does the announcing for UFC fights, is Michael's half-brother. It's cool to know that the skills run in the family, at least on half of the family tree.
WarGames is so special that fans of WWE are still asking for it to be brought back.
Imagine two rings inside one gigantic cage.
Now, imagine a Survivor Series style with teams, but have members of teams enter the match at different intervals.
That is WarGames in a nutshell. It was so different that it worked so well and old school fans cannot get enough of it. If it were to ever return with WWE, fans of the old WCW would shout from rooftops.
Unmasking Lucha Wrestlers
Eric Bischoff, who was calling the shots for WCW at the time, believed that a masked wrestler could not generate revenue for WCW.
Bischoff felt that the face helped sell the superstar.
That is why men such as Rey Mysterio were unmasked in WCW. With the strict customs of lucha libre masks, you cannot wear one again once you lose the ability to wear the face cover.
Mysterio was unmasked, but still appears in WWE wearing a mask.
That's because those responsible for lucha libre wrestling were not fans of Bischoff. Years after, just as he was joining WWE, Mysterio had it worked out with the council that he could wear them again.
Do I really need to explain this one?
It's freaking RoboCop.
As a kid, RoboCop was a cool movie series to watch. However, how do you incorporate him to wrestling seamlessly?
This isn't like when WWE brought Chuck Norris in as an enforcer. All Norris did was awesome roundhouse kicks.
For RoboCop, he was the focal point of an entire pay-per-view, saving Sting from The Four Horsemen. At Capital Combat, RoboCop was there to promote a movie and save a WCW legend in what wasn't even a match on a card.
It might as well have been Keith Stone with a 30 pack of Keystone Light.
Announcing Spoilers for Another Promotion
Here's something that most promotions will never be caught dead doing.
WCW hoped to deter viewers from taped episodes of RAW (RAW was a taped episode every other week at the time) in favor of live episodes of Nitro.
In a move that had been done multiple times in the past, Tony Schiavone informed wrestling fans that WWE was going to have Mankind win their world championship on their taped RAW episode on a particular night.
This was way before the world of spoiler websites, so these spoilers were very hard to come by.
While most weeks would have basic endings and nothing too intriguing, this was a moment that wrestling fans wanted to see for themselves.
This wasn't WCW throwing a shoutout to an ex-employee with a congratulations.
WCW was trying to force fans to not watch Mick Foley's shining moment.
The exact opposite happened. Fans switched to RAW to see Mankind win the championship, despite knowing about it anyway.
It blew up in WCW's faces, ratings were altered, and the Monday Night Wars would not be the same way again.
Chamber of Horrors Match
A week ago, I wrote a piece on the coolest cage match variations, but did not include the Chamber of Horrors in that equation. I didn't hear any complaints about doing so and I can't say I'm surprised by that.
Either you don't know about this match or you choose to forget it.
Basically, there were teams in this cage match, which had a cage in the center of the ring too.
Inside that small cage was an electric chair.
To win the match, a team would have to put someone into the smaller cage, hook them to an electric chair, and go over to the switch, ending the match and electrocuting someone.
That's right; WCW wanted you to believe that someone was being electrocuted.
The problem with this barbaric match was that it wasn't believable.
Why would they literally electrocute someone?
More importantly, how would they explain when Abdullah The Butcher, who was the superstar who sat in the chair for that moment, was not dead from the electric shock?
Filming in Orlando
As WCW grew, they would have their episodes taped in front of audiences at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando. The park would give the wrestling company an audience who wished to see a pro wrestling show.
It might as well have been American Gladiators in that regard, but it was all the same to showing notoriety.
Fans of WCW who wanted to take part in an episode would just need to come to Orlando, as opposed to chasing the company around the country and maybe getting a show in their area once every few months.
WCW grew away from that idea, instead having shows in random low markets that WWE wasn't satisfying.
While that was OK too, it doesn't compare to the popularity of keeping WCW in Orlando, which also satisfied its souther "rasslin'" roots. TNA is now trying the same trick, but to not-so-popular results.
Take WWE pay-per-views away and ask any wrestling fan what the greatest pay-per-view name ever was and that fan will likely think of the fond memories of Starrcade.
It was WCW's answer to WrestleMania and was a successful answer at that. Originally created by the NWA, Starrcade was the absolute pinnacle of booking for WCW.
If you could main event Starrcade, you were a somebody in WCW.
Starrcade lost a little bit of momentum from WWE, who naturally wanted to compete with their rivals, eventually leading to the creation of Survivor Series.
Regardless, Starrcade is still remembered to this day for being such a memorable event year in and year out. WWE even put together an entire DVD collection with Starrcade matches.
World War 3
WCW took notice in what WWE did and would always try to top them.
If Starrcade was their WrestleMania, World War 3 was WCW's Royal Rumble—on steroids.
While the Royal Rumble has had 30 (or 40) men in a battle royal, World War 3 would have 60 men competing in three different rings.
Unlike Royal Rumble, World War 3 had all 60 men in rings to begin the match, meaning there were three rings with 20 men in each of them. It also would not suggest that competitors would have to go over the top rope to be eliminated.
In many of the matches, just getting out of the ring would count as an elimination until the crowd thinned out enough that the remaining men would go to one ring to finish the match.
WCW International Heavyweight Championship
This belt looks familiar.
Originally, it was called the International Heavyweight Championship.
While the name was stupid, it was the secondary world championship, but only while working out issues with the NWA and Ric Flair. Flair took the NWA Championship belt with him to the WWE, due to the deposit Flair put down on the belt.
The NWA title was also in the middle of controversy. Other promotions under the NWA complained that, with WCW using the NWA title as their main championship, it did not make it available for other bookings with that champion. Also, their live events would suffer from having one champion, while WCW-taped broadcasts would feature another.
Long story short, this belt, known to many as the "Big Gold Belt", would stand to be the WCW International Heavyweight Championship. Eventually, the International part of the name would be dropped.
The belt is now seen as the World Heavyweight Championship in WWE.
Six-Man Tag Team Championships
Eat your heart out, Fabulous Freebirds.
The idea of having six-man tag team championships was short-lived, mainly because it was hard to create teams of three men to fight together. While it helped to expand the roster and showcase more guys more often, it also meant three new tag team title belts for an entirely different division.
Just imagine if WWE had these things.
They can barely field a tag team division as it stands right now.
This isn't to say that WWE hasn't had some awful ideas for video games in the past.
WCW, on the other hand, just tried to put their money behind Backstage Assault, a typical wrestling game that took things to the extreme.
This hardcore game had just one big detail to separate it from the rest—there was no ring to compete in.
All of the matches in Backstage Assault were just that: assaults that took place backstage. It seemed more important to have people make their opponents get set on fire for a moment than to throw them into the ring.
I can't hate on Goldberg, even if I don't like his unstoppable nature and his massive overbooking.
His undefeated streak is such an impressive thing.
Goldberg embodies what WCW meant during the late 1990s. His return to the ring in WWE was monumental, as it helped close any ideas of what could have been if Goldberg was allowed contractually to compete in WWE with the Invasion storyline.
Goldberg is an all-time great, whether you like it or not. I don't know if WWE would have had the resources to build the legend of BIll Goldberg in the way that WCW did.
The Monday Night Wars
It doesn't matter who you sided with or watched during the Monday Night Wars.
Without WCW, there is no such thing as the Monday Night Wars.
WWE was enjoying being the top promotion of pro wrestling.
WCW wanted to cut into that slice of the ratings and revenue.
WCW's attempts and actions helped make WWE better.
In fact, you can make the perfect argument that WWE's Attitude Era never exists without WCW engaging in war with them.
Even though both helped revolutionize the business,
WCW's actions helped shake everything up. Everything successful from WWE during The Monday Night Wars can be attributed to the competition from WCW.
Jay Leno Wrestling
I still don't know why Jay Leno wrestled with WCW for a time. The company had many men, from Dennis Rodman to Karl Malone and the aforementioned Arquette, step in the squared circle. Jay Leno is a little bit different than all of those men.
Nobody likes Jay Leno.
Outside of his nice car collection and his ability to make old people laugh, does anyone really care about Jay Leno?
Was this a way to appeal to young people or just try and make more publicity for WCW?
Well, it didn't quite work out. It's hard to use a TV host that goes on late at night to help promote the shows that air before he does.
Ready to Rumble
There's that Arquette guy again. This is the whole reason he ever got involved in WCW to start.
In his defense, he never wanted to be WCW Champion, but he absolutely wanted to be in this movie.
Who wouldn't want to be?
It's such a fun movie to watch, even to this day.
From seeing a slight hint of how an actual company is run to a young John Cena bodybuilding in the background during the scene of Goldberg working out, this movie had everything.
The 12-year-old version of me thought that Arquette's over-the-top acting was what hurt its chances at a Golden Globe or something. Yeah, I was naive back then.
Triple Cage Match
This is such a cool concept that I would actually prefer it to not be used in WWE. The Triple Cage Match, made famous by WCW and immortalized in Ready to Rumble, was not done too often.
While some may see it and want to see it again, it will always be remembered as a WCW innovation.
It should stay that way. Still, looking at a castle of cages is pretty darn cool.