Nobody will ever forget the date.
March 26th, 2001.
It was set to be a huge Monday night Raw episode. WrestleMania XVII was in six days, and the WWE always put on a spectacle. With many great feuds going on, it was a "must-see" show.
A few channels away, WCW was airing a huge edition of Nitro. It was set to be a night focused on championship matches. While they were clearly the No. 2 wrestling company at the time, it was still a very intriguing idea.
However, that Monday morning was off to a memorable beginning with some shocking news.
WWE had purchased WCW.
There had been rumors for a while of what was going on with WCW. Was Turner done with them? What was Eric Bischoff going to do? If anything at all, where would the company go?
So many questions...
I still remember that day at school. A few friends were talking about the rumors, and I had just assumed it was some sort of storyline for the huge wrestling shows that night. WCW and WWE had a nice build that week, and with WrestleMania a few days away, who knew if the rumors were true.
However, it was clear from the beginning that something "sepcial" was happening that Monday night.
The multiple shots of Vince McMahon watching WCW. The announcers speculating as to what would happen. The fact that WCW seemed to be having tons of big matches on free television, something they had done many times before. It just seemed like a lot more than a normal "storyline" was happening in front of the entire world.
Well, Mr. McMahon did confirm the news. He now owned WCW, and the wrestling business was never going to be the same again.
I always enjoyed how he handled the transaction.
Many will doubt him. A lot will use the typical 20/20 hindsight philosophy. The usual "fantasy bookers" will talk about how wrong he was. Tons of "Monday morning quarterbacks" will tell their version.
In the end, it didn't matter.
Sting in WWE?
Vince could do whatever he wanted with the company and talents. He chose to tease the audience a little bit by mentioning a few WCW stars.
How would the crowd react to certain names?
Hulk Hogan? Lex Luger? Buff Bagwell? Booker T? Scott Steiner? Sting? Bill Goldberg?
Vince was brilliant here. He was "testing" the interest level of some of the men. Seeing how everybody reacted was his answer to sign them up or not.
Of course, he eventually said he would finalize the transaction and sign the contract at WrestleMania. He would wait six days and make it as big as possible!
Well, that is where the storyline came into play.
Shane McMahon appeared live in front of the WCW crowd many miles away in Florida. He was in the middle of a WCW ring, and the image still gives many goosebumps just thinking about it.
He was not in Cleveland with the WWE crew. He was with WCW.
Under his father's nose, he announced to the world that he bought WCW!
Shane promised to battle his father at WrestleMania, and WCW would take on WWE in the very, very near future. Wow, things were definitely never going to be the same again...
Looking back at it 11 years later, I still remember the day fondly. For cheap, WWE bought out their competition and is still making money off the name over a decade later.
Anybody would have done the same.
If McDonald's could buy Burger King for a few million dollars, they would. If Wal-Mart could buy Target for a couple million, they would. Saying otherwise would just be absurd!
Again, fans and wrestlers alike like to second guess the entire move. Many still do so 11 years later and add how "they would have done it."
Should WWE have purchased WCW? Should they have been kept separate? Why didn't some stars make the move? What was the reason behind the Invasion story?
In reality, everything fell into place as it would have.
Hulk Hogan, Sting and many other talents were not going to come over. WCW was never going to be kept separate or even "defeat" WWE. That is just ridiculous to even think.
Business picked up in late 2001 and set a major PPV record (Invasion was the highest non-'Mania buy rate of all time). Nothing can be debated next to the bottom line.
All of the doubt comes from the usual "fantasy booking" so many love.
In true irony, we are now seeing reports of TNA Wrestling reportedly having financial problems. Nearly 11 years to the date, another wrestling company trying to compete with WWE is in the news for all the wrong reasons.
TNA tried to repeat history in 2010 with a Monday night "War" that never was a war. Could they repeat the same fate as WCW in 2012? We shall see...