The Death of WCW: Truth, Lies, and Everything in Between

Ryan Senior Writer IJuly 8, 2008

As a wrestling fan over the years, I've seen many things.

I was hitting my teen years during the latest Golden Age of Wrestling—when the nWo and WCW were reigning supreme.

But we all know how that story ended. WCW fell apart in 1999, slowly dying until its final days in March 2001. Many people have their own beliefs as to why the company that nearly put the WWF and Vince McMahon out of business then closed its doors.

Now, before I dive in, I'd like to clear something up before I get any comments to the effect of, "How would you know? You're an idiot!" Most of what I am about to talk about has been said by just about EVERYONE associated with WCW—from Scott Hall to Kevin Nash to Eric Bischoff to Hulk Hogan. Don't believe what I'm typing? Then you wouldn't believe them, either.

Now let's move on, shall we?

Many people pin the blame on a few different things.  Fat guaranteed contracts being one, creative control clauses being another.  How about 'ol Vince Russo and his zany storylines?  Well, let's start with the first one.

Some feel that the huge, guaranteed contracts handed out to the likes of Hall, Nash, Hogan, Hart, Sting, Luger, etc. were a major reason for the downfall of the company.  While they certainly contributed—WCW was not very fiscally responsible towards the end of the initial Bischoff era, with Eric even stating that he "threw money at anything to try to fix it"—this wasn't even the biggest issue with WCW.

Creative control did it, you say? Well, that issue helped begin the incredible decline in the quality of the product (see: Bash at the Beach 2000), but ultimately it isn't the reason WCW died.

How about politics?  Well, again, that didn't kill WCW, but helped its decline. While the WWF was pushing new stars like Mankind, The Rock, Ken Shamrock, Steve Austin, Kane, Kurt Angle, etc. the WCW was still relying on the guys from 1996 to carry them.

Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and others refused to relinquish their spots and put over guys who they deemed as threats for their spots. This problem would not be solved until 2000, after the Bash at the Beach incident when the WCW began pushing guys like Booker T, Scott Steiner, and Jeff Jarrett.

Perhaps the largest amount of blame lies with Vinny Ru. Yes, Russo had plenty of insane ideas during his time in WCW. From the ridiculous gimmick matches (Straight Jacket Steel Cage match?), to the desecration of the company's titles (Madusa/Oklahoma winning the Cruiserweight titles; David Arquette and Vinny Ru himself winning the WCW Title).

He did a terrible job, but even Vince isn't to blame for the death of WCW.

What's to blame? Well, for any smark out there who remotely knows his history, it had to do with one man—Jamie Kellner.

Who's that? Well, he took over as one of the big wigs at Turner Broadcasting and didn't think that wrestling was something that fit the company's programming style.  But since Ted was still in the rasslin' business, nothing could be done.

When AOL and Time Warner merged, Turner was out of his controlling shares and Kellner had WCW programming cancelled on TNT and TBS despite the fact that Nitro was still doing well enough in the ratings to be TNT's highest rated show.  It's ridiculous to say, but it almost seemed like the ratings didn't matter to Kellner.

So to all those fans out there who still argue about what killed WCW—it wasn't Hogan. It wasn't Russo. It wasn't Bischoff.  Jamie Kellner is the culprit. And if it weren't for him, WCW might be living to fight the Monday Night Wars today.