Since WWE selected Atlanta as host for WrestleMania 27, some rather vocal fans have been expecting some WCW love to come their way.
It started with talk that WWE should have a WCW theme for the Hall of Fame. Then it was talk of WCW names from the past showing up for a big last match or memorable appearance. The Goldberg rumors last year can trace their origins here. With the Sting rumors at their peak about five weeks ago, another WCW connection was almost taken for granted.
Now we see the HoF class for 2011 taking shape and though there is a little old-school Georgia represented, there is no WCW theme. There will be no Goldberg. Sting can't make it since he's too busy going over an "enigma" in a minute on PPV in front of 800 people.
I, for one, am happy that there is no real WCW theme to the WrestleMania weekend in Atlanta, and all of the desperate WCW loyalists who can't let go of the past can shut their mouths and know their roles. WWE doesn't owe WCW or the last vestiges of their dated fanbase a single thing.
This is no knock on history. Atlanta has a prominent place in wrestling history through not just WCW and the home of Turner's empire, but as a vital territory via Georgia Championship Wrestling, and following some business maneuverings by Jim Crockett, the NWA could rightfully call Atlanta home as well.
But what does any of that really have to do with WWE in 2011? Some nods here and there I can understand, but calling for more than an old name or two, or making a few references on TV or on the PPV itself would be asinine.
WCW as a company might be connected to the NWA in plenty of ways, but it is not the same entity.
For all intents and purposes, WCW was only relevant from 1995 to 2000. Yes it changed the business with the Monday Night Wars, but it also failed miserably and suffered an embarrassing demise. It only actually existed as a company from late 1988 when Turner first rescued JCP. Five years of relevance and a flop ending doesn't mean anything to WWE right now.
While Georgia Championship Wrestling was a hot property for a while in the early 80s, it was purchased by Jim Crockett after the WWF's failed Turner experiment and became part of an entity that was more connected to Greensboro and Charlotte.
Not to mention the fact that with Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, The Briscos, Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper, and so many others who made the NWA great already inducted, the Hall of Fame has quite a bit of NWA representation as it is.
There are many deserving WCW names for the HoF still to go and luckily for the fans, WWE has turned the Hall of Fame into more than just a self-congratulatory luncheon for old-timers in bad dinner jackets. It is now a black-tie brand in and of itself that puts a show together every year for not just the benefit of the inductees, but also the fans who respect them.
There has to be a class next year, the year after, the year after that, etc etc...Why should WWE shove a bunch of names into this year's class because of one particular city?
If Lex Luger or the Road Warriors are inducted any time over the next few years in Miami, Toronto, Dallas or Anywhere, USA does it really matter?
Would the Philips Arena in Atlanta be filled with so many fans in their late 30s or early 40s that somehow it makes the induction more special? Please...get over it.
We are long past the territorial days when fans in a city are loyal to a certain promotion. Not to mention the fact that WrestleMania attracts fans from all over the world. The Georgia Dome will not be filled with 75,000 old-school WCW loyalists who still live in the 90s.
It will be an international and cosmopolitan crowd which respects history without the irrational desire to recognize it at every turn. In short, a worldwide audience does not really care about a fleeting, albeit important, period of wrestling history involved with that city.
There is a niche for that kind of history, and that niche has been well tended.
WWE has paid its respects to WCW, and the far more important NWA, in many different ways over the years.
DVD packages, Hall of Fame inductions, classic series action figures (there's even a Shockmaster figure out there), retro-merchandising and so much more. WWE Classics On Demand is flooded with old WCW, Georgia and Mid-Atlantic TV shows and PPVs. The criminally infrequent Legends Roundtable is dominated by celebratory and respectful conversation involving the old territories.
And have we forgotten that a network is on the way?
It's all there: the respect, the reverence, the memories, the pride and the shame.
WrestleMania is about looking to the future while recognizing the past, not living in it. With all it has done, all it will do, and all it has been through, WWE doesn't owe the memory of WCW or its hold-out fans a single thing.
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