This is the second edition of WW-IF! Wrestling What-If's. This week we are going to cover another game changing event in the world of wrestling. I'm talking about the sale of WCW to Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). I would tell you the story about it, but you've heard it a million times, especially on how bad the Invasion angle was.
So instead, I will tell you the not so known story of the conglomerate that was supposed to purchase WCW: Fusient Media Ventures.
Fusient Media Ventures was set to purchase WCW from AOL/Time Warner. The plan was to have Eric Bischoff serve as president, and TBS would have a minority stake in the company. However, TBS decided that it no longer wanted to carry WCW programming on it's networks, one of the investors in Fusient backed out of the deal, leaving WCW with no buyer and no TV deal.
But what would happen if they were to complete the purchase? Could this "new" WCW survive and be a major player in the wrestling world? And more importantly, who drove the White Hummer?
Find out this and more, right now, in WW-IF!
Part 1: The Rebuild
So, going off of research, I am certain of 2 things that were going to happen once WCW was bought by Fusient Media Ventures:
- Eric Bischoff was going to be the President of WCW
- Sean O'Haire was going to be their next breakout star
Now we have the second thing that needs to be dealt with: contracts. As most of you know, there were 3 different types of contracts in WCW:
- High level guaranteed
- Low level guaranteed
- Non guaranteed
I will break down each one by category:
High level guaranteed
- Hollywood Hogan
- Scott Steiner
- Booker T
- Jeff Jarrett
Low Level Guaranteed
- Billy Kidman
- Chavo Guerrero
- Chris Kanyon
- Hugh Morrus
- Lance Storm
- Buff Bagwell
- Mike Awesome
- Shawn Stasiak
- Stacy Keibler
- Torrie Wilson
- Chuck Palumbo
- Nick Patrick
- Charles Robinson
- Disco Inferno
- Sean O’Haire
- Stevie Ray
- Scott Hudson
Non Guaranteed deals
- Mark Jindrak
- Shane Helms
- Shannon Moore
- Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli
- Jamie Noble
- Jimmy Yang
- Mike Sanders
- Evan Karragias
- Elix Skipper
- Lash Leroux
That's a decent roster right there. And since the guaranteed contracts we're all still being paid by AOL/Time Warner, It gave the top tier time to heal their bodies in preparation for the relaunch, now scheduled for September 2001.
Two weeks after the purchase, ECW goes bankrupt. WWE, their long time business partner, seems like the logical play to buy its assets and get Paul Heyman out of bankruptcy. Brian Bedol, founder of Fusient Media Ventures, saw this as an opportunity to own 2/3 of the Big 3 in wrestling. So Fusient goes ahead and purchases ECW.
now owns this:
Brian Bedol's plan was to come up with a rebuild plan, make both companies profitable again, and eventually sell it to the highest bidder. But first he had to get back on TV. He needed to find a company that would love to stick it to Viacom, and make a large impact in sports.
Enter 21st Century Fox.
Fox and Fusient Media Ventures agree to have WCW broadcasted on FOX local broadcasting on Mondays, and a 2 hour block of wrestling on FX featured on Thursdays with WCW Thunder and ECW. In exchange, FOX would get the same ownership stake that TBS was supposed to get.
With Fox and Fusient now in control of WCW and ECW's library, RF Video was no longer needed (you will understand what this means later). The local TV deal was a big deal, seeing that back in 2001 cable was not in every home, so they could reach a large audience that was unaccounted for and put them inside indirect competition with Smackdown.
They also signed a deal with Ohio Valley Wrestling and a couple upstarts to help with younger wrestlers that wanted to get into the business and also deal with ongoing training. They Hire Scott D'Amore as a road agent to break into the Canadian market.
To cut down on a lot of expenses, they decide to go smaller when it came to venues for Nitro and Thunder. ECW would split time between Hammerstein, The ECW Arena, and Washington D.C. to test the waters of a relaunch.
WCW decided to have only 6 PPV's a year:
Great American Bash (June)
Bash at the Beach (August)
Halloween Havoc (October)
Note that Goldberg and Hogan were injured at the time of WCW's closure, so they wouldn't be involved in the debut.
ECW will be going with a different model. They instead will be doing 2 hour special events on FX until revenues go up.
Now, it's go time!
Part 2: The Launch
The new WCW returns in front of a sold out crowd at the Philips Arena in Downtown Atlanta, GA. The crowd is going wild. 20,000 fans at the top of their lungs. Eric Bischoff, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T and Ric Flair are standing in the middle of the ring, and you could see the tears in his eyes. He knew that this day might not have happened. He goes on and thanks Brian Bedol. He thanks the fans for believing in his vision. Thanks FOX for giving him an outlet to show what these hard working men and women do in this ring. And on that note: WELCOME TO WCW MONDAY NITRO!
All of a sudden the Nitro-tron turns on. It focuses on the back parking lot, where a White Hummer pulls up. The doors open, and low and behold:
Paul Heyman, Joey Styles, Tommy Dreamer, and Rob Van Dam show up to the scene. They walk out to the ring and the crowd is going wild. They step into the ring and get in each others faces, aaaaaaand......they shake hands.
Yes I am as shocked as you.
Paul Heyman cuts a promo, and says that they are part of the same company, and while Paul doesn't like Bischoff, he respects him and the fact that he didn't let his dream die, which is a lot more than what Vince wanted. He wanted to swallow us whole like an anaconda, and crap out whatever was left. But today was a new beginning for the both of us, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure we stay on top of our game.
Bischoff says that while he doesn't like Heyman either, he respects the fact that he made something out of nothing, and made it must see TV for the last 7 years. And he agreed with his sentiment. He promoted both of their shows and Paul Heyman thanks him and leaves the ring.
Eric announces that everything is brand new and we are starting from scratch. He says tonight we will crown a new WCW champion in a 4 way ladder match between Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, Scott Steiner, and the winner between the opening match between Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire. It was also announced that we would gradually get new champions in various tournaments that will lead up to Halloween Havoc.
Palumbo and O'Haire have an excellent opening match, where O'Haire goes over. They shake hands and we move on later into the night.
We see some testimonials throughout the night featuring wrestlers, old and new, about the history of WCW and it's impact on the sport.
We saw the start of the US title tournament where it was announced that Kanyon, Kidman, Chavo Guerrero, Lash Leroux, Buff Bagwell, Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo and Mike Awesome would compete in over the course of several weeks. The opening match of the tournament was Kidman vs Lash Leroux, whcih had a lot of excitement, but ultimately saw Kidman win it in the end.
The cruiserweights were back as there was an inaugural match between Team Canada and The Filthy Animals.
Later on, Ric Flair cuts a promo talking about resurrecting the 4 Horsemen one more time. He says it may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but soon. And when they ride, it will be better than ever! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO
The ladder match for the WCW World Heavyweight championship happens and its a barn burner. Booker T wins it, but Sean O'Haire attacks Booker T after the match, cementing himself as the next heel of WCW.
But I'm not telling you something you don't already know..........
The response was excellent. The rating drew a 5.1. They already had tapings set up on different fairgrounds and even at Universal Studios, but arenas we're calling to have them book shows there at a discounted rate. The future was looking good for the resurrected WCW.
The ECW: Revival show was off the charts. Packed crowd at Hammerstein. ECW chants all around. Paul Heyman and Joey Styles standing in the middle of the ring. Free of the pressures of having to worry about the business aspect of it, you could see the pressure lifted from Heyman. He thanked the crowd for always believing in ECW. He thanked Brian Bedol for resurrecting his baby. Now, its time to put on some of the greatest hours of television programming that has ever been seen.
Out comes Rob Van Dam. He asks Paul Heyman for an opportunity, something that has eluded him ever since he was in ECW. He wanted a chance to be the ECW World Heavyweight champion. Out comes Rhyno. He says that he was and still is the ECW World Champion, and if you want a shot, you have to go through me. Paul asks is that what they want? Is that what NYC wants? Then we will give it to them!
The first match was Danny Doring and Roadkill going against Hot Commodity (EZ Money and Julio Dinero) for the tag team titles. Hot Commodity wins it and gets their first reign as champions.
Justin Credible and Steve Corino decided to end their differences due to their mutual hatred of The Sandman. Tommy Dreamer and Sandman come out which starts an impromptu tag team match that ends when Tommy Dreamer gives Justin Credible a Dreamer Driver from the second rope.
RVD vs Rhyno did not disappoint. it was a 25 minute clash that ended with RVD hits the Five Star Frog Splash onto Rhyno, starting his first reign as ECW World Champion.
You hold that box of Rice Krispies treats RVD, YOU DESERVE THEM!
That show drew a 4, which at the time would be FX's highest rated show. The fans were excited, the networks were excited, and most importantly the advertisers were excited. And that meant......well take it away Primetime Players:
But the one person who was not happy with this, was Vince McMahon. He sees the ratings of the 2 shows and his reaction?
Seeing as this being a huge power move. Vince decided to do the only logical thing: Buy the entire NWA.
No not that NWA........this NWA: The National Wrestling Alliance
A few weeks later Sean O'Haire comes out to cut a promo.....and then you hear a familiar song....DUM DUM DUMDUMDUM.
Goldberg comes out, spears Sean O'Haire out of his boots and says "You're next!"
Sting and Booker T have some classic matches which were highly rated, meant to put over Booker T as the future leader of WCW.
Sean O'Haire becomes the second WCW Champion since the launch 6 months into in as a heel. He becomes managed by Ric Flair, who looks to start a new 4 Horsemen with O'Haire, a young Matt Morgan, Steve Corino and Mike Awesome.
Another segment happens and its what we've all been waiting for. Nash, Hall and Hogan come out to officially retire the N.W.O. They said in order for the future to have a chance, sometimes you have to let go of the past.
The whole wrestling industry was turned on its head. But this was no longer a bad thing. WCW and ECW would go on to be successful ALONG SIDE WWE. Why you ask? The people that stopped watching wrestling because of WCW folding came back and was able to enjoy the product.
ECW would become what Ring of Honor is today with the help on an influx of new blood such as Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero. It also helped launch the careers of Kevin Steen and the American Werewolves. They helped continue the hardcore tradition and at the same time was able to also focus on a more wrestling based product with a lot of high spots.
WCW passed the stress test, and eventually would become a new home to people such as Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and one BRRROOOOOOOCK LESSSSNARRR! It essentially became what TNA is today, but with better storylines and better management. Sean O'Haire became the next Triple H (no he didn't marry into the family) and became a student of the industry.
WWE would poach some wrestlers from each organization as would the other 2, which in turn created a better industry and an influx of future wrestlers. Wrestling schools popped up across the country like 7-11's. When the financial crisis hit and people lost their jobs, some men and women turned to training for wrestling because there were plenty of places to go.
It's now 2014. WWE Superstar Triple H, WCW Superstar C.M. Punk, ECW Superstar Kevin Steen, Brian Bedol, Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman are at a symposium at the World Wrestling Conference in Las Vegas.
They talk about the future of wrestling, and that there is a need to share its history. and with that they jointly launch WrestleTV: The ultimate streaming service for everything pertaining to the history of professional wrestling. NWA, WCW, ECW, AND WWE all in one place. For $14.95 you can fill your brain with everything that wrestling has to offer, including behind the scenes action, interviews and more!
So what would happen if WCW came back? It would've saved wrestling in general and it wouldn't have had the stale period that we went through. Competition was abundant, so everyone stepped their game up in fear of losing ratings.
Not a bad ending, right?
Next week, we take a look at an alternate to my alternate reality, when we inject Sting, Scott Steiner, Goldberg, Flair, Nash and Hall into the original WCW Invasion!