Brand Split Back to the Future: WCW 1998

So as you might have heard the brand split is back! Yay!/Boo! (delete as applicable) And to celebrate, I thought it would be a fun idea to go back in time to create brand splits out of rosters from the past that never had one in what I'm calling Brand Split Back to the Future. Great Scot!

Today, we’re looking at WCW 1998. Arguably, one of the greatest rosters in wrestling history, Eric Bischoff’s WCW had depth and variety that WWF just couldn’t rival at the time. The top stars of wrestling from the 1980s and early 1990s dominated the main event scene. A whole cruiserweight division was created featuring some of the hottest stars from Mexico and Japan. There was a midcard that was just a few years away from sitting on top of the wrestling world (albeit in a different promotion). It was also huge! WCW had so many talents on their roster some would never be seen outside WCW Worldwide. So perfect for a brand split then?

WCW looked like they might actually be going this way in 1997/1998. The thought was WCW was going to run the nWo as a completely separate brand. They even went as far as creating the nWo PPV Souled Out. Also in 1998, WCW launched their secondary show Thunder. Bischoff had a problem with Thunder as several members of the roster had contracts with limited dates, meaning they probably wouldn’t be available for the new show.

With all that in mind, we’re going to travel to an alternate world where the nWo brand experiment comes to fruition. The nWo take over Nitro with WCW retaining the new Thunder show. For this draft, we’ll be picking a 20 person roster for each brand, along with its exclusive championships and PPVs. We’ll be using the roster from the video game WCW Thunder. Not for its gameplay, but more so I can reference those brilliant rants you got from the wrestlers in the game. And before you ask, no we’re not going to draft Chromedome or Wireframe (as tempting as it was!)

nWo Nitro


Being Nitro is still WCW’s flagship show, it was important to create a roster that filled with established main eventers. A key emphasis is kept on the big draws - the nWo, Flair and the rising star that was Goldberg. However, with Nitro now being a three-hour show, it was important to ensure there is still variety. Therefore, I’ve kept the cruiserweight division on Nitro as it always provided much needed diversity to that show back in the day that kept people watching the show for three hours each week. To a lesser extent, there is also a focus on hard hitting, brawlers - like Scott Norton and the Steiners - to give the show a more authentic, MMA like feel. Here’s the 20 I picked:

  1. Hollywood Hogan

  2. Goldberg

  3. Ric Flair

  4. Kevin Nash

  5. Scott Hall

  6. The Giant

  7. Lex Luger

  8. Scott Steiner

  9. Rick Steiner

  10. Roddy Piper

  11. The Disciple

  12. Buff Bagwell

  13. Scott Norton

  14. Rey Mysterio Jr.

  15. Konnan

  16. Brian Adams

  17. La Parka

  18. Psychosis

  19. Juventud Guerrera

  20. Kaz Hayashi


With the inclusion of cruiserweights on Nitro, it’s essential the cruiserweight title also goes there. I’m also going to take a bold move and make the World Heavyweight Championship a Nitro exclusive for reasons I’ll attempt to explain later.

World Heavyweight Championship

Cruiserweight Championship

Tag Team Championship (both brands)

WCW Thunder


There are two key goals with the new Thunder product - 1) Be a ‘wrestling first’ show - the action in the ring being the most important thing on the show 2) To push those talented guys stuck in WCW’s midcard. With the nWo out of the way, the likes of Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero and even Raven would have space to breathe to become top stars in WCW. We’ve also picked guys like Sting, Savage and Henning as they are established guys with a proven track record for putting people overl. Bret Hart also shows there will be a strong focus on good, technical wrestling and young stars that share the ring with him will surely be elevated.

  1. Bret Hart

  2. Sting

  3. Randy Savage

  4. DDP

  5. Curt Henning

  6. Chris Jericho

  7. Booker T

  8. Stevie Ray

  9. Chris Benoit

  10. Eddy Guerrero

  11. Dean Malenko

  12. Raven

  13. Saturn

  14. Kanyon

  15. Alex Wright

  16. Kidman

  17. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

  18. Bulldog

  19. Ultimo Dragon

  20. Disco Inferno


Thunder will get the two midcard belts, with a strong emphasis placed on the history and prestige of the United States Title, in an effort to make it the brand’s primary championship.

United States Championship

Television Championship

Tag Team Championship (both brands)

Pay-Per-View Schedule

There would be five exclusive pay-per-views per brand each year and two events where all the roster could be featured. Fall Brawl provides the opportunity for brands to go head-to-head in a WarGames match should the booking call for it. Starrcade is the Wrestlemania of WCW so it clearly needs to feature both brands. Since the World War III match was such a clusterfuck, we’ve taken it out of the schedule as it didn’t really lead to a championship match at Starrcade anyway.





Souled Out









Spring Stampede






Bash at the Beach



The Great American Bash



Road Wild



Fall Brawl



Halloween Havoc








Would a brand split have benefited WCW?

On paper, it looks like there would be a lot of benefits to a WCW brand split in 1998. It would give more opportunities to midcard guys like Jericho and Benoit who would eventually leave WCW due to feeling stuck in their current position. More talents being pushed would have freshened up a product that was starting to go stale following an unprecedented run as number one wrestling promotion in the USA. Considering how the early days of the Smackdown went, there definitely seemed to be money and interest in the WCW midcards. It may have pissed off the likes of Hogan and Nash, especially with their Creative Control elements to their contract, if the brand split took the emphasis off of them and onto new stars.

Would a brand split have saved WCW? Probably not. After all the reasoning behind WCW being pulled off the air had little to do with the on-screen product. However, if a split meant WCW was a profitable entity and drawing healthy viewing figures, you’ve got to think the decision to pull the plug on WCW would have been much harder to make. A brand split would have probably cost WCW more money with the need for more writers, road agents and backstage staff. But Ted Turner was always willing to splash the cash when it came to World Championship Wrestling. As long as the Time Warner guys didn’t interfere.

All in all, I think WCW would have benefitted from the split but that’s just me prognosticating. WCW did have a knack for fucking things up too and during a time that Eric Bischoff was experiencing some serious burnout, a brand split might have killed him. But had it been successful, we could now be watching the WCW Network and Triple H would be the guy jobbing to all the WCW talent, not the other way around.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.