As I write this—for the second time—it is around 1:30pm Friday, September 30.
A decision on TNA’s future is imminent, and quite honestly, I don’t know how it will shake out. There’s also a chance I have to go back and re-edit this if something breaks in the next 12 hours or so. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t nearly as much hand-wringing on the future of WCW as there is of TNA’s future. Maybe there was, but we didn’t have a way to express it in 140 characters or less back in 2001.
While the wrestling world awaits TNA’s fate, this week’s cSs Live Retro Blog will focus on the fallout of the biggest wrestling story of 2001: WWF’s purchase of its biggest competitor, World Championship Wrestling.
We’ll look at the WCW side of the deal through the 288th and last episode of WCW Monday Nitro, taking place on March 26, 2001 from Club La Vela in Panama City, Florida.
It’s a night of champions special as WCW signs off for the very last time. Every title in WCW is on the line as the men and women of the former Turner promotion awaits the unknown and life under new management.
All you need to join us for the festivities is a broadband Internet connection (you’re on this site, so I assume you have one) and a WWE Network subscription (which is free for the first month if you’re a new subscriber).
Showtime is 7pm ET. That’s 6pm central, 4pm pacific, 2pm Hawaiian, and midnight in Britain. Everywhere else, figure it out. GIFs and pics are ok, but don’t abuse it, as this thread will have to be refreshed frequently. After all, we’re treating this as a live thing. Without the commercials. Obviously.
Don’t worry. It won’t be 5+ hours either.
Howdy! I’m Eddie Mac. Let’s watch some live retro wrestling, yeah?
- WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT AND UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP UNIFICATION MATCH: Scott Steiner vs. Booker T
- WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Elix Skipper & Kid Romeo vs. Winner of #1 Contender’s Match
- #1 CONTENDER’S MATCH FOR THE WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: The Filthy Animals (Rey Mysterio Jr. & Billy Kidman) vs. 3 Count (Shannon Moore & Evan Karagais) vs. The Jung Dragons (Kaz Hayashi & Yang)
- WCW CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Shane Helms vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
- WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Sean O’Haire & Chuck Palumbo vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome
- Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Shawn Stasiak (If Bigelow wins, he gets to tattoo Stasiak.)
- Ric Flair vs. Sting
Plus, Vince McMahon will make a statement regarding the purchase of WCW.
WCW Monday Nitro #288. March 26, 2001 from Club La Vela in Panama City, Florida.
Maybe WCW deserved a better place for their company to end, but two things: one, this was their annual Spring Break show, something they had done since 1997, and two, this was about the size of the crowds WCW was doing shows in front of in their final days. In that respect, the end of WCW in Club La Vela makes it feel like a going away party than a funeral. I dunno. You be the judge.
Bird poop logo.
We open with Vince McMahon. On WCW programming. How? He bought it. He bought his competition. Tonight, he addresses the stars and fans of WCW, and the very fate of WCW is in his hands.
Nitro opening, (FUTURE EDDIE ALERT!) or as Jay Hunter of OSW Review called it, a bunch of white noise. And I thought the 2008 Smackdown theme was bad.
PYRO AND BALLYHOO as we get a helicopter shot of Club La Vela. Tony Schiavone: "Welcome to a landmark night in sports entertainment! I have seen it, and I still can't believe it!" I give out about Schiavone, and rightfully so, but you think of a better way to convey the events of the prior 72 hours.
I guess I should step in and tell you the events of the prior 72 hours. Over the weekend, Vince McMahon's WWF bought WCW (as it turned out, for chump change-more on that in a moment). They were in the hunt, but didn't make a serious play for WCW until Jamie Kellner, new programming chief at Turner, announced on March 19 that World Championship Wrestling was off their networks.
Keep in mind, following the AOL-Time Warner merger two months prior, Ted Turner didn't have nearly as much power as he once had, and with his baby WCW a big money loser (it lost over a million a week on average from October 1999 to October 2000), it wasn't long for this world in the Turner empire anyway.
With no TV deal, there was no way to promote upcoming events (also keep in mind we're YEARS away from social media being prevalent), Fusient MediaVentures basically said, thanks but no thanks. Four days later, WWF buys WCW for what would end up being just over $4 million. There may have been some sabotage involved, but that's another story.
Two Mr. McMahon mentions in 30 seconds. A Night of Champions this evening, as every championship is on the line. A simulcast with Mr. McMahon (here's a fun drinking game: every time you hear a mention of Mr. McMahon, take a shot) addressing the big sale comes later.
Out first is the President of WCW, Ric Flair. Though commentary said no one represented WCW more than Ric Flair, it's worth pointing out that that Flair left WCW once. Well, he either left or was fired. Anyways, he goes in on Vince McMahon and challenges Sting to one final match.
Match 1: Booker T defeated Scott Steiner in 5:11 to unify the WCW United States and World Heavyweight Championships. Wow... the two most important titles in your company and it's going FIRST? Anyway, good match for what it was, and Booker wins it with the Bookend.
A look at the spring break festivities before Nitro.
Backstage at RAW, Vince McMahon makes fun of Nitro being in a redneck riviera. A replay of the last ever world title match in a WCW ring.
Match 2: Rey Mysterio & Kidman defeated the Yung Dragons and 2 Count in 3:38 to earn a WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship at 3:38. Fast paced match.
Vince McMahon is having a phone chat until Trish Stratus enters with champagne and glasses. Then they make out or something.
Match 3: Sugar Shane Helms defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr. in 4:39 to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championsnip. VERTEBREAKER! FUTURE EDDIE ALERT: I believe that move would eventually be banned in the WWE. Both Helms and Guerrero would go on to win the Cruiserweight title in WWE, with Helms holding the title for just over a year.
Booker T says we haven't seen the last of him. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.
Vince and Trish backstage and Michael Cole butts in. Vince basically doesn't appreciate the interruption and he should worry about his job security over that of WCW's. And speaking of job security, Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson ponder theirs.
Match 4: Sean O' Haire and Chuck Palumbo defeated Lance Storm and Mike Awesome in 3:21 to win the WCW Tag Team Championship. Superkick and Seanton Bomb clinches it for the Natural Born Thrillers. FUTURE EDDIE ALERT: I believe these would actually be among the first group of guys that crossed over, with Lance being the first.
A recap of the brief Stasiak/Bigelow feud as Match 5 answers the question of "Which One Doesn't Belong?"Shawn Stasiak defeated Bam Bam Bigelow in just 86 seconds. Had Stasiak lost, he would have gotten a tattoo.
Backstage at Raw, William Regal and Mr. McMahon talk up Wrestlemania X-Seven and get in a few digs on WCW.
Diamond Dallas Page reacts to the big news via satellite and thanks the fans and stuff. BTW: He's not the only big name to skip the show. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, and Jeff Jarrett all weren't at the finale.
A video package showing past NWA and WCW world champions. That was an awesome video package.
Vince McMahon prepares to give his speech as we get into the cruiserweight title match.
Match 6: Rey Mysterio Jr. and Kidman defeat Kid Romeo and Elix Skipper at 4:43 to win the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship. Would have been a cool little division had it stuck around, but WWE historically has never been big on the smaller guys. Rey and Kidman go down as the last ever cruiserweight tag champs, just eight days after the titles were born. Of note, Tony Schiavone buries "Steve Regal" (what William Regal was known as in WCW) for having to put his ass over on TV. That statement probably clinched Schiavone's unemployment. Schiavone today is an announcer for an Atlanta Braves minor league affiliate, while Regal is one of the most beloved people in wrestling. Take THAT, Schiavone.
Sting finally accepts Ric Flair's challenge, and as for what's next, "the only thing that's for sure... is that nothing's for sure." And it's SHOWTIME, folks.
Another look at spring break stuff in Panama City.
Vince is walking. Announcement is following this match.
Match 7: In the final ever WCW match, Sting defeats Ric Flair by submission in 7:17. Hardly the best match to close out WCW, but you had the two best people to do it. In a story of the evening, we barely have time to digest it as...
...the simulcast begins. Whoops. Looks like they jumped the gun, and Vince has Lilian Garcia do it again.
Take 2. The simulcast begins.
Vince's bought WCW and he's gonna sign the documents closing the sale at Wrestlemania with Ted Turner himself delivering the documents. Also, Vince is fighting his son Shane at said Wrestlemania. And he's gonna choke the life out of Shane. Squeeze the life out of the competition. Just like he did to WCW.
Speaking of WCW, who do we get for the New WCW? He turns to the Gund Arena crowd:
- Hulk Hogan? Mostly yes. (He comes over in February 2002 with the rest of the reunited nWo).
- Lex Luger? A resounding no. (He joined WWA and later TNA. Got into a lot of controversy following the death of his then girlfriend Miss Elizabeth. Luger, once a quadriplegic, now is a consultant for WWE's Wellness Policy.
- Buff Bagwell. Lotta yes from the ladies. (He got his shot on the reboot WCW in July, and stunk out the joint. Was fired less than a week later.)
- Booker T? Pretty much yes. (He would join WWF in the invasion and stuck around until 2007. Rejoined in 2011 as an announcer, a role he's remained in ever since.)
- Big Poppa Pump? A huge yes. (Scott wouldn't come in until a year and a half later... and stunk out the joint at the 2003 Royal Rumble, killing his main event push).
- Goldberg chant breaks out.
- Sting? Sure. (It wouldn't be until November 2014 he debuted for WWE. He spent the decade prior with TNA. Sting regretted not jumping sooner.)
- Goldberg? FUCK. YES. (He would debut the night after Wrestlemania XIX two years later.)
Many top stars in WCW were paid by AOL Time Warner, and many were not willing to take 50 cents-on-the-dollar payouts to make the jump.
Anyways, Vince fires them all (pretty much) and says that WCW is buried and shall remain buried. "No Chance in Hell" plays and Shane McMahon makes his way out. But not at RAW. Shane's at Nitro. Shane's in a WCW ring.
Vince wonders what the hell's going on, and Shane lets him in on the news: deal's done, Dad. The contract does say McMahon, but it reads SHANE MCMAHON. He now owns WCW, and just like WCW kicked his ass in the pass, Shane's gonna do it at Wrestlemania!
Vince looks he's going to puke as Jim Ross plugs the main event tag match for RAW: Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock vs. The Brothers of Destruction. That's followed by this 30-second ad for Wrestlemania X-Seven. That's right: the final image of wrestling on the Turner networks... was a 30-second ad for Wrestlemania.
On the WWE Network version, we get a short graphic as the Nitro theme plays. The graphic: "Good Night and Goodbye-Satellite".
EDDIE MAC'S QUICK REVIEW
Well, this was something.
Is it possible to give this show a fair shake given all the circumstances surrounding it? Could the matches have been longer? Sure. Should WCW been given a more formal goodbye? Absolutely. Were they going to do more? Probably not. The wrestlers were probably told they had four or five minutes at best to prove their worth. And for their part, many of them made the most of it. It feels a bit ironic that the final hours of WCW were focused on its future, when for many years, they clung to its past. Had they done less of the latter, we probably wouldn't be in this position.
I recommend you watch the final Nitro at least once if only for historical purposes. Then watch the last RAW of the Monday night wars right after it. Or do like I did back in 2014: watch them both at the same time. If you also have 85 minutes to kill, watch the OSW Review of the final Nitro.
Eddie's rating: I'm not even sure if it's fair, but for me, given what they had to work with, a solid 8 out of 10.
FUTURE EDDIE ALERT AGAIN. With No Mercy next weekend, no Live Retro Blog. This feature returns in two weeks.