From 1988 to 2001, World Championship Wrestling was one of the top professional wrestling organizations in the world, constantly teetering between first place and second against it’s biggest rival, Vince McMahon’s WWF/ WWE. The two companies went back and forth for over a decade, always trying to one up each other to become the main show for wrestling on TV and pay-per-view. Needless to say, most fans know now who won the Monday Night Wars, with WWE still around while WCW is a relic of pro wrestling past. The question is, how come WCW, which had all the cards for a long time, wither and die in the pathetic and often embarrassing way they did? R.D. Reynolds of wrestlecrap.com and Bryan Alvarez of Figure Four Weekly asked that same question, and “The Death of WCW” is the book that answers it.
Reynolds and Alvarez meticulously researched the history of not only WCW, but the companies that it existed as before Ted Turner transformed it into WCW, as well as other very important regional promotions that helped build WCW or tried to compete against it, and a history of WWF, the two companies that fought to be the biggest show in pro wrestling. While many remember the Monday Night War’s as the big battle between WCW and WWF, the battle really began when Ted Turner bought WCW and began pumping tons of money into it. Vince Jr., after buying WWF from his father, was also trying to do a similar plan of attack, but it would take years of work and a ton of mistakes from WCW for Vince to claim top spot.
The book details the rise and fall of many men behind the scenes who helped build WCW, as well as set it back, like Jim Herd, Bill Watts, Vince Russo, and Eric Bischoff. Beyond that, we have the tales of the wrestlers, who were often just as involved as the higher-up’s to book matches and have creative input, including Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and plenty of others. Hearing the inside scoop on their plans and their many follies is great, and written in a humorous and often-sarcastic tone of voice that is sure to please wrestling fans.
There is plenty of non-backstage and business talk too, with explanations and backstory about all manner of WCW matches, like the “fingerpoke of Doom” and the epic fail that was the WCW debut of the Ultimate Warrior, and his consecutive headlining matches against Hogan on pay-per-view that were very underwhelming. Reading all of these stories made me jump right to Youtube to try and dig up some of these matches, although sadly Youtube has not caught up with every moment from the book so I have yet to see the fake belt Lex Luger wore when he won his first title from Barry Windham (because Flair took the actual belt with him to WWF in that era and had not yet returned it). More than the matches are the promos, and finally hearing explanations as to why some of these bizarre and over-funded video packages existed to begin with (hint: Ted Turner is very rich).
I would highly recommend this book to pro wrestling fans, both casual and hardcore. While it is about the death of a company, it’s not too negative on WCW and is pretty fair (although there is an obvious snarky bias against some of the stupidity that happened with the company, but there are plenty of high spots too). If you never thought WCW was a big deal and that WWF was always #1, you need to read this book to truly understand what a phenomenon WCW was, and how depressing it was to see them crumble the way they did.
You can order “The Death of WCW” from Amazon.com for under $13, which is a great deal for a great book on a critical time period in pro wrestling history. Grab it today and relive the good times, the bad times, and the just plain bizarre times!
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