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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

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Why WCW Thunder Killed WCW

By Christopher Evans

World Championship Wrestling, also known as WCW, was without question the biggest rival to Vince McMahon’s WWE (at the time WWF). During the mid 1990’s the company acquired WWE talent like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage after the infamous steroid trial and it helped the company gain a more mainstream image. Once Kevin Nash and Scott Hall defected to WCW from WWE and created the New World Order WCW saw not only an increase in ratings compared to WWE, but a massive increase in revenue. With this increase came the invention of the company’s new brand in 1998 called “Thunder." With this came the demise of WCW, and here is why.

WCW made a massive amount of money in 1997 with their NWO versus WCW gimmick and the inclusion of mainstream stars like Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls. The company not only shelled out money for their celebrity input but had so much invested into the main event talent.
As noted in many interviews before, stars like Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall had a lot of leniency in the company, so much that they pretty much got away with whatever they wanted. By the time 1998 rolled around those three were at their prime in terms of not having a care to spare so when WCW Thunder became the B-show next to Nitro they would either show up and not make an effort or just not show up at all, with zero consequences.

The show was a huge failure from the start also due to the fact that WCW had taken on two more hours of content with the inability to add any new talent to help boost the product. Eric Bischoff was not a fan of the idea but Ted Turner felt as though he had enough talent to make this idea work. It didn’t help either that Nitro had begun running three hours of television similar to what WWE is doing now with Raw. The show was filled with mid card talent that very few people cared about and the main event talent barely wrestled on the show with the exception of Goldberg.

By 1999, the company as a whole had begun to show the effects of their poor management, and Thunder was pretty much on life support. When August 1999 rolled around and WWE started to run episodes of Smackdown on Thursday’s Thunder just could not compete. There was no Thursday Night Wars like there was on Mondays with Raw Is War and Nitro. Why? Because in 1999 WWE had been at the apex of its ratings surge during the Attitude Era and WCW had been in a slow crumble. So, there was no chance to compete.

Most people will say “Vince Russo was the death of WCW." And while that may be partially true, Thunder as a whole killed WCW by just being around (Ed. note: emphasis added). There was no need for a second brand and it just added extra content that fans had no real hunger for. Had WCW never made Thunder the company would have still gone under due to the fact that they wasted money constantly, but Thunder was the biggest waste of money that company ever produced.


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