The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner's WCW
Synopsis: The definitive behind-the-scenes look at the rise of WCW through its flagship program.
Erickson's meeting with ABC in New York - conducted prior to her initial acquaintance with Siegel - provided an unlikely impetus for her next move. "John Filippelli - the Vice President of ABC Sports - stayed in contact with me over my show and was really trying to be a mentor," she says. "He found out I got the deal down at Turner. [Anyway,] it turns out J.J. Dillon and John Filippelli go way back. When John said 'when you get down there, ask to meet with J.J., and tell them I sent you.' So while these women [in the Power Plant] are staring at me, like, 'who is this?', I said 'well, in the meantime, whie you're discussing my contract, can I see J.J. please?'"
"J.J. comes out of his office and he's staring at me, like 'who are you?' I said, 'well, Brad just signed me to a big deal here, and Filippelli told me to ask for you'. He's like 'come into my office'. He shuts the door, sits down and he goes 'thank god - they brought you in to take over management, didn't they?'
"I just sat there, swear to god. My wheels were spinning so fast. because all of a sudden, I realized [that] I just walked into a hornet's nest without warning. I'm a good businesswoman though, so I looked at him and said 'possibly What have we got goin' on here?'"
The anecdote above sounds a bit far-fetched. After all, Lenita Erickson - an associate of Gene Simmons who had never even been heard of in wrestling circles prior to the publication of Guy Evans' Nitro: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner's WCW, is characterized here as someone who was once positioned to take over the world's second-biggest wrestling promotion.
This is not the only bombshell dropped in this book. Within the first few pages, we learn of boardroom discussions that took place prior to the infamous meeting between Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner where the media conglomerate decided on a whim to give Bischoff two hours in prime time. Apparently it wasn't a whim but a previously-determined move, one that surprised many (Bischoff included) upon the publication of Nitro.
Through meticulous research and more than 120 interviews of wrestlers, network executives and other insiders, Evans manages to create a narrative that most fans would have had very little knowledge of previously. This is amazing, considering books such as Bischoff's Controversy Creates Cash and The Death of WCW are themselves packed with interesting anecdotes and behind the scenes stories.
Beyond the surprising accounts, Nitro is a thorough look at what happened to WCW from before the Bischoff/Turner meeting to the final Nitro in 2001, and beyond. No stone is left unturned, and one gets the impression Evans put in a time of time researching everything.
What's fantastic about this book is certain events such as Bischoff's firing in 1999, are balanced out to include comments from those who thought the dismissal was unjust and part of larger backstage politics. Many books just give you largely one side of an event, but Nitro seems to give you a taste of everything.
Overall Rating: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. This book would appear to be as thorough a re-telling of the story of WCW as we'll ever get, with very few punches pulled, but not a lot of hyperbole, either.