Bulldog's Bookshelf

The Death of WCW

10th Anniversary Edition

R.D. Reynolds and Brian Alvarez

Published: 2014

 

Pages: 421

Synopsis: A fun look back at the demise of wrestling's second-biggest promotion, with new and expanded information.

When Goldberg got to the top of the ramp, Russo came out and yelled at him. Goldberg screamed "F*ck you!" and stormed off. 

 

The announcers began insinuating that Goldberg was being totally unprofessional and wouldn't do the scripted loss. So Nash and Steiner continued their horrible match. Tony Schiavone, in a direct quote, then said "If, in fact, the jacknife powerbomb was part of this design, what are are they going to do now, improvise?"

 

So finally, Nash pinned Steiner with the powerbomb and the announcers went off about how professional Steiner was for going up for the move. The irony of all this was that it was supposed to be a shoot, yet not even the dumbest hardcore fan could ever believe that Steiner was this much of a professional.

I will be honest: given that I read this book roughly a decade ago, and even gave it a glowing review at the time, I wasn't entirely sure reading an updated edition of The Death Of WCW was the best possible use of my money. I've never been so glad to say I was wrong.

 

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the book has more than just better cover art (which was one of my few issues the last time around) - there are nearly an extra hundred pages here going into additional detail about how wrestling's perennial number two promotion screwed the pooch.

 

In addition to new details of various catalysts and turning points, authors R.D. Reynolds (WrestleCrap) and Bryan Alvarez (Figure Four Weekly/Wrestling Observer) spoke to people that worked for WCW at the time, including Lex Luger, Lance Storm and J.J. Dillon to get their comments. They also insert several "lesson learned" stories about how promotions such as WWE and TNA haven't heeded to the mistakes WCW made; a nice way to connect everything. 

 

Oh, and speaking of TNA..... there's an entire section on everyone's favorite punching-bag promotion, with the authors hauling out a laundry list of terrible storylines, unnecessary swerves and backstage politics that could only have originated from the mind of Dixie Carter.  The differences between TNA and WCW have never been so minor, and as someone who once looked at co-authoring a "Death of TNA" type book years ago, I have to tip my hat to Reynolds and Alvarez for having to navigate through more than a decade of garbage.

 

But enough of what's new - the original story was great, too.

 

Reynolds and Alvarez take us through 1988 to 2001, going through a slew of clueless owners, half-baked ideas and production values that would be laughed at by today's standards. By the time we got to the Eric Bischoff era, a new company took shape, one that could provide legitimate competition to the incumbent WWF.

 

Soon, Turner Broadcasting began throwing good money after bad, signed a ton of brand name wrestlers and announcers, and through a combination of guts, talent, ingenuity and luck, WCW overtook the WWF during the famed Monday Night Wars for more than a year. But even as the company was at the top of the food chain, they were still making costly mistakes, as the authors document.

 

Then the fall started, with WCW becoming the wrestling equivalent of Plan 9 From Outer Space: storylines were dropped, wrestlers were signed for no apparent reason, and management weren't sure what was happening from one day to the next. Fortunately for the reader, the downfall is probably the most entertaining part of the book, with many tales falling under the "so bad they can't possibly be true" category.

 

And while many in the wrestling industry thought WCW was too big to fail (okay, fine - that expression wasn't in vogue yet), that's exactly what happened in 2001. A takeover bid by Eric Bischoff's investor group fell apart when they were told WCW couldn't air programming on Turner networks. So the WWF picked them up for what equated to spare change, and the rest is history.

 

The narrative ends up with the WWF's attempt at out-WCW-ing WCW, by presenting an "InVasion" angle that was so terrible, you rarely hear WWE mentioning it more than a decade later on their own network. While Vince McMahon probably had his reasons for not making the most of the biggest potential storyline of all time, the fact that WCW died (again!) in such a hapless way makes you think that the promotion was practically cursed.

 

While this version of The Death Of WCW is definitely an improvement on the previous volume (heck, the section on TNA alone is worth your money!), it's not perfect. As I mentioned the first time I reviewed this book, several ex-WCW names came out after the book's first pressing and explained where Reynolds and Alvarez got things wrong. In fact, Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff and Kevin Nash (three of the five people on both covers) have said as much.

 

Should the authors take what Bischoff et al are saying at face value? Of course not (and to their credit, Reynolds and Alvarez did change a few of the finer points). But what I was hoping for was for the authors to at least point this out: Bischoff went through great lengths to describe what killed WCW and it's a counterpoint to much of this book. Reynolds and Alvarez should have at least acknowledged that there is a dissenting viewpoint.

 

One other thing I really like about the 10th Anniversary Edition is that, if you purchase the paperback, you can get receive an eBook copy for free. I know other books have done this, but I still think it's a nice touch that makes this edition that much more valuable.

Overall Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! A fun book, made stronger with its second go-round. Highly recommended.

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