Its fall from grace has been heavily documented within the industry. The promotion was purchased in 2001 by former competitor Vince McMahon and the then-WWF. Although the name "World Championship Wrestling" had been used as a brand and television show name by various promotions affiliated with the NWA since 1982, (most notably Georgia Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions) it was not until six years later that an actual NWA-affiliated promotion called World Championship Wrestling appeared on the national scene, under the ownership of media mogul Ted Turner, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Jim Barnett, who had worked for the World Championship Wrestling promotion in Australia, came to Atlanta in the 1970s during an internal struggle over the NWA Georgia territory. Barnett wound up as the majority owner of the territory, and he wound up using the name for the territory's television program. While initially the new company was called Universal Wrestling Corporation, very shortly following the purchase the decision was made to utilize the familiar "World Championship Wrestling" name for the new promotion. The company went through various changes in its leadership and booking during the following years.
Some people, like Jim Herd and Kip Frey, were completely lacking in wrestling experience; others, like Bill Watts, Ole Anderson, and Dusty Rhodes had extensive wrestling experience, but were so entrenched in the old territorial methods of promotion that they were ineffective at building WCW's audience. While Eric Bischoff has received much criticism for some of his mishandlings while he acted as WCW Executive Producer (and later, WCW President), Bischoff combined an understanding of wrestling (albeit without as much of a respect for the old Georgia/NWA legacy) with a willingness to make changes that were needed in order to help WCW become more visible in the eyes of the media and advertisers. These changes including moving some television tapings to Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, and signing both main-event performers and young stars from around the world. Some of the creative freedoms that Bischoff granted main-event level talent helped to bring the company down, as main-event level talent were less than cooperative in helping rising stars fulfill their potential, a staple of the industry. Once Bischoff was relieved of his duties in 1999, Vince Russo, a former writer for World Wrestling Federation, came on board to become the lead writer of WCW. Russo did not last long in his position, but in April 2000, WCW opted to bring Russo and Bischoff back in hopes that the duo might re-spark interest in WCW. The two, however, did not get along well and Bischoff left the company after Russo, in the course of an in-ring promo, made comments about Hulk Hogan which many felt were derogatory. As 2000 came to a close, a number of potential buyers for WCW were rumored to show interest in the company.
Ted Turner, however, was still in charge of Time Warner prior to the final merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001, and most offers were rejected. Eric Bischoff, working with Fusient Media Ventures, made a bid to acquire the company in January 2001 (shortly following the AOL/Time Warner merger), and it appeared that WCW would continue. One of the primary backers in the WCW deal backed out, however, leaving Fusient to take that offer off the table while it attempted to bring a new deal around. In the meantime, the World Wrestling Federation began speaking to the new AOL Time Warner about acquiring the WCW brand. Jamie Kellner was handed control over the Turner Broadcasting division, and deemed WCW wrestling to be out of line with their image.
As a result, WCW programming was canceled on both TBS and TNT, leaving Vince McMahon's company, which at the time had an exclusive deal with Viacom, free to acquire the trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts. During the sale, WCW was in litigation, with various lawsuits pending, and AOL Time Warner still had to pay various performers their guaranteed deals, as many had contracts directly with the parent company, and not with WCW. Since Vince McMahon only acquired select assets, the company that was once WCW became known as Universal Wrestling Corporation once again; its only purpose now, however, was to deal with old contracts and lawsuits. At the outset of WCW's existence, as well as with the promotions that came before it, the company was strongly identified with the Southern style of professional wrestling (or rasslin'), which emphasized athletic in-ring competition over the showmanship and cartoonish characters of the WWF. This identification persisted into the 1990s, even as the company signed former WWF stars such as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. WCW dominated pro wrestling's television ratings from 1996 to 1998 (84 straight weeks) mainly due to its incredibly popular New World Order storyline, but thereafter began to lose heavy ground to the WWF, which had recovered greatly due to its new "Attitude" branding.
Repetitive story lines, questionable booking issues, and corporate restrictions eventually led the promotion to begin losing large amounts of money, leading to parent company AOL Time Warner selling the name copyrights to the WWF for $2.5 million in 2001. Shortly after the purchase, Vince McMahon purchased the entire tape library for an additional $1.7 million, bringing the final tally of World Championship Wrestling's sale to $4.2 million. WCW started out as a regional promotion in the late 1980s focusing mainly in the Deep South. WCW started growing nationally a few years later, which led to its rivalry with the WWF. Even though WCW folded in 2001, its legacy lived on in the WWF.
The WWF kept the WCW United States Championship, the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, the WCW World Tag Team Championship, and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Eventually, with the exception of the Cruiserweight title, the titles were unified into their WWF counterparts. In 2003, now known as the WWE, the company resurrected the United States title to be competed for exclusively on SmackDown. When Hulk Hogan came back to the WWE, the WWE kept his Hollywood nickname.
In 2004, the WWE brought back the The Great American Bash pay-per-view and also in 2009, released Starrcade: The Essential Collection as a three-disc DVD set. In August 2009, WWE released a DVD set chronicling the history of WCW called The Rise and Fall of WCW. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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