The night the lights went out in Georgia will always be dissected and remembered as truly the end of an era. There are all kinds of stories stemming from the sale of WCW.
The Merger Began The Ending
For years, Ted Turner, an unabashed wrestling fan, was always going to have wrestling on his networks, no matter what any advisor might have tried to convince the mogul of otherwise. But then AOL merged with Time Warner in what history would prove to be one of the worst business deals in history.
But by the time anyone realized it, WCW was long gone. In a nutshell, thanks to the merger, Turner lost most of, if not all of his power. It wasn’t before long that AOL/Time Warner executives – who didn’t even know what day of the week Nitro was on – decided they didn’t want wrestling on their networks.
Once it was announced that WWE had acquired their competition, the stage was set for the final Monday Nitro. Just like the very first episode and many times before, Ric Flair and Sting helped to shut the book on WCW. All throughout the show and the final moments of the show weren’t a celebration of WCW but instead helped in the final push of WrestleMania X7 and the big match between Vince and Shane McMahon.
It was the first and only time that the same wrestling angle was simulcast across both networks, TNT and USA, to unveil that Shane McMahon had purchased the company from under his father’s nose.
Road Dogg Came Job Hunting
One of the good things about having more than one company to work for is that when you get released or your contract is up, you can head to the other company in search of work, which is exactly what Road Dogg did on March 26, 2001, evidently, he didn’t hear the news. But once he realized that his former employers had purchased WCW, he left the show knowing full well that he wasn’t going to be able to get a new gig with his old employers.
Double J Was Fired On Air
Twice throughout his WWE career, Jeff Jarrett thought it would be a grand idea to abscond from WWE right in the middle of a hot angle. It might have seemed right for him at the time, but during the final Nitro / Raw episode, the chickens had come to roost for ol’ Double J. Vince McMahon stood in his ring mentioning famous names from his new company. But when he mentioned Double J, he also explained that he was F-I-R-E-D. Jarrett was in Panama City that night, standing behind Bruce Prichard when the announcement was made. He snickered and walked off, not realizing that Vince was shooting and thought that McMahon might have been beginning an angle. He wouldn’t return to the WWE for over a decade.
Bischoff Was Set To Buy The Company
For almost half of WCW’s existence, Eric Bischoff was the man in charge. He was the only head executive to make the company profitable and a successful alternative to WWE. When it became apparent that he lost his control (when the merger happened), he was asked to leave. Upon being brought back, Bischoff suggested that he purchase the company. He and a consortium led by Fusient media were set to take over the company, but once AOL/Time Warner brass let Bischoff know there was not going to be TV time given, the deal was dead in the water.
The Big Bang PPV
Had the Fusient consortium been able to secure TV time, the wrestling landscape might look entirely different today with WCW still in business and Eric Bischoff still at the helm. Had the ink dried on the deal, Bischoff wanted to take WCW off the air for several months so that the heart could grow fonder and fans could take several months to forget the floundering.
There were plans in place to jumpstart a new WCW with a PPV aptly titled, The Big Bang. The event was rumored to have featured Joey Styles and Jerry Lawler on commentary and Fusient was even wanted to do business with WWE.
Imagine being able to not just own your own wrestling company but one that was well known with over 20 years of footage to cull from as well. The WCW video library, which retroactively has proven invaluable to WWE was actually purchased for dirt cheap, considering how immense and popular the former promotion was – $1.7 million.
As for the name and brand, Vince spent another $2.5 million. Yes, that’s a lot of money for mere mortals, buts it’s not a lot to a millionaire who was on the verge of becoming a billionaire at the time of the sale. Chris Jericho has joked in the past that at that price, he could’ve culled some funds together to buy it. In total, Vince spent $4.2 million for all of World Championship Wrestling.
The Second Time Vince Appeared On Turner TV
While the final Nitro helped seal the deal and the sale with Vince McMahon appearing on a Turner station. It wasn’t the first time that the WWE chairman had appeared on a Turner station. He appeared on TBS in the infamous Black Saturday incident. Way back in 1984, McMahon had purchased the time slot long dedicatedto Georgia Championship Wrestling. Thanks to tanking ratings, McMahon sold the time slot back to Turner for one million, which McMahon helped to finance WrestleMania.