R.D. Reynolds, author of Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst Of Pro Wrestling teams up with writer/wrestling talk show co-host Bryan Alvarez (Figure Four Newsletter) to compile the history on the wrestling company that was World Championship Wrestling. With a foreword by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, The Death Of WCW starts of with a bang and doesn’t stop as we go on a journey of the company’s stunning rise and its stupendous, monumental, and incredibly idiotic blunders.
The book is broken into six parts: Intro, The Rise, The Fall, Everything Falls Apart, The Death, and in true WCW form there’s a chapter titled “Spitting On The Grave.” We get a brief introduction (1988-1992) and then it is quickly into the “Monday Night Wars” as WCW did battle with the then-World Wrestling Federation. It is here that the writers chronicle the company’s meteoric rise and epic battle in its attempt to gain total supremacy in pro wrestling. And it did for a while. WCW was kicking WWF’s rear in the television ratings, PPV buy rates, and house show attendance. And almost as quickly as the WCW Empire grew, it faded just as fast. The fans quickly grew tired of the ever-aging ‘80s wrestling stars headlining the TV and PPVs. Regime changes didn’t help the nosedive the company was taking, and Vince McMahon’s dream of dominating the wrestling business finally came to fruition.
If you’ve ever read Bryan’s newsletter or heard him on Wrestling Observer Live, you’ll soon recognize his biting wit and sardonic humor. The writing is crisp and funny, which will keep the pages turning fast. Though the captions are humorous, the fact that the company went out of business and changed the wrestling landscape forever is a sad story. You’ll ask yourself, “How could a company with all the money of Ted Turner blow it so bad?” When you read the book you’ll soon learn how and why things went south.
A more astonishing point is that there could be many more books written on the disastrous decisions WCW made previous to the “Monday Night Wars.” Though the money lost was insignificant compared to the huge losses it would eventually incur, that doesn’t take away from the fact that fans from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s got to see plenty of stupidity on TV and behind the scenes. One example not in the book was the horrendously comical “Shock Master” incident. It was during a “Flair for The Gold” interview segment where the “Shock Master” was to be revealed as the mysterious third partner for the team of Davey Boy Smith and Sting. After a big build up Sting says, “He is going to shock the world. He is the Shock Master.” Boom. The camera cuts to a cardboard wall that the “Shock Master” was supposed to break through, showing himself to be this super-duper character. Well, he turned out to be some big fat guy with a silly purple wizards cape and a Styrofoam “Storm Trooper” helmet painted purple and sprinkled with glitter for added effect. Not only was this lame, but he wound up falling through the wall to the floor, his helmet coming off in the process. Not only did they not cut away, they went through with the bit as the “Shock Master” got to his feet, put his helmet back on, and went through a bunch of hand gestures as a demonic voice was piped in through the PA (shades of the Black Scorpion angle). That was a shining example of how out-of-touch the booker was and how inept WCW could be.
Overall, this is quite an entertaining trip down memory lane for the fans of WCW. It’s also a sad commentary on how a company can be doing extremely well and then totally, and completely be mismanaged into bankruptcy.