What Killed WCW (WCW Clue) Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

But could they have survived before that? Let’s keep looking.

Russo and Ferrara were hired in October, but for the majority of the year, 1999 wasn’t all that bad for WCW. I mean, ignoring the bad storylines, bad matches, getting destroyed by WWF more and more every night in the ratings, trying to come up with ways to stop the downward spiral and all that jazz, WCW had a passable year in 1999. Except for that first Nitro of the year.

This would be the famous January 4, 1998 rematch between Nash and Goldberg. For the sake of this, I’m just going to give you the match and some of its build. The idea is that Goldberg was arrested on stalking charges but Liz was faking the whole thing. Hogan had come in and said that he’d fight Nash for the title instead. Here’s the match, and the night that changed wrestling forever (granted Tony say that every night). I’ll throw in the segment we saw just before the match as well.

Goldberg is released from jail, making him yell at cops. He wants an escort to get to the Georgia Dome, which keep in mind, is across the street. Ok at this point, there are about 12 minutes left in the show. Let’s see how long it takes him to cross the street.

WCW World Title: Kevin Nash vs. Hulk Hogan

Hogan has Scott Steiner with him. Keep in mind his last match was back in October. What a coincidence that he’s here. I always wonder what’s going through their heads when things like these are about to happen. Nash comes out with Scott Hall, so the Outsiders are back again I guess. Keep in mind that this is, yet again, NWO vs. NWO. Hogan is in street clothes.

These are NOT taped matches mind you. There’s the bell, Nash mocks Hogan’s shirt rip. There was a commercial in between Goldberg leaving the police station and the introductions, so adding on let’s say three minutes for that, he left the station about nine minutes before the bell rang. They circle each other and the crowd is white hot. “This is what WCW is all about” according to Tony. Nash shoves Hogan, Hogan pokes Nash in the chest, Nash goes down, Hogan wins the title.

The four guys flood the ring and Goldberg arrives, in a car that he was driving. It happens to be the same car he went to the police station in, and it’s not a police car. So did the cops just steal his car or did he steal the unmarked cop car? The fans TOTALLY turn on the ending and are furious but HERE’S GOLDBERG! Down goes Steiner. Down goes Hall. Add Nash to that. Hogan gets some shots in but takes an AWFUL spear.

Goldberg sets for the Jackhammer, but Lex Luger comes out and beats up Goldberg, joining the NEW NWO! Yes, this is the NWO being reformed, two and a half years after it started. Goldberg gets handcuffed to the ropes and taze the heck out of him. He gets the spraypaint treatment as the fans want Sting. He would show up….two and a half months later. Hogan sprays the belt with the red paint and Steiner does the hand sign to end the show.

Now there are a lot of problems with this but most of them are short term based and that’s not what we’re looking for here. At the end of the day, while it was bad, I’m actually going to say that the Fingerpoke of Doom and the night that they threw away the whole potential ratings win due to Foley and all that jazz actually wasn’t actually a major contributor to the death of WCW. The ratings didn’t fall off a cliff or anything and while it brought Hogan back to the title, it had been done already by Hogan vs. Sting (oh believe me, that’s coming). Hogan was only champion for about two months and after that things went back to normal.

It really wasn’t that much of a problem in the long term. Things had already been falling apart and the fans were annoyed enough at Goldberg losing the title. Yeah things were bad and it’s probably the most infamous moment in WCW history, but it’s not like things were guided by this one moment for all time and eternity. They had won one week out of the last four months and other than the Warrior months they didn’t do anything at all in the ratings. It was bad and everyone rolls their eyes at it, but it really didn’t change anything long term and probably to the shock of some of the people reading this, I’m not going to call the Fingerpoke of Doom a suspect in what killed WCW.

In December of 98, Nash won the title from Goldberg. Now this is something that’s kind of interesting I think. It’s famous for being the moment that broke the Streak and the rise of Nash and all that jazz, but what else did it mean long term? Now the answer that you’ll often hear is that they screwed up Goldberg with this, but I’m not sure if I buy into that or not. Let’s think about this for a minute.

What we’re supposed to believe is that Goldberg was going to be the WCW version of Austin. The problem with that is simple: Goldberg wasn’t really a character. He ran through everyone and do you ever remember him talking? It would happen once in awhile, but all he had going for him was the Streak. Austin was an interesting character who fought a war against Vince and was the voice of a generation that was sick of what they had been seeing. Goldberg was bald and wore black trunks. That’s about the extent of his similarities to Austin.

Goldberg was a character that had very little depth to him, and there was one major problem to him: he had to lose eventually. No matter who beat him, once he lost, his mystique was going to be gone. Without the Streak, unless there were some MAJOR alterations made to Goldberg’s character, I really don’t see him being a viable character for all that long. Once you get past the quick squashes, what else is there to him? The answer to that is not much, so I really don’t buy the argument that they crippled a potentially huge character or anything like that. It was a bad move, but it shouldn’t be a suspect.

A small thing that could be considered a suspect would be the formation of the NWO Wolfpac. After months and months of infighting between the NWO, they seemed like they were finally going to die. And then they completely changed plans and formed the NWO Wolfpac to give us not a dead NWO, but TWO NWOS! It was a sign that things weren’t going to get any better, because WCW had no idea what the fans wanted. Actually, I’m going to probably get some disagreements for this but I think it’s the fourth possibility.

In reverse chronological order:

1. David Arquette Wins World Title – May 7, 2000
2. The Radicalz Jump Ship – January 17, 2000
3. Vince Russo Hired – October 5, 1999
4. Formation of NWO Wolfpac – May 4, 1998

Going back a little further into WCW history, there wasn’t much else to talk about in 1998 (other than the whole losing the ratings night to Raw on April 13), so let’s jump to one of the BIG guns: Starrcade 1997.

Now this one requires some backstory I’d think. Back in September of 1996, WCW had been reeling from the assault of the NWO and it led up to their first WarGames match against each other. Earlier that month, Sting had allegedly turned heel and joined the black and white, but in reality it was a fake and Sting hadn’t been there. He had been the fourth guy on the team for WCW but they weren’t sure if he’d show up. Sting showed up and destroyed the NWO on his own, but then walked out on WCW.

After a promo a few months later on Nitro telling the fans that he wouldn’t be around much anymore, Sting stopped showing up other than once in awhile. Now he was dressed in black and white and no one was sure as to what side he was on. Until March and Uncensored, no one had any idea. Then at the end of the show and another WCW win, Sting dropped from the rafters and laid the NWO out, confirming that he was WCW and blowing the roof off the joint.

After more months of not talking, all roads led to Starrcade and Sting’s first match in over a year against Hogan for the world title. Now before we even get to the match, there’s more backstory that you need. About a month and a half before Starrcade there was a show called Survivor Series and it was in the city of Montreal. If you need an explanation of what happened there, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? Anyway, Bret Hart is now in WCW and he’s making his debut at Starrcade…..as a guest referee in the match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

Anyway, after months they finally got together. Now here’s how the match SHOULD have gone: Hogan won’t come out. He locks himself in his dressing room or whatever and just won’t fight. WCW guys kick the door in and literally drag him kicking and screaming to the ring. He tries to run and the Giant and Luger carry him back to the ring and they stand guard of him until Sting gets there. The bell rings, Hogan MIGHT get a punch or two in and Sting just beats the tar out of him for about 3 minutes, Stinger Splash, Scorpion Death Lock, new champion, we’re out in 5 minutes. THAT’S IT.

Hogan instead struts down the aisle, playing the belt like a guitar like there isn’t a single thing to be afraid of. The match begins, and Hogan destroys him. I mean Sting gets in something like 4 moves the whole first five minutes of the match and what was the hottest crowd this side of ECW ten minutes ago is DEAD. After a LONG match which is just terrible, we get to the bad part. Since there’s so much stuff in here that you need to know to get the full horribleness of it, here’s an excerpt from my original review:

Stinger Splash of course misses on the floor. That could have gotten the fans to cheer so we couldn’t have that of course right? With Sting more or less out on his feet, there’s the big boot and legdrop. As he’s in the air, Bret Hart walks by the front of the ring. Keep that in mind. Patrick does a semi-fast count for the clean pin. Hart keeps the bell from ringing and shouts at Patrick and half into the microphone that he won’t let it happen again. He hits Patrick, throws Hogan back into the ring, the NWO runs in and gets beaten up, Splash and Scorpion ends the match and Sting wins the title. The WCW guys run in for the massive celebration and we end the show.

Now the fun part: explaining why this was absolutely horrendous.

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