Is WWE going the WCW way?
When I think of WCW, I think of the innovative concepts the WCW brass came up with, to take the fight to Vince McMahon and the then-WWF. When Ted Turner decided to challenge Vince McMahon’s authority as the mogul of the wrestling empire, Vince shrugged him off, saying he was in the entertainment business. Within the next couple of years, Ted gathered an army to wage war against the WWF. Perhaps, Ted Turner’s wisest decision was to hand over the reins of the company to a vibrant, enthusiastic individual by the name of Eric Bischoff.
Before you knew it, Eric was revolutionizing the business. You had the cruiserweights coming in from all over the world, and WCW was putting on an amazing product which couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. The influx of the younger talent, combined with the veterans of the business such as Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair gave WCW the edge over the WWF. WCW started beating their competition, and was the highest rated wrestling show for over a year and half, while giving Vince McMahon and the WWF a run for their money. In the end however, that is not how most of the fans will remember the company.
When most of the fans think about WCW, they think about the sinking ship that everyone was in a hurry to leave. Most of the fans think about the questionable booking, about how most of the decisions didn’t make much sense, and how the management stopped listening to the fans and went ahead with their own assumptions. Within a couple of years, WCW was out of business and was purchased by the one man they swore to run out of business – Vince McMahon.
Vince’s vision – Is he still living in the past?
With how WWE is operating today, one can argue that the WWE is following in WCW’s footsteps. There was a time when Vince McMahon came on the WWE TV, and ran WCW down for questioning the intelligence of the fans. Nearly two decades later, the fans have started questioning Vince’s understanding of what the fans want, and have started wondering when Triple H would take over from his father in law, and restore some sensibility to the product. When that happens, you know something is wrong with the company.
Vince McMahon has been the kind of promoter who has always evolved with time. From the mid 80s to the early 2000s, Vince McMahon has always been one step ahead of other promoters. The fact that no other promotion survived for as long as the WWE has is a testament to Vince’s ability to adapt, but it is also a fact that Vince’s mentality has always been to give the fans what he thinks is best for them, and not the other way round. Although other promoters such as Paul Heyman were of that mentality, it led to their promotions going out of business.
But it is also a fact that with the social media becoming an integral part of the business, the fans have a bigger voice than they’ve ever had in the past. With the fans having various means to express their opinions, one would’ve thought that the WWE and Vince McMahon would be more open to listening to their fans, rather than forcing them to turn their back on WWE product to get their attention.
Redundancy on their A–shows
During the downfall of WCW, Monday Nitro was merely a shadow of its former self. People started complaining about the false finishes, the repetition in booking and the show getting more redundant, which signaled the end of the company. Russo and Eric did very little to further feuds, and the whole product fell flat with the audience and soon, the fans lost faith in the company and in the management. Unfortunately, WWE seems to be heading down the same path with Monday Night RAW.
Most of the three hours include fillers and nonsensical booking, and the recent two-hour NXT TakeOver – Rival put out a better product than a month’s product on RAW. In the end, WWE has taken the “more style than substance” route, and that is costing the quality of the product.
Unlike WCW, WWE will not fold just by having a couple of bad years. But it is a fact that WWE is losing its ardent fanbase by not listening to the fans; even Triple H has echoed the sentiments of the fans, and one has to believe that until Vince McMahon is in charge, things won’t improve in the WWE. So the question remains – Is WWE committing the same mistakes WCW did? Or will they be able to turn the tide and put on a better product going forward? Only time will give us the answers.