Hey, how’s it going? How are you spending all your downtime lately?
I’ve been taking time to memorize wrestling title histories of course. I’m pretty proud that I’ve memorized the entire WWE World Title history (try me! please!), and lately I’ve focused on the uh…beloved?…World Championship Wrestling. Looking back through all that WCW World Title history – oof. WCW did some crazy shit with that belt, huh?
Like most people, I largely abandoned WCW around 1999 when Raw had firmly overtaken Nitro in the Monday Night War. Heck, I couldn’t even be bothered to turn the channel when the Misfits were helping out Vampiro over on TNT. But most of the stuff before WWF was in the lead – it’s actually been fun to bring back all of those memories.
Well, some of those memories. There are a few bad ones. In fact, so many that I decided to put this little article together today, looking back at the 12 most ridiculous, heinous, or head-scratchingly stupid WCW World Title changes. Why 12? Because I literally COULDN’T CONTAIN IT TO 10!
They’re all pretty bad, some more than others, so let’s just go in chronological order, shall we?
7/1/1991 – RIC FLAIR LEAVES WCW WITH THE WCW TITLE!
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair has been a legend for longer than I’ve been alive. In early 1991, Flair was crowned the inaugural WCW World Heavyweight Champion after defeating Sting for his 8th NWA World Title. At that time, WCW was on its way to getting out from under the NWA umbrella and beginning to brand their titles as their own.
While fans still loved to hate the Nature Boy in 1991, WCW Exec VP Jim Herd was not a fan. The feeling was mutual, as Ric Flair still to this day thinks Jim Herd sucks. WWF came calling in the spring of 1991, and Naitch told Jim to stick it up is Herd-cutter. Jim said don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Wooo!
Well, couple of problems there. First, Flair was still the WCW Champion and had no inclination, contractual or otherwise, to do the company a favor and drop the title in a match. Second, Flair was booked to defend the title at the July Great American Bash PPV against Lex Luger. And third, Flair had physical possession of the WCW Title belt and wasn’t about to give it back until WCW returned his security deposit.
So what the heck happened? Well, Flair showed up on WWF TV with the WCW World Heavyweight Title calling himself the Real World’s Champion. Meanwhile, WCW replaced Flair with Barry Windham in their big GAB match. A middle school shop class engraved “World Championship Wrestling” on a hunk of metal and slapped that on an old championship belt that Dusty Rhodes found under the seat of his car. Lex turned heel and won that belt.
So yeah, WCW Title – not off to a great start.
11/6/95 – THE GIANT STRIPPED! HULKSTER HUMPED!
What could kick WCW up to a level where they could compete with the WWF? How about an injection of Hulkamania??
Hulk Hogan famously made the jump from WWF to WCW in 1994 and suddenly all things old were new again. WCW basically recreated Wrestlemania I by bringing in Muhammad Ali and Mr. T. Old WWF favorites like Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Big Boss Man, and Earthquake got new coats of paint to run with the WCW version of Hulkamania.
Perhaps most (in)famously, WCW tried to recreate the biggest wrestling match of all time – Hulk vs Andre from Wrestlemania III. Since Andre had lost his last match (with death), WCW was forced to find their own giant. Enter Paul Wight – aka well, The Giant. I guess creative had the day off on “Name Paul Wight Day”.
The Giant’s very first match was against WCW Champion Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc 1995. The Giant was running with The Dungeon of Doom at the time – Kevin Sullivan’s unholy union of wrestlers out to destroy Hulkamania.
The Giant and Hogan would actually face off twice that night – first, in a Monster Truck Match. I’m not going to talk about how stupid this was, because I already did here. Short version – The Giant lost and then Hulk Hogan threw him off of a roof.
The Giant not only lived, he went on to defeat Hulk by DQ and took the WCW Title belt. The DQ came when Hulk’s own manager, Jimmy Hart, turned on Hogan and took out the referee. Enter the entire Dungeon of Doom – including newcomer The Yeti – to beat down Hulkster and hump him into oblivion.
The next night on Nitro, Jimmy Hart announced that he’d secretly changed the rules of the Halloween Havoc match, such that the title could change hands on a disqualification. Which meant that The Giant was now officially the WCW Champion! Mouth of the South – you’re a BASTARD, BABY!
As stupid as The Yeti may have looked and as much of a cluster that Halloween Havoc finish was, you have to admit it was a masterful plan on behalf of Jimmy Hart and the Dungeon of Doom. But not so fast – WCW decided a week later that you probably shouldn’t be allowed to do that, even though people have been intentionally getting other people disqualified in wrestling matches since Orville Brown. WCW stripped The Giant of the title. You would think if The Giant’s methods were illegal, the WCW Title would rightfully go back to Hulk Hogan. Nope – the title was declared vacant instead and decided in a 60-man “World War 3” match. Out of those 60 guys, Hulk was not one of them.
8/10/1996 – THE nWo GRAFFITIS THE WORLD TITLE!
If you didn’t live through the nWo, it’s hard to describe how captivating it all was. Looking back at the old matches, from a star-rating perspective, they’re all pretty much garbage. But storyline? We were HOOKED. From the moment “Razor Ramon” showed up on Nitro and declared that they were taking over, fans were talking. A WWF-WCW invasion?? Hulk Hogan – THE ULTIMATE GOOD GUY OF OUR CHILDHOOD – turns to the dark side?? There may never be anything else like it. I remember desperately thinking, why can’t the WCW guys just UNITE and take out this nWo SCUM??
Perhaps one of the most shocking moments was at the WCW Hog Wild PPV in 1996, when Hollywood Hogan defeated WCW Champion The Giant with help from his nWo cronies Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The win wasn’t so shocking (I mean, it is Hulk), but the aftermath was unthinkable. Hogan took out the black spraypaint (an nWo hallmark at that point) and branded the WCW World Heavyweight Title with “NWO”.
This was the big gold belt – the one that had been worn by Harley Race, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Sting. To think it could be defaced – DISGRACED! – was appalling. Sure, people flocked to the nWo because they were cool and broke all of the rules. But even this seemed a little too far.
12/28/97 – THE FAST COUNT?!
When it comes to heat, the only thing that rivaled the New World Order in 1996 was the feud between Hollywood Hogan and Sting. When the nWo first hit the scene, a lot of fans and wrestlers fingered Sting as the “third member”. We all know that was Hulk Hogan, but Sting was pretty butt hurt by the allegations.
Sting withdrew from the spotlight, watched The Crow and underwent a total makeover. Instead of beating on his chest and screaming for the fans, Sting hung out in the rafters with a baseball bat and refused to take sides in the nWo/WCW war. But Sting’s refusal to join the New World Order made him a target, and he became a big thorn in Hollywood Hogan’s side. For 18 months, the two antagonized each other, leading to a huge confrontation for Hogan’s WCW Title at Starrcade 1997.
Believe me when I say this – Hollywood Hogan vs Sting for the WCW Title was one of the most hotly anticipated matches of ALL TIME. Being WCW, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised that it went completely to hell.
During the match, Hogan hit Sting with his signature big boot/legdrop combo and went for the pin. Referee Nick Patrick – an nWo sympathizer in the past – made the count. 1-2-3? Bell rings. Hollywood Hogan beats Sting clean in the middle. But not so fast – Bret “Hitman” Hart makes his WCW debut, screaming about a “fast count” and sauntering out to the ring to somehow right this injustice. Hart knew a thing or two about injustice, as he was last seen on the losing end of the Montreal Screwjob just a month prior. In fact, Hart’s WCW debut was also one of 1997’s hottest topics. WCW: The Reverse Midas Touch.
So Hart comes out and says, “THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, MAN!” and for some reason has the authority to restart the match. The fans, the announcers, everyone just scratches their head because NO ONE SAW A FAST COUNT because THE COUNT WAS NOT FAST. Watch the gif again.
So Hart looks crazy and the fans just look confused. Stinger hits the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock, and that’s enough to end Hogan’s reign of terror. Bret himself calls for the bell. Yay, I guess.
A week later on Nitro, Sting was stripped of the title due to the controversial finish. Which was the right call I guess, since Hogan was straight up robbed by the Hitman.
1/4/1999 – THE FINGERPOKE OF DOOM!
I can’t figure out if Hulk Hogan was a disgrace to the WCW Title or if the WCW Title itself was just a disgrace. The WCW Title was like someone in a terrible relationship. They always complain about how bad their treated, but no matter how much you tell them to leave, they go right back for more. Hulk Hogan is a 6x WCW World Champion and he held the title for a combined record of 1,137 days. This is without a doubt his most heinous victory.
Some say that WCW was a one-trick pony and that trick was the nWo. I disagree with that statement. Exhibit A, Article 1, Section B – Goldberg.
Goldberg’s ascension culminated with a WCW Title victory over Hollywood Hogan on Nitro. It was part of a 173-match undefeated streak that set the entire wrestling world on fire in 1998. Unfortunately, Kevin Nash killed it dead at Starrcade with help from a taser. WCW: Electrifyingly Stupid.
A week later on Nitro, new WCW Champ Nash was scheduled for a rematch with Goldberg. Unfortunately, Goldberg was arrested for stalking Miss Elizabeth. What’s Big Sexy to do?
At this point in time, the nWo had split acrimoniously, with Nash leading the nWo Wolfpac, and Hollywood Hogan on top of nWo Hollywood. Hulk was scheduled to appear on Nitro on this fateful night, and the rumor was he’d be announcing his retirement.
But wait – what if Hulk takes a shot at ONE MORE RUN, BROTHER? That’s right: Kevin Nash vs Hollywood Hogan! Wolfpac vs Black & White! The nWo EXPLODES! Old disputes settled once and for all with the WCW Title hanging in the balance!
Sounds exciting, right? Well, actually, Hogan poked Nash in the chest, and Big Sexy laid down for the 1-2-3. SWERVE! nWo REUNITED! TITLE DEVALUED!
All of this led to another tired nWo reunion, but it’s also legit recognized as the moment WCW lost its grip on the Monday Night War.
10/25/1999 – WTF HAPPENED AT HALLOWEEN HAVOC?
I’ve already talked about the insanity that is Halloween Havoc 1999, so go check that out for the long version.
Short version is this – WCW turned Sting heel in fall of 1999 and put the WCW Title on him. Sting was scheduled to take on Hulk (no longer Hollywood) Hogan at Halloween Havoc. Since this is WCW (not to mention Vince Russo) and everything has to be as convoluted as possible, the match turned into an absolute nonsensical mess. Hogan didn’t come out at first, then he did come out but the announcers were talking crap about him, then Hulk just laid down for Sting to pin him.
After all of this stupidity, it was announced that Sting had issued an open challenge and GOLDBERG had answered. You could tell that this match was unplanned, because not even the announcers knew what was going on. For one, no one could decide if the match was for the WCW Title or not.
That would be key information, especially when Goldberg hit the spear and pinned the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Sting, either pissed about losing the match or pissed about losing the title or both, attacked the referee after the match.
The next night on Nitro, the confusion was cleared up by, what else, stupidity! It was explained that the Sting/Goldberg match was unsanctioned, therefore it was not for the WCW Title. However, since Sting got mad and beat up a referee, he’d be stripped of said WCW Title.
FYI, over the next year, the WCW Title would be vacated 7 more times.
And that will do it for Part 1! Believe it or not – things get WAY WORSE in Part 2! Come back if you can stomach it!