Hey again! It’s time to talk about more painfully horrible WCW booking decisions!
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to take a breather from all of the hot garbage I threw at you in Part 1. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, how about a link?
Part 1 took us from the WCW Title’s beginnings in 1991 all the way to Halloween Havoc 1999, looking at all of the at-best-questionable WCW Title changes. And while WCW would only last another 18 or so months, hoo buddy, we’re just getting started.
So let’s get to it.
12/20/1999 – BALTIMORE SCREW JOB!
In Part 1, we talked about how WCW simultaneously pissed away their biggest match of all time and the debut of one of the hottest all-time wrestlers – Bret Hart. Well, two years later and guess what – THEY’RE STILL A-PISSIN’!
Scrolls have been written about how badly Bret Hart was utilized in WCW, and his first run with the WCW World Title is but one example. Hart won the title at the WCW Mayhem PPV in a tournament. (You mean the WCW World Title was vacant?!?!)
Immediately after the match, Goldberg challenged Bret for the belt, and Bret – full of honor – accepted. It would be a good old fashioned face vs face showdown between two of the biggest names of all time at WCW’s biggest PPV of the year – Starrcade. How could they screw that up?
Well, for starters, Bret Hart spent most of the match killing himself (with help from Goldberg). Hart estimates that he got three concussions in this match alone, including once with a nasty head smack on the floor.
And this mule kick which seems to have been the final nail in the coffin.
The referee wasn’t even safe in this match, and was taken out before all was said and done. As the match moved to the finish, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper made his way down to the ring to act as the official. Bret got Goldberg in his patented Sharpshooter and Hot Rod called for the bell – even though Goldberg had not submitted. Bret looked on in bewilderment. This all seems really familiar.
Yep, we’re recreating the Montreal Screw Job, the most heinous WWF World Title change of all-time (which Bret himself happened to be on the screwing end of). Why WCW or Bret would want to reenact this low moment in Bret’s career is beyond me. Well, unless you disregard WCW’s longstanding determination to recreate everything WWF ever did.
But wait, it turns out Roddy was an UNWILLING PARTICIPANT in this screwing, forced into the situation by the “Powers That Be” (aka head writer/onscreen character Vince Russo). The next night on Nitro, Bret – full of honor – relinquished the WCW Title because of the controversial finish. You mean the WCW World Title was vacant?!?
Hart would defeat Goldberg in a rematch that same night, then retire due to Post Concussion Syndrome 3 weeks later.
1/25/2000 – BIG SEXY DOES HIMSELF A FAVOR!
This heinous title change involves a little background.
Bret Hart was scheduled to defend the WCW World Title against Sid Vicious at the Souled Out 2000 PPV. Unfortunately, at the start of the show, Bret announced that he was vacating the title due to injuries which would ultimately force him to retire. This left WCW without a champion and Sid without an opponent.
Luckily (?), Chris Benoit was also left without an opponent when Jeff Jarrett was forced to vacate the WCW United Stated Title due to injuries. Seems like an easy call, right?
Well, not so fast. Chris Benoit was already set to leave WCW after Souled Out. Dude’s bags were packed and the car was running. So they definitely put the title on Sid, right? Haha, you’re just not thinking like WCW! Maybe having that big gold belt will make Benoit forget about his years of misuse in this failing company.
Yeah, it didn’t. Benoit won the title and high tailed it out of there like his hair was on fire and his ass was catching. Chris left the belt at least – guess he never had time to lay down a security deposit.
The next night on Nitro, brand new WCW Commissioner Kevin Nash announced that the WCW World Title was vacant because Sid’s foot was under the ropes during Benoit’s title win. What, the WCW World Title was vacant?!?
Nash announced that he himself would take on Sid Vicious that night in a match for the vacant title, but only if Sid could defeat one of the Harris Brothers first. If you don’t remember, Ron and Don Harris were identical twins and acted as cronies for nWo 2000, aka the millionth iteration of the nWo.
Sid did indeed defeat a Harris Brother and went on to win the WCW World Heavyweight Title later that night. Stupid, but not too stupid I guess.
HAHA NOT SO FAST! Two days later on WCW Thunder, Commissioner Nash interrupted a promo by new champ Sid to explain that Sid had pinned the WRONG HARRIS BROTHER on Nitro, making his victory null and void and thus – you’ll never guess – VACATING THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE. What, the WCW World Title was vacant?!?
Kevin Nash then awarded himself the WCW World Title, and announced his first defense would be later that night on Thunder. The match would be a Handicap Steel Cage Match with Sid Vicious taking on both Nash and the CORRECT HARRIS BROTHER.
FYI, I did get a legitimate laugh out of Nash’s promo, where he only referred to the Harris Brothers as “the one with the tie” and “the one without the tie”.
Sid would go on to defeat Nash that night and hold the title until…are you ready for this?…ALL of the WCW Titles were vacated! WHAT, THE WCW WORLD TITLE WAS VACANT?!?
4/25/2000 – DAVID ARQUETTE IS READY TO RUMBLE!
You knew it was coming.
Let me ask you this – what if Dumb & Dumber was about wrestling? If that gets you excited, then I’ve got a movie for you!
In 2000, the movie Ready To Rumble was released. The film was about the adventures of two dudes helping their favorite wrestler of all time make his big comeback. One of those dudes was David Arquette. I’ve got to be honest, it wasn’t that terrible. I mean, it was really bad, but it had its moments.
WCW was heavily involved in this film, with tons of their wrestlers appearing. Eric Bischoff was even set to play the movie’s villain – an evil promoter of course – but ended up fired by WCW before that could happen.
Well, what better way to promote your movie than to have the star appear on your weekly TV series? It’s like a free commercial, right? Hey, and why don’t we have that star actually wrestle in a match? And hey, why don’t we have that star win our world championship? Wait, what?
Yep, on an episode of Thunder, David Arquette showed up in the audience to promote Ready to Rumble. He ended up getting into a confrontation with Eric Bischoff (re-hired!), which led to a match that Arquette won. Not so unbelievable since Bischoff wasn’t really a wrestler either.
But that wasn’t the end. On the next Thunder, Arquette would team with new WCW World Champion Diamond Dallas Page to take on Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett. The match stipulation? Whoever scored the pinfall would win Page’s WCW Title. Naturally, Arquette pinned Bischoff and was crowned the new WCW World Champion.
Wrestling purists were horrified. WCW laughed off the whole thing as a joke. Arquette showed up on Nitro trying to give the title back rather than wrestle for it. At Slamboree 2000, Arquette would defend the title in a Triple Steel Cage Match (as seen in Ready to Rumble!) against DDP and Jarrett. During the match, Arquette turned heel and helped Double J score the victory.
By Spring 2000, the WCW World Title had lost much of its luster. Putting the title on an actor who had no business being in the ring – AS A GOOF – sure didn’t help though. The Big Gold Belt was starting to look more like the WWE 24/7 Title.
5/29/2000 – KEVIN NASH DOES RIC FLAIR A FAVOR!
During a two week period in May of 2000, the WCW World Heavyweight Title changed hands six times.
On the May 15, 2000 episode of Nitro, Ric Flair defeated WCW World Champ Jeff Jarrett to score his 7th WCW Title. The match was just background noise to the Flair/Vince Russo feud, which had already seen Russo steal Flair’s robe and his son David. The Nature Boy didn’t even wrestle in tights – he was wearing a black t-shirt and dress pants. A weird scene to say the least.
After the match, Russo, David Flair, and Jeff Jarrett assaulted both the Naitch and referee Little Naitch with offense that was borderline embarrassing. The trio (along with Dafney) left Ric laying and took off with the WCW World Title belt. Later on Thunder, Ric Flair collapsed. DRAMA!
The next week on Nitro, Vince Russo held a “funeral” for Ric Flair’s career. Russo went on a tirade about how Flair was too old and had a brain aneurysm in front of the world. With Flair dead, Russo officially gave the WCW World Title back to Jeff Jarrett, which is always a great moment for a title lineage. Jarrett launched into a promo about how much stroke he had, followed by blah blah blah. Then Kevin Nash POPPED OUT OF A COFFIN and took out Jarrett. With Russo and David Flair also dead for good measure, Big Sexy left with the Big Gold Belt.
Russo screamed that Nash could either give the belt back to Jarrett or Jarrett would take it from him in a match at the end of the night. Nash opted for the latter, but only if the match would be for the title. The match ended up being a fairly fun clusterf***, with Jarrett retaining at the end.
Jarrett would not be so lucky the next night on Thunder. He’d lose the WCW World Title to Nash in a Triple Threat match that also involved Scott Steiner. On the next Nitro, following a Flair promo, Kevin Nash – FULL OF HONOR – announced that he was relinquishing the title to Ric Flair because the Nature Boy had never lost it. In Nash’s own words – “I don’t feel right…being a, uh…champion…that’s got a belt in his hand.” The way Nash saw it, until Flair lost the belt fair and square, the WCW World Title belonged to The Naitch.
Later that night, Flair dropped the title back to Jeff Jarrett (thanks to help from Vince Russo).
Honestly, the Vince Russo/Ric Flair feud wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but having the World Title in that mix was so unnecessary. Especially when you consider that the title was simply given to another wrestler not once, but TWICE in a week.
07/09/2000 – TRASH AT THE BEACH!
We already covered the entire Bash At The Beach 2000 debacle over in our Beach Battles series, so I’ll keep it brief here. If you want a full rundown of the match, definitely click the link.
Hollywood Hogan spent the back half of 1999 injured, but returned in early 2000. Hogan started a program with Billy Kidman as part of The New Blood storyline, an effort to put over some of WCW’s young lions. The Kidman feud culminated at The Great American Bash 2000, with a match to determine the #1 contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Also, if Hulk lost, he’d have to retire. Honestly, it would have been better for Hulk if he’d lost. Actually, it may have been better if Hulk had just never returned from injury. Or just died.
Beating Kidman set up Hogan vs WCW World Champion Jeff Jarrett at Bash At The Beach. Things started out completed f’ed (of course) with Vince Russo making his way to ringside. Jarrett followed, then Hogan. Even though Hulk was the babyface, the announcers started running down Hollywood for being a diva and a backstage politician. Uh-oh, I smell “Russo reality” creeping in.
With both competitors in the ring, the bell rang and Double J promptly laid down on his back. Hulk looks around confused and OMG WE FREAKING DID THIS WITH STING ALREADY!
Russo encourages Hogan to make the pin, so he does. 1-2-3, new champ, brother. Hulk gets on the mic and tells Russo that crap like this is why WCW is so far down the toilet (I don’t know if this was a shoot or not, but truer words have never been spoken, brother!)
Hulk leaves with the Big Gold Belt, and we return to our regularly scheduled program. BUT WAIT! Vince Russo returns to the rings and starts running down Hollywood Hogan. Russo calls Hulkster everything from a “piece of shit” to a “big bald son of a bitch”. Russo says that the belt Hogan walked out with will now be known as the Hulk Hogan Memorial Belt, and that the belt “doesn’t mean shit.” THEY ARE SPEAKING TRUTH TONIGHT!
Vince says “shit” a whole bunch more times, and says that Jeff Jarrett – a man who “busts his ass night in and night out” – is still the true WCW World Champion. Russo then announces that it will be Booker T – a man who has “busted his ass for 14 years in WCW” – would take on Double J in the main event for the title. The ASS BUSTING TITLE! IF YOU CAN’T BUST ASS, YOU CAN’T HANG, BROTHER!
Booker T would go on to win the title for the first time that night in a match that honestly was bust ass. It was a great moment for Booker, truly a crowning moment in his career. Unfortunately, the taint of the whole Hogan/Russo WHATEVER IT WAS hangs too heavy over that moment.
It’s unknown how much of this Russo/Hogan thing was a work or a shoot, even today. Hogan would not return to WCW, but the company folded about 8 months later. Hulkster did sue Russo for defamation of character, so maybe at the very least Russo worked it into a shoot. The only thing for sure is that belt don’t mean shit.
10/2/2000 – VINCE RUSSO’S BOYHOOD NIGHTMARE!
Well, let’s wrap it up with the WCW World Title’s final disgrace. On the September 25, 2000 Nitro, it was announced that the 8-0, undefeated VINCE RUSSO would challenge Booker T for the WCW Title. How did we get to this point? There’s a video package at the start of the show with Russo doing a lot of trash talking and saying how becoming WCW Champion was his dream since being a kid. The whole thing is half played for a goof.
Russo decides to challenge for the title in his hometown of New York City. And it will be a CAGED HEAT MATCH! Why? Well, they had Scott Steiner vs Goldberg in a cage match earlier that night, so I guess they’re just trying to get their money’s worth on the cage.
Russo makes his way out in a full football uniform (Giants of course), complete with helmet and pads. Late in the match, Russo pulls out a pipe and starts destroying Booker T. Russo takes out the ref too. THIS IS CAGED HEAT! More refs and medical personnel make their way down to deal with the pandemonium. Russo runs wild until a brave EMT steps up – wait, that’s no regular EMT, it’s Ric Flair!!
Flair neutralizes the Russo threat and Booker T takes over. The locker room clears out and there’s a huge brawl at ringside. Russo eats a couple of Axe Kicks, and Book tells Russo not to hate the player, but hate the game. Book goes to leave the cage, but we’re not done yet!
Out comes Goldberg, who spears Russo through the cage and into the barricade. If Russo had not been wearing a helmet, he would’ve died. Luckily, it only ended his career. Meanwhile, Scott Steiner tries to block Booker T from leaving the cage, but Big Poppa Pump can only stall him. Booker T and Goldberg walk out and that’s the show. Surely Booker T is still the champion, right?
HAHA, NOT SO FAST! Russo shows up the next night on Thunder, proclaiming that HE is the new WCW World Champion because he exited the cage first. Well, he’s not wrong. Russo says that he’s not an athlete and his days of getting knocked around are behind him. Vince says that he just wanted to prove that on any given night, he could win the WCW World Title. WTF??? Russo says that he’ll announce the future of the WCW World Title on the next episode of Nitro.
Russo also mentions that Ric Flair is an ACTUAL EMT. Apparently, Flair got into the medical profession after Russo fired him.
On Nitro, Russo reiterates everything he said on Thunder and relinquishes the World Title. WHAT, THE WCW WORLD TITLE WAS VACANT?!?
And that wraps up Part 2! I can’t say I hope you enjoyed this trip down the WCW World Title sewer, but I do hope it brought back some not-so-horrific memories.