World Championship Wrestling

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This article is about the American wrestling promotion that existed from 1970 to 2001. For the WCW stable during "The Invasion", see The Alliance (professional wrestling). For the Australian wrestling promotion, see World Championship Wrestling (Australia).
"WCW" redirects here. For other uses, see WCW (disambiguation).
1988–1996 Private
(subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System)
1996 Public
(subsidiary of Time Warner unit TBS)
2001 Public
(operating through WWE)
Industry Professional wrestling, Sports entertainment
Founded October 11, 1988[1]
Founder Ted Turner
Defunct March 26, 2001
(WCW assets sold)
Headquarters Universal:
One CNN Center
Atlanta, Georgia 30303 United States
WCW, Inc.:
1241 East Main Street
Stamford, Connecticut 06902 United States
Area served
Products Television, Internet, and merchandise
Owners Ted Turner (1988–2001)
Vince McMahon (2001–present)
Parent Universal:
Turner Broadcasting System/Jim Crockett Promotions Inc.
Time Warner
(1996–present, as a legal entity)
WCW, Inc.:
WWE, Inc.
Website WCW at

World Championship Wrestling, Inc. (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion company based in Atlanta, Georgia. It began as a regional (mid-Atlantic U.S.), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)-affiliated "territory" promotion – Jim Crockett Promotions – until November 1988, when Ted Turner (through his Turner Broadcasting System business) bought the promotion, whose struggle to compete with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) had left it near bankruptcy. Immediately after the buyout, the promotion was renamed the Universal Wrestling Corporation (UWC) and consisted of Crockett's business assets; however, it was soon renamed again: World Championship Wrestling (the title of the promotion's weekly TV series, which had aired on TBS for many years prior).

In the mid-1990s, WCW dramatically improved its economic performance, largely due to the promotion of Eric Bischoff to Executive Producer (to guide the overall direction of the on-screen product); the strategy of quickly hiring former WWF main eventers who often brought large, loyal, TV-watching fanbases with them; the introduction of the Monday Nitro series on cable TV, and the resultant Monday Night Wars with the WWF's Monday Night Raw; the successful creative and marketing execution of the New World Order (nWo) brand/stable of wrestlers; and other innovative concepts. WCW also had a popular and successful cruiserweight division (an acrobatic, faster-paced, lucha libre-inspired style of wrestling).[2][3][4][5]

WCW eclipsed the WWF in popularity throughout the United States for much of the latter-1990s. However, numerous financial and creative missteps led to the company losing its meteoric lead over the WWF almost as quickly as it had gained it. Turner (and later, Time Warner) owned WCW until 2001, when selected assets were purchased by the WWF.[6][7] Since 2001, WCW images and video footage have been widely distributed in WWE-owned media.

Two separate subsidiary companies exist as successors to WCW. WCW, Inc. is the WWE subsidiary established in Delaware in late-2000, initially as W. Acquisition Company, which holds the rights to the WCW video library and other intellectual property.[8] The former WCW entity, which retained liabilities not acquired by WWE, was renamed back to the Universal Wrestling Corporation; as of 2014, it was still registered as an active Georgia-domiciled subsidiary of Time Warner.[9][10]



The name "World Championship Wrestling" was first used as a brand and television show title in 1980. Jim Barnett (who had worked for the World Championship Wrestling promotion in Australia) came to Atlanta in the 1970s during an internal struggle over the NWA Georgia territory.[11] Barnett ultimately became majority owner of the promotion/"territory", and began using his previous employer's name for his new business' television program in 1982. The business was eventually purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions.

However, it was not until November 2, 1988 [12] that an actual, National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)-affiliated promotion called 'World Championship Wrestling' appeared on the national scene. This entity was under the ownership of media mogul and cable-TV pioneer Ted Turner, based in Atlanta, Georgia. While initially the new company was called, Universal Wrestling Corporation (launched October 11, 1988), very shortly following the purchase the decision was made to utilize the familiar "World Championship Wrestling" TV show name, as the brand name for this new promotion.

Leadership and booking[edit]

WCW went through various changes in business and creative (i.e., booking/storyline-writing) leadership during its existence. Some figures, like Jim Herd and Kip Frey, were mere TV executives completely lacking in wrestling-promotion experience; others, like Bill Watts, Ole Anderson, and Dusty Rhodes had extensive experience in the business, but were so entrenched in the outdated "territory" ways of operating (which their respective careers had thrived under) that they were ineffective at growing WCW's largely regional audience, into a national -- and international -- one (as Vince McMahon had successfully done with the WWF).

While Eric Bischoff has received much criticism for some mistakes in judgment as Executive Producer (and later, WCW President), he combined an understanding of wrestling (largely gained as a staffer with Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association/AWA) with a willingness to make the changes needed to raise WCW's profile with mainstream media, its target audience and especially, TV advertisers. These changes including moving some television tapings from Atlanta to Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida, and, signing a mix of veteran U.S. main-event performers, and younger stars from promotions around the world (e.g., Rey Mysterio, Jr.).

Some of the creative freedoms that Bischoff granted main-event-level talent hurt the business, as such performers were less-than-cooperative in elevating/making stars out of the young performers -- even though doing so (known in the industry as, "doing what's best for the business [instead of, for just yourself]") has been a staple of the industry, world-wide, since its inception. Once Bischoff was relieved of his duties in 1999, Vince Russo (a former senior-storyline writer for the WWF), came aboard as lead writer of all of WCW's storylines. Although Russo would not last long in this role, in April 2000, WCW opted to bring Russo and Bischoff back in hopes that the duo might re-spark flagging fan interest in WCW. The two, however, did not get along well and Bischoff soon resigned from the sinking company.

WCW in other media[edit]

From 2000 to 2001, Monster Jam had a series of monster trucks based on wrestlers' names. These include nWo (2000), Sting (2000–2001), Nitro Machine (2000–present; currently Inferno), Madusa (2000–present) and Goldberg (2000–present; currently Maximum Destruction). The first to go was nWo, which only ran for a season. Next, all but Goldberg, Nitro, and Madusa were retired after the WCW sponsorship was lost. Nitro then became Flashfire, then was converted into Inferno. Madusa has stayed as the same name ever since it was created, because it is driven by former WCW superstar Madusa. As for Goldberg, it was changed to Team Meents in 2002, then into Maximum Destruction, which debuted in 2003 and continues to compete in the series.

WCW also had a presence in NASCAR from the mid-1990s to 2000, sponsoring the #29 team in the Busch Grand National Series full-time and the #9 Melling Racing team in the Winston Cup Series part-time. In 1996, Kyle Petty's #49 car in the Busch Grand National series was sponsored by the nWo, and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. briefly drove a WCW-sponsored for Galaxy Motorsports.

Sale to WWF/E, Inc.[edit]

As 2000 came to a close, a number of potential buyers for WCW were rumored to show interest in the company. Ted Turner, however, still had a position of influence at Time Warner prior to the final merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001, and most offers were rejected. Eric Bischoff, working with Fusient Media Ventures, made a bid to acquire the company in January 2001[13] (shortly following the AOL/Time Warner merger), and it appeared that WCW would continue.

One of the primary backers in the WCW deal backed out, however, leaving Fusient to take that offer off the table while it attempted to bring a new deal around. In the meantime, the World Wrestling Federation founded W. Acquisition Company in late 2000 and began speaking to the new AOL Time Warner about acquiring the WCW brand. Jamie Kellner was handed control over the Turner Broadcasting division, and deemed WCW wrestling to be out of line with its image. As a result, WCW programming was canceled on both TBS and TNT, leaving Vince McMahon's company, which at the time had an exclusive deal with Viacom, free to acquire the trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts of World Championship Wrestling through its new subsidiary W. Acquisition Company and was renamed to WCW Inc. afterwards.

During the sale, WCW was in litigation, with various lawsuits pending, and AOL Time Warner still had to pay various performers their guaranteed deals, as many had contracts directly with the parent company, and not with WCW. Since WCW Inc. had acquired select assets, the company that was once World Championship Wrestling was reverted to Universal Wrestling Corporation once again; its only purpose now, however, was to deal with old contracts and lawsuits.


At the outset of WCW's existence, as well as that of its predecessors, the company was strongly identified with the Southern style of professional wrestling (i.e., "rasslin'"), which emphasized athletic and competitive in-ring performances over the showmanship and cartoon-like characterizations of the WWF.[14] This identity persisted into the 1990s, even as the company signed stars who their audience had only ever known as WWF-only stars (e.g., Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage). WCW dominated pro wrestling's television ratings from mid-1996 to 1998 in the U.S. (i.e., for 84 straight weeks) mainly due to its incredibly popular New World Order storyline; but thereafter, began to lose heavy ground to the WWF, which had successfully rebounded from the WCW threat with its edgy, antihero-driven "Attitude" re-branding. Stale story lines; unimpressive pay-per-view main event performances; a policy of vastly overpaying all headliners - and even many middle-tier performers - exorbitant, guaranteed salaries; questionable booking decisions; plus eventual and sudden spending restrictions (imposed by corporate parent Time Warner), combined to eventually lead WCW to start operating at an quickly-ballooning loss, instead of a profit. As a result, AOL Time Warner sold the copyrights to WCW's name to the WWF for $2.5 million, in 2001. Shortly after the purchase, Vince McMahon purchased the entire WCW videotape library for an additional $1.7 million, bringing the final tally of World Championship Wrestling's sale to $4.2 million.

WCW started out as a regional promotion in the late-1980s, focusing mainly on the Deep South. It started growing nationally a few years later, which led to its rivalry with the WWF - the major wrestling company left in North America (after almost single-handedly wiping out the old regional territory system it was born from). Even though WCW folded in 2001, its legacy lived on in the WWF. The WWF initially kept the WCW United States Championship, the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, the WCW World Tag Team Championship, and even the WCW World Heavyweight Championship active. Eventually, the titles were unified into their respective WWF counterparts. In 2003, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, the company resurrected the U.S. Title (with a completely re-designed belt), to be exclusively featured on SmackDown. When Hulk Hogan returned to WWE, it billed him as "Hollywood Hulk Hogan" - his WCW nickname. In 2004, WWE brought back WCW's Great American Bash pay-per-view; also that year, it released Starrcade: The Essential Collection as a three-disc DVD set. In August 2009, WWE released a DVD set, The Rise and Fall of WCW.[15] Commemorating the 10th anniversary of purchasing WCW, WWE re-opened, highlighting the history of the company that had once had the upper-hand in the professional wrestling marketplace - at one point, even threatening to drive WWE out of business. WWE released three documentaries showing highlights from WCW Nitro's history, The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro, The Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2 and The Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3,[16] all three documentaries are hosted by Diamond Dallas Page.

WCW is a major focus in the WWE '12 video game released by THQ for Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii in 2012. In the Game's "Road to Wrestlemania" Story Mode, many WCW superstars are featured (e.g., Arn Anderson, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Road Warrior Animal, Kevin Nash (a.k.a., Diesel in his initial WWF run), Booker T, and Vader).


Championship Notes
NWA World Heavyweight Championship The world title of the National Wrestling Alliance. It was defended within WCW from 1988 until 1993.
NWA World Tag Team Championship The world tag team title of the National Wrestling Alliance. It was defended within WCW from 1992 through 1993.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship The title was established under WCW in 1996 and would continue to be used after WCW's purchase by the WWF until March 2008, when it was retired as the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship The title was established under WCW in March 2001 but was retired after the WCW's purchase by the WWF.
WCW Light Heavyweight Championship The title was established under WCW in 1991 and was defended until September 1992, when the title retired.
WCW Hardcore Championship The title was established under WCW in 1999 and was defended until January 2001, when the title retired in March of that year.
WCW International World Heavyweight Championship The second world title of WCW. It was established in 1993 under WCW and was defended until 1994, when it was unified with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
WCW United States Championship The second highest ranked title used in WCW. It was established in 1975 under NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Under World Wrestling Entertainment, the title remains active as the WWE United States Championship.
WCW United States Tag Team Championship The title was established in 1986 under NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and was defended within WCW until July 1992, when the title retired.
WCW Women's Championship The title was established under WCW in 1996 and was defended until 1997, when the title retired.
WCW Women's Cruiserweight Championship The title was established under WCW in 1997 but was retired later that year.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship The primary world title of WCW. It was established in 1991 under WCW and would continue to be used after WCW's purchase by the WWF until December 2001, when it was unified with the WWF Championship. The physical belt, known as the Big Gold Belt, returned in September 2002 as the World Heavyweight Championship. It was unified with the WWE championship and was retired in 2013.
WCW World Six-Man Tag Team Championship The title was derived from the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship of NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and was defended within WCW until 1991, when the title retired.
WCW World Tag Team Championship The world tag team title of the WCW. It was established in 1975 under NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and would continue to be used after WCW's purchase by the WWF until November 2001.
WCW World Television Championship The title was established in 1974 under NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and was defended within WCW until April 2000, when the title was retired.


Programming Notes
WCW Monday Nitro (1995–2001)
WCW Thunder (1998–2001)
WCW WorldWide (1975–2001) Also known as World Wide Wrestling.
WCW Saturday Night (1971–2000) Also known as WCW Saturday Morning, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling.
WCW Pro (1985–1998) Also known as NWA Pro Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.
WCW Main Event (1988–1998) Also known as NWA Main Event.
WCW Prime (1995–1997)
WCW Clash of the Champions (1988–1997) Also known as NWA Clash of Champions.
WCW Power Hour (1989–1994) Also known as NWA Power Hour.
Best of World Championship Wrestling (1973–1987)

See also[edit]


  2. ^ Mudge, Jacqueline (2013). Billy Kidman. Infobase. ISBN 1438146469. The cruiserweight division had become the most exciting aspect of WCW. 
  3. ^ Bryan, Daniel; Tello, Craig (2015). Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania. St. Martin's. p. 70. ISBN 146687662X. WWE was looking to start a new cruiserweight division like the one that was popular in WCW. 
  4. ^ Jericho, Chris; Fornatale, Peter Thomas (2007). A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex. Grand Central. ISBN 0446408905. [Bischoff] constantly trumpeted to anybody who would listen that Hogan and the nWo were the sole reason why WCW had pulled ahead of WWF in the ratings war. He never stopped to think that another reason may have been the hard work of the leprosy-afflicted cruiserweights. 
  5. ^ "The WWF's Light Heavyweight Division: The 10 Ways to Make it a Success". Pro Wrestling Illustrated (London Publishing Co.) 17 (12): 33. December 1997. ISSN 1043-7576. The light heavyweight division, like WCW's cruiserweight division, can be a rousing success 
  6. ^ Green, Jordan (2005-12-14). "I was famous for getting beat up': The glorious and tragic story of Carolina wrasslin". YES! Weekly. 
  7. ^ Assael, Shaun; Mooneyham, Mike (2002-07-16). Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. Crown Publishers. p. 252. ISBN 0-609-60690-5. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  11. ^ "1980's TV Wrestling / 1970's - 1980's Mid-Atlantic Wrestling". 
  12. ^ "JCP 1988". Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  13. ^ "Time Warner Sells Ailing WCW". Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Assael, Shaun; Mooneyham, Mike (2002-07-16). Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Federation. Crown Publishers. p. 61. ISBN 0-609-60690-5. 
  15. ^ Ross, Jim (2009-05-03). "J.R.'s Place". J.R.'s Barbq. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  16. ^

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