When the WWE purchased WCW, it was a huge shock to many wrestling fans. While there were rumors that it could happen, the minute that Vince McMahon showed up on WCW television and announced the purchase, it really changed professional wrestling. Shane McMahon then showed up on WCW and it looked like there might be a great angle where WCW and WWE would compete with the same ownership.
411mania reported that former WWE executive Bruce Prichard said that was the entire plan. However, Prichard then said that it turned out that the WWE wouldn’t be able to accomplish that and just chose to kill the promotion and use its library instead.
“What we were interested in was if there was a possibility that it could remain on TNT. The time slot was interesting. Being on another network was interesting. Being able to take the brand and expand it on an already established time slot, on an already established network. So that was attractive at that time. When we found out that wasn’t really going to be a possibility, it changed to the library.”
There was a time where it looked like that WCW might end up living on anyway. Even though the WWE immediately took WCW off the TNT network, they still used the brand and created the Invasion storyline, something that was a huge failure from a creative standpoint. A few wrestlers survived the transition, with Booker T being the big success story, but other than that, WCW died.
The Invasion storyline ended up bringing in ECW guys as well as moving some other WWE guys to that invading brand. That meant getting Paul Heyman involved, which was interesting because Prichard said that Heyman was against the WWE buying WCW at all. Prichard said that Heyman called WCW a “dead brand” Prichard said that Heyman completely buried WCW when talking to Vince McMahon.
“My interpretation of Paul’s burial was that I think Paul felt that Vince should have done that with ECW. ‘WCW is a dead brand,’ but ECW was a dead brand. Invest whatever kind of money to pay for WCW, take that same money and give it to keep ECW alive. And that’s my interpretation.”
What is kind of ironic about the entire Paul Heyman situation was that the WWE chose not to continue on with WCW but ended up trying to revive ECW as its own brand. That lasted a short time and was started thanks to the success of the ECW One Night Only pay-per-view. That show failed over time because the WWE refused to book it like the old ECW was booked.
The idea originally was for WCW to take over the WWE Monday Night Raw time slot and for the WWE to move to the SmackDown time slot. After years of Monday Night Raw being the flagship brand for the WWE, that almost seems ridiculous. It is also something that Prichard said was scrapped because WCW didn’t have any marquee talent that the WWE kept.
In a recent interview with Booker T, the WWE Hall of Fame star said that things were not really great for the WCW talent at the start. He even said that he was disrespected at the start when they tried to force him to carry Steve Austin’s bags for him. Booker T said he refused and earned Vince McMahon’s respect at the end.
“Maybe it was a test. Do you know what I mean? I passed it, obviously, with flying colors because I ain’t packing nobody’s bags. You can forget about that. 100% of the time, you speak up. 99%, you keep your mouth shut. We ain’t packing no bags, 100%. Do you feel me? So I’m glad I was able to step up and stand up for myself.”
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Booker T was the biggest star that was brought over. Guys like Scott Steiner, Goldberg, and Rey Mysterio waited out their Turner contracts and then came over later to sign deals with the WWE. Sting was the biggest name in WCW and never showed up until the last couple of years. There wasn’t enough talent to hold down their own TV show.
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