Vince McMahon went to war with rival Ted Turner during the 1990s. Turner ran the only other serious national wrestling promotion in WCW.
Together, the two flagship programs — Monday Night Raw for WWE and Monday Nitro for WCW — competed head-to-head. The battle was so heated it would come to be known as the “Monday Night War.”
While Vince McMahon was busy rebuilding WWE after losing his 1980s stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, Turner was busy buying up everyone with previously established name recognition.
The tactic worked, too, for a while. In fact, WCW beat WWE in the ratings for several straight weeks before Vince McMahon was finally able to establish new stars in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Degeneration X.
During that time, one of the execs, Bruce Prichard, was privy to a lot of the backstage drama as right-hand man to Vince McMahon. On a recent episode of Prichard’s widely acclaimed podcast Something to Wrestle With, he took questions from followers on Twitter, and one asked him to weigh in on how close Vince came to answering one of the most famous challenges.
In the buildup to the 1998 Slamboree, Eric Bischoff, WCW’s shot-caller at the time and through much of the company’s successes, laid down an offer. Show up for a real fight.
Next in the Patreon queue is our first WCW SLAMBOREE. It’s 1998, and Eric has a challenge for Vince. Get emails to us by Monday evening. pic.twitter.com/6poLMnJ6Uk
— The Lapsed Fan (@TheLapsedFan) October 24, 2016
The questioner wondered how close McMahon actually came to answering that challenge. Well, if Prichard is to be believed, much closer than anyone ever expected.
“He looked into it,” Prichard said, adding that Vince even met with attorneys to see about the legalities and discussed it with his inner circle.
At the time, however, a family obligation conflicted — Stephanie’s graduation — and McMahon decided that since WWE had finally reclaimed the top spot in the Monday Night War, “why give them the exposure,” Prichard said.
If Vince McMahon had appeared at Slamboree, it probably would have taken the wind out of what was left of the War’s sails.
The two companies had been able to spike ratings on the back of a perceived hostility that actually existed between Vince and Ted Turner. By then, the curtains had been drawn on the nature of professional wrestling so what little authenticity it had left from kayfabe would have gone out the window as audiences may have started to assume the companies were working together instead of competing bitterly against one another.
Another difficulty in making the Slamboree appearance happen would have been the what-comes-next factor, given that neither company head would have been up for “doing the job” at that point in the ratings race.
Had Vince McMahon made the appearance, the likelihood of fans going home disappointed by an anticlimactic payoff would have been pretty high.
Ultimately, the no-show worked into the WWE’s favor. WCW would never recover once it lost its grip on the ratings lead, and by 2000, McMahon would have his opportunity to make a triumphant appearance on the last edition of Monday Nitro — after he purchased the company from Turner outright.
But it is interesting to get the insight from Prichard and to hear that Vince McMahon was on the verge of doing the unthinkable.
— Steve Migs (@ImSteveMigs) January 1, 2017
But what do you think, readers? Should Vince McMahon have taken Bischoff up on the Slamboree offer, and how do you think it would have gone down had he done so? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by WWE]