I've been a fan of Gordon Ramsay since he started his television career with 'Boiling Point.' He has been a star ever since.
WCW Signs Hulk Hogan
World Championship Wrestling had a decent in-ring product, but they did not have the star power, production value and entertainment value of the WWF.
This was about to change when WCW signed the WWF's biggest star, Hulk Hogan. Hogan headlined seven of the first eight Wrestlemanias. He also brought the WWF to worldwide prominence.
Hogan was the most successful crossover star at the time as he frequently made appearances on television, in magazines, and in cinema. He had a lot of product endorsements and was a household name.
WCW signing Hogan was as big of a free agent signing as the Miami Heat signing LeBron James, the San Francisco Giants signing Barry Bonds, and the Green Bay Packers signing Reggie White.
WCW Acquires Randy Savage
1994 was a big year for WCW. They not only signed Hulk Hogan, but they also acquired his friend/enemy Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Savage was past his prime, but he still had many good matches in him. He still wanted to wrestle and even pitched a program with Shawn Michaels. Vince McMahon wanted to go with younger stars like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart as he felt Savage was too old. He assigned Savage to an announcer role instead and Savage was not happy about it.
Joining WCW gave Savage the chance to wrestle again and be part of the main event scene. The very night Savage debuted, he was already serving notice to WCW Champion Hulk Hogan that he was gunning for the title.
WCW Signs the 1980s WWF Roster
Vince McMahon became the only show in town through devious tactics such as paying stations to not air competitors, buying off territories, and raiding their talent.
WCW flipped the switch on Vince and raided his talent pool. With the financial backing of Ted Turner, World Championship Wrestling would become the biggest rival Vince has ever faced in his entire life. Sure, the WWF can make new stars but, it would take time and resources to do so.
Names such as Mr. Perfect, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase, Ravishing Rick Rude, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Barbarian, King Haku, Earthquake, Typhoon, and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake were only some of the 1980s WWF superstars who WCW signed away.
While the more known WWF stars jumped ship to WCW, the WWF went downhill and started promoting wrestlers who had a day job aside from wrestling such as Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, a garbage man; Henry O. Godwinn, a hog farmer; and T.L. Hopper, a plumber.
WCW's Roster Was Already Loaded
WCW had some good talent in the form of Sting, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Jericho, Rick Steiner, and Scott Steiner. Despite this, the show did not have the same production value as the World Wrestling Federation. It also lacked edgy storylines. The marketing aspect of the product did not do so well either.
WCW even had wrestlers who would become big names in WWF but were severely underutilized such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Triple H, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Big Show.
WCW Steals Away New Generation Stars
Billionaire Ted Turner gave Eric Bishoff the checkbook and the green light to sign virtually anyone he wanted.
WCW was already able to sign the biggest 80s stars the WWF had such as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, and Roddy Piper.
They were not content and started going after WWF's "New Generation Stars" such as Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, and Diesel.
With guaranteed contracts, a lighter schedule, and a bigger paycheck, WCW easily stole the WWF's top talent.
A Look Back at the Monday Night Wars
At its peak, WCW has one of the most talented rosters in wrestling history. It had the likes Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Beill Goldberg, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Lex Luger, The Giant, Rey Mysterio Jr., Syxx, Curt Hennig, Chris Jericho, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Dean Malenko, Raven, and Sid Vicious.
The company also came out with one of the best angles in wrestling history with the New World Order, a faction that was composed initially of ex-WWF wrestlers who were supposedly sent by Vince McMahon to invade WCW.
To add to that was the success of the 173-0 win streak of Bill Goldberg. They also had a high-flying cruiserweight division. To top it off, WCW was backed up by Ted Turner in terms of television network support and funding.
WCW really took the fight to the WWF. They raided the talent. They announced the results of the Raw shows minutes before the show aired so it would be pointless to watch them. They also were able to get prime television spots on TNT because they were sister companies. They also revolutionized the industry by going live weekly, making all matches marquee name versus marquee name instead of the usual marquee name squashing the jobbers.
WCW Nitro, the company's flagship show, beat Monday Night Raw 84 weeks in a row. This forced Vince McMahon to enact the Attitude Era with younger stars such as Steve Austin, Triple H, and The Rock and edgier storylines.
WCW was taking the fight to the WWF and Vince McMahon was very close to going out of business.
The NWO - The Faction That Revolutionized Pro Wrestling
The New World Order storyline was an idea picked up by Eric Biscoff from New Japan Pro Wrestling where a rival faction would invade a company.
The angle started innocently enough as Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) showed up in WCW. He then proceeded to interrupt a match and cut a promo about going to war with WCW. He then proceeded to go to the announcing booth and then told Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan that they were taking over.
The next week, Scott Hall brought a friend of his. He brought Kevin Nash (Diesel) and then proceeded to mock how old the WCW stars were. He compared them to dinosaurs and senior citizens. Nash told Eric to bring anyone like Hulk Hogan, Sting or Macho Man. They didn't care. Eric promised that they would come up with a team at Bash at the Beach to fight them.
At Bash at the Beach, WCW was represented by Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage. The invading faction (The Outsiders) was represented by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and a mystery partner. The Outsiders were on the verge of winning the match when Hulk Hogan comes to the rescue. The Outsiders quickly scattered at the sight of the Hulkster. He then did the ultimate betrayal and leg dropped Randy Savage repeatedly. Hogan then went on to cut a promo about the fans betraying him and that this was the New World Order of professional wrestling.
The three-man band of Hogan, Hall, and Nash proceeded to terrorize WCW. They threatened and beat up WCW talent. They also aired a series of vignettes which was used as anti-WCW propaganda.
The group got larger over time. They were soon joined by Ted DiBiase, Syxx, and The Giant. This core was not so bad as DiBiase was good in a managerial role, Syxx was athletic and was their cruiserweight representative and The Giant was a force of nature.
The group, however, became so large that it included lower mid-carders such as Horace Hogan, Buff Bagwell, and Konnan.
The faction had become so expansive that WCW decided to split the faction into NWO Hogan and NWO Wolfpac. The Hogan faction was headed by Hogan, Steiner, The Giant and Hall and the Wolfpac had Nash, Macho Man, Sting, and Luger.
The NWO - The Faction that Revolutionized Pro Wrestling
The End of WCW
Raw slowly beat Nitro in the ratings as the New World Order storyline was getting stale and WCW was not able to push its younger talent.
Young talent slowly left WCW and headed for the WWF. This included Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrero, and Paul Wight. They left WCW to get a better push. This exodus of young talent would ultimately contribute to the company's demise.
The Monday Night Wars was a war in every sense of the word. On an episode of Nitro, Madusa threw away the WWF women's title in the garbage can. Eric Bischoff also challenged Vince McMahon to a match in a WCW ring in Slamboree 1998. Vince McMahon retaliated with Billionaire Ted skits and sent DX to invade WCW headquarters and WCW shows.
The level of competition during this war very much benefited the wrestling fans. The storylines were edgier. Matches which were reserved for pay per views could now be seen on free television. Production values were greatly improved.