I got to thinking about post Survivor Series. What was the most significant impact of the outcome of that PPV? That two once-great promotions are now dead. This is my sendoff to the two of them. Sure, they may resurge as something else (The Alliance part deux, this time, with more yawns and channel-changing intensity), but I certainly hope not. Now, without further ado...
Goodbye to WCW, promotion of legacy. Arch-Rival of the WWF during my markish period, which didn't truly end until 1999-ish. I hardly knew ye, though I should have paid more attention. I'm not going to pretend as if you were the best promotion in history. Your inability to truly create stars, or to progress as quickly as your arch-rival was your downfall. Not to mention the silly angles your ran at the end of your long life. I mean, Road Warrior Animal? It was time to go.
But you will be missed. You will always be remembered as the promotion of Ric Flair's incredible run. You will always be remembered for Steamboat/Flair, the promotion that revitalized wrestling in 1996 with the nWo angle, the promotion that provided we smarks with more cruiserweight action than we could possibly imagine could come from a promotion in the US. You made wrestling fun by making it the focus of your promotion arguably more than did the WWF.
Oh, and your championship belt was waay better.
And so long to ECW. I'm not going to pretend that you were perfect either. In fact, the more I saw of you, the more I was disenchanted. There was no reason why all of your matches were so unpaced, why someone always felt the need to blade or hit themselves with flaming chairs covered in barbed wire. Don't ask me why someone would destroy his body in front of 200 screaming fans whipped into a blood fury for a weak promise of being paid for it.
But you, too, will be missed. You will be remembered as the promotion that revitalized wrestling, that brought it out of the Doink/Dink/Dank (whatever the hell the names of those clowns were) era. That made people realize that wrestling was cool, and wasn't for kids. You will be remembered for Raven/Sandman, for Masato Tanaka/Mike Awesome. You made wrestling cool again by making it decidedly not for kids anymore.
I still don't know why you never put the ECW title on RVD though.
But both of you were at least partially responsible for your own demise. WCW stole ECW stars, probably at a greater rate than the WWF was stealing them. And remember that "Inability to truly create stars" thing? Why did you pick up the guys like Mike Awesome and Lance Storm when you missed out on the genuine opportunity that the WWF was able to bring out in Cactus Jack and Steve Austin? These were, by the way, guys who you had in your promotion who became the next big thing 5 years after you let them go, when you could have led them to prosperity, and crushed the competition in the early 90's. Imagine what a blow it would have been to the WWF if WCW was going strong, using the strengths of Steve Austin and Mick Foley when Hulk Hogan stepped over. You can't say "End of Story" fast enough for me on this one.
ECW, you let your own reputation proceed you, and it eventually forced you into obscurity. You hit the big time in 1998 with Barely Legal (an EXCELLENT PPV), but you refused to make accomodations to gain a new audience. Instead of pointing out that you were the innovator of what Vince McMahon called "Attitude" and doing it ten times better than he was, you chose to just be more violent and more sloppy to the point of losing your audience. Like the WWF, you were able to create stars, but you didn't have the marketing or the fanbase to make it truly happen. Even the best of DVDs aren't all that great in retrospect, just boring, violent crap.
I think Heyman was concerned with leaving that as his legacy, and rightfully so. ECW was gutted out of the name talent that made it the best indy fed in the mid 90's, and without its name stars, it was limited to only its hardcore reputation. However, it's hardcore reputation wsn't worth anything without good wrestlers to get it over. No one who watched the WWF or the WCW and wanted a change from the ordinary wanted to watch the ECW wrestlers. Did anyone truly believe that someone like Balls Mahoney could make it in the WWF? If the fans knew that these wrestlers were second rate, then how does it make ECW anything but second rate.
A promotion can only be so good as its talent, but using the right talent, and the right storylines, it can push wrestling beyond the boundaries of simply being two or four guys in a ring, but can bring emotion and drama into it. You, ECW, simply did not have that talent in the latter part of its run, and it was what it needed to show that it was going to be a serious alternative to the WWF or to the WCW. Simply having 2000 fanboys at an event in a bingo hall does not make something good, or especially better. ECW failed to go above and beyond what people were expecting, relying on its small fan base while it went national.
WCW, you ran yourself into the ground with your own booking, though. You had the talent necessary to do anything you wanted. WCW featured great cruiserweight matches weekly, but it also let the same old guard play around the title scene. Bad booking and bad decisions, bad moves and bad wrestlers. The wrestlers were actually overpaid, and the work ethic was horrible.
Once again, a promotion can only be as good as its talent. And WCW talent, the ones that were pushed at the top of the card, aside from a few very notable ones, were well past thier prime. They didn't want to job out to the younger stars. And that whole inability to create stars. It kept kicking in. Chris Jericho, for instance, has been widely touted as having done his best work in WCW, but he was never rewarded for it. His work in the WWF has, at times, been uninspired, but right now, at his best, he is being properly rewarded with a run at the top.
I hate to say it, but you died the deaths you deserved. Yeah, Billionaire Vince and Billionaire Ted may have ripped ECW for all it was worth, and the two big promotiosn tried to run each other out of business, the right promotion won. WCW's choices in its last year were truly horrible, and ECW sputtered the death that any promotion thats unable to improve does.
Their run as "the Alliance" was a farce because they were already dead. They might has well have exhumed Shakespeare, tossed a funny hat on him, and expected him to write more gold. Without the substance that was WCW, they were nothing. And truth be told, they were nothing before they left the airwaves. WCW's final run, be it the Alliance or be it its buyout, was a joke considering the legacy of the once-great promotion. ECW was nothing in this deal either, because it had been living off of the legacy of being able to say "Hey, WE created Steve Austin! WE created Mick Foley! WE created attitude!", but they weren't able to say it in the WWF until it was too late. Trademark ECW wrestlers either didn't acknowledge their past with the promotion (Austin, Foley), or were broken down shells of themselves which didn't help ECW look good either (Dreamer, Raven). Heyman's promo the week before Survivor Series was great. You know what would have made it even better? IF THAT WAS THE FOCUS OF THE INVASION IN THE FIRST DAMN PLACE.
Too little, too late. What other phrase so adequately describes the last gasp of ECW and WCW?