On November 14, 2004, the WWE released The Rise and Fall of ECW 2-disk DVD set. Over the course of the 3-hour documentary that made up disk 1, viewers were left with the impression that this was a (mostly) truthful, honest to God depiction of how ECW nearly reached the promise land before crumbling under the weight of its own successes. Very few punches were held in this profanity-ridden, blood-soaked, sexually-charged depiction of the wrestling world’s greatest underdog.
Fast forward to August 25, 2009, when the WWE mercifully released The Rise and Fall of WCW…. An astounding 8 years after the fact. For comparisons sake, both WCW and ECW went out of business within mere weeks of each other and fans of the little engine that could had to wait 5 fewer years then fans of the second largest company in the history of wrestling. To add fuel to the fire, the WCW documentary clocked in at under 2 hours. To sum it up, first half of documentary = early days + how great Flair and Sting are. Second half = arrival of Hogan, the NWO being cool for a minute, company collapse. There you go. Through the WWE’s eyes, that’s WCW.
Fast forward to present day and the WWE has begun to roll out a new series of programming chronically the Monday Night Wars on the WWE Network. Through 3 episodes, it’s been a mixed bag to say the least. Episode 1 covers 1995 (arguably the worst year in wrestling history) and the beginning of the Monday Night War. Episode 2 covers WCW during the creation of the NWO in 1996 and into 1997. Episode 3 follows WWF as Austin ascends the ranks through out 1997 and into his first title run in 1998 as well as the introduction of the Attitude Era.
For those who don’t know, this isn’t the WWE’s first foray into covering the Monday Night Wars. They actually released a DVD back in February 10, 2004, entitled The Monday Night War: WWE Raw vs. WCW Nitro. It was a single disk with a 90 minute documentary and 90 minutes worth of matches. Five years of history across 2 companies covered in 90 minutes. It was slapdash money grab to say the least. But cut to 10 years later and the WWE is using footage from that DVD and incorporating it into this new series. Same goes for parts of the 2009 Rise and Fall release. The final product comes across a bit jarring was we are treated to loads of previously released footage alongside bits of the fucking Miz saying how crazy everything used to be back then. And then you’ll see current WWE guys, like Daniel Bryan, appear with (present day) long hair and crazy beard and then a few cuts later appear with (2011) short hair and close cut beard. Why not just get all new interviews from scratch? Well, you might say, they have to resort to old interviews for some of these guys. Eric Bischoff, for example, doesn’t want anything to do modern WCW releases. Well yeah, he knows the fix is in and everything is just going to be WWE spin.
It’s just that, it’s been 13 years, there’s no reason to continue to treat WCW the way they do. To this day, the WWE mentality is that the NWO was freaking awesome for 6 months but that was it and then WCW went under. Don’t get me wrong, WCW had enough problems to fill an airplane hanger, but the fact of the matter is this was a company getting 4.0+ ratings until the end of April 1999. They’re ratings heading into the year 2000 (while a big drop off) were about on par with what the WWE gets today (around a 3.0). What they’re basically telling fans watching this series is “hey, we know we’re about to release every WCW Nitro onto the network but there’s only like a year where the show was actually good so you might as well not bother.”
It all reminds me of The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD the WWE put out in 2005. That release was basically nothing but 90 minutes of the WWE saying, “here’s this guy who was hugely popular and a big draw and someone young fans really embraced…. But he was a bad worker, and a bad promo, and no one liked him, and if you still like him you should really stop.” As if Warrior was the first guy to play hard ball, or not get along with “the boys,” or politic, or portray himself poorly outside of the wrestling industry. And that’s how the WWE still is today. “If you own the WWE network, you must be a fan of WWE first and foremost and therefore we’ll take this time to put ourselves over and oh yeah, there was this thing called WCW once.”
Thanks for reading along. Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject below… And while you’re at it, why not share your favorite WCW related memory?