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March 27, 2011

Movie Review: The Rise and Fall of WCW (2009)

When I was a kid, my little brother and I were glued to the television every Sunday morning. No, we weren't watching the ramblings of Oral Roberts. We were watching another mouth from the South, Jimmy Hart. The likes of Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Savage and the Iron Sheik graced our television screen. We loved every second of the WWF back in the 80s, but there was something else going on that we didn't really follow. We really didn't have cable, so the WCW went under our radar. Years after we stopped watching, Hulk Hogan signed with the WCW and eventually joined the infamous NWO. That's when I started watching.

Buy The Rise And Fall of WCW on DVD

World Championship Wrestling was much more than just a secondary league. It was a pioneering league that was first to hit the national stage. In the early days of professional wrestling, leagues were regional. Occasionally, a star would travel between leagues. It was unheard of for an entire league to travel, but that's what the NWA did. The owners made another smart move. They partnered with superstation TBS, which was owned by Ted Turner. Turner liked wrestling's popularity and gave them a slot on his national channel.

The league seemed to be in constant financial trouble. In spite of all of WCW's innovation, the revolving list of people who ran it could never keep the books in order. The league went from a family owned business to something Ted Turner owned and never managed. Turner's lack of attention coupled with inexperienced or overzealous management caused plenty of problems. The league spawned many amazing stars, including frequent competitors Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair, or as I call them, the two greatest hairdos in wrestling history.

Real success didn't happen until Eric Bischoff took over in the 1990s. He used a simple formula. Whatever WWE was doing, he did the opposite. That mixed with a new live prime time spot and a steady trickle of talent from WWE made WCW Nitro the most popular show on cable. Eventually, Kevin Nash, also known as Diesel, got a booker position and things started to go awry. Paychecks were out of control and nobody had the reigns. Once AOL merged with Time Warner, WCW was sold to Vince McMahon, and the two companies became one. Some wrestlers crossed over, and some just said goodbye.

As a former wrestling fan, it's always easy to get sucked back in. WWE also bought ECW, and then TNA came up as a competitor, but the merger set WWE on top for good. I loved learning the story, and it's great to hear it from those involved. Nostalgia is a great thing, and that's exactly what The Rise and Fall of WCW gives to wrestling fans.

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