Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Was Triple H Right about Sting and WCW?
By Mr. Tito
Feb 25, 2015 - 12:45:42 AM

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Based on the recent RAW promo with Ric Flair and then the "confrontation" at WWE Fastlane with Sting, I'm highly amused at the anti-WCW comments made by Triple H. Make no mistake, what you're seeing is "part of the character" as Triple H is the heel and he's trying to build heat for his Wrestlemania 31 match with Sting. But where have I heard this before? Oh, that's right... Just 12 years ago before Wrestlemania 19 when Triple H talked down Booker T through a racially charged promo that also belittled Booker T's WCW career.

But don't get me wrong here, folks... This is NOT another "Bash Triple H" column. No doubt to me that Vince McMahon's fingerprints are all over the scripted lines of Triple H as he belittles Sting for his WCW career. Vince is very consistent, dating back to the late 1990's. He was upset that World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began to beat him regularly in the Monday Night ratings through mid-1996 and it wasn't until mid-1998 when the WWE would beat WCW regularly in the ratings again. WCW kicked his ass and challenged his stranglehold on the wrestling market. Since 1996, Vince has been in attack mode and he can't let it go... Where I really saw it began was how quickly Big Show was defeated by Steve Austin during 1999. Show was a clear WCW creation and he was not worthy of Austin. Then, entire botched 2001 WCW Invasion where former WCW talents, namely Booker T and Diamond Dallas Page, were marginalized... Then, any WCW wrestler who would later join WWE from 2002-2004, besides Hulk Hogan, were diminished.

Why else would Sting avoid the WWE for so long, aside from TNA Wrestling offering a nice salary for fewer dates?

That "stings" really hard... "Just seemed like a gamble to me, I didn't trust how I would have been used". Sting had pride in what he did with WCW and he didn't want to be marginalized by Vince McMahon. Why should he? Sting loves to perform and to be treated with respect, as a draw, by bookers. TNA took great care of Sting and paid him very well for his services. At Sting's age and compared with the WWE's constant demands that Sting work a FULL road schedule, TNA Wrestling was a great deal for him. Better for Sting, it allowed distance between the Monday Night Wars and the 2001 WCW closure. It allowed for Vince McMahon to cool down and see the value of the WCW brand. WCW based DVD's, especially Bill Goldberg's, were proven to be top sellers and WCW content is helping to sell the WWE Network. But now that Vince finally has Sting, the longtime WCW holdout from the WWE, Vince has a few things to say about WCW to Sting.

But to ridicule WCW as the WWE is through Triple H's promos is ludicrous. Without WCW, the WWE would NOT have modernized. WCW rose up from the ashes and challenged the WWE starting in 1994. They made a bold signing of Hulk Hogan and later in that year, "Macho Man" Randy Savage. WCW would then perform massive talent raids of ECW and Mexico to thicken their roster through early 1996. Then, WCW stole Kevin Nash and Scott Hall and a genius of an angle, as Hall & Nash were "WWE Invaders", WCW became RED HOT. However, they were against a depleted WWE by 1996. Hall and Nash were gone but Bret Hart was in contract limbo following Wrestlemania 12. Left was a horribly booked Shawn Michaels as a babyface WWE Champion. Just didn't work... Many of the WWE's great stars of the future were yet to mature as WWE superstars. Thus, WCW easily pulled away from WWE. The New World Order (nWo) gimmick was red hot...

However, the New World Order gimmick only grew stronger when the company's top star, Sting, changed his character into the Crow gimmick and began stalking WCW events from the rafters... Then, he flipped the switch and turned on the NWO. That's when WCW's business went through the roof and pulled further away from WWE. Don't believe me? Go check out the buyrate numbers for Starrcade 1997. It did 650,000 buys, which through 1997, actually tied the record for the highest viewed wrestling Pay Per View Ever (Wrestlemania 5 from 1989).

What happened after Starrcade 1997 was tragic... Obviously, that show was a disaster creatively. Hulk Hogan monkeyed around with the finish, via his creative control, and didn't let Sting get an outright clean victory of him. That famous "slow count" issue... But what happened to WCW is what happened to the New York Yankees in professional baseball. Eventually, money cannot buy you everything and those free agents that you signed to long-term, guaranteed contracts do, in fact, get older. WCW invested so much money in former WWE talent and opted not to invest money in younger talent or developmental systems. When guys like Chris Jericho were getting hot, WCW officials couldn't justify pushing him because they had a line of highly paid former WWE stars or WCW veterans to push instead. Wrestling fans got tired of the older stars and sought to see something different, such as the Attitude Era unleashing on the WWE promotion. Then, when many of those older guys started to fizzle out for WCW, they didn't have the younger group of wrestlers to push in their place. Disgruntled, many already left for the WWE (Big Show, Jericho, Benoit, Guerrero, etc.) and the developmental system proved to be a weakness for WCW.

Overpaying for older talent and simply not investing in their future killed WCW. Simple as that... As much as I give Eric Bischoff credit for building up the WCW brand through 1996 and converting it to a potential empire by the end of 1997, he lacked long-term plans to keep the WCW brand strong. Many of the top WCW names were still collecting WCW paychecks from AOL/Time Warner through 2001 that they couldn't join the WCW Invasion in the WWE that year. Guys like Diamond Dallas Page and Booker T actually took buyouts to join the WWE early and look at the treatment both of them received. That's why Sting didn't join the WWE until almost 14 years later...

The Attitude Era, make no mistake, was built from WCW's castaways. Don't believe me? Jim Ross left WCW during early 1993 when Eric Bischoff became the boss of that company. Through early 1993, Ross not only served as an announcer, but he helped with booking and was very good managing talent there. WCW's issues during the 1990's were at the main event level and with top WCW management but WCW had a thick midcard product. Always a line of tag teams and midcard wrestlers going for those midcard titles. It was wonderful... Eventually, Ross would become in charge of the WWE's talent relations. I have repeated called Jim Ross as the "Architech of the Attitude Era" and it's true. The signings he was about to make of former WCW castaways and installing the WWE developmental system were genius. Jim Ross is responsible for restocking the WWE multiple times with top drawing talent. He is easily one of the most important figures in pro wrestling history and helped save WWE's ass through late 1997 when WWE began turning things around. Not just the Attitude Era signings, but the amazing developmental system that would really hatch in 2002 that gave us amazing talents like John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and Shelton Benjamin, among many others who could have been great but the booking destroyed their potential.

Gee, who else came from WCW that helped make the Attitude Era huge? A guy by the name of Steve Austin. I knew him as "Stunning" Steve Austin. WCW fired him with Hulk Hogan's influence spreading throughout the roster. Who else left around that time? Guy by the name of Mick Foley... Better yet, during the early 1990's, WWE grabbed a tall red headed guy by the name of "Mean" Mark Callous who later became the Undertaker. Austin, Foley, and Taker were wrestlers that WCW no longer wanted and just let them go... Go on your WWE Network and see the Big Show when he was named "The Giant" during 1995-1996. You'll be amazed at how thin and agile he was back then... That guy should have been a HUGE star but WCW took him for granted and by 1997, he began to lose motivation and put on 100 more pounds of extra weight by 1998. Oh, and this guy named "Terra Ryzing" whom Kevin Nash claimed to have excited him enough to watch WCW. Ryzing would be reworked into being named "Jean Paul Levesque", a French blueblood wrestler... He would leave to join the WWE during early 1995 to become Hunter Hearst Helmsley or as you know him today, Triple H.

Jim Ross, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Undertaker, Big Show, and Triple H... All guys that WCW rejected. Yet, without these key figures, the WWE is dead in the water by the late 1990's. As noted above, WCW took the wrestlers above for granted because of all of the high priced free agents they were signing. In the short-run, it worked... WCW ruled the wrestling landscape from mid-1996 to mid-1998, 2 freakin' years... They became a victim of their own success and AOL/Time Warner kept writing checks... Until they stopped through 2000 and eventually canceled all WCW programming by early 2001.

I know, Triple H is just playing a heel character... But Vince McMahon has been consistent in rewriting pro wrestling history books. I guess since Vince won, he gets to call the shots... But as you may know, I have written for / since late October 1998. My first column actually covered WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 which was probably the last big bite at the Pay Per View apple that WCW had... Aside from the amazing Diamond Dallas Page vs. Bill Goldberg match, you had what match? Oh that's right, Hulk Hogan vs. Warrior. My 10 year old self marked out at Wrestlemania 6 but not my 18 year old self covering this bad match-up. WCW signed Warrior (or Ultimate Warrior in WWE) and after almost a month, they sent him home. Few months later to start 1999, WCW put all of the highly paid WCW veterans and former WWE stars back together for yet another New World Order stable. And then they tried it again during late 1999... By 2000, WCW was a broken, hot mess. So many big contracts on the AOL/Time Warner books and that talent was no longer drawing.

But Sting stuck around until the very end, yes... He was a recipient of one of those nice AOL/Time Warner contracts. Why would he leave for the WWE when he was getting highly paid with guaranteed money by one of the biggest corporations in America? At the end of the day, there are bills to be paid and families to feed. But the reason he received that nice, fat AOL/Time Warner contract was from his 1997 feud with the NWO and Hulk Hogan. The Starrcade 1997 buyrate says it all... And if you want to give that one to Hulk Hogan, then why didn't the previous Starrcade in 1996 with Hogan vs. Roddy Piper draw anywhere near that? Hell, any Pay Per View during 1996-1997 from WCW... Nothing near that Starrcade 1997 number that tied the viewership record for Pay Per View at that time.

I could go back further... 1991-1993 were tough times for WCW. The Ric Flair turmoil of 1991 where his argument with WCW management over booking caused Flair to be terminated from the company. Flair would go on to the wrestle for the WWE for the rest of 1991 and most of 1992 while initially parading with the big gold WCW/NWA belt there. Then, by 1993, it was Eric Bischoff's first year as WCW's manager. That was a brutal year of bad free agent signings, horrible booking, and the infamous Shockmaster that poor Sting had to hype and introduce for the company. Yet, for those 1991-1993 times, there was always 1 constant... The Man Called Sting. When times are tough in pro wrestling, promotions can easily go under... Yet, WCW had this babyface wrestler who helped put butts in seats and push merchandise. That was an era where Ric Flair wasn't there to "carry him" as many have claimed about Sting for his overall WCW career. Sting had some great matches during 1991-1993 when WCW needed him the most. Go watch them on your WWE Network!

So no, Triple H and the WWE (Vince McMahon) are NOT right about Sting and their revisionist WCW history. Sting has enough of a WCW resume to prove that he was indeed a top drawing wrestler. He deserved to be respected through his first WWE match and not marginalized or silenced. Vince McMahon still insists that the WWE and WCW "dick measuring contest" is still ongoing and that's a shame. What WCW did from 1994 through mid-1998 was absolutely amazing. Their growth and innovations to the wrestling industry helped fix the broken WWE wrestling model. For the younger fans who laugh at TNA taping multiple "Impact" shows at once, WWE did that through early 1997. Seriously... WCW aired LIVE shows every week and WWE was taping 4-5 RAW shows at once.

What caused WCW to become a "sinking ship" was due to all of the older veterans they had on the roster that installed a glass ceiling above any younger wrestlers. Gee, what's that phrase that I always post? "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it!" (George Santayana). And what has WWE done? Over-reliance on their WWE veterans such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Big Show, Kane, and Brock Lesnar. Bringing back part-time wrestlers like Rock and Undertaker to take big spots on shows. Batista returns after a long hiatus to earn a main event spot on Wrestlemania. Triple H wears suits and acts as an authority figure and yet he still dominates as a would be wrestler in his older age. And now, Sting. Additionally, WWE has multiple "legends" nights per year on RAW where all of the older guys come back. Gee, that sounds like WCW to me... But don't worry, guys like Dolph Ziggler are always good to willingly job for the Big Shows and Kanes of the world...

That's why I keep insisting that WWE officials should watch their own WWE Network. They could easily see the mistakes that past promotions made and not repeat history.

But hey... Sting signed that WWE contract and gets to work his first Wrestlemania match ever. By joining the WWE, he has to abide by the company's decisions made by its creative team. Thus, he has allowed himself to be belittled by the revisionist WWE officials who are upset that Sting never jumped ship.

Hard to deny Sting's WCW success but it's also hard to deny the actual facts as to why WCW died. Sting was just one of many getting paid by AOL/Time Warner. Problem was that WCW didn't have a guy like Jim Ross to make the right signings and restock the roster with amazing younger talents. WCW let Ross go during early 1993 and gambled on paying for free agents for the next 5 years. It worked and then fusing the free agents with a top drawing WCW talent named Sting made it even better. But long-term, the older guys wear out their welcome and well, become older. Worse for WCW, they gave many of their wrestlers creative control in their contracts. At the very least, WWE has learned from history on that mistake.

Both Sting and WCW were great... Don't let anyone from WWE tell you otherwise. Again, go watch them on your WWE Network if you don't believe me. WWE would have died if key WCW talent didn't join the WWE during the 1990's and that includes Triple H.


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