Voice Of Reason 1.11.01: It Has Only Just Begun

After months and months of speculation, WCW was finally sold today to Fusient Media Ventures, a company that had specialized in new TV networks in the past. With the uncertainty of the sale finally behind WCW, you’d think that the craziness surrounding the promotion would be over?

Actually, things have only started to get crazy for WCW and its fans.

Everything that had been true in WCW could be changed as early as today. Storylines could all be thrown out like they were on April 10, 2000, although the failure of that operation seems to indicate that the changes in on-air product will be gradual rather than all at once. Wrestlers who are top tier players right now, like Jeff Jarrett and Booker T, could see themselves shipped back to the mid card. And borderline guys like Hacksaw Jim Duggan could see themselves out of a job entirely.

With Bischoff back in control of creative, the thoughts of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Warrior, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper come rushing back. And while Hogan seems like a given, the others are less likely. Remember, this time Bischoff does not have control of the WCW checkbook, and the large salaries those other “big names” will requires will probably not be available.

Fusient is interested in returning WCW to profitability. Bischoff will probably be able to convince them to “spend money to earn money,” but will not be able to spend anything he wants like he did in the past. With so many big names already under big money contracts Bischoff himself negotiated, it will be a tough sell to get Savage, Piper and others back in the fold, at least right away.

A major question will be if Bischoff will want to “undo” all the booking that he was not in control of. Will Bischoff pull the typical political backstage crap that led to the demise of WCW in the first place, only pushing his buddies and their allies, and squashing those pushed under different regimes?

What about enemies that Bischoff has from the past? It’s no secret that he and Ric Flair have been at odds through the years, could we see Flair ousted from WCW? How about Konnan and Shane Douglas who have both had issues with Bischoff in the past? And all of the young stars that were added to the roster in Bischoff’s absence, such as Lance Storm and Mike Sanders, could they see their pushes reduced or eliminated?

WCW is a company that has taken no big risk or made any big booking splash over the past several months. They have had a “running in place” mentality that has done little to regain a ratings share from the WWF. Bischoff will probably try some hot shot booking to get some publicity, but he has to balance this brash style of booking with a logical, compelling in ring product for that increased exposure to lead to viewers sticking with WCW.

What about the current World Champ? Scott Steiner is a probably WCW’s brightest star right now, but what will Bischoff do to his title reign? Unlike Vince Russo, Bischoff does recognize the importance of titles in wrestling, but there is the distinct possibility that he could put the title on Hogan to “return legitimacy and prestige” to the title. In reality, a long Hogan World Title reign would do more to destroy the title than build it up.

What about Goldberg? Goldberg’s push has been inexplicably limited despite this current “winning streak” storyline. For the whole calendar years 1999 and 2000 the World Title eluded Goldberg, as WCW seemed to be saving him for a long title run. But has WCW waited too long? Is Goldberg viable as a champion anymore?

Bischoff was always a fan of the cruiserweights, and that division could see a renewed push under the new ownership. Mexican luchadores, who had been released in the past year could be brought back into the fold. Bischoff could use the cruiserweights again like he did at WCW’s height, and the cheap cost of the luchadores could see other, low card Americans out of a WCW job.

To put WCW back into contention with the WWF, Bischoff has to somehow make a splash but also stick to a long-term plan. With new ownership, the notion of a “long term plan” could be more viable than under Turner, which seemed to constantly ask for short-term results. Hopefully Fusient will recognize that WCW cannot turn things around in a week, a month or even several months.

Even with a long-term plan, Bischoff will be Bischoff. Talent raids from the WWF (if possible) and ECW are probable, with rumors of Jerry Lynn already starting this week, with many more rumors to come. In addition, Bischoff is known for wanting to cross WCW over into the mainstream media, and music acts and TV stars (like Jay Leno) could once again make Nitro appearances. The fact that most tapings will be in Las Vegas will make it easier than ever for Hollywood types to make a quick Nitro showing.

I’m sure Bischoff will also be attacking the WWF, as early as the first time he is on TV. If one thing is for certain, WCW will not be a plain, vanilla promotion anymore. Bischoff will do everything in his power to put an edge back into the product. However, the nWo is now nearly 5 years old, and Bischoff has yet to shown the ability to reinvigorate the WCW product since. Can he use the lessons he’s learned in the past to combine his brash style with practical wrestling booking that has long-term foresight, building stars and creating heat? Or will he once again fall prey to his own ego, and let big stars like Hogan and Nash, who can’t draw anymore, control his promotion.

These questions and concerns are only the tip of the iceberg when thinking about what's in store for WCW in 2001. Every wrestler, announcer, booker and backstage person in the promotion has questions about his future. Now that Bischoff has the reigns of WCW, there is only one thing for certain- it’s going to be a crazy ride.

Sit back and relax, folks, the fun has only just begun.