The View From Down Here – Book Review ‘The Death Of WCW’

 This is the second book by RD Reynolds, of Wrestlecrap fame. And it is one that I have put off reading because purely of its content. A little back story. I was a fan of WCW. Even with all their stupidity, whenever I got the chance, I would be watching videos of WCW (which was all we got in Australia) and a few comp tapes sent to me by friends in the States. I fell into an anti-WWE state at about WrestleMania 11 and so WCW was my ‘thing’. This is despite the fact I hated Hulk Hogan. With a passion.

But with Hogan WCW started appearing on PayTV in Australia. I remember seeing Kevin Sullivan refer to him as Terry in an interview. And I remember thinking that something seemed wrong. But I loved the cruiserweights and putting up with Hogan seemed like something I was willing to tolerate. Then came the nWo and I was bored with that concept after 6 months. Not because I have a short attention span, but because it was so one-sided that I lost interest in watching the matches. Still, there were cruiserweights and other matches so I was happy enough.

Then came Starrcade 1997, which I’ve written about on this very site, and the beginning of the end for my fandom.

This book depressed the hell out of me as I read about the death of the company I enjoyed more than any other televised wrestling.

But this book has made me dislike Hogan even more, even as Bret Hart’s book started to give me some sympathy for the guy. And now he’s helping screw up TNA, a company which has given me some of the best matches I’ve seen in recent years. And I just wanted to slap Kevin Nash around the head with a brick. The guy comes out of this book as bad as Hogan. And don’t even get me started on Russo and Bischoff. Sorry. I’m bitter. Let’s get on with this.

Now we have ‘The Death Of WCW’ by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez (2004).

This is not the light and fluffy WrestleCrap book like the other two. There are still plenty of crap-worthy moments (chamber of horrors? doomsday cage? Jim Herd? Tank Abbott – boy band roadie?… dear God, the list just goes on and on, doesn’t it?) but this is a look at the way things played out.

I have read some criticisms that the back-stage stuff as portrayed in this book is not accurate. Be that as it may (and I have no idea either way), there is no denying what we saw in the ring, and how it made us feel. And I say ‘us’ because I agreed with 99% of their criticisms. And what they put forth makes sense.

A quick criticism right off the bat: Personally I felt everything pre-1996 was rushed through too quickly (in less than 50 pages). I know the whole downfall probably started then (despite the company doing well), but it did not allow a complete back story to come through, especially to those not “in the know” about exactly where WCW came from.

The book itself, as I have come to expect from a WrestleCrap title, was well researched, well written, well edited and just generally well put together. It follows along chronologically and uses all the available statistics to support the story, with little asides all the way through to help give some extra meaning to what was going on. It was hard to fault at all.

Now for my problem with the book: It was just too damn depressing. It was reliving the death of a favourite celebrity. And that was what it felt like – a cancer that was eating away at the core of WCW, where egos, big business and utter stupidity was allowed to get in the way of something that people actually liked. Remembering every reset, every stupid nWo angle, everything else was just bringing back memories I thought I had forgotten. And then the epilogue where the InVasion angle was detailed made me just want to punch Vince in the head, yelling, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” at him over and over again.

But I have to say, it is clear that no one learns in wrestling. The authors put forth that before Bischoff, Jim Crockett did some of the same things… and ended up going bust. He also did an InVasion angle eerily similar to the WWE/WCW one. A man ahead of his time. I must find a book about him.

But this book did leave me feeling not good. The whole series of disasters that followed one after the other became harder and harder to read. This is not the fault of the authors, but of the subject matter. I have a horrible feeling when I pick up Scott Keith’s Dungeon Of Death (sitting in a pile only half read) and force myself to finish it, I am going to be brought down just as hard.

The pseudo sport that we all love so dearly will undoubtedly always be there in some form or another, but to read about the absolute crap that goes along with it…

This is a good book, don’t get me wrong. RD Reynolds – no matter who he’s writing with – has a tone and style that is very polished and easy to read, without being kiddie-like. I find most of his humour hits the spot nicely. It’s just the subject matter this time, that’s all.

This, the seventh of my wrestling reading adventures, is a very good book. But you have to be able to go into it emotionlessly, something I found hard to do. So, The Death Of WCW is recommended, but with caveats.

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