I just read RD Reynolds’ book about the death of WWF. There’s a lot interesting reasons for WWF’s failure to keep fans happy, that goes beyond Montreal. Vince Russo wanted to continue his “Gang Wars” storyline, but Vince wanted to focus on Steve Austin and DX. Another problem was the fact that talent like Jeff Jarrett, Steve Williams, and Terry Funk would end up not signing WWF contracts, fearing they couldn’t trust McMahon to hold up his end of the bargain. This is also what led Kurt Angle to decide, pro-wrestling wasn’t for him. WCW stars like Shane Douglas, we’re right about WWF. They bring talent and force them to embarrass themselves without a guaranteed deal. Like Mick Foley told Dave Meltzer, “Opportunity doesn’t feed my kids.”, shortly after that interview Foley signed with WCW as a road agent, and author.
1999 was WWF’s worst year by far. The so called Attitude Era fell flat for most fans, and Vince McMahon’s ridiculous over booking of the 1999 Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 15 killed it for the 18-34 male demographic. Vince Russo says that he disagreed with the preposterous idea that Vince McMahon could win a Royal Rumble, or that fans would take Mankind seriously as WWF Champ. Fans agreed the night Mankind won the WWF title was Raw’s lowest rated shows since 1995. Fans couldn’t believe a fat goof like Mankind could ever beat the Rock, even with a dusty finish. Many fans were turned off by WWF’s unrealistic storylines and stupid ideas, like a Hardcore title, and European belt that was mostly held by a African American in his 20’s, or by Shane McMahon.
Another disaster was the sweetheart deal given to Paul White, that went nowhere. Keeping Undertaker’s buddies like, Mideon, Savio Vega, and Fatu on the roster. Keeping Taka over Great Sasuke, and never giving Brian Christopher a Lightweight title run. “WWF didn’t know what to do with their own roster. Vince only knew how to book steroid freaks and cartoon characters.”, said Bret Hart. Bret had lost his brother Owen because of McMahon forcing the younger Hart to attempt a cartoonish stunt.
2000 was the year WWF died. It began disappointingly due to the fact that it was leaked that Steve Austin would not be in any WrestleMania match. Another problem was Wrestlemania’s main event confusion. Since most fans didn’t watch WWF television, many thought the WrestleManias 2000 main event was Triple H vs The Bigshow. Many had no idea that The Rock and Mick Foley were involved. WWF only had themselves to blame because they knew they didn’t have the money to promote their big events, and that they were confusing the fans. Then in the summer of 2000, The Rock announced that he’d be leaving WWF for Hollywood. He became the only pro-wrestler to win an Oscar. Meanwhile WCW was pulling in big numbers as Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff brought us some of the biggest Main Events in history, and proved that WCW didn’t need the NWO to stay on top. Bill Goldberg retained his WCW WHC belt at Road Wild, when he was attacked by a freshly healed Steve Austin. By the time Austin vs Goldberg happened at Starcade 2000, the WWF had been dead for 12 weeks.
Vince McMahon would try and get Fox Sports to fund the WWF further, but instead Fox Sports ended up buying the company outright and keeping only the WWF tape library, figuring no wrestling company could compete with WCW and Turner’s money. Vince McMahon would finally die of heart attack while arguing with a waitress. Shane McMahon still works for Fox Sports, while Stephanie McMahon works at Fox News. Linda McMahon remained retired.
Bret Hart eventually got his revenge on Shawn Michaels after suggesting to Russo that they hire HBK to lose to Shane Douglas for the US Belt, and then for Shawn to lose his hair. Sadly Michael’s would die of a heart attack in his hotel room the night before he was to lose to Douglas in that hair vs hair match.
ECW would finally fold and their champion Triple H would never wear a belt in a national company again. Hunter remains a valuable part of WCW’s Power Plant, working along side Sarge. Paul Heyman joined ROH in 2003, as both booker and as the manager of Steve Corino. Heyman is still in court over the sale of ECW to ESPN over the objections of Acclaim, and Old San Francisco Toy-makers.
Although Steve Austin lost to Goldberg at Starcade 2000, he would go on to defeat Sting for the belt in the spring of 2001. Austin would beat Hulk Hogan and declare himself the new leader of the New World Order of Wrestling. What followed was a six month long attempt at NWO nostalgia that fans hated and felt was stale, but it had been a year since the last episode of Raw, and there was no alternative insight.
Tags: Acclaim, Bill Goldberg, Mankind, new blood, nWo, Steve Corino, Sting, WCW