Book Review: “The Death of WCW”

Hello everyone! For today’s article, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a book I recently finished reading: The Death of WCW, by Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for professional wrestling. When properly done, wrestling can be just as, if not more so, entertaining than non-pre-determined sports. Unfortunately, even the biggest promotions in wrestling history occasionally go through dry spells. This is certainly true of current WWE, and, as this book makes clear, WCW went through their fair share of terrible times.

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The first thing I like about this book is that it takes its time setting the scene. While most modern wrestling fans are probably aware of the events immediately preceding WCW’s purchase by WWE, this book delves into more of the history of WCW, dating back to its days as Jim Crockett Promotions and Ted Turner’s earliest connections to ‘rasslin. This is helpful because it shows not only the leaps and bounds WCW would improve in the upcoming years, but also the cyclical nature of wrestling, a theme often repeated in the book. Also, the detail the book goes into showing just how terrible WCW was under former Executive Vice President Jim Herd makes the promotion’s eventual demise even more surprising. I mean, the fact that they were able to survive such classic gimmicks as “The Ding-Dongs” and efforts to transform Ric Flair into Spartacus shows just how screwed up things were at WCW in the end.

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Their gimmick? …bells

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was the detail it went into describing the pay-per-views WCW ran throughout the Monday Night Wars. I’ve always liked reading about old cards and watching old WCW shows, so I was pleased seeing the authors describe which matches worked, which ones didn’t, which gimmicks got over, which ones didn’t, and who got the loudest pops.

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As iconic as these three were, their continued power in the promotion would do just as much, if not more, harm than good…

The book also features occasional primary source quotations from figures such as Bill Goldberg and Lance Storm that are often entertaining and give interesting insight into the promotion. The writing style is also great – it’s concise when it needs to be, and details that need lots of explanation are given the attention they deserve. Another nice feature, at least in the 10th Anniversary Edition, is “Lesson Not Learned,” a section in which a facet that failed in WCW was later re-tried by subsequent promotions, such as TNA and WWE.

Finally, the best things about this book are just the ridiculous things WCW tried to do in order to gain the ratings advantage over WWE. These stupid storylines and gimmicks alone make this book worth it – especially when the authors try to explain a Vince Russo storyline and barely can. Speaking of Russo, I like the fact that the authors don’t fall into the trap of just placing all the blame on him. It may be easy to do so given the low quality of wrestling he spearheaded, but, as Alvarez and Reynolds make clear, WCW was gone long before he came along.

Even the prologues and epilogues are entertaining, with the best one definitely being the one where it just lists all of the ridiculous things TNA wrestling has done since its inception. I would list some of them, but I dare not spoil any of those gems.

Overall, if you’re even a slight fan of wrestling history, I highly recommend you give this book a shot. It’ll provide you with hours of entertainment and tons of wrestling history. You may even learn a little bit about how to book/write wrestling via their recommendations on how WCW could’ve improved certain storylines/matches/segments. If you decide to give it a read, feel free to share your comments below, and make sure you check out all the other content here at Mid-American Culture, as well as our weekly playlist. Give me a follow on Twitter @coryedwards50, and follow the site @M_American_C. See you all next week.

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