Former WCW play-by-play announcer Tony Schiavone joined Raj Giri, Glenn Rubenstein, and Chris Callicutt on Wednesday's episode of the Wrestling Inc. Podcast. In the podcast, Schiavone weighed in on what he believes killed WCW.
"It was a combination; a lot of things killed WCW," Schiavone said. "I am honored to believe people feel that my comments on Mick Foley winning the WWF title killed it. Wow, thank you very much! I didn't know I had that much power!"
Schiavone was referring to what is now infamously known as the "Mick Foley incident," where on a live airing of WCW Monday Nitro on January 4, 1999, he spoiled the main event of Monday Night Raw (a taped show), which was set to feature Foley as Mankind beating The Rock for his first WWF Championship reign. After Schiavone read the result he sarcastically stated, "That'll put a lot of butts in seats".
As soon as Schiavone spoiled the main event, 600,000 households switched from Nitro to Raw. Raw beat Nitro that night with a 5.7 final rating to Nitro's 5.0 and Nitro never saw more than a 5.0 rating again.
"Certainly that was part of it," Schiavone continued. "But I really think that what ended up killing WCW, more than anything else was that it was run by Turner Broadcasting and [Ted] Turner didn't really give a blip about Pro Wrestling compared to Vince McMahon."
For those that do not remember or simply aren't old enough to know, billionaire Ted Turner purchased Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988 and renamed it World Championship Wrestling. They were the closest competition Vince McMahon has ever faced, a competition which of course ended in 2001 when WCW, under the ownership was AOL Time Warner, was sold to Vince McMahon.
"When you look at it, the buck stopped with Vince McMahon; it was his company, it still is, and he called the shots," Schiavone stated. "Every effort that he had with his company went into Professional Wrestling, but that was not the case with Turner Broadcasting. I really feel that is what eventually killed it. That is what eventually killed the company, by them owning it. They wanted to die and it did."
On March 18, 2001, WCW held their final pay-per-view in history with their WCW Greed show from the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida. A crowd of 5,030 watched as Scott Steiner retained the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Diamond Dallas Page. Tony called the pay-per-view and brought up what ended up being his final pay-per-view in professional wrestling.
"Now I go back and watch our last pay-per-view, which was WCW Greed," Schiavone recalled. "Some of the things weren't that bad, but there were a lot of things that were salvageable during that time, but they just didn't want it. If they would have ridden it out a little bit longer it would have prospered. There were plenty of things that killed it."
Vince Russo, who had worked as the Head Writer for WWE, was brought to WCW in its latter days to try and combat the McMahon empire. Often times, he's blamed for the company's demise but Schiavone believes there's more to it.
"People say it was Vince Russo's booking, but I also think that there was a time back then where we were too much like the WWE," Schiavone said. "We were seen as a bastardized version of it; we couldn't do the WWE as well as they did, but back when we were hot and the era where people want to talk to me about, we were different than the WWE back then. As we went through time, we became more and more like them."
The popular question of today's time is whether or not anyone will be able to compete with WWE and Vince McMahon ever again. Schiavone was as close as anyone the first time it happened but does he think anyone will ever be able to do it again?
"No, I don't, only because he [Vince McMahon] is in the New York market. He has always been in the New York market," Schiavone said. "Number two because he has so much money in the bank---you have to go and see his production facility and see his offices. I don't know how many of you guys have been there to see what he has behind him, to see why he is so successful. There's more than what you just see on television; there's production value; there's people that know what they are doing in Marketing, and has a great crossover in this country when you think about it."
"Even back then, we tried in vain for years and years, which finally happened with Eric Bischoff," Tony remembered. "We tried for years to be that one Wrestling company to be seemingly mainstream. We kind of became mainstream. He [Vince] has always been like that, so I don't see anybody competing with him on that level. Listen, I didn't think we were able to do it and was surprised at the run we had in the 90's, but I don't think anybody can do it. No."
Schiavone has a one-man matinee show in Dallas on July 9th, prior to the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view event in the same city. The show is guaranteed to be over at 5pm, leaving you plenty of time to get to the American Airlines Center for the PPV, which is about a 10-15 minute drive. There will be a meet and greet that starts at 1pm, with the show beginning at 3pm. You can purchase tickets at WHWLive.com. Tickets are standing room only, and there are limited general admission seats so make sure to get there early.
The Wrestling Inc. Podcast airs post-WWE pay-per-view Sundays and on Mondays immediately following WWE RAW with Matt Morgan, Glenn Rubenstein and Raj Giri. It airs Wednesdays at Noon ET with Chris Callicutt and Glenn Rubenstein. The archive of episodes is available by clicking here.
Credit Peter Bahi for transcribing Tony Schiavone's quotes.