This Day in WCW History: The Final Episode of ‘WCW Monday Nitro’ Airs [2001]

"This is the end, my only friend, the end"

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“Just another week of World Championship Wrestling action! Sure, it hasn’t really been that great for a while, but it seems like WCW has been getting better. I mean, Kid Romeo could very soon be the next Rey Mysterio! There’s no limit to h–ABWHAAAA?!”

“Imagine that! Me, Vince McMahon… imagine that! Here I am on WCW television! How can that happen??”

On March 26th, 2001, I was caught completely off-guard with the sudden appearance of the owner of the World Wrestling Federation during the opening to WCW Monday Nitro. I was a sixteen-year-old kid in high school still, who had already started down the path of becoming a full-fledged Internet wrestling smark that lurked on wrassle forums for his wrestling newz of that ear. Strangely enough though, I did not catch wind of the WCW buy out news until Vince himself told me about it that night on Nitro.

“Imagine that! Me, Vince McMahon… imagine that! Here I am on WCW television! ‘How can that happen?’

Well, there’s only one way. You see, it was just a matter of time before I, Vince McMahon, bought my competition. That’s right, I own WCW. So, therefore, in its final broadcast tonight on TNT, I have the opportunity to address you, the WCW fans. I have the opportunity to address you, the WCW Superstars.

What is the fate of WCW?

Well, tonight, in a special simulcast, you’ll all find out because the fate… the very fate of WCW… is in my hands.”

How did this happen? How did Vince McMahon end up being the sole owner of World Championship Wrestling, especially considering how the company had seemingly already been sold months back??

“WCW Sale Timeline” (Before the WWF Buyout) – World of Wrestling Magazine [April 2001]

On January 11th, 2001, Fusient Media Ventures announced through a press release that they acquired World Championship Wrestling from Turner Broadcasting System. The details of the deal would have had the co-founder of the Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic) Brian Bedol serve as the new CEO of WCW with Eric Bischoff overseeing the company as its official president. Once the deal was made public, Eric held a meeting with talent right before the WCW Sin PPV to go over some of the details regarding Fusient’s plans to “reestablish the WCW as the champion of professional wrestling entertainment.”

The Fusient deal would take some time for everything to fall into place, but Eric Bischoff was immediately granted full control of the company once again. From January to March, Bischoff ran WCW television while lawyers sorted through all of the necessary paperwork.

Eric Bischoff: The deal was announced in January. We had signed a letter of intent. We met with the employees. We held a press conference. We had a call with Wall Street. It was a done deal.

We spent the next month or two working out the mountain of legal and business details involved in the sale. The closing was set for sometime in April or May. In the meantime, Brad arranged for me to work behind the scenes so that we could position the creative for the eventual takeover. – ‘Legends with JBL’ [September 24th, 2015]

During the initial announcement of the Fusient deal, rumors circulated online of March 30th being a solid cut-off date from Time Warner for Brad Siegel (then-president of Turner Entertainment) to sell WCW, or it would be axed completely. Luckily for WCW, part of the deal that Fusient made with TBS would be for the continuation of WCW Monday Nitro and WCW Thunder on Turner stations for “many, many years”, according to PW Torch (Torch #637).

Even though it was estimated that WCW lost a little over $62 million (!!!) in 2000, Fusient started off fairly confident with their newest acquisition. Plans were in place for there to be a full-stop season finale for WCW television before rebooting several weeks later with an entirely revamped look. The idea was to stop WCW as a touring company altogether and instead have weekly shows taped at highly trafficked tourist areas like Las Vegas or Orlando, FL.

Tony Schiavone: “The more you heard about [the state of WCW], the more you were kinda sick to your stomach. You didn’t want to hear about how bad the company was.” – ‘What Happened When’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [March 13th, 2017]

Existing Turner wrestler contracts and new talent acquisitions would be sorted out, Variety even reported that there were talks of reaching out to the World Wrestling Federation for an inter-promotional “WWF vs WCW” pay-per-view to be held.  Unfortunately, the Fusient deal started to unravel around mid-February as some of Fusient’s money backers were starting to become fully aware of WCW’s financial woes and lawsuits. Regardless, Eric Bischoff and company continued on with the full belief that all of these details would sort themselves out.

On March 19th, 2001, Jamie Kellner, the new head of Turner Broadcasting System, canceled all WCW television on Turner stations.

“Turner Drops Wrestling in First Decision by Its New Chief” – New York Times [March 19th, 2001]

Kellner removing wrestling from Turner also destroyed the deal made in place with Fusient Media Ventures.

Eric Bischoff: “We put together the money, we put together seventy million bucks. Sixty to seventy million dollars to buy WCW. We went through eight-months of due diligence. Did a conference call, did the whole nine yards. Made the announcement. Went and had meetings at Turner with all of the employees.

Jamie Kellner came along and says, ‘Yeaaaah, we’ll sell you the company but we don’t want it on TV anymore.'” – ‘Legends with JBL’ [September 24th, 2015]

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Eric Bischoff: “Jamie Kellner killed the deal.

Kellner, who had formerly run the WB Network, had just taken over TBS and TNT. I assume–I’ve never spoken to Kellner about it–that when he got there he said, ‘Show me all the deals that are pending.’ Our deal would have been at the top of that list.

The deal called for us to acquire copyrights, trademarks, assets, all the things that would normally go along with an acquisition. But the most important part of the deal was a ten-year broadcast window at TBS. The window gave us four hours a week, for both Thunder and Nitro. We controlled the inventory–meaning that we got the revenues from the commercials during that time.

Kellner said he didn’t mind selling WCW, but he didn’t want wrestling on his networks. He took the distribution element out of the agreement, eliminating the broadcast window.

That took the deal from something worth roughly $67 million to something worth $67.

Maybe.

It made absolutely no sense for [Fusient] to do the deal under those circumstances.” – ‘Controversy Creates Cash’ [2006]

Without any television time to air World Championship Wrestling program, the value for WCW dropped immensely, leaving the company to be easily picked up by an interested party who was watching the deal intensely from afar.

“WWF Swallows WCW” – CBSnews.com [March 23rd, 2001]

Just like that, Vince McMahon announced his purchase of World Championship Wrestling on March 23rd for an amount that was somewhere close to $7 million ($4 or $5 million for the tape library, WCW branding and assets plus a couple million more to clear up lawsuits tied to the defunct promotion).

Fusient Media Ventures and Turner Broadcasting System were out, Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation were in.

Tony Schiavone: “‘The upscale brands we built at TNT and TBS’, right? Ok… bullshit to that.

Number one, big bullshit to that. Number two, if [Turner] wanted professional wrestling in a different incarnation, they could’ve had it. They could’ve had anything they wanted to. So, that’s why that’s a bullshit line. Here’s the deal, as soon as Jamie Kellner was in charge, they wanted to shitcan [WCW] and it didn’t matter what money it would make for them.

They didn’t like it. They didn’t like pro wrestling. Kellner didn’t like it. The AOL people didn’t like it. As we know by now–as history will show us–the AOL people, especially Jamie Kellner, were the biggest fucking idiots that ever walked the face of the Earth.” – ‘What Happened When’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [March 13th, 2017]

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Hulk Hogan: “They didn’t want wrestling as part of their portfolio. That was the original word, that they wanted new movies, Turner Classics Movies of the week and new programming. They did not want ‘wrasslin’ on their network.” – ‘Monday Night War’ “Life After Wartime” [January 13th, 2015]

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Dusty Rhodes: AOL didn’t like wrestling. They didn’t understand what brought them to the dance. They didn’t understand what built WTBS, at the time–Channel 17 in Atlanta. They thought it was beneath them. – ‘Monday Night War’ “The Fall of WCW” [January 6th, 2015]

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Lex Luger: When that whole deal was negotiated that they weren’t gonna have wrestling any more as programming, a lot of the guys were very concerned. It came out very quickly, so there was definitely a lot of anxiety and insecurities going on. – ‘Monday Night War’ “The Fall of WCW” [January 6th, 2015]

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Hulk Hogan: “[The acquisition of WCW] gave [Vince McMahon] something else. It gave him the whole WCW wrestling catalog, hundreds and hundreds of hours of wrestling. It was like buying the damn Beatles. You could put it on a twenty-four-hour wrestling channel and make tons of money.

I didn’t know the catalog came with WCW or I’d have been all over it. I could have sat at home in my office and watched little tapes all day and made millions of bucks. I guess I blew that one.” – ‘Hollywood Hulk Hogan’ [2002]

March 26th, 2001 would be the final broadcast of WCW Monday Nitro on the TNT Network.

Before Nitro went on-air, meetings were held to address the new ownership situation. With Vince McMahon stationed in Cleveland to run WWF Monday Night RAW that night, Shane McMahon was sent to Panama City, FL to be a representative of the WWF. Shane was accompanied by backstage WWF producers Bruce Prichard and Gerald Brisco, who were all there to oversee the final WCW Monday Nitro.

Pro Wrestling Torch: “Shane McMahon attended Nitro in person. He appeared on the air and he also ran the show backstage. He held a meeting with the wrestlers before Nitro. He told them that the ink was still wet on the deal, but the deal was done. He said they expected WCW to have its own TV show within six-to-eight weeks. He gave the impression, though, that a lot of details weren’t yet worked out. Wrestlers who went to Nitro expecting to get final word on their futures didn’t.

The WWF’s purchase of WCW does not include the contracts of the top paid wrestlers. The contracts of any wrestlers earning guaranteed six-figure salaries are not part of the deal. That list includes Kevin Nash, Bill Goldberg, Sting, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Dallas Page, Ric Flair, and Lex Luger. Instead, AOL will retain their contracts and attempt to buy them out of their deals.” – PW Torch #647 [March 31st, 2001]

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Billy Kidman: “As soon as Shane McMahon walked in the door, that threw me and a lot of other people for a loop. I’m sure that there were a few people that knew that Shane was gonna be there, but I didn’t know he was gonna be there.” – ‘WWE Confidential’ [October 25th, 2003]

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Scott Steiner: “Nobody knew how anything was going to go, they kept everybody in the dark.” – ‘WWE Confidential’ [October 25th, 2003]

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Konnan: It was funny because everybody was in the fucking locker room, and I kid you not, out of nowhere fucking they go, ‘Yeah, we’ve just been bought out.’

Nobody even knew it was coming, there was no heads up, nothing, and all of the sudden, Shane McMahon walks in. I think Bruce Prichard was with him and [Gerald] Brisco. And the whole locker room popped, and they all started to applaud like, ‘Thank God, somebody who knows what the fuck they’re doing is here.'” – MLW Episode 101 [2013]

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John Laurinaitis: “Shane [McMahon] came in with Gerald Brisco and Bruce Prichard as representatives of WWE. Shane had a meeting with all of the talent at Panama City at that last TV, and just said that he assured them that they’d all have an opportunity. That this was gonna be a good thing for the business, and that WWE was excited about acquiring WCW and the rights and we were going to make the sports entertainment industry even bigger.” – ‘Monday Night War’ “Life After Wartime” [January 13th, 2015]

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Gerald Brisco: “This was probably the defining moment–when we finally conquered Ted Turner and all his billions and billions of dollars–and told Ted, ‘We kicked your butt.'” – ‘WWE: The Monday Night War’ [2003]

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Bam Bam Bigelow: “Shane came in, lying right to your face. ‘Everybody’s got a job.’, and this and that.

‘We’re gonna keep things going the way it is.’, and it’s just–you know, ‘promoters’.” – ‘The Wrestling Universe Shoot Series’ [2002]

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Tony Schiavone: “We had heard until then that Bischoff was going to buy [WCW] and was going to keep WCW on TBS. I didn’t understand how that would all work together, at the time. Even when we went to the very last Nitro, I wasn’t sure what Vince [McMahon] had plans for. I didn’t know if Nitro was gonna still be alive, if I was going to be a part of Nitro moving to another network or not.” – ‘What Happened When’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [March 13th, 2017]

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Shane Helms: “Some guys knew that they would probably advance to the WWE. Some guys didn’t know and some people knew that their careers, jobs were probably much finished. I saw people crying, I saw people that were worried, and I saw people that were happy.” – ‘WWE Confidential’ [October 25th, 2003]

It became obvious to the WCW wrestlers backstage that there was nothing set in stone yet regarding the future of World Championship Wrestling. The general idea was to have WCW back on television within two months as its own separate brand, but due to legal concerns, Shane and company were being extremely cautious regarding what was said to WCW employees. Despite this, WCW Monday Nitro went live for the final time that night with a locker room full of wrestlers hoping to be included in a potentially revamped WWF version of World Championship Wrestling.

Bruce Prichard: There were a lot of plans discussed. There was discussion of having the Monday Night RAW slot be WCW and the SmackDown! spot be WWF. There were a lot of different plans that were discussed and obviously, a lot of them [were] scrapped [along with other] different things that came up. – ‘Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

“5+ HOURS OF ALL YOU CAN DRINK BEER” – Flyer for the Final WCW Monday Nitro [2001]

WCW branded the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro the “Night of Champions” and held matches with all five WCW championships on the line. The opening segment saw the (at-the-time) fourteen time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair give an impassioned promo regarding Vince McMahon’s claims of holding the fate of World Championship Wrestling in his hands.

Ric Flair finished his speech by calling out his long-time rival Sting, saying that if WCW going out, they’re going out on a high-note!

Backstage was a different story as Ric Flair had fought against the idea of wrestling that night against Sting. The entire show was written by WWF Creative, save for a few matches that were already set from the previous Nitro written by the former administration. The decision for WCW to go out with two wrestlers who embodied World Championship Wrestling with Sting vs Ric Flair was something decided by the WWF.

Bruce Prichard: “The premise of the show, the Nitro show, was to have a happy ending, to leave a good taste in everybody’s mouth and to give them a bit of nostalgia.” – ‘Something to Wrestle’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

Ric Flair felt like he wasn’t anywhere near being in-shape and offered different roles for himself to play that night instead, ones that kept him out of the ring wrestling a match. Flair even went as far to “forget” his wrestling gear at home leaving the WWF producers scrambling the day before to get Flair’s family to ship out his boots, tights and robe so that it would all be there in time for Nitro.

Flair’s gear all made it in time for the show, but he still insisted on wrestling in a t-shirt that night…

Arn Anderson, Bruce Prichard and Jimmy Hart watch on. – WCW Monday Nitro [March 26th, 2001]

The final episode of WCW Monday Nitro saw Booker T. reclaiming the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the opening bout, leaving him with both the world championship and the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. “Sugar” Shane Helms would retain his WCW Cruiserweight Championship while Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire held onto their WCW World Tag Team Championships. Throughout the night, viewers were treated to backstage segments of Vince McMahon lounging around, contemplating what would happen to WCW’s brand of sports entertainment. One piece in particular that always stood out to me had on-air WWF Commissioner William Regal question openly whether or not Vince McMahon’s purchase was a good idea considering everything Regal knew about that “bloody awful place” from his time there.

Seemed kind of harmless, at the time, but as soon as Tony Schiavone got his chance to get back on-air (eleven minutes later), he made sure to immediately rebuke Regal’s dismissal of WCW. An agitated Schivaone quips “To sit here and listen to their commissioner rip WCW? Come on. I mean, we’ve had to do some crazy things, Steve Regal, including putting your ass over on TV.”

That was always an OHHH SHIIITTT moment that stood out in my little WCW fanboy brain, but supposedly, it was all part of the show. Supposedly.

Tony Schiavone: “Aside from ‘the greatest night in the history of our sport!’ and ‘That’ll put butts in the seats!’, [me criticizing William Regal on the final Nitro] is a moment that fans have questioned me for quite a while.

I received a number of tweets from fans since then, especially as of late, wanting to know was I really upset at Regal. Was that me being very angry that the company was going under, and Regal was in the WWE?

I have to say that I must’ve been one hell of a worker because I love Steve Regal and always have. He’s one of my favorites. Steve Regal and I communicate back and forth almost on a weekly basis. We tweet other jokes back and forth all the time, or text each other jokes all the time.

That was me working. That’s what that was right there. That was me on my own. ‘Why not say it? It may sound good!’

It was me working and me going on my own, at that time. I was not angry at Steve Regal. I was not upset that with what the WWE were doing, at that time. I just thought that would be a good retort from WCW towards Steve Regal, who was obviously burying our ass even though he made some money off of us.

Just wanted to set the record straight on that.” – ‘What Happened When’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [March 13th, 2017]

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Bruce Prichard: “It was a directive from us [for the announcers] to be edgy. We wanted to give that sense of ‘uneasy’. I thought [Tony] did a good job on it.” – ‘Something to Wrestle’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

That’s two people claiming it was all a work, but I don’t know if Tony Schiavone is that good of an actor. Still–not hard to believe that tensions were high given the uncertainty of WCW’s future that night.

Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman were crowned new WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team champions, titles that never ended up over in the WWF after this whole buyout was said and done. The inaugural reign of the titles only dated back eight days before the final Nitro where Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo won them at the WCW Greed pay-per-view.

Scott Armstrong is your WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team champion! – WCW Greed [March 18th, 2001]

Woof.

Fun aside to highlight, really. At this point, both Mysterio and Kidman still hold the championship title belts in their possession as nobody asked for the belts back after Nitro ended that night.

To be honest, who would even want those things back??

Sting and Ric Flair Shake Hands – WCW Monday Nitro [March 26th, 2001]

The “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Sting headlined the series finale of WCW Monday Nitro. The match wasn’t an epic brawl for the ages or part of a vicious blood-feud between the bitter rivals, instead it was a bittersweet moment between two wrestlers who had nothing but respect for one another. That respect completely shows during WCW’s last shining moment as the both Sting and Flair can be visibly seen smiling and joking throughout the match, even calling one or two spots out in the open.

Sting hadn’t even wrestled a match for the promotion in months but having WCW go out with Flair/Sting was perfect considering how the two faced each other on the very first episode of WCW Monday Nitro back in 1995.

Bruce Prichard: “When you think about WCW, you really would think about two names, and that was Sting and Ric Flair. Back in 1988, for the first Clash of the Champions when they had their first big match that was a classic, it was Sting and Flair. They had a legendary rivalry all throughout WCW. We just felt that was a good way to kinda close the door on the old WCW with one more match. – ‘Something to Wrestle’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

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Ric Flair: The highlight of [the final Nitro] for me was being able to wrestle Sting. I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically to wrestle Sting, but it was great being in the ring with him. – WWE Confidental [October 25th, 2003]

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Sting: “[The Final WCW Monday Nitro] was a pretty emotional night for me. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and here I am wrestling, once again, Ric [Flair]. The flash of all the years before that, all the matches, and then all of a sudden, ‘What? What’s going on?’

It was just surreal.” – WOOOOO! Nation [December 9th, 2015]

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Ric Flair: “[My match with Sting] was terrible; I wrestled in a T-shirt because I was so ashamed of my physique. Sting had a bad shoulder, and some limitations because of it. Here were two guys who had sold out arenas all over the world. We’d been opponents for fourteen years and could tear it down every night. But in wasn’t our finest moment. I wasn’t ready physically or mentally. When Sting threw me into the corner for my flip, I couldn’t even make it over the turnbuckles. He set me up on the otp rope and delivered a super-plex, then turned me over and put me in his Scorpion Death Lock. I shook my head from side to side, unwilling to submit, then suddenly began nodding, and the bell rand. Sting definitely carried his end of the match. I couldn’t carry mine.” – ‘To Be The Man’ [2004]

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Bruce Prichard: “You know, Ric has always been self-conscious. He is his own worst critic, and I used to say to him all the time, ‘Man, you’re Ric Flair. Just go out and be Ric Flair. You’re it. [The crowd] will forgive you.’

There wasn’t a whole lot to forgive, he’s Ric Flair! So, ‘Roll Tide!’.

He went out, performed and gave them one last hurrah, or so we thought…” – ‘Something to Wrestle’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

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Chris Jericho: I think it was fitting and poetic justice that Sting and Flair were the last match because, one thing that happened in the 90’s–especially when the nWo came–is that all of the focus was on nWo and on ex-WWE guys. So, the fact that when it was all said and done and had Flair and Sting in the last match for WCW, that’s the way it should have been. ‘Cause those are the guys that were there from the start and stayed through the ups and downs, the thick and thin and were there all the way to the end. – ‘Monday Night War’ “Life After Wartime” [January 13th, 2015]

With the conclusion of the main event closing the door on World Championship Wrestling forever, fans didn’t get much time to savor the moment of Sting’s victory. Within a minute of the Flair tapping to the Scorpion Deathlock and the two wrestlers hugging each other in the ring afterward, Nitro’s feed cut to the WWF telecast for the final portion of the show. This simulcast on both the TNT Network and TNN was a historic moment in television history, with Vince McMahon using the opportunity to gloat over the demise of his rival, World Championship Wrestling.

The Monday Night War was over with Vince McMahon as the victor. Vince claimed that he wouldn’t sign the official paperwork until Ted Turner himself walked down the ramp at WrestleMania and signed the company over to him live on pay-per-view. Instead of using the time to seriously address the future of WCW, the Mr. McMahon character continued his smug, self-aggrandizing promo and promotion for WrestleMania. WCW fans still tuned into Nitro were treated to Vince declaring, “WCW is going on the shelf, it’s going nowhere! WCW is buried!! WCW will remain buried just like anybody here in this arena or anyone in the world that gets in my way!!”

All this before Shane McMahon cut in to announce that Vince McMahon wasn’t the actual owner of World Championship Wrestling. Shane McMahon was.

“The name on the contact does say McMahon… however the contract reads ‘Shane McMahon’. That’s right, I now own WCW!!”

Fun moment in wrestling history, I remember not knowing what was real anymore regarding WCW. I fell for this bizarre moment as being something that was one-hundred-percent legitimate somehow. Shane McMahon was the new boss, and he was going to lead us toward our former glory! Huzzah!!

What really should have tipped me off over the whole thing being a storyline was the final minutes of the WCW Monday Nitro broadcast. The feed never went back to Panama City after this revelation, there was never any word from WCW regarding what just transpired. Instead, the final thirty seconds of Nitro was just an commercial for WrestleMania X-Seven.

Yup.

Bruce Prichard: “It was about telling a story, and it was about, frankly, it was about getting one last plug for WrestleMania. We weren’t looking for goodbyes here. We didn’t want to say, ‘Goodbye, we’re never gonna have WCW again.’, because it was a brand we wanted to keep going.

So if Tony Schiavone says, ‘Goodbye.’, well then, ‘ok, goodbye!’.

We didn’t want it to feel like the end, we wanted, ‘To be continued…’, at the end of that show. – ‘Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

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Tony Schiavone: “I wasn’t upset [about not saying goodbye on the final Nitro]. I was kinda relived. I look at it that–man, it was a lot of fun.  We did a lot of great things and at the end, it was a terrible place to work for and I’m glad it’s over with. So that last Nitro, no regrets. Man, I wanted to go home.” – ‘OMG! Vol. 2: The Top 50 Incidents in WCW History’ [2014]

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Eric Bischoff: “I didn’t watch the [final WCW Monday Nitro] that aired from Panama city when WWE took over from WCW. I couldn’t. On a personal level, on an emotional level, I had been through so much in terms of what it took out of me to try to build WCW that I really totally detached myself from everything that was going on.” – ‘WWE: The Monday Night War’ [2003]

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Shawn Michaels: “I’d certainly would hate to make it sound like, ‘Well, we knew all along things were gonna work out for us.’, because we didn’t.

It was very scary. It was touch and go for a while. To discount what WCW did and what Eric Bischoff did, I think would be grossly unfair to him and what they accomplished down there. He took a really tough situation and made something pretty nice out of it.” – ‘WWE: The Monday Night War’ [2003]

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“Mean” Gene Okerlund: “It was a very, very sad night. Lot of people in sight felt bad about it. Here was the demise of a once powerful block of entertainment for Ted Turner. A lot of us had great hopes, expectations for that company and for their product.” – ‘Monday Night War’ “Life After Wartime” [January 13th, 2015]

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Ric Flair: “Nitro should’ve been challenged to make itself better instead of worrying each week and comparing itself to RAW. That, in my opinion, is what caused our downfall.” – ‘WWE: The Monday Night War’ [2003]

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Lance Storm: “When the show ended, the feeling backstage was really, I think, one of closure. Almost a funeral feeling, I think, to an extent because we knew that this was the last WCW Nitro.” – WWE Confidential [October 25th, 2003]

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Booker T: “It was a great night for me in a lot of different ways, starting in the company at the bottom with my brother and Sherri Martel. I will never forget that stuff, that stuff was awesome. Being in the south, almost starting riots in a lot of these towns… [Sherri] was great with us!

And then for me to become the heavyweight champion and to finish that company as heavyweight champion and United States champion–that’s not even a story that you could write, honestly. I don’t think anyone saw that coming but me because I felt like I was prepared. I felt like I was ready to go out there and perform at the highest level, and I knew that the WWE had been watching all of that.” – ‘Legends with JBL’  [August 1st, 2016]

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Bret Hart: “I always said the one guy who could turn WCW around is Vince McMahon and in that respect, this would be a great day for WCW.

At the same time, it is a black day for wrestling.

With the McMahons having no competition, wrestlers have no alternative but to work for whatever pay they are offered. Under whatever safe or unsafe conditions, on whatever schedule they are given — with no benefits. And now, with no place else to go.

If ever there was a right time to form a wrestler’s union, the time is now.” – ‘Calgary Sun’ [March 24th, 2001]

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Ric Flair: “That was the happiest day of my life, the day [WCW] closed down. Sad for the people at TBS, the honest and hard-working people that worked in the company that really had the best interest of the company at heart.

But for the people managing it, the manipulation behind the scenes with the top guys, I was so glad to see it go. It was really, really bad.

I don’t like anything about that last night at Nitro except that it closed.” – ‘Monday Night War’ “Life After Wartime” [January 13th, 2015]

On March 31st, 2001, the actual final broadcast of WCW television occurred as some markets aired the last episode of WCW Worldwide. The episode was a recap show featuring highlights from WCW Greed along with a brief history of the War Games matches and Buff Bagwell vs Diamond Dallas Page from WCW Souled Out 2000. News of WCW’s impending doom is briefly mentioned during the final moments of the show where Scott Hudson got to actually give a final sign-off for World Championship Wrestling.

Scott Hudson: “And this wraps up WCW Worldwide, not just for this week, but forever and a day. WCW gone, Worldwide gone. We want to thank you for joining us each and every week here on WCW Worldwide. What a great crew we’ve had, it’s been a lot of fun taping these shows, and you can see we have a really good time. For Mike Tenay, I’m Scott Hudson, we’ll see you down the road somewhere else. Thanks for watching Worldwide.” – WCW Worldwide [March 31st, 2001]

With the World Wrestling Federation in full control of WCW, there were legitimate plans in place for rebooting the brand completely. Evidence has surfaced online fairly recently of a full-fledged WCW tour under the WWF umbrella that would’ve started that summer:

Sadly, it was never meant to be.

Bruce Prichard: Preliminary, the whole idea was to have two completely different, separate brands with different creative teams with, actually, different marketing teams and the whole nine yards. That was the pie-in-the-sky, ‘Oh my God, if we can actually do this and pull it off…’.

Obviously that didn’t happen. – ‘Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard’ “The Last WCW Monday Nitro” [December 9th, 2016]

Yes, “obviously”.

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  1. On March 26, 2001 a piece if my heart died not a day goes by I don’t miss WCW but I tell you what, those 3 letters have a home in my heart forever and a day!!! I am THEE Biggest WCW fan that walks the face of this earth and I will fight tooth and nail whoever tries to say otherwise!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Wcw was on there last legs for a while before McMahon brought the company ( in 1998 wcw was worth hundreds of millions of dollers , by 2001 so much damage had been done , McMahon only paid a few million for wcw.)

    • What the WWF bought was only a shell of WCW though. Hardly any of the big names and no TV deal. If it had been the full fat WCW with the big names, the TV deal and the endorsements then even battered 2001 WCW would have cost them over $60m. By the time the WWF stepped in they were buying a glorified video library and taking on a few of the smaller contracts.

  3. Here’s something I’ve always been curious about: did WCW announce Nitro/Thunder tapings beyond Spring Breakout before they were sold? So, are there people out there who hold tickets for a Nitro on April 2nd, April 9th, etc?

    • Good question — I know Bischoff and company had planned a pause on operations before rebooting. Looking at the timeline, April could have had zero events scheduled as the WCW BIG BANG relaunch PPV of World Championship Wrestling would’ve occurred on May 6th, 2001.

      I’ll dig around some more and see if that was the case.

  4. once this happend the only way has been down for wrestling in my opinon the competition was gone not long after wwe got worse and worse what a time to be a fan as well i was 14 at the time never forget it such a shame

  5. 🙁 🙁 🙁 that was sad day but I think that last week Thursday the last ”Thunder” was a real sad one for me I didn’t understood the logic until at the end of the show they showed a ”Thanks” in the Credits….:'(

  6. I go back and watch the final year of WCW every couple of years. Between the insanity of Russo throwing everything at the wall at once, the rapid changes in the roster and format, and uncertainty, it was a very unique time for wrestling and one that we’ll never see again.

  7. The company was doomed as soon as they signed Hall & Nash.

    They thought it was some major coup if professional wrestling that they managed to take two of WWE’s biggest names away from them but in actual fact they took two of the most controversial superstars backstage out of the locker room and allowed it to expand and grow without all their bullshit politics.

    WCW inherited that from them and created a shitty working environment that any half talented guy thought he was entitled to this and that blah blah blah

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