OLD SCHOOL: THE STORY OF THE ORIGINAL W.C.W. (1985)
The mid 80’s was a turning point in professional wrestling. Since the early days the business was split up into territories where different companies controlled that region but with Vince McMahon acquisition of the WWF, the rules changed. McMahon saw the possibilities of one company being able to achieve nationwide fame and made it is mission for the WWF to achieve that.
McMahon knew he needed to find a superstar that would appeal to fans around the world and found that man in Hulk Hogan. Fresh off his appearance in Rocky III, Hogan was easily becoming the most popular wrestler but the only problem was that he was in a rival promotion, the A.W.A. This was more less a formality as the WWF raided the promotion of Hogan and other A.W.A. stars. This was the warning shot to all promotions that Vince had big plans.
McMahon soon was able to secure a national broadcast deal with the cable superstation, TBS, that would give his company a national audience. This along with a relationship with the upstart MTV channel, gave the WWF a way to reach their fan base that no other promotion could match. McMahon turned the new found success into a supershow he would call Wrestlemania. The show was a huge success as the WWF fans where able to sell out Madison Square Garden and lure mainstream stars such as Muhammad Ali, Liberace, Mr. T., Cyndi Lauper and Aretha Franklin to appear at the show. The WWF had reached unforeseen heights while all the other promotions started to crumble. They all waited for the WWF raids to come to them but something else happened.
Multi-Millionaire, Ted Turner, had always been a fan of professional wrestling since his childhood and marveled at the success that Vince McMahon and the WWF had over the past year and decided this was a market that needed to be tapped into. He saw the ratings that the WWF mainly clip show was doing on his channel and figured a show with original programming would bring even bigger numbers. Turner decided it was worth the risk and obtained Jim Crockett promotions in late 1985. He kicked the WWF off the TBS station and put his new promotion, the newly named World Championship Wrestling instead.
Turner wasn’t done then as he held a meeting with various promotional owners. He made a deal with the owners that he would help pay part of their big stars to avoid a WWF raid of them only if they would let him use them for his national show and there super cards. The promotions decided that this was their only chance to keep stars from either jumping to the WWF or even Turner’s new WCW eventually. Verne Gagne (AWA.), Bill Watts (MSW), Fritz Von Erich (WCCW), Jerry Jarrett (CWA) and Stu Hart (Stampede) was the biggest names to agree to the deal. Each man was given a vote along with Turner and Crockett on how the new W.C.W. would be ran. This move also had the bonus of furthering the new company’s reach by taking over A.W.A’s daily afternoon timeslots with ESPN to show highlights from various WCW house shows from previous week.
A plan was decided to have younger wrestlers to start of in Stampede Wrestling under Stu Hart’s teachings, then move onto either AWA. or the WCCW promotion with the MSW and CWA using established stars that weren’t being used by the main WCW promotion. Each promotion will in turn drop the word “world” from their titles and all would recognize the WCW’s champions as the “true” wrestling champions.
It was then decided that the two most famous belts the AWA and NWA World Champions would face off to be the first ever WCW World Champion. The other promotions champions would compete with the NWA’s United States, Television and Tag Team Champions to determine the other WCW Champions. Turner lined up a month full of house shows across the various promotions territories for the company to get the wrestlers they wanted as champions and to get the old promotions fan bases excited about the change. Huge crowds turned out in the CWA’s big cities of Memphis and Nashville, the NWA’s Charlotte and Atlanta, WCCW’s Houston and Dallas, AWA’s Twin Cities and Chicago and MSW’s St. Louis and Kansas City , the fans responses force the WWF to cancel some shows in the areas instead of competing in fear of not getting enough people to make money and instead decided to go on a costly, risky tour of the untapped western United States.. Before even debuting on television, WCW had proven quickly that they where now a real threat with their regained control of the respected territories. .The professional wrestling landscape had changed forever and now only time will tell if it would be for the better.
W.C.W. Featured Wrestlers
(had a hard time finding older photos)
“Bad News” Allen
A new star to the American wrestling scene, “Bad News” has quickly came from Stampede Wrestling and has earned the wrath of the wresting fans. A former Olympic medalist in the mixed martial art of judo in the 1976 Olympic games, Allen has proved himself to be one of the most dangerous men inside the squared circle quickly. The Harlem native doesn’t rely on his training though as he is also one of the best brawlers around and has found a target in the popular , “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas to prove his point. Allen’s skills against Tony Atlas’s great power has displayed interesting bouts in house cards leading up to the WCW television debut.
The man the held the WWF World Champion for nearly five years comes to WCW after being freeze out of a rematch for his title with Hulk Hogan’s reign and Vince McMahon taking control. Backlund is old school wrestling to the core and doesn’t take much to the brash style of the new style of superstars. Backlund staged a shocking comeback when he came out of nowhere and answered the challenge of AWA World Champion, Stan Hansen to win the title seconds after Hansen winning the title from Rick Martel. Backlund now is in position to become the WCW Undisputed World Champion when he faces the NWA World Champion, Ric Flair. Some think the situation is strange as Backlund’s losing the WWF belt is very similar to what happened to Martel losing the AWA title with Backlund coming out of nowhere much like Hogan did in his defeat of the Iron Shiek. Putting that aside many wrestling purists are excited about the match between the two champions on the WCW debut show.
They don’t get more bigger, stronger or meaner then Bruiser Brody. The man that has terrorized numerous promotions across the United States will try the same in WCW. His intensity is one of his biggest attributes but also has been his biggest weaknesses as he has found himself disqualified in numerous chances for major titles. A man that prides himself in being the toughest man around has heard whispers that some may think “Dr. Death” Steve Williams might be a bit more has Brody enraged. Williams, though has proven himself as a match to Brody as the two has been battling around the South for the past month with the results being pretty even.
The son of Larry “Axe” Hennig, Curt has established himself as one of the bright, young stars in the business. Hennig has quickly risen up the ranks in the AWA, winning the AWA Tag Team Titles with fellow young star, Scott Hall before losing them to the Road Warriors. Hennig decided to come to WCW on his own to try his luck and has so far hasn’t disappointed. He nearly shocked the world in a house show where he almost upset the NWA World Champion, Ric Flair before interference from the newest Four Horsemen, Barry Windham cost him the match. Hennig is looking to settle the score with Windham as both men try to position themselves as future superstars.
“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
Probably the second most popular wrester around next to the WWF’s Hulk Hogan. “The Dream” is the current NWA Television Champion after his defeat of Tully Blanchard for the title. Rhodes has held almost every title that the NWA has had to offer and is always a top contender for any belt. His feuds with various Horsemen, the Russians and Harley Race are legendary. When Rhodes is being interviewed nobody is better then working the crowd in a frenzy. Rhodes looks to win the WCW verison of the Televison title as he faces long odds against the WCCW champion, Rick Rude and the CWA Champion, Jerry “The King” Lawler in a three way bout.
“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt
“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt come to WCW from the CWA and MSW promotions where their group, “Hot Stuff Inc.” has been a mainstay. But here in WCW it will be just the two of them. Gilbert has recently became a fan favorite and with his sexy wife, Missy by his side has quickly won over fans with his brutal matches with Randy Savage in the CWA. The feud escalated when Savage announced that he was following Gilbert to the new company and then debuted his own wife, Elizabeth, to the world. The feud between the two couples look to get more intense with the added drama with the two women.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts
The man with the most devastating move in wrestling, the DDT, Roberts is a threat to anyone in WCW. A big target of the WWF, Roberts decided to stick around and change over to WCW from the NWA. A man nobody can trust, Roberts has been on his own since leaving Paul Elle ring’s “Legion of Doom” group. A brief feud with the Road Warriors where he teamed with his fellow ex-Legion of Doom stablemate, King Kong Bundy ended quickly when Bundy jumped to the WWF. Roberts then turned to wrestling in WCCW where he quickly became the top contender to Kerry Von Erich for the WCCW Championship put came up short in his chances. Roberts make his comeback recently at a house show where he attacked Magnum T.A. after a loss to Nikita Koloff and shocking everybody by pulling a large python snake out of a bag and draping over the unconscious Magnum after the patented DDT. Jake was looking to make a statement and did it at Magnum’s expense, a move that could come back to haunt him.
Jerry “The King” Lawler
The “King” of wrestling, Jerry Lawler comes to WCW as one of the biggest names in the South. As much as Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan has dominated their promotions, Lawler is more dominating in the Memphis-based, CWA, promotion. Lawler became famous with his feud with comedian, Andy Kaufman, after his appearance on the David Letterman show and WCW looks to feed on that. Lawler is somewhat underrated in wrestling circles for a man that has victories over former World Champions, “Superstar” Billy Graham,
“Wildfire” Tommy Rich, Nick Bockwinkel, and Jack Brisco. Lawler currently holds the CWA Championship and looks to win the WCW Television Title as he faces the NWA Television Champion, Dusty Rhodes and WCCW Champion, Rick Rude. Lawler looks to be the underdog before but has defeated both men in his career already.
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
A surprise addition to WCW, Snuka has turned himself into being a top baby face after being a top heel. There isn’t a more exciting move in wrestling then the “Superfly Splash” with his dive off a top of steel cage on Bob Backlund still being talked about years after it happened. The Fiji Island native, Snuka quietly exited the WWF, although he still appears on the WWF cartoon, “Hulk Hogan’s Rock’n’Wrestling. Snuka shows a wild side much like Bruiser Brody and has stopped him from even bigger success. Snuka’s arrival was well received by everyone as he was sneak attacked by Stan “The Lariat” Hansen at the announcement of his signing at a house show. After being embarrassed by Backlund the night before, Snuka became the victim of Hansen’s outrage. The two have been doing battle since with most matches being thrown out after it spills into an all out brawl.
Kerry Von Erich
“The Modern Day Warrior”, Kerry Von Erich, comes to WCW as one of the most popular wrestlers around. A former NWA and World Class World Champion, Von Erich was stunned when Rick Rude defeated him for the WCCW title only weeks before the WCW debut. Many think without the backing of his family, Kerry will have a hard time adjusting to being on his own. After his challenges for a rematch with Rude was turned down by the champion, Kerry was attacked by MSW star, Ted Dibiase. Dibiase has claimed that Von Erich has been protected by his family ties in running World Class and vows to prove Kerry as the fraud Ted claims him to be.
The master of the belly to belly suplex, Magnum is famous for his short matches with his move coming out of nowhere. The long-time NWA United States Champion, Magnum ran into the undefeated Russian Nightmare, Nikita Koloff and lost his belt. A big-time fan favorite, the sky is the limit for him. Magnum is best friends with “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes as it seems that the two always have each other’s backs when needed. Magnum is battling back from injuries sustained from a DDT, sneak attack by Jake Roberts that ended with an embarrassing moment as Roberts placed a large python across Magnum’s injured body. T.A. has put titles as he vows revenge on Roberts for the attack.
Randy Savage and Elizabeth
Randy Savage has been one of wrestling’s best kept secrets wrestling primarily out of the Memphis-based, CWA, promotion. His feuds with Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert has been some of the most heated the business has ever seen. A real target of the WWF, Savage turned the offer of joining the company instead choosing to follow his fellow CWA alumni, Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert to WCW. Savage has a deep hatred of Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt and has looked to end Gilbert’s career on numerous occasions. The rivalry between the two men has spilled over to the other halves as Savage’s wife, Elizabeth got involved in the feud when she aided Savage in a victory over Gilbert. The addition of Elizabeth at ringside has seemed to make Savage even more dangerous and that is bad news to the rest of the WCW roster.
Rick Rude and Sensational Sherri
No man is better put together then the “Ravishing One” Rick Rude. Rude has one of the biggest egos in wrestling with wins of titles and women feeding it constantly. Rude has held various titles on his own and with tag team partners but finally broke through with his win over Kerry Von Erich for the WCCW Heavyweight Title. A man that usually has a manager, Rude shocked everyone by debuting a Sensational Sherri as his valet. Sherri has already shown a habit about getting involved in matches. Rude was rumored to be the new member of the Four Horsemen before Barry Windham was given the spot, some say Rude turned Flair down while Flair claims it never happened. Rude looks to become the first WCW Television Champion as he will compete with CWA Champion, Jerry Lawle rand NWA Television Champion, Dusty Rhodes, to men that Rude claims is inferior to him in every way.
The Montreal, Canada native, Martel was surprisingly defeated by Stan Hansen for the AWA Heavyweight title, then speechless as Bob Backlund came out of nowhere to defeat Hansen and gaining the spot in the WCW Undisputed World Championship match against Ric Flair. Martel then became outraged when he was informed that he wouldn’t receive a rematch for the title due to the risk of injury of Backlund before the big title bout. Since that day , the popular Martel has been missing from the wrestling scene as he has returned to Canada but the WCW front office expect him to be at the debut show. The question is are we going to see the same friendly Martel or a bitter man after the title match decisions.
The “USA..USA..USA…” chants echo throughout arenas whenever the former Marine arrives. Slaughter is one of the most popular wrestlers in the business and has made his rise to fame fighting anybody who dares to put down America. His feud with the Iron Shiek garnerd the love of the fans and the world was shocked when Slaughter left WWF out of the blue. A man that even appears as a G.I. Joe cartoon character, Slaughter was easily a favorite of the AWA to become the American Champion and proved them right with a victory over Larry Sbyszko. Slaughter looks to win the first ever WCW United States Championship but faces one of the stiffest challenges in his career, the undefeated NWA United States Champion, “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff. Slaughter claims that Koloff will be another man to fall to the Cobra Clutch and the U.S.A. fans.
Stan “The Lariat” Hansen
As Texas as you can be, they don’t come more tougher or rougher then Stan Hansen. A big star in the United States and even bigger star in Japan where he is the only man to pin Japanese legends Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba. Hansen has held numerous titles around the world including recently, the AWA World Heavyweight Title. His shocking win over Rick Martel was forgot of after his more shocking defeat by Bob Backlund, who came out of virtually nowhere to answer an open challenge by Hansen. Hansen, who like Martel, was refused a rematch for the title due to the upcoming match of the AWA Champion with Ric Flair. Hansen turned this anger into a sneak attack when another superstart surprisingly joined WCW in Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Hansen’s anger hasn’t died down in the least as his matches with “Superfly” has seen some of the wildest brawls in years.
Dibiase has wrestled for numerous promotions in the States and in Japan as a baby face but more has found more success recently as a heel. Dibiase has had long feuds with Ric Flair, Junk Yard Dog, Tommy Rich, Rick Rude and the Freebirds in his career. Dibiase has shown a knack to really annoying the crowd and plays on it the ring by winning most of his matches with a loaded black glove he pulls out of his tights. Dibiase has came to WCW to really make his name for himself and has made his target, the big fan favorite, Kerry Von Erich. Dibiase claims that much of Kerry’s success is due to him being protected by his brothers and his father in World Class and he will show that to all of the Von Erich fans.
A surprise additon to the WCW roster, Taylor is the reigning MSW Television champion, a title that won’t be recognized by the new company. Taylor is said to be somewhat upset by the decision from management as he is the only champion from any promotion that will be ignored. Taylor pleaded that he deserved to be in the WCW Television Title match but management felt he hadn’t earned the spot yet. Despite the problems now, Taylor is looked upon to become one of the future stars of WCW even though Taylor hasn’t competed in any of the WCW house shows.
“Mr. U.S.A.“ Tony Atlas
“Mr. USA’ Tony Atlas a former world champion body builder and NWA and WWF title holder, debuted in WCW after his release in WWF. Atlas is the first man to pin Hulk Hogan in his career, a feat that the WCW is said to play on. Atlas looked to be on the fast track for stardom but the rise of Hogan derailed his career in the WWF. Atlas soon found himself in makeshift tag teams with various stars and losing to the newest members of the WWF roster. Atlas looks like a man reborn so far in WCW as he has given the newcomer, Bad News Allen all he has wanted in house show matches so far. Nobody can doubt the power or athleticism of Atlas and if he is totally focused on becoming a star, there might not be anybody capable of stopping him.
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams
There is another wrestler with better credentials then Steve Williams. Williams is a former All-American at the University of Oklahoma in football and wrestling. There might not be a better combination of power and wrestling skills in the business or in history then the skills Williams has. Williams has been impressive so far in his three year career as he has dominated the MSW promotion holding the MSW Heavyweight Title before it became dissolved with the NWA World Title in a loss to Ric Flair right after the WCW announcement. Williams is looked by many to be a big star in the making and has impressed many veterans with his toughness. This has brought out the anger in veteran, Bruiser Brody, who has prided himself as the measuring stick for toughness in wrestling. Williams, at first, revealed that he was a big fan of Brody and declined the challenges but finally a brutal attack from Brody made Williams face his hero in the ring. Since then Williams and Brody has been going back and forth across the United States,
The British Bulldogs
The rookie team of the powerful, Davey Boy Smith and the high-flying, Dynamite Kid has quickly became one of the big fan favorites of the tag team division. The hiring of the team from Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion seems to be a big win for the company as they have gotten rave reviews in their matches so far with The Midnight Express and the other rookie team, The Hart Foundation. The Bulldogs have set their sights on climbing up the team rankings with the WCW United States Tag Team Titles being their first stop.
The Hart Foundation
The young tag team out of Calgary, Canada promotion, Stampede Wrestling has quickly earned the respect of established stars with great matches with the Rock’n’Roll Express and their fellow new team, The British Bulldogs. The combination of Canadian wrestling legend Stu Hart’s son, Bret and the powerhouse, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart has meshed well so far under the guidance of veteran manager, Jimmy Hart. The team was shocked by their firing from the WWF after Stu Hart’s alliance with WCW was made public but has quickly found a home in their new company. The future looks bright for the team as they set their sights on the WCW United States Tag Team Titles.
The Four Horsemen
The super group led by the NWA World Champion, Ric Flair have held the NWA under their thumb since their inception. Originally consisting of Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard and their meddlesome manager J.J. Dillon, the group now has added the young upstart, Barry Windham to the group after Ole’s retirement. This has led to a reshuffling of the group a bit as now Arn Anderson has been teaming up with Tully Blanchard and they have quickly shot up the tag team rankings. Windham’s turn shocked many fans but has shown a darker side to him since joining the group with some upsets over Dusty Rhodes. But the group goes as far as “The Nature Boy’ takes them and with him readying himself for the World Title Unification match with AWA World Champion, Bob Backlund, expect the Four Horsemen to do anything for him to keep the title.
The Fabulous Freebirds
No team is more cocky or flamboyant then the Michael “PS” Hayes led team of the Fabulous Freebirds. Hailing from “Badstreet” Atlanta GA, they come to WCW as the World Class Wrestling Tag Team Champion and look to become the first ever WCW Tag Team Champs with a win over The Road Warrios. Hayes and Gordy say they strengthen the group with the exile of member, Buddy Roberts and replacing him with Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin. The Birds put their long-time feud with the Von Erich in the rear view mirror as they look to take WCW by storm Freebird-style.
The successful tag team under the self-proclaimed master of tag team wrestling, Jim Cornette has overtaken big changes to his Midnight Express after a recebt losing streak. Jim Cornette then added an insurance policy to the team when he hired the 300 pound plus bodyguard, Big Bubba Rogers. Rogers has shown that he has no problem getting involved in matches and became the x-factor in many of team matches. The team has earned a shot at the new WCW United States Tag Team title against their rivals, The Rock’n’Roll Express after an upset win over the CWA-based team ofThe Fabulous Ones.
The Road Warriors
The toughest men that Chicago has to offer. Hawk and Animal has dominated the pro wrestling tag team scene since their debut. Their combination of size, power, teamwork and toughness has revolutionize the division. Under the instructions of their manager, Paul Ellering, they destroy anything in their path as their many title reigns in various companies show. The current AWA and NWA World Tag Team Champions they are looking to continue their dominance in the new company, WCW in winning the WCW Unidsputed World Tag Team Title match against World Class Wrestling’s champion, The Fabulous Freebirds.
The Rock’n’Roll Express
Teamwork is the key to the game of Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton as they use their quickness and teamwork to offset their lack of size and strength. Definitely one of the most popular team in the business, the Express have delighted fans with numerous titles reigns and great matches with the Road Warrior, Horseman and their arch-rivals The Midnight Express. The reigning NWA United States Tag Team Champions, the Express look to win the WCW version of the titles in a match with their new look nemesis, The Midnight Express.
One of the scariest groups in the new WCW, the team of uncle Ivan Koloffand nephews, Nikita Koloff and Krusher Krushev have reeked havoc since their arrival in the United States. While Nikita has dominated since his debut, so far being undefeated on his way to becoming NWA United States Champion, he finds himself facing his biggest test in a match for the WCW version of the United States Championship against AWA superstar and current AWA American Title holder, Sgt. Slaughter. While Nikita has found solo success his relatives have had success of the own as the former WWF World Champion, Ivan and the powerful Krusher have had their own NWA World Tag Team Title reigns and are in position to become one of the top challengers to the winner of the Road Warriors/Freebirds match-up.