April 20, 2008
WCW's demise uncovered in Sullivan shoot
By MATT MACKINDER - SLAM! Wrestling
Kevin Sullivan booked WCW back when the company was in its dying days and gives us his behind-the-scenes look in the latest shoot DVD from Kayfabe Commentaries, appropriately titled Kevin Sullivan and the End of WCW. This is a very eye-opening shoot and one that should not be taken lightly.
Sullivan said he was warned by Jim Crockett in 1997 that when Time-Warner purchased WCW, the merger would see the end of WCW. It was nearly four years to the day that WCW ended.
Names Sullivan talks about include Harvey Schiller, Brad Siegel, Gary Juster, Bill Busch, J.J. Dillon, Terry Taylor, Mike Graham, Kevin Nash, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. Nothing Earth-shattering here as Sullivan finds positives in pretty much all of the above and details their positions within WCW. Might not seem like much, but to the casual fan, this is a good introduction. Sullivan boasts that Nash and Scott Hall "changed the industry" and it's hard to disagree.
Kayfabe Commentaries co-owner Sean Oliver, who conducted the interview with Sullivan, said listening to Sullivan might change a few opinions people have about WCW.
"Kevin is the perfect subject to guide this tour," Oliver said. "I hear his name most frequently mentioned when the demise of WCW is discussed usually by people who make booking the be-all-end-all indicator of a wrestling company's health. So we have Kevin defend his booking decisions, but the surrounding circus will astound you. It is truly remarkable what Kevin had to contend with."
Putting the WCW championship on Chris Benoit at the Souled Out pay-per-view in 2000 is discussed and Sullivan adds that the plan was to then give the belt to Nash, who was booking with Sullivan at the time. Sullivan also said that people told him that was the wrong move and guys like Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Shane Douglas were paranoid about Sullivan screwing them. By giving the WCW title to Benoit, Sullivan was offering an olive branch. Sid Vicious, who lost to Benoit, said he would drop the title and Sullivan saved himself by making sure Sid's foot was under the rope.
How Benoit vacated the title and how that situation came about gets bandied about in length. Benoit leaving with the aforementioned wrestlers was not a problem for Sullivan, but he was stuck by losing "the middle of his batting order, guys not just like (Boston Red Sox sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz) Manny and Papi, but I lost (Jason) Varitek, too." He talks about Billy Kidman's push a result of the core guys bolting.
Sullivan then takes the viewer on a week-by-week analysis of the final days of WCW. Some issues are known to the casual fan -- and some aren't. Oliver said he wasn't afraid to bombard the viewer with too many details.
"We wanted it all in -- as much as we could fit in two hours," Oliver said. "The analysis moves quickly and Kevin is heavy on the details, but that's what we wanted. We wanted it to feel like you're on the ride with him, meeting all the major players, sifting through all the decisions and disagreements."
The phenomenon of Bill Goldberg gets decent air time and Sullivan boasts that he made Goldberg. He said people forget that in the beginning, Goldberg lost to Steve McMichael and it was up to Sullivan to make sure fans forgot that and to start "The Streak."
Tank Abbott as WCW champ? It almost happened. Sullivan delves into that potential mess, too.
There is so much in this DVD that to reveal it all would give the gist of it away. All that can be said is that Kevin Sullivan is legit, genuine and some things he reveals are startling.
Needless to say, this shoot should be at the top of anyone's list, especially those who think they know the whole story of WCW. Sullivan does and sets the record straight.
Matt Mackinder used to watch NWA and WCW shows at his grandparents' house back in the day because they ponied up the big cash and had cable TV. Email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.