1993 was a year in which U.S. wrestling was in very rough shape. This was a major contrast to Japanese wrestling & Lucha Libre thriving in their respective countries by presenting better work rate & higher house show values. WWE was still reeling off of the negative press from the 1991-1992 scandals that hurt the industry as a whole. WWE had a cloud of uncertainty looming over their head with Vince McMahon fighting against the federal charges levied over his head. Their house shows were in front of smaller crowds that they weren’t accustomed to, which would cause some money losing markets, since they were still in the game of buying local TV time.
WCW had pretty much chased off whatever die hard fans that were left from the Jim Crockett Promotions era. Starting from 1989, WCW never had a clear direction on what they wanted to be. At times they should had stayed on the course in being an alternative to WWE by presenting better matches, but then they would throw the direction to the wayside in order to present low budget cartoon characters that flopped [ex. OZ, Ding Dongs, PN Newz, El Gigante, etc]. There was also a constant musical chair game in people running the company that created different visions being implemented. We had Jim Herd [previously worked in Pizza Hut corporate] who wanted to be a poor man’s WWE. Herd’s lack of knowledge about wrestling and questionable ideas would coin him the nick name of “Pizza Man” by the wrestlers.
Herd’s master piece in management was bungling Ric Flair’s contract negotiations that lead to him going to WWF, not dropping the WCW title to Lex Luger, further killing off arena business, & causing fans to chant “We Want Flair” for 19 months.
We Had Kip Frey who briefly managed the company in 1992. Then the wrath of Bill Watts came in. He sliced the budget by getting rid of many valuable wrestlers & reduced a wrestler’s role if they didn’t renegotiate at a cheaper price. The TV product that he cranked out was terrible. Morale was further destroyed. Wrestlers were worried on what would happen if they got injured. Would they still be paid or be responsible for any surgeries that occurred in the ring? Contract clauses were implemented in which there would be 90 day cycles in which a wrestler could be fired, which caused constant fear in job security. Part of the wrestler’s salaries was placed aside in to an escrow account in order to deduct for fines, no shows [which were needed], etc. Jim Ross would leave WCW after being demoted in to a sales position as part of the backlash for being a Watts supporter. The loss of Jim Ross was a big problem in my eyes. He always had credibility with the fans & could explain almost any angle.
By the spring of 1993, Eric Bischoff would land control of WCW. He had a lot of bad years & a few good years. 1993 was not going to be a year in his win column or anybody in all fairness.
Unfortunately a U.S. wrestler had very little bargaining at this point. A WCW wrestler might want to go to WWE, but the grass was not necessarily greener. There was no guarantee & you worked off of a percentage. You could work more dates & bring in less yearly income after deducting road expenses. There was the possibility on what would happen if Vince McMahon was indicted & Titan Towers got seized by the government.
A WWE wrestler would find a WCW contract more lucrative for the guaranteed income & fewer dates. But with the constant changes in management, you could easily fall to the wayside. Plus there was so much uncertainty on WCW’s future to the point that Ted Turner had to appear at a WCW event to assure the wrestlers that wrestling would always exist if he owned TBS.
The start of the year looked promising with Bill Watts sealing the deal by bringing back Ric Flair. Steve Austin & Brian Pillman stole the early part of the year as The Hollywood Blondes with their matches against Shane Douglas & Ricky Steamboat, Sting & Vader were having kick ass matches, & Cactus Jack got over with his baby face turn.
The company presented some decent Clash Of Champions, PPV’s, & TV for the early part of the year. The company looked like it could gain momentum & direction for the first time in years. Flair could be the cornerstone to bring back the disenfranchised WCW fan that was driven away. Steve Austin & Brian Pillman could break out to become future main eventers. Ricky Steamboat was grooming every piece of talent that was fortunate to work with him in a program. Cactus Jack was finally breaking out in to a superstar. Vader was the hardest working big man in wrestling. The year of 1993 had some promise before all of the momentum went off the tracks in the summer.
To Be Continued Next Week
I’m going to be signing on February, 11 @ Frank & Son 19649 E San Jose, City Of Industry, California 91748. The autograph signing will have myself, Roddy Piper [I’m psyched to see Piper, since I watched him on Georgia Championship Wrestling as a fan], Angelina Love [who is awesome], Bobby Heenan, One Man Gang [big believer in UFO’s & alien abductions], Bobby Heenan, Debra, Tatanka, Jake Roberts, Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton, & Tatanka. I always love discussing old school wrasslin & the current stuff, so stop by & say hi. You can get more information @ http://www.frankandsonshow.net/2012/01/wwe-wwf-autograph-signing-event-saturday-february-11th/
“Embrace The Hate”
1st. Lady Of Wrestling