The Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez

November 19, 2019

For a tale that would make you cry if you didn’t laugh, this book blends its authors’ voices for a particularly apt tone.

Even 15 years later, the speed of the decline of WCW remains easy to underestimate. In 1998 it became the most profitable wrestling company in the history of the business. In March 1999 a Hulk Hogan vs Ric Fair match attracted 325,000 buys; the same bout in March 2000 drew just 60,000, while house show attendance collapsed at a similar rate. In March 2001 the company sold for just a few million dollars.

Just how this happened is detailed at length in a book that divides its focus between the big picture of the business, addressed mainly by Bryan Alvarez, and the fine detail of the weekly descent into some of the least effective creative ever seen on wrestling programming, detailed by RD Reynolds in the same manner with which he addressed wider WrestleCrap.

It’s an effective approach that keeps the book entertaining (if perversely so at times) while informative, bringing home the point that a product so wildly out of kilter with the audience’s tastes was enough to sink a company  that had every advantage imaginable.

The only downside is that the writing is highly opinionated, particularly in Reynolds’ sections, which could annoy those looking for a purely objective tone. That said, it’s unfair to criticise it for being exceptionally negative for long periods given the subject matter at times.

While I’ve not read the new edition myself, the 10th anniversary update is said to have an impressive amount of additional detail and context, though some readers have questioned whether it justifies an ‘upgrade’ in itself.

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One Comment

  • AW November 23, 2019 at 1:11 am

    I picked this up the same day as I picked up “Pain and Passion” from a now closed used book store. Like you, I thought there was far too much editorializing to qualify as a serious and objective book about the rise and rapid demise of WCW.
    I took particular umbrage to the opinion that no one cared about Ron Simmons’ world title win and subsequent run as champion. Ron’s victory was one of the most special moments in WCW history and it was well received by many fans. If his run came off to some as lackluster, that has more to do with WCW’s booking and not Simmons’ ability. WCW did the same thing with Goldberg, having him defend the title against B & C level opposition, instead of allowing him to run roughshod over the best their roster had to offer, and Simmons didn’t have the depth of talent to work with in 1992 that Goldberg had in 1998.
    I enjoy Wrestlecrap’s site, but their literary efforts are sub-par at best, and they just seem like they can’t help but interject their own opinions rather than be neutral.
    This is one to check out from a library and not worth paying for to take up space on the shelf, as it’s only good for one read.