The End For WCW
WCW was failing in the new millennium; As 2000 came to a close, a number of potential buyers for WCW were rumored to show interest in the company. Ted Turner, however, still had a position of influence at Time Warner prior to the final merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001, and most offers were rejected. Eric Bischoff, working with Fusient Media Ventures, made a bid to acquire the company in January 2001 (shortly following the AOL/Time Warner merger), and it appeared that WCW would continue.
One of the primary backers in the WCW deal backed out, however, leaving Fusient to take that offer off the table while it attempted to bring a new deal around. In the meantime, the World Wrestling Federation founded W. Acquisition Company in late-2000 and began speaking to the new AOL-Time Warner about acquiring the WCW brand. Jamie Kellner was handed control over the Turner Broadcasting division, and deemed WCW, along with Turner Sports as a whole, to be out of line with its image. As a result, WCW programming was cancelled on TBS and TNT, leaving Vince McMahon's company, which at the time had an exclusive deal with Viacom, free to acquire the trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts of World Championship Wrestling through its new subsidiary W. Acquisition Company and was renamed to WCW Inc. afterwards.
During the sale, WCW was in litigation, with various lawsuits pending, and AOL-Time Warner still had to pay various performers their guaranteed deals, as many had contracts directly with the parent company, and not with WCW. Since WCW Inc. had acquired select assets, the company that was once World Championship Wrestling was reverted to Universal Wrestling Corporation once again; its only purpose now, however, was to deal with old contracts and lawsuits.
World Wrestling Federation, after the acquisition, took care of the issues, and Universal Wrestling Corporation ceased existing, thus ending the last remnants of WCW as a company. Contracts with some big WCW names (Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair and Sting, along with the entire NWO) were renewed and WWF announced that WCW would be rebooted July 2nd, 2001, as a match between Sting and Hulk Hogan. The hype was huge for the reboot. There was no "War of the Mcmahons" or "Invasion" in this Timeline, thus keeping people interested in the new reboot.
On July 2nd 2001, the match everyone was waiting for took place. It was not a disappointment, as Hulk Hogan finally managed to win with his trademark Leg Drop. The match officially marked the beginning of the WCW as a separate WWE act, and plans for NWO to start its return were made. WCW would now be every Monday night after Raw. As part of a special 2001 promotion, for the remainder of 2001 fans of both Raw and WCW would be able to get tickets to both for the price of one Raw ticket.
On July 8th, 2001, the next WCW event took place, involving the NWO's return. The match was a revenge attempt on Sting for injuring Hulk Hogan in their previous match. Sting brought in the help of Rick Flair and newly signed Vampiro (who had recovered from his neck injury in the now defunct WCW) (this match up was despite Vampiro being a constant rival of Sting in WCW history). This match was a slug match and eventually both sides decided to forfeit to the other, creating a tie. The NWO storyline that was supposed to happen was subsequently cancelled, and it was unknown if NWO would ever return to the WWF.
In 2002, after the previous failure, a new story line was drawn up. In it, after the WWF bought WCW video library and trademarks in 2001, Vince McMahon brought in Hogan, Hall and Nash, thus recreating the original nWo, at No Way Out as hired thugs in an attempt to "kill" the WWF so that McMahon would not have to share power with new WWF kayfabe co-owner Ric Flair. They began by targeting the company's two biggest stars, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. This rivalry led up to Scott Hall going against Stone Cold and Hogan going against The Rock at WrestleMania X8 (in matches which the nWo both lost). As a result of Hogan shaking hands with The Rock and getting a positive response from the crowd after his match at WrestleMania, he turned face and began feuding with Hall and Nash, with The Rock and Kane at his side on occasion. Hall and Nash then brought in former nWo member X-Pac on the March 18, 2002 episode of Raw in Ottawa, Ontario.
On March 25, the nWo (now consisting of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac) was drafted by Ric Flair to Raw despite rivaling against them. For the next 2 weeks, the nWo feuded with Kane until he was lured backstage by X-Pac and was put out of action by having his head smashed with a chair. Following this, Kevin Nash was suspended for attacking Kane in story-line to recover on his injured biceps. X-Pac would begin wearing Kane's mask, taunting him on the fact that he put him out of action. Bradshaw, who had come to Kane's aid, fought Scott Hall at Backlash, which Hall won with help from X-Pac. Big Show rejoined the nWo on the April 22 episode of Raw when Flair teamed him up with Austin, whom Big Show chokeslammed.
The nWo was shortly joined by Ric Flair when he attacked Steve Austin with a chair and Hall was ejected out of the group and fired from Raw for "repeatedly dropping the ball" on Stone Cold. In actuality, Hall had asked for his release for personal reasons. Lacking members, Ric Flair would recruit Booker T and continued his feud with Austin. Austin defeated Big Show and Flair in a Handicap match at Judgment Day.
Booker T now in the group, his sidekick Goldust attempted and failed many times to get in, with the rest of the members (X-Pac and Big Show) becoming frustrated at Booker. With Nash returning and attempting to rebuild the nWo, he brought Shawn Michaels into the faction on the June 3 episode of Raw. Michaels then literally "kicked" Booker out of the nWo a week later. Michaels, then in the midst of a four-year retirement from professional wrestling, became the first nWo member who had never wrestled in WCW. Michaels and Nash then would set their sights on recruiting Triple H (by using threats and demands) into the nWo, implying that they would re-create on-screen their old backstage group The Kliq. This storyline was never finished.
On July 8, Nash returned to action on Raw, teaming up with Eddie Guerrero, X-Pac, Big Show, and Chris Benoit to take on Booker T, Goldust, Bubba Ray Dudley, Spike Dudley, and Rob Van Dam. Seconds after tagging in for the first time, Nash tore his quadriceps after delivering a big boot onto Booker T, immediately putting him back on the injured list. On the following Raw on July 15, Vince McMahon came out to the ring to the entrance of the nWo and made the announcement that the group was officially disbanded as Eric Bischoff became Raw general manager. Afterwards, the nWo storyline was stopped and the remaining members drifted apart. Michaels returned to active competition within weeks, Big Show was eventually traded to ECW, and X-Pac was released from his contract.
In 2006 the "tenth birthday of NWO" was celebrated with a reunion and one match against the premiere of the Nexus, but this was the only modern era appearance of NWO.
Extreme Championship Wrestling Buyout
In August 1999, ECW began to broadcast nationally on TNN (for what was initially a three-year contract). Despite no advertising and a low budget, ECW became TNN's highest rated show. ECW on TNN was canceled in October 2000 (with the final episode airing on October 6, 2000) in favor of WWF Raw moving to the network. Paul Heyman stated he believed that the inability to land another national television deal was the cause of ECW's demise.
ECW struggled for months after the cancellation, trying to secure a new national TV deal. On December 30, 2000, ECW Hardcore TV aired for the last time and Guilty as Charged in 2001 was the last PPV aired on January 7, 2001. Living Dangerously was scheduled to air on March 11, 2001, but because of financial trouble it was canceled in February. Heyman could not get out of financial trouble and ECW closed on April 4, 2001. Heyman supposedly had never told his wrestlers that the company was on its dying legs and was unable to pay them for a while.
The company was listed as having assets totaling $1,385,500. Included in that number was $860,000 in accounts receivable owed the company by In Demand Network (PPV), Acclaim (video games), and Original San Francisco Toy Company (action figures). The balance of the assets were the video tape library ($500,000), a 1998 Ford Truck ($19,500) and the remaining inventory of merchandise ($4). The liabilities of the company totaled $8,881,435.17.Wrestlers and talent were listed, with amounts owed ranging from $2 for Sabu and Steve Corino to hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. The highest amounts owed to talents were Rob Van Dam ($150,000), Shane Douglas ($145,000), Tommy Dreamer ($100,000), Joey Styles ($50,480), Rhyno ($50,000), and Francine Fournier ($47,275). These assets were eventually purchased by the World Wrestling Federation.
The Return of ECW
A few months after the promotion's 2001 demise, ECW resurfaced as a staple of the World Wrestling Federation's programming. On the July 9, 2001 edition of Raw Paul Heyman, who had been hired by the WWF while ECW was still in bankruptcy proceedings, joined several former ECW alumni on the WWF roster (including the debuting Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer) and claimed that he was bringing ECW back to participate in their own promotion by themselves. (At the time, however, the ownership of ECW, including its use of its name on-air, was disputed despite Heyman still technically owning the company when he jumped ship to the WWF. In addition, WWF had faced legal action by Harry Slash & The Slashtones for the use of its theme song "This Is Extreme!" which was then eventually settled).
On Monday, July 9th, 2001 during an episode of Raw it was revealed that McMahon and Heyman had agreed that, starting the following Sunday, every Sunday would feature ECW events on WWF's pay-per-view channel. The first main event in the relaunched ECW was a tag team match between The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley) and the team of Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. Two of the matches on the undercard were Chris Benoit versus Eddie Guerrero, and Mike Awesome versus Masato Tanaka.
2002 World Wildlife Fund Lawsuit Settlement
From 1979 to 2002, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was a name that carried a sense of authority and history. Derived from Vince McMahon Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), one could trace the legacy of "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers to Bruno Sammartino to Hulk Hogan to Stone Cold Steve Austin. You utter the initials WWF and even those farthest from professional wrestling know what you're talking about.
Enter the World Wildlife Fund and Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr.'s ego.
In a 1994 agreement, Titan Sports, Inc. (the World Wrestling Federation's parent company at the time) entered into an agreement with World Wide Fund for Nature (known as World Wildlife Fund in the United States) that the initials "WWF" belonged solely to the Swiss conservation group. The World Wrestling Federation would completely cease using those three letters from that point on.
Again, this was in 1994.
As most know, though, the World Wrestling Federation continued to use the initials up until the U.K. Court of Appeals ruled in 2002 that the agreement had been breached. The World Wrestling Federation changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment internationally and began using the initial W outside of North America. While internationally the original and "New Generation" logos were allowed to remain unaltered, the infamous "Scratch" logo was forced to be blurred out in all future reproductions of events outside of North America. It has angered pro wrestling fans from outside of North America to no end that they can't watch the brilliance of the Attitude Era in high definition without having half of their screen blurred. That is, until now.
If you paid close attention to Raw 1000, you might have noticed that replays were clean and unaltered. According to PWInsider the WWF/WWE (outside of North America) and WWF have reached a settlement that will allow the pro wrestling company to "use older archival material and footage with the WWF letters and the scratch logo internationally." In hindsight, with the International WWE Network (eventually) launching, it would have been an embarrassment for the WWF/WWE to hide the iconic logo.
In all honesty, it took the WWE (still WWF in North America) far too long to come to terms with the WWF. Just because Vince thought he could sneak one past the international courts doesn't mean those international fans should suffer the eyesore that they've had to deal with. Now they won't have to.
WWF also agreed at the end of the settlement to change the logo in North America to add "World Wrestling Federation" below the WWF to distinguish the WWF Wrestling from the WWF World Wildlife Foundation.
Present Day WWF
Today, the World Wrestling Federation has a monopoly unparalleled elsewhere, with the last semblance of competition being Impact/TNA Wrestling (last marketed Impact! Wrestling, which was purchased on November 25th, 2017). On October 10, Anthem released the Global Wrestling Network as an alternative to the WWF Network, but stunningly, on October 23, Impact Wrestling announced the termination of its relationship with Jeff Jarrett and his company Global Force Entertainment Inc., officially ending the attempted rebranding into GFW. These unprecedented events have led to a purchase of Impact Wrestling and integration into the WCW pay-per-view by WWF (doing so made the WWF the only remotely major wrestling company in North America).
WWF currently hosts 4 premier pay-per-view shows: Raw, Impact, WCW (Nitro) and ECW. These pay-per-views are usually completely unrelated to each other's story lines, although occasional crossovers are seen, there have even been 2 notable occasions where all 3 pay-per-views came together in a major Monday night event. WWF continues to grow economically and when they purchased Impact Wrestling they became a Fortune 100 company, already being a member of the Fortune 500. The deal was finalized on November 25th, 2017.