The weekly Monday Night Wars between World Wrestling Entertainment and World Championship Wrestling will always have a legendary place in the hearts of pro-wrestling fans everywhere.
On a week-to-week basis and through pay-per-view events, each company vied to outdo the other in storylines, actual performance and overall sports entertainment for nearly 20 years in the back-and-forth battle. Making it all the more personal between billionaires Vince McMahon and Ted Turner was the fact that, for a long stretch of time, WCW was defeating WWE with superstars that first became household names with the rival company, including Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Bret Hart, to name a few.
However, the historic rivalry between the two companies ended in dramatic fashion exactly 15 years ago today on March 23, 2001, when McMahon announced that WWE had acquired WCW in an unprecedented acquisition.
“WWF has been a rival organization to the WCW for quite some time,” then-WWE (formerly WWF or World Wrestling Federation) CEO Linda McMahon told the media on a conference call at the time, as reported by CNN. “With the new infusion of stars and the cross-branded story lines, this does nothing but raise the specter potential for us. We’re very pleased to have come to agreement to purchase that brand.”
You can say that again, Mrs. McMahon. One way to defeat the competition? Buy them out, something that Turner was willing to do because wrestling was a hobby to him and he wasn’t fully entrenched in the business like the McMahon family, and it showed big-time with the fact that he was willing to sell his company to his rival.
The acquisition more than doubled WWE’s roster instantly, paving the way for the only company left standing to play up the purchase in its storylines via the “Invasion” angle, which WWE played to perfection with Vince continuing to run the company he took over from his father, while his son Shane McMahon staked claim of WCW.
Interestingly enough, WWE would also acquire Extreme Championship Wrestling months later, completing its destruction and dominance of its competition, and in fact making its competition work for it.
March 23, 2001 will always live in infamy for WWE buying out WCW and creating wrestling history all over again.
What a time that was!