Say what you will about WCW, but the company forced Vince McMahon’s hand on more than one occasion. They pushed McMahon into a wrestling war that benefitted the fan, with a better overall product and live wrestling every Monday night. In fact, at the onset of the current wrestling war, WCW had McMahon backpeddling so fast that the WWF actually started to verbally attack WCW live on the air, something they had never done.
The most famous of these attacks were the legendary Billionaire Ted Skits, in which the WWF mocked Ted Turner and his ‘rasslin’ company.
It all started out innocently enough, with the introduction of Billionaire Ted’s “Wrasslin’ Warroom”, a fictional location where Turner would plot the future of WCW.
Attendants at the meetings included Billionaire Ted (of course)…
…and a really old looking Terry Bollea lookalike, dubbed “The Huckster”.
The “Nacho Man” Randy Savage was on hand to lend his expertise, and was looking ancient as well.
The funniest part, though, was a dead on parody of Mean Gene Okerlund, shilling for his hotline , just as he would do on every WCW broadcast.
The initial skits were actually very , VERY amusing, and as is the case with all good parodies, an accurate (if somewhat skewed) take on the current happenings at WCW.
The very first Warroom featured Billionaire Ted asking the WCW crew to be more athletic, and do some high flying moves like he had seen in the WWF.
But since Huckster and Nacho were so old, they didn’t want to do that, instead offering up their tired old mannerisms as the way to entertain the fans.
The message was simple – the WWF featured younger, more athletic talent, while WCW featured old men pretending to be cool.
Simple, funny, and to the point.
Had the skits ended there, things would have been fine. However, Vince decided that he hadn’t really driven the point home, and things turned ugly. The skits moved away from wrestling and why the WWF was superior, and toward controversial topics like how WCW didn’t test for steroids and how WCW was costing Turner stockholders millions of dollars.
The WWF really went for the jugular, even ridiculing how Turner’s father had died!
The WWF then proceeded to lampoon others in the Turner empire including Larry King (who became the WWF’s Larry Fling).
As you can see, things were moving further and further away from wrestling, and more into the realm of personal attacks.
Vince even went so far as to produce a gameshow that featured quotes Ted Turner would like to have forgotten.
Keep in mind, this was on a WRESTLING show, and ate up many minutes of valuable airtime that could better have been used for matches, interviews, to shill WWF ice cream bars, hell, just about anything!
The point of all this was to put over the fact that Turner was an evil man,, that WCW was an evil organization, and that both had no goal in life other than to put the WWF out of business.
Old time wrestling fans scoffed at this. It smacked of hypocrisy, as the WWF had done the exact same thing to smaller organizations throughout the 80’s, forcing the local promotions to shut their doors or attempt to compete with them by going national.
Anyway, this entire fiasco built up to a match between the Huckster and the Nacho Man at WrestleMania XII.
Yes, not only did the WWF piss away segments on their weekly shows, they chewed up a good chunk of their biggest event of the year with even more of this nonsense!
(As a side note, an impending lawsuit forced the WWF to place the match on the pregame show.)
The match featured a Nacho Man that couldn’t climb the ropes, and a Huckster that needed a walker to make his way out to the ring. Heck, the Huckster even needed help to rip his shirt off. To make things even worse, it wasn’t even the same Huckster as the guy from the previous skits!
The match was commentated by Jerry “The King” Lawler and Vinnie Mac, who were silhouetted at the bottom of the screen. It was just like Mystery Science Theater, except instead of being funny, it was just mean spirited.
Billionaire Ted was the guest referee, and the bout featured shots of the “fans” (who were elderly folk reading newspapers) being told who to cheer and who to boo.
The match ended when Nacho Man and Huckster died in the ring, because nothing says comedy like death.
Billionaire Ted was then run off by the FTC Man, and thankfully, the angle finally ended.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Billionaire Ted skits, Eric Bischoff and company pulled their trump card – the nWo. WCW went on to beat the living hell out of the WWF in every way possible, and clobbered Raw in the ratings for over 80 straight weeks.
It took McMahon a long time, but he finally realized that the only way to win the war with WCW wasn’t to mock the competition, but rather to create a new, different product based on exciting young stars. He did this with a raunchier, more violent style and a focus on guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock.
You see, the WWF took over the ratings by creating new stars – not pushing old ones. The rumored signings of Hall, Nash, and Hogan seem to reinforce the age-old adage:
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Scheme Gene (shilling as only Gene Okerlund can do): “TED! I’ve got an idea, but it’s too hot to tell you about on TV. Call my hotline now, and I’ll yell you all about it!”
WCW Booker: “What about the Jack Knife?”
Nacho Man: “Ain’t done it in my entire career, and I ain’t about to try it now.” *Slim Jam Snap!*
WCW Booker: “How about climbing the ropes and performing some aerial tactics?”
Huckster: “Brother, at my age, my feet don’t leave the ground.”
Announcer: “Who made the racial comment, ‘as for blacks, most of them aren’t black anyway, they’re brown…well, aren’t they? It’s very seldom you see a really black black.'”
Billionaire Ted: “Michael Jackson.”
Candy: “That’s funny, Billionaire Ted.”
Announcer: “Right again!”
Vince McMahon: “Look at this, he’s having some difficulty ripping his shirt off. Scheme Gene and Billionaire Ted trying to rip that off!”
Jerry Lawler: “Look at the Huckster’s body. I tell ya, what the pharmacists gave him Father Time has taken away!”