The Fall of WCW and ECW
By 1999, WCW had used all of it's ideas and it's top draws were on the wrong side of 40. WWF had a way to make Raw Is War appeal to more people, infusing (infrequent) decent matches with risque storylines, calling it the 'Attitude' era, but really this was just a knockoff of ECW, but once again filtered enough so it could be viewed en masse.
By 2000, WWF was clearly the ratings winner each week by a massive amount. WCW, in its lust for starpower, had become a joke in the industry. The writers weren't focused on a wrestling show, only a bad variety show featuring wrestlers. Essentially, the WWF was doing the same thing, it's just that WCW was doing it even worse. Alot worse. It really says something about the monopoly these two companies had on the business, because WCW was hitting record lows in the nielson ratings yet it was still by far the second company down. And keep in mind that there are hundreds of wrestling promotions just in the USA. Third in line was ECW, but due to the violence and lack of storylines, it was impossible for ECW to come close to the amount of viewers the big two were getting.
By 2001, WCW viewers had basically stopped watching wrestling or jumped ship to the WWF, leading to an overnight sale of WCW to Vince Mcmahon, owner of WWF. They had well and truly won the monday night wars. To put it into perspective, we must realize that WCW in 1998 was taking in around the 100 million dollar mark, but only three years later it was sold for 2 million. It is hard to comprehend how a business could fail on that grand scale, and it was all because WCW was run by people interested not in wrestling, but only money.
ECW had gained its cult following but by the same year, 2001, it had gone bankrupt due to poor business strategy. So that's the other end of the spectrum, because ECW was run by people who loved wrestling yet they couldn't run a business of its size. Paul Heyman is the most ingenious, creative and smart wrestling promoter of all time and he knows how to book the best shows you'll ever see, yet he never had a mind for money. And so when ECW filed for bankruptcy in 2001, Vince Mcmahon decided to buy that too, with the WWF effectively being the only representative of an art I love.
An Era of Honor Begins
For a year, throughout 2001, there was no quality wrestling available to the loyal ECW fans. WWf was worse than it had been in ten years. A new company named Ring of Honor was formed. ROH brought together all the aspects that made ECW so great while abandoning some things, notably ECW's absence of finishers and clean pins. ROH has turned into everything an adult wrestling fan wants. It took a few years, but people caught on and now ROH is the top alternative for wrestling fans, bringing up young wrestlers and signing deals with the great Japanese promotion NOAH. If it weren't for ROH, I would probably not watch any wrestling all year.
The irony of this whole article really is that when I was a kid, I absolutely loved WCW and WWF. And I must say that there were exceptions to the rule that they had bad wrestling. Some of the greatest ever were apart of the big two during the 90's, notably Stone Cold, Bret Hart, Sting and Shawn Michaels. And it is really fun to watch these shows as a kid. But there came a time when my love for the art took over the fun aspect that a kid can get out of it. As an adult, it just isn't what you look for, and there is no consistency. Nobody likes to sift through the shit to find the gold. I guess it comes back to the analogy of movies, because if you watch kids movies as an adult, it's not satisfying in the least. And they're pretty dumb too.
So there you have it, being a wrestling fan can be frustrating at times, with peoples perceptions going in the wrong directions and not being able to find good stuff on TV, but when you have an ROH out there, you can't complain. Let's just hope Vince Mcmahon doesn't purchase it.