“The name on the contract does say McMahon”, Shane McMahon’s said on the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro. “Shane McMahon! I now own WCW!”
These immortal words have become some of the most famous in wrestling history, in the United States at least. They signalled the end of WCW Monday Nitro, announcing the WWE’s complete monopoly on the world of professional wrestling.
Vince McMahon had done it, toppling Ted Turner’s organization and becoming the only promoter in the business. He had run the territories out of business in the 1980s, with WCW the last holdout to keep on fighting – even beating the WWE for a number of years.
But, they all eventually fell to Vince McMahon. He got his wish and WCW was dead, now in his clutches as his own plaything to do what he wanted, the livelihood of each and every wrestler on that roster now subject to his whims and desires.
Unless, it wasn’t. Unless a last-minute switcheroo meant Vince McMahon lost control of his new acquisition, and his son Shane McMahon became the new owner of WCW, announced live on the final ever episode of WCW Monday Nitro.
Or did he? Did Shane McMahon really own WCW?
Shane McMahon Bought WCW In 2001
Shane McMahon’s portrayal as the owner of WCW on WWE television was a fictional element within the scripted world of professional wrestling. In actuality, WCW was owned by Ted Turner for a significant portion of its history. However, as of 2001, WCW faced severe financial difficulties, creating an opportunity for Vince McMahon, the chairman of WWF, to intervene.
In March 2001, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. successfully completed the acquisition of WCW. This acquisition encompassed various assets, including the WCW brand, video archives, select contracts, and other crucial components, all now falling under the WWF umbrella.
The purchase of WCW by WWF set the stage for one of wrestling’s most memorable storylines, known as the Invasion storyline. Within this narrative, Shane McMahon, both Vince’s real-life son and an on-screen character, delivered a shocking announcement during an episode of Monday Night RAW. To Vince’s apparent surprise, Shane claimed ownership of WCW, seemingly outmaneuvering his father and seizing control.
However, it is important to emphasize that this was a scripted segment, and Vince McMahon’s company remained the genuine owner throughout. This twist was a key element of the storytelling in professional wrestling, enhancing the drama and intrigue for fans.
Further complexity was added to the storyline with the revelation that Stephanie McMahon, Vince’s daughter, was the owner of ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), another promotion recently acquired by WWE. Paul Heyman, the former legitimate owner of ECW and then a WWF commentator, aligned with Stephanie on-screen to oppose Vince and WWF. Together, they formed a united front known as “The Alliance.”
This collaborative effort between Shane’s WCW and Stephanie’s ECW created a compelling backdrop for various wrestling matchups, featuring talents from WWF, WCW, and ECW. The storyline aimed to fulfill the fantasies of fans who had longed to witness dream matches between wrestlers from these different promotions.
The Invasion storyline reached its climax at the Survivor Series pay-per-view event in November 2001. The main event featured a Winner-Take-All elimination tag team match, pitting Team WWF against Team Alliance. The stakes were high; if Team WWF lost, Vince would have relinquished control of his company. Conversely, if The Alliance lost, WCW and ECW would be absorbed into the WWF.
Ultimately, Team WWF emerged victorious in this epic showdown, marking the storyline’s conclusion as WCW and ECW ceased to exist within the WWE universe.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.