WCW deal falls apart, promotion taking hiatus
By DON 'Cyrus' CALLIS -- For SLAM! Wrestling
The deal between Fusient Media Ventures and AOL-Time Warner to sell WCW to the Eric Bischoff led Fusient contingent apparently fell apart late this past week, leaving the future of World Championship Wrestling in serious doubt.
Apparently the problem stemmed from AOL executive Jamie Kellner, who is now in charge of the programming on AOL stations, stating that he couldn't guarantee the two prime time television time slots on the company's stations. Those two slots were the most attractive thing about WCW to a potential buyer, so when those were pulled, the entire deal changed, and fell apart.
Kellner has indicated, although not publically, but through other sources that he has no interest in having any wrestling on the AOL owned stations, which is what led to him pulling the slots and would effectively spell the end of years and years of wrestling on the stations originally owned by Ted Turner.
Bischoff, who supposedly had been also negotiating with Fox all along, with an eye on a promotion vs. promotion feud between a company on Fox and the WCW company on TBS and TNT, will likely try to purchase just the WCW name (at a drastically reduced price) and potentially open up again on Fox. Fox is interested in wrestling programming for the obvious ratings reasons.
Meanwhile, WCW has sent out an internal memo that is now public, stating that the company will be shutting down for a "hiatus" in April. Many suspect that on the heels of Kellner stating that there is no interest in airing wrestling, that the shutdown will be permanent and spell the end of WCW at least on TBS and TNT. So, the Nitro tomorrow could well be the end of an era.
It has been speculated that many of the wrestlers will be released and that only the top 10 or 12 will remain under contract so that AOL-Time Warner will have something left in the company to make it attractive to another potential buyer.
The fact that Kellner has said nothing publically on this issue, combined with Bischoff's cutting-edge role in reality based shoot angles going back to the Brian Pillman angle several years ago has led many to speculate that the whole thing could be a wrestling storyline.
While that would be a great scenario for the many wrestlers who will be affected adversely by a WCW permanent shutdown, it leads one to ask: If it is a storyline, then a storyline for what possible purpose?
Obviously wrestling is popular enough to sustain more than one national promotion, but where and when this promotion will turn up and who will be in charge of it remains the question.
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