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1993 WCW Disney tapings

As you may already know Eric Bischoff prides himself more as a television producer than a wrestling promoter. The seeds of such thought were planted back in the summer of 1993 during his first year as Executive Producer/Vice-President of WCW.

Instead of the darker, papered crowd atmosphere in Macon, GA or Dothan, AL Bischoff wanted to put bright lights, glitz, and glamour on WCW’s television programming. For instance, from January to April of 1993 WCW Worldwide was taped 9 times in seven different locations. The programs, while entertaining, looked bland and boring compared to the higher production values of WCW’s competitor, the World Wrestling Federation.

From July 7-10, WCW taped FOUR months of WCW Worldwide in front of a papered (mostly tourist) crowd at the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, FL.
Here is a list of the current champions heading into the Disney tapings:

WCW World Heavyweight champion: Big Van Vader

NWA Champion: Barry Windham

US Heavyweight champion: held up after a controversial match between “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Dustin Rhodes

World TV champion: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff

WCW World tag team champions: The Hollywood Blonds (“Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin’” Brian Pillman)

Let’s break down the highlights day by day:

Day 1 (7/7/1993):

For the August 28th episode Arn Anderson and Paul Roma were taped as WCW World Tag Team champions in spite of the fact they had not yet won the titles. Their title victory would take place on August 18 at the Clash of the Champions as Lord Steven Regal had to be substituted for Pillman due to an ankle injury.

Additionally, for the September 4th episode “Nature Boy” Ric Flair was involved in a match as the NWA champion against Big Sky. In actuality, he won the belt at the Beach Blast PPV over Windham on July 18.  This would not sit well with the NWA.

For the September 11th episode Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat was featured as the World TV champion against Denny Brown although he was not yet the champion. He won the belt at the August 18 Clash.

Day 2 (7/8/1993):

During the September 18th episode Dustin Rhodes was featured as the US Heavyweight champion in a tag match with Sting against Orndorff and Chris Benoit. Rhodes actually won the belt against Rude on August 30 in Atlanta, GA.

On the September 25th episode Regal defended the World TV title against Keith Cole.  He defeated Steamboat for the belt on September 19 in Houston, TX.

Also featured on that show were the WCW World tag team champions the Nasty Boys. They won the titles from Anderson and Roma on September 19 in Houston, TX.

On the October 2nd episode the Hollywood Blonds were featured in a tag match but did not bring their title belts to the ring.

On the October 9th episode Rude was featured as the new World Heavyweight Champion (formerly NWA champion) in a match against David Dee.

The importance of this match derives from the withdrawal of WCW from the NWA in September. The NWA felt that these tapings were a breach of kayfabe. WCW withdrew their affiliation from the NWA making the belt worthless in the process.

Day 3 (7/9/1993):

However, in an attempt to legitimize Rude’s championship, WCW renamed the title the International World champion on its October 30th episode. Rude would defeat Brady Boone on this show.

For the November 6th show Regal successfully defended his not-yet-his TV title against Johnny B. Badd.

Day 4 (7/10/1993):

Also on the November 6th episode Rude won a non-title match against Frankie Rose. While describing the match Tony Schiavone recognized Rude’s title as a World title rather than just a “Gold Belt.”

On the November 13th episode despite being the current TV champion Orndorff won a match while not showcasing the title since Regal would be champion by this point. Furthermore Steamboat won a match but did not possess a belt in spite of winning and losing the belt between the times this match took place and when it would finally air.

For the November 20th episode the Nasty Boys were featured again as WCW World tag team champions.

So, in spite of three PPV and two Clash of the Champions broadcasts, WCW gave away months of booking plans within this 4-day span. Although I cannot locate the specific instance, it has been documented that Sid Vicious was taped as WCW World Heavyweight Champion. This video was supposed to air after Starrcade ’93; however, on September 19 Sid and Arn Anderson were involved in an infamous late night brawl overseas involving safety scissors. Subsequently Sid was fired after several wrestlers threatened to quit. Flair was inserted in Sid’s place.

While money was saved in the process of filming these shows WCW had two problems on their hands. The first problem was fulfilling the title changes. The Regal substitution on August 18 stands out as a glaring example of what can go wrong. The second problem was the wrestlers’ attitudes after the tapings. Since title plans were already put into place during the tapings, the wrestlers who would not hold titles held grudges instead and their work ethic in matches suffered. At the very least WCW would learn from this mistake and not tape wrestlers with titles for Worldwide in the future.

WCW lost $23 million in 1993 not because of the Disney tapings but due to overestimated revenue. Having seen the extremely low attendance figures for the house shows I can safely say that WCW lost money whenever they stepped into a gym or an arena.  Amazingly, they even cancelled a show at the Omni on July 3 dubbed “The Great American Bash.”

Wrestling in 1993 was no longer a mainstream product. The positive mainstream attention wouldn’t resurface until 1996; however, the negative stigma was due to the WWF steroid trials. With such a black mark on the industry it was difficult for WCW to make a profit. The Disney tapings only served to facilitate further losses. 

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  1. I remember watching a lot of those WCW World Wide Wrestling from the Disney MGM, and for me, it did look much more beautiful from that studio instead the dark, gloomy arenas. I know the month's worth of tapings ruined the outcomes of future ppv's but was it really that big of a detriment when the internet was not available to every household in 1993 as it is today in 2013?

  2. Has any company ever done less with more than 1993 WCW? That roster is absolutely stacked with big names,great talent and future HOF's and they couldn't draw a fucking dime! How Eric Bischoff survived his first year without getting canned is a mystery for the ages.

  3. I never got worldwide, only Saturday night and the main event, but I lived those shows from 1988 to about early 1996 I would say.

  4. I loved the Disney era wcw shows as a kid. The spinning ring, the early era CGI intro where they build a robot arm and it somehow turns into a buff wrestler arm. Van Hammer. I miss it.

  5. Wow, actual original content on this blog!

    Kudos, RSG!

  6. Actually, the Disney tapings were a great idea.

    They greatly improved the production values of WCW television and saved money for the then greatly struggling company.

    As you said, WCW lost money every time they stepped outside the door, so filming four months of television in the span of a few days was a huge cost cutting measure.

    Yes, it did give away storylines and create continuity problems, but in 1993 there was no internet and only smarks who subscribed to the Observer would learn the results ahead of time.

  7. AverageJoeEverymanJuly 29, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Same here, I didnt even notice Worldwide existed until I saw it on the tv guide channel listed at like 2 AM Sunday Morning in around 96 or so. Looking back they would do a lot of mentions to it during WCW SN and TME and Pro but I must have just not noticed.


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