WWF Buying Its Ailing 20-Year Rival

Associated Press – March 23, 2001
By Justin Bachman

ATLANTA – The World Wrestling Federation is buying the ailing World Championship Wrestling business from AOL Time Warner Inc., ending an intense rivalry that has inflamed professional wrestling fans for nearly 20 years.

WCW, a division of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., had been planning to stop production after Monday night, but the deal announced Friday gives it new life. Stamford, Conn.-based WWF, whose Monday show is the top-rated program on cable, said it will produce new WCW programming on The National Network.

“This is a smart business decision and a good investment for us,” said Linda McMahon, chief executive of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc., which also owns the XFL in a partnership with NBC. “We’re grabbing it because it is simply that kind of opportunity.”

Fans of the two rivals have debated for years about which company’s wrestlers were tougher, and WWF said it would start “cross-brand story lines” soon.

That means Goldberg, a wild-eyed, bald, goatee-wearing WCW star, could be matched against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, a wild-eyed, bald, goatee-wearing wrestler for the WWF.

In a conference call with reporters, McMahon declined to say which WCW performers would be offered work at WWF.

Neither company would discuss terms of the deal, although people familiar with the WCW’s business said the prime asset WWF is acquiring is an extensive film library dating from the 1970s, merchandise, and some production and exercise equipment.

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