Buff Bagwell recently took part in an interview with WrestlingINC.com owner Raj Giri to talk about his time in WCW at the point when the company was sold to WWE. During the interview, Bagwell gave his thoughts on what contributed to the infamous ratings collapse in WCW.
"I think everything you said; the changes, the background of one week it was [Vince] Russo, one week it was [Eric] Bischoff, you never knew who was running the shows; so I think some of it was that, but I think we just killed it," said Bagwell. "We did three-hour Nitros; I can't watch wrestling for three hours. Nobody can watch wrestling for three hours; then you had WCW Thunder on Thursdays; it was just too much for the fans; just too much."
Bagwell explained that a lot of people advised Eric Bischoff against doing a second WCW television show in Thunder, that it was over-saturation.
"Serious human mind; we're Monday Night Nitro, making millions; everyone is happy and Eric Bischoff comes up with the Thunder idea, and we were like, Eric, don't do that; that's too much TV, it's too much," said Bagwell. "He said that it would be a side show so we wouldn't work it; it'd be like another group, kind of like what Raw and SmackDown is now; there'd be an A and a B show. That was his plan was, but he put Thunder out there the first week and it didn't do well, so suddenly you had Bill Goldberg, Scott Steiner, all these guys get on Thunder, so it just added more work for us."
"I think it was just too much TV," said Bagwell. "That is the honest truth. I think we watered it down. I have a picture where we have the black and white nWo on, and the other side red and black and I couldn't tell you why. I can tell you kind of, but the ones who were wearing the red were figured in. There was so much turmoil backstage; it was supposed to be Wolfpack, about 5-6 guys to get rid of the nWo, and become the next move, to keep an Elite Wolfpack group."
The final episode of WCW Monday Nitro aired on March 26, 2001. Bagwell was under contract with WCW but was not featured on the final episode. Raj asked if he was in the building for the final broadcast.
"I actually was believe it or not, on the final Nitro, but I never watched it," said Bagwell. "100% I was on it, I did an interview with Luger. It's not good on the very last night you're not on the crowd. I'm trying to leave and go home and realize that my career is over."
"Half my way driving home my dad calls and asked if I was going to be on TV, I said no. He said, well, they just mentioned five names and you were one of the five. I said, what? He said, believe it or not, I'm not just saying this as your dad, because I went back and listened to it as well, but it's probably the second, maybe the third biggest pop of the names mentioned," said Bagwell.
Bagwell was indeed one of the WCW talents that was retained by WWE. He made his debut with the company at a live event on July 1, 2001 but was informed at the July 9, 2001 RAW taping that he was being released. At the time, it was rumored his release was due to complaints about his attitude and an altercation with fellow WCW alumnus Shane Helms. There were also accusations he faked an injury at the July 3, 2001 SmackDown taping.
"Then to be fired two weeks later, how do you explain that? I still don't know what happened," revealed Bagwell. "No matter what thought you come up with, drugs, whatever you want to come up with, hey Mark, quit it, or we're going to fire you. No warnings, still don't know what happened. They said that we were going to chill out for about three months and then bring you back afterwards, but of course that wasn't true. I shook their hands and thanked them and then went on my way."
WrestlingINC.com's exclusive interview with Buff Bagwell will be available in its entirely soon.